4 minute read

Carl Jung

Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytic psychology.

Carl Jung was born in Switzerland, the son of a Swiss Reform pastor. Having decided to become a psychiatrist, he enrolled in medical school at the University of Basel, from which he received his degree in 1900. Serving as an assistant at the University of Zurich Psychiatric Clinic, Jung worked under psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler (1857-1939), a psychiatrist renowned for his work on schizophrenia. Jung also traveled to France to study with the well-known psychiatrist Pierre Janet (1859-1947) as well. In 1905, he was appointed to a faculty

Carl Jung (The Library of Congress. Reproduced with permission.)

position in psychiatry at the University of Zurich and became a senior physician at its clinic. Eventually, a growing private practice forced him to resign his university position. Jung's early published studies on schizophrenia established his reputation, and he also won recognition for developing a word association test.

Jung had read Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams shortly after its publication in 1900 and entered into a correspondence with its author. The two men met in 1907 and began a close association that was to last for over six years. In 1909, they both traveled to the United States to participate in the 20th-anniversary commemoration at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, at the invitation of American psychologist, G. Stanley Hall (1844-1924). Jung became part of a weekly discussion group that met at Freud's house and included, among others, Alfred Adler and Otto Rank (1884-1939). This group evolved into the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, and Jung became its first president in 1911. Jung had begun to develop concepts about psychoanalysis and the nature of the unconscious that differed from those of Freud, however, especially Freud's insistence on the sexual basis of neurosis. After the publication of Jung's Psychology of the Unconscious in 1912, the disagreement between the two men grew, and their relationship ended in 1914. At this period, Jung underwent a period of personal turmoil and, like Freud at a similar juncture in his own life, undertook a thorough self-analysis based on his dreams. Jung also explored myths and symbols, an interest he was to investigate further in the 1920s with trips to Africa and the southwestern United States to study the myths and religions of non-Western cultures.

Jung developed his own system of psychoanalysis, which he called analytical psychology, that reflected his interest in symbolism, mythology, and spirituality. A major premise of analytical psychology is that the individual personality, or psyche, functions on three levels. The ego operates at the conscious level, while the personal unconscious includes experiences that have been repressed, forgotten, or kept from consciousness in some other way. It is also the site of complexes—groups of feelings, thoughts, and memories, usually organized around a significant person (such as a parent) or object (such as money). At the deepest and most powerful level, Jung posited the existence of a racial or collective unconscious, which gathers together the experiences of previous generations and even animal ancestors, preserving traces of humanity's evolutionary development over time. The collective unconscious is a repository of shared images and symbols, called archetypes, that emerge in dreams, myths, and other forms. These include such common themes as birth, rebirth, death, the hero, the earth mother, and the demon. Certain archetypes form separate systems within the personality, including the persona, or public image; the anima and animus, or gender characteristics; the shadow, or animal instincts; and the self, which strives for unity and wholeness. In Jung's view, a thorough analysis of both the personal and collective unconscious is necessary to fully understand the individual personality.

Perhaps Jung's best-known contribution is his theory that individuals can be categorized according to general attitudinal type as either introverted (inward-looking) or extroverted (outward-looking). The psychic wholeness, or individuation, for which human beings strive depends on reconciling these tendencies as well as the four functional aspects of the mind that are split into opposing pairs: sensing versus intuiting as ways of knowing, and thinking versus feeling as ways of evaluating. If any of these personality characteristics is overly dominant in the conscious mind, its opposite will be exaggerated in the unconscious. These pairs of functions have been widely adapted in vocational and other types of testing.

From 1932 to 1942, Jung was a professor at the Federal Polytechnical University of Zurich. Although his health forced him to resign, he continued writing about analytical psychology for the rest of his life and promoting the attainment of psychic wholeness through personal transformation and self-discovery. Jung's work has been influential in disciplines other than psychology, and his own writing includes works on religion, the arts, literature, and occult topics including alchemy, astrology, yoga, fortune telling, and flying saucers. Jung's autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, was published in 1961, the year of his death. Institutes of analytical psychology have been established throughout the world, although its international center remains the C.J. Jung Institute in Zurich, founded in 1948. Jung was a prolific writer; his collected works fill 19 volumes, but many of his writings were not published in English until after 1965. Shortly before his death, Jung completed work on Man and His Symbols, which has served as a popular introduction to his ideas on symbols and dreams.

Further Reading

Fordham, Frieda. An Introduction to Jung's Psychology. New York: Penguin Books, 1966.

Additional topics

Psychology EncyclopediaFamous Psychologists & Scientists