Carl Jung, A Huge Figure in Psychology

Carl Jung, A Huge Figure in Psychology

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Carl Jung, one of the largest figures in 20th century psychology, was born on July 26th, 1875, to Paul Achilles Jung and Emilie Jung in Switzerland. According to Barbara Hannah, “Jung belonged organically to Switzerland, just as much as its famous mountains, and was just as much rooted in Swiss soil.” (Hannah, 1997) The Swiss’ famous reluctance to engage in wars fostered a culture where people looked more to their own issues rather than those of foreign lands. According to Jung, “We have a tolerable social order in Switzerland because we fight among ourselves.” (Hannah, 1997)
Jung’s family had a strong religious background: his father was a reverend, and his maternal grandfather was a theologian. A rejection of organized religion, and his struggle to deal with a depressive mother that had a mental breakdown when he was a small child, helped to shape Jung into an introspective individual. (Stevens, 1994) His introspective personality was critical to his exploration of concepts such as the unconscious self. Although he felt like an outcast at home and at school, he found solace in the works of prominent 18th century German philosophers and authors such as Kant and Goethe. (Stevens, 1994) As an adolescent he believed himself to belong to another time, and in this awareness one can see the nascent themes of the collective unconscious.
Carl Jung attended the University of Basel in Switzerland, where he studied psychiatry. He trained at the Burghölzli Psychiatric hospital in Zürich under Eugen Bleuler, who would go on to coin the term schizophrenia. He spent time in his early career advancing the word association test. While the test did not originate from Jung, it is often commonly associated with his name as he theorized that the delusions of schizophrenic patients had clinical relevance. (Stevens, 1994) This idea supported the theories of another significant figure of the time, Sigmund Freud, who became good friends with Carl Jung and even helped to appoint him the first president of the International Psychoanalytic Association and editor of the first journal in the field, Jahrbuch. (Stevens, 1994)
The field of psychology that arose from the writings and theories of Jung are referred to as analytical psychology (or, alternately, Jungian). One of his most important theories centers around the concepts of a “collective unconscious” and archetypes. Jung proposed that there are universal traits that are passed on, irrespective of personal experience.

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He posited that experience was not the origin of personality, but rather a way to develop innate human characteristics. (Frager & Fadiman, 2005) In modern scientific terminology, personal experience for Jung was akin to an epigenetic modification of an underlying heritable collective unconscious, selecting for a given “expressed” archetype.
Beyond mere theory, one of the most significant clinical legacies of Jung is his rejection of the detached, analytical approach to psychotherapy advanced by his colleague Sigmund Freud. Rather, Jung helped to pioneer therapy as an equal exchange between doctor and patient. (Stevens, 1994) This patient-first reimagining of the traditional methods of therapy available at the time, where the patient was merely a subject to be observed, have clearly had a lasting impact in clinical therapy.
Carl Jung died on June 6th, 1961 in Küsnacht, Switzerland. (Stevens, 1994) Jung made many significant and lasting impacts on the fields of psychiatry and psychology. He advanced such concepts as introversion/extraversion, dream analysis, archetypes, and the collective unconscious. (Stevens, 1994) One of the most commonly administered personality tests, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), was directly based on the work of Jung (Frager & Fadiman, 2005). Although a lot of his writings explored traditionally unscientific realms such as mythology, his advancement of the concepts of unconscious behavior and a more interactive psychotherapy still have a lasting impact on medicine and patient care.

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