Jung Publishes

Publication of Carl Jung’s first major work marked his break with Sigmund Freud and introduced new notions of the basis of the imagination and creative activity.

Summary of Event

Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were about to part company when Jung’s Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (1912; The Psychology of the Unconscious, 1915) was published in two parts in Freud’s newly established journal, the Jahrbuch, in 1911 and 1912. The break was perhaps inevitable, given the natures of the two men. Freud looked to Jung to be his successor, the man who would carry his own brilliant insights into sexuality and the unconscious into the wider world; he had even nicknamed Jung his “crown prince.” Jung regarded Freud as his teacher and quoted Friedrich Nietzsche to him: “One repays a teacher badly if one remains only a pupil.” Psychology of the Unconscious, The (Jung)
Analytical psychology
[kw]Jung Publishes The Psychology of the Unconscious (1912)
[kw]Publishes The Psychology of the Unconscious, Jung (1912)
[kw]Psychology of the Unconscious, Jung Publishes The (1912)
[kw]Unconscious, Jung Publishes The Psychology of the (1912)
Psychology of the Unconscious, The (Jung)
Analytical psychology
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Jung, Carl
Freud, Sigmund
Yeats, William Butler

Freud’s doctrine centered on his use of the term “libido,” the Latin word for “wish” or “desire.” Libido;Freud In Freud’s technical vocabulary, libido is always sexual. At the start of his Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie (1905; Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, 1910), Freud wrote:

The fact of the existence of sexual needs in human beings and animals is expressed in biology by the assumption of a “sexual instinct,” on the analogy of the instinct of nutrition, that is of hunger. Everyday language possesses no counterpart to the word “hunger,” but science makes use of the word “libido” for that purpose.

The concept of libido was central to Freud’s understanding of unconscious processes. “My dear Jung,” he admonished his pupil, “promise me never to abandon the sexual theory. That is the most essential thing of all. You see, we must make a dogma of it, an unshakable bulwark.”

It was precisely on this point that Jung was to differ strongly from his teacher. Addressing the members of the New York Psychoanalytic Society in September, 1912, Jung declared: “I do not think I am going astray if I see the real value of the concept of libido not in its sexual definition but in its energetic view.” He added that, in his view, “libido” was simply “a name for the energy which manifests itself in the life-process.” Libido;Jung In the second part of The Psychology of the Unconscious, Jung began to explore that difference in print.

Freud was torn; it is difficult to support intellectual freedom while maintaining a dogma. In the end, Freud held to his position and Jung continued to explore his own. In January, 1913, Freud and Jung agreed to part company, and Jung began to refer to his own method of analysis as “analytical psychology,” in contrast to Freud’s “psychoanalysis.”

In 1915, Jung’s book appeared in English in a translation by Beatrice Moses Hinkle under the somewhat misleading title The Psychology of the Unconscious (the book’s German title literally translates as “transformations and symbolisms of the libido”). The book had a mixed reception, one reviewer describing it as “five-hundred-odd pages of incoherence and obscenity.” Virtually unaltered German editions followed in 1925 and 1938; in 1952, Jung issued a comprehensive revision titled Symbole der Wandlung, which was translated by R. F. C. Hull as Symbols of Transformation: An Analysis of the Prelude to a Case of Schizophrenia
Symbols of Transformation (Jung) and issued as volume 5 of Jung’s Collected Works in 1956.

Carl Jung.

(Library of Congress)

Jung’s thought had come a long way between the original 1912 edition and the revision of 1952, and the shift in his thought is perhaps best reflected in one of the subtitles given to the book. The 1912 edition was subtitled A Contribution to the History of Evolution of Thought; in Jung’s personally annotated copy used in preparing the 1952 revision, this subtitle was corrected to read A Contribution to the History of Evolution of Spirit. It was psyche, soul, spirituality that Jung had been bringing back into the discourse of science over the intervening years—and that his work allowed to reemerge as a strand in the great conversation between men and women of genius that informs and forms the thoughts of entire cultures down the centuries. If Freud had opened the doors to the unconscious in 1900 with the publication of Die Traumdeutung (The Interpretation of Dreams, 1913), Jung ushered the gods back into human experience and discourse.

