Memories, Dreams, Reflections Themes

Carl Jung

Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

A recurring theme in the work is God. From the initial chapters that recount Jung’s childhood as a pastor’s son, to the final chapters on life after death, Jung is preoccupied with God and God-images. Jung’s view was that God is wholly intrapsychic, a projection of one’s inner experience. Further, God is not entirely good or kind. Jung accepted diverse and idiosyncratic manifestations of the divine, even when these manifestations fell outside of Christian orthodoxy. Jung embraced all of creation as a potential source of illumination. Jung called on humanity to be open to God in unexpected ways. These views placed Jung outside the umbrella of traditional religion, although he called himself a Christian.

Another recurring theme is the self or psyche. The self—the inner realm of reality that balances the outer reality of material objects—comprises balancing and compensatory opposites. Part of the psyche is accessible and includes senses, intellect, emotions, and desires. Another part is inaccessible and includes elements that are forgotten or denied. Jung observed that the self spontaneously produces images with a religious content. He concluded, therefore, that the psyche is by nature religious. In addition, he believed that numerous neuroses spring from a disregard for the fundamental religiousness of the psyche, especially during the second half of life.

Another theme is myth and symbols. Jung observed that the basic motifs in myths, fantasies, dreams, and symbols are the same across vastly different cultures. Therefore, he concluded that they are universal manifestations of humanity’s collective unconscious, the vast, hidden psychic resource shared by all humans. For example, some images form bridges between opposites, synthesizing two opposing attitudes or conditions in the psyche by means of third forces. Jung termed these transcendent functions because the image or symbol goes beyond, as well as mediates, the two opposites and allows a new attitude or relationship between them.