Personality Theory as applied to Superman

Carl Jung delved into the subconscious and he also had several ideas of his own on how it operated. For Jung, the mind or the psyche is divided into three parts, namely, the ego, the personal unconscious and finally the collective unconscious. These three divisions have different characteristics. Jung’s idea of the ego is that it is essentially the conscious mind. The “personal unconscious” that he describes in his studies is the division of the mind wherein both suppressed ideas and memories are stored. For Jung, he did not include in the personal unconscious the instincts that Freud included in his. All that reside in the personal unconscious is all of the ideas that need to be excavated from the mind in order for it to come out. (Pettifor, 1995). This is the thesis that the paper adopts. It elucidates that using Carl Jung’s personality development theory,  Superman must be able to strictly adhere to the pattern of the hero archetype, otherwise, he would not have that kind of popularity and acceptance. Even if he started out as belonging to different archetypes, he would have a started out as an amalgam of several personalities. He was thoughtful and helpful to people in need.

The final division of the psyche that Carl Jung theorized is the “collective unconscious”. This is the one thing that makes Jung’s principle very distinct among others. It is described as sort of a “psychic inheritance”. It is aptly described as a pool of experiences of a species that we can never be fully conscious of. This part of the psyche influences all of our actions most especially the emotional ones; however it is only through indirect manifestations that it allows itself to be seen.

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Relating this to the character of Superman, one surmises that Superman encounters certain experiences that are manifestations of the collective unconscious. Examples of the collective unconscious in Superman are those times when Superman experiences one the strong urge to go to a particular place in order to save a person from sure death. These events are instances where the collective unconscious comes out. Superman is unperturbed because he knows his own being. He does not try to justify himself. He extricates himself from the adulation of people, preferring to help them when they are in need and keeping a low profile in the process/

These heroes must strictly follow the pattern of the hero archetype in order to receive acceptance. Any deviation from this pattern leads to undermining the characters’ familiarity and acceptability. Jung provided what is probably the most influential dream theory of all. He declined to follow in Freud’s footsteps, associating dreams entirely with the sexual aspects of life. His concept of the collective unconscious means a “a pool of inherited psychic residue accumulated since the beginning of the human race, an echo of the sum of experience accessible to all humans that manifests itself through archetypes or patterns of expression” (Boeree, 1997). Therefore, Superman’s superhuman qualities not only involved physical strength but also the aspects of the mind. Jung also introduced the concept of the animus and anima. The animus represents the male traits naturally present in a female’s personality, and the anima is the femaleness in a male’s personality. Freud’s tendency to associate every dream symbol to the sexual prompted numerous people to better accept the Jungian perspective. He seems mysterious linked to people and to respond immediately to their needs when prompted.

The reservoir of Superman’s experiences come from a different kind of species, one with superhuman strength. Superman seems compelled to help people in need. The storehouse of all his collective unconscious involves the urge to help people in need. This archetype of being a hero is instilled in him from the very beginning. It influences all his behaviors and even makes him do all that undistracted of any problems along the way. His emotional make-up is also put to a halt as he controls the urge to fall in love with mortal men. He is born with that knowledge and this comes out at the exact time that people would need him (Boeree, 1997). The contents of his collective unconscious can be termed as archetypes. For a lack of better term, Jung also terms this as dominants or primordial images. Superman did not learn to be a superman at all. He did not have to stretch out his muscles everyday to achieve the kind of Superman strength and physical body which he possessed. He had this tendency in him to experience things in a different manner, quite different from the way the other person would. He was different with regards to brute strength, but he had the same kind of empathy for people who were needy and poor. He learned the different actions by way of an organizing principle that he follows. It is similar to what Freud terms as “instincts.” Superman experiences an uncanny ability to connect with people. It is a particular kind of Synchronicity that makes him feel what the other person feels far from him. Superman must be able to strictly adhere to the pattern of the hero archetype, otherwise, he would not have that kind of popularity and acceptance. Even if he started out as belonging to different archetypes, he would have a started out as an amalgam of several personalities.