In this episode we have the fascinating job of trying to get to get to grips with Jung’s concept of the Collective unconscious. I’ve always loved Jung and I think his ideas can offer a brilliant framework in which to maximise our mental health, to use life’s challenges to harvest meaningful lessons, and just to navigate the subjective experience of being alive. But this is a science podcast, so we do want to get clear on what is just a useful idea and what is a scientifically proven reality. Jung was very shy to speak about scientifically unprovable ideas because he was a rigorous academic, but as his career progressed he was encouraged more and more to elaborate on the tools he was using with his patients; and as we’ll discuss today he felt there was a huge value in acknowledging the active role of what lies outside of the sphere of testable knowledge, rather than just dismissing it as non-existent.


So I am extremely happy to have Jungian analyst Dr Monika Wikman with us to help locate the threshold between these two very different fields of knowledge and to explain in detail the collective unconscious. Monika is the author of ‘Alchemy and the Rebirth of consciousness’ and received her PHD in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology and then deepened her knowledge of Jungian Analysis at the Jung-Von Franz Center for Depth psychology in Zurich. She is an expert on topics including the anima mundi and environmental issues of our time, archetypal phenomena surrounding death, dreams, active imagination, and alchemy. Her work with the dying culminated in a research project called ‘Dreams of the Dying’ at UC San Diego Medical Center, which is the foundation of her most recent book, Alchemy of Life, Death and the Wedding Veil.

What we discuss in this episode:

Part 1

00:00 Intro

05:00 Early encounters with death

08:00 Refining your ‘IBST’ or ‘inner bullshit detector’

09:00 the value of reflectiveness to the wholeness of the psyche

11:15 Knowing that we don’t know. Agility in the psyche: Dynamic tension between the polarities

12:20 The humility of the ego to identify suffering that creates an opening for us to grow: Dissent, the renewal of consciousness

14:30 What is the Collective Unconscious? 

16:40 The erupting of the unknown into the known via the unconscious

19:00 How can motif’s from ancient myths appear in the minds of those who’ve never learned about these myths?

20:00 The healing function of connecting with this archetypal strata of consciousness

21:00 Archetype means imprint into time and space

24:30 Did Jung want to prove the existence of the collective unconscious?

25:30 The limited ‘one sided’ view of the world of time/space consciousness.

28:30 ‘We must not be blind to the fact that Scientific Hypotheses are human curtains and veils concealing the abysmal darkness of the unknowable’ Jung 

29:00 The importance of dreams to scientific discovery

32:45 William Blake ‘The eye that alters, alters all’

36:30 ‘Learning to hear and see in new ways’ Jung

38:00 Physical and psyche aspects could be part of one and the same energy. Jung’s Extensity and Intensity

40:00 Monika’s ‘2 weeks to live to cancer free overnight’ experience

42:00 Science as the constant revelation of something bigger than what we currently know

50:00 Ego consciousness making a bridge to the symbolic field of the collective unconscious

52:00 Accepting lack of control of outcome as a door to healing. Trust over surrender

53:00 Monika’s Scarab beetle vision and the spontaneous healing of her cancer

54:00 Near death research, states of consciousness beyond space and time, the symbol and light and the bliss of death

57:00 The deep interconnection between the world of time-space and non time-space.

1:00:00 Non-duality, causal bi-directionality between matter and the collective unconscious, local and non-local

Part 2

1:02:00 the psyche has an incarnate aspect and a non-local ‘beyond space and time’ aspect; the symbolic field of the collective unconscious is the bridge that unites them

1:03:00 How do we use knowledge of the collective unconscious in therapy? Forming a relationship between the Ego and the collective unconscious 

1:04:45 Active imagination, the shadow and balancing one sidedness in the ego consciousness

1:08:40 Active imagination as tool for contact with other ways of perceiving and sources of knowing, leaving the ego less alone

1:11:20 Chaos as a catalyst forcibly setting off a chain reaction of transformation 

1:15:00 The Implicate and Explicate order, David Bohm and the big question about where does all this information reside

1:21:30 ‘Pregnant Darkness; alchemy and the rebirth of consciousness’ Monika Wikman

1:27:30 ‘Exploring Holotropic Breathing’ Monika Wikman, Stan Grof and trust in the healing modalities of the psyche

1:35:00 Peak experiences, psychedelics and the dangers of getting hooked on transformation 


‘Pregnant Darkness; alchemy and the rebirth of consciousness’ Monika Wikman

‘Exploring Holotropic Breathing’ Monika Wikman

Monika’s presentation ‘Refining you inner bullshit detector’

‘On dream and death’ by Marie- Louise Von Franz

‘The order disorder paradox’ by Nathan Schwarz

Stan Grof’s Holotropic Breathing and Grof Transpersonal Psychology training


Full Jung Quote 26:00: ‘The limitation of consciousness in space and time is such an overwhelming reality that every occasion when this fundamental truth is broken through must rank as an event of the highest theoretical significance, for it would prove that the space-time barrier can be annulled. The annulling factor would then be the psyche, since space-time would attach to it at most as a relative and conditioned quality.

Under certain conditions it could even break through the barriers of space andtime precisely because of a quality essential to it, that is, its relatively trans-spatial and trans-temporal nature. This possible transcendence of space-time, for which it seems to me there is a good deal of evidence, is of such incalculable import that it should spur the spirit of research to the greatest effort."