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Carl Jung

Related subjects Human Scientists

Carl Gustav Jung
A recent edition of Jung's partially autobiographical work Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
A recent edition of Jung's partially autobiographical work Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
Born July 26, 1875(1875-07-26)
Kesswil, Thurgau, Switzerland
Died June 6, 1961 (aged 85)
Zürich, Switzerland
Residence Switzerland
Citizenship Swiss
Fields Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychotherapy, Analytical psychology
Institutions Burghölzli
Doctoral advisor Eugen Bleuler, Sigmund Freud
Known for Analytical psychology

Carl Gustav Jung (IPA [ˈkarl ˈgʊstaf ˈjʊŋ]) ( July 26, 1875, Kesswil – June 6, 1961, Küsnacht) was a Swiss psychiatrist, an influential thinker and the founder of analytical psychology.

Jung's unique approach to psychology has been influential in countercultural movements in Europe, the United States and elsewhere since the 1930s. He emphasized understanding the psyche through exploring the worlds of dreams, art, mythology, world religion and philosophy. Although he was a theoretical psychologist and practicing clinician, much of his life's work was spent exploring other realms, including Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, sociology, as well as literature and the arts. His most notable ideas include the concept of archetypes, the collective unconscious and synchronicity.

Jung emphasized the importance of balance and harmony. He cautioned that modern people rely too heavily on science and logic and would benefit from integrating spirituality and appreciation of unconscious realms.


Early years

Carl Jung was born Karl Gustav II Jung on July 26, 1875 in Kesswil, in the Swiss canton (state) of Thurgau, as the fourth but only surviving child of Paul Achilles Jung and Emilie Preiswerk. His father, Paul Jung, was a poor rural pastor in the Swiss Reformed Church while his mother, Emilie, came from a wealthy, established Swiss family.

Six-year old Jung.
Six-year old Jung.

When Carl was six months old, Paul Jung acquired a position at a better parish in Laufen and the family moved there. Meanwhile, the tension between Paul and Emilie was growing. An eccentric and depressed woman, Emilie spent much of the time in her own separate bedroom, enthralled by the spirits that she said visited her at night. Emilie left Laufen for several months of hospitalization near Basel for an unknown physical ailment. Young Carl was taken by his father to live with Emilie's unmarried sister in Basel, but was later brought back to the pastor's residence. Emilie's continuing bouts of absence and often depressed mood influenced his attitude towards women — one of "innate unreliability", a view that he later called the "handicap I started off with". After three years of living in Laufen, Paul Jung requested a transfer and was called to Kleinhüningen in 1879. The relocation brought Emilie in closer contact to her family and lifted her melancholy and despondent mood.

A very solitary and introverted child, Jung was convinced from childhood that he had two personalities — a modern Swiss citizen and a personality more at home in the eighteenth century. "Personality No. 1", as he termed it, was a typical schoolboy living in the era of the time, while No. 2 was a dignified, authoritative and influential man from the past. Although Jung was close to both parents he was rather disappointed in his father's academic approach to faith.

A number of childhood memories had made a life-long impression on him. As a boy he carved a tiny mannequin into the end of the wooden ruler from his pupil's pencil case and placed it inside the case. He then added a stone which he had painted into upper and lower halves and hid the case in the attic. Periodically he would come back to the mannequin, often bringing tiny sheets of paper with messages inscribed on them in his own secret language. This ceremonial act, he later reflected, brought him a feeling of inner peace and security. In later years he discovered that similarities existed in this memory and the totems of native peoples like the collection of soul-stones near Arlesheim, or the tjurungas of Australia. This, he concluded, was an unconscious ritual that he did not question or understand at the time, but which was practiced in a strikingly similar way in faraway locations that he as a young boy had no way of consciously knowing about. His findings on psychological archetypes and the collective unconscious were inspired in part by this experience.

Shortly before the end of his first year at the Humanistisches Gymnasium in Basel, at age 12, he was pushed unexpectedly by another boy. He was knocked to the ground so hard that he was for a moment unconscious. The thought then came to him that "now you won't have to go to school any more." From then on, whenever he started off to school or began homework, he fainted. He remained at home for the next six months until he overheard his father speaking worriedly to a visitor of his future ability to support himself, as they suspected he had epilepsy. With little money in the family, this brought the boy to reality and he realized the need for academic excellence. He immediately went into his father's study and began poring over Latin grammar. He fainted three times, but eventually he overcame the urge and did not faint again. This event, Jung later recalled, "was when I learned what a neurosis is."

