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Who was Carl Jung?
My Personality Test
Theory & a Diagram
Put away textbooks
Making Sense of the Unconscious
The goal of life
Jung Talk (new window)
Jung on learning
Jung on Mysticism (new window)
External LinksDysfunctional road movie (new window link)
Who was Carl Jung?
Carl Gustav Jung (July 26, 1875-June6, 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist
and founder of the neopsychoanalytic
school of psychology.
For a time, Jung was Freud's
heir-apparent in the psychoanalytic
school. After the publication of Jung's Symbols of Transformation (1912),
Jung and Freud endured a painful parting of ways: Jung seemed to feel confined
by what he believed was Freud's narrow, reductionistic, and rigid view of libido.
Jung was wary of founding a 'school' of psychology, and his co-workers recall many occasions on which he made statements along the lines of "thank God I am Jung and not a Jungian." This being the case, the term 'Jungian' is a bit of a misnomer. Jung himself preferred the term 'analytical psychology'.
Central to analytical psychology is
encounter with the unconscious. The result is greater adaptation to reality
(both inner and outer), and more developed consciousness.
We experience the unconscious through symbols,
and an essential part of the process is to learn its language. Jung recalled how
during his time with Freud he was looking one day at a notice in a foreign
language, and he reflected on how the notice doesn't conceal its meaning, but
simply requires us to learn how to read it. He considered that maybe Freud had
attributed a concealing and distorting function to the unconscious when in fact
what's required is to understand how the unconscious expresses itself.
Blocked or distorted development of
is characteristic of neurosis,
and in psychosis
consciousness is overwhelmed by the unconscious. The aim of psychotherapy
in Jung's view is to develop a situation where consciousness is not swamped by
the unconscious, but neither is it shut off from it. The encounter between
consciousness and the symbols arising from the unconscious enriches life and
promotes psychological development, individuation.
Jung's concept of the collective
unconscious is often misunderstood. What Jung meant by the term is that we
share a common psychological heritage, just as we share a common physical one.
Symbols have a certain similarity and fall into similar patterns in different
places and times, simply because all human minds are basically similar. Thus we
can often understand the symbols arising from the unconscious by comparing them
with similar processes occurring elsewhere. Jung said that it isn't a matter of
inherited images, but rather of an inherited predisposition to experience
Jungian psychology was geared largely toward the nature of symbolism and the effects of attachment upon the ability of people to live their lives in ignorance of their deeper "symbolic" natures. His ideas center around the understanding that a symbol loses its symbolic power when it is "attached" to a static meaning. The attached meaning renders a symbol to a mere definition; no longer does it have the ability to be active in the mind as a "transformer of consciousness," free to associate with new experiences and thinking. "Symbolic power" transcends and permeates through all conscious thinking.
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Jung has had an influence on psychology as well on society. Many psychological concepts were originally proposed by Jung, including:
Jung once treated an American
patient 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
The patient 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 church. 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 Thatcher, a long-time friend and drinking buddy of Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) Thatcher told Wilson about Jung's ideas. Wilson, who was finding it hard to maintain sobriety, was impressed and sought out his own spiritual experience. The influence of Jung ultimately found its way in the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, drafted by Wilson, and from there into the whole 12-step recovery movement, which has touched the lives of millions of people.
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Psychological types and personality analysis
Jung questioned how such divergent views as Freud's, Alfred Adler's and his own could develop out of Psychoanalysis. The result of his questionings was Psychological Types (volume 6 of the Collected Works), in which Jung outlines a framework within which psychological orientations can be identified. The now much misunderstood terms 'extravert' and 'introvert' derive from this work. In Jung's original usage, the extravert orientation finds meaning outside the self, in the surrounding world, whereas the introvert finds it within. Jung also identified four modes of experience, four functions: thought, feeling, sensation, and intuition. Broadly speaking, we tend to work from our most developed function, and we need to widen our personality by developing the others. In addition, the unconscious often tends to manifest through the inferior function, so that encounter with the unconscious and development of the inferior function(s) can tend to progress together. The four functions may be extraverted or introverted. This model has been amended by some subsequent analytical psychologists. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator tests were inspired by Jung's Psychological Types theory.
