Who Was Carl Jung?

This is a brief, and I do mean brief, passthrough concerning the recorded events in the life of Carl Gustav Jung, 26 July 1875 to 6 June 1961. If you find this short story interesting and you’re a visual reader, you cannot do better than “Jung: a Graphic Guide” by Maggie Hyde and Michael McGuinness. If you’re interested in learning about Jung in his own words, you must read his autobiography, “Memories, Dreams, and Reflections”.

Jung ended a long and eventful life at the age of 86 years old. His   career was psychiatry and he founded the school of Analytical Psychology though he is reported to have expressed the opinion that he was happy not to identify as a jungian analyst. After graduating in 1900 with a degree in medicine from the University of Basel, and completing his his dissertation titled On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena, Jung worked as a voluntary doctor under the supervision of Eugen Bleuler at the Burghölzli Psychiatric Hospital in Zürich, Switzerland. in 1906, Jung published Studies in Word Association, and later sent a copy of this book to Freud. As an interesting aside, Jung used the same apparatus (the E- meter) for his studies that is used by the Church of Scientology to measure skin conductivity, helpful in identifying what Jung later termed complexes. It was through Bleuler’s connection with the neurologist Sigmund Freud and the book Jung sent that interested Freud; Jung was invited to join Freud’s group. This association lasted for six years and in 1913 underwent a rupture that seriously affected both Jung and Freud after Jung’s publication of “Psychology of the Unconscious”, in which Jung criticized Freud’s concept on the unconscious as incomplete. This rupture, stemming from their differing concepts concerning the unconscious, made evident the theoretical divergence between psychoanalysis and what was to emerge as analytical psychology and it fractured their personal and professional relationship.

This break precipitated Jung into a difficult and pivotal psychological transformation that Jung described as a horrible confrontation with his unconscious. He described it as a possible psychotic break of even an episode of schizophrenia. Eventually, Jung saw this prolonged confrontation as a “creative illness” that he recorded in his journals, the notes and references that later gave rise to the refined “RedBook”. This was the foundation of the rest of his work, including his method of directly engaging the unconscious through active imagination and his principle theories of archetypes, the collective unconscious and the process of personal individuation.

In 1921, Jung pulled out of this period with the publication of Psychological Types followed by ten years of active publication interspersed by travels to explore, study and learn from other cultures: East Africa in 1925, India in 1937, England in 1920,’23 and ’25, United States in 1924-25 and 1936-37. Jung published extensively, over 200 published papers, commentaries and books, including “Modern Man in Search of a Soul”,1933 and “The Undiscovered Self” (1957). (see “Memories, Dreams and Reflections”).

In 1903, Jung married Emma Rauschenbach, whose intense interest in Jung’s work and research eventually led to her becoming an analyst and her work in southern France on the Holy Grail is well known in its own right.

Jung was a practicing clinician and writer, but his interests were wide ranging covering physics, in which he collaborated with Wolfgang Pauli, a famous particle physicist, to develop and publish a paper about “Synchronicity, an acausal principle” (see the blog on this website); Eastern and Western philosophy; alchemy, a fundamental basis for his development of the process of individuation; the I Ching; astrology and sociology; as well as papers in literature and the arts.

Though his interest in philosophy and the occult led many to dismiss   his work and to view and to him as a mystic, Jung’s approach was soundly based on the empirical method of phenomenology (see the blog on this website concerning Analytical Psychology). Jung’s own experience, but much more his experience with his clients, provided the basis for his view that humans had a life-long spiritual purpose, which pathway he called the process of individuation.

Jung’s death was indicated in his horoscope. He passed into the West at his tower in Bollingen during a thunderstorm on 6 June 1961, leaving behind not only a body of significant work across a number of disciplines and a notable school of psychology but also his personal and professional influence that continues to resonate in our society and in disciplines from archeology, religion, science, sociology to literature.

Those of you who are interested in following up this very brief biography might be interested in the following partial listing of references:

Anthony Stevens, Jung. A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1994, ISBN 0-19-285458-5

The Portable Jung, edited by Joseph Campbell (Viking Portable), ISBN 0-14-015070-6

Robert Hopcke, A Guided Tour of the Collected Works of C. G. Jung, ISBN 1-57062-405-4

Edward C. Whitmont, The Symbolic Quest: Basic Concepts of Analytical Psychology, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New York.

and in

C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich Carl Jung Resources Philemon Foundation

Works by or about Carl G. Jung @ Internet Archive

C.G. Jung, Foreward to the I Ching

The Seven Sermons to the Dead, 1016. C. G. Jung Jung’s Essay on Wotan

1990 documentary, The World Within. C.G. Jung in his own words.

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