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Carl Gustav Jung MD (1875 - 1961)

October 15, 2018

History of Medicine

Carl Gustav Jung MD
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Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded his own style of psychoanalysis, after being mentored by Sigmund Freud. Jung's work was influential in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, and religious studies. Jung worked as a research scientist at the famous Burgholzli hospital, under Eugen Bleuler. During this time, he came to the attention of the Viennese founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. The two men conducted a lengthy correspondence and collaborated on a joint vision of human psychology. Freud saw in the younger Jung the potential heir he had been seeking to carry on his “new science“ of psychoanalysis.

Among the central concepts of analytical psychology is individuation - the lifelong psychological process of differentiation of the self out of each individual's conscious and unconscious elements. Jung considered it to be the main task of human development. He created well known psychological concepts, including synchronicity, archetypal phenomena, the collective unconscious, the psychological complex, and extraversion and introversion. Jung was also an artist, craftsman and builder as well as a prolific writer. Many of his works were not published until after his death and some are still awaiting publication.

Carl Gustav Jung was born in Kesswil, in the Swiss canton of Thurgau, on 26 July 1875 as the second and first surviving son of Paul Achilles Jung (1842-1896) and Emilie Preiswerk (1848-1923). Their first child, born in 1873, was a boy named Paul who survived only a few days. The father, was the youngest son of a noted Basel physician of German descent, also called Karl Gustav Jung (de) (1794-1864). When Jung was six months old, his father was appointed to a more prosperous parish in Laufen, but the tension between his parents was growing. Emilie Jung was an eccentric and depressed woman; she spent considerable time in her bedroom where she said that spirits visited her at night. Although she was normal during the day, Jung recalled that at night his mother became strange and mysterious. He reported that one night he saw a faintly luminous and indefinite figure coming from her room with a head detached from the neck and floating in the air in front of the body. Jung's mother left Laufen for several months of hospitalization near Basel for an unknown physical ailment. Emilie Jung's continuing bouts of absence and depression deeply troubled Karl and caused him to associate women with “innate unreliability“, whereas “father“ meant for him reliability but also powerlessness. In his memoir, Jung would remark that this parental influence was the “handicap I started off with. Later, these early impressions were revised: “I have trusted men friends and been disappointed by them, and I have mistrusted women and was not disappointed.“ After three years of living in Laufen, Paul Jung requested a transfer; he was called to Kleinhuningen, next to Basel in 1879. The relocation brought Emilie Jung closer into contact with her family and lifted her melancholy. When he was nine years old, Jung's sister Johanna Gertrud (1884-1935) was born. Known in the family as “Trudi“, she later became a secretary to her brother.

Jung was a solitary and introverted child. From childhood, he believed that, like his mother, he had two personalities - a modern Swiss citizen and a personality more suited to the 18th century. “Personality Number 1“, as he termed it, was a typical schoolboy living in the era of the time. “Personality Number 2“ was a dignified, authoritative and influential man from the past. A number of childhood memories made lifelong impressions on him. As a boy, he carved a tiny mannequin into the end of the wooden ruler from his pencil case and placed it inside the case. He added a stone, which he had painted into upper and lower halves, and hid the case in the attic. Periodically, he would return to the mannequin, often bringing tiny sheets of paper with messages inscribed on them in his own secret language. He later reflected that this ceremonial act brought him a feeling of inner peace and security. Years later, he discovered similarities between his personal experience and the practices associated with totems in indigenous cultures, such as the collection of soul-stones near Arlesheim or the tjurungas of Australia. He concluded that his intuitive ceremonial act was an unconscious ritual, which he had practiced in a way that was strikingly similar to those in distant locations which he, as a young boy, knew nothing about. His observations about symbols, archetypes, and the collective unconscious were inspired, in part, by these early experiences combined with his later research.

At the age of 12, shortly before the end of his first year at the Humanistisches Gymnasium in Basel, Jung was pushed to the ground by another boy so hard that he momentarily lost consciousness. A thought then came to him - “now you won't have to go to school anymore.“ From then on, whenever he walked to school or began homework, he fainted. He remained at home for the next six months until he overheard his father speaking hurriedly to a visitor about the boy's future ability to support himself. They suspected he had epilepsy. Confronted with the reality of his family's poverty, he realized the need for academic excellence. He went into his father's study and began poring over Latin grammar. He fainted three more times but eventually overcame the urge and did not faint again. This event, Jung later recalled, “was when I learned what a neurosis is.“ Jung did not plan to study psychiatry since it was not considered prestigious at the time. But, studying a psychiatric textbook, he became excited when he discovered that psychoses are personality diseases. His interest was immediately captured - it combined the biological and the spiritual, exactly what he was searching for. In 1895 Jung began to study medicine at the University of Basel. Barely a year later in 1896, his father Paul died and left the family near destitute. They were helped out by relatives who also contributed to Jung's studies. During his student days, he entertained his contemporaries with the family legend, that his paternal grandfather was the illegitimate son of Goethe and his German great-grandmother, Sophie Ziegler. In later life, he pulled back from this tale, saying only that Sophie was a friend of Goethe's niece.

