Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung was born July 26, 1875, in Kesswil, Switzerland (near Lake Constance), the second son of Johann Paul Achilles Jung, a clergyman, and Emilie Preiswerk Jung (their first son Paul had died in childbirth).
His sister, Johanna Gertrud Jung (Trudi), would later became his personal secretary.
At an early age, his father taught him Latin and his mother exposed him to exotic religions from illustrated children’s books. Carl was a quiet, observant child who preferred to be left alone with his thoughts.
Perhaps as a result of that isolation, he spent hours observing the roles of the adults around him, something that no doubt shaped his later career and work.
As was the case with his father and many other male relatives, it was expected that he would enter the clergy. In his teens, he discovered philosophy and read widely. Unlike his father, he did not subscribe to the notion of Jesus as God and embraced a more universal spectrum of belief. His own view of the Divine would later influence his conceptualization of the Collective Unconscious.
At the age of 19, he enrolled as a student at the University of Basel. From 1895 to 1900, he was exposed to numerous fields of study, including biology, paleontology, religion and archaeology, before finally settling on medicine. It is speculated that this decision was influenced by his grandfather’s reputation, who had been a professor of surgery at the University of Basel.
He did not immediately take up the study of psychiatry. A plausible reason is that the study of psychiatry and mental health was not considered a serious area of discipline. This may have been due in large part to the very negative sentiments society had towards the mentally ill. Jung graduated from the University of Basel in 1900, and obtained his M.D. two years later from the University of Zürich. As a university student, Jung changed the modernized spelling of Karl to the original family form of Carl.
Carl’s childhood was influenced by the complexities of his parents. His father, Paul, was a pastor in the Swiss Reformed Church. Carl’s mother, Emilie, was chronically afflicted by mental illness and, when Carl was three, left the family to live temporarily in a psychiatric hospital. She spent a lot of time in isolation – obsessing about the spirits she believed visited her at night.
It was at this point in his life that Carl had his first exposure to spirits and the occult: some of his relatives were engaged in table-turning with a medium. He became fascinated with the subject and took meticulous notes on the experience. Although he eventually came to believe that the medium was a fake, his fascination with the supernatural would continue throughout his lifetime.
In 1900, at the age of 25, he began his work as First Assistant Physician at the Burghölzli Psychiatric Clinic in Zürich, under Eugen Bleuler. Bleuler was a pioneering Swiss psychiatrist and eugenicist most notable for his contributions to the understanding of mental illness. He coined many psychiatric terms, such as “schizophrenia”, “schizoid”, “autism”, “depth psychology” and what Sigmund Freud called “Bleuler’s happily chosen term ambivalence”. During this period, Dr. Jung completed his dissertation, On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena (published in 1903).
In 1903, Dr. Jung married Emma Rauschenbach, the elder daughter of a wealthy industrialist in eastern Switzerland, Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenck, the owner of IWC Schaffhausen, the famous International Watch Company. Upon his death in 1905, his two daughters and their husbands became owners of the business. Jung’s brother-in-law, Ernst Homberger, became the principal proprietor, but the Jungs remained shareholders in a thriving business that ensured the family’s financial security for decades.
Emma Jung, whose education had been limited, devoted considerable ability and interest in her husband’s research. She passionately threw herself into studies and acted as his assistant at Burghölzli Clinic and eventually became a noted psychoanalyst in her own right. They had four daughters and a son: Agathe, Gret, Marianne, Helene and Franz. They maintained an open marriage that lasted until Emma’s death in 1955.
In 1906, at the age of 30, Dr. Jung published Studies in Word Association. At the hospital, he had observed how different words elicited emotional responses from patients. He believed this represented subconscious associations around immoral or sexual content. He coined the term “complex” to describe the conditions. This publication led to Dr. Jung’s introduction to the Austrian neurologist, and founding father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.
Dr. Jung began lecturing on psychiatry at the University of Zürich in 1905 and continued on there until 1913.
