Carl Jung (1875-1961) was the first outsider to join Freud’s inner circle. Jung was not Jewish, not born in or around Vienna, and wasn’t even Austrian. Carl Jung was born and raised in Switzerland. He was an only child who was not good at relationships but did well in school. Carl was a loner, didn’t like competition, and was teased by his peers (he tended to faint under pressure).
Jung felt closer to his mother but he described her as having two personalities: humorous and unpredictable. Some suggest Jung’s interest in psychiatry was because his mother was schizophrenic. His mother may have been hospitalized when he was three but there is little evidence that it was for schizophrenia.
Was Jung Schizophrenic?
Carl Jung was certainly weird. But whether that weirdness was genius or mental illness is a matter of opinion. There are proponents on each side of the issue. Jung’s ideas are very scattered, which can be seen as artistic or symptomatic.Adding to the controversy, Jung referred to himself as having two personalities: the one in this life and the one from a previous century in which he was an old man. Similarly some see creativity or pathology in the breadth of his concepts and the incorporation of occult and mythology imagery.
There is no question that Jung was imaginative. He tended to see the world and himself in a larger context. Even his autobiography, which was published after his death, was as much mythology as historical truth. Jung had a vision of a “monstrous flood” that would cover most of Europe, though not the mountains of Switzerland. The vision was followed by several weeks of recurring dreams about rivers and floods of blood. This was not a child’s dream; Jung was 38 at the time, but very vivid. When WWI began, Jung viewed his vision as having been a prediction. I like the idea of predicting the future. If you have a dream on Tuesday and something happens on Thursday, it’s interesting. But Jung’s vision was in the fall of 1913, and the start of WWI was in July of 1914 (August of 1916 for America). For me, 9 months of so ruins the illusion.
Jung was pursued many arts. He painted, sculpted, drew and wrote. Although he explored many fields, he was always looking for themes and commonalities. For Jung, everything had a meaning. One of his therapeutic techniques (amplification) involved expanding every detail of a dream into associations. Instead of Freud’s free association (jumping from thread to thread), Jung preferred to elicit multiple associations from the same item. The more associations that can be made, the easier it was to discover underlying themes. And the more themes that can be discovered, the easier it is to find archetypes (overriding, universal themes that impact behavior).
One pair of archetypes Jung repeatedly encountered was persona (outward image) and shadow (inner self). Jung maintained that people protect themselves and influence others by presenting a persona that is more presentable than the reality in which they live. Although we don’t intentionally lie, we do try mask the realities of our inner pain. We do this, of course, unconsciously.
Jung differs from Freud on what is unconscious. For Jung, people have both a personal unconscious (undiscovered personal experiences) and a collective unconscious (undiscovered universal experiences). The collective unconscious is a repository of all human knowledge, including our pre-human experiences. It is filled with primordial images: memories from out ancestral past. For Jung, the goal of life, and much of the fun and pain of life, is the discovery of what the universe is trying to tell us through this collection of symbols and images.
Also open to discovery is our personality types. Jung proposed four basic functions (sensation, intuition, thinking and feeling) that can be combined with two primary attitudes (introversion and extroversion) to create eight personality types. There are several personality tests based on Jungian assumptions, including the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), the Rorschach inkblot test, and the more recent Myers-Briggs. These tests, like Jung’s theory, are quite creative and broad. Although critics point out the terrible test-retest reliabilities of the instruments, supporters point to the wealth of creative data they produce.