In 1900 Jung began working at the Burgholzli psychiatric hospital in Zurich with Eugen Bleuler. Bleuler was already in communication with the Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Jung's dissertation, published in 1903, was titled On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena. In 1906 he published Diagnostic Association Studies, and later sent a copy of this book to Freud. As it turned out, Freud had already bought a copy. Eventually a close friendship and a strong professional association developed between the elder Freud and Jung, which left a sizeable correspondence, evidence that they cooperated in their work. During World War I Jung was drafted as an army doctor and soon made commandant of an internment camp for British officers and soldiers (The Swiss were neutral, and obliged to intern personnel from either side of the conflict who crossed their frontier to evade capture). Jung worked to improve the conditions of soldiers stranded in neutral territory and encouraged them to attend university courses. In 1903, Jung married Emma Rauschenbach, seven years his junior and the elder daughter of a wealthy industrialist in eastern Switzerland, Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenck, and his wife. Rauschenbach was the owner, among other concerns, of IWC Schaffhausen - the International Watch Company, manufacturers of luxury time-pieces. Upon his death in 1905, his two daughters and their husbands became owners of the business. Jung's brother-in-law - Ernst Homberger - became the principal proprietor, but the Jungs remained shareholders in a thriving business that ensured the family's financial security for decades. Emma Jung, whose education had been limited, evinced considerable ability and interest in her husband's research and threw herself into studies and acted as his assistant at Burgholzli. She eventually became a noted psychoanalyst in her own right. Emma died in 1955.

Jung was thirty when he sent his Studies in Word Association to Sigmund Freud in Vienna in 1906. The two men met for the first time the following year and Jung recalled the discussion between himself and Freud as stimulating and provocative. He recalled that they talked almost unceasingly for thirteen hours. Six months later, the then 50-year-old Freud sent a collection of his latest published essays to Jung in Zurich. This marked the beginning of an intense correspondence. Jung and Freud influenced each other during the intellectually formative years of Jung's life. Jung had become interested in psychiatry as a student by reading Psychopathia Sexualis by Richard von Krafft-Ebing. In 1900, Jung completed his degree, and started work as an intern (voluntary doctor) under the psychiatrist, Eugen Bleuler at Burgholzli Hospital. It was Bleuler who introduced him to the writings of Freud by asking him to write a review of The Interpretation of Dreams (1899). In 1905 Jung was appointed as a permanent senior doctor at the hospital and also became a lecturer Privatdozent in the medical faculty of Zurich University. In that period psychology as a science was still in its early stages, but Jung became a qualified proponent of Freud's new “psycho-analysis.“ At the time, Freud needed collaborators and pupils to validate and spread his ideas. Burgholzli was a renowned psychiatric clinic in Zurich and Jung's research had already gained him international recognition. Preceded by a lively correspondence, Jung met Freud for the first time, in Vienna on 3 March 1907. In 1908, Jung became an editor of the newly founded Yearbook for Psychoanalytical and Psychopathological Research. In 1909, Jung traveled with Freud and the Hungarian psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi to the United States; they took part in a conference at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. The conference at Clark University was planned by the psychologist G. Stanley Hall and included twenty-seven distinguished psychiatrists, neurologists and psychologists. It represented a watershed in the acceptance of psychoanalysis in North America. This forged welcome links between Jung and influential Americans. Jung returned to the United States the next year for a brief visit. In 1910, Jung became Chairman for Life of the International Psychoanalytical Association with Freud's support. Freud would come to call Jung “his adopted eldest son, his crown prince and successor.“ In 1910, Jung worked on his Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (Psychology of the Unconscious: a study of the transformations and symbolisms of the libido, a contribution to the history of the evolution of thought). At that time, Jung again traveled to the United States and gave the Fordham University lectures, a six-week series, which were published as The Theory of Psychoanalysis (1912). While they contain some remarks on Jung's dissenting view on the libido, they represent largely a “psychoanalytical Jung“ and not the theory of analytical psychology, for which he became famous in the following decades. Jung's observations overlap to an extent with Freud's model of the unconscious, what Jung called the “personal unconscious.“ The collective unconscious is not so much a 'geographical location', but a deduction from the alleged ubiquity of archetypes over space and time. Freud had actually mentioned a collective level of psychic functioning but saw it primarily as an appendix to the rest of the psyche.