JUNG AND FREUD
While Dr. Jung worked on his Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido, (Psychology of the Unconscious: a study of the transformations and symbolisms of the libido, 1912), tensions flared between him and Freud – primarily over the nature of libido and religion. Freud believed in the power of the libido and sexual development as the source of personal growth. While he did think that libido was an important source for personal growth, unlike Freud, Jung did not believe that libido alone was responsible for the formation of the core personality. Jung also felt that Freud was too narrow-minded in his views on the unconscious mind and dream interpretation.
In 1912, while on a lecture tour in America, Jung publicly criticized Freud’s theory of the Oedipus Complex and his emphasis on infantile sexuality. This led to an irrevocable split between the two men.
Freud closed off his inner circle to Dr. Jung. He was both shunned and the victim of character assassination. In 1914, he resigned from the International Psychoanalytic Society, but continued undaunted in the development of his ideas. He went on to develop his own version of psychoanalytic theory, an approach he named “Analytical Psychology”.
Dr. Jung spoke at meetings of the Psycho-Medical Society in London in 1913 and 1914. His travels were soon interrupted by the war, but his ideas continued to receive attention in England primarily through the efforts of Constance Long, who translated and published the first English volume of his collected writing.
Dr. Jung was a fan of Sigmund Freud’s idea of the unconscious and a proponent of the newly developed “psycho-analysis” as depicted through Freud’s classic text The Interpretation of Dreams (1900). In 1906, Dr. Jung sent Freud a collection of his early papers entitled Studies in the Word Association to which Freud responded positively. The two psychiatrists became friends and worked together over a five-year period beginning in 1907.
Dr. Jung was widely believed to be the one who would continue the work of the elder Freud. Viewpoints and temperament, however – and differences of opinion over the formation of the core personality – ended their collaboration, and, eventually their friendship.
In 1909, Dr. Jung, extremely busy with his private practice, resigned from the Burghölzli Clinic. In that same year, he traveled to Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts on a trip organized by the American psychologist G Stanley Hall.
Among Jung’s most important work was his in-depth analysis of the psyche, which he explained as follows: “By psyche I understand the totality of all psychic processes, conscious as well as unconscious,” distinguishing his concept from the conventional concept of the mind, which is generally limited to the processes of the conscious brain alone. Jung saw the psyche as something that could be divided into component parts with complexes and archetypal contents personified, in a metaphorical sense, and functioning rather like secondary selves that contribute to the whole.
Dr. Jung believed that the psyche is a self-regulating system, rather like the body, one that seeks to maintain a balance between opposing qualities while constantly striving for growth, a process Jung called “Individuation”.
In short, Individuation is a process whereby an individual differentiates him- or herself from others. Dr. Jung also believed it to be a psychological process of integrating opposites, including the conscious and unconscious through means such as dreams and active imagination. He believed that striving for Individuation leads to achieving positive physical and mental health.
Dr. Jung’s methods of investigating the unconscious mind included dream analysis, word association tests, active imagery, art therapy (painting), and psychotherapy. Jung saw dreams as a compensatory function to make up for the failings of the Ego. Dreams emerge from the unconscious to compensate for the non-adaptive attitude of the Ego. He also saw them as having a perspective function of being able to address situations that might occur in the future.
Clients in Jungian therapy work with dreams in a number of ways. One way is to stick to the image as it appears to the dreamer rather than interpret it metaphorically. Another method is that of amplification, in which the images in dreams are compared to the images from the archetypes or myths in order to find parallels. The final way is through active imagination, in which clients engage in the dreams as if in a conversation. His first ideas were published in Psychology of the Unconscious (1912) which contained much of the mythological content that pointed out the parallels between mythology and the content of the unconsciousness. Also, it discussed parallels between myths and psychotic fantasies.
Another important concept of Jung’s psychology is the Collective Unconscious. Dr. Jung saw Freud’s theory of the unconscious as incomplete and unnecessarily negative and inelastic. According to Dr. Jung, Freud conceived the unconscious solely as a repository of repressed emotions and desires. To the idea of the personal unconscious, Dr. Jung added the concept of the Collective Unconscious.
This, based on his theory, is the part of the unconscious that contains ideas and memories inherited from our ancestors. The Collective Unconscious contains the blueprints for a whole range of ideas and images. This entails that each one of us is born with the tendency to conceive similar kinds of primordial images.
