Who was C. G. Jung?
Jung was born in Kesswil, on Lake Constance, in 1875. His family moved to Laufen by the Rhine Falls when he was six months old.
He was the oldest child and had one sister. His father was a pastor in the Swiss Reformed Church.
Toward the end of his life, Jung wrote a memoir entitled “From the Earliest Experiences of My Life,” which was subsequently included in Memories, Dreams, Reflections in a heavily edited form.
Jung narrated the significant events that led to his psychological vocation.
The memoir, with its focus on significant childhood dreams, visions, and fantasies, can be viewed as an introduction to Liber Novus.
In the first dream, he found himself in a meadow with a stone-lined hole in the ground. Finding some stairs, he descended into it, and found himself in a chamber.
Here there was a golden throne with what appeared to be a tree trunk of skin and flesh, with an eye on the top. He then heard his mother’s voice exclaim that this was the “man-eater.”
He was unsure whether she meant that this figure actually devoured children or was identical with Christ.
This profoundly affected his image of Christ.
Years later, he realized that this figure was a penis and, later still, that it was in fact a ritual phallus, and that the setting was an underground temple.
He came to see this dream as an initiation “in the secrets of the earth.”
In his childhood, Jung experienced a number of visual hallucinations.
He also appears to have had the capacity to evoke images voluntarily.
In a seminar in 1935, he recalled a portrait of his maternal grandmother which he would look at as a boy until he “saw” his grandfather descending the stairs.
One sunny day, when Jung was twelve, he was traversing the Münsterplatz in Basel, admiring the sun shining on the newly restored glazed roof tiles of the cathedral.
He then felt the approach of a terrible, sinful thought, which he pushed away. He was in a state of anguish for several days.
Finally, after convincing himself that it was God who wanted him to think this thought, just as it had been God who had wanted Adam and Eve to sin, he let himself contemplate it, and saw God on his throne unleashing an almighty turd on the cathedral, shattering its new roof and smashing the cathedral.
With this, Jung felt a sense of bliss and relief such as he had never experienced before. He felt that it was an experience of the “direct living God, who stands omnipotent and free above the Bible and Church.”
He felt alone before God, and that his real responsibility commenced then.
He realized that it was precisely such a direct, immediate experience of the living God, who stands outside Church and Bible, that his father lacked.
This sense of election led to a final disillusionment with the Church on the occasion of his First Communion.
He had been led to believe that this would be a great experience. Instead, nothing.
He concluded: “For me, it was an absence of God and no religion. Church was a place to which I no longer could go. There was no life there, but death.”
Jung’s voracious reading started at this time, and he was particularly struck by Goethe’s Faust.
He was struck by the fact that in Mephistopheles, Goethe took the figure of the devil seriously. In philosophy, he was impressed by
Schopenhauer, who acknowledged the existence of evil and gave voice to the sufferings and miseries of the world.
Jung also had a sense of living in two centuries, and felt a strong nostalgia for the eighteenth century. His sense of duality took the form of two alternating personalities, which he dubbed NO. 1 and 2. NO.
1 was the Basel schoolboy, who read novels, and NO. 2 pursued religious reflections in solitude, in a state of communion with nature and the cosmos. He inhabited “God’s world.”
This personality felt most real. Personality NO. 1 wanted to be free of the melancholy and isolation of personality NO. 2.
When personality NO. 2 entered, it felt as if a long dead yet perpetually present spirit had entered the room. NO. 2 had no definable character. He was connected to history, particularly with the Middle Ages.
For NO. 2, NO. 1, with his failings and ineptitudes, was someone to be put up with. This interplay ran throughout Jung’s life.
As he saw it, we are all like this —part of us lives in the present and the other part is connected to the centuries.
As the time drew near for him to choose a career, the conflict between the two personalities intensified. NO. 1 wanted to pursue science, NO. 2, the humanities.
Jung then had two critical dreams. In the first, he was walking in a dark wood along the Rhine.
He came upon a burial mound and began to dig, until he discovered the remains of prehistoric animals.
This dream awakened his desire to learn more about nature. In the second dream, he was in a wood and there were watercourses.
He found a circular pool surrounded by dense undergrowth. In the pool, he saw a beautiful creature, a large radiolarian.
After these dreams, he settled for science. To solve the question of how to earn a living, he decided to study medicine.
He then had another dream. He was in an unknown place, surrounded by fog, making slow headway against the wind.
He was protecting a small light from going out. He saw a large black figure threateningly close.
He awoke, and realized that the figure was the shadow cast from the light.
He thought that in the dream, NO. 1 was himself bearing the light, and NO. 2 followed like a shadow. He took this as a sign that he should go forward with NO. 1, and not look back to the world of NO. 2.
