Carl Jung continues to be revered today as a true revolutionary who helped to shape psychology, provided a bridge between Western and Eastern spirituality, and brought into general awareness such fundamental concepts as archetypes, the collective unconscious, and synchronicity. In this important book, Claire Dunne chronicles Jung's journey of self-discovery from a childhood filled with visions both terrifying and profound, through his early professional success, to his rediscovery of spirituality in mid-life. Special attention is paid to the tumultuous relationships between Jung and Sigmund Freud, the unconventional yet vital role performed by his colleague, Toni Wolff, and the revelatory visions Jung experienced following a close brush with death.
The words of Jung himself and those who shared his work and private life are shared verbatim, connected by Claire Dunne's lively and accessible commentary and by an evocative array of illustrations including photographs of Jung, his associates, and the environments in which he lived and worked, as well as art images both ancient and contemporary that reflect Jung's teachings. Jung emerges as a healer whose skills arose from having first attended to the wounds in his own soul.
This is an essential work of reference as well as a fascinating and entertaining read for everyone interested in psychology, spirituality, and personal development.
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When Carl Gustav Jung spoke of himself as "a natural being," he was sixty-six years old. By then he was world-famous and controversial, the first modern psychiatrist to recognize that the human psyche is "by nature religious" and to explore it in depth. A self-described "empiricist" and "healer of the soul," he penetrated the inner reaches of himself and his patients, linked his experience to ancient writings and cultures worldwide, and offered his discoveries to an uncomprehending world.
In a letter he wrote,
The main interest of my work is not concerned with the treatment of neurosis but rather with the approach to the numinous ... [which] is the real therapy.
Jung's work teaches that
Man needs to become his complete self to live whole.
God needs man to mirror his creation and help it evolve.
The whole human being is open to God as co-creator.
People who knew Jung testify that he was a living example of his own psychology. At once human, fallible, and great, he lived in two worlds earth-rooted and spiritually centered. Both "lives," outer and inner, he saw as the natural state of realized humanity.
Jung's work reflects his life. Of himself he said, "I am the clash of opposites." Throughout a long life he learned to live and reconcile those polarities into a unity of wholeness.
At eighty-four he said of that long trek,
The journey from cloud cuckoo land to reality lasted a long time. In my case Pilgrims Progress consisted in my having to climb down a thousand ladders until I could reach out my hand to the little clod of earth that I am.
Late in life, Jung was deeply involved in compiling his "autobiography." It is this book more than any other that attracts the general public to him. Titled Memories, Dreams, Reflections, it tells the reader little of Jung's outer life. Instead the book graphically portrays the geography of his inner landscape as both adult and child.
While I am writing this I observe a little demon trying to abscond my words and even my thoughts and turning them over into the rapidly flowing river of images, surging from the mists of the past, portraits of a little boy, bewildered and wondering at an incomprehensibly beautiful and hideously profane and deceitful world.
The little boy, for nine years the only child of Parson Paul Jung and his wife Emilie, was born in a small village in Kesswil, Switzerland, in 1875.
Dim intimations of trouble in my parents' marriage hovered around me. My illness in 1878 must have been connected with a temporary separation of my parents. My mother spent several months in a hospital in Basel, and presumably her illness had something to do with the difficulty in the marriage. An aunt of mine, who was a spinster and some twenty years older than my mother, took care of me. I was deeply troubled by my mother's being away. From then on, I always felt mistrustful when the word "love" was spoken. The feeling I associated with "woman" was for a long time that of innate unreliability. "Father," on the other hand, meant reliability and powerlessness. That is 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.
An early pattern that stayed with him all his life was an intense love of nature, a direct relationship with plants, animals, earth, rock, mountains, river and lake. A simple rustic lifestyle and solitude.
I played alone, and in my own way. Unfortunately I cannot remember what I played; I recall only that I did not want to be disturbed. I was deeply absorbed in my games and could not endure being watched or judged while I played them.
A childhood friend, Albert Oeri, remembered the impact this had on him.
I suppose I saw Jung for the first time in my life when we were still very small boys. My parents were visiting his, and they wanted their little sons to play together. But it was no use. Carl sat in the middle of a room, busying himself with a little game of ninepins and not taking the least notice of me. Why do I even remember this encounter after some fifty-five years? Probably because I had just never run across such an asocial monster. I was brought up in an exuberantly crowded nursery, where you either played together or got beaten up, but either way you constantly associated with people; he was all by himself his sister had not yet been born at that time.
Jung's sister Gertrud was born when he was nine, too late and different in temperament to be a companion. The Jung family lived in frugal poverty in an eighteenth-century parsonage. The only manmade beauty in the house was a couple of paintings in a dark room, which delighted the boy. His parents fulfilled community expectations of a pious Protestant minister and his helping wife in their outer life. Eight of Jung's maternal uncles and two on his father's side were parsons all secure in their conventional world of faith, Bible, and good works. To the intensely sensitive and vulnerable Carl it was a suffocating atmosphere. He became accident-prone in a fatal resistance to this form of life. Spiritually, too, it produced unintended results, which he recorded in Memories, Dreams, Reflections:
In the cemetery nearby, the sexton would dig a hole heaps of brown, upturned earth. Black, solemn men in long frock coats with unusually tall hats and shiny black boots would bring a black box. My father would be there in his clerical gown, speaking in a resounding voice. Women wept. I was told that someone was being buried in this hole in the ground. Certain persons who had been around previously would suddenly no longer be there. Then I would hear that they had been buried, and that Lord Jesus had taken them to himself.
