JUNG, CARL GUSTAV (1875-1961)


Born in Kesswil, Switzerland, Jung came from a long line of physicians and theologians. Before concentrating on the study of medicine at the University of ZUrich, he explored biology, archeology, philosophy, mythology, and mysticism, laying the basis for the wide-ranging inquiries he conducted throughout his life. His dissertation for the medical degree, “On the Psychology and Pathology of So- called Occult Phenomena” (1902), emphasized the continuity between the conscious and unconscious levels of the mind, a theory that dominated his entire philosophy. His first experimental project, on word association, brought him into contact with Freud, and when he found that Freud’s theories of dream interpretation confirmed his own view of the unconscious, he associated himself with the psychoanalytic school.After five years (in 1912), however, he left the movement, due to basic differences with Freudian theory. He objected to Freud’s theory of infantile sexuality, his emphasis on wish fulfillment, his pansexualism, his view of life as an “endless repetition of instinctual themes,” his conviction that the unconscious is primarily a source of primitive and often destructive impulses, and his limitation of mental contents to the personal experiences of the individual. In contrast, Jung believed that our personalities are molded not only by the experiences of this life but by the cumulative deposits of racial history; that we can be motivated by moral and religious values even more than by fundamental instincts; and that the purpose of existence is for each individual to achieve his own unique integration of conscious with unconscious experience, as opposed to Freud’s emphasis on the attainment of conscious control by the ego and the mature expression of psychosexual drives.Jung’s own point of view began to take definite shape in Symbols and Transformations of the Libido (1912), in which he interpreted the thought processes of the schizophrenic in terms of mythological and religious symbolism. The fullest expression of his theories, which he called analytic psychology, is found in his Psychological Types (1921). While serving as a professor in Zurich and Basel, he wrote a number of other books, including Contributions to Analytical Psychology (1928), Modern Man in Search of a Soul (1933), The Psychology of Dementia Praecox (1936), Psychology and Religion (1938), The Integration of the Personality (1939), Essays on a Science of Mythology, with C. Kerenyi (1949), Essays on Contemporary Events (1947), and The Practice of Psychotherapy (1954). An English translation of his entire works, edited by Herbert Read, is now available in eighteen volumes.Following are the major concepts of Jung’s system:The ego. The ego consists of feelings of continuity and identity, the feeling that we are the same person we were yesterday, and that we have a body of experience which belongs to us. Jung does not picture the ego as torn between a set of animal drives (the id) and a set of moral precepts and social customs (the superego). Rather, he views it as a developing entity which gradually incorporates all phases of conscious and unconscious activity into a new whole, a process which he terms individuation. A person with a strong, well-developed ego is one who has achieved an effective and productive balance among all aspects and levels of his psyche, and particularly an integration of conscious and unconscious forces.The personal unconscious. In its process of development the self draws on two sources, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. The personal unconscious, like Freud’s preconscious, consists of experiences which were once conscious but which have been superseded or forgotten, as well as ideas and wishes which have never been strong enough to make a conscious impression. Some of these memories, thoughts, and feelings may split off from the main body of the psyche, due to traumatic experiences or internal conflicts, and form a constellation or “complex” of their own. If these “psychic fragments” gather enough strength, they may attain independent status in the form of automatic writing or hallucinations. Even when they are not powerful enough to become independent, they may still obsess our consciousness, influence speech and action, and cause disturbances of memory and association. Complexes play such an important role in the psyche that Jung devised the word association test as a means of detecting them. See COMPLEX, WORD ASSOCIATION TEST.The collective unconscious. The collective unconscious exerts an even greater influence than the personal unconscious. It is the residual of the racial history of man and his animal ancestors, implicit in the pathways and structures of the brain itself. This does not mean that it is only a storehouse of unconscious ideas—rather, it is an accumulation of predispositions and potentialities which in its totality forms the frame of reference with which we view the world. Jung calls these structural components “archetypes,” although at times he uses such synonyms as images, primordial images, and mythological images. They arise from historical experience and constitute the inherited foundations upon which the whole structure of the personality is built. In a word, each individual’s psyche reflects the wisdom and experience of the ages.How do archetypes originate? Jung’s answer is that they arise from experiences that have been repeated for long periods of time. Primitive man, for example, encountered the dangers of darkness and the poisonous bite of snakes, and as a result we have a predisposition to fear both snakes and darkness, a tendency which may be reinforced by our own personal experiences or the stories we hear. Similarly, the effect of the sun on life and growth gave rise to the archetype of a supreme being; and countless experiences with natural forces, such as floods, earthquakes, and lightning have produced an energy archetype. The archetypes, however, do not automatically determine the specific ideas we hold, since these are molded by our own experiences and interpretations. The archetype of a supreme being may therefore express itself in either primitive sun worship or the most sophisticated metaphysics; and preoccupation with energy may be manifested in the child’s interest in firecrackers as well as the scientist’s effort to split the atom.Jung spent a lifetime in attempting to uncover these archaic roots of modem man. He viewed the archetypes as motive forces, organizers of experience that