Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology. His influence on psychology, culture, and philosophy has been profound, and his theories continue to be studied and applied in various fields even beyond psychology, such as in anthropology, religion, literature, and the arts.
Jung was born on July 26, 1875, in Kesswil, Switzerland. He was the fourth but only surviving child of Paul Achilles Jung and Emilie Preiswerk Jung. His father was a poor rural pastor in the Swiss Reformed Church while his mother came from a wealthy Swiss family.
Jung’s interest in the human mind was ignited at an early age. His experiences with his mother, who suffered from mental health issues, and his own encounters with what he called “visions” and “dreams” significantly shaped his future contributions to psychology.
Jung graduated from the University of Basel in 1900 and later worked at the Burghölzli psychiatric hospital in Zurich. During this time, he conducted research on schizophrenia and developed word association tests. These tests laid the groundwork for his later theories about the structure and functioning of the mind.
Jung is perhaps best known for his development of the concepts of the collective unconscious and archetypes. The collective unconscious refers to structures of the unconscious mind which are shared among beings of the same species. Archetypes are universally inherited patterns of behavior or images that manifest in various forms across different cultures and times.
Jung’s work also led to the development of key psychological concepts like individuation (the process of a person becoming their true self), synchronicity (the meaningful coincidence of events), and psychological types (the classification of people according to their preferences in cognition and behavior), which formed the basis for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
Jung’s relationship with Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, was significant in shaping his career. Initially, they collaborated closely, with Freud seeing Jung as the heir apparent to his new science of psychoanalysis. However, their relationship was strained over disagreements regarding the role of sexuality in psychological development and the nature of the unconscious. Their relationship formally ended in 1913.
Jung suffered a mental crisis after the break with Freud, which led him to explore his mind and the concept of the collective unconscious. His experiences during this period were detailed in his posthumously published book “The Red Book”.
After World War I, Jung traveled widely, visiting, for example, tribal people in Africa, America, and India. He took a broad, interdisciplinary approach to psychology, incorporating elements of mythology, religion, and anthropology.
Jung died on June 6, 1961, in Küsnacht, Switzerland. Despite some controversies, his impact on psychology and the broader culture has been significant and long-lasting. His theories continue to inspire research and have found applications in various fields, including dream analysis, art therapy, and personality assessment. His writings are considered fundamental texts in the field of depth psychology and have influenced numerous other thinkers and artists.