Carl Jung & Human Development


Carl Gustav Jung might be one of the most well-known psychotherapists and psychiatrists aside from Sigmund Freud. Jung’s theories and philosophies are well-known, and many people may be using terms or ideas coined by Jung without even knowing it (Carter, 2011). Jung was born July 26, 1875 In Kesswil, Switzerland, by Lake Constance (Casement, 2001).  He was an only child for part of his childhood (Casement, 2001). Jung had two brothers, but both died during infancy (Casement, 2001). At the age of nine, Jung’s sister, Trudi, was born (Casement, 2001). Jung’s father was a pastor at the Basel Reformed Church (Casement, 2001). His mother was emotionally unstable and spent time in a mental hospital, which had an impact on Jung (Casement, 2001).

Jung was immersed in his dreams as a young child. There were a few dreams that stuck with Jung throughout his life (Casement, 2001). Jung’s focus on the dream world is represented his life’s work. Jung attended medical school in Basel where he decided to take on psychiatry (Carter, 2011). During his residency, Jung took on research under Eugen Bleuler studying psychosis and schizophrenia (Casement, 2001). In fact, Bleuler was the one who coined the term schizophrenia (Casement, 2001).

On February 27, 1907, Jung met face-to-face with Freud (Casement, 2001). Jung and Freud worked together, but eventually fell out of relationship due to theoretical differences (Casement, 2001). Jung had difficulty believing in Freud’s sexual theory. Freud once mentioned to Jung, “My dear Jung, promise me never to abandon the sexual theory. This is the most essential thing of all. You see, we must make a dogma of it, an unshakable bulwark” (Corey, 2009, p. 79). Jung was interested in understanding consciousness and personality by examining spirituality, mythology, and dreams rather than through sexual energy. As Jung split away from Freud’s psychoanalytical approach, Jung developed his own school of thought called, analytical psychology (Corey, 2009). Corey (2009) describes this approach as utilizing and incorporating history, anthropology, religion, and mythology to understand human nature.

Jung’s approach to living was based around symbols and symbolic language (Casement, 2001). One way that Jung worked with the symbolic language of nature was through dreams (Casement, 2001). The purpose of working with dreams and other symbolic language was to help understand how to live a better life. Jung believed that dreams could help inform one about how to live and how to work towards developing a better life in the future (Carter, 2011). The concept of better understanding one’s life through symbology and dreams is central to Jung’s theory on personal development.

Individuation is a Jungian concept that describes the integration of the unconscious and conscious aspects of one’s self (Corey, 2009). Jung believed that the process of life was to individuate and believed that dreams and symbols were a way to work with the different parts of self. Corey (2009) states that Jung did not believe that just past events shaped who we are, but that the future also has an influence on development and personality. An individual’s personality is shaped by who he or she was and what has happened to them, but also what the person is aspiring to become in the future. (Corey, 2009). Jung believed that humans were driven towards individuation, but often needed someone to help guide them, such as a therapist (Corey, 2009).

During Jung’s middle age, he experienced a crisis of shedding his old beliefs. He writes about this experience in the book, Memories, Dreams, Reflections at the age of 81 (Corey, 2009). Kail and Cavanaugh (2013) state that Jung believed in the middle-aged crisis as a developmental process and that this concept was a focus of his theory and work. Jung believed that the beliefs and patterns that help with getting one through the first part of his or her life were no longer needed (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2013). Jung also believed that the lack of symbolic language and symbolic life in many people’s lives was the cause and reason for neurosis (Casement, 2001). The expression of the symbolic life was the need and desire of the soul (Casement, 2001).

Overall, Jung was very influenced by his own personal life. Jung’s vivid dreams world and need to understand the spiritual domain of life is very present in his theories. Towards his later years, Jung believed that the mid-life crisis is an important development phase because it allows one to let go of old parts of self and start to move towards a more whole version of self. Jung believed that by working with the unconscious and conscious, and bringing to light both parts were important for a person’s own process of individuation. Dream work and working with archetypal and symbolic images was one way that Jung understood the process of individuation. Finally, Jung believed that for a person to become whole, they must balance both the light and the shadow parts of one’s personality as well as balance the masculine and feminine energies.

 

References:

Carter, D. (2011). Carl Jung in the twenty-first century. Contemporary Review, (1703), 441.

Casement, A. (2001). Key figures in counselling and psychotherapy series: Carl Gustav Jung. London, GB: SAGE Publications.

Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Kail, R. V., & Cavanaugh, J. C. (2013). Human development: A life-span view (6th ed.). Boston, MA, United States: CENGAGE Learning Custom Publishing.


 

The Big Chew Podcast: Psychedelics, Healing, and Transformation

Kyle was recently invited on the Big Chew podcast to talk about his world with breathwork. Check it out! Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

From The Big Chew Podcast

Can psychedelic drugs, and breathing techniques that achieve similar states, help heal our individual and collective emotional pain? Can they help us transform our society?

 

Here’s what we talk about in this episode’s delicious stuffing:

  • The Multidisciplinary Assoc. for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and their sponsored, peer-reviewed research
  • How the War on Drugs delayed this research by decades
  • Kyle’s “near death” experience and his path; Joe’s path through philosophy, ayahuasca, and breathwork
  • Holotropic Breathwork, a non-substance alternative
  • Integration—a key to these therapeutic uses of psychedelics
  • The likeness of these journeys to mythic ones
  • The role of elders
  • Are we entering a psychedelic revolution?
  • Inventing new “rites of passage” (beyond getting a driver’s license and being able to buy booze.)

