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Jung A Biography

The Work

In the early years of his activity as a psychiatrist and analytical psychologist, Jung repeatedly found himself pressed to define his position and to distinguish it from those of Freud’s “psychoanalysis” and Adler’s “psychology of the individual.”

Distinctions of this kind had already been made before his formal separation from the Psychoanalytic Association; as we have seen, the consequential Transformations and Symbols of the Libido, the roughly contemporary lectures on “The Theory of Psychoanalysis” presented at Fordham University in New York in 1912 and 1913, and others were among them.

He gave a brief definition of his standpoint in the preface to his Collected Papers on Analytical Psychology (1916-1917), a collection of his pertinent works that had managed to appear in London during the First World War.

This very place and date of publication were themselves remarkable, being (from the point of view of Germany and Austria) in foreign, enemy territory.

On the other hand, after his intense confrontation with the unconscious, Jung achieved a certain distance, so that it was now possible for him to sketch the first outlines of his emerging analytical psychology, although a well-rounded treatment would still be out of the question for some time to come.

It was no coincidence that the years from 1913 to 1921 saw a conspicuous dearth of publications, during which Jung published only a few studies, all of them short.

Still, there was a definite continuity between Jung’s early work and the later work that appeared after the critical phase of his middle life.

Jung regarded the individual essays of his Collected Papers as, at best, stations along the way to more general views, though they had nevertheless been achieved on the basis of empirical experience and thorough reflection.

As always, the author of these papers credited the discovery of the new analytical methods of general psychology to Sigmund Freud, whose original interpretations, however, “would have to undergo many important modifications,” as he said in the preface.

The terminology of the time spoke of the “Vienna school,” with its exclusively sexualist perspective, as opposed to the “Zurich school,” represented chiefly by Jung, which held a “symbolistic interpretation.”

The distinction between Jung and Freud began with the concept of the symbol.

Whereas the Vienna school viewed the symbol in psychology semiotically, that is, as merely a sign of certain primitive psychosexual processes, and then proceeded to explain it analytically or causally, the Zurich group took a more critical stance.

Of course they did recognize the scientific possibility of the Freudian position, as the elderly C. G. Jung still acknowledged in his Memories, noting:

“It is a widespread error to imagine that I do not see the value of sexuality. On the contrary, it plays a large part in my psychology as an essential-though not the sole-expression of psychic wholeness.”

Thus Jung added to the analytic method, as has already been mentioned, a combinative, constructive, and prospective point of view, one which was aimed at the goal of human maturation.

This was also an approach long championed, for example, by Jung’s Zurich colleague Alphonse Maeder.

Already at an early date, for instance at the Munich Congress in 1913, Jung acknowledged the views of Alfred Adler, which also departed from Freud’s. In the briefest terms, Jung felt that whereas Freud had helped to validate the pleasure principle, thereby (as also in other ways) setting out on the path to a more materialist and mechanistic world view, Adler, approaching to a certain extent the philosophy (or at least terminology) of Nietzsche, stressed the primacy of the so-called power principle.

On this point Jung found himself in the intellectual vicinity of a William James, who granted a relative validity to both interpretations, but only-as Jung put it-“within the confines of their corresponding types”; thus excluding any universal validity of one or the other.

With this Jung emphasized once again how important it is, in applying either method, to be aware also of the typological state of affairs, a factor that was to undergo necessary development in Jung’s typological studies.

By the same token, it is not a matter of indifference what psychological types the analyst and analysand belong to.

Quite practical consequences arise from this, such as the fact that Jung would in certain cases refer one patient or another to other doctors.

This practice was based both on typological considerations and on the fact that the psychoanalytical procedure as such, in the wider sense of the term, is applicable only in a limited number of cases.

Hence as early as his correspondence with R. Loy, a leading sanatorium physician in Montreaux-Territet, we find the comment:

There are cases where psychoanalysis works worse than anything else. But who said that psychoanalysis was to be applied always and everywhere? Only a fanatic could maintain such a thing. Patients must be selected for psychoanalysis …. Any preconceived scheme in these matters makes one shudder.