Adolescence and early adulthood

Jung wanted to study archaeology at a university, but his family was not wealthy enough to send him further afield than Basel, where they did not teach this subject, so instead Jung studied medicine at the University of Basel from 1894 to 1700. The formerly introverted student became much more lively here. In 1703, Jung married Emma Rauschenbach, from one of the richest families in Switzerland.

Towards the end of studies, his reading of Krafft-Ebing persuaded him to specialize in psychiatric medicine. He later worked in the Burghölzli, a psychiatric hospital in Zürich.

In 1706, he published Studies in Word Association and later sent a copy of this book to famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, after which a close friendship between these two men followed for some 6 years (see section on Jung and Freud). In 1912 Jung published Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (known in English as The Psychology of the Unconscious) resulting in a theoretical divergence between Jung and Freud and consequently a break in their friendship, both stating that the other was unable to admit he could possibly be wrong. After this falling-out, Jung went through a pivotal and difficult psychological transformation, which was exacerbated by news of the First World War. Henri Ellenberger called Jung's experience a "creative illness" and compared it to Freud's period of what he called neurasthenia and hysteria.

Later life

Following World War I, Jung became a worldwide traveler, facilitated by his wife's inherited fortune as well as the funds he received through psychiatric fees, book sales, and honoraria. He visited Northern Africa shortly after, and New Mexico and Kenya in the mid-1920s. In 1938, he delivered the Terry Lectures, Psychology and Religion, at Yale University. It was at about this stage in his life that Jung visited India. His experience in India led him to become fascinated and deeply involved with Eastern philosophies and religions, helping him form key concepts, including integrating spirituality into daily life and appreciation of the unconscious.

Jung's marriage with Emma produced five children and lasted until Emma's death in 1955, but he had more or less open relationships with other women. The most well-known women with whom Jung is believed to have had extramarital affairs were patient and friend Sabina Spielrein and Toni Wolff. Jung continued to publish books until the end of his life, including a work showing his late interest in flying saucers. He also enjoyed a friendship with an English Catholic priest, Father Victor White, who corresponded with Jung after he had published his controversial Answer to Job.

Jung's work on himself and his patients convinced him that life has a spiritual purpose beyond material goals. Our main task, he believed, is to discover and fulfill our deep innate potential, much as the acorn contains the potential to become the oak, or the caterpillar to become the butterfly. Based on his study of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Taoism, and other traditions, Jung perceived that this journey of transformation is at the mystical heart of all religions. It is a journey to meet the self and at the same time to meet the Divine. Unlike Sigmund Freud, Jung thought spiritual experience was essential to our well-being.

Jung died in 1961 in Zürich, after a short illness.

Relationship with Freud

Group photo 1709 in front of Clark University. Front row: Sigmund Freud, Granville Stanley Hall, Jung; back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sandor Ferenczi.
Group photo 1709 in front of Clark University. Front row Sigmund Freud, Granville Stanley Hall, Jung; back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sandor Ferenczi.

Jung was thirty when he sent his work Studies in Word Association to Sigmund Freud in Vienna. The first conversation between Jung and Freud lasted over 13 hours. Half a year later, the then 50 year-old Freud reciprocated by sending a collection of his latest published essays to Jung in Zürich, which marked the beginning of an intense correspondence and collaboration that lasted more than six years and ended shortly before World War I in May 1910, when Jung resigned as the chairman of the International Psychoanalytical Association.

Today Jung's and Freud's theories influence different schools of psychiatry, but, more importantly, they influenced each other during intellectually formative years of their lives. In 1706 psychoanalysis as an institution was still in its early developmental stages. Jung, who had become interested in psychiatry as a student by reading Psychopathia Sexualis by Richard von Krafft-Ebing, professor in Vienna, now worked as a doctor under the psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in the Burghölzli and became familiar with Freud's idea of the unconscious through Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams (1700) and was a proponent of the new "psycho-analysis". At the time, Freud needed collaborators and pupils to validate and spread his ideas. The Burghölzli was a renowned psychiatric clinic in Zürich at which Jung was an up-and-coming young doctor whose researches had already given him a worldwide reputation.

