Carl Jung

Carl Jung

Carl Gustav Jung was born on July 26, 1875 in Kesswil, Switz. and died on June 6, 1961.

Jung was a psychologist and psychiatrist who founded analytic psychology, in some aspects a response to Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis. Jung proposed and developed the concepts of the extroverted and introverted personality, archetypes, and the collective unconscious.

His work has been influential in psychiatry and in the study of religion, literature, and related fields.

Early life and career.

Jung was the son of a philologist and pastor. His childhood was lonely, though enriched by a vivid imagination, and from an early age he observed the behaviour of his parents and teachers, which he tried to resolve. Especially concerned with his father's failing belief in religion, he tried to communicate to him his own experience of God.

Though the elder Jung was in many ways a kind and tolerant man, neither he nor his son succeeded in understanding each other. Jung seemed destined to become a minister, for there were a number of clergymen on both sides of his family. In his teens he discovered philosophy and read widely, and this, together with the disappointments of his boyhood, led him to forsake the strong family tradition and to study medicine and become a psychiatrist.

He was a student at the universities of Basel (1895-1900) and Z�rich (M.D., 1902).

He was fortunate in joining the staff of the Burgh�lzli Asylum of the University of Z�rich at a time (1900) when it was under the direction of Eugen Bleuler, whose psychological interests had initiated what are now considered classical researches into mental illness.

At Burgholzli, Jung began, with outstanding success, to apply association tests initiated by earlier researchers. He studied, especially, patients' peculiar and illogical responses to stimulus words and found that they were caused by emotionally charged clusters of associations withheld from consciousness because of their disagreeable, immoral (to them), and frequently sexual content. He used the now famous term complex to describe such conditions.

Association with Freud.

These researches, which established him as a psychiatrist of international repute, led him to understand Freud's investigations; his findings confirmed many of Freud's ideas, and, for a period of five years (between 1907 and 1912), he was Freud's close collaborator. He held important positions in the psychoanalytic movement and was widely thought of as the most likely successor to the inventor of psychoanalysis. But this was not to be the outcome of their relationship. Partly for temperamental reasons and partly because of differences of viewpoint, the collaboration ended.

At this stage Jung differed with Freud largely over the latter's insistence on the sexual bases of neurosis. A serious disagreement came in 1912, with the publication of Jung's Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (Psychology of the Unconscious, 1916), which ran counter to many of Freud's ideas. Though Jung had been elected president of the International Psychoanalytic Society in 1911, he resigned from the society in 1914.

His first achievement was to differentiate two classes of people according to attitude types: extroverted (outward-looking) and introverted (inward-looking). Later he differentiated four functions of the mind--thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition--one or more of which predominate in any given person. The results of this study were embodied in Psychologische Typen (1921; Psychological Types, 1923). Jung's wide scholarship was well manifested here, as it also had been in The Psychology of the Unconscious.

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 function 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 strange 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. This much contested conception was combined with a theory of archetypes that Jung believed were of fundamental importance for the study of the psychology of religion. In Jung's terms, archetypes are instinctive patterns, having a universal character, expressed in behaviour and images.

Character of his psychotherapy.

The rest of his life was given over to the development of his ideas, especially those on the relation between psychology and religion. In his view, obscure and often neglected texts of writers in the past shed unexpected light not only on Jung's own dreams and fantasies but also on those of his patients; he thought it necessary for the successful prosecution of their art that psychotherapists become familiar with writings of the old masters.

Besides the development of new psychotherapeutic methods that derived from his own experience and the theories developed from them, Jung gave fresh importance to the so-called Hermetic tradition.

He conceived that the Christian religion was part of a historic process necessary for the development of consciousness, but he thought that the heretical movements, starting with Gnosticism and ending in alchemy, were manifestations of unconscious archetypal elements not adequately expressed in the varying forms of Christianity. He was particularly impressed with his finding that alchemical-like symbols could be found frequently in modern dreams and fantasies, and he thought that alchemists had constructed a kind of textbook of the collective unconscious. He drove this home in four large volumes of his Collected Works.

His historical studies aided him in pioneering the psychotherapy of the middle-aged and elderly, especially those who felt their lives had lost meaning. He helped them to appreciate the place of their lives in the sequence of history.

Most of these patients had lost their religious belief; Jung found that if they could discover their own myth as expressed in dream and imagination they would become more complete personalities. He called this process individuation.

In later years he became professor of psychology at the Federal Polytechnical University in Z�rich (1933-41) and professor of medical psychology at the University of Basel (1943).

