Carl Gustav Jung

Ideas

– There are particular personality types characterized by extraversion or introversion, and four personality functions: sensation, thinking, feeling, and intuition.

– Within each individual is found a personal unconscious, which is composed of one’s personal history, and a collective unconscious, which is composed of images or archetypes common to all people; these images appear frequently in dreams, fairy tales, and myths.

– Each individual is so constituted that he or she has an innate drive to fulfillment, or to his or her own destiny.

– Individuation, or the attainment of personal integrity, occurs in the second half of life.

– Dreams arise from the ‘all-uniting depths’ and tend to compensate for deficits in the individual’s waking life, facilitating the person’s awareness of deficiencies in the personality and thus enabling their development.

Biography

Swiss psychiatrist, one of the founding fathers of modern depth psychology. Jung’s most famous concept, the collective unconscious, has had a deep influence not only on psychology but also on philosophy and the arts. Jung’s break with Sigmund Freud is one of the famous stories in the early history of psychoanalytic thought. More than Freud, Jung has inspired the New Age movement with his interest in occultism, Eastern religions, the I Ching, and mythology.

‘My situation is mirrored in my dreams,’ Jung wrote in 1898 in his diary. With his cousin Helene (‘Helly’) Preiswerk, he conducted spiritistic experiments. In 1900 Jung graduated with a medical degree from the University of Basel and began his professional career at the University of Zürich.

At the Burghöltzi, the Zürich insane asylum and psychiatric clinic, he worked until 1909. These years were decisive for Jung’s later development. His first published paper, Zur Psychologie und Pathologie sogenannter occulter Phänomene (On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena), appeared in 1902 and formed the basis for his doctoral thesis. Its material was partly based on his observations with Helene, whom he described in the work as ‘a young girl somnambulist.’ Throughout his career, Jung remained interested in parapsychology. He also consulted the Chinese oracle the I Ching, especially the translation made by Richard Wilhelm. ‘The irrational fullness of life has taught me never to discard anything, Jung wrote, ‘even when it goes against all our theories (so short-lived at best) or otherwise admits of no immediate explanation.’

In 1903 Jung married Emma Rauschenbach (1882-1955); they had five children. The family moved in 1909 to Küsnacht, near Zurich. Above the door of his house Jung had a motto carved: VOCATUS ATQUE NON VOCATUS DEUS ADERIT (‘Summoned or not, the god will be there’). Jung’s long affair with Toni Wolff, who become a therapist, nearly broke the marriage. Eventually Emma accepted the situation, but she was never happy that Toni Wolff was a regular guest for Sunday dinner.

Jung’s study on schizophrenia, The Psychology of Dementia Praecox, led him into collaboration with Sigmund Freud; they first met in 1907 and talked about thirteen hours. ‘I found him extremely intelligent, shrewd, and altogether remarkable,’ Jung wrote on Freud. He opened a private practice and travelled with Freud in 1909 to the United States, lecturing and meeting amongst others the American philosopher and psychologist William James, whose thoughts deeply attracted Jung.

Jung’s disagreement with Freud started over the latter’s emphasis on sexuality alone as the dominant factor in unconscious motivation. ‘Every form of addiction is bad,’ Jung later said, ‘no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.’ Freud fainted twice in Jung’s presence but the ties were broken with the publication of Jung’s Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (1912, Symbols of Transformation), full of mythological images and motifs, and with his acts as the president of the International Congress of Psycho-Analysis. In a letter to Freud he wrote: ‘If ever you should rid yourself entirely of your complexes and stop playing the father to your sons, and instead of aiming continually at their weak spots took a good look at your own for a change, then I will mend my ways and at one stroke uproot the vice of being in two minds about you.’ (Jung on December, 18, 1912).

The end of his father-son relationship with Freud had a profoundly disturbing effect on Jung. He withdrew from the psychoanalytic movement and suffered a six-year-long breakdown during which he had fantasies of mighty floods sweeping over northern Europe – prophetic visions of World War I. His inner experiences Jung recorded in the ‘Red Book’, illustrated with his own works in the art nouveau style. His first mandala Jung constructed in 1916. He interpreted the form as a symbol of the self, the wholeness of the personality.

Following his emergence from this period of crisis, Jung developed his own theories systematically under the name of Analytical Psychology. His concepts of the collective unconscious and of the archetypes led him to explore religion in the East and West, myths, alchemy, and later flying saucers. Jung gathered material for his studies by visits to the Pueblo Indians and the Elgonies in East Africa. Although Jung travelled quite extensively during his life, he never went to Rome. The omission was deliberate; he felt that the associations the place would evoke were too strong. When Jung visited New Mexico in 1925, one of the Publos told him: ‘The whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think they are mad.’ In India Jung the Taj Mahal, and called it ‘the secret of Islam.’

