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Carl Gustav Jung.

Born: 1875, Kesswil, Switzerland

Died: 1961, Zurich (Kusnacht), Switzerland

Major Works: Symbols of Transformation (1911), Psychology and Alchemy (1944), Answer to Job (1952), Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1961)

Major Ideas

There are particular personality types characterized by extraversion or introversion, and four personality functions: sensation, thinking, feeling, and intuition.

Within each individual is found a personal unconscious, which is composed of one's personal history, and a collective unconscious, which is composed of images or archetypes common to all people; these images appear frequently in dreams, fairy tales, and myths.

Each individual is so constituted that he or she has an innate drive to fulfillment, or to his or her own destiny.

Individuation, or the attainment of personal integrity, occurs in the second half of life.

Dreams arise from the "all-uniting depths" and tend to compensate for deficits in the individual's waking life, facilitating the person's awareness of deficiencies in the personality and thus enabling their development.

The son of a Swiss Reformed pastor, Carl Gustav Jung brought the study of mythology and religion to the discipline of psychology. Prompted by his interpretation of two dreams, he studied medicine at the University of Basel, while reading intensely in the areas of philosophy and religion. He was "irretrievably drawn under [psychiatry's] spell" by Krafft-Ebing's Lehrbuch der Psychiatrie, and went on to study psychiatry under Eugen Bleuler at the University of Zurich.

At first a supporter and friend of Sigmund Freud, Jung broke with him around 1913 to found "analytical psychology." Jung's initial dissatisfaction arose from Freud's sexual theory, not only because it seemed to Jung to be reductionistic, but because it left no room for the human spirit. He also became increasingly distressed by Freud's insistence that his ideas, particularly his sexual theory, be treated as "dogma" and "bulwark" (against "occultism"). He valued the work of both Freud and Alfred Adler but viewed their theories as primarily applicable to the earlier stages of life. Jung never abandoned his investigations of religion, myths, legends, folk tales, and the like, and immersed himself particularly in the study of Gnostic thought and alchemy. As he went his own way, he developed a following of his own, and there are currently Jung Institutes in many major cities.

Jung's analytical psychology has also been called "complex psychology." Jung was a pioneer in the use of word-association tests as diagnostic tools. That is, upon observing that certain words evoke especially unusual behavioral or verbal responses (delay, repetition, and so forth) in patients, he concluded that there were hidden constellations of feelings and ideas, or "complexes," reflecting "traumatic influences or certain incompatible tendencies." Because these complexes interfere with a person's life, they must be brought to light.

Jung adapted word-association tests to his research into mythology and the history of religions. With the Pueblo tribe in North America, for example, Jung gained insight into the tribe's religious beliefs (about which they would reveal nothing directly) by making "tentative remarks" and watching for "those affective movements which are so very familiar to me." Thus an unusual reaction led Jung to believe he had hit upon a weighty matter. Jung's experiences with groups around the world, especially in North America, Africa, and India, reinforced his assumptions about the existence of universal archetypes and the collective unconscious.

One of Jung's major contributors was the identification of psychological or personality types. The two primary types, or attitudes, are extraversion and introversion. The extravert typically spontaneously invests his or her energy in the external world and comes across as outgoing; the introvert is inward-directed and may seem aloof. An individual is an extravert or an introvert to greater or lesser degree. One or the other personality type typically is dominant, but neither is found exclusively in an individual.

As well as a tendency toward one of these types of personality, each person exhibits dominant functions of personality. Jung identified four: sensation, intuition, thinking, and feeling. By sensation Jung meant what one ordinarily receives through the sense organs. Intuition denotes something rather like a hunch; it is a perception that apparently spontaneously wells up from within. Both sensation and intuition are, as it were, "given," in that they are involuntary responses to some sort of stimulus or stimuli. They represent not merely different but opposite ways of perceiving.

By thinking, Jung meant the mental process of understanding or making sense of things as we generally construe the term. It is, we might say, the "logical" or "objective" approach to things. The feeling function weighs things, and pronounces them valuable or not, pleasant or unpleasant. Again, these functions are opposites, with one being dominant, the other being undeveloped.

The psychological types and functions are the person's conscious response to life. Jung did not place individuals into rigid categories, but identified general tendencies or ways of being in the world. There are certain evidences for the types: preference for reading a book over attending a party (introversion), a preoccupation with beauty over what can be demonstrated (feeling). While Jung believed that it is important to be aware of one's tendencies in these areas, the exploration of the unconscious was Jung's central concern.

