About C. G. Jung

Carl Gustav Jung

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) developed ideas and a method of inquiry called analytical psychology that has had profound impact on diverse fields including psychology, philosophy, anthropology, theology, mythology, and nearly all of the arts. Born on the shore of Lake Constance as the son of Swiss country parson, Jung initially collaborated with Freud in founding modern psychoanalysis, but after several years Jung found his own psychiatric methods.

Terms to describe inner experiences and psychological life such as introvert and extravert, complexes, the shadow, psychological types, archetypes, and the collective unconscious were developed or elaborated by Jung. His understanding of mental life is more encompassing than the personal, ego-identified sense of mind, and he utilized the term psyche (or soul) to describe a sense of humanness shared with others and the world. Jung believed a working relationship between conscious and unconscious processes is vital to health. This is achieved by paying attention to dreams, imagination, the inner meaning of symptoms, as well as patterns of thought and behavior in daily life. A Jungian approach to life aims at engendering greater responsiveness to life with all its challenges, including more successful relationships, creative expression, and a deeper sense of meaning, purpose, and wholeness.

Jung proposed that the collective unconscious comprises the deepest psychological structures of humanity, the product of millions of years of human experience and grounded in our biology. Across history and culture, this foundation of human experience appears in recurrent symbols and themes—mother and child, angels and demons, the journey of the hero, the descent to the underworld, to name a few. We cannot listen to a concert, or watch politicians debate, or hold a newborn child without our very perceptions being organized by archetypal patterns that order experience and shape our ideas and emotions.

Jung considered spirituality a central part of the human journey. His psychology, however, is also compatible with a secular perspective and fosters individual growth and responsibility to community.