Psychologists and Their Theories for Students. Editor: Kristine Krapp. Volume 1, Gale, 2005.
Carl Gustaf Jung (1875-1961) is considered to be, together with Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, one of the three outstanding figures in the first generation of the psychoanalytic movement. Jung was the son of a Swiss Reformed pastor and spent all of his childhood and adolescence in Switzerland. He was trained as a medical doctor at the University of Basel. Originally intending to become a surgeon or internist, Jung decided to specialize in psychiatry within a year of the publication of Freud’s groundbreaking book, The Interpretation of Dreams. Jung quickly put Freud’s theories to work during his residency at the Burghölzli, a mental hospital for schizophrenics in the city of Zurich. Jung’s early defense of Freud’s findings led to a friendship that ended with Jung’s publication of Symbols of Transformation, a work that indicated how far Jung’s thinking had departed from Freud’s.
Jung’s break with Freud was one of the most critical events in the history of psychology in the early twentieth century. In 1913 Jung began a period of intense self-analysis and withdrawal from outside activities. After 1917, he emerged from his personal encounter with the unconscious with new theories about the existence of archetypes, the collective unconscious, the structures of the human psyche, the different types of human personality, and the individuation process. He combined these theories with an interest in comparative mythology and dream interpretation to construct an approach to therapy that he called analytical psychology. The keynotes of analytical psychology are its emphasis on the human psyche’s drive toward balance and wholeness, on the importance of bringing material from the unconscious into consciousness, and on the patient’s significance as the best guide to his or her own maturation and individuation.
Jung continued to refine and rework his theories throughout his mature career. His published works fill 20 volumes in the standard American edition. In addition to his private practice, he lectured throughout Europe and supervised the next generation of analytical trainees. Although Jung was reluctant at first to set up a training institute devoted solely to analytical psychology, he helped to establish and direct the first Jung Institute in Zurich in 1948. As of 2001, there were Jung Institutes and study groups located throughout the world, and at least a dozen scholarly periodicals existed in the field of Jungian theory and practice. Jungian theories have had an extensive influence outside the fields of psychology and psychotherapy; they are widely used in literary and film criticism, religious studies, comparative literature, and cultural commentary. In recent years they have also been applied in political science and sociology.
- On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena. Basel, 1902.
- Studies in Word Association. Zurich, 1904, 1910; New York, 1919.
- Symbols of Transformation. Leipzig and Vienna, 1912; London, 1916.
- “The Association Method [in three parts].” American Journal of Psychology 31 (1910): 219-69.
- Collected Papers on Analytical Psychology. New York, 1919.
- Psychological Types. Zurich, 1921; New York and London, 1925.
- Analytical Psychology, Its Theory and Practice: The Tavistock Lectures, 1935. New York: Pantheon Books, 1968.
- Psychology and Religion (The Terry Lectures, 1937). New Haven, CT, and London, UK: Yale University Press, 1938.
- Essays on Contemporary Events. London, 1947.
- Essays on a Science of Mythology (with C. Kerényi). New York, 1949.
- Answer to Job. London, 1954.
- The Undiscovered Self. Boston and London, 1958.
- Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies. New York and London, 1959.
- Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Recorded and edited by Aniela Jaffé; translated by Richard and Clara Winston. Rev. ed. New York: Random House, 1965.
Carl Gustaf Jung was born on July 26, 1875, at Kesswil in Switzerland. Jung’s father, Johannes Paul Jung, was a pastor in the Swiss Reformed Church and a scholar with an interest in the Greek and Roman classics and Oriental languages. Paul Jung had originally hoped to become a professor of classical languages, but he settled for theology, on the grounds that the ministry offered a better chance of employment than university teaching. In addition, several other men in the extended family served as clergy. Jung’s mother, Emilie Preiswerk, was a warmhearted woman with an unpredictable side that Jung found rather frightening. In spite of this aspect of her personality, however, Jung felt closer to her than he did to his father.
Jung was an only child for the first nine years of his life, which may partly account for his lifelong tendency to feel “different” and isolated from most of his age mates. Even in his eighties, he remarked on his isolation: “As a child, I felt myself to be alone, and I am still, because I know things … which others apparently know nothing of, and for the most part do not want to know.” In addition to being so much older than his sister, Jung was an intellectually precocious youngster. His father began to teach him Latin and other ancient languages when he was only six years old, which also set him apart from other children. While Jung’s father was a kind and gentle man, his mother had a more forceful character. Emilie was hospitalized when he was three years old for an illness that Jung later attributed to stresses in the marriage. Jung came to regard his father as weak, and his mother as the source of his lifelong distrust of women. “I was deeply troubled by my mother’s being away…. The feeling I associated with ‘woman’ was for a long time that of innate unreliability. ‘Father,’ on the other hand, meant reliability and—powerlessness.”
Because Jung’s parents were not well-off financially, he was educated in a country school until he was eleven, when he was sent to a school in the city of Basel. This period of his education was stressful for him. “Then, for the first time, I became aware [of] how poor we were … I began to see my parents with different eyes, and to understand their cares and worries.” Although Jung disliked mathematics—”sheer terror and torture”—and physical education, he was a gifted student who rose quickly to the top of his class. His success provoked the envy of his classmates, however, and he settled for second place in the class in order to avoid their hostility. Jung’s anxiety about drawing attention to himself and his tendency to pull back from competition remained with him throughout his life; among other symptoms, he developed a tendency to faint under stress. He remained in Basel, however, for his university education. Although Jung’s father could not afford the full cost of tuition, the university awarded Jung a scholarship to cover the remainder. He originally wanted to become an archaeologist, but since the University of Basel did not have a department of archaeology, Jung entered medical school instead. Although Jung’s father died in 1896, during his first year at the university, he completed the requirements for his M.D. in 1900. He had thought of specializing in surgery or internal medicine, but decided toward the end of his last year in medical school to seek further training in psychiatry. This decision was prompted by his reading a psychiatry textbook, combined with his own fascination with religious and philosophical questions. Psychiatry appeared to be a specialty that would allow him to combine his interest in natural science with his equally strong search for meaning and value in life.
Jung had first become interested as a child with the notion that different personalities can exist within the same human being. He thought of his mother’s changes in behavior as the result of two different personalities inside her. When Jung was 12, he began to think of himself as also possessing two personalities, one a shy and awkward schoolboy, and the other a wise old man, respected and powerful. “It occurred to me that I was actually two different persons. One of them was the schoolboy who could not grasp algebra … the other was important, a high authority, a man not to be trifled with.” In addition, Jung developed an interest in paranormal phenomena and the occult that led him to do extensive reading in comparative religion and mythology. As a boy growing up in a rural area, he was reassured to discover that the peasants in the countryside were also fascinated by the occult and by inexplicable events. Jung wrote his thesis for his M.D. degree on his 15-year-old female cousin, who claimed to receive messages from the dead when she went into trances. Jung noted that the girl spoke only High German when she was in a trance state, whereas she spoke only Swiss German in her normal waking condition. He published his thesis in 1902.
Jung’s postgraduate training in psychiatry reinforced his interest in the internal division, or even disintegration, of a human personality. In December 1900, he took a position as a clinical assistant at the Burghölzli, a mental hospital in Zurich. He began to do research on schizophrenia, a mental disorder in which the patient loses touch with the real world, as reflected in illogical thinking, delusions, hallucinations, and other behavioral or emotional disturbances. Schizophrenia is classified as a psychosis or psychotic disorder; that is, it is a severe mental illness that is not only characterized by loss of contact with reality, but also damages the patient’s ability to function in society. At the Burghölzli, Jung worked under the supervision of Eugen Bleuler, a world-renowned expert on schizophrenia. Although schizophrenia was then considered to be incurable, Jung came to believe that “… much of what we had hitherto regarded as senseless was not as crazy as it seems … even with such patients there remains in the background a personality which must be called normal … looking on, so to speak.”
Another important aspect of Jung’s work during his psychiatric residency was his research in word-association testing. Originally designed as a test of a subject’s basic intelligence, word-association testing has also been used to probe into a subject’s unconscious preoccupations. In this evaluation, the examiner reads a list of stimulus words and the subject responds to each. The interval between the stimulus word and the response is timed with a stopwatch. Most subjects respond immediately to words that have no emotional significance, but will stutter, hesitate, or prolong the reaction time if the stimulus word is disturbing to them. In one case, Jung deduced that a patient he was testing had gotten into a fight when he was drunk, based on the man’s responses to the words knife, bottle, beat, and pointed. Jung was invited along with Freud to give lectures in the United States in 1909 on the basis of his word-association research.
Marriage and Private Life
In 1903, Jung married Emma Rauschenbach. The marriage produced five children—four daughters and one son—but it did not satisfy all of Jung’s emotional needs. Even though Jung credited his wife and children with keeping him sane during his psychological crisis in 1913-14, he had a succession of lovers. The first was a Russian patient of his named Sabina Spielrein, who had come to Switzerland to attend medical school and had had a nervous breakdown. The affair began in 1904, when Spielrein was living temporarily in Jung’s house. Spielrein later became a psychoanalyst herself. After Spielrein moved to Vienna in 1911 to study with Freud, Jung became involved with Antonia (Toni) Wolff, another patient who became a professional colleague. Jung maintained a triangular relationship with his wife and Toni until the latter died of a heart attack in 1953. Jung’s wife, who also became an analyst, died two years later, in 1955. In addition to Sabina Spielrein and Toni Wolff, Jung had an affair with Christiana Morgan, an American patient of his who later returned to Boston and, with Henry Murray, developed the thematic apperception test (TAT).
Jung worked at the Burghölzli for nine years, until 1909. In 1905 he was appointed to a lectureship in psychiatry at the University of Zurich, which he held until 1913. His clinical experience in the treatment of schizophrenics influenced his later thought in several important respects. First of all, he continued to study mythology and comparative religion, and he noticed that the fantasies and delusions reported by his patients often contained themes or images found in ancient myths or religious writings. Since his patients could hardly have read these books, Jung began to consider the possibility that all human minds contain a layer that represents a general unconscious, distinct from the individual’s personal unconscious. Jung later called this psychic layer the “collective unconscious,” which he defined as containing “the whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution, born anew in the brain structure of every individual.”
Secondly, Jung’s work with schizophrenics stimulated his interest in dream interpretation as an approach to psychotherapy. He recognized that his patients’ waking fantasies had a dreamlike quality, and he concluded that the dreams of less disturbed individuals might still reveal important aspects of their personalities or their current life situations. One example that he gave in a later essay called “Dream-Analysis in Its Practical Application” came from his treatment of a patient who dreamed of climbing a mountain but had to stop short of the summit due to altitude sickness. Jung interpreted the dream as a symbolic picture of the man’s career dilemma. The patient had risen to a position of relative success from very humble origins, but wanted to advance even higher even though he lacked the necessary talents to get to the very top in his field. Jung viewed the altitude sickness in the dream as a warning to the patient to stop his striving and learn to be content with what he had already attained.
The Development of Jung’s Analytical Psychology
Jung’s mature contributions to psychology grew out of two important developments: the first was his relationship with Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the founder of psychoanalysis; and the second was the mental crisis that overtook him in 1913 and provoked him to analyze his own inner workings.
