Biography of Famous Psychologists Carl Gustav Jung

About the famous psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, biography and history of the man.


CARL GUSTAV JUNG (1875-1961)

Like his mentor Freud, Jung followed the tortuous road to psychoanalysis through his recollection of traumatic childhood experiences. In his autobiography he says: "I was deeply troubled by my mother's being away [she was ill in the hospital]. From then on, I always felt mistrustful when the word 'love' was spoken. The feeling I associated with 'woman' was for a long time that of innate unreliability. 'Father,' on the other hand, meant reliability and--powerlessness." His mother's illness was apparently psychosomatic in origin, and his parents separated shortly thereafter, while he was still a boy. His first "conscious trauma" was seeing a Catholic priest coming toward him on the road; his father's earlier rantings at the monstrous Jesuits had created a deep-seated fear of clerics in the lad, and he was terrified for days by this "apparition," even going so far as to hide himself for hours on end. "At about the same time ... I had the earliest dream I can remember, a dream which was to preoccupy me all my life. I was then between three and four years old." What he saw in his mind was a giant phallus 15 ft. tall and 2 ft. thick, perched high on a golden throne. "For many nights afterward I was afraid to go to sleep, because I feared I might have another dream like that." The dream came back to him again and again, and each time it ended with his mother saying: "Yes, just look at him. That is the man-eater." Soon another recurring dream emerged, in which young Carl saw himself suffocated during one of his continual attacks of bronchitis, attacks which he later came to regard as at least partially psychosomatic in origin.

Carl was a lonely child whose life was filled with fear and anxiety stemming from his family problems and from the fact that his fellow students would have nothing to do with him. To avoid school, Jung began to have fainting spells, ostensibly the result of a serious fall; he passed out each time he was returned to school. When he overheard his father speculating on the future of a boy unable to earn his own living, the shock immediately ended the "spells," and he suddenly became a superior student. "That was when I learned what a neurosis is." Jung often thought of himself as "a corrupt and inferior person." Like Freud, he first became a medical doctor and later began studying mental patients; his fascination with psychology and his own childhood problems made him want to learn why and how the patients reacted as the did. Freud took the young doctor under his wing, but after five years Jung broke with the master, believing that the key to most psychoses lay in the interpretation of dreams. Dreams, Jung said, were the key to the patient's unconscious mind, the one section of the brain that reflected the real thoughts and motivations of the individual. By establishing his own school of psychoanalysis, Jung seems to have cured himself, for we hear no more in his writings of his own problems, and he seems to have lived a long and contented life thereafter.

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