Article abstract: Jung, the founder of analytic psychology, is probably best known for his descriptions of the orientations of the personality, “extroversion” and “introversion.” His theories of universal symbolic representations have had a far-reaching impact on such diverse disciplines as art, literature, filmmaking, religion, anthropology, and history.
Carl Gustav Jung was descended from a long line of physicians and theologians. His father, Johann Paul Achilles Jung, was a pastor of the Swiss Reformed church, as were eight of his uncles. His mother, Emilie Preiswerk, suffered from a nervous disorder which often made her remote and uncommunicative; his father was reportedly irritable and argumentative. Since his parents were of little comfort or support to him as a child, and since his sister, Johanna Gertrud, was born nine years after he was, Jung spent much of his childhood alone. Jung’s adolescence was a time of confusion and probing, especially about religious matters. His religious conflicts, however, were eventually supplanted by other intellectual interests. Before concentrating on the study of medicine at the University of Basel in 1895, he explored biology, archaeology, philosophy, mythology, and mysticism, subjects which laid the foundation for the wide-ranging inquiries he undertook throughout his life.
After receiving his degree in medicine, Jung decided to specialize in psychiatry. Consequently, in 1900 he went to the Burghölzli, the mental hospital and university psychiatry clinic in Zurich, where he studied under the famous psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler. While working at the Burghölzli, Jung published his first papers on clinical topics, as well as several papers on his first experimental project—the use of word-association tests (free association). This was a project which he pioneered and which later gained for him worldwide recognition. Jung concluded that the word-association process could uncover groups of emotionally charged ideas that often generated morbid symptoms. The test evaluated the patient’s delay time between introduction of the stimulus and the response, the appropriateness of the response word, and the patient’s behavior. A significant deviation from normal denoted the presence of unconscious affect-laden ideas. Jung coined the term “complex” to describe this combination of the idea with the strong emotion it aroused.
In 1906, Jung published a study on dementia praecox which was to influence Bleulet when the latter designated the term “schizophrenia” for the illness five years later. In this work, Jung hypothesized that a complex produced a toxin which impaired mental functioning and caused the contents of the complex to be released into consciousness. Thus, the delusional ideas, hallucinatory experiences, and affective changes of the psychosis were to be viewed as more or less distorted manifestations of the originally repressed complex. Jung, in essence, was venturing the first psychosomatic theory of schizophrenia; although he subsequently abandoned the toxin hypothesis in favor of disturbed neurochemical processes, he never relinquished his belief in the primacy of psychogenic factors in the origin of schizophrenia.
By the time that Jung first met Sigmund Freud in Vienna (1907), he was well acquainted with Freud’s writings. As a result of their meeting, the two men formed a close association which lasted until 1912. In the early years of their collaboration, Jung defended Freudian theories and Freud responded to this support with enthusiasm and encouragement.
In 1910, Jung left his position at the Burghölzli to focus on his growing private practice. It was during this time that he began his investigations into myths, legends, and fairy tales. His first writings on this subject, published in 1911, manifested both an area of interest which was to be sustained for the rest of his life and a declaration of independence from Freud in their criticism of the latter’s classification of instincts as either self-preservative or sexual. Although Jung’s objections to conceiving the libido in primarily sexual terms was already apparent at this early stage, the significance of these objections became clear only much later in his studies of the individuation process. It was not only intellectual disagreements, however, that led to the rupture between Freud and Jung. Jung objected to Freud’s dogmatic attitude toward psychoanalysis, his treating its tenets as articles of faith, immune from attack. This attitude diminished Jung’s respect for Freud (although Jung’s writings reveal that he, too, was prone to dogmatic assertions). Thus, while Freud worked to establish causal links extending back to childhood, and in so doing posited a mechanistic...
(The entire section is 1976 words.)