Biographically speaking, these lines of 4 February 1913 were written before the famous parting of the ways.

They could claim equal validity for the later analytical psychology which remained to be worked out, but at the same time they indicate a transition that one might call the road “from Freud to Jung.”

In her study of the same name Liliane Frey-Rohn described this transitional character, insofar as it applied to the emerging work, as follows:

“It is fascinating and at the same time heart-wrenching to follow the inner split with which Jung struggled in his efforts to do justice to Freud’s findings on the one hand, while remaining true to his own inner demons on the other.”

Not only did the first part of Symbols of Transformation reveal clear signs of this inner disunity, but the second part especially, which appeared somewhat later, made obvious his increasing distance from Freud.

As positively as Jung had accepted his friend’s early writings, he maintained an attitude of corresponding reservation toward the sexual theory that had been published in the meantime and the works based on it.”

Jung’s unremitting insistence that he wished to be known not as a theorist (or even dogmatist), but as an empiricist who had first had to test his insights thoroughly, was not without its consequences.

For decades there was a certain fluidity in his psychological statements.

This lasted a relatively long time, up until-to retain Jung’s metaphor-the “fiery stream of basalt” of his imaginations, but his attempt at a theoretical formulation had also come to something of a standstill.

(Of course, it could never have stopped completely, if he was to do justice to the ever-changing nature of the human soul. Some of Jung’s critics failed to make allowance for this requirement, demanding clearly defined concepts, even though Heraclitus’ panta rhei requires intellectual flexibility of the psychologist more than anyone.)

As a typical example of the potential and the necessity for continuing development within Jung’s work, we may adduce the early and then repeatedly revised text “On the Psychology of the Unconscious,” which appeared under various titles between 1912 and 1942.

The repeated changes in its title corresponded to his ongoing interest in the archetypal dream material that he discussed, as well as the necessity for changes in content, for eventually the dynamic manifestations of the psyche demanded adequate treatment.

Time after time the confrontation with the unconscious, as Jung himself had had to master it, provided evidence for the correctness of his statements.

In the foreword to the second edition he made clear the necessity of such a confrontation, writing in 1918, the last year of the World War:

“But still too few look inward, to their own selves, and still too few ask themselves whether the ends of human society might not best be served if each man tried to abolish the old order in himself, and to practice in his own person and in his own inward state those precepts and victories which he preaches at every street-corner, instead of always expecting these things of his fellow men.”

How closely Jung connected the forms of the external catastrophe with the inner revolution that was becoming so necessary, and how he spoke here from his own often painful experience, becomes evident in this same passage:

Every individual needs revolution, inner division, overthrow of the existing order, and renewal, but not by forcing these things upon his neighbors under the hypocritical cloak of Christian love or the sense of social responsibility …. Individual self-reflection, return of the individual to the ground of human nature, to his own deepest being with its individual and social destiny-here is the beginning of a cure for that blindness which reigns at the present hour.

The therapeutic concern was unmistakable.

But Jung also left no doubt about the provisional character of his work.

In any case his book could under no circumstances give a comprehensive idea of the total scope of analytical psychology, as he noted in the fourth edition of 1936.

And by the time the fifth edition became necessary, in 1942, Europe had been invaded for a second time by world war.

In the meantime fully three decades had passed since the first version, and hence the concluding lines of his new foreword were meant rather literally:

New ideas, if they are not just a flash in the pan, generally require at least a generation to take root. Psychological innovations probably take much longer, since in this field more than in any other practically everybody sets himself up as an authority.

Thus Jung realized that his orientation to research and therapy would only slowly be accepted by his contemporaries.

Even in his old age had had cause to complain of being continually misunderstood and misinterpreted, but it is hardly surprising when one considers that he was comparing the results of his own investigations with historical material that was rather far removed from the general consciousness.

