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Friday, April 13, 2012

Carl Jung

Main Article:Karger Gazette No 71> Swiss Pioneers in Science and Medicine
Karger Gazette No 71> Swiss Pioneers in Science and Medicine

Becoming Oneself

Carl-Gustav Jung (1875-1961)

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was the most famous student of the Bleuler School. Impressed with Jung's talent, profound education and scientific interest, Bleuler brought him into contact with Freud in 1907.

After their first encounter Jung became so fascinated with Freud and his teachings that he began to neglect his clinical duties in favor of his research. Thus, Bleuler asked him to resign from the clinic in 1908.

 After doing so, Jung became more active in psychoanalytical research. The analytical psychology he developed had almost as large an international audience as Freud's psychoanalysis. He adopted the term 'complex' to refer to an unconscious set of feelings and beliefs, and had his own ideas about the unconscious, to which he later added the term 'collective unconscious'. 

His education in the humanities enabled him to view psychological processes in a new light. He saw symbols found in artwork, fairytale, mythology and dreams as the key to understanding the unconscious. He coined new terms like 'archetypes', 'anima/animus' and 'shadow'.

Spirituality as found in mythology, Gnosticism and religion was an important source of self-discovery for him: Werde der Du bist ('become who you are') summarized his ideas of individuation. 

Becoming oneself was for Jung not only a therapeutic goal, but a personal one, achieved only after dealing with internal and external conflicts. 

Freud's teachings had a major impact on Jung in the short time that they worked closely together. They shared the idea of an unconscious, to which access is provided through dreams, and felt that childhood development has a great impact on the adult psyche.

They held each other in such high regard that Freud nominated Jung to be the first president of the new International Psychoanalytical Association. Freud asked Jung to accompany him on speaking tours in the USA, appointed him as an editor and saw him – his most important non-Jewish student – as his future successor and protector of the psychoanalytical movement.

Nevertheless, the importance Freud placed on childhood sexuality, the omnipresence of the Oedipus complex and the idea of a libido that was purely sexually orientated were themes Jung could no longer support. 

He parted ways from Freud in 1913, setting off many lasting conflicts in their field. It was very hard for Freud to overcome his deep disappointment, as he had hoped Jung's international contacts would bring him out of his intellectual isolation. Jung, on the other hand, fell into a deep inner crisis after the loss of Freud's spiritual-fatherly support.

However, Jung stepped back from his professional activities and developed his own theories further. He embarked on a journey to discover inner truth that was unique in the history of science. He immersed himself in an incessant stream of inner fantasies and images, which would later help form his theories. His process of finding inner truth lasted for more than a decade and was recorded by Jung in a book, Liber Novus.

This mysterious 'red book' (the leather cover was red) slowly became known among Jung devotees, but his heirs withheld it from the public. It was not until 2007 that Jung's grandson agreed to have the book published. It turned out that the book was not a collection of autobiographical notes, but rather numerous symbolic sketches and texts, which were only of limited interest to the wider public.

In his papers and books, Jung comes across as sensitive and introverted. There was, however, another side to him, a 'homo politicus', which was very active in the organization and expansion of psychotherapy in its early days – a talent which had been utilized by Freud.

While in later life Jung insisted he was not interested in starting any 'schools', in the mid-1920s he was very much involved in the congress movement, serving as vice-president of the Allgemeine Ärztliche Gesellschaft für Psychotherapie (General Medical Society for Psychotherapy).

When one of the co-founders, Ernst Kretschmer, resigned in protest against the restrictions placed upon them by the National Socialists, he encouraged Jung (as a representative of a neutral country) to found another society, the Internationale Allgemeine Ärztliche Gesellschaft für Psychotherapie, which Jung agreed to do in order to protect persecuted Jewish colleagues.

Despite this, he simultaneously began to cooperate with the institute of Matthias Göring (a relative of a senior Nazi). Additionally, it was found that some of his writings contained racist views. So, although he tried to maintain contacts for scientific discourse on an international level, his political views posed problems for him in the 1930s as well as in the post-war era.

In 1985, the American historian Geoffrey Cocks came to the conclusion that although Jung showed a naive enthusiasm for the National Socialists, he was never active in supporting them in their political goals.

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