Jung, Carl Gustav


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Carl Gustav Jung was born in Switzerland in 1875. He studied medicine at the University of Basel and during this time read widely in theology and philosophy. His developing interest in the psyche was met more by the psychiatric writings of Krafft-Ebing than by the medical curriculum of the day, and this influenced the direction of his career. His first appointment, in 1900, was as a physician in a mental hospital in Zurich. Here he developed and used word association tests and became interested in the apparent fantasies that these sometimes revealed. In 1902-3 he studied psychopathology with Pierre Janet at the Saltpétrière in Paris.

Jung became a lecturer at the University of Zurich in 1905 and two years later published a pioneering book on schizophrenia, The Psychology of Dementia Praecox. He sent a copy to Sigmund Freud, which led to a meeting between them in Vienna. This was the start of a very close association that lasted until 1913. For four of these years Jung was President of the International Psychoanalytical Association and Freud, who was twenty years his senior, saw him as his heir apparent. In the early years of their collaboration Jung defended Freudian theories but from 1910 he began to pursue his own investigations into myths, legends and fairy-tales and their significance for understanding psychopathology. Jung's concern to understand people in a historical context that gave their lives meaning and dignity was increasingly at odds with Freud's more mechanistic view of human behaviour as being explicable in terms of causal links stretching back into childhood. Jung also considered that Freud was too dogmatic in his views and not amenable to debate and argument.
After Jung left the inner circle in 1913 he spent the next 20 years travelling, writing and pursuing his therapeutic work. He founded the Society for Analytical Psychology and in 1933 published probably his most significant book, Psychological Types, which he described as “a descriptive study of the psyche which enables us to formulate certain theories about its structure”. In the book he presented his ideas about extraversion and introversion. He returned to academic teaching in his late fifties and combined this with a private therapy practice in Zurich.
Carl Jung died in 1961.