Jungian Archetype
: A Step Towards Scientific Enquiry

  • Kyah McDonald

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The Jungian archetypes and transformations are often branded as pseudoscientific and difficult to ontologically define. This has led to problems in testing and a scarcity of papers attempting to scientifically explore this phenomenon. This paper explores why that has historically been the case and critically examines our current scientific standards and how they might be applied to the archetypes. The paper remains critical of a purely positivist paradigm, but concludes that some testability is necessary for the ethical application of the theory; its continued relevance in Psychology; and to ease current tensions in the field so that each side (those who champion the material and those who champion the experiential) may benefit from the other in refining this theory. I finish by presenting an account of the archetypes and transformations that focuses on the observable aspects of the phenomenon, and how they may be explained by recent findings in Neuroaesthetics and image schemata, while not denying the existence of the experiential aspects, e.g. the numinous quality of the archetypes, or their role in individuation. It is hoped that this will enable testing in some capacity and position the archetypes and transformations as an experiential and material phenomenon, being neither held on a precious, untestable pedestal, nor reduced to a set of fragmented parts, disconnected from their history
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDavid Tyfa (Co-Supervisor) & Nigel King (Co-Supervisor)

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