In November 1912, Jung and Freud met in Munich for a meeting among prominent colleagues to discuss psychoanalytical journals. At a talk about a new psychoanalytic essay on Amenhotep IV, Jung expressed his views on how it related to actual conflicts in the psychoanalytic movement. While Jung spoke, Freud suddenly fainted and Jung carried him to a couch. Jung spoke at meetings of the Psycho-Medical Society in London in 1913 and 1914. His travels were soon interrupted by the war, but his ideas continued to receive attention in England. In 1913, at the age of thirty-eight, Jung experienced a horrible “confrontation with the unconscious“. He saw visions and heard voices. He worried at times that he was “menaced by a psychosis“ or was “doing a schizophrenia“. He decided that it was valuable experience and, in private, he induced hallucinations or, in his words, “active imaginations“. He recorded everything he felt in small journals. Jung began to transcribe his notes into a large red leather-bound book, on which he worked intermittently for sixteen years. Jung left no posthumous instructions about the final disposition of what he called the Liber Novus or the Red Book. Sonu Shamdasani, a historian of psychology from London, tried for three years to persuade Jung's resistant heirs to have it published. Up to mid-September 2008, fewer than two dozen people had seen it. Ulrich Hoerni, Jung's grandson who manages the Jung archives, decided to publish it to raise the additional funds needed when the Philemon Foundation was founded.

Jung made a more extensive trip westward in the winter of 1924, financed and organized by Fowler McCormick and George Porter. Of particular value to Jung was a visit with Chief Mountain Lake of the Taos Pueblo near Taos, New Mexico. Jung made another trip to America in 1936, giving lectures in New York and New England for his growing group of American followers. He returned in 1937 to deliver the Terry Lectures at Yale University, later published as Psychology and Religion. The C. G. Jung Institute, was established in K?snacht, Switzerland. Jung continued to publish books until the end of his life, in June 1961. He died at Kusnacht, after a short illness. He had been beset by circulatory diseases. Three major concepts, still of great interest today in the United States and around the world, of analytical psychology as developed by Jung include:

Archetypal images - universal symbols that can mediate opposites in the psyche, often found in religious art, mythology and fairy tales across cultures

Shadow - the repressed, therefore unknown, aspects of the personality including those often considered to be negative

Collective unconscious - aspects of unconsciousness experienced by all people in different cultures

The persona, Jung argues, is a mask for the “collective psyche“, a mask that pretends individuality, so that both self and others believe in that identity, even if it is really no more than a well-played role through which the collective psyche is expressed. Jung regarded the “persona-mask“ as a complicated system which mediates between individual consciousness and the social community: it is “a compromise between the individual and society as to what a man should appear to be“. But he also makes it quite explicit that it is, in substance, a character mask in the classical sense known to theatre, with its double function: both intended to make a certain impression on others, and to hide (part of) the true nature of the individual. The therapist then aims to assist the individuation process through which the client (re)gains their “own self“ - by liberating the self, both from the deceptive cover of the persona, and from the power of unconscious impulses. Jung's work on himself and his patients convinced him that life has a spiritual purpose beyond material goals. Our main task, he believed, is to discover and fulfill our deep, innate potential. Based on his study of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Taoism, and other traditions, Jung believed that this journey of transformation, which he called individuation, is at the mystical heart of all religions. It is a journey to meet the self and at the same time to meet the Divine.

