GUSTAV JUNG [1875-1961]
Swiss psychologist whose impact on twentieth-century new age
thought has been enormous. Jungian principles have been adapted
to nearly all academic disciplines from psychology to mythology
to religion to quantum physics. He was the founder of the
analytical school of psychology, known as Jungian psychology,
and, along with Sigmund Freud, the most influential author
of psychoanalytical theory. Jung coined phrases such as introvert,
extrovert, repression, projection and complexes, which have
become part of our language, and added a spiritual element
to psychology. Prior to that peoples thoughts, feelings and
behaviours were analysed scientifically on the basis of what
could be observed and experienced. Jung suggested that there
were parts of the human personality that could not be explained
logically and that mystic aspects had to be considered if
a person was to deal with their psychological issues.
Jung was born on 26 July 1875, in Kesswil, Switzerland. His
mystical experiences began in childhood and throughout his
life he experienced visionary dreams, precognition, clairvoyance,
psychokeinesis and haunting. His psychic ability may have
been a hereditary gift as his mother and maternal grandmother
both described themselves as ghost seers.
It wasn't until around 1897, while an undergraduate, that
Jung took a serious interest in the paranormal. During his
medical training in Basil, he discovered that his 16-year-old
cousin had become a practising medium. He invited her to perform
experiments for his doctoral thesis and first published work:
'On the Psychology and Pathology of So- Called Occult Phenomena'
. Jung studied the medium for over two years and later
said this investigation changed his mind about the reality
of spirits and spiritualism and made it possible for him to
observe psychic phenomena from a psychological point of view.
In December 1900 Jung took a position at Burgholzli Mental
Hospital in Zurich and found in psychiatry a way of combining
his two main interests, medicine and spirituality. He began
to correspond with Sigmund Freud and soon became a devoted
follower. In 1905 he gave a key lecture at the University
of Basil entitled 'On Spiritualistic Phenomena', in which
he discussed the history of spiritualism and referred to numerous
cases he had investigated in Zurich. Although he insisted
it was important to keep an open mind, in general he was not
impressed and in the majority of cases he diagnosed hysteria.
In 1909 Jung wrote to Freud about his interest in paranormal
phenomena and the two later met to discuss parapsychology
in Vienna. Much to Jung's disappointment, Freud, a confirmed
sceptic [although later he would change his mind about ESP],
dismissed the subject. During the meeting Jung began to experience
a curious sensation in his stomach. Suddenly there was a small
but loud explosion from the bookcase. Jung explained to Freud
that this was a classic example of psychokeinesis. Freud replied
that this was 'sheer bosh'. The two argued and another explosion
For the next few years Freud's dogmatic emphasis on sexuality
as the root cause of crises increasingly clashed with Jung's
interest in spiritual and psychic phenomena. In 1913 Jung
broke openly with Freud and resigned from his professorship
at the University of Zurich. The change of direction prompted
scorn from his peers and a six-year nervous breakdown, during
which Jung experienced numerous paranormal phenomena. He became
obsessed with the world of the dead, publishing 'Seven Sermons
to the Dead' in 1916, under the name of the second century
When he recovered from his breakdown Jung began work on his
important theory of psychological types, first published in
1921. In this he suggests there are two psychological types
- extroverts and introverts - who could be classified by four
basic functions: feeling, sensation, thinking and intuition.
Other important theories include the anima [feminine principle
of the personality] and animus [the masculine principle].
He defined the 'self' as the psyche - the mind, soul or spirit.
The psyche was divided into the ego, which Jung identifies
with the conscious mind, the personal unconscious, which includes
anything that is not presently conscious, and the collective
unconscious, which is a reservoir of our experiences as a
species, a kind of knowledge we are all born with and yet
are not directly conscious of.
Some part of our unconscious the ego will recognise but other
parts, especially taboo beliefs, the ego will repress. That
hidden element of the psyche is the shadow, and the persona
[the aspect of the ego we present to the world for its approval]
and shadow are constantly struggling with each other with
each other to find a balance. If the struggle becomes too
great a crisis occurs and the collective unconscious enters
our awareness. Jung suggested that his was a psychic realm,
common to everyone, in which all elements of experience, which
express themselves in the form of mythological archetypes,
In 1919 Jung gave a lecture to the Society for Psychical Research
called 'The Psychological Foundations of Belief in Spirits'.
In it he outlined his belief that there were three sources
of belief in spirits: apparitions, dreams and 'pathological
disturbances of psychic life'. He suggested that spirits are
created psychologically when someone dies - images and thoughts
remain attached to the loved ones left behind and are activated
by the intensity of grief to form spirits.
An experience that occurred to him in 1920 confirmed this
view to him. He spent several nights in an allegedly haunted
house while on a visit to London give lectures. Over the course
of his stay he heard strange noises and smelt odd smells.
On the final night of his stay he heard rustling, cracking
and banging, and while trying to fall asleep he saw the image
of an old woman with half her face missing on the pillow beside
him. Jung interpreted this experience as being prompted by
the smells in the room, which reminded him of a patient he
once had who was similar to the old lady he has seen in his
vision. He believed that the sounds he heard were sounds in
his ear exaggerated by his hynogocic state
June had a near death experience in 1944, following a heart
attack. As he lay in bed a nurse saw a halo of light around
his head, and later, when he had revived, Jung recounted what
had happened to him during that time. He said that he felt
he was floating high above the earth and he could see all
the way from the Himalayas across the Middle East to the Mediterranean.
He saw a hugh block of stone that had been hollowed out from
a temple. As he drew closer to the temple he felt his earthly
desires fall away from him and he knew that once inside he
would understand the meaning of life. Suddenly his earthly
doctor appears in the form of a mythical healer to the gods
and told him he must return to earth. Jung did so but with
great resentment. He also knew that the doctor would die as
he had manifested in what Jung interpreted as his primal form.
The doctor did die soon after.
In the last years of his life Jung developed his ideas further
on a number of topics, including mythology, symbolism, the
I Ching; alchemy, mandalas [which he believed pictorially
represented the wholeness of self], reincarnation and the
phenomenology of the self, the later culminating in the significant
work 'Aion' in 1951. Perhaps his most important work of this
period was 'Synchronicity' , where he applied the theory
of meaningful coincidences to psi phenomena and other phenomena
including alchemy, the I Ching and astrology.
Although Jung proposed a psychological explanation for spirits
of the dead he did believe in paranormal concepts like precognition
and psychokeinesis, and the language of dreams, visions and
fantasies. He believed that God existed in everyone and that
the way to salvation was to become more self-aware. He believed
in reincarnation but thought that his own incarnation was
not due to karma but to a 'passionate drive for understanding
in order to piece together mystic conceptions from the slender
hints of the unknowable' [Nandor Fodor,'Freud, Jung and the
The last of Jung's visionary experiences occurred a few days
before his death and was to be importent. In his dream he
saw a tree laced with gold - the alchemical symbol of wholeness.
Curiously when he died on 6 June 1961, a storm arose on Lake
Geneva and lightening struck his favourite tree.
Jung left behind him an impressive legacy of written work
and founded the analytical approach to psychology - also known
as Jungian Analytical psychology - which is still influential
today. Analytical psychology interprets mental and emotional
problems as an attempt to discover spiritual and personal
believed that everyone has a story to tell and that some of
this story is hidden in the unconscious. In telling this story
the archetypes of the collective unconscious reveal wisdom
and knowledge to help a person health their psyche and come
to terms with their shadow to find healthy psychological balance.
Other important aspects of Jungian psychology are the interpretation
of dreams and visions, and exploring a persons creative and