Jung and Freud Jung had acquainted himself in medical school with Freud’s ideas, and he had read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams when it was published in 1900. Jung began to correspond with Freud in 1904 about Jung’s work with the schizophrenics at the Burghölzli. He also began to apply Freud’s method of psychoanalytic treatment to his own patients, and he delivered a course of lectures on Freud’s method as part of his university lectureship. In 1906 Freud invited Jung to Vienna, and Jung went to visit him in February 1907. Jung’s interest in meeting Freud required a certain amount of courage, because Freud’s publications had stirred up considerable controversy in the medical community. Jung was, in fact, warned that his career might suffer if he continued to defend Freud, as he had for several years. For the next six years, Jung collaborated with Freud through letters and occasional meetings, and accompanied Freud on his trip to the United States in 1909. Freud thought of Jung at this point as his potential successor as the leader of the psychoanalytic movement, helping to secure Jung’s appointment as permanent president of the Association of Psychoanalysis in 1910. By 1911, however, Jung began to recognize that his thinking was moving in a direction that was increasingly difficult to reconcile with Freud’s approach. When Jung published his Psychology of the Unconscious (later republished under the title Symbols of Transformation) in 1913, the break between the two men was complete. Freud felt personally betrayed by Jung’s rejection of his theories. In 1914 Jung resigned his membership in the Association of Psychoanalysis.
The break between Jung and Freud was the end result of a combination of factors. One factor was the difference in their family backgrounds and postgraduate training. Even though both were products of the university system of German-speaking Europe and were trained as medical doctors, Freud remained an outsider to the medical “establishment” of the nineteenth century because he was a Jew, whereas Jung was not a target of anti-Semitic prejudice. In addition, Jung had longer and more intensive experience working in a mental hospital than Freud. This difference in clinical experience was reflected in their psychological theories—Freud’s concept of repression and the role of the unconscious was shaped by his treatment of neurotic patients suffering from obsessions and what was then termed hysteria, while Jung’s concept of the unconscious grew out of his work with psychotic patients.
Another factor was the generational difference between the two men. Freud, who was nineteen years older than Jung, was born before the American Civil War and died before the outbreak of World War II. At the end of World War I, which proved to be a major turning point in Western intellectual and cultural history, Freud was close to retirement age, while Jung was still in his early forties. Jung noted in his autobiography that in the early years of their friendship, he had regarded Freud as a father-like “superior personality”; only gradually did Jung feel the need to declare his intellectual independence from this “father.”
The difference between Freud’s and Jung’s concepts of the unconscious helps to explain some of their other differences. Freud originally regarded the unconscious as a part of the psyche that came into being through repression (the unconscious exclusion of unacceptable thoughts or desires from the conscious mind). Jung, on the other hand, saw the unconscious as an innate layer of the psyche acting as a reservoir of images and symbols that emerged in human art and creativity, as well as in emotional disturbances. It was Jung’s emphasis in his 1913 publication on the role of symbolism in the functioning of the unconscious that had antagonized Freud. Moreover, Freud attempted to be “scientific” and “objective” in his approach to psychotherapy; while he recognized the distinction between reason and fantasy, he considered fantasy an inferior mode of thought. Jung, by contrast, regarded rational thought and fantasy as equally valuable and equally important to human well-being. Where Freud’s medical model of psychotherapy stressed the distinction between the “healthy” therapist and the “sick” patient, Jung regarded all human beings as possessing divided souls. Therapist and patient stand at different points along a continuum of mental health, rather than being sharply separated by the categories of the medical model. In addition, where Freud attributed mental disorders to distortions of the sexual impulse, Jung regarded sexuality as only one among several sources of emotional energy. He noted that “Freud never asked himself why he was compelled to talk continually of sex, why this idea had taken such possession of him.” Jung had come to the conclusion that the fundamental problems of his patients were religious rather than sexual in nature. Lastly, Freud’s approach to psychotherapy was basically retrospective; that is, he asked his patients to look backward into their infancy and childhood years for the origin of their problems. Jung, on the other hand, emphasized the prospective dimension of therapy, which is to say that a patient’s dreams and fantasies could be viewed as attempts at self-healing in the present with the hope of improvement in the future. On the whole, Jung’s understanding of human psychology gave a much smaller place to childhood experiences than Freud’s. He preferred to focus on adult issues, particularly those related to the second half of life.
The final factor that led to Jung’s break with Freud was a personal rather than a theoretical disagreement—namely, Jung’s relationship with Sabina Spielrein. Author John Kerr’s analysis of Spielrein’s diary and the correspondence between Freud and Jung indicates that the affair changed Freud’s mind about his Swiss colleague and dissolved what was left of their friendship.
Crisis and self-analysis Toward the end of 1913, Jung underwent a period of uncertainty and inner distress, which he described in his autobiography as “a state of disorientation.” He began to have dreams and visions of the end of the world, or of world destruction. At one point he saw a “monstrous flood” engulfing most of Europe. “When it came up to Switzerland I saw that the mountains grew higher and higher to protect our country.” Thousands of people were drowning in the flood and entire civilizations were collapsing into it. “Then the sea turned to blood.” This vision was followed, in the next few weeks, by dreams of an everlasting winter: “… in the middle of summer an Arctic cold wave descended and froze the land to ice…. the whole of Lorraine and its canals frozen and the entire region totally deserted by human beings.” Nightmares of this sort often precede a psychotic episode and Jung himself later admitted that he was “menaced by a psychosis” during this period. His apocalyptic visions persisted through the spring and early summer of 1914; but when World War I broke out in August of that year, Jung reinterpreted his doomsday visions as a prophetic anticipation of the war. As a result, he decided to analyze his own psyche. “An incessant stream of fantasies had been released, and I did my best not to lose my head but to find some way to understand these strange things.”
To outside observers, Jung’s turmoil was at least partly related to his break with Freud and to the nature of his clinical practice. While Freud himself was genuinely pained by Jung’s “defection,” Jung experienced the loss of Freud’s friendship as a shattering blow. In addition, Jung’s work with schizophrenic patients placed him at some risk of developing a disturbance of his own. Some therapists believe that certain mental disorders are contagious, in the sense that the patient’s intense emotions or disordered thinking can affect the therapist’s psychological equilibrium. For example, therapists who treat survivors of extreme trauma (severe childhood abuse, military combat, terrorist attacks, and similar experiences) frequently have nightmares or mood swings that reflect the survivor’s trauma. Similarly, therapists who treat psychotics sometimes find themselves pulled into the patient’s delusions and fantasies.
But although Jung recognized that he was not far removed from the condition of the patients he was treating in 1913, he also saw himself as an exceptionally creative and gifted individual. For this reason, he thought that his self-analysis would benefit others. Although this probing into his own psyche was potentially dangerous, it laid the foundation of his mature theorizing, and it also affected his techniques of psychotherapy. During this period of self-analysis, which lasted until 1918, Jung discovered the usefulness of painting as a way for patients to understand their dreams and fantasies. As he explained in an article on “The Aims of Psychotherapy,”
… something invaluable is won, namely … a step toward psychological maturity. The patient can make himself creatively independent by this method… He is no longer dependent on his dreams or on his doctor’s knowledge, but can give form to his own inner experience by painting it.
The most important type of painting that Jung recommended to his patients is the mandala. Mandalas are ritualistic geometric designs that originated in Hinduism and Buddhism as aids to meditation. They are thought to symbolize the structure of the universe. Jung regarded mandalas—particularly mandalas with a quatenary or fourfold design—as symbolic images that could help his patients to draw out the fantasies and other material in their unconscious minds.
Jung gave up his academic lectureship and withdrew from public speaking during his self-analysis. He maintained a connection to the outside world through his wife and children on the one hand, and his relationship with Toni Wolff on the other. He also turned to yoga as a form of physical exercise that would help to calm and stabilize his emotions.
From an external perspective, Jung’s later years were relatively quiet. He maintained a private psychiatric practice in Küsnacht, a suburb of Zurich, until his death in 1961. He continued to publish essays and articles that reflected his wide-ranging reading and reflection.
Jung’s reading in the period following his crisis, between 1918 and 1926, included the writings of the Gnostics, a group of pre-Christian and early Christian sects. The Gnostic cults taught that human beings are redeemed from the world through initiation into secret knowledge. In addition to Gnostic works, Jung studied the writings of the medieval alchemists, which he came to regard as symbolic descriptions of the process of psychological transformation. “I had stumbled upon the historical counterpart of my psychology of the unconscious.” He also continued to paint mandalas as expressions of his self-development. “It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala … is the path to the center [of the self], to individuation.” In early 1928, Jung drew a mandala that struck him as Chinese in its form and choice of colors. That same year, an expert on China named Richard Wilhelm sent Jung a copy of a Taoist text called “The Secret of the Golden Flower,” which also could be read as an account of the process of psychological development. Jung later said that he “devoured the manuscript at once, for the text gave [him] undreamed-of confirmation of [his] ideas about the mandala.” The close connection in time between Jung’s “Chinese” drawing and the arrival of Wilhelm’s gift was one of the coincidences that eventually led Jung to his theory of synchronicity.
Jung combined his extensive reading with occasional trips abroad to study non-Western cultures. His self-analysis had caused him to wonder whether there was a part of his personality that had not been influenced by Western culture and education. “In traveling to Africa … I unconsciously wanted to find that part of my personality which had become invisible under the influence and pressure of being European.” In 1920 he traveled to North Africa. This journey was followed by a visit to the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, a second trip to Africa in 1925, and a journey to India and Ceylon in 1938. Jung’s encounter with Indian forms of Buddhism led him to new insights about the historical Buddha: “I grasped the life of the Buddha as the reality of the self … which represents the essence of human existence and of the world as a whole…. Buddha became, as it were, the image of the development of the self.”
Jung began to publish his studies of medieval European alchemy in the 1930s. During this period he resumed lecturing and was awarded a number of honorary degrees, including honorary doctorates from Harvard, Oxford, and two Swiss universities. In 1944 he suffered a foot fracture followed by a severe heart attack; these medical mishaps caused him to give up his public lectures, but they also provided him with another opportunity for creative work. While he was recuperating from the heart attack, he had a series of dreams and visions that led him to some new formulations. Some of these insights concerned the completion of the process of individuation, which Jung came to associate with objectivity and detachment from emotional ties. Another insight that Jung derived from his illness was an attitude of acceptance: “… an affirmation of things as they are; an unconditional ‘yes’ to that which is … acceptance of the conditions of existence as I see them and understand them, acceptance of my own nature, as I happen to be.” He died in June 1961 after a brief illness.
Jung’s theories are not easy to explain or understand, whether in the original German or in English translation, because he did not express himself clearly. As Anthony Storr, one of Jung’s biographers, has written, “I know of no creative person who was more hamstrung by his inability to write.” In addition, Jung sometimes defined the same concept in several different ways in his various writings, which complicates the matter further. Readers who are interested in specific topics may want to start with Jung’s autobiography, or with one of the collections of his essays that are available in inexpensive paperback editions, and then move on to other sections of the Collected Works that address those topics.
