Jung and Africa



The significance for Jung of his travels in Africa is strongly expressed in his autobiographical work, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Upon glimpsing a distant figure standing motionless, leaning on a long spear and looking down at the train he was on, he thought: “I had the feeling that I had already experienced this moment and had always known this world which was separated from my only by distance in time. It was as if I were this moment returning to the land of my youth, and as if I knew that dark-skinned man who had been waiting for me for five thousand years” (MDR, p. 254). So great was the impact of Africa on Jung that he claimed: “There the cosmic meaning of consciousness became overwhelmingly clear to me. ‘What nature leaves imperfect, the art perfects,’ say the alchemists. Man, I, in an invisible act of creation put the stamp of perfection on the world by giving it objective existence.” (MDR, pp. 255-6). This realization came to him as he observed the African landscape: “Grazing, heads nodding, the herds moved forward like slow rivers. This was the stillness of the eternal beginning, the world as it had always been, in the state of non-being; for until then no one had been present to know that it was this world… here I was now, the first human being to recognize that this was the world…”(ibid.) Africa stamped Jung indelibly.

Peter Ammann’s fascination with Africa is also by now long-standing and to many who have heard him lecture and have watched his films utterly convincing. A student of Jung’s several journeys to Africa, Peter Ammann has taken further steps to extend the studies of native African thinking and practices of healing begun some 85 years ago by Jung himself. In this seminar, he tells the story of how he came to be so smitten with Africa and its people, in particular with its native healers, but also with its ancient traditions of art. In this he follows the stories of African Bushmen as recounted by Sir Laurens van der Post in his well-known books such as The Lost World of the Kalahari and The Heart of the Hunter. He also follows the lead of Jungian analyst, Dr. Vera Buhrmann who lived her entire life in South Africa and contributed to our knowledge of native healers in her work Living in Two Worlds. Peter Ammann’s conclusion after studying with several native African healers and filming their ceremonies is that modern psychology would do well to learn from them. In this seminar he presents the results of his research.

This seminar focuses on the contributions of anthropology to analytical psychology and Jungian psychoanalysis. Throughout his mature years, Jung looked to anthropological studies from near and far to place a wider frame on his work with patients and especially with dreams and unconscious factors. Many Jungian psychoanalysts have followed him along these lines of research, notably such figures as Joseph Henderson, Donald Sandner, Vera Buhrmann and most recently Jerome Bernstein. Especially important is the open attitude of Jungian psychology toward learning about psychic healing from a wide variety of human sources, including practitioners in shamanistic traditions.


Murray Stein, Ph.D. is a training analyst and president of the International School of  Analytical Psychology in Zurich, Switzerland (ISAP Zurich). He is the author of The Principle of Individuation and many other books and articles in the field of Jungian Psychoanalysis. He is a founding member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts and Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts. From 2001 to 2004 he was president of the International Association for Analytical Psychology. He is a highly sought after international lecturer and presently makes his home in Switzerland.

Peter Ammann, Ph.D. is a trained musician, an accomplished film-maker, and a Jungian psychoanalysis in private practice in Zurich and Geneva.  Born 1931 in Zürich. Schools until matric in Aarau. Training as cellist in Zürich and Paris. Graduation at the University of Zürich. Ph.D., in Musicology, History of Religion and Ethnology. Doctoral Thesis: The musical Theory and Philosophy of Robert Fludd. At the same time training in Analytical Psychology at the C.G.Jung-Institute Zürich. Diploma thesis Music and Psyche. 1966 -1970 Rome: Assistant of Federico Fellini. Since 1970 independent filmmaker and collaborator of Télévision Suisse Romande. Doc-Films for “Temps présent“, “Tell Quel“, “Viva“. 1977-1984 Member of the Swiss Film Board. Since 1988 psychotherapeutic practice in Zürich and Geneva. Lecturer, training analyst and supervisor at the C.G. Jung-Institute Zürich. Since 2004 lecturer, training analyst and supervisor at the International School for Analytical Psychology ISAP Zurich. Since 1990 Lectures and Films in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana

Learning Objectives:

  1. To explain various methods of native healing
  2. To describe the contribution of anthropology to Jungian psychoanalysis
  3. To create an appreciation for healing resources in the collective unconscious
  4. To analyze native African perspectives on psychic healing
  5. To critique and encourage further research into the resources for clinical practice from anthropological research

Outline of Talk:

  1. An Introduction to Jung’s utilization of anthropology and his travels, by Murray Stein
  2. “Ask not what you can give to Africa, ask what Africa can give to you!” – Peter Ammann
  3. Break
  4. Discussion and Q & A


Blake Burlson, Jung in Africa.

C.G. Jung, “Archaic Man,” CW. 10.

Jerome Bernstein, Living in the Borderland

Laurens van der Post, The Bushmen of the Kalahari; The Heart of the Hunter

Vera Buhrmann, Living in Two Worlds


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