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Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytic theory contends that the unconscious is structured like a language.
The unconscious, Lacan argued, was not a more primitive or archetypal part of the mind separate from the conscious, linguistic ego, but rather, a formation every bit as complex and linguistically sophisticated as consciousness itself.
If the unconscious is structured like a language, Lacan argues, then the self is denied any point of reference to which to be "restored" following trauma or "identity crisis".
While the personal unconscious is made up essentially of contents which have at one time been conscious but which have disappeared from consciousness through having been forgotten or repressed, the contents of the collective unconscious have never been in consciousness, and therefore have never been individually acquired, but owe their existence exclusively to heredity.
Whereas the personal unconscious consists for the most part of complexes, the content of the collective unconscious is made up essentially of archetypes. The concept of the archetype, which is an indispensable correlate of the idea of the collective unconscious, indicates the existence of definite forms in the psyche which seem to be present always and everywhere.