Carl Jung

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Carl Gustav Jung

Carl Gustav Jung (July 26, 1875June 6, 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of Analytical Psychology. Though not the first to analyze dreams, his contributions to dream analysis are perhaps the most influential and certainly the most extensive. His approach to human psychology is unique in that he placed primary emphasis on understanding the human psyche by means of exploring the world of dreams, art, mythology, world religion and philosophy. Although he was a theoretical psychologist and practicing clinician for most of his life, many of his most important contributions extend into the realm of the humanties disciplines: from comparative religion and philosophy, to art and literature criticism. (Interestingly, Jungian ideas are seldom mentioned in college psychology courses while they are often explored in humanities courses.)

Many pioneering psychological concepts were originally proposed by Jung. Some of these are:


Jungian psychology

Although Jung was wary of founding a 'school' of psychology, (he was once rumored to have said, "Thank God I am Jung and not a Jungian."), he did develop a distinctive approach to the study of the human psyche. Through his early years working in a Swiss hospital with psychotic patients and collaborating with Freud and the burgeoning psychoanalytic community, he gained a close look at the mysterious depths of the human unconscious. Fascinated by what he saw (and spurred on with even more passion by the experiences and questions of his personal life) he devoted his life to the exploration of the unconscious. Identifying not experimental natural science as the best means to this end, but rather the world of dream, myth, and psychopathology, Jung sought to understand psychology through the study of the humanities.

The ultimate goal of Jung's life work was the reconciliation of the life of the individual with the world of the supra-personal archetypes. He came to see the individual's encounter with the unconscious as central to this process. The human experiences the unconscious through symbols encountered in all aspects of life: in dreams, art, religion, and the symbolic dramas we enact in our relationships and life pursuits. Essential to the encounter with the unconscious, and the reconciliation of the individual's consciousness with this broader world, is learning this symbolic language. Only through attention and openness to this world (which is quite foreign to the modern Western mind) is the individual able to harmonize his or her life with these suprapersonal archetypal forces.

"Neurosis" results from a disharmony between the individual's consciousness and the greater archetypal world. The aim of psychotherapy is to assist the individual in restablishing a healthy relationship to the unconscious (neither being swamped by it--a state characteristic of psychosis--nor completely shut off from it--a state that results in malaise, empty consumerism, narcissism, and a life cut off from deeper meaning). The encounter between consciousness and the symbols arising from the unconscious enriches life and promotes psychological development. Jung considered this process of psychological growth and maturation (which he called the process of individuation) to be of critical importance to the human being, and ultimately to modern society.

In order to undergo the individuation process, the individual must allow herself to be open to the parts of herself beyond her own ego. In order to do this, the modern individual can pay attention to her dreams, explore the world of religion and spirituality, and question the assumptions of the operant societal worldview (rather than just blindly live life in accordance with dominant norms and assumptions).

The collective unconscious

Jung's concept of the collective unconscious has often been misunderstood. In order to understand this concept, it is essential to understand his idea of the archetype, something foreign to the highly rational, scientifically-oriented Western mind. Here is a useful analogy: the collective unconscious is the DNA of the human psyche. Just as all humans share a common physical heritage and predisposition towards specific physical forms (like having two legs, a heart, etc.) so do all humans have a common psychological predisposition. Our physical predispostions are determined by our DNA, while our psychological predispositions are stored in the collective unconscious. Like the human genome project that took on the tremedous labor of analyzing the information stored in the human DNA, Jung took on the even more extensive task of exploring and attempting to discern the mysteries stored in the collective unconscious. However, unlike the simple, quantifiable information that composes DNA (in the form of coded sequences of nucleotides), the collective unconscious is composed of archetypes. In sharp contrast to the objective material world, the world of the archetypes can not be adequately understood through quantitative modes of research. Instead it can only begin to be revealed through an examination of the symbolic communications of the human psyche--in art, dreams, religion, myth, and the themes of human relational/behavioral patterns. Devoting his life to the task of exploring and understanding the collective unconscious, Jung discovered that certain symbolic themes existed across all cultures, all epochs, and in every individual. Together these symbolic themes comprise "the archetypes of the collective unconscious."