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Jung Theory and a diagram
Jung's theory divides the psyche into three parts. The first is the ego, which Jung identifies with the conscious mind. Closely related is the personal unconscious, which includes anything which is not currently conscious, but can be. The personal unconscious includes both memories that are easily brought to mind and those that have been suppressed for some reason. Jung adds the part of the psyche that makes his theory stand out from others: the collective unconscious. You could call it your "psychic inheritance." It is the reservoir of our experiences as a species, a kind of knowledge we are all born with. And yet we can never be directly conscious of it. It influences all of our experiences and behaviours, most especially the emotional ones, but we only know about it indirectly, by looking at those influences. The experiences of love at first sight, of deja vu (the feeling that you've been here before), the recognition of certain symbols and the meanings of certain myths, the creative experiences shared by artists and musicians throughout the world and history, the spiritual experiences of mystics of all religions, the near-death experience or the parallels in dreams, fantasies, mythologies, fairy tales, and literature.
(Latin for "I") is who we are 'consciously.' It is who I think I
am and it is the person I present to the world but much of who we really
are can be hidden in our personal and collective unconscious.
The personal unconscious doesn't need to be perceived
as mysterious or supernatural (though it is hidden). The personal
unconscious contains all the stuff that simply isn't conscious. It contains
stuff that can be made conscious by simple act of will, stuff that requires
some digging, as well as stuff that may never be recalled to consciousness
ever again. It is made up of the things you've experienced every day of your
life. I'm not sure if it is strictly true that nothing is ever really and
truly lost, totally forgotten, but it seems that the psyche is very
reluctant to let much go in the event that it might come in handy someday.
The psyche is a pack rat, the unconscious full of its stuff- sort of like a
hard drive on a computer. The personal unconscious is also a dumping ground
for things we aren't comfortable with and which we'd really rather not have
in consciousness very often. Repressed memories are a hot issue at the
moment, but even without total all out suppression of memory, we are adept
at not thinking about things we'd rather not think about.
The collective unconscious
is part of the psyche that does not owe its existence to personal
experience. While the
personal unconscious is made up essentially of contents which have at one
time been conscious but which have disappeared from consciousness through
having been forgotten or repressed, the contents of the collective
unconscious have never been individually acquired, but owe their existence
exclusively to heredity. Whereas the personal unconscious consists for the
most part of complexes, the content of the collective unconscious is made up
essentially of archetypes. The contents of the collective unconsious are
called archetypes (or prototypes).
The concept of the archetype indicates the existence of definite forms in the psyche which seem to be present always and everywhere. In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily. The unconscious is really unconscious! We may get glimpses in our dreams or in myths and religions. Below is a diagram representation of Jung's theory:
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Put away textbooks
"Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next
to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to abandon
exact science, put away his scholars gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander
with human heart throughout the world. There in the horrors of prisons, lunatic
asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-hells, in
the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, socialist meetings, churches,
revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the
experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores
of knowledge than text-books a foot thick could give him, and he will know how
to doctor the sick with a real knowledge of the human soul." --Carl Jung
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Making sense of the unconscious
Freud said that the goal of therapy was to make the unconscious conscious. Freud makes the unconscious sound very unpleasant: It is a cauldron of seething desires, a bottomless pit of perverse and incestuous cravings, a burial ground for frightening experiences which come back to haunt us. A younger colleague of his, Carl Jung, was to make this "inner space" his life's work. He went equipped with a background in Freudian theory and an inexhaustible knowledge of mythology, religion, and philosophy. Jung was knowledgeable in the symbolism of complex mystical traditions such as Gnosticism, Alchemy, Kabala, and similar traditions in Hinduism and Buddhism. If anyone could make sense of the unconscious and its habit of revealing itself only in symbolic form, it would be Carl Jung. He carefully recorded his dreams, fantasies, and visions and drew, painted, and sculpted them as well.
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The contents of the collective unconscious are called archetypes. An archetype is a model of behaviour. It is taught through story telling, myth, legend, religion. An archetype (a sort of prototype) is an unlearned tendency in humans. The archetype has no form of its own, but acts as an "organizing principle" on the things we see or do. It works the way that instincts work in Freud's theory: At first the baby just wants something to eat, without knowing what it wants. Jung said there is no fixed number of archetypes which we could simply list and memorize. They overlap and easily melt into each other as needed, and their logic is not the usual kind. Here are a few examples of archetypes:
The mother: We come into this world ready to want mother or a mother substitute. The mother archetype is our built-in ability to recognize a certain relationship (a nurturing-one). We project the archetype usually onto our own mother and we tend to personify the archetype by turning it into a mythological "story-book" character symbolized as "earth mother", Eve and Mary in western traditions, and by less personal symbols such as the church, the nation, a forest, or the ocean.