The Structure of the Psyche
Main points To Jung, the human psyche represented the totality of all mental processes, unconscious as well as conscious. Although Jung used some of Freud’s terminology to describe the various structures of the human psyche, he did not use the words in the same way. For Freud, the term ego referred to a part of the psyche that acts as a mediator between the internalized demands of parents and society (the superego) and the person’s instinctual drives (the id). The ego could also be defined in Freudian terms as the part of the psyche that is conscious, is in immediate control of thinking processes, and is most fully in touch with the external world. For Jung, in contrast, the ego is one example among many of a complex, which is an emotionally charged group of images or ideas. Jung wrote that “… the ego is how one sees oneself, along with the conscious and unconscious feelings that accompany that view.” The goal of psychotherapy is not the development of the ego as such, but rather a fuller experience of the Self. The Self in Jungian therapy is the central organizing principle of the psyche, but at the same time it is a transpersonal force or power that goes beyond the conscious ego. Jung believed that experiences of the Self have a revelatory or religious quality; in one of his early writings, he even referred to the Self as “the God within us.”
Two other important parts of the psyche are the shadow and the persona. The shadow contains the hidden or unconscious aspects of the personality, good as well as bad, which the ego has never recognized or has repressed. In most cases, these aspects have been shut out of the conscious ego because of parental or societal disapproval. For this reason, the shadow may contain positive qualities that the individual has been forbidden or unable to acknowledge, as well as primitive or childlike impulses. The psyche tends to project the shadow onto other people or groups. In dreams, the shadow usually appears as a person of the same sex as the dreamer, embodying traits or qualities that the dreamer rejects. For example, the shadow of a man who is a committed pacifist may appear in dreams as a soldier, a street bully, or something similar. Jung once recorded a dream in which he was with “an unknown, brown-skinned man, a savage.” He identified this “primitive” figure as his personal shadow, the embodiment of all the qualities that a highly educated European would want to root out in himself.
The persona, in contrast, is the psyche’s public face, the set of traits and characteristics in conformity with social expectations that the individual shows to others. In Jung’s words, “The persona … is a compromise between the individual and society as to what a man should appear to be.” The word “persona” is derived from the Greek term for the mask that an actor wears on stage. The persona often includes certain aspects of a person’s class position or professional role; for example, if one is a physician, one’s persona is likely to include traits related to “how a doctor should act.” The persona can serve as a protective cover for one’s inner self; it becomes problematic only when someone identifies with their public face to the point of neglecting their inner life. A recent example of an overly rigid persona is Princess Margaret, the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth. The princess demanded that even her closest friends address her by her royal titles at all times—even in private.
Still another important aspect of the psyche is the so-called contrasexual part, the anima, or inner woman, in a man and the animus, or inner man, in a woman. In a male, the anima is both a complex and an archetypal image of the feminine. In Jung’s own words, “Every mother and every beloved is forced to become the carrier and embodiment of this omnipresent and ageless image, which corresponds to the deepest reality in a man.” In a woman, the animus “… is the deposit, as it were, of all woman’s ancestral experiences of man—and not only that, he is also a creative and procreative being, not in the sense of masculine creativity, but in the sense that he brings forth something we might call … the spermatic word.” Jung, like most psychiatrists of his generation, believed that men and women are fundamentally different, not only in their reproductive organs but in their psyches as well. Moreover, he thought that the animus in women is more powerful than the anima in men because of the tendency of Western culture to overvalue the masculine. The anima (in males) or animus (in females) appears as a member or members of the other sex. In terms of outward behavior, a man who is “possessed by his anima” in Jung’s terms is likely to act in moody or overly emotional ways; similarly, a woman “possessed by her animus” becomes opinionated and critical.
Explanation Jung tended to personify psychic structures. His early belief that there were at least two personalities in both his mother and himself developed in his later work into the notion that the various complexes in the psyche appear as persons in one’s dreams and fantasies, and that they influence behavior when they temporarily take over the ego. During Jung’s period of self-analysis, he encountered a figure from his unconscious that he called Philemon.
Philemon represented a force which was not myself…. I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought… At times he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality … to me he was what the Indians call a guru.
Furthermore, Jung regarded the conscious part of the psyche and the unconscious as compensatory; that is, they provide checks and balances on one another. This notion of compensation reflected Jung’s understanding of psychic health as a product of the conjunction of opposites. For Jung, compensation is a natural process intended to keep the psyche in balance. Dreams, for example, are a way for the unconscious to balance or supplement the person’s conscious activity. Someone who is overly identified with their persona (socially acceptable outward personality) may find their dreams filled with characters representing their shadow or their anima/animus. Similarly, a person who has devoted most of their conscious energies to intellectual development and has ignored or suppressed feelings will find their emotions emerging in dream material.
In addition, Jung’s concept of compensation is related to his understanding of the psyche as self-regulating. In his words, “The psyche does not merely react, it gives its own specific answer to the influences at work upon it.” Thus dreams, fantasies, and even neurotic symptoms may be regarded, not as proof of mental illness or cause for worry, but as an indication that material from the unconscious is surfacing in order to bring about a better balance in the conscious mind.
Examples Jung’s autobiography contains an interesting example from his psychiatric practice of dreaming as a compensation for conscious attitudes. The patient in this case was “a highly intelligent woman” whose analysis was not going well; in Jung’s opinion, it was becoming increasingly shallow and superficial. Jung then had a dream in which he was walking through a valley with a steep hill on his right. On the top of the hill was a castle, with a woman sitting on its highest tower. In order to see the woman, whom Jung recognized as his patient, he had to tilt his head far backward.
The interpretation was immediately apparent to me. If in the dream I had to look up at the patient in this fashion, in reality I had probably been looking down on her…. I told her of the dream and my interpretation … and the treatment once more began to move forward.
The concept of the archetype has been described as Jung’s most distinctive contribution to psychology. In Jung’s system, an archetype is a symbol or “typical mode of expression” drawn from the collective unconscious. Jung derived his notion of the collective unconscious from his work with the schizophrenic patients at the Burghölzli hospital. Noticing the similarities between some of the images in their fantasies and those found in myths and legends from a wide variety of cultures and historical periods, Jung concluded that there is a substratum, or layer, in the psyche found in all people that is the source of mythology, visions, and certain types of dreams. He called this layer the collective unconscious, and he believed that it underlies each individual’s personal unconscious.
In Jungian psychology, the archetypes are basic psychic patterns that arise from the collective unconscious and allow people to organize their experiences into connected patterns. In Jung’s earlier usage, archetypes are not themselves ideas or concepts, but innate predispositions to create myths or stories out of ordinary human experience. In Jung’s words, “Archetypes are, by definition, factors and motifs that arrange the psychic elements into certain images.” After 1944, Jung began to link his concept of archetypes with emotion, by describing them as predispositions to form images under highly charged emotional conditions. Toward the end of his life, Jung strengthened the connection between emotions and archetypes by redefining the archetypes as innate releasing mechanisms linked to universal human emotions, such as hunger, anger, neediness, etc. These universal emotions emerge in the form of images that are remarkably similar across cultures—good or terrible larger-than-life-sized parents, angels and demons, heroes, monsters, magicians, and so forth. Other archetypes that Jung frequently mentions include the Maiden, the Child, the Wise Old Man, the Anthropos (the original or primordial human being), and the Trickster.
Main points The reader will note that Jung personifies his archetypes (represents them as persons) in the same way that he personifies the complexes of the psyche. In a discussion that Jung had with an English clergyman in 1957, he insisted that the archetypes are not “concepts.” “In reality it [sic] is a living thing. The archetypes all have a life of their own which follows a biological pattern.”
In addition to the roles they play in the individual psyche, Jung also thought that archetypes could function on a national or collective level. To use a historical example, one could understand the witch hunts of medieval Europe as mass projections of a negative mother archetype (the evil destructive mother, or witch) onto thousands of innocent women. In a contemporary context, archetypes can be said to shape the “peculiarities” of each nation. Jung once commented that a person can understand his or her own country only from the standpoint of a “foreign collective psyche.” “It has always seemed to me that there can be nothing more useful for a European than some time or another to look out at Europe from the top of an American skyscraper.” On both the individual and the collective level, the archetypes carry a heavy emotional charge; consequently, they are typically activated by stressful or extreme situations.
Jung also thought the archetypes helped to restore a sense of meaning and significance to his patients’ lives. He believed that the widespread loss of traditional religious faith among educated Europeans had resulted in a sense of futility and purposelessness in daily life. In his opinion, reconnecting with the mythological and archetypal dimension of human experience could help people to recognize a larger-than-life or even cosmic significance in the events of their lives. Jung’s conversation with an elderly Pueblo Indian about tribal religion and sun worship during his trip to New Mexico led him to contrast the “dignity” and “tranquil composure” of Native Americans with the “impoverished” mind-set of Western intellectuals. The Native American is
a son of the sun; his life is cosmologically meaningful, for he helps the father and preserver of all life in his daily rise and descent. If we set against this our own self-justifications … we cannot help but see our poverty…. Knowledge does not enrich us; it removes us more and more from the mythic world in which we were once at home by right of birth.
Explanation Jung never concerned himself with trying to develop a clear explanation of the origin of the archetypes. As a result, some of his critics have assumed that he believed that people can inherit ideas or concepts, as well as their physical characteristics, from their parents or remote ancestors. As we have seen, however, Jung specifically stated that the archetypes are not concepts; rather they are templates or patterns with which a person organizes his or her perception of the world. In his 1937 Terry Lectures, Jung described
… a certain unconscious condition carried on by biological inheritance. By this assumption I naturally do not mean an inheritance of representations, which would be difficult if not impossible to prove. The inherited quality … must rather be something like a possibility of regenerating the same or at least similar ideas. I have called the possibility ‘archetype,’ which means a mental precondition….
Later Jungians have frequently debated the nature of the archetypes. Some theorists have argued that they are only cultural symbolic forms, without any biological basis in human nature. Others maintain, on the basis of recent research in the processes of perception and learning in human infants, that the archetypes are “image schemas” that are produced by innate cognitive mechanisms in the brain that have developed through natural selection. These brain processes are activated by certain features in the baby’s environment that are essential to survival—such as the faces of other human beings. The cognitive pathways allow the baby to form very basic notions, or image schemas, of space and other aspects of the environment. Another way of describing the results of these findings is that later Jungians ascribe the archetypes to certain universal features of early childhood experience that are combined with inborn emotional “hard-wiring,” rather than to a mysterious entity outside human experience.
Examples Specific examples of archetypes and their interpretation are described in the case studies below.
Another important contribution that Jung made to psychology was his categorization of psychological personality types. Jung was not the first theorist to attempt to classify human beings according to differences in temperament—the ancient Greeks, for example, classified people according to their “humors” (bodily fluids that were thought to determine a person’s basic disposition). Jung was, however, the first to define extraversion and introversion as descriptions of a person’s fundamental psychic orientation. Later psychologists continue to find “extravert” (now commonly spelled “extrovert”) and “introvert” useful terms in evaluating people.
Jung was led to make the distinction between these two personality types from his clinical experiences with hysterical patients as well as with schizophrenics. Hysteria in the early years of the twentieth century was defined as a neurosis in which the patient suffered from a variety of physical ailments that were produced by strong but unverbalized emotions. Jung noticed, however, that patients diagnosed with hysteria tended to remain in contact with external reality and to develop a working relationship with the therapist, whereas the schizophrenics withdrew into their own internal fantasies and from human contact. In other words, the hysterics found emotional significance in people and objects in the external world, whereas the schizophrenics found meaning only in their internal landscape. Jung began to describe hysteria as an “extraverted,” or “turned outward” disorder, and schizophrenia as an “introverted” or “turned inward” disorder.
