Jung and His Contributions: Part Two

“Americans are Jung and Easily Freudened” – James Joyce

“Americans Are Afreud and Want to be Jung Again” – Robert McAndrews

Carl Jung’s ideas have been considerably more influential than those of any other followers of Freud. Alfred Adler was the first follower to split with Freud and his influence has continued to some extent, both directly with Adlerian psychology and psychotherapy, but also indirectly through some of family therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. I will cover this later when I post about Adler. Other significant early followers include Sandor Ferenczi, Karl Abraham, Hans Sachs, Ernest Jones, Otto Rank, none of whom have left much of a lasting influence. Anna Freud, who would also be considered a follower of her father’s theories and practices, was likely the most influential after Jung. Jung’s early research with psychological types and his interests in parapsychology, mythology and alchemy stimulated his thinking beyond his commitment to Freud’s sexual libido theory.

Psychological Types

While Jung sought ways to organize his understandings of symbols he encountered in dreams of patients and his own dreams, and his research into myths and religions of the world, he also was aware of the ways any of his category constructions could be misunderstood and /or taken as easy and simple ways to characterize and identify people and their behavior patterns. He made specific cautionary comments in some of his late writings, particularly in the Introductory chapter in “Man and His Symbols” (1972 ) which includes essays by several other key followers of Jung, and he edited, and which was intended for a general audience.

Nevertheless, Jung’s terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’, as well as ‘anima’ and ‘animus’, and ‘archetypes’ have become widely incorporated into almost everyday language around the world, much as Freud’s terms ‘ego’, ‘id’, ‘superego’ have become our universal reference to self dynamics. Jung wrote his book, “Psychological Types” in 1921. His typology developed over some years through exchanges with his friend Hans Schmid and Sabina Spielrein, with whom he also had an intimate relationship. Bair (2004) says: “Jung saved his own typology for the last chapter, which comprised the final 150 pages or so of his text. To the ‘attitudes’ of introvert and extravert, he added four further differentiations called functions. To ‘feeling’ and ‘thinking’ he now adopted Schmid’s and Toni Wolff’s suggestions and gave equal status to ‘intuition’ and ‘sensation’. Feeling and thinking he grouped under the rubric ‘rational’ while sensation and feeling became ‘non rational’. Two attitudes and four functions thus permitted a grand total of eight possible psychological types. In the years following the 1921 publication,Jung was asked repeatedly why had proposed a system composed of two types, four functions, and eight possible types. ‘That there are exactly four is a matter of empirical fact’ was his consistent response.” (pgs. 287-288)

This response of Jung suggests that he has assumed some scientific credibility of the categories he has developed, yet my own critique of our tendency to classify people into types, which I will mention below, is actually echoed by Jung in this statement by Bair(2004 ): “Few persons, it seemed, read the book as Jung intended. By the time it had gone through multiple printings in many languages, he felt compelled to address the ‘regrettable misunderstanding’ that had turned the book into ‘nothing but a childish parlour game’. He complained that even within the medical profession his typology was used to slot patients into his system and give them corresponding ‘advice’. He insisted that his ‘typology is not in any sense to stick labels on people on first sight: it is not physiognomy and not an anthropological system, but a critical psychology dealing with the organization and delimitation of psychic processes that can be shown to be typical'”. (p.288) “Nothing but a childish parlour game”. This has, indeed, been part of the legacy of Jung’s typology terms. We casually refer to others as extroverts and introverts as if there was some credibility in these characterizations. My own concern about any kind of psychological typing, to include the diagnostic labels in the DSM, is that the process reinforces our inclination to fix others with particular characteristics and identify them only with these characteristics. Jung characterized himself as an introvert and he characterized Freud as an extravert, yet they were likely both in some combination – as are many people. Jung added thinking, feeling, intuition, sensation as “functions” possibly to give more flexibility and breadth to introversion and extraversion, but these function terms simply multiply the tendency to fix people in more categories. An example of the kind of influence Jung’s typology has had would be the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, which was constructed as an adaptation of his typology and has been employed in various organizations as a tool for enhancing psychological insights. My position is that all humans express all of these characteristics( thinking, feeling, intuition and sensation) and we express them to varying degrees and rates at various times under various contextual situations. A typology of any kind does not capture context, duration, or variations in circumstances. I suspect that Jung might agree with me on this.