Even upon reading the text on “Transformation,” many of his readers had grumbled at how the author pulled out practically every stop of humanistic, religious, and comparative intellectual tradition, and recited all of his sources in great detail.

Indeed, the psychotherapist from Kusnacht had become familiar with some very specialized areas of knowledge.

The strange Septem Sermones ad Mortuos already signaled Jung’s interest in early Christian Gnosticism, which was deepened in the years between 1918 and 1926.

He saw that the exponents of this brand of mythological knowledge also had been confronted with the primal world of the unconscious and had dealt with its contents, with images that were obviously contaminated with the world of instinct.

Just how they understood these images remains difficult to say, in view of the paucity of the accounts-which, moreover, mostly stem from their opponents, the Church Fathers. It seems to me highly unlikely that they had a psychological conception of them.

As is attested to by the bibliographies in his books, during these years Jung assembled the standard works of Gnostic scholarship up to the beginning of the century.

The great find of Gnostic texts that were original-and thus not mediated by the opponents of Gnosticism-that was made a generation later (1945) at Nag Hammadi in upper Egypt, was therefore not yet available to him.

Thus he could not have known of the “Codex Jung,” later named for him, which formed part of the Gnostic corpus.

The redaction, translation, and classification of this extremely important codex was to take up several more decades, as we know, and hence these texts remained unavailable for Jung’s examination.

But regardless of these facts, Jung was compelled to the conclusion that the distance in time, and above all in consciousness, between this ancient gnosis and the modern problems of the soul was far too great for him to achieve effective results in that direction.

Thus this first attempt at bridge-building was unsuccessful.

Only when he became better acquainted with medieval alchemy did he discover the possibility of drawing parallels between modern productions of the unconscious and alchemical terminology and symbolism.

It was only closer familiarity with alchemy that enabled him to speak of a spiritual and psychic continuity between past and present.

“Grounded in the natural philosophy of the Middle Ages, alchemy formed the bridge on the one hand into the past, to Gnosticism, and on the other into the future, to the modern psychology of the unconscious,”

although certain central themes, for example the important gnostic motif of sexuality, already bore a resemblance to Freudian psychoanalysis.

Also to be considered in this connection is the great theme of the coniunctio (“joining together”) of the masculine and the feminine, at the level of the spiritual world as described by the Gnostics.

The same is true of the “sacred marriage,” the hieros gamos that was supposed to take place between God and man, between the divine pneuma and the ground of the human soul.

But what happens in the ground of the human soul is the central theme not only of the Gnostics, and mystics of all eras, but also of any psychologist who attaches as much importance as Jung did to understanding the peculiarities and the fulfillment of the psyche, and hence of the total personality.

And precisely around the time of his work with the Gnostic texts, around 1921-1922, this interpretation of the process of individuation was entering more and more into Jung’s consciousness.

Individuation, as the process of self-realization that determines the humanness of the human being, was gradually shifting toward the center of analytical psychology.

The concept itself had emerged as early as 1916, though defined differently.

Several years were to pass before Jung was able to express more precisely what he had in mind.

Individuation means becoming a single, homogeneous being, and, insofar as “individuality” embraces our innermost, last, and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming one’s own self. We could therefore translate individuation as “coming to selfhood” or “self-realization.”

This process of development, then, is not one that goes on aimlessly, but one through which the human being’s true nature and innate gifts are to take shape.

Of course it is not some duty imposed on the psyche from without; rather the goal lies hidden within the person himself, as a self-regulating principle superordinate to the everyday ego.

It plays a considerable role in the confrontation between the ego and the unconscious, an insight Jung had gained in the tension-filled years of his midlife crisis.

At the same time, around 1916, he began to discern the workings of a function that served to mediate between consciousness and the unconscious, the so-called transcendent function.

It is this which forms the bridge between conscious and unconscious, between rational and irrational.

It is a natural process, a manifestation of the energy that springs from the tension of opposites, and it consists in a sequence of fantasy-occurrences which appear spontaneously in dreams and visions.