From this, Dr. Jung recognized the primordial images or primeval imprinting and basic patterns of human life which he called “Archetypes”, depicted in myths and fairytales. These basic patterns give rise to the development of complexes which mirror our personal experiences and anchor them in our memories.
As Jung put it, “The Collective Unconscious is a part of the psyche which can be negatively distinguished from a personal unconscious by the fact that it does not, like the latter, owe its existence to personal experience and consequently is not a personal acquisition.”
Dr. Jung would go on to describe 5 basic archetypes that originated out of the Collective Unconscious: The Ego (or the Self), the Shadow, the Anima, the Animus, and the Persona. The Ego or Self is the regulating center of the psyche and the facilitator of individualization, which is a process in which the unconscious becomes realized or understood. The Ego represents the unification of the unconsciousness and the consciousness of an individual. The Shadow is the opposite of the Ego and possesses qualities that the Ego does not. It mainly consists of the life and sex instinct being composed of repressed ideas, desires, and shortcomings. The Anima is the feminine image in a man’s psyche and the Animus is the masculine image in a woman’s psyche. Lastly, the Persona represents how we present ourselves in the world.
In his psychological theory, the Persona appears as a consciously created personality or identity, created out of part of the collective psyche through socialization, acculturation and experience. Jung applied the term Persona explicitly because, in Latin, it means both personality and the masks worn by Roman actors of the classical period, expressive of the individual roles played.
The Persona, according to Jung, is a mask for the “collective psyche”, a mask that “pretends” individuality, so that both self and others believe in that identity, even if it is no more than a well-played role through which the collective psyche is expressed. Jung regarded the “persona-mask” as a complicated system which mediates between individual consciousness and the social community: it is a compromise between the individual and society as to what a man should appear to be. It is a character mask in the classical sense known to theatre, with its double function: both intended to make a certain impression on others, and to hide (part of) the true nature of the individual. Jung believed it was the therapist’s job to help the patient liberate themselves from the deceptive cover over the Persona, as well as the power of unconscious impulses.
Another one of Dr. Jung’s more important developments from this early period was his conception of introverts and extroverts and the notion that people can be categorized as one of the two, depending on the extent to which they exhibit certain functions of consciousness. Dr. Jung was one of the first people to define introversion and extroversion in a psychological context.
In Jung’s Psychological Types, he theorizes that each person falls into one of two categories, the introvert and the extrovert. Jung compares these two psychological types to the ancient archetypes of Apollo and Dionysus. The introvert is likened with Apollo, who shines light on understanding. The introvert is focused on the internal world of reflection, dreaming and vision. Thoughtful and insightful, the introvert can sometimes be uninterested in joining the activities of others. The extrovert is associated with Dionysus, interested in joining the activities of the world. The extrovert is focused on the outside world of objects, sensory perception and action. Energetic and lively, the extrovert may lose their sense of self in the intoxication of Dionysian pursuits.
Jungian introversion and extroversion are quite different from the modern idea of introversion and extroversion. Modern theories often stay true to behaviorist means of describing such a trait (sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness, etc.) whereas Jungian introversion and extroversion is expressed as a perspective: introverts interpret the world subjectively, whereas extroverts interpret the world objectively.
Jung’s work in this area was featured in his publication Psychological Types. The original German language edition, Psychologische Typen, was first published by Rascher Verlag, Zürich in 1921.
For Jung, archetypes constitute the structure of the collective unconscious – they are psychic innate dispositions to experience and represent basic human behavior and specific situations. Thus, the mother-child relationship is governed by the mother archetype and the father-child relationship is governed by the father archetype. Birth, death, power and failure are controlled by archetypes, as well as religious and mystical experiences. Jung felt the most important of all is the Self, which is the archetype of the center of the individual’s psyche, his/her totality or wholeness. The center is made of the conjunction of consciousness and unconscious reached through the individuation process.
Dr. Jung proposed that archetypes manifest themselves through archetypal images in all the cultures and religious systems, in dreams and visions. Therefore, a great deal of Jungian interest in the psyche focuses on interpretation of dreams and symbols in order to discover the compensation induced by archetypes as marks of psyche transformation.