In 1708, Jung became editor of the newly founded Yearbook for Psychoanalytical and Psychopathological Research. The following year, Jung traveled with Freud and Sandor Ferenczi to the U.S. to spread the news of psychoanalysis and in 1910, Jung became chairman for life of the International Psychoanalytical Association. While Jung worked on his Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (Psychology of the Unconscious), tensions grew between Freud and Jung, due in a large part to their disagreements over the nature of libido and religion. In 1912 these tensions came to a peak because Jung felt severely slighted after Freud visited his colleague Ludwig Binswanger in Kreuzlingen without paying him a visit in nearby Zürich, an incident Jung referred to as the Kreuzlingen gesture. Shortly thereafter, Jung again traveled to the U.S.A. and gave the Fordham lectures, which were published as The Theory of Psychoanalysis, and while they contain some remarks on Jung's dissenting view on the nature of libido, they represent largely a "psychoanalytical Jung" and not the theory Jung became famous for in the following decades.

In November 1912, Jung and Freud met in Munich for a meeting among prominent colleagues to discuss psychoanalytical journals.. At a talk about a new psychoanalytic essay on Amenhotep IV, Jung expressed his views on how it related to actual conflicts in the psychoanalytic movement. While Jung spoke, Freud suddenly fainted and Jung carried him to a couch.

Jung and Freud personally met for the last time in September 1913 for the Fourth International Psychoanalytical Congress, also in Munich. Jung gave a talk on psychological types, the introverted and the extraverted type, in analytical psychology. This constituted the introduction of some of the key concepts which came to distinguish Jung's work from Freud's in the next half century.

In the following years Jung experienced considerable isolation in his professional life, exacerbated through World War I. His Seven Sermons to the Dead (1917) reprinted in his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections (see bibliography) can also be read as expression of the psychological conflicts which beset Jung around the age of forty after the break with Freud.

Jung's primary disagreement with Freud stemmed from their differing concepts of the unconscious. Jung saw Freud's theory of the unconscious as incomplete and unnecessarily negative. According to Jung (though not according to Freud), Freud conceived the unconscious solely as a repository of repressed emotions and desires. Jung agreed with Freud's model of the unconscious, what Jung called the ' personal unconscious,' but he also proposed the existence of a second, far deeper form of the unconscious underlying the personal one. This was the collective unconscious, where the archetypes themselves resided, represented in mythology by a lake, or body of water, and in some cases a jug or other container. Freud had actually mentioned a collective level of psychic functioning but saw it primarily as an appendix to the rest of the psyche.


Although Jung had many friends and respected colleagues who were Jewish, there were allegations that he was a Nazi sympathizer. Jung was editor of the Zentralblatt für Psychotherapie, a publication that eventually endorsed Mein Kampf as required reading for all psychoanalysts. Jung claimed it was done to save psychoanalysis and preserve it during the war, believing that psychoanalysis would not otherwise survive, because the Nazis considered it to be a "Jewish science." He also claimed he did it with the help and support of his Jewish friends and colleagues. This after-the-fact explanation, however, has been challenged on the basis of available documents. There is another school of thought: that Jung wrote the article for the journal, and the reference of Mein Kampf was added after the article had been submitted.

On the other hand, there are writings that show that Jung's sympathies were against, rather than for, Nazis. He voiced his opinions about Hitler and stated that the situation of the crazy passion was becoming dangerous.

Jung served as president of the Nazi-dominated International General Medical Society for Psychotherapy, created by Matthias Göring. One of his first acts as president was to modify the constitution so that German Jewish doctors could maintain their membership as individual members even though they were excluded from all German medical societies. In 1934, when he presented his paper "A Review of the Complex Theory" in his presidential address, he did not discount the importance of Freud and credited him with as much influence as he could possibly give to an old mentor. Later in the war, Jung resigned.

In addition, in 1943 he aided the U.S. Office of Strategic Services by analyzing the psychology of Nazi leaders. See also ongoing discussion in relation to "post-Jungian" interpretation.

In an interview with Carol Baumann in 1948, published in the Bulletin of Analytical Psychology Club of New York, December 1949, Jung explicitly denies rumors regarding any sympathy for the Nazi movement, saying:

It must be clear to anyone who has read any of my books that I have never been a Nazi sympathizer and I never have been anti-Semitic, and no amount of misquotation, mistranslation, or rearrangement of what I have written can alter the record of my true point of view. Nearly every one of these passages [referring to a list of quotations cited against him] has been tampered with, either by malice or by ignorance. Furthermore, my friendly relations with a large group of Jewish colleagues and patients over a period of many years in itself disproves the charge of anti-Semitism.

