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Running head: JUNG


Three psychodynamic perspectives on the personality and behaviour of C. G. Jung:

Freud, Jung, and Erikson





Three psychodynamic perspectives on the personality and behaviour of C. G. Jung: Freud, Jung,

and Erikson

Carl G. Jung is regarded as one of the fathers of depth psychology and psychodynamic therapy, and

many of his innovative ideas had their greatest impact in the arts, humanities, and spiritual movements

of the twentieth century. His psychological theories, suffused as they were with philosophy, mythology,

art, and spirituality, were strongly influenced by the abnormal experiences that guided Jung’s

psychological and professional development. The present case study examines his personality and

behaviour through the lens of three prominent psychodynamic theories of his time—those of Freud,

Erikson, and Jung himself—and aims to demonstrate how his family background, childhood

experiences, and the spirit of his age shaped the development of both his personality and output.


As discussed below, one of the reasons for Jung's at times controversial reputation stems from

his secrecy and propensity to omit and embellish important information (though this is contested by his

supporters). In order to offset potential methodological errors stemming from conflicting views,

misrepresentation, and the effects of bias, information about Jung's life was drawn from an array of

primary and secondary sources, including Jung's mémoires, letters, and interviews; various biographies

by Jungian scholars; and anecdotal data from the people in his personal and professional life. However,

most of the data on Jung's early years comes from the posthumously published quasi-autobiography,

Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, the first three chapters of which were penned by Jung himself. The

remainder of the book was assembled from interviews with his friend and secretary, Aniela Jaffé, and

was heavily edited by the Jung family.

Jung’s descendants, the custodians of his estate, have withheld many of his letters, notes, and

other writings, and have substantial control over the content and dissemination of Jung-related works.



A controversy erupted in 1995 when publication of Richard Noll's second book on Jung, Mysteria:

Jung and the Ancient Mysteries, was cancelled at the very last minute due to legal pressure from the

Jung family. According to Corbett (2009), it was “the specter of Richard Noll” (p. 5) and other

controversial voices that led the family—almost sixty years after Jung’s death—to publish The Red

Book, Jung's private diary and spiritual manifesto. Noll's writing is somewhat sensationalist but

rigorously researched, and offers a compelling perspective that supplements the other views presented

in this work—which necessarily leads off with an unmissable overview of Jung’s family background.

Jung's Ancestors


Jung's paternal grandfather and namesake, Karl Gustav Jung, was a renowned surgeon and

medical professor, a Grandmaster of Swiss Freemasonry, and the rumoured illegitimate son of

Germany's great poet and playwright, J. W. von Goethe (Noll, 1997). These illustrious attributes would

later impress on Jung’s psyche the major themes of his life: The desire to heal, the mystery religions,

and the cultural legacy of the German people. As discussed in depth below, he was keenly aware of his

grandfather’s legendary stature.

Jung’s father, Paul Achilles Jung, was a reverend in the Swiss Reformed Church. His humble

parish in the countryside outside Zürich (and later near Basel) generated limited income, though his

position as the village's spiritual elder granted him some social status, bestowing on Carl the reputation

of “the son of the Reverend Paul Jung and the grandson of Professor Karl Gustav Jung” (Jung, 1989, p.

111). The Jung home was replete with books on religion and philosophy, which young Carl voraciously

read. He remembered his father as an intellectually rigid man who would not tolerate religious debate,

and was frequently anxious, irritable, and emotionally distant. The parents slept in separate rooms, and

“there were angry scenes between them only too frequently” (Jung, p. 91).



Jung's mother, Emilie Jung (née Preiswerk), had an interesting family background of her own.

Her father, Samuel Preiswerk, was a Reformed pastor from an affluent family, whose wife died when

Emilie was a child. Preiswerk left an empty chair in the parlour for his deceased wife's ghost, and was

known to experience visions of “entire dramatic scenes complete with ghost conversations”

(McGuire & Hull, 1977, p. 4). Emilie and her sisters were taught Hebrew, which their father believed

was the language of heaven, in order to drive away the spirits while he prepared his sermons.

Jung regularly witnessed his mother conversing with ghosts, and came to believe she possessed

two personalities: One was a nurturing homemaker who was “innocuous and human” by day (Jung,

1989, p. 49), yet “at night Mother was strange and mysterious” (p. 18), “unexpected and

frightening” (p. 49). Prone to bouts of depression, which Jung ascribed to her marital discord, Emilie

spent several months away in a sanatorium when he was three. His disappointment with her absence

and weak constitution affected him deeply: “The feeling I associated with 'woman' was that of

unreliability. [


That is the handicap I started off with” (Jung, p. 8).

Early Childhood

Carl Jung was born July 26, 1875, in the rural village of Kesswil, Switzerland. Although he was

the first and only son of Paul and Emilie Jung, his mother had three sons before him who did not

survive infancy. He was alone until the age of nine when his sister Johanna was born, so he was long

unaccustomed to other children. His friend, Albert Oeri, remembered Jung sitting by himself with his

toys during visits, and described him as an “asocial monster” (as cited in McGuire & Hull, 1977, p. 1).