Several years later, Jung recognized that extraversion and introversion were useful categories for classifying personality differences among “normal” people. In an essay on “The Psychology of the Unconscious,” Jung defined extraverted people as having “… an outgoing, candid, and accommodating nature that adapts easily to a given situation, quickly forms attachments, and … will often venture forth with careless confidence into unknown situations.” By contrast, introverts have “… a hesitant, reflective, retiring nature that keeps itself to itself, shrinks from objects, is always slightly on the defensive and prefers to hide behind mistrustful scrutiny.” Significantly, Jung classified himself as an introvert.
In Jung’s later years, after his travels to Africa and Asia, he found his categorization of personality types to be a useful summary of the large-scale differences between Western and Eastern cultures. “Western man seems predominantly extraverted, Eastern man predominantly introverted. The former projects the meaning and considers that it exists in objects; the latter feels the meaning in himself. But the meaning is both without and within.”
Main points Jung’s notion of psychological types is closely related to his theory of psychic self-regulation. We have already seen that Jung thought of the various complexes in the psyche—particularly the shadow, the persona, and the anima or animus—as helping to maintain a balance between the conscious and unconscious layers of the psyche. Similarly, he regarded the extraversion/introversion distinction as another aspect of psychic self-regulation, in that a person’s dreams, fantasies, and other products of the unconscious would reflect the opposite of the dreamer’s conscious orientation. Thus the dream material of extraverted persons has an introverted quality, and vice versa.
Beyond the introvert/extravert distinction, Jung also thought that people could be subdivided into four additional groups according to their dominant mental function. Jung identified four such functions: sensation, intuition, thinking, and feeling. Sensation to Jung is the mental function that allows a person to recognize that a thing exists. Intuition refers to a capacity to form hunches or to see the possibilities in something. Thinking gives names to things and forms judgments about them. Feeling is concerned with questions of value, whether something is pleasant or unpleasant. Any of these functions could be dominant in either extraverts or introverts, which yields a total of eight possible psychological types. Moreover, reflecting Jung’s interest in the reconciliation of opposites, he maintained that thinking is the opposite of feeling, and sensation is the opposite of intuition.
Examples As of 2002, Jung’s typing of personality is most often encountered in the field of personality testing. His classification scheme is the basis of a frequently-used American personality test, the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, or MBTI. The MBTI, which has become widely known through the work of American psychologists David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, scores subjects on four scales: extraversion/introversion (E/I); intuition/sensation (N/S); thinking/feeling (T/F); and judgment/perception (J/P). There are sixteen possible combinations; thus, a person who is an extraverted-intuitive-thinking-judging type according to the Myers-Briggs test would be classified as an ENTJ. The MBTI also reflects Jung’s nonjudgmental view of personality development in that none of the 16 types are considered “good” or “bad”; the profile descriptions of each type are intended to help test subjects understand themselves better and to gain insight into problems or misunderstandings with other personality types.
The Process of Individuation
Jung regarded the process of individuation as the core of his psychology. “The goal of psychological, as of biological, development is self-realization, or individuation.” In contrast to Freud, Jung was more interested in an individual patient’s inner development than in his or her interpersonal relationships. Jung’s own experience of a mental and emotional crisis in his forties influenced his understanding of the process of individuation in several respects.
Main points One of the most interesting features of Jung’s concept of individuation is that he regarded it as the central task of the second half of a person’s life. Modern youth-obsessed culture does not place much value on midlife and the post-retirement years, but Jung saw this phase of life as an opportunity to achieve personal integration and wholeness. For him, the first half of life is a relatively uninteresting preparation for the individuation process. In the first half of a person’s life, he or she “fulfills one’s obligations,” in Jung’s words; separates from one’s family of origin, completes one’s schooling, finds a mate, and starts a new family. But after these external goals have been reached, a person must look inward and confront the parts of the self that have been neglected or suppressed. Jung’s study of personality types had convinced him that people develop in a one-sided fashion during the first half of life. In order to accomplish their goals, they typically overuse their dominant mental function while remaining unconscious of the others. Thus, a scholar who has relied primarily on the thinking function is likely to be troubled by outbursts of primitive or childish emotion; or a corporate executive who has succeeded in the business world because of a well-developed sensation function has problems in family relationships because the function of intuition has never been cultivated. Jung believed that midlife is the point at which most people on the path toward individuation recognize that their lives are “stuck” or incomplete, often because a personal crisis of some kind claims their attention.
Another important aspect of Jung’s concept of individuation is that he did not regard it as equally possible or appropriate for everyone. “It would … be a great mistake to suppose that this is the path every neurotic must travel…. It is appropriate only in those cases where consciousness has reached an abnormal degree of development.” In other words, Jung’s understanding of the individuation process is frankly elitist. After his early psychiatric residency, he had relatively little contact with patients from working-class or rural backgrounds.
Jung thought that there were two actions that a person must take in the second half of life if he or she is to achieve individuation. The first is to open oneself to the unconscious as it expresses itself in dreams and fantasies, and to try to understand these expressions. This activity requires the help of a partner or therapist. Jung believed that Westerners, particularly intellectuals, had overemphasized rational consciousness to the point that they could not investigate the unconscious without running the risk of being overwhelmed by it. The therapist’s task is in part that of a guide, to assist the patient in integrating material from the unconscious into his or her personality rather than being pulled apart by it. Jung’s own brush with psychosis during his self-analysis left him with a lifelong sensitivity to the dangers as well as the potential benefits of exploring the unconscious.
The second action that is a necessary part of the individuation process is to sacrifice some of the worldly gains that have been achieved through overuse of one’s superior function. In order to gain access to the less developed functions in one’s personality, one must be prepared to minimize the function that served one so well during the first half of life. Jung had a dream in December 1913, during his own period of crisis, in which he shot and killed Siegfried, a classic hero figure from Germanic mythology. “The dream showed that the attitude embodied by Siegfried, the hero, no longer suited me. Therefore it had to be killed.” In Jung’s case, his sacrifice took the form of giving up his university lectureship in order to follow “the laws of [his] inner personality.”
Lastly, Jung’s notion of individuation has a definite quality of detachment and isolation from other people. Several of his biographers and critics have observed that he rarely refers to the effects of analysis on his patients’ close relationships or their later careers. His case studies focus almost entirely on their dreams and fantasies; the reader is not given a sense of them as real three-dimensional people. Similarly, Jung has very little to say in his autobiography about his relationship with his wife Emma, his daughters, or the other women in his life. In fact, his description of a dream he had about Emma shortly after her death emphasizes the quality of emotional detachment that Jung regarded as essential to individuation.
I saw her in a dream which was like a vision…. Her expression was neither joyful nor sad, but rather objectively wise and understanding, without the slightest emotional reaction, as though she were beyond the mist of affects…. Face to face with such wholeness one remains speechless… . The objectivity which I experienced in this dream … is part of a completed individuation. It signifies detachment from valuations and from what we call emotional ties.
Explanation Jung’s conception of the process of individuation was affected by the fact that most of the patients he saw in his private practice were exceptionally successful people; they were not like the schizophrenics he had treated in his early years or the neurotics that fill the office schedules of most psychiatrists. In his essay on “The Aims of Psychotherapy,” Jung described the people he treated: “Most of my patients are socially well-adapted individuals, often of outstanding ability, to whom normalization means nothing…. About a third of my cases are not suffering from any clinically definable neurosis, but from the senselessness and aimlessness of their lives.” Yet it was this small and unusually sophisticated group of people that gave Jung the basic material for his definition of individuation. It is difficult to avoid an impression of self-absorption or self-centeredness in Jung’s view of “self-realization.”
Religion, Art, and Creativity
Jung has had a greater impact than have most psychologists outside the field of psychology, largely because of the way his approach incorporated art, literature, and religion. Jung’s discussions of the archetypes, the process of individuation, the Self, and other subjects assume that the reader is familiar with the Greek and Roman classics, with the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, and with the major works of European literature. With regard to art, we have seen that Jung encouraged his patients to draw or paint mandalas in order to draw out the contents of their unconscious. Jung’s notion of religion has been especially influential in fields such as pastoral counseling and spiritual direction.
Main points One of Jung’s most frequently quoted remarks is a statement from his essay “Psychotherapists or the Clergy”: “Among all my patients in the second half of life … there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life.” Unlike Freud, who was openly antagonistic to religious faith, Jung seemed to open the way for a reconciliation between religion and psychology.
It is important, however, to recognize that what Jung meant by “a religious outlook on life” has no specific content. He is not recommending any given religion, Western or Eastern, as the answer to the spiritual hungers of his patients, but rather what might be called a general religious attitude toward the problems of existence. For Jung, this religious attitude requires an acceptance of the mysterious dimension of reality—not the concrete doctrines of either historic Judaism or historic Christianity. Jung did state, however, in his autobiography, “Not only do I leave the door open for the Christian message, but I consider it of central importance for Western man.” He goes on, however, to describe his reinterpretation of Christianity “in accordance with the changes wrought by the contemporary spirit.” In essence, Jung translated Christian doctrine into psychological categories: the Trinity becomes the Christian version of the three stages of human psychological maturation; Jesus becomes an archetype of the Self; and the ritual actions of the Mass become reenactments of the process of individuation.
Jung’s most controversial notion, however, is his concept of God’s dark side, or shadow. Just as he believed people needed to recognize and wrestle with the contents of their personal shadows, Jung thought that God also must unite opposites—including good and evil—within his being. Jung frequently refers to “the incompleteness of the Christian God-image,” by which he means the traditional Christian understanding of God as pure goodness. “Without the integration of evil there can be no totality.” Jung was convinced that the concept of the devil became necessary in Christian theology as the dark counterpart to Jesus’ sinlessness, and that much of the psychic distress of Westerners stems from the one-sided emphasis on “being and doing good” in the Christian ethical tradition. Jung maintained that people should “beware of thinking of good and evil as absolute opposites…. Recognition of the reality of evil necessarily relativizes the good, and the evil likewise, converting both into halves of a paradoxical whole.” In sum, Jung’s concept of individuation as the reconciliation of opposites within the psyche meant that he replaced the traditional Western ideal of holiness with “wholeness.”
Jung had a two-fold approach to art and literature. On the first level, the visual arts and literary productions could become useful forms of therapy; patients who were struggling with their unconscious could come to a better understanding of what was happening to them by “getting it down on paper,” whether in verbal or visual form. On the second level, great works of art or literature might also help a person on the path to individuation by stimulating him or her to see parallels between the archetypes activated by the masterpiece and his or her present situation. For example, many people have read the opening passage of Dante’s Divine Comedy, in which the poet speaks of being in his forties and “lost in a dark wood,” as a symbolically powerful description of the midlife crisis. Jung himself spoke of Goethe’s Faust as answering some of his adolescent questions about the reality of evil and encouraging his desires to investigate “forbidden knowledge.”