On the whole, then, the transcendent function is a symbolizing one. In the process of self-realization it operates to help unify the conflict within the human psyche.

We shall return to this central theme of the unification of the opposites (mysterium coniunctionis), as it both represents the theme of Jung’s middle life and marks the culmination of his later work.

The first significant book that can be seen as the fruit of his own confrontation with the unconscious after his middle life was Psychological Types in 1921, although in his preface from 1920 its author could point to nearly twenty years of interest in this problem of practical psychology, which means that the study of the typical structures and functions of the psyche had occupied Jung since the beginning of his psychiatric career.

Because every person (regardless of the typological approach applied) can be classified as a particular psychological type, typology represents an important aid in the understanding of any person.

It is no coincidence that Psychological Types stands as one of Jung’s best-known works, and the subject itself deserves to be discussed in more detail.

For more than two thousand years attempts have been made to come to grips with the physical, mental, and emotional phenotype of humankind by reducing it to a common denominator of typical characteristics.

The early Greek thinkers and physicians all made their contributions to this effort, embedded within the view of man and the world that prevailed at this time.

The most famous of these is the division into the “four temperaments,” associated with the four elements of Empedocles, Hippocrates’ doctrine of bodily humors, or Aristotle’s blood-conditions.

Beside these ancient temperament types, modern psychology had developed a wide array of typologies. In 1921, virtually coinciding with Jung’s, Hermann Rorschach and Ernst Kretschmer published their own characteristic typological schemes.

That the appearance of Jung’s typology was not entirely sudden is shown by the already mentioned paper “A Contribution to the Study of Psychological Types” at the Munich Congress in 1913, reprinted in volume 6 of the Collected Works.

Here we can observe the genesis of this aspect of his work.

On the basis of many years of experience as a doctor, Jung was eventually able to conclude:

What I have to say in this book has been tested line by line, so to speak, a hundred times in the practical treatment of sick people, and was originally inspired by such treatment …. Hence the layman cannot be blamed if certain statements strike him as odd, or if he should even suspect that my typology comes out of some idyllically undisturbed study.

Jung’s typological scheme was characterized by the point of view from which he looked upon psychological types, seeking to determine the relationship of the personality in question to its environment and those around it.

He asked, then, whether the person was more inclined toward or away from the environment, whether directed outward or inward, whether he could be seen as an “extravert” or an “introvert.”

At first sight this approach seems almost simplistic, though it cannot be denied that posing the question in this way already points to certain basic underlying assumptions.

Detailed experience shows that the Jungian typology not only makes possible a rich differentiation of types, but can also accommodate the uniqueness of the individual which is beyond the scope of typology.

No special proof was needed to show that despite many points of typological comparison, the uniqueness of any person could not be sufficiently “grasped” by means of any of the available systems.

Jung had observed two psychic “mechanisms,” which were distinguished by a difference in goal-orientation. Psychic energy directed outward produced extraversion, a “shift of interest toward the object.

A shift of interest away from the object to the subject and his own psychological processes” Jung referred to as introversion.

Thinking, feeling, and wishing were subordinate in their turn to one of these two basic attitudes.

Jung had noted a parallel in Goethe’s conception of diastole ( expansion) and systole (contraction), and accordingly extraversion could be classified as “a diastolic going out to and taking hold of the object,” whereas introversion represented “a systolic concentration and detachment of energy from the grasped object.”

In his early article “On the Psychology of the Unconscious” (1916, etc.), the author defined the two basic attitudes of the introvert and the extravert as follows:

The first attitude is normally characterized by a hesitant, reflective, retiring nature that keeps itself to itself, shrinks from objects, is always slightly on the defensive, and prefers to hide behind mistrustful scrutiny. The second is normally characterized by an outgoing, candid, and accommodating nature that adapts easily to a given situation, quickly forms attachments, and, setting aside any possible misgivings, will often venture forth with careless confidence into unknown situations.

Consequently in the first case it is the subject, and in the second the object that should claim decisive importance.

