Sunday, September 21, 2008

Journeying with Jung 3



Background

Carl Gustave Jung, the founder of Analytical Psychology was born in Switzerland in 1875 and died there in 1961 just a month short of his 86th birthday. Jung emphasized studying the human mind or psyche through the analysis of dreams (like Freud before him); the use of art - art as therapy;  mythology as replete with archetypal images common to the collective unconscious, which term he coined; world religions (Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Tao etc) and philosophy drawn both from the East as well as from the West.  Needless to say as a qualified medical doctor and psychiatrist he also drew from conventional medicine.  As I have pointed out he threw his net wide into the seas of knowledge and drew inspiration from everywhere - early Greek (in all its mythology and philosophy) and Chinese thought (I Ching), the Scriptures, Old and New testaments, Early Fathers of the Church; Gnosticism; Medieval Manuscripts; Alchemy; Astrology, Sociology etc.  Every possible area of knowledge was looked upon as a source of possible light to illumine the human psyche.  If it could shed light, that is, be useful not alone in theory but essentially in therapy  then it was admissible.  As I have already pointed out I have long been acquainted with those concepts which he coined namely Shadow, Collective Unconscious, Archetypes, Individuation and Synchronicity and many others.  These words have been rattling around in my head for the last thirty years and I have often alluded to them in these posts.

The Thrust to Wholeness and Unity (or Integration or Individuation)

This thrust to wholeness was the central plank of Carl Jung's philosophy or theory of the person.  For him balance and harmony were essential if any individual is to achieve his/her personal potential.  He thought that modern people rely too heavily on science and logic and would benefit from integrating spirituality and an appreciation of unconscious realms into their more conscious pursuits.  The WIKI has an interesting paragraph on Jung which is worth quoting here for its succinctness and aptness:

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, much as the acorn contains the potential to become the oak, or the caterpillar to become the butterfly. Based on his study of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Taoism, and other traditions, Jung perceived that this journey of transformation 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. Unlike Sigmund Freud, Jung thought spiritual experience was essential to our well-being.

(See this link: Jung )

Another preoccupation of Jung was his predilection for the integration of opposites which in itself is an ancient interest going back into the mist of times.  The Manichees believed that the Godhead itself was a unity of both Good and Evil. It was also a preoccupation of a lot of the Romantic philosophers and poets.  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who had studied for some time at the University of Heidleberg in Germany, was an advocate of such an integration of opposites as was our own Nobel Laureate of Literature W.B. Yeats who referred to the harmony of "antinomies."  Jung's advocacy of such a harmony of opposites was to lead to a split with one of his best friends Fr.Victor White, O.P. a theologian from Blackfriars, Oxford, England.

Jung's Influence:

Jung's Analytical Psychology, called such to differentiate it from Freud's Psychoanalysis, forms with the latter two essential legs or strands of Depth Psychology and Psychotherapy.  Indeed, since then, there are many other strands of Psychotherapy, the elucidation of which is beyond our aim here in this present post.  Indeed there is a world-wide school of Jungian Analysis and any suitably qualified candidate can study under its remit to qualify as an analyst.  Carl Gustave also came up with the two famous terms Introversion and Extraversion.  Indeed the MBTI, a widely used personality inventory in Human Resource Management is based on Jung's theory of psychological types.   I have alluded to his other famous contributions to psychology in the opening paragraph so I won't repeat them here.  However, I will point out that Synchronicity Principle as an alternative to the Causality Principle, an idea which has gone on to even influence modern physicists.



Above a picture of Jung in old age.

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