Carl Gustav Jung (July 26, 1875 – June 6, 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology. He was one of the first and most widely read writers of the twentieth century on the psychology of the human mind. His influence has proved as enduring and diverse as that of Sigmund Freud, with whom he worked for a time, although their approaches to psychotherapy are radically different. Jung regarded the unconscious as crucial to our psychological development, and he spent a significant portion of his life researching this aspect of life, as revealed in symbolic form through dreams and other spiritual experiences. He regarded his theories as applicable both to those with mental disorders and to those who are simply interested in promoting their own psychological development. Jung had many personal spiritual experiences that he wrote about in detail, along with his relationship with God, in his autobiography. However, he did not include explicitly religious concepts, or any mention of God, in his psychological theories.
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Born in Kesswil, in the Swiss canton of Thurgau on July 26, 1875, Carl Jung was a very solitary child. He was convinced from childhood that he had two personalities—a modern Swiss citizen, and a personality more at home in the eighteenth century. He was close to both his parents, and his interest in spirituality began at home. When he was a child, his mother often read to him of exotic religions from an illustrated children's book. His father was a vicar, but he was rather disappointed in his father's academic approach to faith.
Jung wanted to study archeology at the university, but his family was too poor to send him further afield than Basel, where they did not teach this subject. Instead, Jung studied medicine at the University of Basel from 1894 to 1900. The formerly solitary student became much livelier there. Towards the end of his studies, his reading of Krafft-Ebing persuaded him to specialize in psychiatric medicine: "Here and here alone (psychiatry), was the empirical field common to spiritual and biological facts." He later worked in the Burgholzi, a psychiatric hospital in Zurich.
In 1903, Jung married Emma Rauschenbach, who was trained in psychoanalysis. Together they had five children. They were close collaborators until Emma's death in 1955.
As a boy, Jung had remarkably striking dreams and powerful fantasies that had developed with unusual intensity. After his break with Freud, he deliberately allowed this aspect of himself to arise again, and gave the irrational side of his nature free expression. At the same time, he studied it scientifically by keeping detailed notes of his unusual experiences. He later developed the theory that these experiences came from an area of the mind that he called the collective unconscious, which he held was shared by everyone. In the following years, Jung experienced considerable isolation in his professional life, which intensified through World War I and his alienation from the psychoanalytic community. His Seven Sermons to the Dead (1917) reprinted in his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Jung & Jaffe, 1962) can also be read as expression of the psychological explorations of his inner world.
Following the war, Jung became a worldwide traveler, facilitated by the funds he realized through book sales, honoraria, and moneys received for sabbaticals from achieving seniority in the medical institutions where he was employed. He visited Northern Africa, and then New Mexico and Kenya in the mid-1920s. In 1938, he delivered the Terry Lectures, Psychology and Religion, at Harvard University. It was at about this stage in his life that Jung visited India. During his time there he had dreams related to King Arthur. This convinced him that his agenda should be to pay more attention to Western spirituality, and his later writings show deep interests in Western mystical traditions, esoteric Christianity, and especially alchemy. A late work revealed his interest in flying saucers as a psychic projection caused by the threatening global situation of his day. Jung continued to write until the end of his life on June 6, 1961.
Jung was 30 when he sent a copy of his work Studies in Word Association to Sigmund Freud in Vienna. Half a year later, the then 50-year-old Freud reciprocated by sending a collection of his latest published essays to Jung in Zurich. This marked the beginning of an intense correspondence and collaboration lasting more than six years.
Jung and Freud rule two very different empires of the mind, and it is the differences that proponents of each like to stress, downplaying the influence these men had on each other in the formative years of their lives. But in 1906, psychoanalysis as an institution was non-existent. And Jung, who was working as a doctor under the psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in the Burghölzli, became familiar with Freud's idea of the unconscious through Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams (1900). Freud at that time needed nothing more than collaborators and followers to validate and spread his ideas. The Burghölzli was a renowned psychiatric clinic near Zurich and Jung was an aspiring young doctor there on the rise. Jung's research at the Burghölzli established him as a psychiatrist of international repute. His findings corroborated many of Freud's ideas and for a time period (between 1907 and 1912) he and Freud worked closely together.