In his university days, the interplay between these personalities continued.
In addition to his medical studies, Jung pursued an intensive program of extracurricular reading, in particular the works of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Swedenborg, and writers on spiritualism.
Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra made a great impression on him.
He felt that his own personality NO. 2 corresponded to Zarathustra, and he feared that his personality NO. 2 was similarly morbid.
He participated in a student debating society, the Zofingia society, and presented lectures on these subjects.
Spiritualism particularly interested him, as the spiritualists appeared to be attempting to use scientific means to explore the supernatural, and prove the immortality of the soul.
The latter half of the nineteenth century witnessed the emergence of modern spiritualism, which spread across Europe and America.
Through spiritualism, the cultivation of trances—with the attendant phenomena of trance speech, glossolalia, automatic writing, and crystal vision—became widespread.
The phenomena of spiritualism attracted the interest of leading scientists such as Crookes, Zollner, and Wallace.
It also attracted the interest of psychologists, including Freud, Ferenczi, Bleuler, James, Myers, Janet, Bergson, Stanley Hall, Schrenck-Notzing, Moll, Dessoir, Richet, and Flournoy.
During his university days in Basel, Jung and his fellow students took part in séances.
In 1896, they engaged in a long series of sittings with his cousin Helene Preiswerk, who appeared to have mediumistic abilities.
Jung found that during the trances, she would become different personalities, and that he could call up these personalities by suggestion.
Dead relatives appeared, and she became completely transformed into these figures.
She unfolded stories of her previous incarnations and articulated a mystical cosmology, represented in a mandala.
Her spiritualistic revelations carried on until she was caught attempting to fake physical apparitions, and the séances were discontinued.
On reading Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s Text-Book of Psychiatry in 1899, Jung realized that his vocation lay in psychiatry, which represented a fusion of the interests of his two personalities.
He underwent something like a conversion to a natural scientific framework.
After his medical studies, he took up a post as an assistant physician at Burghölzli hospital at the end of 1900.
The Burghölzli was a progressive university clinic, under the directorship of Eugen Bleuler.
At the end of the nineteenth century, numerous figures attempted to found a new scientific psychology.
It was held that by turning psychology into a science through introducing scientific methods, all prior forms of human understanding
would be revolutionized.
The new psychology was heralded as promising nothing less than the completion of the scientific revolution.
Thanks to Bleuler, and his predecessor Auguste Forel, psychological research and hypnosis played prominent roles at the Burghölzli.
Jung’s medical dissertation focused on the psychogenesis of spiritualistic phenomena, in the form of an analysis of his séances with Helene Preiswerk.
While his initial interest in her case appeared to be in the possible veracity of her spiritualistic manifestations, in the interim, he had studied the works of Frederic Myers, William James, and, in particular,
Théodore Flournoy. At the end of 1899, Flournoy had published a study of a medium, whom he called Hélène Smith, which became a best seller.
What was novel about Flournoy’s study was that it approached her case purely from the psychological angle, as a means of illuminating the study of subliminal consciousness.
A critical shift had taken place through the work of Flournoy, Frederick Myers, and William James.
They argued that regardless of whether the alleged spiritualistic experiences were valid, such experiences enabled far-reaching insight into the constitution of the subliminal, and hence into human psychology as a whole.
Through them, mediums became important subjects of the new psychology.
With this shift, the methods used by the mediums—such as automatic writing, trance speech, and crystal vision—were appropriated by the psychologists, and became prominent experimental research tools.
In psychotherapy, Pierre Janet and Morton Prince used automatic writing and crystal gazing as methods for revealing hidden memories and subconscious fixed ideas.
Automatic writing brought to light subpersonalities, and enabled dialogues with them to be held.
For Janet and Prince, the goal of holding such practices was to reintegrate the personality.
Jung was so taken by Flournoy’s book that he offered to translate it into German, but Flournoy already had a translator.
The impact of these studies is clear in Jung’s dissertation, where he approaches the case purely from a psychological angle.
Jung’s work was closely modeled on Flournoy’s From India to the Planet Mars, both in terms of subject matter and in its interpretation
of the psychogenesis of Helene’s spiritualistic romances.
Jung’s dissertation also indicates the manner in which he was utilizing automatic writing as a method of psychological investigation.
In 1902, he became engaged to Emma Rauschenbach, whom he married and with whom he had five children. Up till this point, Jung had kept a diary.
In one of the last entries, dated May 1902, he wrote: “I am no longer alone with myself, and I can only artificially recall the scary and beautiful feeling of solitude.
