Carl Jung is well known as the forefather of analytical psychology. He believed that religious expression was manifested from the psyche’s yearning for a balanced state of consciousness and unconsciousness simultaneously. Jung spent many years studying and practicing with Sigmund Freud, but this specific theory led them to part ways. Jung surmised that the collective unconscious was one shared by all people. The foundation for this theory was based on specific archetypes and patterns that dictate how people process psychic images. Throughout history and across all cultures, mythology and dream study have maintained a common thread. Jung believed that each person strives to achieve wholeness by attaining a harmony within consciousness and unconsciousness and that this can be accomplished through dream study.
Jung created the concept of active imagination as a way to describe bridging the gap between unconsciousness and consciousness. Using imagination, fantasy, dreams and meditation, a client is able bring their unconscious into the present through narrative or action. Active imagination relies on a client’s undirected observation of their imagination or dreams, not an intended image of their desires.
Depth psychology is one of the many therapeutic approaches derived from Jungian Psychology. This method relies on discovering the motives behind mental problems as a means to treat them. During depth psychology, a therapist works with a client to reveal the source of their issue, rather than the symptoms associated with it. Once identified, the maladaptive motives can be transformed, resulting in healthier, more positive thoughts and behaviors.
One of the phenomena that exists in depth psychology is that of the “wounded healer.” When a therapist works with a client who has similar emotional wounds, the therapist becomes aware of this dynamic and may inadvertently transfer his wounds back to the client. This process of countertransference can be detrimental to both the therapist and the client because it exposes the therapist to the wounds of his client, thus potentially infecting the therapeutic process.
Founded in archeology and anthropology, archetypal psychology is one of the strategies that is often used to uncover unconscious motives. Jung studied how historical religions, deities and fables influenced an individual’s sense of self. Archetypal psychology theorizes that a person’s dreams and psyche are intertwined with their beliefs and that this union is what forms their behaviors, thoughts and emotions. The archetype is symbolic of an individual’s collective life experiences and determines what choices, both conscious and unconscious, a person makes. Archetypal psychology focuses on the soul of a person and Jung and his predecessors found similarities in the archetypes of legends and the drive that is human motivation. Today, archetypal psychologists still consider archetypes a prominent force in the development of an individual’s psychological construct.
Individuation is a process of analytical psychology, by which an individual develops into who they truly are intended to be. Individuals with emotional difficulties often feel like they live fragmented, disjointed lives filled with varying degrees of emotional experiences. Forward progress is often impaired as a result of inner conflict and self-sabotage stemming from segregation of the different selves within a person. Individuation involves integrating all of a person’s past positive and negative experiences in such a way that the person can live a healthy, productive, and emotionally stable life. Individuation allows a person to become unique and essentially individual from other human beings and the collective unconscious. The process of individuation occurs through various methods, including dream interpretation and active imagination, and gives birth to a mature, holistically healthy and harmonious individual.
Jung was the first to use the term “collective unconscious,” as a means for describing an expression of the unconscious that is exhibited by every living being with a nervous system. Rather than only possessing experiences from our personal history or our psyche, the collective unconscious organizes all of the experiences within a species. Jung believed the collective unconscious was inherited and inherent to each being, rather than a result of specific events. The collective unconscious holds mental images that cannot be explained historically or through experience, but exist only as an evolutionary by-product.
Jung also used the term logos in his philosophical theories. Logos, according to Jung, represented fact or reason. Jung often referred to the contrast between conscious versus unconscious as logos versus mythos. Additionally, Jung believed that logos was the male version for rationality, where the female counterpart, eros, represented psychic availability or emotion.
Nekyia is a key component of Jung’s analysis. Nekyia, or the process of delving into the unconscious, is, according to Jung, a deliberate and decisive action. He believed that Nekyia, a dark journey into a dangerous place, was a necessary process by which to achieve individuation. Those who travelled to the depths of their inner psyche and back were far better for having done so.
Although Jung was not the founder of psychodynamics, he influenced the field dramatically with his contributions. Jung believed that the psyche, or the soul, was driven toward individuation. His psychodynamic psychology revolved around the archetypes within the collective unconscious, as well as the personal unconscious and the ego. Jung also believed in the transcendent function, which was a diffusion of archetypes within the collective unconscious. Jung’s psychodynamic theories included the acknowledgement of a spiritual presence within each person, as well as varying organizing elements within the psyche. Together, these elements and archetypes could at times erupt in disagreement, causing internal conflict.
Jung’s thoeries also influenced many of the assessment tools used in psychotherapy today. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs, was based on the theories Jung explored in his book Psychological Types. This personality tool is one of the most commonly used measures throughout the world today.
Another measure, the Jungian Type Index (JTI), developed in 2001, was designed by Hallvard E. Ringstad and Thor Odegard to provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s preferential method of psychological processing. The JTI is based on the specific psychological functions outlined by Jung and is presented in a more concise and universally understandable way. The JTI has replaced the MBTI in several countries, and is seen as a viable and more affordable option for gauging psychological personality. Another variation of these tests is the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Although it is also loosely based on Jung’s theories, its content and application varies greatly from both the JTI and the MBTI.
In addition to his contributions to psychology, Jung was also a prolific writer. But one of his books, Answer to Job, diverged dramatically from his professional and academic publications. In this response to the Biblical Book of Job, Jung revealed what he believed to be the fourth face of God, an evil face. His controversial book dissected the Book of Job with an ethical and psychological scalpel and is considered by some to be his most prominent work.
Carl Jung is also very well known for the Bollingen Tower. The estate, that closely resembles a castle, is situated on Lake Zurich in Switzerland. The Bollingen Tower is Jung’s interpretation of the psyche. What began as one simple stone structure developed into three additional elaborate towers twelve years later. To commemorate his 75th birthday, Jung dedicated a marker to the tower, inscribing it with words and figures from Greek mythology.
Last updated: 02-18-2014
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