Why Jung?

Hello all!


I've been reading through the various profiles and posts here, and appreciating, deeply, the unique backgrounds and perspectives each of you bring to this community. And it's made me increasingly curious about a question I've wondered about myself. What makes you a Jungian, or what called you to Jung? 


So I thought I'd pose it here. What called you to Jungian psychology, or the Jungian approach? Do you consider yourself a Jungian, or do you avoid the label? What was it about Jung's writings that spoke to you? What does it mean, in your mind, to be a Jungian? 



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  • Why Jung? Giegerich continues (with my brackets on Heidegger]:

    “b) The thinker

    The fact that jung had a real notion of soul, i.e., that the Notion of soul had come alive for him and taken hold of him, authenticates his work as a psychologist. As is well known, Jung himself always wanted to be seen as an empiricist. This self-interpretation is very problematic. The word "empiricist" can be used in different ways. In many senses of the word, especially the one that generally prevails today in the popular understanding of science, Jung was not an empiricist (except in some of his early studies like those around the association experiment, studies which, however, are not representative for the spirit and method of his psychology). But in our context we could make Jung's self-interpretation stick, provided we are willing to take "empirical" to refer to the fact that his whole work was fired and substantiated by the real experience of the Notion of soul. In this sense, the word empiricist would be synonymous with the word thinker as, e.g., Heidegger uses it [that is in an existential sense as a fundamental mode of being-in-the-world. Heidegger also made the distinction between "calculative thinking" and "meditative thinking", only in the latter could the union of thought and being take place as the Event of Truth. We need to remove "thinking" from the functionalist fantasy of the typological scheme but as a fundamental way of KNOWING the world of the soul]. Jung is the thinker of the soul. According to Heidegger each great thinker has (or better 'thinks'), at bottom, only one single thought, and his entire work (that may be laid down in many volumes and may even include shifts of position) is the working out and unfolding of this one thought. And this thought is, according to Heidegger, not "thought up" by the thinker; it comes to him, namely Aus der Erfahrung des Denkens ("From the Experience of Thought," as volume 13 of his collected works is entitled). And the one thought of Jung's as an "empiricist" or great thinker is the Notion of soul. Jung was able to think the Notion "soul," which means to experience life, all the various phenomena of life, through this one thought as his lens, one might say. In everything he experienced he was able to hold his place in the Notion "soul." This one thought was binding for all his psychological work; he did not allow the inherent pull of phenomena to seduce him into looking at them in the light of perspectives that they might suggest.” (SOUL'S LOGICAL LIFE)

  • Have the book but haven't read it yet. One of my cohort who is into dreamwork more than I took his workshop with the book and couldn't have been more impressed.
  • For what it's worth... here are some of my rec's: My rec's 

    The newest book listed is by Aizenstat, founding President of Pacifica, so maybe one of the many Pacifica people here can speak to whether they'd recommend it.

  • Morton Kelsey's book is God, Dreams, and Revelations: A Christian Interpretation of Dreams (1968/1974). Kelsey was an Episcopal priest and studied under Jung in Switzerland. Don't let the subtitle scare you off. It is more of an apologetic in support of dreams as a means of "God's" communicating with humanity and some suggested approaches. As to Jungian interpretation of dreams, I'm not sure which way to go. I remember in my counseling training I was once told to learn all the techniques but as soon as the client enters the room, forget them all, they will crop up when you need them. So...I don't have one book, but I do think von Franz is my choice for a good read that is much clearer than Jung himself.

    I can mail you the Kelsey book if you have trouble finding it because of its date.


  • So Giegerich continues on this topic showing that we mean by "Jungian" can mean adherence to his subjective beliefs as a Swiss nationalist, etc.., vs commitment to his theory of the human soul as an authentic field of knowledge (gnosis):

