[Wikipedia Commons] English: Group photo in front of Clark University: Front row: Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, C. G. Jung; Back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferencz
Modern Man In Search of a Soul – C.G. Jung
Carl Gustav Jung held some very strange ideas. Lucky me; I’m a sucker for very strange ideas. But these ideas must have seemed even more strange over a hundred years ago, when Jung was writing about them and publishing them.
As a psychiatrist and the founder of Analytic Psychology, Jung was at the forefront of an entirely new way of thinking about human beings and how we operate in the world. In large part, you could say that he was a man attempting to reconcile the diverging worlds of science and religion. I think in 2017, when a layperson thinks of psychology, many of us think of it as a hard science, completely separate from philosophy, religion, and medicine. But in 1933, those lines weren’t so clear, at least not to Jung.
Some of Jung’s pioneering concepts have taken hold in the modern lexicon, such as the concepts of extraversion, introversion, and the idea of a complexes. Other concepts posited by Jung in Modern Man In Search of a Soul, like the “shadow,” may not ring a bell with the layperson as much in 2017, but to me that’s one of the most interesting topics Jung explores in the book.
“…inasmuch as I become conscious of my shadow I also remember that I am a human being like any other.”
The shadow Jung refers to represents the capability of man to do malevolence. I think Jung is telling us that if we understand our capacity to do evil, we have a real shot at harnessing our capacity to do good.
Jung also writes quite a bit about the difference between material truth and spiritual truth. This is something that I’ve spent considerable time thinking and reading about in recent months, and I’m still trying to fully grasp Jung’s thoughts on the matter. In effect, he argues that in the past couple of centuries, civilized humanity has undergone a shift in our thinking that has led us to only believe in things that we can see and touch, often holding up any ideas that don’t fit those criteria to ridicule. He finds this to be to the detriment of society at large because it has done irreparable harm to the psychological health of the world. Thus, in his clinical experience, religion is essentially the cure for neurosis.
“…religions are systems of healing for psychic illness.. Man is never helped in his suffering by what he thinks of himself, but only by revelations of a wisdom greater than his own. It is this which lifts him out of his distress.”
Also look out for his thoughts on archetypes and the collective unconscious. Unfortunately, I’ve reduced his complex ideas far too much. But this review may give an idea of what to expect from Modern Man In Search of a Soul.
Final say: Jung is a brilliant man with fascinating insight. Read it!
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