Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961) was one of the scientists that recognized the existence of the unconscious and for this reason, was one of the founders in forming the base of Psychoanalysis and Depth Psychology.
After graduating in psychiatry, Jung began his professional practice at the University Psychiatric Hospital Burghölzli in Zurich, one of the most important at the time and then directed by Eugen Bleuler. His discoveries around unconscious content, thanks to the Word Association Experiment and the study of psychosis, took him to an enthusiastic meeting with Sigmund Freud. En 1907, they began a close relationship of intense collaboration.
Jung was the first president of the International Psychoanalytic Association in 1910. In 1913, the conceptual theoretical differences between the two psychoanalysts led them to part ways. Some of their key discrepancies included the libido concept – that for Jung defined psychic energy – and the supposed universal substrate of possibilities of hereditary representation, common to all human beings beyond the personal unconscious (a concept that later Jung would develop and would refer to as the collective unconscious).
In 1914, C.G. Jung resigned as President of the International Psychoanalytic Association, and from then on shaped the main body of his theory; giving birth to Analytical Psychology.
After the break from Freud, C.G. Jung had a personal crisis that made him question his own significance. In his search for meaning, and on returning to his inner self, he witnessed the appearance of a prolific quantity of images and symbols that he collected, painted and noted in detail in the Red Book. This experience determined his later search for the foundations on which his concept of the human soul and of psychic phenomena would rest.
From 1916, he began to formulate his concepts on the structure of the unconscious and shared his knowledge at conferences and seminars that would mostly take place in the recently founded Psychology Club Zurich, that from 1925 onwards would also accept English-language seminars.
His tireless investigative work – that accompanied the dedication that his private practice in Küsnacht required – led him to an in-depth study of Gnostic and alchemical texts, mythology and compared religions. Additionally, he was a keen traveller, carrying out field studies on the customs and beliefs of the so-called primitive villages: in Tunisia and Algeria (1920), in Arizona and New Mexico with the North American Pueblo Indians (1924-1925), in Kenya and Uganda (1925-1926) and in India (1938).
The result of his first studies appeared periodically in his publications: The relations between the ego and the unconscious (1916), On the psychology of the unconscious (1917), Psychological types (1921), On psychic energy (1928).
In 1933, he was named President of the General Medical Society for Psychotherapy and began his teaching on Modern Psychology in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). In the same year he also gave the first of a succession of conferences in the Eranos Circle, Ascona. One year later, he founded and became President of the International General Medical Society for Psychotherapy, and was responsible for The Journal of Psychotherapy until 1939. Jung received great recognition for his work as a pioneer in the discovery of the unconscious, and was invited to give classes and conferences across the world in places such as The London Institute of Medical Psychology (Tavistock Clinic Conferences, 1935), Yale University, the University of New Haven, and the University of Connecticut (1937).
He was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Harvard, Cambridge and Massachusetts (1936), from the University of Calcutta, Banaras Hindu University and the University of Allahabad (1938). He also received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Oxford University following his participation in the International Medical Congress for Psychotherapy (1938) and an honorary doctorate from the University of Geneva in 1945 on the occasion of his seventieth birthday.
In 1944 he was appointed Professor of Medical Psychology at the University of Basel. The C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich, was opened in 1948 as a centre of teaching and training for future Analytical Psychologists. At the inauguration, Jung gave his talk on “Symbolism of the Spirit”.
n 1957, Jung began his autobiographyMemories, Dreams, Reflections with the help of his secretary Aniela Jaffé. In the book he writes:
“My life is the history of a self-realisation of the unconscious. Everything in the unconscious seeks outward manifestation, and the personality too desires to evolve out of its unconscious conditions and to experience itself as a whole. I can not employ the language of science to trace the process of growth in myself, for I cannot experience myself as a scientific problem… Thus it is that I have now undertaken, in my eighty-third year, to tell my personal myth. I can only make direct statements, only “tell stories”. Whether or not the stories are “true” is not the problem. The only question is whether what I tell is my fable, my truth.
Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away – an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.”
Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Gustav Jung
Carl G. Jung died on the sixth of June, 1961 in his house in Küsnacht.
His relentless investigation was organized to form Jung’s twenty-volume collection of complete works. The first edition was published in English in 1953 (Bollingen Series, New York). The first volume of his complete works was published in German in 1960 (Vol 16: The practice of psychotherapy) in celebration of his eighty fifth birthday, when he was also named an honorary citizen of the Küsnacht district of Zurich. In Spanish, Trotta Editorial is finalising the publication of his complete works.