The New York Times has a huge article on the forthcoming publication of the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s ‘Red Book’, the notebook he kept during the six years of his ‘creative illness’ in which he was clearly psychotic but found inspiration for some of his most influential ideas.
Jung is one of the most interesting people in the history of psychology. He was both an experimentalist and an analyst in the Freudian tradition, before rejecting Freud (causing him to feint at one point!) and branching out into his own system of analytical psychology.
His works are often concerned with interests that even at the time were considered a little outlandish, such as the far reaches of world religions, UFOs and myths, but he explained almost all of them in terms of psychological phenomena.
He was the first to create a comprehensive classification of personality and his work still forms the basis of the Myers-Briggs personality inventory. He has been accused of being a Nazi, and, although untrue, it is clear that he was ambiguous about the Third Reich when a firm rejection was needed.
And most interesting, perhaps, was what he called his ‘confrontation with the unconscious’, shortly after his split from Freud, when he spent six years, largely isolated at home, having visions, hearing voices, fighting what he interpreted as his own internal forces.
Jung came out of this period with some of his most distinctive ideas all of which he noted in his ‘Red Book’ which has been kept behind closed doors by the Jung family for years.
The book has gained an almost mythical status and The New York Times article is as much about the long saga of getting into print, almost 90 years after it was written, as it is about Jung himself.
It also gives an interesting insight into the culture of Jungian analysts themselves, who have been a breed apart ever since their subversion of the Freudian mainstream after Jung went his own way.
A fascinating piece of psychological history.
Link to NYT on ‘The Holy Grail of the Unconscious’.