Most notably, Jung identified a series of psychic motifs, which he called “archetypes,” Jungian archetypes that organize the stuff of the unconscious and find expression in “archetypal images” in dreams and elsewhere. It was Jung’s great insight that there are many archetypal motifs, that they belong to humanity as a whole rather than to the individual, and that there must therefore exist a “collective unconscious” containing these motifs common to all humankind.

Jung came by these insights through his early studies in mythology—the first fruits of which were published in The Psychology of the Unconscious—and his later immersion in the study of alchemy. It was, however, the correspondence between the images he found in his wide reading and those found in his own and his patients’ dreams that was significant for him. For example, Freud’s formulation of the Oedipus complex Oedipus complex would seem, from a Jungian viewpoint, an expression (in psychoanalytic terms) of one such archetype, which had earlier expressed itself in the Greek myth of Oedipus killing his father and sleeping with his mother and in the tragedies of Sophocles—but also in Freud’s own dreams.

Further, the Buddhist scripture known as Bar-do Thödol (the Tibetan Book of the Dead) contains a passage describing a soul, approaching the moment of conception, seeing visions of males and females in union. The passage says that if the soul is about to be born as a male, “the feeling of itself being a male dawneth upon the Knower, and a feeling of intense hatred toward the father and of jealousy and attraction toward the mother is begotten.” From the Freudian perspective, this passage would support the idea of the universality of the Oedipus complex. To Jung, who wrote an introduction to a 1938 edition of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, it must have seemed a strangely ironic confirmation of the existence of the collective unconscious. Even old father Freud could not escape the Jungian archetypes.


“Before the mind’s eye whether in sleep or waking, came images that one was to discover presently in some book one had never read, and after looking in vain for explanation to the current theory of forgotten personal memory, I came to believe in a Great Memory passing on from generation to generation.” The writer of these lines was not Carl Jung but the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, Jung’s contemporary. They appear in an essay titled “Anima Mundi,” published in 1918—and yet, word for word, they could have been penned by Jung himself, and indeed contain the essence of everything that Jung said about psychology. Yeats’s “images” seen “in sleep or waking” are Jung’s “archetypal images”; Yeats’s “Great Memory” is Jung’s “collective unconscious” Collective unconscious under another name. The parallels go even further. Yeats continues:

If no mind was there, why should I suddenly come upon salt and antimony, upon the liquefaction of the gold, as they were understood by the alchemists, or upon some detail of cabalistic symbolism verified at last by a learned scholar from his never-published manuscripts, and who can have put together so ingeniously, working by some law of association and yet with clear intention and personal application, certain mythological images?

Yeats’s sense of the purposiveness of certain seemingly random events of daily life—happening to pick up a book one has never read only to find references to images one has seen in sleep or reverie only a few days before—corresponds exactly to Jung’s notion of synchronicity. Synchronicity Moreover, the particulars that Yeats cites, alchemical and cabalistic symbolism, are also the particulars of Jung’s own archetypal explorations, and Yeats’s “law of association” cannot be far removed from Jung’s own studies in word association.

It is true that alchemy and cabala were territories explored by others at the time, notably the mystical philosopher Arthur Edward Waite, and it could be argued that Yeats and Jung shared many common authors in their readings and many premises in their respective philosophies. The detailed analogies between their thoughts, in other words, could be the result of external factors. From a Jungian perspective, however, they point to something deeper: the truth and reality of the imaginal world Yeats calls the “Great Memory” and Jung the “collective unconscious.” Either way, the two men now stand among the premier exponents in modern times of that philosophy (Aldous Huxley termed it “the Perennial Philosophy”), the lineage of which can be traced in the West through Plato and the alchemists and can be found alike among the shamanistic traditions of tribal peoples and in the great religions of the East.

Jung took pains to make it clear that he did not espouse a particular religious belief—and because of this, he was commonly regarded as an atheist. When his patients appeared to be imprisoned by their opinions, he helped them free themselves from those shackles, steering some patients away from the churches toward an agnostic position and others away from a rigid atheism and toward religion. What Jung did espouse was the possibility of numinous experience, an experience of the power of the archetypes as mysteries in the full religious sense of the word. While this strand in his thinking carried him ever further from Freud, it brought him closer to those poets, artists, mythographers, and theologians who were themselves in search of a new language for spirituality, one that would avoid the pitfalls of local usage and the dead hand of dogma.

