ABOUT Carl G Jung

Carl Gustav Jung


Carl Gustav Jung (1875 - 1961)

Carl Gustav Jung was born in Switzerland on 26 July 1875 to father Paul Achilles Jung, a pastor, and mother Emilie Preiswerk. He was their fourth, but only surviving child. Jung later described himself was an introverted and solitary child, saying that he was most happy when he was left alone to his thoughts.

Jung decided to study medicine, but also developed an interest in spiritual phenomena while in school. It was this fascination with medicine and spirituality that led him into the field of psychiatry, which he viewed as a combination of his two interests. In 1902, he completed his doctoral dissertation, titled "On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena" and graduated from University of Basel with a medical degree.

Early in his career, Jung worked with psychiatric patients at the University of Zürich asylum. In 1906, he wrote Studies in Word Association and sent a copy to Sigmund Freud. The event served as the beginning of a friendship between the two men. When the two finally met in person in 1907, they reportedly spent more than 12 hours talking non-stop.

His time spent working with Sigmund Freud had a major impact on Jung’s later theories and helped him develop a fascination for the unconscious mind. Jung wanted to further understanding of the human mind through dreams, myth, art and philosophy. Initially, Freud viewed Jung as his protégé, but the friendship began to dissolve as Jung started to develop his own ideas that diverged from Freud's views.

Eventually, Jung began to separate from Freudian theory, rejecting Freud's emphasis on sex as the sole source of behaviour motivation. It was during this period of intense self-analysis that Jung became increasingly interested in dreams and symbols, later using what he learned during this time as the basis for his theories of psychology. Jung wanted to further understanding of the human mind through dreams, myth, art and philosophy. Jung believed the human psyche exists in three parts: the ego (the conscious mind), the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. Jung believed the collective unconscious was a reservoir of all the experience and knowledge of the human species.

In 1921 Jung's seminal work "Psychological Types" was published. It was translated into English and published in 1923. It was here that Jung proposed and developed some of his best known psychological concepts including Introversion and Extraversion, Archetype, the Collective Unconscious, Synchronicity, Complex and Individuation.   

In this work, based on over twenty years of clinical observation, Jung proposed his theory of type and type preferences. He observed patterns of behaviour in the way his patients orientated themselves to the world, some preferring the outer world of experiences and people while others preferred their own inner world of thoughts and ideas. He also observed two pairs of cognitive functions dealing with the way individuals preferred to process information and make decisions. Furthermore he understood that these two pair functions behaved in either an extraverted or introverted mode in each individual. Jung was very careful to describe these behaviours as preferences knowing that while one was the dominant, both were available. These findings found their way to America and two women, Katherine Briggs and her daughter, Isobel Myers, who recognised the genius of Jung's theory and were able to develop a model which was accessible and understood by all. The eventual result was the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® or MBTI®, based on Jung's Type Theory and now the most used and widely regarded behavioural profiling tool in the world. 

Jung is the founder of  Analytic Psychology. Though he was a practicing clinician and considered himself to be a scientist, much of his life's work was spent exploring associated areas such as Eastern and Western philosophy, religion, alchemy, astrology,sociology, literature and the arts. 

Carl Jung died at his home in Zürich on June 6, 1961.