The Unconscious

Within each person are found the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. One element of the personal unconscious would be the abovementioned complexes, repressed due to their painful character. Perceptions, not necessarily painful, of which the individual never became conscious also reside in the personal unconscious. In this sense, the personal unconscious is unique to each individual and reflects his or her personal history. The collective unconscious make up the preponderance of the psyche and its contents are common to all people. "The instincts and archetypes together form the `collective unconscious.' I call it `collective' because, unlike the personal unconscious, it is not made up of individual and more or less unique contents but of those which are universal and of regular occurrence." These contents are the products of countless generations of human experience (for example, fear of the dark).


At the same time, however, there are elements common to everyone, or archetypes. Two very important ones that seem to be at the border, as it were, of the personal and the collective unconscious because they are found in every person but are shaped by the particular person, are the persona and the shadow. The persona is the socially and personally acceptable mask (the meaning of the Latin word persona) that the individual presents to others and, to some degree, to him- or herself. While the persona is not the "real" person, it is necessary for life in human society and does, in fact, constitute an element of the real self. The danger exists that a person will so identify with his or her persona that the real self never emerges, or else will not sufficiently develop a persona and thus remain deficient in that area.

The shadow is that part of the personality that contains all those elements contrary to what the persona presents to the world. Thus it is kept hidden from the world and from consciousness. In popular thought, the shadow is inevitably "the dark side" or the evil within the individual, which appears in dreams as murderers, monsters, and the like. While this is generally true, Jung pointed out that this is not necessarily the case. The shadow can manifest in a "bad" person qualities such as order, kindness, and normal reactions. The individual must acknowledge and come to grips his or her shadow or else the shadow will, as it were, develop a life of its own in the person. In dreams, the shadow always appears as a person of the same sex as the dreamer (although not every dream figure of the same sex represents the person's shadow).

Alongside the persona and shadow are the animus and anima, or the masculine side of the female psyche and the feminine side of the male psyche, respectively, thus making, to the degree that they are appropriately expressed, a person "whole." The existence of these elements in the individual enables meaningful interaction between the sexes as well as determines to some degree a person's attraction or aversion to particular members of the opposite sex. Thus, a man, for example, is influenced in his relationships with women not only by his perceptions of his mother (which themselves are determined in part by the innate anima) but by the anima as the "eternal image of woman," not of a woman but of the eternal feminine that is part of the collective unconscious. Jung has come under fire for his "sexist" assumptions that the animus is connected primarily with the thinking function, while the anima is connected with the feeling function. The anima and animus are absolutely crucial as messagebearers of the collective unconscious. Jung wrote, "The animus and the anima should function as a bridge, or a door, leading to the images of the collective unconscious, as the persona should be a sort of bridge into the world."

Other archetypes in the collective unconscious are found in myths, religions, folk tales, and the like, and are depicted by anthropomorphic figures such as the trickster, the wise old man, and the earth mother. Yet others are represented by the moon, lakes, death, magic, weapons, and so forth. An archetype is not the depiction per se but is the "possibility of a certain type of perception and action." This possibility, then, takes on or receives a representation common to the person's culture. One must acknowledge the presence of these archetypes, lest they take on a life of their own, become a complex, and begin to influence one's conscious life. A wise old man complex, for example, may come to dominate a person's identity and behavior, turning him or her into an unbearable know-it-all. Had, however, the archetype been acknowledged and incorporated into the personality, he or she may have become, for example, a good teacher or helpful counselor.

The culmination of Jung's investigation of archetypes was his discovery of the self archetype. The self is the center of the unconscious and the organizing principle of the personality. It is, as it were, both the undifferentiated unity of the beginning of the personality and the integrated unity, which is the goal of the individual's life. Religious images, particularly the mandala, are frequently images of the unity toward which the psyche strives and which the self archetype represents. The ego, as the center of consciousness, must recognize, acknowledge, and give expression to the messages of the unconscious. Anything kept out of consciousness cannot play its necessary role in the process of individuation.


Fundamental to Jung's thought is the idea that within every person there is a drive toward wholeness, or individuation. Just as creation itself has purpose and direction, so each person moves as best as he or she can toward his or her particular destiny, or personal integration, this wholeness being attained to varying degrees and in varying ways or manifestations from person to person. This drive is manifested in the process of individuation, a process that typically occurs at midlife, after other, more materialistic, developmental stages have been negotiated. Just as external, or social and environmental, factors can have a salutary or harmful impact on the growth of the body, so external factors influence for good or ill the course of this innate drive and the process of individuation. Genetic predispositions can also create obstacles to individuation. For the personality to develop fully, each facet of the personality must itself develop fully, or individuate, through the individual bringing it into consciousness. Total self-realization rarely, if ever, is attained.

