Who Is C.G. Jung?
C.G. Jung was a prominent figure in the newly emerging study of the psychology of the unconscious at the beginning of the 20th century. His influence in this realm reaches far beyond his contemporaries in the field (Freud and others), though this often goes unrecognized. He was an empiricist and a dreamer, a historian and a visionary, an intellectual giant and simultaneously an enduring apprentice of the psyche.
Early in his life, Jung understood that his nature was deeply divided. This division was the cause of both his severest suffering and also his deepest joy. His divided state cleared a path for him, long and arduous, but full of the numinosum. His psychology is dialogic. His journey is a journey into wholeness. Along his path, he discovered a way to create a space within which consciousness and the unconscious could approach one another more readily and with less hostility, and he suggested a manner in which the union of these, and of all pairs of opposites, might be contained, leading to a more creative, cohesive, and meaningful life.
This he named individuation.
Discerning Jung's Contribution
Jung’s intellectual and psycho-spiritual legacy is a vital and tangible source from which a powerful and wide-reaching undercurrent flows that courses through and vivifies contemporary discourse. Concepts and terms that he brought to life while attempting to map unknown territory in the human psyche continue to find expression, efficacy, and meaning in the present day. Terms like shadow, archetype, anima/animus, psychological complex, introversion/extroversion, the collective unconscious, individuation, the Self, synchronicity, and alchemy (as a metaphor for transformation) flavor contemporary culture, anchor many personal growth models, and permeate existing and emerging spiritual disciplines.
The unconscious is highly creative and loves to tell stories. Using material from one’s personal life as well as one’s ancestral psychology, dreams communicate in story form what often is beyond the ego’s ability to see or understand. The Jungian analyst John Sanford calls dreams, “God’s Forgotten Language.”
The archetypal image coined by Jung to represent everything which the ego has no wish or desire to be. Most commonly, the shadow is taken to be the “dark” side of the personality and so hidden or excluded from the “light” of consciousness.
The central and centering concept in Jung’s psychology, to be distinguished from individualism, which emphasizes ego-identity over ego-Self relations. The individuation process is what brings an individual into contact with a deeper Truth. These encounters with the Self are often experienced as numinous, making clear to the ego that there is something greater or that greater forces are at play wanting something of the ego. This can at times feel disturbing, shocking, or even dangerous. When the ego opens up to the individuation process (the result of shadow-work), the Self seems otherwise to guide the ego in the direction of that greater Truth. Often that guidance takes the form of dreams, active imagination, symbols, and synchronicities.
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The Life and Work of C.G. Jung
"My life has been permeated and held together by one idea: namely, to penetrate into the secret of the personality. Everything can be explained from this central point, and all my works relate to this one theme."
Angelo Spoto, Course Instructor
Angelo Spoto, M.A., LMHC is a licensed mental health counselor with a Master’s degree in Analytical Psychology. He is co-founder of the C.G. Jung Library of Tampa Bay and author of Jung’s Typology in Perspective (Chiron Publications).