According to the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, the collective unconscious (also known as the collective subconscious) is a part of the unconscious mind common to all humans, a “reservoir of the experiences of our species.” The collective unconscious is characterized by archetypes, original models of people, objects, or concepts.
Example: A popular archetype which appears independently in the stories of many different cultures is that of the wicked fairy-tale stepmother.
This website provides a fabulous diagram of Jung’s theory along with a detailed description: http://www.kheper.net/topics/Jung/collective_unconscious.html
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Aug 2010