Born on July 26th, 1875 in Kesswil, Switzerland, Carl Jung had a religious upbringing, as his father was a pastor and his mother was daughter to a prominent theologian of the time. The Zeitgeist of rural Switzerland at the time was also so that Christianity in the area was often linked with superstitious beliefs This superstition was a result of his mother’s mental illness during his childhood, as she would complain about the spirits who would visit her at night. Jung would go on to have many dreams which dealt with the supernatural, further reinforcing his superstitious beliefs (Maraldi et. al). This childhood superstition would go on to inspire Jung’s work as a psychologist and would forever alter the way her perceived himself and the world. He would also experience bizarre and vivid dreams during his childhood, the contents of which would involve spirits or other supernatural phenomena, sparking his interest in the meaning of dreams and eventually dream analysis. Jung’s mother’s mental illness and frequent hospitalization to psychiatric units would also influence Jung’s interest in the human mind. He would even refer to himself as having two different personalities; one as a child, and the other as a cynical and perceptive elderly man (Hopper).
Jung would go on to study medicine at the University of Basel in 1895 and the University of Zurich in 1900, after which he gained his medical degree in 1902. It was while he was completing his internship at the University of Zurich that Jung began his work at the psychiatric clinic with Eugen Blueler (CITE). It was during this internship that Jung developed the concept of “complexes” through his close work with psychiatric patients. It was also during this time that Jung would marry Emma Rauschenbach, a marriage which lasted up to her death in 1955.
Eventually, Jung would encounter the work of Sigmund Freud, which practically confirmed his own beliefs on the meaning of dreams and the unconscious. Jung reached out to Freud by sending him his publication Studies in Word Association in 1904, and the two eventually met and spoke for hours about their ideas about the mind. Jung began working with Freud in the early 20th century and the two would go on to be close personal friends as well as two of the most important contributors to psychology at the time. The two differed on some of their beliefs in terms of religion/spirituality and the sexual nature of development according to Freud. This conflict highlights Jung’s religious and supernatural upbringing in Switzerland. Over time Freud’s dismissal of Jung’s integration of the supernatural into the realm of psychology and the unconscious would frustrate Jung to the point of ending their work together, as well as their friendship. After their divergence, Jung further explored his own interests in the field of psychology and published Psychology of the Unconscious in 1912, which directly critiqued Freud’s work, effectively alienating Jung from his peers in the Psychoanalytic Community.
It was after his split with Freud that Jung entered a phase of isolation, after which Jung began his work and exploration of the psychology and behavior of different ethnic and cultural groups across the globe. Jung visited the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico in the early 1920’s, and East Africa in the mid 1920’s in order to explore “primitive psychology”. However, it was Jung’s visit to India in 1937 that was the most personal and life altering to him, as he readily adopted Hindu philosophies into his own beliefs, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of the role of symbolism in the unconscious. Unfortunately, Jung fell gravely ill while in India, after which he kept his travels exclusively within Europe for the remainder of his life.
In his later years, Jung continued to release influential work as well as taking on a position as a professor of medical psychology at the University of Basel in 1943. In 1944, Jung experienced a major heart attack, leading to his resignation and the beginning of a more private life from then on. This near-death experience left Jung in a weakened psychological state in which he experienced auditory and visual hallucinations, as well as severe depression. Jung’s health continued to decline through the 1950’s until his death in 1961 at his home in Zurich.
The Zeitgeist of Jung’s time was one which shifted drastically over the years, with his superstitious beginnings in Switzerland, to two World Wars, and into the mid 20th century. Most of Jung’s work was arguably rooted in the beliefs he held in his childhood, but his interactions with Freud and the zeitgeist which allowed for greater scientific freedom in turn of the century Germany are what truly shaped his professional life and major psychological contributions. The global zeitgeist of white supremacy also shaped Jung’s interests, as it was this belief of Europeans being “civilized” and people of color portrayed as “primitive” or “savages” that led to Jung’s travels of the world, seeking to explore the “primitive mind”. During World War II, Jung was clear that he was not a Nazi sympathizer himself, but maintained Overall, Jung’s life was lived with a sense of fierce independence and creative thinking in regards to the field of psychology/psychoanalysis, as well as a rich personal life with his wife and five children.