help to account for the way we think and act. Some of those he studied most closely were the images of the earth mother, the hero, unity, magic, power, death, rebirth, the demon, and the elder wise man. Others are the creation myth, the fall from Paradise, the Virgin Birth, the Sphinx, Hercules, and Prometheus. He maintained that two or more archetypes may at times fuse into one—for example, Plato’s philosopher-king is a combination of hero and wise man, while a satanic leader like Hitler is a combination of hero with demon. He also believed that certain archetypes have evolved further than others, among them the persona and the anima. But he held that the central archetype is the self-concept, since it integrates both the conscious and unconscious aspects of the psyche. This again invokes the ideal of individuation and complete realization, which attained its highest expression in Christ and Buddha.Jung viewed the human personality in terms of polarities: conscious values and unconscious values, sublimation and repression, rational and irrational functions, introversion and extraversion. These are not static components of a finished self but dynamic forces or “tension systems” which are constantly exertine an influence on the development and expression of the individual’s ego. Their power derives from the libido, which Jung conceived as a finite reservoir of psychic energy which can flow in one direction or another. In the completely realized individual the total energy is evenly distributed throughout the various fully developed systems. The ordinary person, however, does not reach this state of equilibrium, since he develops one side of his personality at the expense of others. This creates a greater or lesser degree of inner strain and tension.Jung, then, believed that conflict the “war of opposites”is a basic fact of life. Some examples of the polarities mentioned above will make this clearer. First, conscious versus unconscious values. An individual’s conscious values can be assessed by observing the attention he gives to various aspects of life—for example, if he spends more time in reading than in athletics he values reading more. The unconscious values have to be determined by more subtle means, such as the word as sociation test: a person with a militaristic complex will view the world situation in a completely different light from a pacifist.Second, sublimation versus repression. In sublimation, the psychic energy is displaced from a primitive instinctive system to a higher cultural or spiritual system. Jung describes this process as a forward movement toward individuation. Repression, on the other hand, prevents the energy from discharging into constructive channels and adds to the strength of the unconscious. This may give the unconscious strength to break into consciousness and force the individual to behave impulsively or irrationally. In some instances, however, this process may have a positive effect, since it can also result in the release of creative ideas from either the personal or the collective unconscious.Third, rational versus irrational processes. Each person possesses four and only four ways of orienting toward the world: the two rational functions of thinking (recognizing meaning) and feeling (experiencing pleasure and pain);and the two irrational functions of sensation (receiving concrete facts or representations of the world) and intuition (perceiving by means of unconscious and subliminal processes). The irrational functions put us in direct contact with the raw data of existence and may express themselves as fantasy; the rational functions enable us to look for lawfulness in nature by using generalization, abstraction, and judgment. According to Jung, every person is capable of all four functions, but in most individuals some are more fully developed than others.Fourth, the analysis into opposites also applies to attitudes toward life. Jung put special emphasis on two of these attitudes: introversion, which is an orientation toward inner processes; and extraversion, an orientation toward the external world of people and events. Each person possesses both of these tendencies, but one of them is usually dominant and conscious while the other is subordinate and unconscious. As always, the two are in conflict with each other, and the tendency that is not conscious and dominant will be expressed in dreams and fantasies if it is denied expression in reality.Personality development. Growth of personality is described as a movement toward unity and individuation. The unity is not of the abstract kind, but is a resolution of opposites through their further development. The most important aspect of this process is the gradual integration of greater and greater amounts of the unconscious, both personal and collective, into the conscious life of the individual. Unlike Freud, Jung does not offer a detailed elaboration of stages of development, although he does hold that a radical change often occurs in the late thirties and early forties. During this period the individual becomes less impulsive and extraversive, and more introversive and controlled. In the earlier stages of life basic instincts and extraversive values have been in the ascendant, but in later maturity the energy of the libido can be channeled into the spiritual life and many individuals are able to turn inward to draw new understanding from the reservoir of the unconscious. It is an interesting fact that many of Jung’s most ardent followers, and many of his patients as well, have been older people.Jung has a small but staunch group of followers in the United States. Even those who do not count themselves Jungians may be more influenced by his ideas than they realize. The word association test has become one of the standard instruments of clinical psychology. A number of rating scales have been devised for testing the introver- sion-extraversion dimension of personality. His concept of self-realization has been incorporated into some of the most recognized personality theories. And finally, the comparative studies of mythology, religion, and the occult which he undertook in his search for archetypes have thrown new light on the universal aspects of human experience. See INTROVERSION, EXTRAVERSION, SYMBOLIZATION, DREAM INTERPRETATION

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "JUNG, CARL GUSTAV (1875-1961)," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/jung-carl-gustav-1875-1961/ (accessed August 10, 2022).


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