The voluminous book Psychological Types proceeds to unfold these twin themes, beginning with historical interpretations of the problem of types from antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the various formulations developed in modern times, with particular consideration of writers such as Carl Spitteler and Goethe.

It goes without saying that the designations introvert and extravert were intended to be completely value-free, Jung himself being assignable to the introverted attitude type.

This was documented especially by the whole of his psychotherapeutic and literary work.

In his Memories he understood his individual works as stations in his own life and expressions of his own inner development:

All my writings may be considered tasks imposed from within; their source was a fateful compulsion. What I wrote were things that assailed me from within myself. I permitted the spirit that moved me to speak out.

Certainly many an author could make such an avowal.

To this assertion Jung added the suggestion that he had never counted on any strong positive response to his writings.

His books represented as it were a compensation for the world of his contemporaries, and so he was bound to say much which no one really wanted to hear.

One who works in this introverted way cannot allow himself to be overly concerned with public taste or the reactions of readers, although to be sure it is quite another matter how keenly such a person senses rejection and lack of interest or understanding.

To return to Jung’s typological studies, a clear distinction must be made between “type” and “attitude.”

According to Jung, only when extraversion or introversion assumes the nature of a habitual trait and thus represents a constant can we speak of a “type” in the full sense.

The “attitude,” in contrast, is the variable.

It can change over the course of a person’s life, for example in the form of a fundamental change of opinion or inner “conversion.”

The emphasis can shift from the extraverted side to the introverted, and vice versa.

Type is clearly an expression of the respective underlying psychic structure.

But now Jung discovered still further distinguishing criteria, noting especially that people who shared the same basic psychic structure could nevertheless be stamped in very different ways.

The possible distinctions arose from the consideration of four “basic functions,” including two rational functions, thinking and feeling, and two irrational ones, sensation and intuition.

At first sight this scheme seems to allow, at least to begin with, only eight different possible variations, and therefore a thorough familiarity and practical experience is necessary in order to become acquainted with further modes of variation.

In the view of the Jungian approach, the typological factor also comes into play, for from the extraverted, rational standpoint these [irrational] types are probably the most useless of all people.

But seen in a wider perspective, such people are living testimony to the fact that the rich, eventful world with its overflowing and intoxicating life lies not only outside, but also within.

Certainly these types are one-sided manifestations of nature, but they are instructive for one who does not allow himself to be blinded by the intellectual modalities of the day.

People of this attitude are promoters of culture and educators after their own fashion. Their lives teach more than what they say ….

To the typological studies, which take up more than six hundred pages in the collected works, Jung added a detailed appendix containing definitions of psychological concepts, seeking to accommodate the widespread need for as clear a formulation of these concepts as possible.

How strictly circumscribed such an intention must be becomes clear even from the preface to these definitions.

That which can be grasped by means of size and number, with the scientific methods of measurement and calculation, can never reveal more than a piece, a single dimension of reality, and not the whole extent of it.

Therefore Jung explicitly called attention to the fact that

no experimental methodology ever has or ever will succeed in capturing the essence of the human soul, or even so much as tracing out an approximately faithful picture of its complex manifestations.

For this reason it was necessary to consult, as Jung did, the insights of philosophers, theologians, scientific theorists, and poets in developing a doctrine of psychological types.

Once again he quoted extensively from the records of cultural history, for example the theological oppositions between Tertullian and Origines, Augustinus and Pelagius, the opponents and defenders of the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, and the so-called problem of universals between realists and nominalists in the Middle Ages.

Jung saw the influence of a typological factor in the conflict between Luther and Zwingli over Holy Communion, and he thought also of Schiller’s distinction between sentimental and naive poetry or the opposition of Apollonian and Dionysian principles in Nietzsche.

The contents of this “book which is just as fat as it is hard to understand”-as Jung once jokingly said of his typological studies 24-served above all as a “critical apparatus” in his practical work.

He employed it only on a case-by-case basis, “mostly only when I have to clarify for certain patients disequilibria in their behavior, remarkable relationships to other people, and such things.”