Jung’s contributions to the field of psychology began while he was under Freud’s wing, as the two worked together developing psychoanalysis, which is itself massively relevant and important to psychology today. However, Jung’s true work began after his split with Freud in 1912, after which he began exploring his own interests and beliefs, eventually developing his own brand of psychology, analytic psychology. Analytic psychology differed from psychoanalytic psychology in that Jung focused more on the cultural, artistic, and supernatural as opposed to Freud’s obsession with sexual development and psychosexuality as a whole. During Jung’s period of isolation after separating himself from Freud, he wrote three important papers, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology” (1916,1917), and Psychological Types (1921), both of which described the phenomena of extraversion and introversion. According to Jung, the introvert inhabits a world of the internal and can have less of an interest in spending time with others, while the extravert readily engages with others while running the risk of losing their sense of self. The concept of extraversion and introversion has withstood the test of time as to this day people readily identify themselves as either an extravert or an introvert. Jung viewed extraversion as the flow of psychical energy outward, and introversion as the flow of psychic energy inward.
Jung also developed what he referred to as archetypes in an effort to categorize repeating actions or behaviors across different populations/people in general. The four main categories of archetypes are the shadow, the anima, the animus, and the self. The shadow is similar to Freud’s Id, in that the shadow reflects our deepest and most primal desires, as well as the wildness and chaos that exists deep within. The anima and animus are truly the same thing, the anima simply refers to women while animus refers to men, as the anima/animus is the soul, it is our true selves. The final of the four main archetypes, the self, refers to the quasi-divinity of the spiritual connection to the universe all humans experience. Interestingly, these archetypes are similar to Freud’s tridimensional model of the psyche, but the differences between Jung and Freud are apparent, illustrating the similarities in their ideas in general, as the nuanced differences were what would eventually drive them apart.
In addition to the archetypes, Jung developed his own theory regarding the stages of development with a focus on the continued development that occurs in adulthood, rather than childhood. This was a first in the field of psychology. Jung’s four stages of development are childhood, youth, middle life, and old age. Childhood marks the development of a sporadic consciousness that eventually becomes capable of logical and abstract thinking, it is also the beginning of the development of the ego. The Youth stage lasts from puberty to age 35-40, in which sexuality continues to mature and the loss of childhood is mourned. It is in this phase that people typically find their life partners, as this stage marks a desire for intimacy and independence. The Middle Life stage of development is described as a time in which mortality is pondered and faced, leading to more self-reflection and philosophical thinking. The final stage is Old Age, in which the acceptance of death must occur.
Jung held many supernatural and psychic beliefs, some of which he developed into parapsychological theories such as the collective unconscious, alchemy, synchronicity, and extra-sensory perception. Jung believed the mind to be connected to something greater, using similarities between mythology and the deliriums of those experiencing a psychotic break. Jung believed that these thoughts were not merely a coincidence, and that the writer of the myth as well as the psychotic patient received the same message/symbol from the collective unconscious. Dreams and the potential for dreams to predict the future were also a part of Jung’s discussion on the collective unconscious, as well as the thought that peoples current psychology could be influenced by the psychology of ancestors through the unconscious. Jung’s fascination with the collective unconscious, as well as his other theories regarding human psychology, all come together to form Jungian psychology, Analytical Psychology. This particular branch of psychology is likely Jung’s most impactful contribution of his long-winded, and often controversial career.
Carl Jung’s impact today goes beyond the realm of psychology and has continued to attract interest to the field from people of all walks of life. Jung’s concepts such as introversion and extraversion, as well as some of his parapsychological research is still relevant in the zeitgeist of today. Almost anyone today will know immediately if they identify as an extravert or an introvert, and although his findings regarding the collective unconscious are subject to controversy, it has continued to inspire and fascinate people across the globe. Jung’s work regarding the meaning in dreams as well as dream analysis continues to live on in the form of dream journaling. Jung’s work regarding personality has also arguably helped lead to the development of the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, another psychological scale, similar to extraversion and introversion, that most people are familiar with.
Unfortunately, Jung’s analytical psychology has largely been separated from a scientific context due to its supernatural nature and difficulty in proving its existence. Due to the lack of scientific evidence for many of Jung’s theories, he’s been viewed by many as a mystic of sorts. However, Jungian psychology remains impactful today, although not in its applicability, but in its intrigue and its thought-provoking nature. Jung provided the world with meaningful new ways of pondering their own consciousness and personality, he encouraged an adventurous approach to the field of psychology and revolutionized it in the process. Jung’s
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- Hopper, E. (2018, June 11). The Life of Carl Jung, Founder of Analytical Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/biography-of-carl-jung-4164462
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