In 1908, Jung became editor of the newly founded Yearbook for Psychoanalytical and Psychopathological Research; the following year Jung traveled with Freud and Sandor Ferenczi to the U.S.A. to spread the news of psychoanalysis and in 1910, Jung became chairman for life of the International Psychoanalytical Association. While Jung worked on his Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (Symbols of Transformation), the tensions between him and Freud were rising, the nature of libido and religion playing an important role. Jung eventually came to believe that Freud's view of the human "unconscious mind" placed too great an emphasis on sexuality in relation to human behavior and to psychological complexes. Jung believed that the unconscious also had a creative capacity, serving a positive role essential to human society and culture. Although Freud at one time had seemed to hope that Jung would carry "Freudianism" into the future there was a parting of the ways. When Jung spoke to Freud of precognition and parapsychology, his response was an emphatic "Sheer nonsense!" In 1912, Jung's book Psychology of the Unconscious overtly set out the difference in his approach to that of Freud.
An actual professional and personal estrangement became definitely established in 1913, and Jung resigned from the Psychoanalytic Society in 1914. This separation of two great figures in psychology impacted not only their own research and theoretical development, but also affected the development of psychology, leading to divergent schools regarding the conception of the human mind that remain separate to this day.
After his break with Freud, Jung and his followers began the school of analytical psychology. Although Jung was wary of founding a "school" of psychology, (he was once rumored to have said, "Thank God I'm 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 Sigmund 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. However, he did not feel that experimental natural science was the best means to this end.
Ultimately, Jung sought to understand psychology through the study of the humanities. In his letter to the Psychoanalytic Review (Fall 1913), he wrote,
It is beyond the powers of the individual, more particularly of physicians, to master the manifold domains of the mental sciences which should throw some light on the comparative anatomy of the mind... We need not only the work of medical psychologists, but that also of philologists, historians, folklore students, ethnologists, philosophers, theologians, pedagogues and biologists.
The overarching 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 life with these suprapersonal archetypal forces.
Jung made the exploration of this "inner space" his life's work. He went equipped with a background in Freudian theory and with a seemingly inexhaustible knowledge of mythology, religion, and philosophy. Jung was especially knowledgeable in the symbolism of complex mystical traditions such as Gnosticism, Alchemy, Kabala, and similar traditions in Hinduism and Buddhism. From this foundation, Jung's life work was to make sense of the unconscious and its habit of revealing itself in symbolic form through archetypes of the collective unconscious. Later in life, Jung spoke of the transcendent function of the psyche, by which the conscious and unconscious are united. He believed this would lead to the full realization of the potential of the individual self.
Analytical psychology primarily explores how the collective unconscious, the part of consciousness that is cross-cultural and common to all human beings, influences personality. It is utilized not only for those with a mental disorder, but also for those who desire to promote their own psychological development and well-being. Jung's approach to psychology emphasized understanding the psyche through exploring the worlds of anthropology, astrology, alchemy, dreams, art, mythology, religion, and philosophy.
Jung was a strong believer in the importance of integration of opposites (e.g. masculine and feminine, thinking and feeling, science and spirituality). Though not the first to analyze dreams, his contributions to dream analysis were influential and extensive. Although he was a theoretical psychologist and practicing clinician for most of his life, many of his studies extend into other realms of the humanities: from comparative religion and philosophy, to criticism of art and literature. While these Jungian ideas are seldom mentioned in college psychology courses, they are often explored in humanities courses.
Although Jung learned many concepts and tools from Freud's method of psychoanalysis, such as the unconscious, dream analysis, and free association, many more pioneering psychological concepts were originally proposed by Jung. Some of these are:
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.”
The collective unconscious refers to that part of a person's unconscious that is common to all human beings. Jung took on the task of exploring and attempting to discern the mysteries stored in the collective unconscious.