Explanation Jung’s lifelong interest in religion, combined with his equally strong refusal to identify himself with any particular creed, may reflect his ambivalent relationship with his clergyman father. While Jung was genuinely fond of his father and recalled a number of pleasant childhood experiences with him, he also saw him as a weak and inadequate role model. Several of Jung’s biographers have interpreted his early idealization of Freud, in fact, as an expression of a longing for a strong father figure. A dream that Jung had about his father in 1922 is revealing. Jung dreamed that he was in his library when his father appeared “as if he had returned from a distant journey.” Jung was looking forward to telling his father about his newly published book “and what [he] had become,” but sensed that his father “wanted something” from him. What his father wanted was expert advice from a psychologist about “the newest insights and information about marital problems.” It is almost as if the father-son relationship is reversed, with Jung as the wise teacher enlightening an intellectually inferior parent.
One of Jung’s more unusual contributions to psychology is his notion of synchronicity. Synchronicity can be defined as a coincidence in time of events that seem to be related in a meaningful fashion. A fairly commonplace example of synchronicity occurs when one thinks of a specific acquaintance or friend for no apparent reason and then receives a telephone call from that person in the next few minutes; or hums a certain tune and then hears it played on a radio or television program. Jung conceived of synchronicity as a mysterious principle of explanation that was just as important as causality, and regarded it as another instance of the combination of opposites—in this case, the coincidental timing of movements within the psyche and events in the outside world. He believed that, in the last analysis, a person’s psyche and the material universe are simply different forms of energy. In Jung’s own words,
…It is not only possible but fairly probable, even, that psyche and matter are two different aspects of one and the same thing. The synchronicity phenomena point, it seems to me, in this direction, for they show that the nonpsychic can behave like the psychic, and vice versa, without there being any causal connection between them.
Jung’s understanding of synchronicity reflects his interest in and study of East Asian thought, particularly Taoism.
Main points Jung’s concept of synchronicity was influenced by his contacts with J. B. Rhine, the founder of parapsychology and director of the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University. Parapsychology is the study of psychological phenomena, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and extrasensory perception (ESP), that cannot be explained by current scientific knowledge. Jung corresponded with Rhine for some years about his work, and Rhine apparently persuaded Jung to publish his own thoughts about synchronicity.
In Jung’s later years, he linked synchronicity phenomena to his concept of the archetypes. His earlier writings about archetypes had treated them chiefly as organizing principles of the human psyche. But his study of Rhine’s work led him to the conclusion that the archetypes might be organizing principles of events in the material world as well. This enlarged understanding of the archetypes fit Rhine’s observations that parapsychological events are more likely to occur at times of great personal crisis. For Jung, the archetypes were typically constellated, or activated, precisely by these crises. Jung described the process of constellation as
… simply express[ing] the fact that the outward situation releases a psychic process in which certain contents gather together and prepare for action. When we say that a person is ‘constellated’ we mean that he has taken up a position from which he can be expected to react in a quite definite way.
Explanation Jung at one point attempted to explain synchronistic phenomena as resulting from the activation of archetypes in the personal as well as the collective unconscious. Speaking of a specific event in his life that he attributed to synchronicity, Jung stated,
By means of a relativization of time and space in the unconscious it could well be that I had perceived something which in reality was taking place elsewhere. The collective unconscious is common to all; it is the foundation of what the ancients called ‘the sympathy of all things.’
Examples Jung’s favorite clinical illustration of synchronicity concerned a patient who had been resistant to some of his psychological theories. One afternoon the patient related a dream that she had had about a scarab beetle, which in Egyptian mythology is a symbol of renewal or rebirth. Jung was in the process of explaining the ancient symbolism to his skeptical patient when he noticed a scarab-type beetle tapping at the window of his consulting room. He opened the window and gently carried the beetle on his hand to the startled patient, commenting, “Here is your scarab.” This incident apparently overcame the patient’s intellectual resistance, and she entered into therapy on a deeper emotional level.
Jung apparently connected synchronicity most frequently with death, the most threatening “archetypal situation.” His earliest example of it occurred during his years as a university lecturer in psychiatry. Jung was treating a man with a history of depression who had gotten married and then developed a new depression. One night Jung was staying in a hotel in a city where he was a visiting lecturer. He awoke in the early hours of the morning with “a feeling of dull pain, as though something had struck my forehead and then the back of my skull.” The next day Jung received a telegram informing him that his patient had shot himself. Jung learned later that the bullet had come to rest in the back wall of the patient’s skull. Another instance concerned the death of one of Emma Jung’s cousins. Jung dreamed that his wife’s bed was a deep pit with stone walls resembling a grave. He heard a deep sigh and saw a figure resembling his wife floating upward, wearing a white gown decorated with black symbols. Jung awoke and noticed that it was three o’clock in the morning. Four hours later, he heard that his wife’s cousin had died at 3 A.M.
Jung’s thinking, like Freud’s, was shaped by the time and place of his upbringing. Many of Jung’s attitudes, such as his views of women and his fascination with the occult, reflect the intellectual and cultural currents of his time.
The Disintegration of Western Culture in the 19th Century
One of the intellectual developments that affected most educated Europeans in the nineteenth century was a loss of cultural unity. This fragmentation resulted from several broad social and technological developments. One was the sheer accumulation of information in all fields of human knowledge, requiring people to specialize in relatively small areas of expertise rather than sharing a common body of knowledge. The second was the steady movement of population from the countryside into the cities. As people moved into increasingly large and impersonal urban areas, they lost a sense of connection to institutions that had formerly given them a sense of belonging and identity, such as the village, the church or synagogue, the extended family, or the craft guild. The industrial revolution served to further separate people from their historic ties to family or craft traditions, as work in factories replaced farming and small workshops.
A third factor in the loss of cultural unity in the West was much closer contact with Eastern cultures, brought about by trade and the political expansion of the British, Russian, and Dutch empires. Many Westerners who visited the East as explorers, missionaries, or diplomats became fascinated by Eastern attitudes toward questions of good and evil, human consciousness, and personality. Chinese expert Richard Wilhelm, for example, had gone to China originally as a missionary and instead became a student of Chinese philosophy. Western interest in Asian culture, however, meant that the culture of the West was no longer dominant; it had been relativized, and its “superiority” could no longer be assumed.
The Religious Crisis of the West
Many of Jung’s writings assume that all his educated patients had been alienated from traditional Christian or Jewish faith and practice. “So much of what Christian symbolism taught has gone by the board for large numbers of people, without their ever having understood what they have lost.” At the same time, Jung felt that these same patients were disturbed, if only on the unconscious level, by their loss of faith. Crises of religious faith were a major issue for numerous artists, writers, and intellectuals in the late nineteenth century. The autobiographical writings of people as otherwise different as George Eliot, Cardinal Newman, Herman Melville, and Clara Barton indicate that the loss or alteration of religious belief marked a significant turning point in their lives.
People in this period dealt with their religious crises in different ways. Some adopted science or the scientific method as their central value. Freud took this particular route, regarding religion as no more than a childish desire for parental protection. The new discipline of sociology, led by such thinkers as George Sorel and Herbert Spencer, appeared to offer hope that human beings could make themselves and their societies perfect. Spencer wrote in 1892 that “… progress is not an accident but a necessity. Surely must evil and immorality disappear; surely must men become perfect.” This optimistic line of thought encouraged some writers, such as William Morris and George Bernard Shaw, to substitute political activism for traditional religion. A third reaction to loss of religious faith was an interest in spiritualism, theosophy (a movement influenced by Buddhist and Hindu thought), and the occult. Jung responded this way, reading books on spiritualism and attending spiritualist seances during his years in medical school.
Jung’s personal history made religious issues especially troubling for him, primarily because his father and several uncles were Swiss Reformed pastors. One uncle in particular hoped that Jung would follow his father into the ministry, and he invited his nephew to lunch on a regular basis during his high school years. Jung, however, began to have serious doubts about the teachings of the Church during his adolescence. He tried to discuss them with his father, but he was continually frustrated. Although Paul Jung never reproached his son for refusing to take Communion and avoiding church services “as often as possible,” he also never answered his son’s questions directly. Jung had a series of arguments with his father in 1892-94; his father seemed to be struggling with his faith and gradually sinking into a depression. Jung attributed his father’s eventual collapse and death to the emotional suffering he experienced while trying to reconcile the contradiction between the official theology of the Church and his actual experience of God. Unfortunately, Jung’s rigid theoretical separation of religious experience from formal doctrine complicated his later attempts to form friendships with theologians and members of the clergy.
The Effects of World War I
A third cultural factor that helped to shape Jung’s psychology was the widespread feeling of disillusionment and betrayal that followed World War I (1914-18). People who had committed themselves to scientific research instead of religion were forced to recognize that the technological and theoretical advances that had taken place toward the end of the nineteenth century had been exploited for military purposes. People who had trusted the political ideals of socialism and Communism felt betrayed by the events of the postwar period: the dictatorship of Stalin in the Soviet Union, the collapse of democracy in Germany and the rise of the Nazi party, the worldwide Great Depression of the 1930s, and the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). The substitutes for religious faith had not lived up to their promises.
Cultural Currents in German-Speaking Europe
Jung’s psychology must also be considered in the context of early twentieth-century German culture, with its interest in nature-mysticism and pre-Christian mythology. Several publications in recent years have raised the issue of Jung’s relationship to the Nazi Party and its teachings about race and ethnic identity. The Nazis borrowed heavily from the themes and imagery of Germanic mythology, and Jung’s writings also frequently mention the old Germanic gods as archetypal figures. In one example, Jung attributed Germany’s headlong rush to war in 1914 with the activation of “the god of ecstasy, Wotan.” When Jung’s mother died, he had a dream in which Wotan came to carry her soul away. “Thus the dream says that the soul of my mother was taken into that greater territory of the self which lies beyond the segment of Christian morality … in which conflicts and contradictions are resolved.” In addition to Jung’s habit of interpreting the behavior of the German nation in terms of its “possession” by the Wotan archetype, he also accepted in 1933 the presidency of a professional society that included Nazi sympathizers in its membership,including Matthias Göring, the cousin of Hitler’s Reichsmarshall, Hermann Göring. Although Jung’s Swiss nationality and citizenship kept him from being caught up in German politics, his identification with German culture is obvious to readers of his works. In fact, Jung as a young man had felt his Swiss background made him a provincial outsider to the “higher glories” of “the great land of Germany.”
Jung’s body of work has provoked more intense controversy than that of most psychologists, partly because of his historic break with Freud, partly because of his unwise professional involvements in the 1930s, and partly because of his ideas themselves.
The “Unscientific” Nature of Jung’s Psychology
One of the earliest criticisms of Jung’s work is that it is anti-scientific in its intentions as well as its content. This accusation surfaced as early as Jung’s break with Freud in 1913. Jung’s view of the functions of symbolism in dreams led to his isolation from the mainstream psychiatric community. As he put it, “… all my friends and acquaintances dropped away. My book was declared to be rubbish; I was a mystic, and that settled the matter.” The insecure position of the social sciences in the academic pecking order of the early twentieth century might be one reason why other psychiatrists would have felt threatened by some of Jung’s ideas. Psychology and sociology have been accepted as legitimate fields of scholarly inquiry only recently; back then, Jung’s view of symbolism appeared to undermine the “scientific” status of psychology.