His personal experience, his continued psychotherapeutic practice, and his wide knowledge of history placed him in a unique position to comment on current events. As early as 1918 he had begun to think that Germany held a special position in Europe; the Nazi revolution was, therefore, highly significant for him, and he delivered a number of hotly contested views that led to his being wrongly branded as a Nazi sympathizer. Jung lived to the age of 85.

The authoritative English collection of all Jung's published writings is Herbert Read, Michael Fordham, and Gerhard Adler (eds.), The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, trans. by R.F.C. Hull, 20 vol., 2nd ed. (1966- ).

Jung's The Psychology of the Unconscious appears in revised form as Symbols of Transformation in the Collected Works.

His other major individual publications include Uber die Psychologie der Dementia Praecox (1907; The Psychology of Dementia Praecox); Versuch einer Darstellung der psychoanalytischen Theorie (1913; The Theory of Psychoanalysis); Collected Papers on Analytical Psychology (1916); Two Essays on Analytical Psychology (1928); Das Geheimnis der goldenen Bl�te (1929; The Secret of the Golden Flower); Modern Man in Search of a Soul (1933), a collection of essays covering topics from dream analysis and literature to the psychology of religion; Psychology and Religion (1938); Psychologie und Alchemie (1944; Psychology and Alchemy); and Aion: Untersuchungen zur Symbolgeschichte (1951; Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self). Jung's Erinnerungen, Traume, Gedanken (1962; Memories, Dreams, Reflections) is fascinating semiautobiographical reading, partly written by Jung himself and partly recorded by his secretary.

One enduring statement that C.G. Jung made late in life about not having to be a Jungian reveals much of his attitude towards the psyche. He saw his scientific role as a phenomenologist always open to the ambivalent and many aspected ambiguous intrusions of the unconscious into the ego field of conscious existence. He saw the ego loosely attached to a vast impersonal realm of the Self, which, in his later works he presented as the only objective and fundamental reality human beings could connect with. From this perspective the multi-layered, and to the conscious being, bewildering, complexity of the soul's functions was as fleeting as the Buddhist Maya. The west sees this Maya as the reality, and focusing our civilisation on the mastery of externals has produced its own catastrophic psychic disfunctioning as the values of internal reality have been neglected.

Jung saw the Indian speak not of Personal/Impersonal, Subjective/Objective; but of a personal consciousness and Kundalini. The two were never identified: the Gods were utterly different from humans. It was necessary to live through, and establish, a presence of stable consciousness within the world before it was possible for the detachment to gradually emerge which would permit that other, objective reality to connect with the conscious. Jung's journeys to Africa and India enabled him to confirm his experiences of the unconscious as he saw the visible proof of its functioning in the pre European modes of his own era. His description of how, in the myths of the Pueblo, where the emergence of conscious from a dark and very dim beginning proceeds through a series of caves one above the other to a full awakening on the surface of the earth in the light of the sun and moon, parallels the system of chakras outlined in Kundalini Yoga, as the development of the impersonal life.

Jung was aware of the existent texts on this subject, from Arthur Avalon's translations from Sanskrit to the Chinese 'Secret of the Golden Flower' a Taoist manual translated by Richard Wilhelm, a key figure in Jungian life whose deep knowledge of Chinese esotericism enabled him to formulate a number of basic concepts of psychology, among them the theory of synchronicity -(a concatenation of events linked by a single meaning). Jung's interpretation of the process of Kundalini did not, however, stem from theories. It was the consistent attention he paid to the indications of its movement within the psychic life of his patients that gave the conforming clues to the emergence of the impersonal life of the collective unconscious.

He was keenly aware of the dangers of the ego becoming inflated by the stirrings of unconscious contents to the extent of total psychic imbalance. Temporary identifications could make the ego lunatic for a time; prolonged identification could produced schizophrenia.

The structure of Indian systems on the other hand drew clear distinctions between the transitory and permanent self which could only be realised in a state of detachment. The gods, in European or modern man so efficiently focussed on outer existence, Jung described as being reduced to mere functions 'neuroses of the stomach, or the colour or the bladder, simply disturbances of the underworld.'

The Gods being asleep stir in the bowels of the earth, as the idea of God in conscious life is remote, abstract and to one level of modern theology, effectively dead.

In the ideas of pre-European civilisations is reflected their identification with the various levels of the chakras. However, it was in the careful unravelling of the psychic life of his patients in their journey towards the impersonal self which he described as the process of individuation, that the Kundalini manifested.

This gave his statements of the chakras a verification based on real experience. He concluded that the main level of activity of most people was in the lower three centres beginning with the Muladhara (literally, root support), where existence was established, through Swadistana (the manifest creativity in the personality) and to Manipur and Void, centre of emotionality, the Red Sea of the Old Testament whose crossing to the Heart (Anahata) required the discipline of the Guru both individually and collectively.