Early in Jung's career he coined the term and described the concept of the "complex." A complex is an emotionally charged group of ideas or images. Complexes are the architects of dreams and of symptoms, the building blocks of the psyche, and the source of all human emotions. They operate relatively autonomously, and interfere with the intentions of the will, disturbing the memory and conscious performance. Jung stressed that complexes are not negative in themselves, but their effects often are.
Jung used the process of individuation in pioneering the psychotherapy of the middle-aged and elderly, especially those who felt their lives had lost meaning. Many of these patients had lost their religious beliefs; Jung found that if they could rediscover their own meaning as expressed in dream and imagination, as well as through the exploration of mythology and religion, they would become more complete personalities. Jung also stated that individuation is a natural process of maturation inherent in the nature of human beings, and is not only an analytic process. He believed that man became whole, integrated, calm, and happy when the process of individuation was complete—when the conscious and unconscious have learned to live at peace and to complement one another.
Jung defined the concept of synchronicity as two simultaneous events that occur coincidentally, that are not causally related but result in meaningful connection. Synchronicity is also defined as the meaningful coincidence of an inner image with an outer event, which can often let one see the world in a new light, especially if one responds very deeply, with the full involvement of his or her being to the meaning of the event. While Jung professed the importance of the psychological significance of synchronicity, he also said "I am equally interested, at times even more so, in the metaphysical aspect of this phenomena, and I cannot deny my fervent interest in this aspect."
Jung collaborated with quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli and their common reflections went far beyond psychology and physics, entering into the realm where the two areas meet in the philosophy of nature. As a consequence of their collaboration, synchronicity was transformed from an empirical concept into a fundamental explanatory-interpretative principle. The work of Pauli and Jung in the area of synchronicity thus contributed to a more holistic worldview by bringing unity to mind and matter, psychology, philosophy (including metaphysics), and science.
The existence of synchronistic events contributed to Jung's hypothesis of an inherent unitary reality where psyche and matter are "two different aspects of the same thing,” because "they are included in one and the same world." Jung called this unus mundus.
One of Jung's most important discoveries was his realization that by understanding the way we typically process information, we can gain insights into why we act and feel the way we do. Jung identified two core psychological processes that he termed "extravert" (as originally spelled by Jung and considered a variant of the word extrovert in the Merriam Webster Dictionary) and "introvert." In Jung's original usage, the extravert orientation finds meaning outside the self, preferring the external world of things, people, and activities. The introvert is introspective and finds meaning within, preferring their internal world of thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and dreams. Jung also identified four primary modes of experiencing the world: thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. He referred to these as the four functions.
Significant in Jung's theory is that "type preferences" are inborn and not socially constructed through interaction with the parents, family, culture and other external influences. Even so, the individual is impacted in the quality and strength of the development in his or her preferences. Nature and nurture are both at play. A supportive environment will facilitate inborn preference development; a contrary environment will impede or retard their natural development.
Jung believed that the force of "Rationalism" had eroded man's spiritual values to a dangerous degree, leading to worldwide disorientation and dissociation. He said that we have become "dominated by the goddess Reason, who is our greatest and most tragic illusion." He researched anthropological documentation regarding what happens when a society loses its spiritual values—people lose the meaning of their lives, social organization disintegrates, and morals decay. Jung attributed this partially to spiritual leaders being more interested in protecting their institutions than understanding the mysteries of faith.
He was also concerned that "Mother Earth" had been reduced to mere matter rather than the profound emotional significance contained in the former image of the "Great Mother." As scientific understanding grew, so the world had become dehumanized. Jung believed that individuals feel isolated in the cosmos because they have ceased to be involved in nature and have become disconnected from their "unconscious identity" with natural phenomena.
