Memories, Dreams, Reflections (German: Erinnerungen, Träume, Gedanken) is a biographical, psychological, and semi-autobiographical book written by famed Swiss psychiatrist, psychologist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung and his colleague and editor Anelia Jaffé. It was originally published in German, in 1962, and it was translated and published in English in 1963. The book focuses on Jung’s life, describing his childhood, his adolescence, his adulthood, and his career, and it is an analysis of itself on Jung’s psyche and emotional state. It is considered the last book written by Jung, as he continued working on it until shortly before his death in 1961.
Jung was complimented on his bold decision to not make Memories, Dreams, Reflections a conventional autobiography, but make it a chronological explanation of his life story instead, choosing to focus on his work ethic and his passion for his profession, provide great insight into his mind, and explain many of his revolutionary theories and ideas about the abstract and the unknown. He takes the readers on an intellectual and emotional journey in which he explains how he became interested in the systematic studies of psychology and psychoanalysis, telling his story from two perspectives: as a man and as a scientist. Jung and Jaffé don’t make the memoir a study on Jungian philosophy; instead, they give the readers an opportunity to dwell deeply into the mind of one of psychology’s most prominent men and explore the most significant moments of his life.
Memories, Dreams, Reflections received many positive reviews, both by professional critiques and readers alike, and earned the academic approval of Jung’s colleagues and fellows psychologists. It was praised for its honest, raw, thought-provoking, captivating, and almost spiritual narrative, and Jung’s and Jaffé’s unique and original writing styles. You can find the full version of Memories, Dreams, Reflections here.
Carl Jung remains to be one of the world’s greatest and most influential scientists in the field of psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis and one of the greatest minds of the last century.
Form and Content
In 1955, the Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung celebrated his eightieth birthday and published what he said would be his last book. The following year, his American publisher asked for an authorized biography or, better yet, an autobiography. After some discussion and much resistance on Jung’s part, it was decided that Aniela Jaffe, his student and secretary of many years, would spend one afternoon a week talking with him, would record his memories, and would edit them in the form of an autobiography, with Jung as the narrator. The weekly conversations began in the spring of 1957 and continued for another two years. By 1958, however, Jung decided that he had not spoken adequately of his earliest years and wrote his own account of his childhood and student years. In 1959, when Jung and Jaffe had completed a first draft of the autobiography, he added a chapter, “Late Thoughts,” and an account of his visit to East Africa. He thus gave to her a variety of material from which to work: his own writing, which makes up 40 percent of the completed book; transcripts of lectures to medical students, which form the basis of another 25 percent; and answers to her questions. He edited her writing, and she edited his. Nevertheless, he thought of Memories, Dreams, Reflections as her project and asked that it be left out of his collected works.
In the introduction, Jaffe explains her difficulty in getting Jung to talk about his life. As a physician, he felt honor bound to keep the confidences of all who had sought his help. As a public figure who had met many famous people, he chose to remember only those whose destinies seemed somehow tied to his. As an old man who had nearly died already and had recently lost his wife, he was preparing for death, detaching himself from the outward details of his life and reflecting on the inward meaning,...
(The entire section is 3,957 words.)