CARL GUSTAV JUNG
- A short biography by Rebeca Eigen -
CARL GUSTAV JUNG (1875-1961) was a Swiss-German psychiatrist whose theories are the first real explanation of what the psyche is at the deepest level of our existence. He was a true pioneer of the human being's development and psychology. In his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, he said, "My life is a story of the self-realization of the unconscious. Everything in the unconscious seeks outword manifestation, and the personality too desires to evolve out of its unconscious conditions and to experience itself as a whole.”
Jung’s work was mainly inner work. He worked with his thoughts, visions and dreams. He sought to understand himself and his place in the cosmos. He studied alchemy and mythology extensively and understood and used astrology. His books reveal his broad understanding of many religions especially Taoism, Buddhism, Kabala and Gnosticism. He was a veritable storehouse of knowledge, and one has only to attempt to read one of his books to be in awe of his superior insight.
He was born July 26 1875 at 7:20 p.m. in Basel, Switzerland, to a Protestant minister named Paul Jung, who came from a long line of clergymen. His mother’s name was Emille Jung. He experienced a lonely childhood where he spent many hours by himself with his fantasies and thoughts. He also loved nature — stones, trees, animals and water. He said that he couldn't imagine living anywhere if he couldn't be close to water. He had significant dreams even in childhood and remembered them. These dreams were important in his understanding of himself later in his life. He loved to paint and read, and he carved a little mannequin out of wood and painted a stone for it that he kept in a secret place up in the forbidden attic of his home. When he was 12, he faked a fainting spell because a classmate had hit him and he wanted his assailant to go away and leave him alone. Carl found that this was a convenient escape mechanism and continued to use these unconscious fainting spells so that he wouldn't have to study or go to school. They became a part of his everyday life. Six months later he overheard his father talking with a friend. His father was expressing his concern that his son, Carl, would not be able to overcome these unconsious fainting spells, and therefore not be able to take care of himself. His father was worried about this for financial reasons of his own. Carl realized that he had created the whole affair himself. This was his first insight into a "neurosis.” So Jung began early on to understand himself by taking responsibility for his life.
He studied with Sigmund Freud, and when they first met they talked for 13 hours straight, so they were instrumental in each others fate. Eventually Jung had to go his own way as he did not agree with Freuds limited understanding of the unconscious. Although he felt he had learned a great deal from Freud, he knew there was more. He was the founder of a school in Zurich for the study of analytical psychology. He proceeded to develop his own theory of the unconscious contents, including the concept of the autonomous (and unconscious) complex and the techniques of active imagination and word association. His concepts of the shadow, the anima and the animus are extremely helpful for those with a sincere desire to know themselves and improve their relationships with others.
In his lifetime, Jung acquired a vast knowledge of mythology, alchemy, religion and philosophy which gave him his understanding of the importance of symbolism, images and dreams. He developed a personality theory of introversion and extroversion, as well as thinking, sensation, intuition and feeling, which are the same descriptions as the astrological elements of earth, air, fire and water. Through astrology (the signs of the Zodiac) he learned about the archetypes inherent in mankind a priori (which means it came before, so we all come into this life with these patterns or predispositions in our psyche which are hereditary). He learned about projection from his alchemical studies, and his understanding of syncronicity came from working with the I-Ching, an oriental divination oracle. He also coined the term "synchronicity." He said, "Syncronicity means the simultaneous occurrence of a certain psychic state with one or more exterenal events which appear as meaningful parallels to the momentary subjective state.” He believed that an understanding of the occult and parapsychology (what is hidden) was essential to any attempt at the psychology of the psyche and he was amazed that his fellow students were so afraid to learn about the paranormal and in denial as to it's meaning. He felt that anything in the psyche was worth understanding and delving into.
And through all his inner work, he came to know that within the psyche of every man is the collective unconscious (the storehouse of all knowledge of everything that has come before us), and that we are all in a process of what he called INDIVIDUATION, which is coming to know ourselves, the God within or Imago Dei. Metaphysically we call this the Christ consciousness or the higher Self. He felt that this is our life’s work. This inner work of truly being who we are and knowing our connection to spirit is what gives our lives meaning, and he felt that this is what man had been lacking from religion: the ability to reunite us with ourselves. He calls this uniting archetype the Self. He said that the Self was both the center and the circumference of the psyche and the urge toward wholeness came from this center within us all.
For an indepth biography of Dr. Carl G. Jung visit the C.G. Jung website and read An Introduction to Jung's Psychology by Frieda Fordham
Books by Jung:
Memories, Dreams, Reflections [MDR], Jung (ed. Jaffé) I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book! (This book was the first to introduce me to the FACT that there are people inside of us that we do not know and then as I was willing, I proved it to myself that he was right. It takes a lot of courage to see ourselves this way. But the good news is we discover our own unconscious!)
Three of My Favorites:
Modern Man in Search of a Soul
The Undiscovered Self
Two Essays on Analytical Psychology
Collected Works [CW] (1953-78: 20 volumes)
Vol 1: Psychiatric Studies
Vol. 5: Symbols of Transformation
Vol. 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology
Vol. 9i: Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious
Vol. 9ii: Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self
Vol 13: Alchemical Studies
Vol. 14: Mysterium Coniunctionis
Vol 17: The Development of the Personality
Answer to Job
Psychology and the Occult
The Psychology of the Transference
Other Books about Jung and his works:
Mystery of the Coniunctio by Edward Edinger
Man and His Symbols, eds. Jung & Jacobi
The Psychology of C. G. Jung, Jacobi
The Way of Individuation, Jacobi
The Portable Jung, ed. Joseph Campbell
Psychological Reflections, A New Anthology of
his Writings 1905-1901 - edited by Jacobi and R.F.C. Hull
Jung, A Biography, Gerhard Wehr
The Symbolic Quest, Edward Edinger
C.G. Jung, Elie Humbert
An Introduction to Jung's Psychology, Frieda Fordham
Jung on Evil, Edited by Murray Stein
Inner Work, Robert Johnson
Anatomy of the Psyche, Edward F. Edinger
Jung & Reich: The Body as Shadow - John P. Conger
No textbook can teach pyschology; one learns by actual experience. No understanding is gained by memorizing words, for symbols are the living facts of life.
— C. G. Jung