Over the years, Jung gained a coterie of ardent admirers. One of them, Mary Mellon, the wife of American financier Paul Mellon, formed the Bollingen Foundation to print Jung’s collected works and any other works deemed likely to interest students of archetypal thinking. Jung’s early friendships with the sinologist Richard Wilhelm, for whose translation of the I Ching (Book of Changes) he wrote an introduction, and the India scholar Heinrich Zimmer, from whom he learned about mandalas, were followed by many more friendships with scholars of non-Western thought, many of whom joined him for the yearly Eranos Conferences held in his honor.

Within Christianity, the Protestant cleric Hans Schaer rightly termed Jung’s therapy a “cure of souls,” and the Dominican Victor White’s book God and the Unconscious (1952) explored Jung’s contribution to theological thinking in positive terms. Scholars in other fields began to apply his insights to their own disciplines. Maud Bodkin’s Archetypal Patterns in Poetry (1934) and Erich Neumann’s essay on Henry Moore were among the notable applications of Jung’s analytical psychology to artistic fields, and many artists themselves, from Hermann Hesse (briefly) to Jackson Pollock and Sam Francis, found in Jung’s writings a key to their own experiences of the creative process.

Jung’s work had impacts beyond academic and intellectual circles. The 1960’s witnessed a widening interest in Jung’s work, as thousands of hippies “tuned in” to synchronistic coincidences. Jung’s thought became a part of the general atmosphere, and many of his coinages, such as “introvert,” became a part of everyday speech. Meanwhile, Jung’s younger colleague Joseph Campbell was making world mythology accessible to a wide readership in a series of encyclopedic works, from the four volumes of The Masks of God (1959-1968) to the two volumes of The Historical Atlas of World Mythology (1983-1988). The mythic and imaginal world was once again open territory. Psychology of the Unconscious, The (Jung)
Analytical psychology

Further Reading

  • Bair, Deirdre. Jung: A Biography. Boston: Little, Brown, 2003. Comprehensive, in-depth biography explores every aspect of Jung’s life. Includes photographs and index.
  • Donn, Linda. Freud and Jung: Years of Friendship, Years of Loss. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1988. Warmly human account of the relationship between Freud and Jung documents Jung’s early admiration for Freud, Freud’s enthusiastic acceptance of Jung as his “crown prince,” their abrupt parting of the ways, and the feelings they retained for each other to the end of their lives. Includes index.
  • Jaffé, Aniela. The Myth of Meaning in the Work of C. G. Jung. Translated by R. F. C. Hull. 1971. Reprint. Zurich: Daimon, 1986. One of the simplest and best of the popular introductions to Jung’s thought and work, written by a close associate of Jung. Geared to the general reader’s wish to make sense out of life rather than to the specialized needs of those who seek Jungian analysis. Includes bibliography.
  • Jung, Carl Gustav. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. 1961. Reprint. New York: Vintage Books, 1989. Autobiography provides fascinating access to Jung’s inner life. Includes list of Jung’s works, glossary, and index.
  • _______. Psychology of the Unconscious. 1916. Reprint. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991. Reprint of the first English translation of the first work in which Jung broke from Freudian orthodoxy features a historical introduction. Compare with Jung’s much-revised 1952 version of the work, translated by R. F. C. Hull as Symbols of Transformation (1956). Difficult but fascinating reading. Includes index.
  • Olney, James. The Rhizome and the Flower. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980. Masterful treatment of the extraordinary similarities between the works and worldviews of Jung and Yeats. Tends to corroborate the belief of both men in the existence of a “world imagination.”
  • Shamdasani, Sonu. Jung and the Making of Modern Psychology: The Dream of a Science. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Focuses on Jung’s contributions to psychology and places his work in the context of his times and of modern psychology. Includes references and index.
  • Wehr, Gerhard. Jung: A Biography. Translated by David M. Weeks. 1987. Reprint. Boston: Shambhala, 2001. Definitive modern biography complements with detailed historical research Jung’s own autobiographical work (cited above). Includes bibliography, chronology, and index of names.

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