Carl was a shy and timid boy who spent much of his time in solitude, wandering around the woods or

sitting on his favorite rock for hours on end, asking himself, “Am I the one who is sitting on the stone,

or am I the stone on which he is sitting?” (Jung, p. 20). All things dead and dying fascinated Jung: He

watched pigs at the slaughter with curious intent, and was engrossed by a bloated cadaver he once

JUNG discovered after a flood. Jung often wondered where living creatures would go after death, and


eventually came to regard nature as “'God's world,' [which is] filled with secret meaning” (Jung, 1989,

p. 66).

Jung's preoccupation with the divine and the perverse began from an early age. A peculiar

nursery rhyme his mother sung to him at bedtime led him to believe that Jesus was in the habit of

eating people. Once, while sitting outside the house, Jung became filled with terror as he discerned a

dark, ominous figure advancing on the road, which he eventually recognized as a Jesuit priest. He

frequently had dreams and nightmares, including one which left a very deep impression. The dream

begins in a field, where Jung finds a hole in the ground with a staircase leading to a vast chamber, with

a red carpet running to a low platform which supported a beautifully decorated golden throne:

“Something was standing on it which I thought at first was a tree trunk [


It was a huge thing,

reaching almost to the ceiling. But it was of a curious composition: It was made of skin and

naked flesh, and on top there was something like a rounded head with no face and no hair. On

the very top of the head was a single eye, gazing motionlessly upward” (Jung, 1989, p. 12).

Paralyzed with fear that the object would “crawl off the throne like a worm and creep toward

[him]” (Jung, p. 12), he suddenly heard his mother call out in the dream: “Yes, just look at him. That is

the man-eater!” (Jung, p. 12). Jung later interpreted the object as a ritual phallus, but associated it at the

time with Jesus Christ. From that moment forward he viewed the Lord as frightful, unlovable, and


The phallus dream and the ensuing rejection of Christ were two of many secrets Jung would

keep as a child. In order to calm himself during his violent physical reactions to his parents’ arguments

(he described them as “choking fits,” Jung, 1989, p. 18), he developed a habit of writing messages in a

secret language and hiding them with a little wooden doll in the attic. Perhaps his greatest secret, from

JUNG age eleven onwards, was that—like his mother—he possessed a second personality: An elderly


statesman from the eighteenth century; a powerful man of authority and wisdom whom Jung later

suspected was linked to his paternal grandfather. Personality number one, in contrast, was an insecure,

dependent child who aimed to give the appearance of an ordinary Swiss boy. Jung’s mother often

thought he was depressed, but he believes he was simply “brooding on the secret” (Jung, 1989, p. 42).

His secrets caused him to experience great loneliness, however, as he could not identify with other

children, whom he felt alienated him from himself. He generally thought of himself as a “corrupt and

inferior person” (Jung, 1989, p. 41), and felt a sense of relief whenever he did something 'wrong' that

could account for his perpetually guilty conscience.

School Years

Jung's feelings of alienation increased when he was moved to a private school in the big city. He

did not get on with his metropolitan classmates and was often the target of bullying. One day he was

pushed to the curb by another boy, and he immediately thought: “Now you won't have to go to school

anymore” (Jung, 1989, p. 30). When sitting down to do his homework that evening, he spontaneously

entered a panic and fainted, which happened again when he left for school the next morning. His

school-triggered panic attacks persisted for six months, during which he stayed home and retreated

further into nature and fantasy (Hannah, 1997). Feeling increasingly guilty over time, he eventually

overheard his father saying to a visitor, “What will become of the boy if he cannot earn his own

living?” (Jung, p. 31). That same evening he forced himself to overcome his fear and soon went back to

school. “That was when I learned what a neurosis is” (Jung, p. 32), Jung reflected.

Boredom was the norm in school, and Jung was rarely inspired to make an effort. On one such

rare occasion, the quality of his work was such that his teacher accused him of plagiarism. This enraged

him, and he concluded that his teachers were thoroughly mistrustful and untrustworthy—just like



everybody else (Jung, 1989). Jung became increasingly impulsive and violent, and once knocked down

a group of bullies by swinging one of them around by his feet. When he attempted to share his

intellectual interests with his classmates, they called him a “braggart, a poseur, and a humbug” (Jung, p.

71), and gave him the nickname of Father Abraham (which he secretly relished). Jung’s parents were

also difficult to connect with. His lack of confidence in his mother prevented him from sharing any of

his “deeper preoccupations” (Jung, p. 52) with her, and his father would brush him off whenever he

brought up his religious doubts and confusion. He came to suspect that his father was equally

consumed with doubt.

