The Life of Carl Jung, Founder of Analytical Psychology

Psychologist who theorized about how personality types shape our behavior

Photo of psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Carl Gustav Jung (July 26, 1875 – June 6, 1961) was an influential psychologist who established the field of analytical psychology. Jung is known for his theorizing about the human unconscious, including the idea that there is a collective unconscious all people share. He also developed a type of psychotherapy—called analytical therapy—that helped people to better understand their unconscious mind. Additionally, Jung is known for his theorizing about how personality types, such as introversion and extroversion, shape our behavior.

Early Life and Education

Jung was born in 1875 in Kesswil, Switzerland. Jung was the son of a pastor, and even from an early age he showed an interest in trying to understand his inner mental life. He studied medicine at the University of Basel, where he graduated in 1900; he then studied psychiatry at the University of Zurich. In 1903, he married Emma Rauschenbach. They were married until Emma died in 1955. 

At the University of Zurich, Jung studied with psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler, who was known for studying schizophrenia. Jung wrote a doctoral dissertation about occult phenomena, focusing on a person who claimed to be a medium. He attended the séances she held as part of his dissertation research. From 1905 until 1913, Jung was a faculty member at the University of Zurich. Jung also co-founded the International Psychoanalytic Society in 1911.

In the early 1900s, Sigmund Freud became a friend and mentor to Jung. Both Jung and Freud shared an interest in trying to understand the unconscious forces affecting people’s behavior. However, Freud and Jung disagreed on several aspects of psychological theory. While Freud believed that the unconscious mind consisted of desires that people have repressed, especially sexual desires, Jung believed that there are other important motivators of human behavior besides sexuality. Additionally, Jung disagreed with Freud’s idea of the Oedipus complex.

Jung went on to develop his own theories, known as Jungian or analytical psychology. In 1912, Jung published an influential book in psychology, Psychology of the Unconscious, which diverged from Freud’s views. By 1913, Freud and Jung had experienced a falling out.

Development of Jungian Psychology

In Jung’s theory, there are three levels to consciousness: the conscious mind, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious. The conscious mind refers to all the events and memories that we are aware of. The personal unconscious refers to events and experiences from our own past that we are not fully conscious of.

The collective unconscious refers to symbols and cultural knowledge that we may not have experienced firsthand, but which still affect us. The collective unconscious consists of archetypes, which Jung defined as “ancient or archaic images that derive from the collective unconscious.” In other words, archetypes are important concepts, symbols, and images in human culture. Jung used masculinity, femininity, and mothers as examples of archetypes. Although we are typically unaware of the collective unconscious, Jung believed that we could become aware of it, especially through trying to remember our dreams, which often incorporate elements of the collective unconscious.

Jung saw these archetypes as human universals that we are all born with. However, the idea that we can inherit archetypes has been criticized, with some critics pointing out that it might not be possible to test scientifically whether these archetypes are indeed truly innate.

Research on Personality

In 1921, Jung’s book Psychological Types was published. This book introduced several different personality types, including introverts and extroverts. Extroverts tend to be outgoing, have large social networks, enjoy attention from others, and enjoy being part of large groups. Introverts also have close friends they care deeply about, but they tend to need more alone time, and may be slower to show their true selves around new people.

In addition to introversion and extroversion, Jung also introduced several other personality types, including sensing and intuition as well as thinking and feeling. Each personality type corresponds to the different ways people approach the world around them. Importantly, however, Jung also believed that people are capable of acting in ways consistent with a personality type other that their own dominant type. For example, Jung believed that an introvert could attend a social event they might normally skip. Importantly, Jung saw this as a way for people to grow and to achieve individuation.

What Is Jungian Therapy?

In Jungian therapy, also called analytical therapy, therapists work with clients to try to understand the unconscious mind and how it might be affecting them. Jungian therapy attempts to address the root cause of a client’s problems, instead of just addressing the symptoms or behaviors that are bothering the client. Jungian therapists may ask their clients to keep a journal of their dreams, or to complete word association tests, in order to better understand their client’s unconscious mind.

In this therapy, the goal is to better understand the unconscious and how it affects our behavior. Jungian psychologists acknowledge that this process of understanding the unconscious may not always be pleasant, but Jung believed that this process of understanding the unconscious was a necessary one.

The goal of Jungian therapy is to achieve what Jung termed individuation. Individuation refers to the process of integrating all past experiences—good and bad—in order to live a healthy, stable life. Individuation is a long-term goal, and Jungian therapy isn’t about helping clients find a “quick fix” for their problems. Instead, Jungian therapists focus on addressing the root causes of problems, helping clients gain a deeper understanding of who they are, and helping people live more meaningful lives.

Additional Writings by Jung

In 1913, Jung began writing a book about his own personal experience of trying to understand his unconscious mind. Over the course of years, he recorded visions he had, accompanied by drawings. The end result was a journal-like text with a mythological perspective that was not published in Jung's lifetime. In 2009, Professor Sonu Shamdasani received permission from Jung’s family to publish the text as The Red Book. Alongside his colleague Aniela Jaffé, Jung also wrote about his own life in Memories, Dreams, Reflections, which he began writing in 1957 and was published in 1961.

Legacy of Jung’s Work

After Jung’s death in 1961, he continued to remain an influential figure in psychology. Although Jungian or analytical therapy is no longer a widely used form of therapy, the technique still has devoted practitioners and therapists continue to offer it. Moreover, Jung remains influential because of his emphasis on trying to understand the unconscious. 

Even psychologists who don’t consider themselves Jungians may still have been influenced by his ideas. Jung's work on personality types has been particularly influential over the years. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was based on the personality types outlined by Jung. Other widely used measures of personality also incorporate concepts of introversion and extroversion, although they tend to see introversion and extroversion as two ends of a spectrum, rather than two distinct personality types.

Carl Jung’s ideas have been influential both in psychology and outside of academia. If you’ve ever kept a dream journal, tried to become aware of your unconscious mind, or referred to yourself as an introvert or extrovert, then there’s a good chance that you’ve been influenced by Jung.

Biography Fast Facts

Full NameCarl Gustav Jung

Known For: Psychologist, founder of analytical psychology 

Born: July 26, 1875 in Kesswil, Switzerland

Died: June 6, 1961 in Küsnacht, Switzerland

Education: Medicine at the University of Basel; psychiatry at the University of Zurich

Published WorksPsychology of the Unconscious, Psychological TypesModern Man In Search of a SoulThe Undiscovered Self

Key AccomplishmentsAdvanced numerous key psychological theories, including introversion and extroversion, the collective unconscious, archetypes, and the significance of dreams.

Spouse Name:  Emma Rauschenbach (1903-1955)

Children's Names: Agathe, Gret, Franz, Marianne, and Helene

Famous Quote: "The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction both are transformed." 

References

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Popova, Maria. "'Memories, Dreams, Reflections': A Rare Glimpse Into Carl Jung's Mind." The Atlantic (originally published on Brain Pickings), 15 Mar 2012. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/03/memories-dreams-reflections-a-rare-glimpse-into-carl-jungs-mind/254513/

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Vernon, Mark. “Carl Jung, Part 3: Encountering the Unconscious.” The Guardian, 13 June 2011. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2011/jun/13/carl-jung-red-book-unconscious

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