"It all depends on how we look at things, and not on how they are in themselves. The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it." - Carl Gustav Jung

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) is best known for his work in Psychology, and for his friendship with Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud. His prolific writing and research on Eastern Psychology continue to influence not only psychology, but also art and philosophy. Some of his work provides inspiration for the so called "New Age" movement with its emphasis on esoteric and eastern philosophies. Jung's theory of personality introduced such words as extravert and introvert that have become a part of most peoples lexicon. His personality types also form the basis for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. He was also the founder of a school of psychology called Analytical Psychology that he started in 1916.


Jung was born in Kesswil, Switzerland to theologian Johannes Paul Achilles Jung (1842-1896). According to family legend, Carl's grandfather was an illegitimate child of German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Early Influences

Jung's father, grandfather and eight of his uncles were clergymen, so Jung was surrounded by religion from a very young age. His mother has also been described as having "pagan" beliefs and claimed she could "communicate with the dead." These antithetical tendencies led Jung to believe he had two personalities. His "rational", scientific personality and his unconscious "spiritual" personality. These conflicting influences would later drive his decision to enter medical school. After his mother had to be hospitalized when he was four, Jung felt that women could not be fully trusted. The seeds for his ideas of the Collective Unconscious came as a result of a dream he had when he was 4.
In the dream, he found a stone-lined hole in a meadow. He walked down a stairway in the hole to reach a dim-lit long rectangular chamber. There was a magnificent throne in the chamber, and on the throne was a large cylindrical object made of skin and flesh. It had a rounded head with a single eye on the top. Then he woke up in terror when he heard his mother say ‘that’s the man-eater’.
He later recognized the object on the throne to be a phallus and the reference to man-eater was refering to the Christian act of communion and to cannibalism. Given his age at the time, Jung did not believe he would have known of such things.


Jung attended the village school until he went to the Basel Gymnasium when he was 10. When he was twelve a thought was beginning to intrude from his unconscious, yet he knew the thought was blasphemous so he pushed it down until finally he mustered the courage to think the thought.
I saw before me the cathedral, the blue sky. God sits on His golden throne, high above the world--and from under the throne an enormous turd falls upon the sparkling new roof, shatters it, and breaks the walls of the cathedral asunder (MDR, 39).
At that, Jung felt blissful as if he had been blessed by the grace of God! "In His trial of human courage God refuses to abide by traditions, no matter how sacred" Jung thought. Jung kept the thought a secret, however, which induced an "almost unbearable lonliness" in him.

When it came time to enter the University, Jung was torn between going into science vs. a more creative discipline. His uncles wanted him to study theology, but he eventually settled on medicine because he felt it would be a synthesis of science and creativity, of his two personalities. He became dissatisfied with pure medicine because it included nothing of the human mind. This dissatisfaction led him into Psychiatry. In 1902 he submitted his dissertation On the Psychology and Pathology of so–called Occult Phenomena.


Jung met Emma Rauschenbach in 1896, and they got married on Valentine's Day, 1903. They had four daughters and one son. Jung had several mistresses during his lifetime, and he lived with Ruth Bailey after his wife died in 1955.

Friendship with Freud

Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung began correspondence in 1906 and met in Vienna in 1907. Freud wanted Jung to join his Psychoanalytic movement. Several years later, Jung became the first president of the International Psychoanalytic Association. Freud inadvertently insulted Jung when he asked him to defend psychoanalysis from "the black tidal mud of occultism." Jung took offense because he was himself interested in the occult. At the moment Freud made that statement, a loud noise emanated from a nearby bookshelf. Jung took that as more than a coincidence. That experience, and similar experiences, led him to formulate his theory of synchronicity.

The split between Jung and Freud grew larger as Jung rejected Freuds notion of 'infantile sexuality' and disapproved of Freud's style of therapy. Freud was perturbed by Jung's fascination with astrology and parapsychology. Jung resigned from the International Psychoanalytic Association in 1914.

Confrontation with the Unconscious

From 1913 until 1919 Jung suffered from psychosis. He did not view himself as sick during this period, rather he felt that he must experience psychosis in order to gain a proper understanding of it. During this time he also wanted to get in better touch with his unconscious through dreams, fantasies and visions. He also painted his first mandalas during this time.

In 1944 Jung had a heart attack and a Near Death Experience. He reported meeting a Hindu in a cave in space, that was not subject to the constraints of 3 dimensional earth. His experience ended when he was visited by a vision of his doctor who told him we was going to live. Jung knew that this meant the doctor would die. Jung fully recovered on April 4, 1944 (4-4-44) and on that same day his doctor died.

Jung and the Nazis

In 1933, Jung became president of the German organization the General Medical Society for Psychotherapy. His goal was to prevent nazification of the society and to protect its Jewish members. He did this by making the society an international organization with national sections. The cousin of Herman Goering became the president of the German national section in 1933. Goering published a pro-nazi article in the Society's newsletter that led many people to call Jung anti-semitic. Jung resigned as president of the society in 1939, after which Goering declared himself President and moved the headquarters to Berlin. Jung's writings were then banned in Germany.

Last Days

Jung built a house in Bollingen that was somewhat like a tower. He gave the house a 'maternal feel' as his mother had recently died. He added another story after the death of his wife and the house remained without electricity or water: Jung felt a more natural setting would allow him to get more in touch with his unconscious and spirituality. The house was next to a lake, he died in the house in 1961 just ten days after finishing Approaching the Unconscious. Jung felt satisfied with the course his life had taken.


The Collected Works of C. G. Jung

Volume 1. Psychiatric Studies
Volume 2. Experimental Researches
Volume 3. The Psychogenesis of Mental Disease
Volume 4. Freud and Psychoanalysis
Volume 5. Symbols of Transformation
Volume 6. Psychological Types
Volume 7. Two Essays on Analytical Psychology
Volume 8. The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche
Volume 9. Part-I The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Part-II Aion
Volume 10. Civilization in Transition
Volume 11. Psychology and Religion: East and West
Volume 12. Psychology and Alchemy
Volume 13. Alchemical Studies
Volume 14. Mysterium Coniunctionis
Volume 15. The Spirit in Man, Art and Literature
Volume 16. The Practice of Psychotherapy
Volume 17. The Development of Personality
Volume 18. The Symbolic Life

Jung's Analytical Psychology

The following are some of the ideas Jung used in psychoanalysis, theories he formulated to understand the world, and some particular interests he had. Especially interesting ideas are bold.

Many of the following ideas are summarized at Jungian Constructs.

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Memories, Dreams, Reflections C. G. Jung