A pivotal event in Jung’s religious life occurred when he was twelve: Passing by the local

cathedral one day, he became overwhelmed by its majestic beauty, and reflected on the thought of God

watching over his glorious creation from atop his heavenly throne. Upon that thought, however, Jung

abruptly stopped himself; he sensed that his very next thought would be one that was utterly

blasphemous and could doom him to hell. To his horror, the same sequence of thoughts repeated itself

and kept intruding on his mind for three sleepless, nerve-racking days. When he finally decided that

God himself must have planted that thought within him, he surrendered. At once he imagined a giant

turd slipping from under God's throne, falling down to Earth, and smashing the cathedral to bits. What

Jung then experienced was “vast despair, the overpowering elation and outpouring of grace which for

[him] constituted the essence of God” (Jung, 1989, p. 55). It was, he believed, his first real encounter

with the divine. A year later, after coming home from a disappointingly uneventful first communion, he

decided once and for all that Christianity was empty, and that he could only come to know God through

his own experience and understanding. Although Jung continued to present himself as Christian in

public, privately he was convinced that the truth resided within him.




Jung’s hobby of collecting stones and dead things in the woods roused his interest in science,

yet he equally cherished the philosophical and historical books in his father's library (especially Kant,

Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Goethe's Faust). This caused him to vacillate between science and

philosophy for his higher education, a bothersome dilemma he perceived as a struggle between his

number one and two personalities. Although a series of dreams convinced him to pursue science, his

worries about his financial prospects led him to settle for medicine—thereby reluctantly following in

the footsteps of his paternal grandfather (Jung’s motto had always been “only don't imitate!”; Jung,

1989, p. 86). Soon afterwards he had a dream in which he saw personality one striding through the

night holding a lamp, followed by personality two, who was shrouded in darkness. Jung took this as a

sign that he should leave personality two behind and embrace the outer world of ambition, wealth, and


Paul Jung died during Carl’s first year in university in 1896. Jung was at his father's deathbed

and watched his father’s passing with what Noll (1997) regards as almost clinically detached interest,

such that he neglected to call his mother into the room. Six weeks later Jung had a series of vivid

dreams in which his father appeared to him, which led him to seriously consider the possibility of life

after death. He soon immersed himself in spiritualist literature, which he discussed at length with his

fraternity brothers. According to his friend Oeri (as cited in McGuire & Hull, 1977), Jung regularly

succeeded in “intellectually dominating an unruly chorus of fifty or sixty students from different

branches of learning, and luring them into highly speculative areas of thought” (McGuire & Hull, p. 6).

Believing he possessed intimate knowledge of the sacred of which his peers were ignorant, Jung’s

growing arrogance began to drive away his friends. This caused the familiar feelings of loneliness and

alienation to return, but he gradually became aware of this neurotic behaviour and attempted to correct



it (Jung, 1989).

Around the same time, Jung started to attend (or organized, as argued by Noll, 1997) séances

with his mother and other relatives at his mother's home. Helene Preiswerk, his teenage cousin, was a

talented clairvoyant, and Jung stimulated her development with a steady stream of readings on

mediumship, parapsychology, and the occult. According to Noll, Helene became infatuated with Jung,

but the feeling was not returned. 1 After two years of experimenting with his cousin, Jung came to

realize that some of the material supposedly channeled by Helene was taken directly from the literature

he had given her. He angrily deduced that the whole mediumship phenomenon had been mere “bags of

trickery” (Jung, 1989, p. 107).

Interestingly, Jung glosses over the séances in his mémoires, minimizing his own involvement

and vaguely referring to the group as a gathering of “relatives” (Jung, 1989 p. 106). Although the

mémoires were heavily edited by his descendants, the possibility that this omission was intentional

cannot be ignored. Jung used these same experiences as the basis for his medical dissertation, On the

Psychology and Pathology of So-called Occult Phenomena, in which he also minimized his

participation in the séances and even wrote a case study on his cousin—essentially labeling her a

hysteric and neurotic. When Helene Preiswerk read Jung’s paper, she reportedly broke all ties with him.

She succumbed to tuberculosis before the age of 30, but in the words of a relative, “she died of a

broken heart” (Noll, 1997, p. 83).

Psychiatry, Polyamory, and Freud

Jung describes the aforementioned events as “the one great experience which wiped out all my

earlier philosophy and made it possible for me to achieve a psychological point of view” (Jung, 1989,

1 This is potentially contradicted by his lover Sabina Spielrein, who claimed in a letter to Freud that Jung divulged his feelings for his cousin during one of their psychoanalysis sessions; Charet, 1993. However, according Noll (1997), it was Helene’s sister whom Jung was in love with at the time.

JUNG p. 107). This seemingly announced a period of hardline positivism; Jung published an article,


Cryptomnesia, in which he attributed paranormal phenomena to a kind of unconscious plagiarism. Noll

(1997) succinctly argues, however, that Jung held up a materialist façade so as to safeguard his budding

reputation as a scientist. By 1900, Jung had taken on an associate physicianship under Eugen Bleuler at

the renowned Burghölzli psychiatric hospital of the University of Zürich, and was steeped in some

promising clinical research. His studies on word-association tests and 'dementia praecox' quickly

earned him a reputation in Europe and overseas. At the same time, he engaged in experimental talk

therapy sessions, which he initially concealed from his medical colleagues (Noll, 1997). Inspired by the

work of Janet, with whom he studied for a year in 1902, Freud, and others, Jung began to explore the

unconscious psyches of his patients.