As literary products of his decades-long concern with the psyche and its unceasing process of transformation, we may mention two texts from the year 1928.

One of them, “The Relations between the Ego and the Unconscious,” developed from an article that had been published in 1916 in French and then also in English.

Thus we have yet another indication that even though Jung had discussed a number of topics even in the early days of his work as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, these provisional drafts could only be rounded out after several years of maturation of his own personality and further professional experience.

The other text, “On Psychic Energy,” constituted a defense and an extension of what had been said in Symbols of Transformation, while at the same time allowing Jung an opportunity to comment upon his particular approach to energy and its application.

Both of these texts are among the basic writings of analytical psychology.

In them we learn, for example, the extent to which psychic energy (libido) parallels physical energy.

Psychic energy can be accumulated or blocked and transformed. It can be projected onto forms in the external world, or it can be introjected and thus absorbed internally.

Jung discussed the nature of the unconscious, which comprises much more than simply those contents that have been repressed from consciousness or sunk into forgetfulness.

The total scope of the unconscious, and thus the human psyche, also includes psychic factors that have never been the object of individual experience, and consequently could not have been repressed or forgotten.

With this we contact the world of the “archetypes,” in which Jung clearly distinguished between the still-nebulous hypothetical archetypes and the archetypal images.

The archetype, as Jung employed the concept, is derived from such things as myths, folk tales, and religious traditions.

As soon as dreams or even hallucinations appear with archetypal motifs, the vague and indefinable content of the archetype starts to become discernible and describable in the archetypal image.

Jung subsumed the archetypes under the concept of the “collective unconscious,” that dimension of the unconscious which transcends the individual psyche and thus cannot be attributed to forgotten or repressed contents.

Indisputably, the unconscious with its energetic properties forms part of the totality of the psyche.

Together with the conscious mind, it constitutes the human soul.

The unconscious develops autonomously-that is, independently of the conscious life-and for this reason Jung spoke of its compensatory or complementary character with respect to the conscious state at a given time.

This character becomes clear especially in dreams, and thus as a rule of thumb:

The more unbalanced the conscious attitude is, and the further removed from the optimum of life’s potentialities, the greater the possibility that vivid dreams of a strongly contrasting, suitably compensatory aspect will appear, as an expression of the psychological self-regulation of the individual. Just as the body reacts in appropriate ways to injuries, infections, or abnormal habits, so too the psychic functions react to unnatural or dangerous disturbances with suitable defensive measures.

At this point the obvious thing might be to continue with an enumeration of further writings and published books, thus providing an overview of C. G. Jung’s literary output.

But such a procedure would fail to do justice to the reality of life as he lived it.

By his own account, Jung’s work grew step by step out of his life, a life that included the intimacy of his family and friends on workdays and holidays, as well as the no less intimate sphere of the consultation room from which the psychotherapist showed his patients and students the way within.

When the season and the weather permitted, he often moved his analysis and discussion sessions to his spacious garden on the shore of Lake Zurich, and this was not the only indication of the great importance Jung placed on remaining in living, creative contact with nature and the concrete world.

His self-forgetting play with his children was also an expression of it, as were his various works of handicraft, such as building, carving, woodcutting, and cooking.

In this way his analysands received various hints as to how to regain their own relationship to the fullness of life.

Also part of this life was meeting with people, the exchange of views in person and in a correspondence whose richness is so impressively attested to by the three-volume edition of his letters.

And just as on days off Jung launched his sailboat, or climbed aboard his bicycle or later his own automobile to tour his Swiss homeland, so his numerous travels abroad and overseas cannot be left out of his biography.

All these elements represent important aspects of an astonishingly multifaceted life, one which shows that introversion, turning within, does not necessarily mean isolation or reclusiveness.

Only from a life lived with the intensity of all one’s senses can a work like that of C. G. Jung’s emerge, a work that points the way toward whleness and self-realization. ~Gerhard Wehr, “Jung” by Gerhard Wehr, Pages 199-214