To be more specific, Jung’s psychology has been characterized as “unscientific” on the following grounds:
- That some Jungian concepts, such as archetypes and synchronicity, cannot be proven by the scientific method
- That Jung subscribed to a nineteenth-century notion of evolution that has since been discredited
- That Jung’s valuation of the mental functions of feeling and intuition on the same level as thinking weakens the attitude of rational objectivity that is essential in scientific research
- That Jung’s interest in occult traditions, including the pre-scientific European past (third-century Gnosticism and medieval alchemy) and contemporary Asian cultures (Taoism and Tibetan Buddhism) amounts to a glorification of mysticism and irrationality
- That Jung’s clinical specialization in the treatment of schizophrenia and his own brush with psychosis made him an untrustworthy guide to “ordinary” reality
The charge that Jung’s psychology is based on an outdated understanding of evolution concerns his concept of the archetypes and the collective unconscious. Jung thought of the archetypes as primordial images within the basic structure of the human psyche that have appeared repeatedly in myths, symbols, and personified forms throughout human history. The similarity of the motifs and themes in the myths and symbols of many different cultures suggests the existence of a collective unconscious shared by all human beings. Some critics have regarded Jung’s various attempts to define the archetypes and their manifestations as proof that he accepted an obsolete notion of evolution known as Lamarckianism. This notion takes its name from Jean Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829), a French biologist who thought that individuals could transmit acquired characteristics to their offspring—for example, that the children of a gifted pianist would inherit the flexibility and strength of the highly trained muscles in their parent’s hands. But Jung did not maintain that human beings “inherit” archetypal images from their ancestors in the same way that they inherit such physical characteristics as eye color or height. It is true that Jung was influenced by the evolutionary theories of a German scientist named Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), who taught zoology at the University of Jena. Haeckel is best known for his theory that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”—that is, that the development of an individual organism follows or repeats the pattern of the development of the species to which it belongs. For example, the fact that the human embryo has gills at one point in its development was thought to echo the evolution of mammals from certain groups of prehistoric fishes. Similarly, Jung thought that the pattern of psychological development over the course of a person’s lifetime repeated the development of human culture from primitive societies to the sophisticated cultures of the contemporary West. While Haeckel and Jung were wrong about this specific “law” of evolution, modern evolutionary psychology supports the notion that human psychology as well as physical anatomy has a basis in evolutionary biology.
Jung’s interest in pre-scientific, Asian, and occult systems of thought has been a target of much criticism; these beliefs have frequently been dismissed by rational-minded scholars as historical curiosities or primitive superstitions. Those who believe that the scientific and technological achievements of the West prove the superiority of Western culture to all others are understandably offended by Jung’s notion that the West’s one-sided emphasis on progress needed balance or compensation from Eastern modes of thought. It is not necessary, however, to pass judgment on Gnostic or Asian mythology as such in order to observe that Jung failed to ask how these systems functioned in their specific historical and social contexts. In other words, Jung remains open to criticism as “unscientific” because he tended to assign all of them equal value and relevance. One French scholar has described Jung’s work as “a soup, a fish-rearing pond in which all fishes are given a chance.”
The argument that Jung’s personal emotional problems call his theories into question has no simple answer. Some of Jung’s writings certainly convey the impression that he was not always in contact with ordinary reality. For example, at one point in his autobiography, Jung maintains that his mother’s house was haunted after his father’s death by some force or spirit that was able to split a solid wooden table top and shatter the blade of a bread knife kept inside a cupboard. To give another example, toward the end of his life, Jung became interested in flying saucers. In 1958 he had a dream in which he saw two UFOs flying over his house. He interpreted the widespread interest in UFOs during the Cold War era in terms of his psychological theories, as proof of a movement toward psychic wholeness stirring within the collective unconscious. The round shape of the flying saucers represented a mandala, so that the UFOs were
circular symbols of unity which represent a synthesis of the opposites within the psyche…. Since this process takes place in the collective unconscious, it manifests itself everywhere. The worldwide stories of the UFOs … are the symptom of a universally present psychic disposition.
Some of Jung’s biographers, such as Paul Stern, have in fact described his work as an example of “the creative uses of incipient madness.” On the other hand, many of Jung’s patients felt that he had been genuinely helpful to them. Moreover, Jung’s ability to maintain a private psychiatric practice alongside a steady stream of writings and publications after 1920 indicates a level of productivity that is not usually found in people with serious mental disturbances.
Prejudices against Women and Gay People
Jung’s view of women is problematic for many contemporary feminists. On the one hand, Jung was relatively untroubled about accepting women as academic colleagues and trainees. He collaborated with Toni Wolff, Emma Jung, and M. Esther Harding, and trained such well-known analysts as Jolande Jacobi and Aniela Jaffé. On the other hand, some of Jung’s attitudes toward women are tinged with misogyny. As noted earlier, Jung had an uneasy relationship with his mother. Jung commented that his younger sister “was always a stranger” to him, even though he respected her for her orderly and composed nature. Many of Jung’s comments about the contrasexual part of the human psyche—the anima in men and the animus in women—reflect gender stereotypes that are no longer accepted without question. Jung tended to emphasize the negative aspects of the animus in women, stating that it made them quarrelsome and opinionated. As for the anima in men, Jung once remarked that it is inclined to “everything that is unconscious, dark, equivocal, and unrelated in woman, and also for her vanity, frigidity, and helplessness.” Most contemporary Jungian analysts have modified Jung’s concepts of gender roles, usually by observing that they are historically conditioned rather than timeless and unalterable.
Another aspect of Jung’s view of women that troubles contemporary feminists is the tangled connection between the development of his concepts and his extramarital relationships with his patients and trainees. The discovery of Sabina Spielrein’s diary in 1977 revealed that Jung’s characterization of the anima as “seductive,” as well as his accounts of some of his conversations with the anima, derived from his relationship with Spielrein. Likewise, his discussion of the sudden eruption of archetypes in Symbols of Transformation is a veiled description of the impact of the affair on his consciousness. Jung appears to have made similar use of his relationship with Toni Wolff in his exploration of his own unconscious in 1913-14. In his published works, however, he speaks of the development of his thinking as if it took place purely within his own mind, without any mention of his inter-personal involvements. The ethical implications of these relationships will be discussed below.
Jung’s attitude toward homosexuality is much more of a concern than his views of women for contemporary Jungians, because many of his basic concepts depend on a conception of heterosexuality as normative. His notion of psychic wholeness as the product of the reconciliation of opposites, and his definition of the contrasexual part of the psyche, are based on the notion that masculinity and femininity represent a pair of opposites. In addition, Jung regarded homosexuality itself as a sign of immaturity associated with mental disturbance. At one point in his autobiography, he noted that during his student years, only two of his friends were open admirers of the philosopher Nietzsche. “Both were homosexual; one of them ended by committing suicide, the other ran to seed as a misunderstood genius.” In another passage, he remarked that “the role homosexuality plays in modern society is enormous.” Jung attributed this prominence to a combination of “the mother-complex” and a desire to limit human reproduction. One of the most lively debates among contemporary Jungian therapists concerns the possibility of modifying Jungian theory to include homosexuality. Some maintain that it cannot be done without taking apart the entire system of analytic psychology; others are more hopeful.
Jung’s “Guru” Mentality and Professional Misconduct
Jung’s reputation has suffered in recent years from new findings regarding his associations with Nazi ideology and the Nazi Party, as well as from revelations of his sexual relationships with female patients. Both of these aspects of his behavior were rooted in his perception of himself as a prophetic leader. In Jung’s autobiography, he frequently spoke of himself in terms usually reserved for mythological heroes or demigods. For example, he recounted a dream that he had when he was three or four years old as his “initiation into the realm of darkness” and “original revelation.” In discussing the emotional turmoil of his self-analysis in 1914, Jung described himself as a kind of psychological superman:
One thunderstorm followed another. My enduring these storms was a question of brute strength. Others have been shattered by them… But there was a demonic strength in me… When I endured these assaults of the unconscious, I had an unswerving conviction that I was obeying a higher will.
Reflecting on his life’s work, Jung frequently spoke of himself as possessed by a daimon (in the original Greek sense of an indwelling spirit) of creativity. He felt that this distinction exempted him from normal standards of consideration for other people:
There was a daimon in me, and in the end its presence proved decisive. It overpowered me, and if I was at times ruthless, it was because I was in the grip of the daimon…. I was able to become intensely interested in many people, but as soon as I had seen through them the magic was gone. In this way I made many enemies. A creative person has little power over his own life. He is not free. He is captive and driven by his daimon.
This language of possession, however, is common to many gurus or self-appointed prophets. In the 1950s and 1960s, authors Erich Fromm and Philipp Rieff, respectively, spoke of Jung as “a worshipper of evil gods and goddesses” and a “posthumous prophet of a private religion.” In 1994, writer Richard Noll published a book entitled The Jung Cult, in which he described Jung as a “pseudo-charismatic figure” who established a “secret church” with himself as chief priest. In 1998, Peter Kramer, the psychiatrist-author of Listening to Prozac, said in an interview that Jung was very comfortable in the role of “an idol,” even as a secular religious leader. “Jung was much more invested in his own omniscience than Freud.” Kramer went on to say that people in the early years of the twentieth century were much more likely to attribute unusual mental powers to intellectual pioneers than they are now, and they were more likely to believe that such “geniuses” were entitled to special privileges.
While it is true that Jung was not the only psychologist of his time to sexualize his relationships with patients, contemporary therapists have been sensitized to the damage that can be done. It appears that Jung’s involvement with Sabina Spielrein, for example, encouraged her to remain emotionally dependent on others and damaged her ability to form healthy adult relationships. Other historians of psychology, however, maintain that the damage he inflicted had more to do with Jung’s inflated self-importance than with the sexual dimension of the relationship.
Insufficient Attention to Childhood Issues in Human Development
As was noted earlier, the majority of Jung’s private patients after 1920 were adults in the second half of life. Jung’s interest in individuation, which he regarded as the central psychic task of this phase of life, left him relatively unconcerned with psychological development in children. As some of Jung’s critics have noted, however, certain mental disorders—such as phobias and eating disorders—are more likely explained by a history of upsetting childhood experiences or early family relationships than by Jung’s theories of archetypes and psychic self-regulation. Most contemporary Jungian analysts, however, take childhood developmental issues as well as current concerns into account in their treatment of patients, and the so-called “developmental” Jungians emphasize the importance of analytical training in childhood psychology. This emphasis is particularly strong among British Jungians.
Anti-Semitism and Involvement with the Nazis
Jung’s relationship to National Socialism in Germany in the 1930s is a source of considerable embarrassment to contemporary Jungian analysts. Andrew Samuels, a British Jungian, reported in 1998 that informal interviews with British university students indicated that they associated Jung’s name with “Hitler,” “Nazis,” or “anti-Semites” far more often than with any other word except “Freud.” On the one hand, Jung’s acceptance of the presidency of a professional group associated with Nazi sympathizers, and his clear fascination with events in Germany in the early 1930s—which he interpreted as the activation of the Wotan archetype—have been attributed to his political naiveté, his misplaced optimism, and his training as a physician to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. Other writers have regarded Jung’s failure to perceive what was really happening in Germany as a side-effect of his lingering bitterness toward Freud, combined with his tendency to construe contemporary events in mythic rather than in political or social terms.
