As a clinical psychologist, I observe stereotyped formulas of behavior in action every day in the consulting room, despite differences in age, race, or culture; they present themselves as codified rules or typical modes of behavior in archetypical situations. Such circumstances coincide with what C.G. Jung defended: the existence of archetypes stored in an inherited/phylogenetic repository, which he called the collective unconscious – somewhat similar to the notion of an ethogram, as shown by ethology. Psychologists can use a perspective to facilitate understanding the phenomenon: the code biology perspective (Barbieri 2014). This approach can help us recognize how these phenomenological events have an ontological reality based not only on the existence of organic information but also on the existence of organic meaning.
We are not a tabula rasa (Wilson 2000): despite the explosive diversification of the brain and the emergence of conscience and intentionality, we observe the conservation of basic instincts and emotions (Ekman 2004; Damasio 2010) not only in humans but in all mammals and other living beings; we refer to the neural activity on which the discrimination behavior is based, i.e., the neural codes. The conservation of these fundamental set-of-rules or conventions suggests that one or more neural codes have been highly conserved and serves as an interpretive basis for what happens to the living being who owns them (Barbieri 2003). Thus, archetypes’ phenomenological reality can be understood not as something metaphorical but as an ontological (phylogenetic) fact (Goodwyn 2019).
Furthermore, epigenetic regulation theories present the possibility that the biomolecular process incorporates elements of the context where it takes place; something fundamental to understand our concept – the archetype presents itself as the mnesic remnant of the behavioral history of individuals who preceded us on the evolutionary scale. In short: brains are optimized for processing ethologically relevant sensory signals (Clemens et al., 2015).
From the perspective of the corporeal mind (Searle 2002), in this paper, we will show the parallels between code biology and the concept of the archetype, as Jung defended it and as it appears in clinical practice.