Jung classified personalities into introvert and extravert types, according to the individual’s attitude to the external world. Jung considered himself introvert. His experience with patients made him define neurosis as ‘the suffering of the soul which has not discovered its meaning.’ Meaning can be found through dreams and their symbols in the form of archetypical images, arising from the collective unconscious. Freud dismissed the concept – ‘…I do not think that much is to be gained by introducing the concept of a ‘collective’ unconscious – the content of the unconscious is collective anyhow, a general possession of mankind,’ he wrote in Moses and Monotheism (1939). Freud offered instead the idea of an ‘archaic inheritance’.

Jung’s view of literature was ambivalent. He was fascinated by Nietzsche, and lectured on Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, but distrust of aestheticism colored his judgment of literary works. However, he had a special interest in trivial literature: ‘Indeed. Literary products of highly dubious merits are often of the greatest interest to the psychologist.’ From H. Rider Haggard’s novel She, Jung found an embodiment of the anima. In particular Jung was interested in the mythic and archaic elements in literature.

His Symbols of Transformaton (1912) contains a lengthy discussion of Longfellow’s Hiawatha, which is regarded as a poetic compilation of mythical motifs. The old Chinese text, The Secret of the Golded Flower, awakened Jung’s interest in alchemy. His major study in this field, Psychologie und Alchemie, was published in German in 1944. In his own library Jung had a number of rare alchemical books and folios. For the four-hundreth anniversary of the death of the famous Swiss physician and alchemist Theophrastus Paracelsus, Jung delivered to addresses, ‘Paracelsus the Physician’ and ‘Paracelsus as a Spiritual Phenomenon’.

The American writer F.Scott Fitzgerald mentions Jung several times in Tender is the Night (1934). When his wife Zelda had a psychotic episode in late 1930, Jung was Fitzgerald’s alternative choice for consultation.- Hermann Hesse’s novel Demian was inspired by Jung’s theory of individuation. Among Jung’s patients in the 1930s was James Joyce’s daughter Lucia, who suffered from schizophrenia. Jung had earlier written a hostile analysis of Ulysses, and Joyce was left bitter at Jung’s analysis of his daughter. He paid back in Finnegans Wake, joking with Jung’s concepts of Animus and Anima. In his essay ‘Ulysses’ (1934) Jung saw Joyce’s famous novel as an exploration of the spiritual condition of modern man, especially the brutalization of his feelings.

In 1933 Jung was nominated president of the General Medical Society for Psychotherapy, an organization which had Nazi connections. He also assumed the editorship of its publication, Zentralblatt für Psychotherapie. Jung’s activities with the organization and his writings about racial differences in the magazine have later been severely criticized. However, Jung had already in 1918 explained his differences with other schools of psychotherapeutic practice with racial terms: ‘…I can understand very well that Freud’s and Adler’s reduction of everything psychic to primitive sexual wishes and power-drives has something about it that is beneficial and satisfying to the Jew, because it is a form of simplification.’

He also saw in National Socialism ‘tensions and potentialities which medical psychology must consider in its evaluation of the unconscious.’ From mythology Jung took the figure of Wotan, an old Nordic god, ‘the truest expression and unsurpassed personification of a fundamental quality that is particularly characteristic of the Germans.’

In 1937 Jung said of Hitler less than critically: ‘He is a medium, German policy is not made; it is revealed through Hitler. He is the mouthpiece of the Gods of old… He is the Sybil, the Delphic oracle’ One of Jung’s pupils, Sabina Spielrein, who was his patient first, and later mistress according to some sources, practised psychoanalysis in the USSR after completing her studies. She was killed with her two daughters by German soldiers in 1942.

Emma Jung died in 1955, before finishing her book on the Grail Legend. Jung began the final construction of his Bollingen house, or rather a castle of stone with towers, and reworked many earlier papers. The first tower of the house Jung built after the death of his mother. Working with the building meant more to Jung than just a pastime. ‘At Bollingen I am in the midst of my true life, I am most deeply myself,’ he said. Among his later publications are Aion (1951), Answer to Job (1952), and Mysterium Coniunctionis (1955-56). Jung died on June 6, 1961. His last recorded words were, ‘Let’s have a really good red wine tonight.’ Jung’s Memoirs, Dreams, Reflections appeared in English in 1962. It was based on Aniela Jaffé’s interviews with Jung, who did not regard the book as his autobiography, but stated that it should be published under Jaffé’s name.

Major Works of Carl Gustav Jung

– Symbols of Transformation (1911)
– Psychology and Alchemy (1944)
– Answer to Job (1952)
– Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1961)

One thought on “Carl Gustav Jung

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.