Dreams, Jung believed, help to compensate for this enormous loss. He discovered that the psyche spontaneously produces images with a religious content, and is "by nature religious." Especially during the second half of life, he noted that numerous neuroses result from a disregard for this fundamental characteristic of the psyche. As our life becomes more rational, the symbols in our dreams keep us connected with the symbols of the mysteries of life. The symbols and archetypes are not static or mechanical, but come alive as the individual assigns meaning to them. He explained that the symbol-producing function of dreams is to bring the original mind into an advanced consciousness. The symbols are an attempt to unite and reconcile opposites within the psyche.
He reminded us that God speaks to us through dreams and visions. While the Catholic Church admits the occurrence of somnia a deo missa (dreams sent by God), rarely do Catholic thinkers make a serious attempt to understand dreams. Jung speculated that the study of individual and collective symbolism holds the solution to modern man's problems.
While Jung spoke in terms of archetypes and symbols in his scientific work, he spoke more personally of his relationship with God in his autobiography, Memories, Dreams and Reflections: "I find that all my thoughts circle around God like the planets around the sun, and are as irresistibly attracted by Him. I would feel it to be the grossest sin if I were to oppose any resistance to this force."
Jung has had an enduring influence both in psychology and beyond. Many writers, artists, musicians, film makers, theologians, and mythologists have found inspiration in Jung's work. Examples include mythologist Joseph Campbell, film maker George Lucas, and science fiction author Ursula K. LeGuin. Within the field of psychology, Jung's work has led to personality tests based on his psychological types, his concept of archetypes has formed the basis for Hillman's archetypal psychology, his wide-ranging interpretation of dreams and associations counteracted Freud's restricted (primarily sexual) approach, and his analytical psychology remains one of the pillars of depth psychology.
Jung's influence can sometimes be found in more unexpected quarters. 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 Thatcher, a long-time friend and drinking buddy of William G. Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). Thatcher 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, which has touched the lives of millions of people.
The popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Kiersey-Bates Temperament Sorter (KBTS), and Socionics were all inspired by Jung's theory of psychological types. These tests are widely used instruments for personality analysis and as an effective management tool to help with team building, time management, problem solving, developing effective task groups, and communication improvement in large and small corporations. They are also used in career development as well as in relationship and marital counseling. Since tests based on Jung's types do not evaluate people as good or bad, their use encourages people to become more aware of personality traits in themselves and others, and subsequently improves relationships. The Jung Typology Test is available online.
In the field of family systems theory, the concept of psychological type holds potential as another way to understand the internal conflicts and alliances within the family, and thus to support family counseling. Parents can often be seen to have concern about children who operate from type preferences different from theirs and run the risk of encouraging, and at times coercing, children into a false personality. "Type-alike" family members will naturally gravitate toward each other.
Archetypal psychology was founded by James Hillman, who trained at the Jung Institute in Zurich. Hillman acknowledges that archetypal psychology originated with Jung, although it developed in a somewhat different direction. Whereas Jung’s psychology focused on the self, its dynamics and its constellations of archetypes (ego, anima, animus, shadow), Hillman’s archetypal psychology relativizes and deliteralizes the ego and focuses on the psyche, or soul, itself and "the fundamental fantasies that animate all life."
Depth psychology is most strongly influenced by the work of Carl Jung, especially his emphasis on questions of psyche, human development, and personality development (or individuation). It is a broad term that refers to any psychological approach examining the depth (the hidden or deeper parts) of human experience.
Jung's ideas, especially the archetypes, have strongly influenced popular culture and media, such as novels, films, video games, and television programming. Here are examples that use the Wise Old Man archetype:
There is expansive literature on Jungian thought. For a good, short and easily accessible introduction to Jung's thought read:
Other good introductory texts include:
Good texts in various areas of Jungian thought:
And a more academic text:
For the Jung-Freud relationship:
Jung, C.G., with Adler, Gerhard, Fordham, Michael, Read, Herbert, and McGuire, (editors). 2000. Collected Works of C.G. Jung: 21 Volume Hardcover Set (Collected Works of C.G. Jung). Bollingen. The collected edition of Jung's works, in English translation. ISBN 0691074763
Works arranged by original publication date if known:
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. This work is published in some editions of Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
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