Medea Via Neumann Essay

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In The Great Mother, Erich Neumann attempts to provide a structural analysis of the archetype. He states in the preface that not only does it "provide the foundation for all psychotherapy," it also provides for each man a view of the world that "enriches his own personality" as well as his "new perspective on life and on mankind as a whole." When referring to an archetype, Neumann refers to "an inward image at work in the human psyche." By examining the separate aspects of the archetype, one can approach a more thorough understanding of the archetype and, finally, the implications of its structure and its appearances in the real world.

Three main components play a part in the realization of the archetype. First of
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This is generally one of the images coalesced with that of the Great Mother. This same image would not be used for all of the unique features of the Great Mother. For instance, the Terrible Mother could also manifest herself in the image of a witch. The third component, the material component, is the "sense content" that is "apprehended by consciousness." The material component of the symbol "sets consciousness into motion." When "aroused" by the symbol, consciousness "directs its interest towards it" in an attempt to fully understand. Because the sense content is the origin of the symbol, the material component draws from this and climaxes in the formation of views, orientations, and concepts by consciousness. They now, "independent of their origin, claim an existence and validity of their own."

The structure of the archetype is the "complex network of psychic organization" which encompasses the other three aspects. The manifestation of the archetype as a whole is a "symbolic expression of the unconscious" and may manifest itself spontaneously and operate independently of the man to whom it appears. Thus, the man experiencing the archetype does not necessarily conjure up the archetype at any given moment; instead he is acted upon by it without effort of the conscious mind. The appearance of the archetypal images, however, is in part determined by the experience of the man being acted upon. His

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