On the other hand, other critics have noted that Jung never issued any clear public statement of opposition to Nazi anti-Semitism or Nazi atrocities. Although some of Jung’s close friends and colleagues maintained that he disagreed with the position of the Party, all of his objections were made in private. Austrian Otto Rank, another psychoanalyst and a contemporary of Jung’s, pointed to Jung’s fascination with the Wotan archetype—Jung described it in 1936 as “the god of storm and frenzy, the unleasher of passions and the lust of battle … a superlative magician and artist in illusion who is versed in all secrets of an occult nature”—as the outcome of his early work with psychotics, who withdraw from the real world to create their own parallel universes. Rank regarded Jung’s fundamental error as undervaluing the healing potential of the patient’s return to reality and overvaluing the workings of the patient’s unconscious. Jung’s 1936 description of the Germans as possessed by “a fundamental attribute of the German psyche” assumes that there is little the individual can do when a nation is gripped by mass hysteria. “We who stand outside judge the Germans far too much as if they were responsible agents, but perhaps it would be nearer the truth to regard them also as victims [of Wotan].” An essay that Jung published in 1946, after the defeat of Germany in World War II, is as disturbing as the 1936 essay. Here he discusses the need for “collective guilt” in a way that also absolves individuals of moral responsibility. At the very least, it is ironic that a psychologist who centered his approach to treatment around the concept of individuation never questioned the appropriateness of submission to group madness.
Inadequate Understanding of Religion
Although Jungian theory has been attractive to some schools of pastoral counseling, other theologians and historians question the adequacy of Jung’s view of religion. Jung’s definition of a “religious attitude toward life” led him in the direction of privatizing belief, so that each patient could in effect construct his or her own religion out of the set of symbols that were most meaningful to him or her. Secondly, Jung’s concept of individuation produces, in the mind of some critics, a tendency to make one’s own process of maturation into a god, to become the object of worship as well as the worshiper. In trying to translate religious symbols into psychological categories, Jung can be said to have made psychology into a religion. Thirdly, Jung’s approach to religion has been criticized for detaching educated people from communities of faith and the rituals that sustain them. The major communities of faith in the West, Christianity and Judaism, have for centuries kept people together through corporate prayer and worship, as well as through abstract symbol systems. In the process, these two religions have reminded educated believers that religious faith brings together people from a wide variety of economic backgrounds and intellectual capacities, and is not reserved exclusively for a sophisticated elite.
Two additional criticisms must be mentioned. Jung’s notion of God as incorporating a dark or “underground” side within his being, and thus being beyond conventional concepts of good and evil, has obvious dangers for people who are attracted to charismatic leaders. It is not difficult for a leader with a sufficiently forceful or attractive personality to convince troubled or insecure people to accept the leader’s redefinitions of “goodness.” The revelation of the extent of sexual abuse of parishioners by clergy in mainstream religious bodies over the last two decades, as well as the abuse of members of smaller groups by cult leaders, has led to the drafting of much stricter codes of ethics for clergy, as well as for psychiatrists and psychotherapists. Buddhist groups in the United States have also put in place institutional safeguards against misunderstandings or abuses of teacher/disciple relationships.
Lastly, Jung seems never to have understood the historical nature and doctrinal structure of orthodox Christianity because of his early separation of religious experience from corporate worship and academic theology. He formed several friendships with British as well as German clergy, hoping to persuade Roman Catholics as well as Protestants of the merits of his psychology. Perhaps the most important of these friendships was Jung’s relationship with Father Victor White, an English Dominican. The relationship was hindered by Jung’s inability to take theology seriously as a form of knowledge in its own right, even though its methods are not the same as those of the natural sciences. In addition, Jung’s insistence that the process of individuation is the final stage of human development, whereas Christianity is a transitional and defective stage, was unacceptable to the Catholic priest.
Theories in Action
Jung’s Private Practice
Jung’s actual practice of psychotherapy differed from Freud’s in several respects. First, Jung did not follow the Freudian pattern of scheduling patients for five weekly sessions of analysis. Jung usually saw patients only once or twice a week, depending on the stage of their work with him. He also encouraged his patients to take frequent vacations or “holidays” from analysis. Lastly, Jung felt that Freud’s custom of having patients lie on a couch positioned so that they could not see the analyst was a hindrance to the therapeutic relationship; he preferred to work with his patients face-to-face.
Moreover, Jung thought it best to approach each patient as a unique individual, with a minimum of presuppositions. “I am often asked about my psychotherapeutic or analytic method…. Therapy is different in every case…. Psychotherapy and analysis are as varied as are human individuals… A solution which would be out of the question for me may be just the right one for someone else.” For this reason, he preferred to regard therapy more as a process of clearing a path for the patient’s progress than as a form of re-education or instruction:
[Analysis] is only a means for removing the stones from the path of development, and not a method … of putting things into the patient that were not there before. It is better to renounce any attempt to give direction, and simply try to throw into relief everything that the analysis brings to light, so that the patient can see it clearly and be able to draw suitable conclusions. Anything he has not acquired himself he will not believe in the long run, and what he takes over from authority merely keeps him infantile. He should rather be put in a position to take his own life in hand. The art of analysis lies in following the patient on all his erring ways and so gathering his strayed sheep together.
The Goals of Jungian Analysis
Jung referred to his method of treatment as analytical psychology, in order to distinguish it from Freudian psychoanalysis. The distinctive features of analytical psychology are its concern with bringing the contents of the patient’s unconscious into consciousness and its interest in furthering the patient’s movement toward wholeness and integration (the process of individuation). The contents of the unconscious reveal themselves in dreams, in material produced through the method of active imagination, and in the interactions between the therapist and patient (sometimes referred to as the transference/countertransference relationship).
Active imagination is a method that Jung employed to help patients “digest” the content of their dreams and fantasies through art or a similar form of self-expression. The purpose of this method is to draw out the aspects of an individual’s personality that are normally not heard directly—particularly the anima/animus and the shadow—and to open a channel of communication between the conscious mind and the unconscious. Over a period of time, the relationship between the patient and his or her artistic creations leads to a transformation of the patient’s consciousness.
Jung distinguished two stages in the use of active imagination. The first stage can occur spontaneously or be deliberately induced. As Jung describes this stage,
… you choose a dream, or some other fantasy-image, and concentrate on it by simply catching hold of it and looking at it. You can also use a bad mood as a starting-point, and then try to find out what sort of fantasy-image it will produce, or what image expresses this mood. You then fix this image in the mind by concentrating your attention. Usually it will alter, as the mere fact of contemplating it animates it. The alterations must be carefully noted down all the time, for they reflect the psychic processes in the unconscious background, which appear in the form of images consisting of conscious memory material. In this way conscious and unconscious are united, just as a waterfall connects above and below.
In the second stage, the patient progresses beyond observing and contemplating the images to participating in them. What Jung meant by participation included a frank acceptance of what the images reveal about the patient, and a commitment to act on the insights received. In Jung’s words,
Although, to a certain extent, [the patient] looks on from outside, impartially, he is also an acting and suffering figure in the drama of the psyche. This recognition is absolutely necessary and marks an important advance…. But if you recognize your own involvement you yourself must enter into the process with your personal reactions, just as if you were one of the fantasy figures, or rather, as if the drama being enacted before your eyes were real.
It is important to note that Jung avoided imposing his own interpretations on the material that his patients brought to him in their use of active imagination. As in his practice of analytic psychology in general, Jung assumed that the therapist should stimulate the patient’s interest in his or her inner development rather than “instruct or convince” the patient. In his essay on “The Aims of Psychotherapy,” Jung states,
.. . it seems to me that in psychotherapy especially it is advisable for the physician not to have too fixed a goal. He can scarcely know what is wanted better than do nature and the will-to-live of the sick person…. Here we must follow nature as a guide, and the course the physician then adopts is less a question of treatment than of developing the creative possibilities that lie in the patient himself.
Jungian Training Institutes
Jung was the first major figure in the history of psychology to insist that analysts should themselves undergo analysis.
We have learned to place in the foreground the personality of the doctor himself as a curative or harmful factor; … what is now demanded is his own transformation—the self-education of the educator… The doctor can no longer evade his own difficulty by treating the difficulties of others: the man who suffers from a running abscess is not fit to perform a surgical operation.
Although Jung initially resisted suggestions to launch a training institute specifically based on his ideas, the first center designed to train Jungian analysts and conduct further research in analytical psychology was established in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1948. Jung himself drew up the first set of regulations for the Institute and supervised its activities until his death in 1961. The Jung Institute offers a diploma in analytical psychology upon the successful completion of its training program. The average amount of time required to complete the program is four-and-a-half to five years. Trainees may choose to work with adults only; children and adolescents only; or with both age groups. Lectures are given in both German and English; however, native speakers of English are encouraged to learn German in order to improve their learning opportunities when they begin the clinical part of their instruction. The training program has three major components: a personal analysis of the trainee, academic instruction, and clinical work with clients under the supervision of control analysts.
In the United States, clinical training in Jungian analysis can be obtained at the C. G. Jung Institute in New York or the C. G. Jung Institute in Boston. The New York Institute was formed in 1962 and accredited by the American Board for Accreditation in Psychoanalysis in 1975. Applicants must hold a graduate degree in a mental health field such as psychiatry, social work, psychiatric nursing, or pastoral counseling. In addition to undergoing a personal analysis, candidates for the diploma engage in clinical practice under supervision from the beginning of the program. A minimum of six years of classroom instruction is required; courses and seminars include mythology, anthropology, psychopathology, and the clinical applications of dream interpretation. The Institute divides the training program into three stages: candidacy, examinations, and control. In the first phase, the trainee studies Jung’s major works and the management of a private practice. The second stage consists of theoretical studies completed by a midterm examination. The third stage includes independent study, supervised control cases, a final thesis presentation, and a case write-up.
The program of the Boston Institute is divided into two stages and takes a minimum of five years to complete. The course work, clinical practica, and personal analysis requirements are roughly similar to those of the New York Institute; the Boston Institute, however, requires candidates for the diploma to complete a course in professional ethics.
Contemporary Jungian analysis is difficult to summarize briefly because Jung’s successors have moved in a number of different directions. Some focus on the functions of human imagination, while others are doing research in the field of evolutionary psychology as a way of grounding Jung’s concept of archetypes in recent findings about human learning. As of 2002, there is probably no single classification that will cover all therapists and researchers who consider themselves Jungians. In 1985, a British professor named Andrew Samuels published a book entitled Jung and the Post-Jungians that grouped most mainstream practitioners into one of three large groups or schools: the so-called “classical” Jungians, who focus on self and individuation issues; the developmental Jungians, mostly British, who have been influenced by the work of Donald Winnicott, John Bowlby, and other researchers in childhood development; and the archetypal Jungians. This third group, whose best-known writer is James Hillman, is critical of classical Jungianism and less interested in self or ego issues; it emphasizes the exploration of images in therapy.
More recently, Samuels has proposed a fourfold categorization of contemporary Jungians. He regards the classical and developmental schools to have remained largely as they were in 1985, while the archetypal school has been replaced by two new groups, both of which are extreme versions of the classical and developmental schools respectively. Samuels defines the right-wing version of classical Jungianism as “Jungian fundamentalism,” and describes it as hostile to intellectual women, ignorant of other schools of thought, and inclined to regard Jung himself as a cult figure. At the other extreme, some of the developmental Jungians—particularly in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States—are attempting to merge Jungian psychology with the methods and framework of Freudian psychoanalysis.
