Carl Jung

Carl Jung was the founder of what we now know as analytic psychology. Although slightly less popular to wider society than his contemporary, Freud, his contributions to Psychology have been immense. This essay seeks to give a brief history of the man and some of the theories he either coined or influenced that have gone on to shape the world in many ways.

Jung’s upbringing was unconventional. His parents came from different social circles and he was closer to his father than his mother who may have suffered frequent hallucinations. Her behaviors influenced some of his views on women. While Sigmund Freud believed that all boys experience sexual attraction to their mothers during early childhood, Jung had no experiences to support this as his mother was also unattractive. Others have also questioned the validity of the Oedipus complex.

Through various psychological quirks in his own childhood, Jung eventually became interested in psychiatry although it provided very little financial motivation and his family lived in poverty. He approached this new science with an appreciation for mysticism. At various points in his life he visited shamans and holy men and derived from his travels some of his most well known concepts. Among these were the concepts of an archetype and the collective unconscious.

Jung believed that there were certain stories or characters that were ingrained into the human experience with significant meanings. These included the doomed hero, the crone and various others. This was part of his wider theory of the collective unconscious, a sort of reservoir of memories accessible by the entire species that is built upon over time.

Jung was very close to Freud who thought of him almost as a son. They discussed their theories with each other and influenced each others work. There where concepts on which they diverged sharply but in general they had more in common than not.

Close to the end of his life, Jung began to experience things that might have been evidence of a psychotic break or a mystical awakening depending on who observed them. He wrote about his experiences in a document that was only recently made public by his heirs.

While many of the proponents of Psychology have tried to keep the subject as traditionally scientific as possible, Jung embraced the unaccepted mysticism. He saw the human nature as benefiting from or even requiring experiences of a religious or spiritual nature and welcomed them.

 
 

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