In the individuated person, the various elements of the personality are not fully developed but are brought together in harmony. As the individual becomes aware of and expresses these unconscious facets, they themselves become fully developed. In the process, what Jung called the "transcendent function"--also inherent in the person--comes into play, bringing opposite elements into harmony so that the person acts not out of this element, then out of that, but out of both simultaneously and spontaneously, that is, out of the integrated self. While Jung saw individuation primarily as a mid-and post-midlife process, modern Jungians tend to believe that it begins early in life. The impulse toward individuation is then heightened at midlife, and the process is affected by the various helpful or harmful influences encountered throughout life.

The Interpretation of Dreams

Since the key point of Jungian psychotherapy is individuation, the interpretation of dreams is of great significance in the process, since dreams are perceived as manifestations of--we might even say, messages from--the unconscious that compensate for deficiencies in the ego or in the waking life. As dreams are remembered, they can contribute more directly to the individual's drive to wholeness. Through the examination of and meditation upon the symbols and structure of dreams, a person can recognize and respond to his or her need to develop the deficient or undeveloped parts of his or her psychic life expressed in dreams. The analyst assists in the amplification of the dream through "directed association" and references to similar situations or figures in folk tales, myths, religions, and so forth. Directed association refers to spontaneous connections made on the basis of dream material and related back to the dream. Jung felt Freud's "free association" could too easily lead away from the dream's crucial message.

The individual can also use active imagination to enhance interaction with various elements of the dream. A person may, for example, recall a person from a dream and enter into a conversation with that person, or pick up a dream at its end and continue it in his or her imagination, thus making the dream figures present to the waking person, and facilitating (harmonizing) encounters between the conscious and the unconscious. This technique normally is used later on in psychotherapy, and with more mature individuals.

A person may also engage in physical activities representative of his or her un- or underdeveloped aspects. Jung, for example, painted and carved as ways of expressing unconscious drives. An individual with a dominant thinking function may be encouraged to dance or sing. These practices not only bring elements of the unconscious to the individual's awareness, but exercise, as it were, the undeveloped function.

In all this the emphasis is not on individuation per se, but on self-knowledge and self-expression. Self-realization, then, is a sort of by-product of the process.

In his concentration on the reconciliation of opposites, and the synthesis of all of the personality's components into one harmonious whole, Jung much resembled the alchemists with whom he was so fascinated. Indeed, we might say that he was in many ways himself a Gnostic alchemist; Jung himself made a direct connection between his work and alchemy in Memories, Dreams, Reflections: "I had very soon [after intense study of Gnosticism and alchemy] seen that analytical psychology coincided in a most curious way with alchemy. The experiences of the alchemists were, in a sense, my experiences, and their world was my world. This was, of course, a momentous discovery: I had stumbled upon the historical counterpart of my psychology of the unconscious. The possibility of a comparison with alchemy, and the uninterrupted chain back to Gnosticism, gave substance to my psychology. When I pored over these old texts everything fell into place....".

Because of his openness to, and great interest in, religious and spiritual matters, Jung has found a following not only among psychologists and psychiatrists but among clergy of many faiths as well. While Jung made clear distinctions between analysis and pastoral care in a paper titled "Psycho-analysis and the Cure of Souls," growing numbers of clergy find him helpful precisely because of his deep concern for the human soul and his apparent acceptance of things normally considered "spiritual," transcendent, or numinous. One must be careful to differentiate as best one can, however, between his personal views or faith and his psychological observations and theories.

Further Reading

Hall, Calvin S., and Vernon J. Nordby. A Primer of Jungian Psychology. New York: New American Library, A Mentor Book. 1973. A brief, but through, introduction to the basic elements of Jung's thought with a short, helpful biography.

Jung, Carl G. Man and His Symbols. New York: Dell, 1964. Jung edited this collection of articles by some members of his closest circle. His article "Approaching the Unconscious" reflects his final thoughts.

Serrano, M.C. Jung and Hermann Hesse: A Record of Two Friendships. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966. A short book, but entertaining in its personal recollections of the visits of a South American writer with Jung and Hesse. The conversational, anecdotal tone of the book makes the reading of Jung's works an even more pleasant experience. Sattler, Gray R.
COPYRIGHT 1992 COPYRIGHT 1992 Ian P. McGreal
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Author:Sattler, Gary R.
Publication:Great Thinkers of the Western World
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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