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The Thoughts of Carl Jung - Essay Example

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The Thoughts of Carl Jung

Carl Gustav Jung was born in 1875 on the Swiss shore of Lake Constance to Paul and Emilie Jung, a village pastor and the youngest daughter of a famous-but-eccentric theologian (Stevens, 2001, p. 2). Jung's father died when he was still in school and, although his first career choice was that of a medical doctor, he was precluded from pursuing this career path due to the fact that he could not afford to do so; he opted instead, to go to work as an assistant at the Bergholzli asylum proximate to Zurich (Daniels, 2003, p. 24). He met and developed a friendship with Sigmund Freud, with whom he corresponded often until a series of philosophical and perceptive differences caused the break (Stevens, 2001, pp. 18-24). He married and had a family and, although seemingly happy with his wife Emma, nevertheless engaged in several well-documented affairs. After World War I, he spent much of his time traveling and writing much of the work we have today. He died in 1961.
There are many aspects of Jung's life and experiences that can be seen in his subsequent work; so much so that they lie far beyond the scope of this paper. There are a few, however, that should be mentioned to provide context for the theories and his contribution to society which follow.
The first is the environment in which Jung developed. In speaking of the period of time between the 1870s and 1930s, one author notes that "the major disciplinary and theoretical forms of modern psychology and psychotherapy were established" (Shamdasani, 2003, p. 10). It was in this culture of change and development that Jung went to school, spent nine years at the Bergholzli asylum, formed and broke his relationship with Freud, had his many dreams and near-psychotic breaks, and generally formed the foundations of his thinking. Many of his theories, three of which are named below, can be traced to this developmental era of re-thinking the philosophy and science of psychology.
Another event in Jung's life that bears mention is his relationship with his mother. Specifically when, as a young boy who slept with his father (his parents kept separate bedrooms), she had a breakdown "for which she had to spend several months in the hospital, and this enforced separation at a critical stage in his development seems to have affected Jung for the rest of his life" (Stevens, 2001, p. 3). This maternal separation seemed to have had a great influence on his concept of "anima (the female complex in his unconscious)", and is cited as a possible reason for his numerous affairs as well as his apparent habit of surrounding himself with women (Stevens, 2001, pp. 26-27).
A third influential event would have to be his six year correspondence and friendship with Sigmund Freud. As Jung developed from student to an independent thinker, he was often suppressed by Freud, particularly when his ideas expanded ...Show more


Of all the notable figures in modern psychology, Carl Jung occupies a place of both significant contribution and substantial controversy. Noting many of the applicable labels advanced by critics and admirers alike, Sonu Shamdasani writes that ".the number of divergent views and interpretations of Jung has prodigiously multiplied…
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