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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    • That's a great insight on the matter from Kerenyi!
      • Here's how Giegerich puts it:

        “It has been pointed out by GRINNELL and HILLMAN and recently again by MOGENSON that Jung himself described in his autobiography how he had been taught the idea of "psychic objectivity, the reality of the psyche" by his inner figures. It above all was the figure of Philemon that "brought home to me the cru­cial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life" (ibid.). What jung here terms the crucial insight that had been brought home to him is what I mean by the real No­tion or Concept. It is not the (irrational) event that Jung has had this experience from the unconscious that is crucial here. Rather it is the fact that the rational no­tion of "soul," of the "reality of soul," dawned on him and became the inalienable insight within which he experienced and thought from then on. Jung had compre­hended what "soul" means, and he had been "placed" into this concept, so that it became his arche, his standpoint. It had become the center and the circumference of his vision and reflection. This is singular.”

  • Anthony: Thanks for the reminder about John Sanford and Morton Kelsey. Kelsey's work with dreams was the bridge that allowed me to venture into dreamwork prior to my jumping in with both feet in Freud and Jung. Still have his dream book on my shelf as one of the "keepers."

    bob: I actually see the various ways we come to or swim around all the DP stuff as its strength. To me it mirrors what I like about Jung who is willing to write volumes and then with a shrug implying, "there is more in heavan and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy..."

    I also am aware of folks who get credit for "original" thinking who have not given proper recognition to their sources. Sometimes the originality is in being able to present the original information in a more accessible and/or interesting way. Such talent is commendable, but that being said, such authors still need to give the proper nod to those who have gone before.

  • Like you, there's definitely the "normal" work-a-day, earn a paycheck me... and I only knew that particular history because I so often come across folks having at least a passing knowledge about Campbell, but knowing nothing about Jung...

    Was naively unaware that Campbell gets dissed (with Jung as a primary culprit) for not being original in thought... we all (Jung included) stand on the shoulders of giants... and none of us have original thought... some of us are just better than others at smoke and mirrors and in synthesizing a cacophony of ideas into new container that appears to be novel and harmonious... Campbell's legacy owes more to Bill Moyers than anyone else...

    How many unknown mentors (like Zimmer) are out there that never attract much attention in the general population? Face it... you and I are odd birds in that we (not being card carrying members of academia) have even heard of Zimmer...

    Although I previously spoke a little as to why Jung, mine was a long evolution from becoming a member of what was called the Jesus Movement at 17 years of age (1971), then increasingly disillusioned by the underlying fundamentalism, eventually moving away from all religion, and then discovering the writings of Jungian Episcopalian priest  Morton Kelsey and former Episcopalian priest John Sanford. 

    Of course, the evolution continues on... and 57 year old me sometimes looks back at the wet behind the ears 17 year old me and even the 27 year old me with a sense of: was I ever really that have-it-all-figured-out, know-it-all kid... I increasingly know less and less...

  • best questions, best answers.
    •  'Jungian' is a useful meme for signaling and broadcasting your sensibilities to people; More today, Jungian has become a brand, with a subtext promising degrees of entry to a secret society.  I use the word as a simple adjective, not a brand.  I am not a joiner.

      Seems to me that the message of Jung's life work and teaching, the walking of his talking, encourages us to eschew any trappings, no scripture/verse/priesthood, and to stay on point, namely, to accomplish the Great Work and be authentically oneself.  

      Jung told a healing story about this problem, the old man in the cave, but, alas, he was canonized while still alive.  He famously retorted: "Thank God I am Jung and not a Jungian."

      • He famously retorted: "Thank God I am Jung and not a Jungian."
        Jeremiah: Oh, yes. I love that anecdote, and I like your observation as 'Jungian' as a shorthand, or the pointing to of a certain doorway. I have a feeling this work tends to attract non-joiners in general. (Kudos, then, to Bonnie for the site. :)
    • Hey Bob! I absolutely Joe... and you likely already know much of what follows but these strange histories and connections fascinate me:

      Joseph Campbell was first introduced to Freud and Jung's ideas in the late 1920s as a young man studying in France on a Fellowship. From what I can gather... this time spent in France was when Campbell's fuse got lit to a whole of host of ideas and experiences.


      Campbell continued his studies of Jung's writings when he (Campbell) came back to the States and then in the early 1940s Campbell met up with the likes of Heinrich Zimmer, Maude Oakes, and Paul and Mary Mellon (all "Jungian" type folks). When Zimmer died in 1943, Zimmer's widow requested that Campbell finish her husband unpublished books. So Campbell then spent the next decade editing (finishing up) three of Zimmer's books on Indiology (including the King and the Corpse - a book much beloved by Jungian type folks).


      This all ends up being vitally important to Campbell (and to all of us that love him) because the Mellons are the ones (as founders of the Bollingen Series) that in 1949 publish The Hero with a Thousand Faces (which had already received numerous rejections).


      Campbell finally got to meet Jung in 1953 while in Switzerland as he (Campbell) becomes the editor of the Eranos Yearbooks. 

    • My own thoughts most closely mirror Anthony's in that the answer to "Why Jung?" is Jungian psychology's attention to soul. For many years I felt that there were two parts of me, the part oriented toward psychology, and the mystic, the part oriented toward spirit. My psychologically oriented part judged my mystical experiences as thoroughly flaky, and even irresponsible, and my mystical part judged my psychological oriented self as rigidly tied to the experience of concrete reality. Jungian allowed me to integrate both aspects of myself: to be cerebral and psychic, poetic and rational. This experience alone makes me a Jungian, though there are many other experiences as well, including more "ah ha" moments through dream work than I could possibly ever count.


      • Melissa: Thank you. That's beautifully put, and echoes my own inner experience and appreciation.
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