This is Post 4 in the ‘Mandala of Love’ book blog series.
Carl Jung was a psychiatrist, and he started his professional life working in large psychiatric institutions. He was a student of the neurologist Sigmund Freud who was developing his psychoanalytic method of treatment at that time. Jung had a close friendship with Freud, but his voracious appetite for understanding lead him to his own distinctive style of psychological thinking, which is of great importance for the modern world. His Analytical Psychology was distinguished two powerful concepts: the archetypes; and the collective unconscious.
Because of his pragmatism and alignment with the emerging scientific materialism in medicine, Freud’s more reductive approach was subsequently more widely adopted during the 20th Century. Jung was altogether more ambitious. It is as if he was writing for the 21st Century – and specifically setting himself against both the scientific materialism and religious fundamentalism of the 20th Century. His perspective was, I believe, aiming to be much more comprehensive and – despite his careful efforts to avoid metaphysical speculation – more spiritual.
Jung the Scientist of the Inner World
While Jung was in some ways actually more rigorously scientific and forward looking than Freud, he was also looking back to the roots of psychology in the literature, mythology and psychological reflections of the classical, medieval and Renaissance periods. His archetypes can be thought of as the eternal principles at work in human psychology, and also as the collective psychological forces at work in nations and human groups – forces that the ancients projected onto their gods. Continue reading