Carl Jung’s Analytical Psychology

Overview of Jung’s Analytical Psychology

Carl Jung believed that people are extremely complex beings who possess a variety of opposing qualities, such as introversion and extraversion, masculinity and femininity, and rational and irrational drives.


  1. Biography of Carl Jung

Carl Jung was born in Switzerland in 1875, the oldest by about 9 years of two surviving children.  Jung’s father was an idealistic Protestant minister and his mother was a strict believer in mysticism and the occult.  Jung’s early experience with parents who were quite opposite of each other probably influenced his own theory of personality, including his fanciful No. 1 and Number 2 personalities.   Soon after receiving his medical degree he became acquainted with Freud’s writings and eventually with Freud himself.  Not long after he traveled with Freud to the United States, Jung became disenchanted with Freud’s pansexual theories, broke with Freud, and began his own approach to theory and therapy, which he called analytical psychology.  From a critical midlife crisis during which he nearly lost contact with reality, Jung emerged to become one of the leading thinkers of the 20th century.  He died in 1961 at age 85.


III.       Levels of the Psyche

Jung saw the human psyche as being divided into a conscious and an unconscious level, with the latter further subdivided into a personal unconscious and a collective unconscious.

  1. Conscious

Images sensed by the ego are said to be conscious.  The ego thus represents the conscious side of personality, and in the psychologically mature individual, the ego is secondary to the self.

  1. Personal Unconscious

The unconscious refers to those psychic images not sensed by the ego.  Some unconscious processes flow from our personal experiences, but others stem from our ancestors’ experiences with universal themes.  Jung divided the unconscious into the personal unconscious, which contains the complexes (emotionally toned groups of related ideas) and the collective unconscious, which includes various archetypes.

  1. Collective Unconscious

Collective unconscious images are those that are beyond our personal experiences and that originate from the repeated experiences of our ancestors.  Collective unconscious images are not inherited ideas, but rather they refer to our innate tendency to react in a particular way whenever our personal experiences stimulate an inherited predisposition toward action.

  1. Archetypes

Contents of the collective unconscious are called archetypes.  Jung believed that archetypes originate through the repeated experiences of our ancestors and that they are expressed in certain types of dreams, fantasies, delusions, and hallucinations. Several archetypes acquire their own personality, and Jung identified these by name.  One is the persona—the side of our personality that we show to others.  Another is the shadow—the dark side of personality.  In order for people to reach full psychological maturity, they must first realize or accept their shadow.  A second hurdle in achieving maturity is for men to accept their anima—their feminine side—and for women to embrace their animu—their masculine side.  Other archetypes include the great mother (the archetype of nourishment and destruction); the wise old  man (the archetype of wisdom and meaning); and the hero, (the image we have of a conqueror who vanquishes evil but who has a single fatal flaw).  The most comprehensive archetype is the self; that is, the image we have of fulfillment, completion, or perfection.  The ultimate in psychological maturity is self-realization, which is symbolized by the mandala, or perfect geometric figure.


  1. Dynamics of the Psyche

Jung believed that the dynamic principles that apply to physical energy also apply to psychic energy.  These forces include causality and teleology as well as progression and regression.

  1. Causality and Teleology

Jung accepted a middle position between the philosophical issues of causality and teleology.  In other words, humans are motivated both by their past experiences and by their expectations of the future.

  1. Progression and Regression

To achieve self-realization people must adapt to both their external and their internal worlds. Progression involves adaptation to the outside world and the forward flow of psychic energy, whereas regression refers to adaptation to the inner world and the backward flow of psychic energy.  Jung believed that the backward step is essential to a person’s forward movement toward self-realization.


  1. Psychological Types

Eight basic psychological types emerge from the union of two attitudes and four functions.