The shadow: Sex and the life instincts are part of the shadow which is derived from our prehuman, animal past, when our concerns were limited to survival and reproduction. It is the "dark side" of the ego, and the evil that we are capable of is often stored there. The shadow is amoral- neither good nor bad, just like animals. An animal is capable of tender care for its young and vicious killing for food, but it doesn't choose to do either. It just does what it does. The shadow becomes something of a garbage can for the parts of ourselves that we can't quite admit to. Symbols of the shadow include the snake (as in the garden of Eden), the dragon, monsters, and demons. It often guards the entrance to a cave or a pool of water, which is the collective unconscious. Next time you dream about wrestling with the devil, it may only be yourself you are wrestling with!
The persona represents our public image. The fiction presented in how we like to appear. The persona relates to the word person and personality, and comes from the Latin word for mask. So, the persona is the mask you put on before you show yourself to the outside world. At its best, it is just the "good impression" we all wish to present as we fill the roles society requires of us. But, it can also be the "false impression" we use to manipulate people's opinions and behaviours. And, at its worst, it can be mistaken, even by ourselves, for our true nature: Sometimes we believe we really are what we pretend to be.
The Anima (female) and animus (male) arechetype: Part of our persona is the role of male and female we must play. For most people that role is determined by their physical gender. But Jung, and others, felt that we are all really bisexual in nature. We begin as fetuses without differentiated sex organs but then hormones make us male or female and our social lives began as infants mold us into men and women. Jung felt that societal expectations meant that we had developed only half of our potential. The anima and animus together are referred to as syzygy. The anima may be personified as a young girl, very spontaneous and intuitive, as a witch, or as the earth mother. The animus may be personified as a wise old man, a sorcerer or as a number of males and tends to be logical and rationalistic. It is important to get in touch with this archteype.
The father: guide or authority figure.
The child, child god, or child-hero: the Christ child celebrated at Christmas could be considered a child archetype which represents the future, becoming, rebirth, and salvation.
Story characters like the hero -defeater of evil dragons, basically represents the ego and is often engaged in fighting the shadow in the form of dragons and monsters. The hero is often dumb as a post. He is ignorant of the ways of the collective unsconsious. The hero is often out to rescue the maiden- purity, innocence.
The animal- representing humanity's relationships with the animal world.
The trickster- represented by clown or magician- role is to hamper the hero's progress
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The goal of life
The goal of life is to realize the self. The self is an archetype that represents the transendence of all opposites, to that every aspect of your personality is expressed equally. You are neither and both male and female, neither and both ego and shadow, neither and both good and bad, neither and both conscious and unconscious, neither and both an individual and the whole of creation. With no opposites, there is no energy and you cease to act. Of course, you no longer need to act.
To keep it from getting too mystical, think of it as a new center, a more balanced position, for your psyche. When you are young, you focus on the ego and worry about the trivialities of the persona. When you are older (assuming you have been developing as you should), you focus a little deeper, on the self, and become closer to all people, all life, even the universe itself. The self-realized person is actually less selfish.
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Synchronicity is the occurrence of two events that are not linked causally (cause and effect) but are somehow meaningfully related. Synchronicity is much more profound than a mere coincidence. Jung believed they were indications of how we are connected, with our fellow humans and with nature in general, through the collective unconscious. Synchronicity can be easily explained by the Hindu view of reality. In the Hindu view, our individual egos are like islands in a sea: We look out at the world and each other and think we are separate entities. What we don't see is that we are connected to each other my means of the ocean floor beneath the waters. The outer world is called maya, meaning illusion, and is thought of as God's dream or God's dance. That is God creates it, but it has no reality of its own. Our individual egos they call jivatma, which means individual souls. But they, too, are something of an illusion. We are all actually extensions of the one and only Atman, or God, who allows bits of himself to forget his identity, to become apparently separate and independent, to become us. But we never truly are separate. When we die, we wake up and realize who we were from the beginning: God.
When we dream or meditate, we sink into our personal unconsious, coming closer and closer to our true selves, the collective unconscious.
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