In Jungian psychology, the “shadow“, “Id“, or “shadow aspect/archetype“ may refer to (1) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself, or (2) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. In short, the shadow is the “dark side“. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one's personality, the shadow is largely negative. There are, however, positive aspects that may also remain hidden in one's shadow (especially in people with low self-esteem, anxieties, and false beliefs). Contrary to a Freudian definition of shadow, the Jungian shadow can include everything outside the light of consciousness and may be positive or negative. “Everyone carries a shadow,“ Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.“ It may be (in part) one's link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind. Carl Jung stated the shadow to be the unknown dark side of the personality. According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognized as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. Jung writes that if these projections remain hidden, “The projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object - if it has one - or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power.“ These projections insulate and harm individuals by acting as a constantly thickening veil of illusion between the ego and the real world. From one perspective, “the shadow is roughly equivalent to the whole of the Freudian unconscious“; and Jung himself asserted that “the result of the Freudian method of elucidation is a minute elaboration of man's shadow-side unexampled in any previous age“. The shadow may appear in dreams and visions in various forms and typically “appears as a person of the same sex as that of the dreamer“. The shadow's appearance and role depend greatly on the living experience of the individual because much of the shadow develops in the individual's mind rather than simply being inherited in the collective unconscious. Nevertheless, some Jungians maintain that The shadow contains, besides the personal shadow, the shadow of society fed by the neglected and repressed collective values. Interactions with the shadow in dreams may shed light on one's state of mind. A conversation with an aspect of the shadow may indicate that one is concerned with conflicting desires or intentions. Identification with a despised figure may mean that one has an unacknowledged difference from the character, a difference which could point to a rejection of the illuminating qualities of ego-consciousness. These examples refer to just two of many possible roles that the shadow may adopt and are not general guides to interpretation. Also, it can be difficult to identify characters in dreams  “all the contents are blurred and merge into one another 'contamination' of unconscious contents“ so that a character who seems at first to be a shadow might represent some other complex instead. Jung made the suggestion of there being more than one layer making up the shadow. The top layers contain the meaningful flow and manifestations of direct personal experiences. These are made unconscious in the individual by such things as the change of attention from one thing to another, simple forgetfulness, or a repression. Underneath these idiosyncratic layers, however, are the archetypes which form the psychic contents of all human experiences. Jung described this deeper layer as “a psychic activity which goes on independently of the conscious mind and is not dependent even on the upper layers of the unconscious - untouched, and perhaps untouchable - by personal experience“ (Joseph Campbell, 1971). According to Jung: “The shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself“ and represents “a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well.“ If and when 'an individual makes an attempt to see his shadow, he becomes aware of (and often ashamed of) those qualities and impulses he denies in himself but can plainly see in others - such things as egotism, mental laziness, and sloppiness; unreal fantasies, schemes, and plots; carelessness and cowardice; inordinate love of money and possessions, a painful and lengthy work of self-education.“ The dissolution of the persona and the launch of the individuation process also brings with it 'the danger of falling victim to the shadow, the black shadow which everybody carries with him, the inferior and therefore hidden aspect of the personality' - of a merger with the shadow. According to Jung, the shadow sometimes overwhelms a person's actions; for example, when the conscious mind is shocked, confused, or paralyzed by indecision. 'A man who is possessed by his shadow is always standing in his own light and falling into his own traps, living below his own level': hence, in terms of the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 'it must be Jekyll, the conscious personality, who integrates the shadow ... and not vice versa. Otherwise the conscious becomes the slave of the autonomous shadow'.

Individuation inevitably raises that very possibility. As the process continues, and “the libido leaves the bright upper world sinks back into its own depths. below, in the shadows of the unconscious,“ so too what comes to the forefront is “what was hidden under the mask of conventional adaptation: the shadow“, with the result that “ego and shadow are no longer divided but are brought together in an - admittedly precarious - unity.“ The impact of such “confrontation with the shadow produces at first a dead balance, a stand-still that hampers moral decisions and makes convictions ineffective, chaos, melancholia.“ Consequently, (as Jung knew from personal experience) “in this time of descent?one, three, seven years, more or less - genuine courage and strength are required,“ with no certainty of emergence. Nevertheless, Jung remained of the opinion that while “no one should deny the danger of the descent, every descent is followed by an ascent and assimilation of - rather than possession by - the shadow becomes at last a real possibility. The struggle is to retain awareness of the shadow, but not identification with it. “Non-identification demands considerable moral effort prevents a descent into that darkness“; but though “the conscious mind is liable to be submerged at any moment in the unconscious... understanding acts like a life-saver. It integrates the unconscious“ - reincorporates the shadow into the personality, producing a stronger, wider consciousness than before. “Assimilation of the shadow gives a man body, so to speak,“ and provides thereby a launching-pad for further individuation. “The integration of the shadow, or the realization of the personal unconscious, marks the first stage of the analytic process, without it a recognition of anima and animus is impossible.“ Conversely, “to the degree to which the shadow is recognized and integrated, the problem of the anima, i.e., of relationship, is constellated,“ and becomes the center of the individuation quest. Nevertheless, Jungians warn that “acknowledgement of the shadow must be a continuous process throughout one's life;“ and even after the focus of individuation has moved on to the animus/anima, “the later stages of shadow integration“ will continue to take place - the grim “process of washing one's dirty linen in private,“ accepting one's shadow.

Further reading

On Acceptance of Healing

More Jungian reading on the dark side of humans

Alan Watts comments on the work of Carl Jung (when Watts repeats several sentences 3 times, it's not a mistake. Watts does this to emphasize the importance of a particular idea.

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