When a person is self-realized, the Persona is minimized, the Anima and Animus is recognized, and there is balance between introversion and extroversion. The way by which self-realization is achieved is through transcendence. The transcendent function is essentially an aspect of the self-regulation of the psyche. It typically manifests symbolically and is experienced as a new attitude toward oneself and life. Thus, according to Jung, a transcendent function is a psychic function that arises from the tension between consciousness and the unconscious and supports their union.
In 1913, when Jung left Freud’s psychoanalytic movement, he used the term “Analytical Psychology” to identify what he called a new psychological science having evolved out of psychoanalysis. Later, when he was firmly established in his own right, he referred to the “psychoanalytic method” of Freud and the individual psychology of Alfred Adler. He preferred to call his own approach “Analytical Psychology” – by which he meant a general concept embracing both, as well as other endeavors.
Analytical Psychology sees people motivated by repressed experiences and emotionally toned experiences coming from their ancestors. It sees people as primarily either male (Animus) or female (Anima), introvert or extrovert, rational or irrational and experienced as either conscious or unconscious. It also sees motivations as either pushed by past events (causality) or being pulled by future expectations (teleology). Two other important aspects of the theory are progression and regression. Progression involves the outward flow of psychic energy in adapting to the outside world. Regression involves the backward flow of psychic energy adapting to the inner world.
Dr. Jung always asserted that his psychology was an empirically-based science. Today, the international professional association of Jungian analysts is called the International Association for Analytical Psychology, and analytical psychology embraces theory, writing, and research – as well as psycho-therapeutic practice.
In 1914, soon after the outbreak of World War I, Dr. Jung was drafted as a Swiss army doctor and soon made commandant of an internment camp for British officers and soldiers. (The neutral Swiss were obliged to intern anyone crossing their border trying to evade capture.) Dr. Jung worked to improve the conditions of soldiers stranded in Switzerland and encouraged them to attend university courses.
After the war, Dr. Jung sought to further distinguish his work from Freud’s and continued to develop his concept of Analytical Psychology. He spent the 1920s and 30s traveling all over the world delivering lectures. In order to study archetypal patterns and processes, Jung visited many indigenous peoples and tribes. In 1924 and 1925, he lived among the Pueblo Indians of Taos, New Mexico and with Native Americans in Arizona. In 1925, at the age of 50, he traveled to visit inhabitants of Mt. Elgon in Kenya and to Uganda. He also traveled to England four times between 1920 to 1938; visiting Oxford, Cornwall and Cheshire, amongst other places.
In 1938, Dr. Jung took an extensive trip to India organized by American businessman Fowler McCormick in which he said that he found himself for the first time under the direct influence of a foreign culture. It arose out of an invitation from the British Government of India to take part in the celebrations connected with the 25th anniversary of the University of Calcutta. During the trip, Jung became ill and was hospitalized with delirium for two weeks in Calcutta. In all these travels he hoped to increase his knowledge of primitive psychology by interacting with culturally isolated peoples.
To Jung, the religious symbols and phenomenology (a system of beliefs developed by studying peoples’ understanding and awareness of themselves) of Buddhism, and the teachings of Zen Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism all expressed differentiated experiences on the way to an individual’s inner world. Dr. Jung also searched for traditions to compensate for Western culture’s one-sided outgoing development toward reason and technology and found these traditions in Gnosticism (the belief that personal freedom comes through spiritual knowledge and understanding).
Dr. Jung became professor of psychology at the Federal Polytechnical University in Zürich (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.
Some historians have falsely claimed Dr. Jung had anti-Semitic ties during WW2. It has been recently revealed, however, that Jung collaborated with the US Military in revealing valuable information concerning Hitler’s psychological profile. He was in contact with Allen Dulles at the OSS (predecessor to the CIA). Dulles referred to Jung as “Agent 488” and offered the following description of his service: “Nobody will probably ever know how much Professor Jung contributed to the Allied Cause during the war, by seeing people who were connected somehow with the other side.” Jung’s service to the Allied cause through the OSS remained classified after the war.
