The Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung was born in 1875, the son of a poor pastor of the Reformed Swiss Church. Mild early childhood neuroses had led him to become interested in psychology, even though it was not a prestigious occupation at the time. He studied medicine at the University of Basel, and practiced in Zurich.
Jung is best known for his ideas of archetypes, introversion and extroversion, and the collective unconscious. His method led to an entire Jungian school of practice, including the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. In some quarters, his mystical writings on topics like alchemy and synchronicity have made him a kind of Godfather of the new age movement. In Jung, we see the intersection of standard, accepted scientific practices and occult mysticism. Jung maintained his entire career, however, that he was a scientist, not a mystic.
Archetypes are idealized images of personality that we emulate. the four primary archetypes are the self, the shadow (that which one hides from the world and even from oneself), anima or animus (the idea of the opposite gender), and persona. There are many persona an individual can take on. These are idealized forms that we aspire to:
INTROVERTS AND EXTROVERTS
The archetypes relate to introversion and extroversion. Jung relates the ancient archetype of Apollo to introversion: dreaming, reflecting and visioning. Extroversions is related to the ancient archetype of Dionysius: one who wants to participate in the world – politics, intrigue, family, etc.
The collective unconscious is a reservoir of unconscious experience that a species can tap into. This is distinguished from an individual’s unconscious – the collection of personal experiences that he or she draws from. As Jung put it in Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (1996, 43):
My thesis then, is as follows: in addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.
JUNG CONTRA FREUD
Jung was cutting his teeth in Psychotherapy in the shadow of Freud, but as its most promising young star. When the two first met, they famously had a half-day long conversation. But Jung’s openness to seemingly non-scientific matters led to a rift between the two great psychotherapists that never healed. Differences in wealth (Jung married a very wealthy heiress, while Freud struggled) and youthfulness (Jung had to carry the sick Freud at a conference) led to antipathy between them.
LATE LIFE AND CAREER
At the age of 40, Jung felt that he had achieved all that a person could ask for, professionally and personally. He even said that “life begins at 40, the rest [the earlier period] is just research.” Jung began a series of eccentric self-explorations, such as painting the inside of a tower on his property, studying alchemy and writing and illustrating The Red Book, a kind of exposition of his own personal unconscious, including dreams and visions. He claimed that all his late work was derivative of The Red Book. Because of its personal nature, the book was only shown to less than a dozen people and kept in a safety deposit box for a half-century before finally being released in 2009 by his grandson.
Along with the posts on Rousseau, Plato, Bacon, Machiavelli, Said, Marx and Locke, this post, and many to follow, are part of an upcoming project (as you can see it’s not all philosophy!) – stay tuned.