Carl Jung

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Carl Gustav Jung (1875 - 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and contemporary of Sigmund Freud. For a time, Jung was Freud's heir-apparent in the psychoanalytic movement. After the publication of Jung's _Symbols of Transformation_ (1912), Jung and Freud painfully parted ways. Jung seemed to feel confined by Freud's seeming narrow, reductionistic, and rigid view of libido. Freud held that all libido was at base sexual, while Jung's psychological work continued to explore libido as multiple and often synthetic.

Jung is best known for his term "archetype" which connotes a structural view of psychological life. The term archetype can be understood as quite similar to -- and was probably directly influenced by -- Kant's term "a priori." Jung often seemed to view the archetypes as sort of psychological organs, directly analogous to our physical, bodily organs: both being morphological givens for the species; both arising at least partially through evolutionary processes. Current Jungian-influenced thinking has explored nearly diametrically opposing paths from Jung's structural thinking. Some have pursued deeply structural views, along the lines of Complexity Theory in mathematics, and some have tried to work with Jung's ideas in a seeming Post-Structuralist way (most obviously, James Hillman).

Perhaps to Jung the most important archetype would be what he termed the "Self." The Self to Jung could perhaps be described as the ultimate pattern of psychological life; he described it as both the totality of the personality, conscious and unconscious, and the process of becoming of the whole personality. It could be described as both the goal of one's psychological life and that which pulls one toward it teleologically. One important point to note here about Jung's thinking is that he did not hold to be absolute the four-dimensional space-time continuum that we conventionally conceptualize (see synchronicity, below).

We can better understand Jung's views of the Self by looking at two other archetypal or structural views that were highly important to him, those of "the opposites" and his work describing many old, largely despised and forgotten, alchemical texts as valuable psychological treatises rather than descriptions of magical practices.


  • The Psychology of the Unconscious (1916)
  • Modern Man in Search of a Soul (1933)