Sabina Spielrein was one of the first patients to undergo psychoanalysis with Jung in 1904.

Spielrein soon became his student and lover (Noll, 1997). Growing frustrated by Jung’s insistence on

secrecy, however, she later began to spread rumours of their affair, which finally reached Emma Jung,

whom he had married in 1903. In a letter to Freud (Charet, 1993), Jung complained about Spielrein:

“[She] has violated my confidence and my friendship in the most mortifying way imaginable” (p. 190),

yet he later backpedals, writing: “Now and then, I admit, the devil does strike a chill into my—on the

whole—blameless heart. [But] I've never had a mistress and am the most innocent of spouses” (p. 191).

Spielrein eventually left Zürich for Vienna where she joined Freud’s psychoanalytic school. Some years

later he met Toni Wolff, also a patient-cum-student, who in due time became his beloved mistress and

closest analyst (Noll, 1997). This time, however, Jung was open about his affair, pressuring his wife to

allow Wolff to join their household for regular family dinners on Sunday evenings, thereby placing

considerable strain on his marriage and five children. He would regularly appear in public with both

women at his side, and when Wolff died in 1953, Emma attended the funeral in her husband's stead, as

JUNG he was too overcome by grief (Shamdasani, in Jung, 2009).


Jung’s open embrace of polyamory was likely a consequence of his brief but intensive exchange

with Otto Gross, a rising star in psychoanalysis with a penchant for anarchy and promiscuity (his motto

was “Repress nothing!” Noll, 1997, p. 120). Addicted to opiates and unable to care for himself, Gross

commenced analysis with Jung at Burghölzli in 1908. Although Jung at first disliked the man, he

slowly became enraptured by Gross's otherworldly charm and would sacrifice days and nights to their

mutual analysis, eventually writing: “In Gross I discovered many aspects of my true nature, so that he

often seemed like my twin brother—except for the dementia praecox” (as cited in Noll, 1997, p. 126).

His embrace of Gross's philosophy of free love was apparent by the time Jung’s female students gained

the nickname of 'Jungfrauen' in the psychoanalytic community, which is a play on words meaning both

'Jung's women' and ‘the virgins.' He even began prescribing polyamory to some of his patients and their

spouses (Noll, 1997).

When Otto Gross was finally released from Burghölzli, Jung wrote to Freud that Gross had

been cured, but hospital records indicated that Gross was still severely impaired and degenerate (Noll,

1997). And although Jung's early publications acknowledged Gross's considerable impact on his

thinking, all references to him were eventually expunged from Jung’s writing after the man died

prematurely under undignified circumstances (Noll, 1997). There are several other disturbing examples

of Jung’s literary embellishments and convenient editions, most notably his excision of any mention of

his assistant, J.J. Honegger, whose struggles with depression led to his suicide in 1911 (Noll, 1997).

Honegger was a key figure in the genesis of Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious, yet Jung

eventually took over Honegger’s role in his frequent retelling of the groundbreaking discovery

(McGuire & Hull, 1977).

Jung also tended to misrepresent certain facts in his voluminous correspondence with Freud



(Noll, 1997). He had originally caught Freud's attention in 1906 due to his studies on word association

and unconscious complexes, and the two quickly developed an intimate professional and personal

bond. Not long after their first meeting, Jung wrote to Freud: “Let me enjoy your friendship not as one

between equals, but as that of father and son” (as cited in McGuire, 1994, p. 122). Freud wrote to Jung

in 1909: “I have formally adopted you as an eldest son, anointing you as my successor and crown

prince” (as cited in Jung, 1989, p. 361). Jung was chosen by Freud as the first president of the

International Psychoanalytic Association, and openly defended psychoanalysis against its many

detractors. He was especially interested in Freud’s techniques of dream analysis, but grappled with his

insistence on the sexual basis of the libido. When Jung started to share his growing interest in

mythology, paranormal phenomena, and the occult, their relationship began to sour (Jung, 1989). He

recounts a conversation in which Freud implored: “My dear Jung, promise me never to abandon the

sexual theory. [


[W]e must make a dogma of it, an unshakable bulwark [


[a]gainst the black tide

[of] occultism” (p. 150). Freud later became convinced that Jung harboured a death-wish against him,

and Jung's decisive disillusionment occurred when, during mutual analysis, Freud was unwilling to

share personal information about a disturbing dream: “But I cannot risk my authority!” (Jung, p. 158).

Freud finally severed all ties following the publication of Psychology of the Unconscious, in which

Jung formally rejected Freud's sexual theory of the libido. The violent termination of their friendship in

1912 sent Jung into a depression.

