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Publish at January 17 2022 Updated January 28 2022

Does the collective unconscious exist?

Mixing history and psychoanalysis

The humanities are complex because they rarely offer testable theories like gravity in the natural sciences. What is more, they rarely mix. We would not see historians working together with psychologists. Yet this posture is rather counterproductive.

The historian of affects and imaginaries, Hervé Mazurel, has addressed this link in a book published in 2021. For him, while the idea of a single, universal collective unconscious does not make sense, clearly historical events shape people's subconscious.

For example, he looked at dreams experienced during the first containment of the covid-19 pandemic, archiving somewhere how minds created nighttime stories making connections to the plague, separation, etc. Without falling into history-therapy, he believes that understanding ancient psyches would better convey the sometimes major differences with those going on today.

Time: 32min30

Illustration: Mr Cup / Fabien Barral on Unsplash

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