Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), also known as C. G. Jung, is the founder of analytical (“Jungian”) psychology. He is credited for advancing such concepts as the Shadow, Archetypes, Collective Unconscious, Personality Types and Individuation. Born on July 26, 1875 to Johann Paul Jung, a Swiss Reformed pastor, and his wife, Emilie, née Preiswerk, in the Swiss village of Kesswil, CG Jung received a classical European education in German speaking Swiss schools. He studied medicine at the University of Basel from 1896 to 1900. Deeply interested in philosophy and religion as well as science, Carl Jung read Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche among others while a student. These philosophers formed the basis of Jung’s thinking and fundamentally influenced him throughout his life. In 1900 C. G. Jung entered a psychiatric residency at the Bürgholzli Klinik in Zürich and studied and worked there under Prof. Eugen Bleuler. In psychiatry, not only Bleuler but also Charcot, Janet, and Flournoy were Jung’s major reference points. Carl Jung’s early publications included a book on schizophrenia and a series of research papers using the Word Association Experiment. In 1903 Carl Jung married Emma Rauschenbach and eventually became the father of five children, four daughters and a son.
Carl Jung began an intense collaborative relationship with Freud in 1907. Quickly recognizing Jung’s intellectual gifts and his potential as a charismatic leader, Freud came to designate him his “crown prince” and heir to the fledgling psychoanalytic movement. C.G. Jung was the first President of the International Psychoanalytic Association, a position he held from 1910 to 1914. He was also the first editor of the early psychoanalytic journal, Jahrbuch für psychologische und psychopathologische Forschungen, sponsored jointly by Freud and Bleuler. The voluminous correspondence between Jung and Freud was published in 1974 and contains a vivid portrayal of the waxing and waning of the relationship between these two pioneers. From the beginning, Carl Jung was skeptical about Freud’s exclusive emphasis on sexuality in the etiology of neurosis and psychosis. Later Jung became strongly attracted to the psychology and philosophy of William James, whom he met in 1909 at Clark University in Wooster, Mass. and whose works agreed more with his own philosophical tendencies. The Freud-Jung relationship broke up in 1913 over personal and theoretical conflicts. From Jung’s point of view, the major problems were Freud’s emphasis on sexuality and his inordinate need for personal authority in intellectual matters pertaining to psychoanalysis.
In 1914 Carl Jung founded his own school of analytical psychology. At the core of it was the view that all human beings share a primordial level of psyche. Jung called this level the collective unconscious. The contents of the collective unconscious are general patterns of ideation, imagination, and behaviour. The inborn psychological factors that create these universal human patterns he designated archetypes. Archetypes behave like drives but are represented as images in the psyche and have a more mental than biological quality. Accordingly, instead of the term libido Jung preferred the more general psychic energy, which again distanced him from Freud’s emphasis on sexuality. Analytical psychology was able to take a positive view of religious experience in a way that psychoanalysis could not.
C.G. Jung hammered out the bare outlines of his own distinctive psychological theory during the years following his break with Freud. 1913-1917 were years of intensive self-analysis, a period that is sometimes mistaken as heavily psychotic rather than what Ellenberger has called a period of “creative illness.” The Red Book, published in 2009, records Jung’s experiences and shows clearly that his mental faculties were intact throughout. In these years Jung developed his theory of individuation as a lifelong psychological development process and published his revision of psychoanalytic theory provisionally in the first drafts of what would become, after several editions, Two Essays in Analytical Psychology. These essays still provide the best introduction to Carl Jung’s approach to psychoanalytic theory and practice. In 1921 C.G. Jung published the major work, Psychological Types, in which he explored psychodynamic relations between conscious and unconscious and the differences between introverts and extraverts, thinkers and feelers, sensate and intuitive people. Jung used this theory to understand the differing cognitive styles of Freud, Adler and himself.
In his writings Carl Jung said little about the details of early childhood development. Perhaps Jung’s most important general contribution to the practice of psychoanalysis was the emphasis he placed on the role of the analyst’s personality in the treatment of patients and the central importance of genuine interaction between analyst and analysand. Carl Jung is now credited with being an early forerunner of theories of intersubjectivity. Jung also espoused a relatively positive view of the unconscious, seeing it as potentially creative and resourceful often beyond the limited perspectives of ego-consciousness.
Between the World Wars CG Jung was active teaching at home in Zürich and abroad in England, the United States, and throughout Europe. Jung also traveled extensively in Africa and India. In the late 1920’s he developed a special interest in Eastern thought and religions. Through his friendship with Richard Wilhelm, the German Sinologist and translator of such works as the I Ching, Carl Jung began to see connections between Western psychology and Eastern philosophy. This interest led to Jung’s participation from 1933 to 1952 in the Eranos Conferences held every August in Ascona, Switzerland.
In 1933 Carl Jung reluctantly accepted the presidency of the International General Medical Society for Psychotherapy, a post that he held until 1940. The story of Jung’s politics during this period is complex, and the emotions generated have led easily to oversimplification and splitting. While not a sympathizer, much less a member, of the Nazi party in Germany, Jung walked a fine line between neutrality and internationalism on the one side and cooperation with the large German section of this organization on the other.
C.G. Jung’s last twenty years bore the fruit of decades of experience with patients and of his vast researches in comparative symbolism. Beset by illness and frail health, he published his most important work on transference (The Psychology of the Transference), on the interpretation of Western cultural history (Aion and Answer to Job), on depth psychology and modern physics (On Synchronicity), and on individuation (Mysterium Coniunctionis). His many friendships bridged religion and science: While collaborating with the Dominican priest, Victor White, on studies of Christian theology, for instance, he was also writing a book with the Nobel Prize winning physicist, Wolfgang Pauli. Jung’s life was filled with honors and accolades (lunch with Winston Churchill during his visit to Zürich after WWII, honorary doctorates from Harvard and Oxford and other universities, a literary prize from the city of Zürich) befitting the magnitude of his intellectual achievements.
Bair, D. (2003) Jung. A Biography. Boston, New York, London: Little, Brown & Co.
Ellenberger, H.F. (1970) the Discovery of the Unconscious. New York: Basic Books.
Hannah, B. (1977) Jung, His Life and Work. Wilmette: Chiron.
Jung, C.G. (1961) Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Translated by Richard and Clara Winston. Vintage Books: New York
Kirsch, T.B. (2000) The Jungians. London and Philadelphia: Routledge.
Stein, M. (1998) Jung’s Map of the Soul. Chicago and LaSalle: Open Court.
Biography written by Murray Stein, PhD