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The Top 10 - Page 16

 

8. Carl Jung

Carl Jung lit his farts on camping trips, danced with tribal people in Africa, built a stone tower with his own hands, socialized with his patients, and installed his mistress in his house (breaking his wife's heart). He was unafraid to delve psychologically into mysticism, the occult, alchemy—anywhere he thought he could find truths. Without him, there'd have been no Joseph Campbell or the legions of myth-minded, spiritual authors whose ideas have found their way into many aspects of contemporary psychotherapy. Some think of him as the first manifestation of the therapist-as-rock-star because he had groupies and often seemed more like a guru than a therapist. But Jung originated the basic form of psychotherapy still practiced today in most fields: unlike Freud, he faced his patients, talking, consoling, taking their ideas seriously as they sat across a table. "I realized," he wrote, "that one gets nowhere unless one talks to people about the things they know."

It was Jung who first argued that we possess male and female aspects (animus and anima), as well as an unacknowledged, forbidding region, which he called the Shadow. He introduced the concepts of "introvert," "extrovert," "synchronicity," and "the complex." As family therapists one day would emphasize, he was less interested in what stage of childhood his patients were stuck in than how they were evolving in the present. For Jung, the unconscious was not Freud's forbidding "id," but a sea of meaningful, resonant symbols, which cut across cultures and historical eras. He believed that "individuation"—a marriage of the conscious and the unconscious parts of our being that reconciles our opposite character traits—was the highest goal. And it was Jung who developed the radical idea, explicated in our era by James Hillman, that neuroses and other psychological problems should be recognized not only as symptoms to be cured, but as messages from the unconscious that, if addressed with insight, point the way to a more fulfilling life.

Jung was the first psychoanalytic thinker to attempt a means of understanding collective human behavior. He believed that individual character flowed from an ancient collective pool of myths and archetypes: humanity's age-old symbols swimming in what he postulated was a "collective unconscious." "Although we human beings have our own personal life," he wrote, "we are yet in large measure the representatives, the victim and promoters of a collective spirit whose years are counted in centuries."

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