In an interview with Carol Baumann in 1948, Jung denied rumors regarding any sympathy for the Nazi movement, saying:
“It must be clear to anyone who has read any of my books that I have never been a Nazi sympathizer and I never have been anti-Semitic, and no amount of misquotation, mistranslation, or rearrangement of what I have written can alter the record of my true point of view. Nearly every one of these passages has been tampered with, either by malice or by ignorance. Furthermore, my friendly relations with a large group of Jewish colleagues and patients over a period of many years in itself disproves the charge of anti-Semitism.”
Jung collaborated with the US Military in revealing valuable information concerning Hitler’s psychological profile.
Dr. Jung became a full professor of medical psychology at the University of Basel in 1943, but resigned after a heart attack the following year. He was then plagued by circulatory impairment; his compromised condition led to a more private life.
He became ill again in 1952, and in 1955, his beloved wife Emma died.
He remained a prolific writer throughout his life. (And many of his works were translated into English posthumously and published in a collection of 19 volumes.)
He published extensively on his findings, authoring some 200 works on his theories, including Modern Man in Search of a Soul (1933), The Undiscovered Self (1957) and Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies (1959), which analyzed the archetypal meaning and possible psychological significance of the reported observations of UFOs.
In 2009, The Red Book: Liber Novus, a manuscript that Dr. Jung wrote during the years 1914-30, was published. It was, by Dr. Jung’s own account, a record of his “confrontation with the unconscious”. Containing both his account of his imaginings, fantasies, and induced hallucinations and his own amazing color illustrations, The Red Book also includes an extensive introduction and a translation into English.
Dr. Jung was an accomplished artist. This text is interspersed with dazzling spreads of Jung’s drawings of mandalas, dragons, spirit-beings and what look like UFOs.
Here is a link to a few of Jung’s illustrations accompanied by some lighthearted commentary.
Dr. Jung’s health steadily declined until he died on June 6, 1961, in Küsnacht, Canton of Zürich, Switzerland at the age of 85.
In the 1955 Time Magazine cover story about Jung, Time concluded that his “greatest achievement is that he has shown psychology a new direction: he has constructed a psychology for human beings who reach out toward the unknown, the intangible, the spiritual.” The story was entitled “The Old Wise Man”, referring to a Jungian archetype representing insight and wisdom that guides others to discover who they are and who they might become.
By the time he appeared on the cover of Time, Carl Jung was an icon in both his profession and popular culture. During the 1940s and 50s, Americans in the fields of depth psychology, the arts, and comparative religions embraced Jung’s ideas. His concepts of the “archetype” and the “collective unconscious” and other ideas that grew out of Jung’s experiences, became well-known in psychological circles. In 1961, Jung wrote his last work, Approaching the Unconscious, which was published posthumously in 1964 as Part I of the collaborative effort Man and His Symbols.
Awards & Honors
In 1932, Dr. Jung was awarded Zürich’s literature prize. Six years later, he was elected honorary fellow of England’s Royal Society of Medicine.
In 1944, he was named an honorary member of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences.
Dr. Jung left an undeniable mark on psychology as well as our society. His spiritual psychology counterbalanced Freudian skepticism of religion and his proposition that art can be used as a form of therapy for dealing with trauma, fear, and anxiety helped countless patients.
For decades, his work and accomplishments have been highlighted in literary works, TV, and film.
Carl Jung is seen today as one of the most important psychoanalysts of the 20th century and possibly of all time. His ideas and therapies are still used today and much of his work can be applied to dream interpretation.
He also introduced the concept of a Collective Unconscious to psychology – a shared compendium of human experiences as well as universal images and archetypes which have influenced prominent thinkers in the modern day.
His mark on the field of psychology is both undeniable and monumental.
“Our vision becomes clear when we look inside. Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakens.”
“Thinking is difficult. That’s why most people judge.”
“Shame is a soul eating emotion.”
“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
“In all Chaos there is Cosmos. In all disorder there is a secret order.”
“Faith, hope, love, and insight are the highest achievements of human effort. They are found-given-by experience.”
“Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.”
“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.”
“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also If I am to be whole.”
“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.”
“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”