Video resource: introducing C J Jung 01
1. Carl Gustav Jung 1875-1961
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychologist who had a major impact on religious thought. A medical doctor and pioneer in the field of psychiatry, he was also a prolific author. And, as is often the case with original thinkers, a highly controversial figure. His life and works seem either to repel or attract. An unusually gifted man he has been described as a 'physician of the soul and profound sage'. Many of his concepts and terms have become part of every day language, generating new creative insights.
There is, however, a shadow side to Jung. He had a number of extramarital affairs with patients and trainee analysts, which his teacher and colleague, Sigmund Freud, deplored. His wife, however, remained devoted to him as was often the case in those days.
The son of a pastor, Jung grew up in a small village in which life had not changed much in centuries. When, later in life, he hand-built a stone ‘tower‘ - a personal retreat - on land he had purchased in 1922 at Bollingen, he did not install electricity or telephone. Bollingen is at the edge of Lake Zurich, and it was there that Jung felt closest to nature. He completed the Tower two years later when he was 48 years old, and from then it became a particular project. He said that he could live in the Tower like a man from the 16th century, surrounded by the spirits of his forebears.
Although the Tower was his private retreat, Jung also enjoyed an affluent lifestyle. He married Emma Rauschenbach in 1903, and they had five children.
Jung’s teacher and close colleague was Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis and one of the most important thinkers of that period. Freud’s work The Interpretation of Dreams was seminal and has proven to be of enduring significance. Jung wrote that he had read it by 1900, but “I had laid the book aside, at the time, because I did not yet grasp it. At the age of twentyfive I lacked the experience to appreciate Freud’s theories.Such experience did not come until later.” C J Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Collins, 1963, p169)
Jung had already been researching as a doctor in the field of mental health,before meeting Freud. His friendship association with Freud was of enormous significance to both men and indeed the whole field of psychoanalysis, so how did it come about that they fell out? Freud insisted that his theory of sexuality,libido, as the main driving force in the psyche was a ‘bulwark’ and central dogma. Jung could not accept this and Jung who had championed Freud at a critical period now set out on a different professional course. There was much correspondence between them but the friendship was over.
In the same year that Jung read The Interpretation of Dreams he had married Emma Rauschenbach. She was a woman of considerable means. Because of that, Jung was able to travel widely to research the myths and legends of various cultures and was steeped in the study of comparative religion. He argued that a myth cannot be studied independently of the context from which it arose. Myth, symbol and dream formed the basis of the life work of Carl Jung.
“The dream is a hidden door to the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night.” “All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of the primordial night. There he is still whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood.” cit. Meredith Sabini, p 122, Teaching Jung, Kelly Bulkley, Clodagh Weldon (eds.) Oxford University Press, 2011