Carl Jung coined the term Collective Unconscious (or Subconscious) to describe the “unconscious mind, shared by a society, a people, or all humanity, that is the product of ancestral experience and contains such concepts as science,religion, and morality.” While he was obviously a believer in this concept, Freud didn’t buy in to it.
Personally, I totally buy in to it! Why? Well, let me start by saying I have never read Jane Eyre, I never even knew what it was about. I only knew it was written in the 19th century and, until recently, reading something that was written more than a hundred years ago just wasn’t appealing at all. (And, if I’m being honest, I’d rather watch the movies than read the books…I know…shame on me! I just prefer the modern spins on historicals.)
So, three years ago, upon my return from my first trip to London, I set to work on my 2nd book, More than a Governess. The heroine was a secondary character from my first book (A Gentleman Never Tells, coming soon from Second Wind Publishing!!) and I knew that I wanted a troubled, surly hero.
Well, paint me green and call me Gumby! The governess and surly employer schtick had already been done! Imagine my surprise when I received the BBC version of Jane Eyre as a gift a couple months ago and popped it in the DVD player! Okay, so not everything was the same…there’s no psychotic wife in the attic or tragic fire that makes Stephen go blind temporarily…but there are a lot of similarities. But I will swear up and down that I knew nothing about Jane Eyre when I wrote this book.
So, hats off to you, Mr. Jung, for acknowledging and coining a phrase to help me understand why the heck I wrote such a similar scenario!
Has this ever happened to you? Have you come up with an idea that you thought was awesome and totally original, only to read it the next day…or next month…or years later…in another book? If so, do you chalk it up to coincidence like Mr. Freud? Or do you think Jung was on to something?