The Personal Unconscious
Personal Unconscious is a term that is used in Carl Jung’s theories of analytical psychology. It refers to all information that is present within an individual’s mind, but not readily available to conscious recall, i.e. memories that have been forgotten or repressed. These can include childhood memories that are forgotten or traumatic memories that the mind has blocked from conscious memory.
Jung's concept of the personal unconscious is similar to the psychoanalytical concept of the unconscious. The thoughts, feelings, memories, experiences, and emotions that are not permitted by the ego are maintained in the unconscious. These may range from inconsequential experiences to traumatic events or thoughts. The personal unconscious may also be composed of behaviors that are suppressed because of emotions such as fear or shame or because it is inconsistent with the imagined self. The unconscious is not content to stay buried, and aspects of the repressed material emerge in dreams, fantasies, or themes for artistic expressions such as visual art, poetry, or music. When these themes emerge and are paired with charged emotions, they are known as complexes. There are many different types of complexes, for example, the piter artemus (the eternal child), father complex, mother complex, Cassandra complex, God complex, martyr complex, Napoleon complex, and superiority complex.
The psyche represents the integration of the personal conscious, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious. The personal conscious includes the individual's spirit as well as his or her spirituality, orientation to the outer world (optimism vs. pessimism, introversion vs. extraversion), beliefs, emotions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The personal unconscious includes thoughts and memories that can be recalled. The collective unconscious is derived from the universal thoughts, emotions, fears, dreams, and mythical themes symbolically represented by archetypes.
An example of a common complex is the father complex. In this case the person would typically relate to the world by protecting, managing, and controlling others. In women, the father complex is manifest as hero worship. In contrast, the mother complex is characterized by nurturing. It has as its core the personal experience with one's own mother but also the archetype of the earth mother. In a female, it is demonstrated through apparent self-sacrifice, caregiving, loyalty, and nurturing. In men, Jung hypothesized that the mother complex could lead to a variety of behaviors from homosexuality to Don Juan type of serial romances and flirtations with women. Men and women with the mother complex appear to be devoted to their mother, often sacrificing for her. Jung hypothesized that each personal complex also contains elements of the collective unconscious.