Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)

As a teenager Carl Gustav Jung looked into religion which led to some internal conflicts. He developed intellectually. Jung chose to study psychiatry at Basel after some occult experiences and as well as focussing on this and psychotherapy he showed interest in the symbolism of alchemy, astrology, telepathy with clairvoyance, yoga, spiritualism, fortune telling, and UFOs as well as the more highbrow writings on religion, mythology, social problems, art and literature. He had several down to earth practical interests which engaged hand and eye.

His scheme of psychology follows these categories:

The psyche is the centre, embracing thoughts, feelings, and conscious and unconscious psychological conditions.

The ego is the conscious mind.

As we go through life certain experiences never make much impression or are put to one side: either suppressed, repressed, ignored or forgotten. They go to the personal unconscious next to the ego.

There these memories, thoughts, feelings and perceptions can form complexes, when organised around people or matters of significance. These complexes build up these associations producing in certain cases almost separate personalities.

The collective unconscious is shared amongst everyone because everyone inherits it. It comes from evolutionary development with experiences every generation repeats.

The collective unconscious is made up from archetypes, deposits of ever meaningful and symbolic universal ideas and images with emotional impact. Symbols display archetypes, and they bring forward into view an instinct that has been restricted. So they display aspects of the psyche, showing universal experience and knowledge and suggesting ideals all can strive for. Some archetypes have grown so much that they became fundamental to the species.

The persona is the archetype which acts out a front to the social world while concealing true feelings and thoughts.

The anima is the archetypal feminine side to the man and the animus is the archetypal masculine side of the woman.

The shadow archetype is the animal nature of the person from earlier evolution.

The self is the archetype at the centre of the psyche which is about life's aim for wholeness and integrity. The self can only emerge when other components of the psyche have fully developed.

The psyche works using psychic energy or libido which comes from the the metabolic processes of the body.

Each element of the personality derives its value from the psychic energy invested in it. More psychic energy goes into and idea, feeling or act deemed according to importance. Think of the person who expends much into the act of painting a picture or doing the craft that Jung did.

Values can go up or down, and equivalence means that the psyche distributes its energy to it from elsewhere or from elsewhere to it according to interest. So psychic energy has its fixed stock; value depends on distribution.

However, that distribution seeks balance, and entropy means that psychic energy will tend to pass from the stronger value to the weaker value. Archetypes look for balanced equilibrium.

Achieving balance does depend on individuation, meaning full development within the personality (on which the self depends) and the elements must be completely differentiated too.

As in the longing within myths and dreams, when all these are done to equilibrium, there is integration with the transcendent function. This pulls together all the differences to produce selfhood.

Jung also looked at how personalities interacted with the world. Again, balance is sought. This approach has been used in personality testing, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

There are two principal attitudes. The extraverted attitude is towards the world as an objective entity. The psychic energy is pushed into activities of the person in the world. The introverted attitude is an inward enrgy into the personal subjective space.

There are four main psychological functions. Thinking means rationally putting ideas together about the self and the world for understanding or problem solving. A pleasant or unpleasant feeling is another means to consider an idea but is rational on the basis that a judgment has to be made. Sensation or sensing is about conscious experiences through the sense organs. This is considered to be irrational function, because it relies on impact. Intuition is also irrational and based on impact but is internal and comes to the mind seemingly from within.

The superior function is the function used the most; the inferior function is the one used the least. Psychological types are produced from mixing and biasing the attitudes and functions. When fully individuated balance is possible.

Finally Jung was a believer in a non-causal yet related coincidence on paranormal grounds. This was called synchronicity.

Jung drawn by Henry BensonIf the latter might seem unscientific and a tad speculative, it should be asked what the difference is between that and many of the other terms produced. Where does half of this material come from? Clearly it is imaginative. There is not a shred of evidence for a collective unconscious inherited by all consisting of archetypes of which there are some principal ones, let alone any mechanism at all by which these are somehow part of human evolution. This is the result of going beyond biology (unlike Freud), of keeping to the means of instincts and yet using history and religion in history. Yet it becomes bizarre, and extra-scientific. Nor is there any scientific basis on which someone ought to end up balanced, should certain processes be undertaken. Why should it be, for example, that energy put into one area of life reduces what goes into another, and is there any real basis for psychic energy at all? Perhaps there is for the believer in the paranormal, once all the magicians and spoon bending charlatons have finished their business. Symbolism, in the end, is an aspect of ongoing communication, not a deposit in the biology of the brain and mind. Symbols mean whatever people want them to mean, and negotiate with one another in their collective chatter, design and artworks. Far from being deep and meaningful, many are spent because they are no longer used. Jungian psychology is like astrology: a theological system dressed up a science, but science it is not.


Scanned and coloured picture of C. J. Jung from the line drawing by Henry Benson in Nordby, Hall, 1974, 95.

Nordby, V. J., Hall, C. S. (1974), A Guide to Psychologists and Their Concepts, San Fransisco: W. H. Freeman and Company, 95-102.

Refers to or uses:

Hall, C. S., Nordby, V. J. (1973), A Primer of Jungian Psychology, New York: Taplinger.

Hall, C. S., Nordby, V. J. (1973), A Primer of Jungian Psychology, New York: New American Library.

Jung, C. G. (1961), Memories, Dreams, Reflections. New York: Random House.

Read, H., Fordham, M., Adler, G (eds.), Jung, C. G. (1953), Collected Works, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.


Adrian Worsfold