Spiritual Orphanhood: How Being Disconnected From Nature Stunts Human Development

I recently listened to an episode of Shrink Rap Radio exploring archetypes, the soul’s journey, and the concept of the archetypal orphan in the world. The radio host, Dr. Dave, interviews the Jungian analyst, Erel Shalit about his book, The Cycle of Life.

The orphan, meaning, the one who is abandoned by their parents or lost their parents because of death, illness, or even neglect. This archetype can also be viewed as a cycle throughout human development – when one is abandoned and alone in the world.

Is the archetypal image of the orphan universal and is it universal throughout life-stages? This answer may vary depending how one views the archetype of the orphan. If it is view literally, as an abandoned child, it may not be universal because not everyone experiences this type of abandonment in life. If viewed archetypally and symbolically, it seems appropriate to say that it is a universal feeling since abandonment is a common theme throughout life-stages as Shalit states in the podcast (Van Nuys, 2015). If we view the orphan through a spiritual viewpoint, again, this seems like an appropriate assessment to say that many people are suffering because they do not realize they are orphans of the world – spiritually, psychologically, and physically displaced with a lack of cultural narratives that provide a root for what it means to be “home” in the world.

I will touch base on the notion of this spiritual orphan. I do not have an accurate source for this since my books are scattered and I could not find it online anywhere, but this concept comes from the author, Martin Prechtel. The concept is either in one of his books or I heard it at a lecture he gave years back. Prechtel speaks a lot of the importance of expressing grief, praising life, and mourning those who have passed on. He often speaks about “ghosts” as uninitiated ancestors who have passed on and continue to cause problems (Jenson, 2001). The way that I see the term “ghost” as Prechtel speaks of is another way to suggest that ancestral traumas continue getting passed down throughout generations. Dan Siegel (2015) emphasizes the important role of epigenesis, and how experience can change the expression of genes. The way that I see Prechtel speak about the spiritual forces, the ghosts, is not too different from trauma being passed down through epigenetics.

Prechtel goes on to say how these traumas and these “ghosts” chase individuals.

That’s why all the great migrations of the past several thousand years have been to the west: because people are running away from the ghosts. The people stop and try to live in a new place for a while, but the ghosts always catch up with them and create enormous wars and pain and problems, which feed the hungry hordes of ghosts. Then the people continue on, always moving, never truly at home. Now we have an entire culture based on our fleeing or being devoured by ghosts. (Jensen, 2001, p. 1)

Now onto the part that I do not fully have citations for. Prechtel speaks about how since much of the Western culture and much of the world is running from these traumas or not integrating/processing them, this makes us all orphans to the world. We have all forgotten where we have come from, and that there might be a much bigger force or parent (The Earth) in the world. Just like the orphan, we never feel at home in the world, and feel abandoned by the forces of nature and a higher power/the parents of this world. We are all simply orphans of the world trying to find home. Prechtel also touches on the importance of rites of passages in many cultures and how these pivotal events help the transition of life-stages.

Ralph Metzner (1995), an ecopsychologist, diagnoses human culture with a metaphorical diagnosis of “autism” and “amnesia.” The autism diagnosis relating to not being able to feel, sense, or communicate with the Earth or the parent. The amnesia is due to forgetting that the earth is alive and forgetting how to live in harmony with the it (Metzner, 1995). These metaphoric diagnoses can also be seen as the archetype of the orphan; feeling abandoned, alone, and afraid in the world, and not being able to recognize their parents. Even when the child feels safe or has a new home, the child does not completely feel safe because of his or her previous experience. As Shalit (2011) mentions, “the archetypal image becomes frozen in the psyche of the traumatized person” (p. 3). Dan Siegel (2015) also mentions that memories of the past can play a role in how one lives in the present and predicts future events.

I think that Siegel (2015) pulls this all together with his theory of epigenetics, memory, and trauma. The one piece that I appreciate about Siegel is his emphasis on relationship. It seems that relationship is a huge part of life and how we are in relationship with the world and in our social lives can inform our inner experience. An example of this can be highlighted again by Metzner. Metzner (1995) critiques Erik Erikson’s stages of developments and mentions that without the proper infant-caregiver relationship, basic trust and mistrust become off. He goes on to state that if this trust-mistrust is off, as with the orphan, then the child begins to lash out again nature (the parent) and feel as if the nature has deceived and failed them (Metzner, 1995). This lashing out and feeling of abandonment continues throughout the life-stages.

The question is, how do we move past this stage of orphanhood? Is there a way to do so? Or will we forever be stuck in a cycle of childhood?

It seems that our connection with the earth is important, and we need to rekindle that flame if we wish to move forward in our human development. It seems that this current political climate that we are facing in the United States and throughout the world is in relation to the disconnection of the earth and nature. 

References: 

Siegel, D. J. (2015). The developing mind, Second edition: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are. New York, NY, United States: Guilford Publications.

Jensen, D. (2001). Saving the indigenous soul: An interview with Martin Prechtel. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from The Sun Magazine, http://thesunmagazine.org/issues/304/saving_the_indigenous_soul?page=1

Metzner, Ralph. (1995). The psychopathology of the human-nature relationship. Roszak, T., Gomes, M., & Kanner, A. (Eds.), Ecopsychology: restoring the Earth and healing the mind (pp.55-67). Berkley, Los Angeles, CA: Sierra Club Books.

Shalit, E. (2011). The cycle of life: Themes and tales of the journey. United States: Fisher King Press.

Van Nuys, D. (2015 August, 27). Shrink rap radio. Retrieved from http://shrinkrapradio.com/470-the-cycle-of-life-with-israeli-jungian-analyst-erel-shalit/

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