Anima and Animus

I can be accused of using anima and animus rather loosely to refer to female and male energy or female and male principles or elements. According to Jung we each have both anima and animus elements. As he wrote in “Man and His Symbols” (1972): “In the Middle Ages, long before the physiologists demonstrated that by reason of our glandular structure there are both male and female elements in all of us, it was said that ‘every man carries a woman within himself’. It is this female element in every male that I have called the ‘anima’ (p.16). And likewise, Jung refers to the male element in every female as the ‘animus’. Marie Louise von Franz devotes chapter three in “Man and his Symbols”, about the individuation process, to analyzing the dynamics of anima and animus through the unconscious processes via dreams and mythology. She states: “The male personification of the unconscious in woman – the animus- exhibits both good and bad aspects, as does the anima in man” (p.198). von Franz borrows images and stories primarily from Western mythologies to identify what I consider rather stereotypical characteristics of female and male personalities and behaviors, according to standard cultural constructs. None of these characteristics are necessarily based in biology. The various symbols of anima and animus as interpreted in dreams by an analytic psychotherapist may assist in a depth therapy process, but otherwise the utility of these abstract types is limited.


Story: A number of years ago I was giving a talk to a Jung Society group in Colorado about the Hero Monomyth and male journeys. I discussed the hero’s journey as an archetype and went on to say that archetypes were abstract concepts. Quite a number of people in the audience were extremely upset with my characterization and argued that archetypes were actual “things”, as if Jung had “discovered” them and not “invented” them. It was not clear to me at the time why they believed this and I was not familiar enough with what Jung actually had written about archetypes. I have since come to realize that some followers of Jung’s writings have treated them as biblical and they have interpreted certain terms and concepts in a doctrinaire fashion. This is what Jung says in “Man and His Symbols”(1972):

“My views about the ‘archaic remnants’, which I call ‘archetypes’ or ‘primordial images’, have been constantly criticized by people who lack a sufficient knowledge of the psychology of dreams and mythology. The term ‘archetype’ is often misunderstood as meaning certain definite mythological images or motifs. But these are nothing more than conscious representations; it would be absurd to assume that such variable representations could be inherited. The archetype is a tendency to form such representations of a motif – representations that can vary a great deal in detail without losing their basic pattern. My critics have incorrectly assumed that I am dealing with ‘inherited representations’, and on that ground they have dismissed the idea of the archetype as mere superstition.” (pgs. 57-58) Further on he says: “Here I must clarify the relation between instincts and archetypes: what we properly call instincts are physiological urges, and are perceived by the senses. but at the same time, they also manifest themselves in fantasies and often reveal their presence only by symbolic images. These manifestations are what I call archetypes. they are without known origin; and they reproduce themselves in any time or in any part of the world – even where transmission by direct descent or ‘cross-fertilization’ through migration must be ruled out.” (p.58)

Jung has written other descriptions/ definitions of archetypes elsewhere, but since this quote is from the essay chapter he wrote in the last year of his life, I believe it best represents his thinking. I believe he is stating that archetypes are symbolic representations of universal human motifs or themes and can be manifested through dreams, mythologies, fairytales, and so on. Themes such as the child or wise old man or wise old woman or the hero’s journey are found universally, because all cultures have certain essential experiences. Fathers and mothers and the roles of fathers and mothers, as well as children and other human relationships are at base universal and the representations and metaphorical images can be found throughout history and across all cultures. These representations can be understood as archetypes. Perhaps some confusion arises when Jung states that archetypes are “at the same time both images and emotions” and he further explains in “Man and His Symbols” (1972), “But since so many people have chosen to treat archetypes as if they were part of a mechanical system that can be learned by rote, it is essential to insist that they are not mere names, or even philosophical concepts. They are pieces of life itself – images that are integrally connected to the living individual by the bridge of the emotions. That is why it is impossible to give an arbitrary (or universal) interpretation of any archetype. It must be explained in the manner indicated bu the whole-life situation of the particular individual to whom it relates.”(p.89). Jung seems to be saying that archetypes are not simply symbolic representations or images – that these images are directly connected to essential human experiences and that they are expressed individually, though within a “collective” context. I have thought of this as a synchronic event within a diachronic frame. In my own analyses of the hero’s journey (as an archetype), I identified a journey pattern which seems universal in form, yet individualized in expression or manifestation.

Jung wrote “Four Archetypes: Mother/Rebirth/Spirit/Trickster “(1973), (taken from his 1934 paper, “Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious”), in which he summarizes his thinking about archetypes and the collective unconscious. Since his notions about archetypes are directly connected to his ideas about the personal and collective unconscious, I will take this up in my next post.