Spiritual Emergence(y)

Based on Jung’s investigations of the mythological content of psychotic hallucinations and

delusions at Burghölzli (Noll, 1997), he had come to believe that the symbolic language of the psyche

reflects an underlying semantic structure of the mind, which operates on archetypal morphologies that

are inherited from our ancestral evolution (Jung, 1916). Troubled by his lack of insight into his own

JUNG unconscious mythology, and still languishing over the fallout with Freud, Jung set out on a soul-


searching journey of self-experimentation. During this period he gave up his professorship and position

at Burghölzli and only rarely attended conferences.

Jung began to practice free association while in trance, a practice he dubbed ‘active

imagination,’ in order to explore the contents of his unconscious mind (Shamdasani, in Jung, 2009). He

experienced waking visions (or induced hallucinations) and carried extensive conversations with

nonmaterial entities, all of which he painstakingly recorded and illustrated in his leather-bound ‘bible,’

The Red Book (Jung, 2009). Jung’s dreams took on apocalyptic dimensions, including a series of

nightmares in which he witnessed a tidal wave of blood overtaking Europe. He kept a loaded revolver

in his nightstand and was frightened by intermittent suicidal thoughts that emanated from a voice

within (Jung, 1989, p. 180). Fearing that his apocalyptic dreams signaled his imminent mental

breakdown, Jung experienced immense relief when World War I broke out, recognizing that his dreams

were prophetic of a collective, rather than a personal, catastrophe. Meanwhile, he feared he was

becoming psychotic: “I was just preparing a lecture on schizophrenia, [


and I kept saying to myself:

'I'll be speaking of myself!'” (Jung, 2009, p. 201). He was able to stay grounded, however, thanks to his

family and private patients (and Toni Wolff), who “always remained a joyful reality and a guarantee

that I also had a normal existence” (Jung, p. 189).

Much more could be written about Jung's period of spiritual emergence/emergency (terms

borrowed from Johnson & Friedman, 2008, which signify a period of psychological upheaval leading

to spiritual transformation), such as the materialization of ‘Philemon,’ his inner daemon and spiritual

teacher; his daily ritual of drawing mandalas to manage his anxiety while drafted as an army doctor; or

his single-minded effort to build a miniature village out of stones near his home, which was a

regression to a childhood hobby (Jung, 1989). Perhaps the most emblematic experience, however,

JUNG concerns a dream in which Jung witnessed the rejected icon of his father's faith, Jesus Christ,


transforming into Aion, the messianic deity of the Mithraic mysteries of his Teutonic ancestors (Jung,

1989, 2009). Conspicuously absent from his mémoires, however, is the fact that it was he himself who

transformed into Christ and the Aion in his dream. Noll (1996) argues that this moment marked Jung’s

‘apotheosis,’ and that it brought his messianic tendencies front and center. Although Jung frequently

warned his students and patients not to fall victim to delusions of grandeur, Noll believes this is

precisely what Jung did, and is also quick to point out that, ironically, Jung never recognized in himself

the effects of cryptomnesia.

Jung eventually recovered from his unstable period and developed much of his analytical

psychology on the basis of his experiences (Jung, 1989). He also explored many other esoteric subjects,

such as alchemy and Eastern philosophy, and travelled extensively, giving lectures and treating patients

around the world. Although he attempted to present his work as psychological science, this changed

after his near-death experience in 1944, when he began to write openly on subjects like synchronicity,

alchemy, the I Ching, and flying saucers (Shamdasani, in Jung, 2009). Jung believed that science and

spirituality are inherently compatible, and has therefore been viewed as a pioneer of the New Age

movement, while his theories of the collective unconscious, archetypes, and synchronicity continue to

inspire artists, thinkers, and healers.


Psychoanalysis: A Freudian Perspective

Although little is known about Freud and Jung’s many psychoanalytic sessions together,

numerous aspects of Jung’s behaviour and personality development are remarkably (and not altogether

ironically) amenable to Freudian interpretation. According to psychoanalytic theory (Freud, 1949),

parents become invested with their child’s libido, thereby promising (symbolic) fulfillment of some



latent, unconscious wish stemming from frustration or overindulgence of the child’s libidinous desires

or narcissistic needs. In boys, this pleasure principle is partially expressed as a sexual desire to possess

the mother, which, when thwarted during the phallic stage of psychosexual development (ages three to

six), engenders an Oedipus complex. This is precisely the stage during which Jung's mother was in

hospital in Basel for several months, an event which he recalls as deeply troubling (Jung, 1989). The

deprivation of his mother’s presence and adoration was a narcissistic wound that blighted the healthy

development of his ego. Evidence for a phallic fixation during this stage is found in the profound

impression made upon Jung by his 'ritual phallus' dream at the critical age of three, which Jung

identified with Jesus Christ (rather than a literal penis), and so—by substitution—with his reverend

father. “My entire youth can be understood in terms of this secret,” wrote Jung about his haunting

dream (Jung, 1989, p. 41). His fear of Christ may therefore have been a projection of his castration

anxiety, hinted at by his mother’s words in the dream: “That is the man-eater” (Jung, p. 12).

