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Psyche

In psychology, an individual's consciousness.

The term psyche actually takes its meaning from ancient myth. In Roman mythology, Psyche represented the human spirit and was portrayed as a beautiful girl with butterfly wings. Psyche was a beautiful mortal desired by Cupid, to the dismay of Cupid's mother Venus. Venus demanded that her son order Psyche to fall in love with the ugliest man in the world. Cupid refused and loved Psyche himself, visiting her only by night and commanding that she not look at him. Eventually, Psyche broke Cupid's rule and lit a lamp to look upon his face. For this disloyalty, Cupid abandoned her and Psyche wandered through the world in search of her lover. Eventually she was reunited with Cupid and made immortal by Jupiter.

The modern day use of the concept of psyche still incorporates the meaning of the human soul or spirit. It can also refer to the mind. Many different branches of science may have an interest in studying matters of the psyche. An online academic journal titled Psyche illustrates the wide range of study around the concept of psyche; participants come from the fields of cognitive science, philosophy, psychology, physics, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence. The magazine refers to its mission as an "interdisciplinary exploration of the nature of consciousness and its relation to the brain." Topics discussed regarding psyche in this diverse forum have included animal consciousness, the visual brain, and the triangular circuit of attention.

Psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875–1961) believed that the psyche was self regulating, and that it became more defined as a person went through the process of "individuation." Jung's theories, which he called analytical psychology, also included recognition and exploration of a "collective unconsciousness."

Catherine Dybiec Holm

Additional topics

Psychology EncyclopediaPsychological Dictionary: Perception: early Greek theories to Zombie