My mother had taught me a prayer which I had to say every evening. I gladly did so....
Spread out thy wings, Lord Jesus mild,
And take to thee thy chick, thy child....
But now I was hearing that Lord Jesus "took" other people to himself as well, and that this "taking" was the same as putting them in a hole in the ground....
I began to distrust Lord Jesus. He lost the aspect of a big, comforting, benevolent bird and became associated with the gloomy black men in frock coats, top hats, and shiny black boots who busied themselves with the black box.
At about the same time, Jung encountered the black-robed figure of a Jesuit priest whose appearance traumatized the boy. Impressions of Lord Jesus and the Jesuit combined to build the child's distrust of outer aspects of religion, which resulted in a hatred of going to church.
It was his dream world that connected him to his own internal spiritual network guiding, informing, signalling the main trends of his life. He later said the early dreams of childhood usually give the tenor of a person's life patterns, often working at several levels at the same time.
Jung's earliest remembered dream, at age three or four, was one he kept secret till his midsixties. This numinously tinged dream was situated in a meadow not far from his parents' home.
In the dream I was in this meadow. Suddenly I discovered a dark, rectangular, stone-lined hole in the ground.... I ran forward curiously and peered down into it. Then I saw a stone stairway leading down. Hesitantly and fearfully, I descended. At the bottom was a doorway with a round arch, closed off by a green curtain. It was a big, heavy curtain of worked stuff like brocade, and it looked very sumptuous. Curious to see what might be hidden behind, I pushed it aside. I saw before me in the dim light a rectangular chamber about thirty feet long. The ceiling was arched and of hewn stone. The floor was laid with flagstones, and in the center a red carpet ran from the entrance to a low platform. On this platform stood a wonderfully rich golden throne. I am not certain, but perhaps a red cushion lay on the seat. It was a magnificent throne, a real king's throne in a fairy tale. Something was standing on it which I thought at first was a tree trunk twelve to fifteen feet high and about one and a half to two feet thick. It was a huge thing, reaching almost to the ceiling. But it was of a curious composition: it was made of skin and naked flesh, and on top there was something like a rounded head with no face and no hair. On the very top of the head was a single eye, gazing motionlessly upward.
It was fairly light in the room, although there were no windows and no apparent source of light. Above the head, however, was an aura of brightness. The thing did not move, yet I had the feeling that it might at any moment crawl off the throne like a worm and creep toward me. I was paralyzed with terror. At that moment I heard from outside and above me my mother's voice. She called out, "Yes, just look at him. That is the man-eater!" That intensified my terror still more, and I awoke sweating and scared to death.
What was he to make of it? The dream haunted him for decades, its meaning discovered bit by bit over the years as he explored ancient writings and religions, the primal cultures of today and of prehistory.
The phallus ... a subterranean god "not to be named"
... a ritual phallus
... an initiation into the secrets of the earth
... that fearful tree of my childhood dream
... revealed as "the breath of life," the creative impulse.
It was in line with the powerful phallic deities of the Celtic, German, Greek, Egyptian, Middle and Far Eastern peoples, gods that are the embodiment of creative life-bestowing power. Much of Jung's lifework was to spring from these primitive and chthonic depths, emphasizing the maternal rather than the paternal principle.
What happened then was a kind of burial in the earth, and many years were to pass before I came out again. Today I know that it happened in order to bring the greatest possible amount of light into the darkness. It was an initiation into the realm of darkness. My intellectual life had its unconscious beginnings at that time.
Outer life in the form of school shaped him further, adding to the gap between what the child was and what he tried to be to fit in with society. Jung designated his outer adapting personality as No. 1, his essential inner nature as No. 2. This interplay of opposites is played out in every individual to some degree, and in Jung to a more marked and conscious extent. Alone, he could sit contentedly on a stone and contemplate in wonder whether it was he or he was it. Or he could light fires with his schoolfriends and feel the flames were of secret significance. But, increasingly, the contact with his country playmates produced other effects.
I found that they alienated me from myself. When I was with them I became different from the way I was at home. I joined in their pranks, or invented ones which at home would never have occurred to me, so it seemed; although, as I knew only too well, I could hatch up all sorts of things when I was alone. It seemed to me that the change in myself was due to the influence of my schoolfellows, who somehow misled me or compelled me to be different from what I thought I was. The influence of this wider world, this world which contained others besides my parents, seemed to me dubious if not altogether suspect and, in some obscure way, hostile.... It was as if I sensed a splitting of myself, and feared it. My inner security was threatened.
Instinctively, without knowing why, he counteracted the threat of society to his inner self. Secretly, he carved a little wooden mannikin about two inches long, inked him black, made him a wool coat, and put him in a pencil box prepared as a bed. He added a smooth, oblong, blackish stone which he painted into an upper and lower half in the manner of a "soulstone," and which was also himself.
With great satisfaction, he then hid it high in the attic.
No one could discover my secret and destroy it. I felt safe, and the tormenting sense of being at odds with myself was gone.... This possession of a secret had a very powerful formative effect on my character.... The little wooden figure with the stone was a first attempt, still unconscious and childish, to give shape to the secret. I was always absorbed by it and had the feeling I ought to fathom it; and yet I did not know what it was I was trying to express.
The soulstone episode he later found to be akin to the traditions of ancient peoples like the Australian Aborigines and indigenous Africans.
That was, he said, the "climax and close" of his childhood with its prevailing sense of the "eternal."