Jung’s childhood was marked by ambivalence from and toward his mother, which had much to

do with her two ‘personalities;’ her wild, archaic, behaviour at night made her frightening and

unavailable to Jung. This may have caused him to split his mother-object into a faithful and an

unfaithful part, which was a defensive strategy meant to stave off the anxiety and pain of his unrequited

desire and her Oedipal infidelity with his father (Josephs, 2006). Jung’s own personality number two

(which was inspired by his grandfather and therefore superior to his own father) may thus have served

to seduce the unavailable aspect of his mother. The consequences of this split mother-object is found in

Jung’s marital infidelity as an adult. Noll (1997) suggested that Jung’s mistresses fulfilled his desire for

hieros gamos, i.e., union with the 'wild feminine divine’—a quality manifest in Jung’s mother yet

lacking in his wife. Indeed, photographs of the women in Jung’s life betray an unmistakeable physical

resemblance that indicates a pattern of physical attraction. Jung believed it was not his mother,



however, but his caretaker during her absence that inspired his feminine prototype, as she “later came

to symbolize for me [him] the whole essence of womanhood” (Jung, 1989, p. 9). Freud would probably

have argued that such an attribution merely served to deflect from Jung’s Oedipal anxiety.

Oedipal rivalry is splendidly reflected in Jung's disappointment with his father's intellectual and

spiritual impotence, which paled in comparison to his own spiritual illumination. This extends to his

resistance to socialization, as seen in his aversion to the prevailing Christian values of Swiss society

(and later the dogmatic views of his academic peers). His inability to fully identify with his father—

which is the child's psychic survival strategy during the Oedipal phase (Freud, 1960)—likely caused

Jung to turn to his mother as an alternative, and identifying with her may have been the impetus for the

formation of his dual personalities. Jung’s superior second personality represented an alternative ego

ideal that compensated for his inferior, superego-bound primary personality, and he continued to seek a

personification of this ideal in the people around him. This explains why he was so ready to view the

imposing Freud as a father figure. Unfortunately, Freud eventually let Jung down in the exact same way

that his real father did when he refused to accept Jung’s criticism of his convictions and share with him

his personal thoughts. The painful outcome of this apparent repetition compulsion may have been the

actual cause of Jung’s subsequent depression and crisis.

The people in Jung’s world did not satisfy his narcissistic and libidinous needs, so he learned to

turned inward. This is reflected in the introverted style of his defence mechanisms, which include

include fantasy (daydreaming and active imagination), dissociation (on the stone in the woods),

somatization (choking fits at home, fainting spells at school), splitting (of his mother's and his own

personality), and a general habit of avoiding others and keeping secrets. Jung's secret knowledge of the

sacred afforded him a sense of superiority which compensated for the shame and guilt he felt as a child.

This is consistent with Freud’s notion that the phallic fixation results in a vain, arrogant adult



personality. As Jung’s tension with his mentor, the medical establishment, and his wife escalated, so did

his neuroses, which ultimately precipitated a psychosis. Certainly Freud saw evidence of this when he

wrote his final letter to Jung:

“It is a convention among us analysts that none of us need feel ashamed of his own neurosis.

But one [meaning Jung] who while behaving abnormally keeps shouting that he is normal gives

ground for the suspicion that he lacks insight into his illness” (Freud, as cited in McGuire,


Analytical Psychology: A Jungian Perspective

Naturally Jung was aware of his growing psychological issues, but he did not share Freud’s

interpretation of them. His worries about “doing a schizophrenia” (Jung, 2009, p. 201) during his crisis

notwithstanding, he would not likely have labeled his personality or behaviour as pathological.

Analytical psychology is characterized by growth towards wholeness, self-realization, and well-being,

and Jung attributed the development of his theories to his pivotal period of confrontation with the

unconscious: “Everything [afterward] was merely the outer classification, scientific elaboration, and

the integration into life” (Jung, 2009, p. 46). Before those events unfolded, however, he had already

contributed a major innovation to psychology with his theory of the complex.

A complex is a cluster of ideas or impressions associated with feelings and emotions that are

unacceptable to the ego, and are therefore repressed (Jung, 1916). Complexes typically have their root

in early experiences, particularly in relation to primary caregivers, and Jung himself showed evidence

of various complexes with childhood origins. As previously discussed, he attributed his complex about

women to his view of his mother as weak and unreliable (Jung, 1989), which likely explains his

reputation for being contemptuous and condescending towards females (Noll, 1997). His perception of

the (religious) authority of his emotionally distant father as misguided and hollow might have

JUNG engendered an authority complex, explaining his problematic encounters with his teachers, the


Christian church, and Freud. His intense feelings of inferiority and moral corruption, indicating a

possible guilt complex, could be accounted for by his feelings of self-blame for his mother's

hospitalization and illness, his intimate familiarity with the Christian doctrine of original sin, and his

nonconformity. Each of these complexes left their mark on Jung’s personality.