A full response from Jung discounting the rumors can be found in C.G Jung Speaking, Interviews and Encounters, Princeton University Press, 1977.


Jung has had an enduring influence on psychology as well as wider society. He has influenced psychotherapy (see analytical psychology, also called Jungian psychology).

  • The concept of introversion and extraversion
  • The concept of the complex
  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Socionics were both inspired by Jung's psychological types theory.
  • Archetype concept as an element of the archaic common substratum of the mind, or the Collective Unconscious.
  • Synchronicity as an alternative to the Causality Principle, an idea which has even influenced modern physicists.

Spirituality as a cure for alcoholism

Jung's influence can sometimes be found in more unexpected quarters. For example, Jung once treated an American patient ( Rowland H.), suffering from chronic alcoholism. After working with the patient for some time and achieving no significant progress, Jung told the man that his alcoholic condition was near to hopeless, save only the possibility of a spiritual experience. Jung noted that occasionally such experiences had been known to reform alcoholics where all else had failed.

Rowland took Jung's advice seriously and set about seeking a personal spiritual experience. He returned home to the United States and joined a Christian evangelical movement known as the Oxford Group. He also told other alcoholics what Jung had told him about the importance of a spiritual experience. One of the alcoholics he told was Ebby Thacher, a long-time friend and drinking buddy of Bill Wilson, later co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Thacher told Wilson about Jung's ideas. Wilson, who was finding it impossible to maintain sobriety, was impressed and sought out his own spiritual experience. The influence of Jung thus indirectly found its way into the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous, the original 12-step program, and from there into the whole 12-step recovery movement, although AA as a whole is not Jungian and Jung had no role in the formation of that approach or the 12 steps.

The above claims are documented in the letters of Carl Jung and Bill W., excerpts of which can be found in Pass It On, published by Alcoholics Anonymous. Although the detail of this story is disputed by some historians, Jung himself made reference to its substance -- including the Oxford Group participation of the individual in question -- in a talk that was issued privately in 1954 as a transcript from shorthand taken by an attendee (Jung reportedly approved the transcript), later recorded in Volume 18 of his Collected Works, The Symbolic Life ("For instance, when a member of the Oxford Group comes to me in order to get treatment, I say, 'You are in the Oxford Group; so long as you are there, you settle your affair with the Oxford Group. I can't do it better than Jesus.'" Jung goes on to state that he has seen similar cures among Catholics.)

Influences on culture


  • Jung had a 16-year long friendship with the author Laurens van der Post from which a number of books and a film were created about Jung's life.
  • Herman Hesse, author of works such as Siddhartha and Der Steppenwolf, was treated by a student of Jung, Dr. Joseph Lang. This began for Hesse a long preoccupation with psychoanalysis, through which he came to know Jung personally.
  • James Joyce in his Finnegans Wake, asks "Is the Co-education of Animus and Anima Wholly Desirable?" his answer perhaps being contained in his line "anama anamaba anamabapa". The book also ridicules Jung's analytical psychology and Freud's psychoanalysis by referring to "psoakoonaloose". Jung had been unable to help Joyce's daughter, Lucia, who Joyce claimed was a girl "yung and easily freudened". Lucia was diagnosed as schizophrenic and was eventually permanently institutionalized.
  • Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man can be read as an ironic parody of Jung's "four stages of eroticism". See Hiromi Yoshida, Joyce & Jung: The "Four Stages of Eroticism" in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Peter Lang, 2007).
  • Jung's differentiation of the psychological functions of sensation, intuition, thinking and feeling inspired the categorization of two of the four delineating factors in the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality test. These are the "N" (intuition) vs. "S" (sensing) and "T" (thinking) vs. "F" (feeling) groupings.
  • Jung's influence on noted Canadian novelist Robertson Davies is apparent in many of Davies' fictional works, in particular The Cornish Trilogy and his novel The Manticore base their designs on Jungian concepts.
  • Jung appears as a character in the novel Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker. He appears as the therapist of Tashi, the novel's protagonist. He is usually called "Mzee" but is identified by Alice Walker in the afterword.
  • In the novel " Pilgrim", by Timothy Findley, Jung has a fictional main role where he is treating a suicide who believes he has lived many lifetimes.
  • Jung appears as a character in the 2006 novel, The Interpretation of Murder, by Jed Rubenfeld. The novel also features Jung's contemporaries Sigmund Freud, Abraham Brill and Sandor Ferenczi.


