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||Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)|
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.
"The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him. As a human being he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is "man" in a higher sense - he is "collective man," a vehicle and moulder of the unconscious psychic life of mankind." (from 'Psychology and Literature', 1930)
Carl Gustav Jung was born in Kesswil, Switzerland. His father,
Johannes Paul Achilles Jung (1842-1896), was a Protestant minister – a
profession that had traditions in the family. He married Emilie
Preiswerk (1848-1923) in 1874; Carl Gustav remained a single child for
a long time before the birth of his sister, Gertrud. According to
family legends, Jung's grandfather was Goethe's illegal son, although
there was no real evidence to support the story.
At the age of eleven, Jung entered the Basel Gymnasium. His first years there were miserable. To avoid going to school, he developed the habit of pretended of having a dizzy spell. Intensely occupied with the question of identity, Jung began to feel that he was somebody else, a man who had lived in the late 18th century. Once he slipped into a daydream, in which he saw God high above Basel Cathedral dropping an enormous turd on it. Goethe's Faust, memorized already at school, influenced Jung deeply. The most important play for Freud was Shakespeare's Hamlet, a story of distorted family relationships. Freud, who saw Jung as his successor, referred, perhaps ironically, to Goethe as Jung's ancestor. "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), came out 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." Jung's father had
introduced his son to Christianity, but dissatisfied with the
mainstream Christian tradition Jung eventually turned to the writings
of the Gnostics. Moreover, there was certain affinities with
psychotherapeutic techniques and Gnostic search for knowledge and
In 1903 Jung married Emma Rauschenbach (1882-1955); they had five children. Emma was the daughter of a well-to-do manufacturer in Schaffhausen, clever, quiet, and self-possessed personality. Aniela Jaffé described as her as a person, "who made an impression of an inner calm, which beautifully compensated fo C.G. Jung's often volcanic temper." The family moved in 1909 to Küsnacht, near Zurich. Above the door of his house in Küsnacht Jung had a motto carved: VOCATUS ATQUE NON VOCATUS DEUS ADERIT ("Summoned or not, the god will be there"). In his study he had a window overlooking the the Lake of Zürich.
Jung's long affair with Toni Wolff, who become a therapist, nearly broke his marriage. Eventually Emma accepted the situation, but she was never happy that Toni Wolff was a regular guest for Sunday dinner. One of Jung's pupils, Sabina Spielrein, was his patient first and then mistress. In an unsolicted letter she wrote: "Eventually he came to me and things went as they usually do with "poetry". He preached polygamy; his wife was supposed to have no objection, etc., etc." After completing her studies, Spielrein practised psychoanalysis in the USSR, where she worked for a period with Alexander Luria and Lev Vygotsky at the Moscow Psychoanalytic Institute. She was killed with her two daughters by German soldiers in 1942 in her hometown of Rostov-on-Don, along with the rest of the city's Jews. Freud credited her with anticipating his idea of the "death instinct" and Jung's relationship with her inspired his concept of "anima". During depersonalization episodes, it was her voice, that Jung heard speaking to him.
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. (see the writer Henry James,
William James' brother)
After visiting an exhibit of Picasso's
paintings at the Zürich Kunsthaus in 1932, Jung argued in an
article that the artist's psychic problems are analogous to those
of his parients, especially the schizophrenics. Of Dadaism he remarked:
"It's too idiotic to be schizophrenic." Extrapolating from his low
opinion of modern art, poetry and novels, he went so far as to suggest
that there is a connection between modernism and "the sickness of our
time." Among his handful of modern favorites were the sculptor Henry
Moore and the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Jung had a preference for
Romantic literature. In his private library he kept Chateaubriand's Atala (1801), Hoffmann's Die Elixire des Teufels (1814/1816), and Nerval's Aurelia (1855), the subject of his public lecture in Zürich in 1945.
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." Moreover, Jung believed that Freud had sexual relations with his sister-in-law, Minna Bernays. 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. Hermann Hesse's novel Demian was inspired by Jung's theory of individuation.
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. Jung had a number of rare alchemical books and folios
in his own library; he was quite a collector of rare books. 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'.
Like Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Hesse, Jung was convinced of the value of Oriental wisdom. He went in 1938 to India, but he had no plans to visit Swamis or see so-called "holy men", although he discussed with Subrahmanya Iyer, the guru of the Maharajah of Mysore. In his study Jung had a large scroll showing Shiva on top of Mount Kailas.
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. 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" (see Jung in Contexts, ed. by Paul Bishop, 1999)
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.