The basis of Jung's theory of personality is the concept of psychological types, which develop

as a function of one of two preferred orientations to reality (or attitudes), known as introversion and

extraversion (Jung, 1920). Jung believed that the ego’s dominant attitude compensates for its inferior

opposite attitude, which is repressed and may be acted out unconsciously. This pattern of compensation

and acting out is reflected in Jung’s tendency to withdraw socially (introversion) and ruminate on self-

enhancing secret knowledge (compensation), which in turn led him to behave arrogantly toward others

(extraverted acting out). Indeed, he was described by some who knew him as sarcastic and mocking of

other people (Noll, 1997), which was likely an unconscious strategy for feeling secure about his

independence from others.

Jung (1923) went on to postulate four principal functions of the psyche, which achieve different

levels of development and dominance according to one’s attitude. These are the rational/judging

functions of thinking and feeling, and the irrational/perceiving functions of sensing and intuition. Each

person has one dominant function, two ‘auxiliary’ functions, and one repressed function. When asked

which type he thought himself to be, Jung answered:

“I most certainly was characterized by thinking. I always thought, from early childhood on. And

I had a great deal of intuition too. [


I had a definite difficulty with feeling. And my relation

to reality was not particularly brilliant. I was often at variance with the reality of things”

(McGuire & Hull, 1977, pp. 434-435).

JUNG As an introvert, Jung’s thinking function was unquestionably dominant, and his ability to understand


things implicitly and rely on his gut indicates a well-developed intuitive function (Jung, 1989). His

self-admitted difficulty with the feeling function is apparent; it may point to his hot-headed

temperament, or to his abnormal reactions to things most people would find disturbing, such as the

slaughter of livestock, a bloated corpse, or the witnessing of a parent's death. Finally, being 'at variance

with the reality of things' was arguably a trite euphemism for Jung’s formidably oppressed sensing

function, evidenced by his frequent waking fantasies, intrusive thoughts, dissociative experiences, split

personality, and magical/paranormal beliefs, each of which may be regarded as a departure from

empirical reality.

These traits and behaviours are also indicative of the style of Jung’s individuation process.

According to Jung (1989, 2009), individuation is the universal developmental goal, which is achieved

when the conflicting aspects of the personal and collective unconscious are integrated with the

experiences and personality of the ego, resulting in the dissolution of complexes and, ultimately, the

realization of the whole Self. It is a lifelong process, the first half of which is oriented toward

differentiation (of the psyche and from other people), and the second half toward integration (of the

psyche and with society; Jung, 1989). Jung’s own differentiation process was marked by his split self,

his social withdrawal, and his criticism of others and society. 2 In the years preceding his midlife crisis,

his conflicted ego’s attempts to repress the material generated by the unconscious drive toward

integration was mirrored externally by the gradual disintegration of his relationships—his break with

Freud, the threat of a failed marriage, and his growing alienation from the scientific medical

establishment. These conditions finally precipitated his (quasi) psychosis, leading the “normal

2 Out of concern for brevity, the development of Jung’s two personalities is not covered here. However, Jung (1989) himself believed that personality 1 reflected his Persona, the false self we project toward others, while personality 2 was an image of his Self, which Jung regarded as the totality of the individual human psyche, beyond the polarities of conscious/ unconscious, anima/animus, ego/shadow (additional archetypes of the Self which would require a second article to cover).

JUNG functioning of the unconscious processes [to break] through into the conscious mind in an abnormal


manner, [


thereby disturb[ing] the adaptation of the individual to his environment” (Jung, 1920, p.


Jung himself, however, would have disagreed with this attribution; he postulated two types of

triggers of psychosis, associated with either personal or impersonal (collective) factors (Shamdasani, in

Jung, 2009). The personal type is triggered by a crisis and collapse of a person’s hopes and

expectations, while the impersonal type occurs during times of great social, political, and religious

upheaval, when psychic material suppressed by the collective unconscious is intuited and

communicated by sensitive individuals. It is the latter type to which Jung attributed his experience

(Jung, 2009), though perhaps both points of view are valid. In any case, Jung’s decision to confront his

unconscious allowed the transcendent function of the psyche, which serves to unite aspects of the Self

via the synthesis of opposites, to bring about the integration process and set him on the path to

individuation (Jung, 1920). Jung finally succeeded in identifying his personal myth, which is the

universal myth of humankind and the template for individuation. It is the Hero’s Journey, in which the

individual leaves the safety and comfort of the childhood home in order to slay a beast and acquire a

sacred object or beloved Other, then returns as a changed person with wisdom and spoils to share with

the community (Jung, 1964).

