Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist whose ideas permeate today’s culture. He wasn’t just a clinician, he was an explorer of Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, and sociology. Many saw him as a mystic as well because of his interest in religious and spiritual thinking. And he was the first in his field to propose the concepts of the extroverted and introverted personality.
Jung studied under Sigmund Freud, but came to see Freud’s model of the personal unconscious (a repository of repressed emotions and desires) as limited, and so he went on to develop his theory of the collective unconscious, where archetypes reside and symbols resonate with universal meanings that help unlock the mysteries of personality.
He is one of the most revered contributors to dream analysis and the interpretation of symbols. Among his many clinical theories of psychoanalysis, he considered individuation an important process of transformation that helps a person to become his or her “true self.” It is achieved when all the elements of a personality—including dreams and free associations—are assimilated and accepted as part of the whole. He thought of this individuation process as alchemical, transforming the impure and imperfect soul into a pure and perfect one, not by extracting but by incorporating each element.
Ever curious, playful, and keen on pushing his studies into realms of philosophy, Jung left no stone of the soul unturned and expected the same of his patients and followers. Contributors to culture such as Hermann Hesse, Jackson Pollock, Federico Fellini, and Robert Bly have been inspired by Jung, along with countless practicing psychologists today.
Drawing from mythology, folklore, religion, and art, his theories of why we are who we are continue to influence us as a culture of seekers intent on finding our inner children, warriors, goddesses, and our lifetime soul mates.
Interesting in learning more about the studies of Jung? Click here to find a list of Jungian institutes, centers and societies near you.