  • The visionary Swiss painter Peter Birkhäuser was treated by a student of Jung, Marie-Louise von Franz, and corresponded with Jung regarding the translation of dream symbolism into works of art.
  • American Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock underwent Jungian analysis. Archetypal images crept into his work as he moved from representational forms to his classic "drip paintings."
  • Jungian influences on art also include the work of composer Michael Tippett. Jung's influence here helps us to understand transpersonal art.

Television and film

  • Dr. Niles Crane on the popular television sitcom Frasier is a devoted Jungian psychiatrist, while his brother Dr. Frasier Crane is a Freudian psychiatrist. This is mentioned a number of times in the series, and from time to time forms a point of argument between the two brothers. One memorable scene had Niles filling in for Frasier on Frasier's call-in radio program, in which Niles introduces himself as the temporary substitute saying, "...and while my brother is a Freudian, I am a Jungian, so there'll be no blaming Mother today."
  • Jung and his ideas are mentioned often, and sometimes play an integral role, in the television series Northern Exposure. Jung even makes an appearance in one of the character's dreams.
  • An episode of the popular cartoon series Martin Mystery takes Carl Jung's interpretation of The Shadow as an explanation for what a doppelgänger is.
  • "The duality of man, the Jungian thing" is offered as an explanation by Sgt. Joker (played by Matthew Modine) in the film Full Metal Jacket when asked why he wears both a peace sign and a helmet inscribed with "Born To Kill".
  • Television programmes have been devoted to Jung; for example, in the autumn of 1984, an edition of the BBC documentary Sea of Faith was on Jung.
  • The 2005 movie Batman Begins features The Scarecrow, a psychologist with a morbid interest in psychopharmacology and fear. Facing questions raised by a victim repeating his criminal name, he replies "Patients suffering delusional episodes often focus their paranoia on an external tormentor... usually one conforming to Jungian archetypes."
  • The 1988 OVA Top wo Nerae! ( Gunbuster in the US) features a character named "Jung Freud", named, obviously, for Jung and Sigmund Freud.
  • An episode from season 8 of Charmed was named 'Jung and the Restless' within the episode, the charmed ones go inside their dreams to find their true desires.


  • An opera, The Dream Healer, based on the book Pilgrim by Timothy Findley, centres on Jung's efforts to bridge the known and unknown aspects of the human mind.
  • Jung appears on the cover of The Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
  • Peter Gabriel's song "Rhythm of the Heat" ( Security, 1982), tells about Jung's visit to Africa, during which he joined a group of tribal drummers and dancers and became overwhelmed by the fear of losing control of himself. At the time Jung was exploring the concept of the collective unconscious and was afraid he would come under control of the music as the drummers and dancers let the music control them in fulfillment of their ritual objectives. Gabriel learned about Jung's journey to Africa from the essay Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams ( ISBN 0-691-09968-5). In the song Gabriel tries to capture the powerful feelings the African tribal music evoked in Jung by means of intense use of tribal drumbeats. The original song title was Jung in Africa.
  • British rapper The Streets refers to Jung in the song " The Irony of It All", saying "I like to get deep sometimes and think about Einstein and Carl Jung."
  • British pop band The Police's final album, Synchronicity, contains numerous allusions to Jung and the album cover prominently depicts bassist Sting reading a copy of Jung's work.
  • The band Saigon Kick makes a reference to Jung in I Love You, saying "I may not have the mind of Jung."
  • Australian band TISM uses a play on the name in the title of "Jung Talent Time" on the album "Machiavelli and the Four Seasons".
  • The American progressive rock band, Tool, used Jungian concepts in some of the work for their album, Aenima. The song 46&2 talks specifically of the archetype of the shadow, and in one boot-legged recording, of unknown date and place, the vocalist, Maynard James Keenan, introduces the song by asking the crowd if they were familiar with Jung's work, before explaining that they formed the basis for the song. Along with the reference to the anima archetype, the song's symbology of water, which is often used to represent the unconscious, and the notion of transformation through the flushing of detritus all speak to the influence of Jungian thought..

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