Psychosocial Factors: An Eriksonian Perspective

Jung contended during a lecture on analytical psychology: “This sounds like religion, but it is

not. [


People sometimes call me a religious leader. I am not that. I have no message, no mission”

(McGuire and Hull, 1977, p. 97). However, Jung once wrote in a letter to a colleague: “Through being

identified with the continued incarnation of God in the soul, the process of individuation found its

ultimate significance” (Jung, p. 299), and transcribed a conversation with his soul in The Red Book:

JUNG “[Jung:] [W]hat is my calling? [Soul:] The new religion and its proclamation” (Jung, 2009, p. 211).


These contradictory stands are the focus of Noll’s (1997) work, in which he argues that Jung wore three

masks throughout his life: That of a scientist (rather than a mystic), that of a doctor (rather than a

religious leader), and that of the humble Christian (rather than a God-man). In order to understand the

stark contrast between Jung's public and private convictions, it is necessary to consider the cultural-

historical forces involved in the development of his personality and the context of his thinking.

According to Erikson (Mitchell & Black, 1996), the psychological development of the

individual occurs as a function of the values and requirements of his or her culture. Swiss society

during the time of Jung's childhood was quintessentially Germanic, and therefore held in great esteem

the noble pursuit of the arts and the intellect. Jung's immediate lineage, comprised of scholars, doctors,

holy men, and artists (perhaps even Goethe himself), perfectly embodied these values. Furthermore, the

19 th century Pietist movement, which emphasized one’s inner experience of God over superficial

reliance on dogma and external authority, had deeply influenced Swiss Lutheranism by the time Jung

was born (Noll, 1997). Clearly he was a prototypical product of both the cultural and religious

attributes of his lineage and environment. In spite of his best efforts to resist conformity and imitation,

Jung perfectly substantiated the then-current belief that 'ancestry is destiny' by gradually becoming

exactly what his ancestors had been: A scholar, doctor, holy man, and artist. As such, he also

exemplified Erikson’s notion of the function of childhood as a medium for the propagation of culture

(Mitchell & Black, 1996).

At the same time, however, the profound psychological, spiritual, and theoretical upsurges Jung

underwent epitomized the revolutionary spirit of his age: First, a revived interest in mythology, ancient

mysteries, and the Teutonic origins of Das Volk had overtaken the intelligentsia and artistic movements



of fin de siècle German culture (Noll, 1997). 3 Second, the advent of spiritualism generated widespread

interest in the paranormal and the occult among scholars and laymen alike. Finally, a new generation of

psychiatrists was leading a psychodynamic revolt against the biological reductionism of the 19 th

century post-enlightenment medicine. All of these significant developments were taking place directly

in Carl Jung’s social surroundings; the personality, behaviour, and creative fruits of his adult life were

therefore as much a product of present as the past. However, Jung was keenly aware of the potential

negative consequences of openly expressing the alternative views he came to espouse, which would

risk his position of authority and prestige. This is why, according to Noll (1997), the spirits he

encountered became complexes and archetypes; the underworld within became the collective

unconscious; and the ancient mystery rites became analytical psychology. Jung’s seminal work thus

represented a rebirth of ancient psychospiritual knowledge dressed in the scholarly language of his age.

This was one secret, however, he was unable to keep.

Concluding Remarks

The psychodynamic perspectives presented here provide three distinct yet complementary

views on Jung's personality and behaviour. The Freudian view suggests that the Oedipal trinity of

Jung's childhood gave shape to a phallic personality type with neurotic tendencies, which avoided

serious mental illness by adapting to the libido's needs and desires via sublimation and sexual

liberation. The Jungian approach depicts an introverted, thinking-dominated personality, whose internal

schism and disassociation from reality precipitated a painful confrontation with the unconscious that

kickstarted the individuation process. The Eriksonian view highlights the critical role of Jung's cultural

past and present in both his childhood and adult development. Perhaps these construals are not

mutually exclusive; they may reflect psychic overdetermination, or simply the difficulty of explaining

3 These values were coopted by the Nazis, which somehow led to unwarranted accusations that Jung was a Nazi supporter.

JUNG an individual’s personality and behaviour from within a single paradigm.


Any psychological examination of Carl Jung would be incomplete without a discussion of his

genetic heritage. The relatively high incidence of perceptual anomalies, fragmented personalities, and

other abnormal traits among his maternal relatives raises the possibility of a schizotaxic genotype. An

(admittedly rough) screening for schizotypal personality disorder based on the DSM-5 criteria (APA,

2013) indicates that Jung may have been at risk, as potentially evidenced by his (1) ideas of reference,

(2) odd beliefs, (3) unusual perceptual experiences, (4) suspiciousness and mistrust, (5) inappropriate or

constricted affect, and (6) lack of close friends. Jung's personality may therefore be described as

schizotypal. However, a clinical diagnosis is neither appropriate nor particularly plausible. Although

these traits may have taken on pathological dimensions under stressful conditions, Jung’s ability to

function was such that he became a distinguished psychologist, which is a testament to his resilience.

As can be said of most of history's greatest artists and innovators, however, Carl Jung undeniably

walked the line between genius and madness.




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