The Creative Psyche

by Zoe Kate

ImageI often wonder what made me a creative person, I’ve never thought of myself as a creative person until recently even though I’ve been told numerous times that I’m “so creative.” Looking back on my childhood now I think I have my parents to thank. My mother always had time for crafts she helped me to become a creator and she fuelled my imagination constantly, I always had at least two pet rocks on the go at any given time. From my father I learnt to love music and to sing. After a brief stint learning the trumpet as a child I eventually taught myself how to play guitar and its something I still do as part of my creative process. As I child I had plenty of opportunities to play, I had a older brother who also had a vivid imagination and the games we would play and the worlds we created still amaze me. We would sit for hours and my brother would draw the characters we invented in our games and I’d colour them in because he could never quite pick what colours to use. I think my fortunate childhood was a big part of my creative development.

Jung says that as we age we go through a process of individuation, maturing of the soul and the psyche, simply we grow up and we adapt ideologies that shape the way we treat others and what we value. To complete this process successfully we must confront our shadow side and come to terms our ‘anima’ or ‘animus’, which are the female and male characteristics within us. (Jung & Campbell, 1997) Jung also talks about the idea of archetypes; archetypes are an inherited unconscious idea or pattern of thought. Jung recognises several different types of archetypes that also match with family roles like that of a mother and father, nurturer and protector. (Jung & Campbell, 1997) I find Jung’s ideas about the shadow self interesting, I think that as a creator we all have that shadow side that can sometimes help us to create with deeper meaning, it is important to recognise your shadow side in order to not let it control you, “a sense of that fight not to let negative thoughts dictate what I do. This sense is like a deeper knowledge that wants me to know what I can achieve as opposed to a barrage of thoughts telling me what I can’t realize, that I should just stop and give up.” (Ewing, 2011) The shadow and projection go hand in hand, if you let your shadow side dictate your choices then you will not achieve what you set out to achieve, by projecting negativity on to others you will limit yourself to your shadow’s comfort zone. Jung suggests “denial of our shadow side can be dangerous for ourselves as well as others; if we ignore our shadow it will become more monstrous and threaten to destroy us.” (Jung & Campbell, 1997) I think the state in which the shadow threatens to destroy us can be viewed as a form of depression and anxiety.

Jung also talk about the theory of active imagination, he discovered the theory when searching for a way of self healing after going through what appears to be a bad stint of depression or an eclipse of his shadow self. Active imagination is a confrontation with the unconscious. Jung realised the importance of symbolic childlike play. Many people lose the need to play when they develop what is called metacognition, the ability to understand that actions have reactions and that we do different actions to get desired outcomes. (Krause, 2009) With the ability to manage metacognitive thought we start to take on responsibilities and begin to play less, as we understand that this playtime may be otherwise used. Jung suggests that we should all practice play in order to keep ourselves balanced. He found that allowing your unconscious to surface and present ideas is a process that can help clarify thoughts. (O’Shaugnessy & Stadler, 2002) “Every good idea and all creative work are the offspring of the imagination, and have their source in what one is pleased to call infantile fantasy.” (Jung, 1921) There are two stages of active imagination, first is letting the unconscious come up, and second is coming to terms with the unconscious. Sometimes it can take a long time to make sense of the material the unconscious provides.

Through looking at the ideas of Jung it has helped me understand a little more about creativity and developing through the individuation process. I think that we never stop individuating, we are always growing and learning, piecing together the greater puzzle of understanding of the world and the role we play within it.


Ewing, A. (2011). A self reflective meditation on the creative process. Sciences of the spirit , 1-12.

Jung, C., & Campbell, J. (1997). Jung on active imagination. (J. Chodorow, Ed.) London: Routledge.

Krause, K.-L. D. (2009). Educational Psychology: Learning for Teaching. Sydney: Cengage Learning Australia.

 O’Shaugnessy, M., & Stadler, J. (2002). Carl Jung. Media and Society: An Introduction. Victoria: Oxford University Press.