Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Alien analysis - part 3: Representiation of Jungian archetypes in the film


Jungian psychology (also known as analytic psychology or analytical psychology) is a school of psychology incorporating the ideas of Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875-1971). Jungian psychology emphasizes the primary importance of the individual psyche and the personal quest for wholeness.[a] In Jungian psychology, the collective unconscious is a form of the unconscious (that part of the mind containing memories and impulses of which the individual is not aware) common to mankind as a whole and originating in the inherited structure of the brain. It is distinct from the personal unconscious, which arises from the experience of the individual. According to Jung, the collective unconscious contains archetypes, or universal primordial images and ideas.[b] In this final post on Alien, we will discuss the representation in the film of two of Ripley's Jungian archetypes, her shadow and (the dark side of) her Self.

In Jungian psychology, the shadow is an unconscious complex defined as the repressed, suppressed, or disowned qualities of the conscious self.[c] Among the Nostromo crew, Lambert is the 'personification' of Ripley's shadow, as suggested by her weak, instinctual nature (see screencaps below).

As the chest-burster begins to erupt from Kane's chest (above left), Lambert displays a primitive, child-like emotional reaction upon being spattered with blood (above right).

Above left and right: Lambert goes into a state of complete hysteria when she is directly confronted by the alien creature.

Lambert is effectively the personification of that part of Ripley that is weak and instinctual, and that can result in hysterical behavior; that is, for Lambert herself, these qualities are dominant. Within Ripley, however, they remain repressed, and/or are actively suppressed by her, allowing her to behave in in an efficient and effective manner throughout most of the film. Certain events bring about 'panicky' behavior from Ripley, such as when Ash attempts to choke her by ramming a rolled-up magazine into her mouth (see below), but she is able to control herself and keep from lapsing into complete hysteria during such events.

Note Ripley's panicked facial expression as Ash tries to choke her to death with a rolled-up magazine.

The Self archetype in Jungian psychology signifies the unification of the conscious and the unconscious in a person; it represents the person's psyche as a whole. In Greek mythology, Persephone (also known as Kore or Cora) was the wife of Hades, king of the underworld (i.e., of Hell). In his "The Psychological Aspects of the Kore", Jung connects the Kore with the Self, saying, "The "Kore" has her psychological counterpart in those archetypes which I have called the self or supraordinate personality on the one hand, and the anima on the other.

"The figure of the Kore that interests us here belongs to the type of supraordinate personality. ...

"Sometimes the Kore and mother-figures slither down altogether to the animal kingdom, the favourite representatives [including] the cat or the snake or the bear, or else some black monster of the underworld like the crocodile, or other salamander-like, saurian creatures. ..."[d] (emphasis in original).

For Jungian psychologist Mary-Louise von Franz, "[T]he dark side of the Self is the most dangerous thing of all, precisely because the Self is the greatest power in the psyche."[e]

The alien has the appearance of a saurian (i.e., reptilian) creature, and it is extremely powerful and evil; it represents the 'personification' of the dark side of Ripley’s Self.

a. Wikipedia, 'Analytical psychology'. Web, n.d. URL =
b. 'collective unconscious'. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 16 Feb. 2016. URL =
c. Wikipedia, 'Analytical psychology'. Web, n.d. URL =
d. Jung, C.G. "The Psychological Aspects of the Kore" in The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9, part 1. Princeton University Press, 1969. pp. 182, 184.
e. M-L von Franz, "The Process of Individuation" in Carl Jung ed., Man and His Symbols . London: Aldus Books, 1964. p. 234.

1) In certain instances it has been determined that the creators of some of the productions analyzed on this blog, and/or the creators of source material(s) used in the making of these productions, may be making negative statements about certain segments of society in their productions. These statements should be taken as expressing the opinions of no one other than the creators.

2) This blog is not associated with any of the studios, creators, authors, publishers, directors, actors, musicians, writers, editors, crew, staff, agents, or any other persons or entities involved at any stage in the making of any of the media productions or source materials that are analyzed, mentioned, or referenced herein.

3) In keeping with the policies of the filmmakers, authors, studios, writers, publishers, and musicians, that have created the productions (and their source materials) that are analyzed, mentioned, or referenced on this blog, any similarity of the characters in these films or source materials to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


All images on this blog are used solely for non-commercial purposes of analysis, review, and critique.

All Wikipedia content on this blog, and any edits made to it, are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Marcus Aurelius's Meditations - from Wikisource (except where otherwise noted); portions from Wikisource used on this blog are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Saint Augustine's Confessions and City of God from Wikisource (except where otherwise noted); portions from Wikisource used on this blog are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Saint Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica from the 'Logos Virtual Library' website (except where otherwise noted), compiled and edited by Darren L. Slider; believed to be in public domain.