Henry Murray described Jung’s work as ʻa trough at which unconscionable plagiarists are wont to feedʼ
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was one of the most prominent psychologists in the twentieth century.
His work was at once foundational for depth psychology, and pivotal for intellectual, cultural and religious history.
During the course of his career, he attempted to establish an interdisciplinary science of analytical psychology (or, as he preferred to call it, complex psychology), and apply its insights to psychiatry, criminology, psychotherapy, personality psychology, anthropology, physics, biology, education, the arts and literature, the history of the mind and its symbols, comparative religion, alchemy, contemporary culture and politics, among other fields.
Many of these have in turn been decisively marked by his thought, though not always acknowledged as such: in 1963,
Henry Murray pungently described Jung’s work as ʻa trough at which unconscionable plagiarists are wont to feedʼ (Murray 1963: 469).
At the same time, Jung’s work continues to have a wide general readership, and analytical psychology has an established presence in the psychotherapeutic world.
However, serious historical study of Jung and his psychology has, until relatively recently, lagged significantly behind that of comparable figures.
This is despite the fact that Jung could be considered the most historically minded of twentieth century psychologists, as attested by the vital role of cultural history as a resource for a phylogenetic psychology in Transformations and Symbols of the Libido of 1912, his lectures on the history of psychology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 1933-4, his seminars on the history of dream interpretation between 1936 and 1941, through to his late studies of religious and alchemical symbols and collective psychological transformations through time (Jung 1912;
1933-34). As he put it to Aniela Jaffé, ʻit became clear to me that without history there can be no psychology (Jung/Jaffé 1962: 205).
Indeed, in a letter to Christiana Morgan, Jung wrote of the existence of a responsibility to history (C. G. Jung Papers Collection, ETH Zurich University Archive).
In the terms of Jung’s personal cosmology, such responsibility could be understood as a means of attending to the legacy of the dead.
Likewise, historical study is in turn one means of attending to Jung’s legacy.
In 1947, Jung wrote to a correspondent, ʻI can soon say with Schopenhauer: legor et legar (I am read and shall be read)ʼ (to Jolande Jacobi, 8 July 1947.
In Adler 1972: 470). Not only read, but also studied Phanes as a cultural historical phenomenonʼ (to use the title of his 1934 article on Freud) (CW 15: §§44-59).
There are a number of indications that Jung knew that his work would one day be the subject of historical study: such as his presentation of the history of the development of his own conceptions as an introduction to analytical psychology in 1925 (Jung 1925), his positive reception in the 1950s of Ira Progoff’s doctoral dissertation on his work (Roelli de Angulo 1952: 205-218), his careful preservation of manuscripts and drafts, correspondences, the manuscript corpus of the Black Books and The Red Book and his wishes that the latter be placed in an archive for future study,1 as well as his complex engagement with the biographical projects of E. A. Bennet, Lucy Heyer and Aniela Jaffé (Shamdasani 2005).
However, the very range of the fields traversed by Jung through his career raises the question of where Jung history sits.
The historical study of his work has justly been considered part of the histories of medicine, science, psychology and religion. Indeed many important contributions, as well as methodological approaches, have come from scholars primarily working in these fields.
This very dispersal makes it hard to find one’s way in this labyrinth and keep abreast with current developments.
It suggests the desirability of a dedicated organ of and for Jung history.
However, this is not an attempt to autonomise the field in the interests of disciplinary formation, or to separate it from adjacent domains of historical study, rather the contrary: to recognise the maturation of Jung’s work as a subject of historical study from a variety of disciplinary vertices, and one which can reciprocally contribute to its intersecting disciplines.
It is to furthering this that the emergence of Phanês is dedicated.
This project emerged out of a series of meetings in London at the Health Humanities Centre in UCL and at the Maison Interuniversitaire des Sciences de l’Homme at the University of Strasbourg, organised by Christine Maillard and myself.
We would like to thank the UCL Global Engagement Office, and the Research Unit ‘Mondes germaniques et nord-européens̕ for their essential support, which has enabled this to come into being.
1 On 31 October 1957, Aniela Jaffé informed Jack Barrett of the Bollingen Foundation that Jung had suggested that The Red Book and The Black Books be given to Basle University Library under restriction for ‘about 50 or 80 years, or a longer period of time’ (Bollingen archives, Library of Congress).
Jaffé gave a similar account to Kurt Wolff mentioning 30, 50 or 80 years as the possible restriction (undated, received, 30 October 1957), (Kurt Wolff Papers, Beinecke Library, Yale University). ~Sonu Shamdasani, Incipit Phanês, Page 1-3