Another attempt at categorizing the post-Jungians was made by Adolph Guggenbuhl-Craig, president of the Jung Institute in Zurich in the 1980s. Beginning from the observation that Jung himself was a multifaceted person who combined the roles of clinical psychologist, religious person, and shaman, Guggenbuhl-Craig suggested that post-Jungian practitioners have identified with one or another of these roles. The clinical psychologist Jungians staff most of the training institutes and consider themselves academic psychologists or psychotherapists. The religious Jungians are found among the clergy or among psychologists who once served in the clergy. The shamanistic Jungians do most of their publishing in the Jungian “underground,” and may well be the largest of the three groups. They often work with Tarot cards, the I Ching, or investigations of paranormal phenomena. Shamanistic Jungians are also often involved in various types of New Age movements, including rebirthing and channeling.
In addition to the long-standing study groups of Jungians in Europe and North America, Jungian psychology has been enriched in recent years by researchers and practitioners from East Asia, the countries of the former Soviet Union, Latin America, and Australia—parts of the world that have been underrepresented in Jungian studies. In the United States, the most recent challenge to the “classical” Jungian tradition has come from gay and lesbian Jungians.
In spite of this variety and vitality, however, some eminent Jungians are concerned about the future of Jungian psychology. One reason for concern is the bad reputation that Jungian psychology as a whole acquired over the past two decades due to revelations about Jung’s sexual relationships with patients and his compromises with the Nazis. The controversies that were generated by historical research into Jung and his associates have split contemporary Jungians into a minority that continues to idealize Jung and a larger group that feels burdened by certain aspects of his legacy.
On the wider cultural level, Jungian psychology has become unpopular because of its theoretical commitment to a belief in universal truths or characteristics of the human psyche, such as the Self, the collective unconscious, and the archetypes. The rise of multiculturalism and the intellectual movement known broadly as postmodernism have challenged claims to universal truths. Where Jung was trained in an intellectual setting that focused on the universal and then moved to the study of the individual, contemporary cultural trends assume that only the individual or local can be a serious object of study.
An additional cause for concern in the United States has been the social as well as economic impact of managed care. While the reluctance of managed care organizations to pay for extended courses of psychotherapy has affected all schools of therapy, not just analytical psychology, it has definitely lowered the number of trainees entering the field.
The most hopeful sign for the future of Jungian psychology is the increased interest in it on the part of university researchers and teachers. One possibility that has been suggested is outcome studies of the efficacy of Jungian therapy compared to other approaches. One outcome study was undertaken in Germany in 1997; others are presently underway. A second proposal involves research into clinical process—that is, how the therapist uses the theoretical model in which he or she has been trained in actual interactions with patients. In other fields, studies of the application of analytical psychology to political science, sociology, anthropology, and law are under consideration.
Given the variety of fields in which Jungian analysis is presently used, the case studies that follow are taken from private practice, social commentary, and pastoral counseling.
Jungian analysis in psychotherapy “Medusa Appears” is the case study of a 27-year-old art history major who entered therapy after a breakup with a boyfriend. Abby could not understand why she was having trouble recovering from the breakup but thought it might have something to do with fear of abandonment. Although she appeared outwardly competent, controlled, and cheerful, her outward appearance masked inner feelings of shame and emptiness. Abby’s family history revealed that she was an adopted child, and that her parents had divorced when she was seven years old. She had never attempted to find her birth parents. Although Abby described her family as “close,” the therapist discovered that family members were disturbed by open expressions of strong feelings, and that the emotional boundaries between family members were not well defined. Abby found her first year of college difficult; she flunked out and returned to live with her mother for the next two years. After working for several years, she then resumed her education.
The therapist became aware that Abby had two very different pictures of herself; sometimes she experienced herself as a “fun,” interesting, and intelligent person that any man should want as a lifetime companion; at other times she saw herself as an unlovable and unattractive “reject” unworthy of a lasting relationship. Abby came to the sixth therapy session upset by a dream in which a terrifying “Medusa-like creature” came out of her basement. It threatened to “take her over” if she did not meet its basic needs for food and shelter. The therapist interpreted the dream in light of the Medusa myth, in which Medusa is one of three Gorgons, hideous female creatures with snakes for hair. Medusa was so frightening to look at that those who saw her were turned to stone. Medusa had once been a beautiful young maiden, but she had been turned into a monster by the jealous goddess Athena when Athena had found her having sexual intercourse in her own temple. Eventually, the hero Perseus was able to kill Medusa while looking at her face indirectly, reflected on his shield. Athena then placed the Gorgon’s head on her own breastplate. In Jungian categories, Medusa represents the negative aspects of femininity cut off from its opposite, nurturing qualities. She is destructive because her positive qualities have been cut off and the negativity that remains is not restrained. On the other hand, Medusa also symbolizes protection. Athena used Medusa’s head as a symbol of her own power, and Perseus used it to disarm his enemies.
From the therapist’s perspective, the Medusa archetype offered several possibilities for interpretation. Its emergence in the dream could be interpreted as Abby’s recognition that parts of her personality—her strong emotions—had been split off in her family of origin because her parents found them unacceptable. She now needed to integrate these parts of herself in order to become a mature adult. Another possibility is that Medusa represented Abby’s anxiety about relationships—she seemed to be afraid of being annihilated within relationships with men, but she was also fearful of being without one. A third possibility is that Medusa represented the general existential fear that Abby would have to confront and overcome on her path toward individuation.
Jungian analysis in interpretation of current events Many Jungian therapists and researchers believe that analytical psychology can help to shed light on major historical events. “The Archetypal Dimension of the New York Terrorist Tragedies” is particularly interesting because its analysis makes use of Hindu rather than classical Greek mythology.
The writer regards the tragedy of September 11, 2001, as an archetypal activation of the Hindu trinity: Shiva, the destroyer of an old world order; Brahma, the creator of a new order; and Vishnu, the upholder of a just order in keeping with the spiritual wisdom of the universe. Each of these gods has female counterparts or consorts: Shiva’s two consorts are Parvati, who represents domesticity, and Kali, a martial goddess. Brahma’s consort is Sarasvati, the goddess of knowledge, and Vishnu’s is Lakshmi, the goddess of peace and prosperity. Whenever there is chaos or disorder in the human psyche or in the wider civilization, these archetypes are activated to restore a just order.
The events of September 11 reflected an imbalance toward darkness in the collective human consciousness. Thus the myth of Shiva, Parvati, and Kali was activated to redress the balance. In this interpretation, Saudi-born terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is seen as an abandoned child filled with narcissistic rage, who seeks attention from parental figures by acting out of the dark side of the human psyche and seeking negative attention. The American president, George W. Bush, has been entrusted with the task of Shiva, to destroy the corrupt structures of terrorism. First Lady Laura Bush is Parvati, who carries her husband’s feeling function and supports him and the nation with her comforting presence. She helps to bring the youthful side of his masculinity into greater maturity. U. S. National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice represents Kali, the strategic ally of Shiva in the destruction of evil. Because Kali has diplomatic as well as warrior-like roles in Hindu mythology, the writer thinks it likely that Dr. Rice will play a decisive role in the resolution of the present conflict.
Jungian analysis in pastoral counseling “The Virgin Mary and the Statue of Artemis” is an example of explicitly religious imagery from different traditions within the same dream. The patient, a middle-aged woman, had had a difficult and painful relationship with her mother while she was growing up. She had had many years of group as well as individual psychotherapy, but was still troubled by what a Jungian analyst would call a negative mother-complex. She could not establish a stable and affectionate relationship with her mother.
Soon after entering analysis with a Jungian pastoral counselor, the patient reported a dream in which she was on her grandfather’s estate, looking at a swimming pool that stood behind his house. The face of the Greek goddess Artemis appeared on the floor of the pool. A voice then said: “You should see the statue of Artemis at Ephesus!” The scene then changes to the ground floor of a two-story shack. The patient is standing on this floor while the Virgin Mary is weeping on the floor above. Her tears pass through the ceiling, changing to blood as they form a pool on the ground floor where the patient is standing. The patient dips her hand into the pool of blood and is then able to see the spirit of her dead husband. He walks and talks with her.
The counselor interpreted the dream as an example of the way in which a patient’s personal parents can restrict or limit the expression of archetypes in the patient’s life. The patient’s personal mother was an inadequate “carrier” of the Great Mother archetype, such that some of the potentials of this archetype remained in the patient’s unconscious. They emerged from her unconscious through a series of dreams and one waking vision. In this particular dream, both Artemis and the Virgin Mary represent positive aspects of the maternal archetype. In Christian tradition, Mary is a stable symbol of the nurturing, faithful mother, from her acceptance of the archangel Gabriel’s message at the Annunciation to her standing by her dying son Jesus at the foot of the Cross. Artemis has a wider range of mythical meanings. On one hand, she was the protector of women in childbirth and the “Lady of the Beasts,” an earth mother who nourished animals as well as human beings. In other legends, Artemis was a virgin huntress who punished men who pursued her. The pool in the patient’s dream might have been a reference to the story of Artemis’ killing of a hunter named Actaeon, who had surprised her as she was bathing in a pool.
The counselor decided, however, that the voice telling the patient to look at the statue of Artemis at Ephesus narrowed the meaning of the dream to the positive and caring aspects of the mother archetype. Ephesus is a city associated with both Artemis and the Virgin Mary. There was a cult statue of Artemis at Ephesus in which the goddess is shown with many breasts, symbolizing her nurturing qualities. This statue is probably the one referred to in the account of St. Paul’s confrontation with the citizens of Ephesus in the New Testament (Acts 19). With respect to the Virgin Mary, post-Biblical tradition held that Christ’s “beloved disciple,” St. John, took Mary to Ephesus to live with him after Christ’s ascension into heaven, and that she “fell asleep” there. This tradition was the basis of the later Roman Catholic doctrine that Mary was assumed directly into heaven at the end of her earthly life. In any event, the double imaging of the positive mother archetype in the dream was interpreted as a compensation for the limitations of the patient’s personal mother.
Relevance to Modern Readers
In spite of Jung’s undoubted importance in the history of psychology and psychiatry, contemporary students are far more likely to read his works in such other fields as literary criticism, religion, comparative mythology, or art history than in psychology itself. This loss of influence is partly the result of economic pressures on the practice of psychotherapy. Therapists pressured by managed care favor short-term approaches over long-term types of treatment, and those who practice evidence-based medicine have little patience with the lack of scientific confirmation of Jung’s theories, not to mention the mystical and mythological elements in his thought. The majority of therapists practicing in the United States and Canada in the early 2000s described themselves as eclectic—that is, they do not follow any one school of thought exclusively—which means that they usually combined dream analysis or other Jungian practices with cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, or similar approaches.
Jung is, however, the intellectual forebear of a grassroots dream work movement in Europe and the United States that encourages people to record and analyze their dreams as a form of self-treatment. Henry Reed, a psychotherapist who worked in Virginia in the 1960s, is usually credited with starting the dream work movement. Other recent leaders include Jeremy Taylor, who conducts therapy groups in which participants share their dreams with one another, and Ann Faraday, an Australian psychologist. The movement has spawned a journal, Dream Network, and an international professional group, the Association for the Study of Dreams (ASD). Although some research in dream psychology is being conducted by neurologists and clinical psychologists, popular books and Web sites on dreams and their interpretations indicate that Jung’s works are read more often in the new millennium by New Age writers than by mainstream psychologists or psychiatrists.