  1. Attitudes

Attitudes are predispositions to act or react in a characteristic manner. The two basic attitudes are introversion—which refers to people’s subjective perceptions—and extraversion—which indicates an orientation toward the objective world.  Extraverts are influenced more by the real world than by their subjective perception, whereas introverts rely on their individualized view of things.  Introverts and extraverts often mistrust and misunderstand one another, but neither attitude is superior to the other.

  1. Functions

These two attitudes can combine with four basic functions to form eight general personality types.  The four functions are: (1) thinking, or recognizing the meaning of stimuli; (2) feeling, or placing a value on something; (3) sensation, or taking in sensory stimuli; and (4) intuition, or perceiving elementary data that are beyond our awareness.  Jung referred to thinking and feeling as rational functions and to sensation and intuition as irrational functions.


  1. Development of Personality

Nearly unique among personality theorists was Jung’s emphasis on the second half of life.  Jung saw middle and old age as times when people may acquire the ability to attain self-realization.

  1. Stages of Development

Jung divided development into four broad stages: (1) childhood, which lasts from birth until adolescence; (2) youth, the period from puberty until middle life, which is a time for extraverted development and for being grounded to the real world of schooling, occupation, courtship, marriage, and family; (3) middle life, from about 35 or 40 until old age and a time when people should be adopting an introverted, or subjective attitude; and (4) old age, which is a time for psychological rebirth, self-realization, and preparation for death.

  1. Self-Realization

Self-realization, or individuation, involves a psychological rebirth and an integration of various parts of the psyche into a unified or whole individual.  Self-realization represents the highest level of human development.


VII.     Jung’s Methods of Investigation

Jung used the word association test, dreams, and active imagination during the process of psychotherapy, and all these methods contributed to his theory of personality.

  1. Word Association Test

Jung used the word association test early in his career to uncover complexes embedded in the personal unconscious.  The technique requires a patient to utter the first word that comes to mind after the examiner reads a stimulus word.  Unusual responses indicate a complex; that, an element from the personal unconscious.

  1. Dream Analysis

Jung believed that dreams may have both a cause and a purpose and thus can be useful in explaining past events and in making decisions about the future.  “Big dreams” and “typical dreams,” both of which come from the collective unconscious, have meanings that lie beyond the experiences of a single individual.

  1. Active Imagination

Jung also used active imagination to arrive at collective images.  This technique requires the patient to concentrate on a single image until that image begins to appear in a different form.  Eventually, the patient should see figures that represent archetypes and other collective unconscious images.

  1. Psychotherapy

The goal of Jungian therapy is help neurotic patients become healthy and to move healthy people in the direction of self-realization.  Jung was eclectic in his choice of therapeutic techniques and treated old people differently than the young.


VIII.    Related Research

Although Jungian psychology has not generated large volumes of research, some investigators have used the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator  (MBTI; Myers, 1962) to examine the idea of psychological types.  Some research suggests that engineering students who score high on both extraversion and feeling are likely to drop out of school or change their major (Thomas et al., 2000).  .  Other research has found that teachers-in-training are more likely than other people in general to score high in intuition and feeling (Willing, Guest, & Morford, 2001).  Filbeck, Hatfield, & Horvath (2005) studied how personality affects the ways people invest their money, specifically as related to levels of risk taking.  The findings corresponded well with Jungian personality types.  The researchers concluded that personality of investors is an important factor to consider.


  1. Critique of Jung

Although Jung considered himself a scientist, many of his writings have more of a philosophical than a psychological flavor.  As a scientific theory, it rates below average on its ability to generate research, but very low on its ability to withstand falsification.  It is about average on its ability to organize knowledge but low on each of the other criteria of a useful theory.


  1. Concept of Humanity

Jung saw people as extremely complex beings who are a product of both conscious and unconscious personal experiences.  However, people are also motivated by inherited remnants that spring from the collective experiences of their early ancestors.  Because Jungian theory is a psychology of opposites, it receives a moderate rating on the issues of free will versus determinism, optimism versus pessimism, and causality versus teleology.  It rates very high on unconscious influences, low on uniqueness, and low on social influences.


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