What Does it Mean to be Jungian?

Carl Jung portraitDr. Jung himself commented that he never intended anyone to be Jungian. At the core of analytical psychology is a call to each of us to align the ego and the Self, to individuate and reclaim our whole being. This reclaiming requires both the ego and the unconscious so we need to pay attention to the demands of both as we go through the process of living and reconnecting.

Only after coming into our wholeness can we most fully contribute to our communities. Dr. Jung speaks in his writings to change happening through individual transformation. When we listen to our dreams and act on the guiding lights delivered to us through symbolic language we are not only acting for ourselves but for our communities. Dr. Jung embraced the collective unconscious—the idea that we are all essentially tied together through the continuous thread of our history. Our ancestral ties are part of who we are and who we are becoming as a people.

Jung himself had many callings and passions—travel, mythology, alchemy, literature, astrology, literature, metaphor, storytelling, dreams, the arts and science, and many more. All of these areas of interest are interconnections and patterns that led to his writings and teachings especially as he reached his elder years. Inter-disciplinary studies—exploration through travel, writing, the arts nature, sciences such as biology, neuroscience, chemistry, anthropology, and many forms of artistic, scientific, and psychological exploration held or would have held Jung’s interest were he alive today.

What I love about analytical psychology and the field of depth psychology is its multi-layered, inter-disciplinary approach which addresses shadow, masculine/feminine, cultural and world psyche, and of course our day-to-day personal lives. Both men and women participate in this dialogue with a widening attention to children, nature, and global concerns.

Dreams and dreaming are for me a daily, playful experience. In our western culture, dreams are often undervalued as is play, creativity, and our imagination. I cannot imagine a world without these human gifts. Our individual health and mental health depend on these readily available gifts (free I might add).

Jungian themes have been utilized in our day-to-day language for some time. Words like introvert and extrovert are part of our societal banter. Organizations often use the Myers-Briggs test as a way of assessing how well or where an employee or applicant for a position within the organization might fit within the company’s profile. Jungian themes and concepts are also used thematically in films, plays, and novels. Redemption, the feminine, the hero’s journey, the fool are some examples of archetypal themes that I have seen recently depicted in films. A number of our well-known Jungian analysts are utilized as consultants as films are developed because of the ongoing interest in Jungian concepts within the film community.

Recently, I have seen disparaging words used when addressing Jungian psychology and dreams, “oh, that’s old hat,” “oh, that nonsense.” On the other side of the coin there are more people than ever interested in studying in various analytical or depth psychology programs worldwide.

What is your view of Jungian psychology?

If you’d like to explore further, I encourage you to seek out resources at a local Jungian society, institute, or bookstore. Online there are many rich resources available.

© Copyright 2011 by Mary Alice Long, PhD. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Thomas

    June 22nd, 2011 at 4:25 AM

    What an indellible infuence Jung had on everyone in the mental health community and beyond. He may not have meant to cause such a path of thinking but incredibly he did and many today are just now discovering his teachings and marking the influences that he has had on their own lives.

  • Luke.Wright

    June 22nd, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    There are some very simple and basic easy-to-do things that can ensure your mental health stays in the best of order and I’m sure Jungian teachings show the same.But we are just so caught up with this complicated society and world Tht even simple things end up putting us under so much stress!

  • Mary Alice Long, PhD

    July 11th, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    Thank you for your comments. Jung wrote that individuation is not only a developmental process that influences individuals who are consciously pursuing a path of mind-heart-body-soul but rather, individuation influences our communitie’s growth or stagnation. One person can make a difference for the good of all.

  • Vivian Black

    November 5th, 2021 at 6:23 AM

    My cousin is a psychologist who is interested in practicing Jungian therapy. He has had many requests from his clients. I like your description which touches on our need to pay attention to both the ego and the unconscious as we go through every day. This is coming into wholeness. h

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