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Inception Brings the Collective Unconscious to the Conscious

Jung had the idea that there are symbols that go beyond societal influence and conditioning, such that they are common to every living person. Jung did not mean this to suggest anything spiritual at the time he proposed these ideas. Later in life, after his near-death experience, Jung became quite sure all people are from the same energy source.

Religions will present that idea overtly, but media will more often take this on covertly. The Secret taught us about the power of attraction and how we can either be in debt or have checks arrive in the mail based on our thoughts. That of course leads to instant cynicism.

But the premise of sharing and participating in other people’s dreams seemed a perfectly acceptable notion to the Inception audience. Perhaps because of the matter-of-fact way it was presented. It was as if accessing the collective unconscious was simply like Googling something. The result: no cynicism, just a given acceptance that dreams can be shared.

Inception is the kind of film that leads to lots of speculation as to what was truly going on in the plot, and here’s a good take on Inception’s Jungian character-archetypes.


An easy way to figure out a character’s archetype is to get a pack of Tarot cards and just match them up. It was one of the tools I used in analyzing the archetypes in Alex Detail's Revolution.


Now let’s talk about getting in too deep. In the old stories you would go into some dark woods, into a cave or labyrinth, maybe even under water or into the belly of a whale. This is the idea of going into your unconscious. Why would you want to go there? Most time you really don’t have a choice. There’s a dragon to be slain and you’re the one who’s got to do it. All these stories about going someplace deep and dark to overcome some monster mean that you had to find out what it was that was holding you back in life and kill it.

Where a movie like The Matrix is a modern day version of “waking up” and “slaying dragons”, Inception is a purely psychological example—as literal as a metaphor can be. Watch for more examples of the collective unconscious in our entertainment. They’re on the way.