This is the shadow side of the fortune of love.”
For Jung, his marriage marked a move away from the solitude to which he had been accustomed.
In his youth, Jung had often visited Basel’s art museum and was particularly drawn to the works of Holbein and Böcklin, as well as to those of the Dutch painters.
Toward the end of his studies, he was much occupied with painting for about a year.
His paintings from this period were landscapes in a representational style, and show highly developed technical skills and fine
In 1902/3, Jung left his post at the Burghölzli and went to Paris to study with the leading French psychologist Pierre Janet, who was
lecturing at the Collège de France.
During his stay, he devoted much time to painting and visiting museums, going frequently to the Louvre.
He paid particular attention to ancient art, Egyptian antiquities, the works of the Renaissance, Fra Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, and Frans Hals.
He bought paintings and engravings and had paintings copied for the furnishing of his new home. He painted in both oil and watercolor.
In January 1903, he went to London and visited its museums, paying particular attention to the Egyptian, Aztec, and Inca collections at the British Museum.
After his return, he took up a post that had become vacant at the Burghölzli and devoted his research to the analysis of linguistic associations, in collaboration with Franz Riklin.
With co-workers, they conducted an extensive series of experiments, which they subjected to statistical analyses.
The conceptual basis of Jung’s early work lay in the work of Flournoy and Janet, which he attempted to fuse with the research methodology of Wilhelm Wundt and Emil Kraepelin.
Jung and Riklin utilized the associations experiment, devised by Francis Galton and developed in psychology and psychiatry by
Wundt, Kraepelin, and Gustav Aschaffenburg.
The aim of the research project, instigated by Bleuler, was to provide a quick and reliable means for differential diagnosis.
The Burghölzli team failed to come up with this, but they were struck by the significance of disturbances of reaction and prolonged response times.
Jung and Riklin argued that these disturbed reactions were due to the presence of emotionally stressed complexes, and used their experiments to develop a general psychology of complexes.
This work established Jung’s reputation as one of the rising stars of psychiatry.
In 1906, he applied his new theory of complexes to study the psychogenesis of dementia praecox (later called schizophrenia) and to
demonstrate the intelligibility of delusional formations.
For Jung, along with a number of other psychiatrists and psychologists at this time, such as Janet and Adolf Meyer, insanity was not regarded as something completely set apart from sanity, but rather as lying on the extreme end of a spectrum.
Two years later, he argued that “If we feel our way into the human secrets of the sick person, the madness also reveals its system, and we recognize in the mental illness merely an exceptional reaction to emotional problems which are not strange to us.”
Jung became increasingly disenchanted by the limitations of experimental and statistical methods in psychiatry and psychology. In the outpatient clinic at the Burghölzli, he presented hypnotic demonstrations.
This led to his interest in therapeutics, and to the use of the clinical encounter as a method of research.
Around 1904, Bleuler introduced psychoanalysis into the Burghölzli, and entered into a correspondence with Freud, asking Freud for assistance in his analysis of his own dreams.
In 1906, Jung entered into communication with Freud. This relationship has been much mythologized.
A Freudocentric legend arose, which viewed Freud and psychoanalysis as the principal source for Jung’s work.
This has led to the complete mislocation of his work in the intellectual history of the twentieth century.
On numerous occasions, Jung protested.
For instance, in an unpublished article written in the 1930s,
“The schism in the Freudian school,” he wrote: “I in no way exclusively stem from Freud. I had my scientific attitude and the theory of complexes before I met Freud. The teachers that influenced me above all are Bleuler, Pierre Janet, and Théodore Flournoy.”
Freud and Jung clearly came from quite different intellectual traditions, and were drawn together by shared interests in the psychogenesis of mental disorders and psychotherapy.
Their intention was to form a scientific psychotherapy based on the new psychology and, in turn, to ground psychology in the in-depth clinical investigation of individual lives.
With the lead of Bleuler and Jung, the Burghölzli became the center of the psychoanalytic movement.
In 1908, the Jahrbuch für psychoanalytische und psychopathologische Forschungen (Yearbook for Psychoanalytic and Psychopathological Researches) was established, with Bleuler and Freud editors in chief and Jung as managing editor.
Due to their advocacy, psychoanalysis gained a hearing in the German psychiatric world. In 1909,
Jung received an honorary degree from Clark University for his association researches.
The following year, an international psychoanalytic association was formed with Jung as the president.
During the period of his collaboration with Freud, he was a principal architect of the psychoanalytic movement.
For Jung, this was a period of intense institutional and political activity.
The movement was riven by dissent and acrimonious disagreements. ~Sonu Shamdasani, The Red Book, Page 194-197