Map of the Soul: 7. The very title of this hit album by international pop sensation Bangtan Sonyeondan (BTS) leaves one yearning to explore what’s within. At the record’s core lie the archetypes of the human psyche, proposed by Carl Jung, the father of analytical psychology. The title is borrowed from the prominent Jungian psychoanalyst and professor of psychiatry, Dr. Murray Stein, whose book discusses Jung’s theories on human personality. The songs within the record outline a very personal journey marked by the power of an artist’s ambition and deepest fears and questions, human suffering, and the beauty of relationships. They evoke a longing for self-reflection, all while exploring the anatomy of the human mind. The album begins with the song “Intro: Persona,” in which leader RM mulls over the question, “Who am I?” In this energetic and catchy song, he raps: “The me who I created by myself to speak my mind / Yeah, I might have been deceiving myself, I might have been lying / But, I’m not ashamed of it, this is the map of my soul.” In these lines, RM touches on some of the fundamental aspects of the Persona, or the social “mask.” The consequent facade divides us from the outer world and shields our vulnerabilities and secrets. It represents not our true self but a mere fragment of it, constructed from the need for external adaptation and interaction with society. According to Dr. Stein, “the Persona is the person that we become as a result of acculturation, education, and adaptation to our physical and social environments,” and it is through the Persona that one’s conscious thoughts are expressed (STEIN, 2006, p. 101). RM tries to detangle his persona from his real self–Kim Namjoon and the upbeat nature of the song serves to demonstrate the deceiving nature of the Persona, as the cheery melodies clash with his introspective and earnest lyrics. He also emphasizes the importance of not becoming too attached to our personas and recognizing them “as they are.” In order to flourish, the human psyche requires the balance of all its components, and that is where the Shadow comes in. The Shadow is a part of one’s unconscious. In layman's terms, it is the darker side of the human psyche and constitutes emotions and traits, among other unexpressed or repressed qualities. Dr. Stein believes that the shadow is often guilt-laden and, “in general, the shadow has an immoral quality or, at least, little recommendable, containing characteristics of a person’s nature that are contrary to the customs and moral conventions of society” (STEIN, 2006, p. 98). The Shadow is a part of oneself that is often left unexplored and facing it can be harrowing. In the song “Interlude: Shadow,” SUGA raps: “Yeah, I’m you and you’re me, do you get it now? / Yeah, you’re me and I’m you, you get it now, right? / We’re one body and sometimes we’ll crash / You will never be able to take me off of you, you get it right?” SUGA creates a distortive, jarring vocal effect which makes it seem as though his Shadow is speaking through Suga’s own mouth. He thereby establishes a dialogue between himself and his Shadow to illustrate his own nerve-wrecking exploration of it. In the above lyrics, SUGA emphasizes the importance of coming to terms with our “ugly” sides in order to truly accept ourselves. Indeed, the acceptance of one’s Shadow is one of the seven key steps to self-ideation. Interestingly, the Shadow does not necessarily carry a negative connotation, as it may contain certain repressed talents and strengths, which can be of use on the journey to transformation and self-actualization. BTS portrays this idea in the song “Black Swan,'' which directly follows “Interlude: Shadow” on the track list. A sampling of its lyrics read: “I’d rather go on my own feet / I’ll jump into it / At the deepest / I saw myself / Slowly I open my eyes / this is my workroom, my studio / Even if harsh waves brush against me in the darkness / I will never get dragged away again.” In this song, the members lay out their deepest fear– that of losing their passion for music, which they live and breathe. The vulnerability and suffering displayed within this song gives a glimpse into an encounter with the Shadow, demonstrating that once a person has learned all of her Shadow’s hidden secrets, she can come out of its depths as a completely transformed individual. As we travel into the depths of the Shadow, we are met with the Anima/Animus. Jung believed this aspect of the Self is nestled in the very back of the Shadow and contains qualities of its host’s opposite gender. (The anima holds the feminine qualities of men and the animus, the masculine qualities of women. This archetype is controversial, as it assumes a gender binary, but it nevertheless sheds light on gender expression.) BTS’ Jimin perfectly captures the fluidity of gender expression in his solo song “Filter.” With seductive vocals and catchy beats, he enraptures the audience with lines like: “For you I will be new everyday / Being the same all the time is not fun / Mix the colors in the palette, pick your filter / Which of me do you want.” Jimin explores the anima through filters; with the slightest tweaks in choreography and stunning costume changes during BTS’ two-day online concert “MOTS: ONE,” he delivers a dazzling display of both his masculine and feminine qualities. He also references the conflict between the side of himself he yearns to share and that which the audience expects to see. This ultimately sheds light on one of the most difficult issues artists must grapple with. Exiting the Anima and Shadow, we arrive at the Ego, a critical part of the consciousness. “To Jung, the ego was the center of the field of consciousness, the part of the psyche where one’s conscious awareness resides, our sense of identity and existence.” (Journal Psyche). The Ego is the control center of the psyche and determines which parts of it are consciously accessible, to adapt to the outer and inner worlds. It is where all the archetypes merge and try to exist in harmony.
The album wraps up with J-Hope’s joyful yet reflective solo “Outro: Ego”. He raps: “The worries of 7 years finally come out of my mouth / All the oppression gets resolved / Into my heart are the answers from those I trusted the most / One and only hope, one and only soul.” The Ego balances the demands of society with the inner strife that surrounds self-actualization, allowing individuals to understand themselves and establish a sense of identity. J-Hope acknowledges his fruitless attempts to fully piece together these parts of himself before finally coming to a close, where he celebrates his full self. He practically screams, “This is who I am, and I am incredibly proud of it,” capturing the moment when he finally understands who he is. “Outro: Ego” is a song of celebration–a celebration of oneself.
In “Map of the Soul: 7,” the members of BTS demonstrate their unparalleled artistic prowess by skillfully building on Jung’s archetypes with their own experiences and emotions. The celebration of their individual stories and connections brings Jungian psychology to a new generation, yielding fresh insights on relationships, dreams, fears and identities. While Jung himself had no interest in starting a school of Jungians, we can only assume he would be pleased that his influence lives on.
Doolset Lyrics. (n.d.). doolset lyrics – BTS Lyrics in English. Retrieved April 10, 2022, from
Edinger, E. R. (n.d.). C.G. Jung: An Outline of Analytical Psychology. Center for Applications
of Psychological Type. https://www.capt.org/using-type/c-g-jung.htm
Hopwood, A. (n.d.). Jung's Model of the Psyche. Society of Analytical Psychology.
Journal Psyche. (n.d.). The Jungian Model of the Psyche. Journal Psyche.
Jung, C.G. The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche. Collected Works, Vol. 8, Bollingen
Series XX. Pantheon, New York, 1960. pp. 3-66.