At the heart the first intimations of the Self reach consciousness. The Purusha, whose tiny flame of eternal being establishes the domain of objective reality. If, as Jung suggests, enough people could connect with this level the mass psychoses of out modern era would vanish altogether.

Jung saw each chakra as a whole world in itself. At the level of Muladhara for instance is the earth, our conscious world, but also where instinct and desire is largely unconscious -a state of participation mystique. Reason can do little: storms of emotion or externally, war or revolutions can sweep all away.

The bizarre elaboration of weapons in the modern world is nothing more than an attempt to contain or destroy the threat of impulses from the lower centres. Worse, much of it is an expression of them.

Jung found the stages of individuation of his patients elaborated through dream and symbol corresponding with those of old mystery cults. In baptism he saw a reflection of the dangerous journey of analysis itself - baptism being a symbolic drowning to inaugurate a new life.

Jung realised that arousing the activity of Swadistana, the Kundalini itself had to be aroused, but he also realised that such happenings were spontaneous, and not produced through the dangerous practices of Tantrism where the exalted idea of shakti, the pure Kundalini, is degraded into the literalism of a sexual cult. Jung never practised any form of organised meditation but saw the attention itself gathered into deeper levels of being by the motion of the unconscious self through Kundalini awakening. Further, the motion of anima leading into the depths of the unconscious, he recognised as an imaginal figure projected by Kundalini and identified with it.

In the various symbols surrounding the chakras Jung identified with his own system. The Muladhara with its image of the elephant (Hindu Ganesha) has a fourfold structure of psychic functions (the chakra has four petals) and corresponds with the world of consciousness.

The heart with its symbolism of the dear projects images of lightness of being, swiftness and elevation. Beyond; Vissuddi, Agnya and Sahasrahra - he said little except that as fully developed centres they were so above ordinary consciousness that not even thought could offer any illumination.

Essentially he came to the view that, from the standpoint of the gods, the great archetypal figures, the world is less than child's play, a seed, a mere potentiality for the future.

People, and they consist of the vast majority, who pass through life unawakened and unaware, victims of outer circumstances and inner compulsions, have not lived at all and pass back into the universal unconscious, to quote Socrates; 'the unexamined life is not worth living'. To Jung the awakening of Kundalini out of mere potentiality is to 'start a world which is totally different from our world: it is infinity'.

By John Henshaw


"In sleep, fantasy takes the form of dreams. But in waking life, too, we continue to dream beneath the threshold of consciousness, especially when under the influence of repressed or other unconscious complexes. "

"I have no theory about dreams, I do not know how dreams arise. And I am not at all sure that - my way of handling dreams even deserves the name of a "method." I share all your prejudices against dream-interpretation as the quintessence of uncertainty and arbitrariness. On the other hand, I know that if we meditate on a dream sufficiently long and thoroughly, if we carry it around with us and turn it over and over, something almost always comes of it. This something is not of course a scientific result to be boasted about or rationalized; but it is an important practical hint which shows the patient what the unconscious is aiming at. Indeed, it ought not to matter to me whether the result of my musings on the dream is scientifically verifiable or tenable, otherwise I am pursuing an ulterior-and therefore autoerotic-aim. I must content myself wholly with the fact that the result means something to the patient and sets his life in motion again. I may allow myself only one criterion for the result of my labours: does it work? As for my scientific hobby-my desire to know why it works-this I must reserve for my spare time."

"The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends. For all ego-consciousness is isolated; because it separates and discriminates, it knows only particulars, and it sees only those that can be related to the ego. Its essence is limitation, even though it reach to the farthest nebulae among the stars. All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still the whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood. It is from these all-uniting depths that the dream arises, be it never so childish, grotesque, and immoral."

"Dream psychology opens the way to a general comparative psychology from which we may hope to gain the same understanding of the development and structure of the human psyche as comparative anatomy has given us concerning the human body."

"No amount of scepticism and criticism has yet enabled me to regard dreams as negligible occurrences. Often enough they appear senseless, but it is obviously we who lack the sense and ingenuity to read the enigmatic message from the nocturnal realm of the psyche. Seeing that at least half our psychic existence is passed in that realm, and that consciousness acts upon our nightly life just as much as the unconscious overshadows our daily life, it would seem all the more incumbent on medical psychology to sharpen its senses by a systematic study of dreams. Nobody doubts the importance of conscious experience; why then should we doubt the significance of unconscious happenings? They also are part of our life, and sometimes more truly a part of it for weal or woe than any happenings of the day."