    “One can see the advantages of my formulation for what is characteristic for Jung over the ones Kerenyi gave [of taking the soul as a reality of its own]. First of all, it does not prejudge the experience it refers to by including words like 'believing,' 'reality' or 'existence,' words that are loaded with meanings extraneous to the experience. Another aspect is even more important. Kerenyi spoke of Jung's taking the soul for real, his believing in the existence of the soul. Here we always have a division between a subjective act or attitude of the mind and the objective reality that is supposed to be attested to by that attitude, but that is much rather relativized, because it is shown to be dependent on one's subjective "taking for..." The fact that Jung believed in the reality of the soul is no more than a historical, biographical bit of information, but is of no theoretical significance; it does not have the status of an argument, just as the fact that many Church members believe in the existence of God and atheists do not. If Jung takes something for real, so what? There are people who take UFOs and Martians for real. Unless Jung has already been accepted as an authority, his subjective beliefs or views do not commit anyone else. But even if the "reality of the psyche" is accepted on the basis of his authority, this idea is for that very reason again not of theoretical significance. However, by saying Jung had a real Concept of soul, we have shifted our statement about what was Jung's distinction from a subjective assertion or confession to a theoretical statement. And we have also thereby freed the idea of the "reality of the soul" from the stigma (that it inevitably bore) of a matter of faith or of a metaphysical, supersti­tious idea and granted it the dignity of in itself being theoretical. As such, it is subjective-objective. The Notion is not a matter of subjective faith, inasmuch as notions can potentially be conceived by any human mind. They are not anybody's private property; they are, qua notions, universal. But on the other hand, the No­tion of soul does not hypostatize what it is the notion of. It does not involve the claim that there is a mystical entity called soul somewhere "out there," nor a bio­logical factor called psyche in us, or an interpersonal communication factor. Both the "metaphysical" and the reductive (biological or sociological) misunderstand­ings have no place here. As notion, it is the property of the mind. A psychology based on the Notion of soul is not transgressing the borders of its field (the meta­physical, the body, society). It is rooted in something that falls within its own realm of competence.

     Also, by speaking of the Notion of soul I did not have to prejudge Jung's con­cept of the reality of the soul in another sense: I did not have to introduce the terms "archetype" and "archetypal." The problem is not so much that these terms are controversial. What is worse is that they are the product of Jung's theorizing on the basis of the Notion of soul. Therefore, they should not be used to describe what was behind them.”

  • Bob and Anthony: I only wanted to quietly echo Bob's appreciation. This has been a lovely dialogue to listen in on.
  • Been thinking on it... and just wanted to mention that I really liked and appreciated what you had to say here to Bob.
  • was a psych major in college. i wanted to become a psychologist and have a 'bob newhart' practice and make a ton of money and marry suzanne pleshette.

    That's just plain funny (and spooky)... we both know who Zimmer is and we both wanted to be "Bob Newhart." I later on decided to be Perry Mason, but it was an inevitability I would discover that, too, was pure fantasy.

    And getting hooked on Campbell on PBS much to your families' chagrin? Priceless... I find him absolutely mesmerizing and fascinating to listen to, and am hurt and shocked when others don't share my enthusiasms for him... 

  • Although I avoid the label "Jungian", and even consider it a fundamental misunderstanding of his work, I agree with Wolfgang Giegerich in SOUL'S LOGICAL LIFE who formulated an answer to the very question you pose here

    "Why jung? In a posthumously published fragmentary manuscript about "Contacts with C. G. Jung," Karl kerenyi wrote in 1961, the year ofJuNG's death, "If I now, looking back upon the phenomenon C. G. Jung, put into words what was most characteristic about him, also on the basis of personal contacts during the last twenty years, then it is taking the soul for real. For no psychologist of our time, the psyche possessed such concreteness and importance as for him."  On the margin of his manuscript, the author had written a quotation from JUNG's Memories, Dreams, Reflections to this passage, "Damals habe ich mich in den Dienst der Seele gestellt. Ich habe sie geliebt und habe sie gehafit, aber sie war mem grofiter Reichtum." ("It was then that I dedicated myself to the service of the psyche. I loved it and hated it, but it was my greatest wealth.") In another marginal comment to his text Kerenyi quoted his own letter to C. J. Burckhardt of December 18,1961, "Jung wrote me ... citing an alchemist, 'maior autem animae [pars] extra corpus est and he really meant it. He stands out as the only one—at least I have not found a second one among the not confessionally bound psychologists—, who among his colleagues firmly believed in the existence of the soul."

    I think kereny hit the nail on the head. His assessment is borne out by what we know about jung and can tell from his work, from the spirit of his psychology. There are two aspects of it. The first is that for Jung the soul was a concrete and living reality. The second is that Jung for that very reason stands out among all his contemporary colleagues. He and his sense of the reality of the psyche are singular."

    • Reading what you have written reminds me of the debates in law: letter of the law vs. intent of the law. I have always read Jung's writings keeping the intent as foundational and the letter as fascinating.
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