Jung and Freud

At university, Jung was a student of Krafft-Ebing. For a time, Jung was Freud's heir-apparent in the psychoanalytic school. After the publication of Jung's Symbols of Transformation (1912), Jung and Freud endured a painful parting of ways: Jung seemed to feel confined by what he believed was Freud's narrow, reductionistic, and rigid view of libido. Freud held that all libido was at base sexual, while Jung's psychological work continued to explore libido as multiple and often synthetic. After the break with Freud, Jung questioned how such divergent views as Freud's, Alfred Adler's and his own could develop out of Psychoanalysis. The result of his questionings was Psychological Types (volume 6 of the Collected Works), in which Jung outlines a framework within which psychological orientations can be identified.

Psychological Types

The now much misunderstood terms 'extrovert' and 'introvert' derive from this work. In Jung's original usage, the extrovert orientation finds meaning outside the self, in the surrounding world, whereas the introvert is introspective and finds it within. Jung also identified four primary modes of experiencing the world: thought, feeling, sensation, and intuition. (He referred to these as the four functions.) Broadly speaking, we tend to work from our most developed function, while we need to widen our personality by developing the others. Related to this, Jung noted that the unconscious often tends to reveal itself most easily through a person's least developed function. The encounter with the unconscious and development of the inferior function(s) thus tend to progress together.


Jung has had an enduring influence on psychology as well as wider society.

More examples can be found here.

Jung's influence can sometimes be found in more unexpected quarters. For example, Jung once treated an American patient suffering from chronic alcoholism. After working with the patient for some time, and achieving no significant progress, Jung told the man that his alcoholic condition was near to hopeless, save only the possibility of a spiritual experience. Jung noted that occasionally such experiences had been known to reform alcoholics where all else had failed.

The patient took Jung's advice seriously and set about seeking a personal spiritual experience. He returned home to the United States and joined a Christian evangelical church. He also told other alcoholics what Jung had told him about the importance of a spiritual experience. One of the alcoholics he told was Ebby Thacher, a long-time friend and drinking buddy of Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) Thacher told Wilson about Jung's ideas. Wilson, who was finding it hard to maintain sobriety, was impressed and sought out his own spiritual experience. The influence of Jung ultimately found its way in the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, drafted by Wilson, and from there into the whole 12-step recovery movement, which has touched the lives of millions of people.

Influence on culture

  • Jung had a 16-year long friendship with author Laurens van der Post from which a number of books and film were created about Jung's life.
  • The concept of the collective unconscious is one of the main topics in the Dune novel series.
  • The video games Xenogears and Xenosaga utilize many of the ideas proposed by Carl Jung as major storyline components of the game, and even create physical manifestations of his notions within actual characters, Albedo, Nigredo, Rubedo, etc.
  • Jung's writing was introduced to Italian film maker, Federico Fellini in the 1950s and had an effect on the way Fellini incorporated dreams into films after La Dolce Vita.

Related publications

For a good, easily accesible introduction to Jung's thought read:

  • Chapter 1 of Man and His Symbols, conceived and edited by Jung. (The rest of this book also provides a good overview.)

Other good introductory texts include:

  • June Singer's Boundaries of the Soul
  • The Portable Jung in the "Viking Portable" series, edited by Joseph Campbell
  • Ego and Archetype by Edward Edinger

There exists expansive literature in the area of Jungian thought. One excellent tool for navigating Jung's works is Robert Hopcke's book, A Guided Tour of the Collected Works of C.G. Jung. He offers short, lucid summaries of all of Jung's major ideas and suggests readings from Jung's and others' work that best present that idea.

Here is more bibliography:

  • Jung, C. G., & Hinkle, B. M. (1912). Psychology of the unconscious : a study of the transformations and symbolisms of the libido, a contribution to the history of the evolution of thought. London: Kegan Paul Trench Trubner.
  • Jung, C. G., & Long, C. E. (1917). Collected papers on analytical psychology (2nd ed.). London: Balliere Tindall & Cox.
  • Jung, C. G., & Baynes, H. G. (1923). Psychological types, or, The Psychology of individuation. London: K. Paul Trench Trubner.
  • Jung, C. G., Baynes, H. G., & Baynes, C. F. (1928). Contributions to analytical psychology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  • Jung, C. G. (1933). Modern man in search of a soul. London: Kegan Paul Trench Trubner.
  • Jung, C. G. (1936). The psychology of dementia praecox. New York: Nervous and Mental Disease Publ. Co.
  • Jung, C. G. (1938). Psychology and religion. New Haven: Yale university press.
  • Jung, C. G. (1947). Essays on contemporary events. London: Kegan Paul.
  • Jung, C. G. (1953). Collected works. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  • Jung, C. G. (1959). The Undiscovered self. New York: American Library.
  • Jung, C. G. (1966a). The practice of psychotherapy : essays on the psychology of the transference and other subjects (2nd ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Jung, C. G. (1966b). Two essays on analytical psychology (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.
  • Jung, C. G. (1968). Psychology and alchemy (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.
  • Jung, C. G. (1969). Studies in word-association (1st ed.). London: Routledge & K. Paul.
  • Jung, C. G. (1970a). Four archetypes; mother, rebirth, spirit, trickster. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Jung, C. G. (1970b). Mysterium coniunctionis : an inquiry into the separation and synthesis of psychic opposites in alchemy (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.
  • Jung, C. G. (1973). Synchronicity : an acausal connecting principle (2nd ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Jung, C. G. (1974a). Dreams. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Jung, C. G. (1974b). The Psychology of dementia praecox. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Jung, C. G. (1986a). Four archetypes; mother, rebirth, spirit, trickster. London: ARK Paperbacks.
  • Jung, C. G. (1986b). Psychology and the East. London: Ark.
  • Jung, C. G. (1987a). Dictionary of analytical psychology. London: Ark Paperbacks.
  • Jung, C. G. (1988b). On the nature of the psyche. London: Ark Paperbacks.
  • Jung, C. G. (1988c). Psychology and Western religion. London: Ark Paperbacks.
  • Jung, C. G. (1991a). The Development of personality. London: Routledge.
  • Jung, C. G. (1991c). The psychogenesis of mental disease. London: Routledge.
  • Jung, C. G., & De Laszlo, V. S. (1958). Psyche and symbol : a selection from the writings of C.G. *Jung. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.
  • Jung, C. G., & De Laszlo, V. S. (1959). Basic writings. New York: Modern Library.
  • Jung, C. G., & Dell, S. M. (1940). The Integration of the personality. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
  • Jung, C. G., & Jaffe A. (1963). Memories, dreams, reflections. London: Collins.
  • Jung, C. G., Evans, R. I., & Jones, E. (1964). Conversations with Carl Jung and reactions from Ernest Jones. New York: Van Nostrand.
  • Jung, C. G., & Franz, M.-L. v. (1964). Man and his symbols. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.
  • Jung, C. G., & Campbell, J. (1976). The portable Jung. New York: Penguin Books.
  • Jung, C. G., Rothgeb, C. L., Clemens, S. M., & National Clearinghouse for Mental Health Information (U.S.). (1978). Abstracts of the collected works of C.G. Jung. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Printing Office.
  • Jung, C. G., & Antony Storr (ed.), (1983) The Essential Jung, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-02455-3
  • Jung, C. G., Wagner, S., Wagner, G., & Van der Post, L. (1990). The World within C.G. Jung in his own words [videorecording]. New York, NY: Kino International : Dist. by Insight Media.
  • Jung, C. G., & Hull, R. F. C. (1991). Psychological types (A revision / ed.). London: Routlege.
  • Jung, C. G., & Shamdasani, S. (1996). The psychology of Kundalini yoga : notes of the seminar given in 1932 by C.G. Jung. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Jung, C. G., & Chodorow, J. (1997). Jung on active imagination. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Jung, C. G., & Jarrett, J. L. (1998). Jung's seminar on Nietzsche's Zarathustra (Abridged ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
  • Jung, C. G., & Sabini, M. (2002). The earth has a soul : the nature writings of C.G. Jung. Berkeley, Calif.: North Atlantic Books.

An early writing by Jung, dating from around 1917, was his poetic work, the Seven Sermons to the Dead. Written in the persona of the second century religious teacher Basilides of Alexandria, it explores ancient religious and spiritual themes, including those of gnosticism.

See also

External links


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