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Psychoanalyst had his own childhood demons

Carol A. Wright

By A Contributor

Albert Camus said “You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”

Talk about a paradox: Lowe’s Home Improvement is excellent in breaking down all the “how-to’s” that make any project comprehensible to many individuals. But when it comes to the tools and hardware necessary to understand Carl Jung, newcomers to his theories and non-followers can slip up, feeling clueless, confused, unconvinced or even lost.

Thank heavens for Claire Dunne, who has studied Jung extensively and is able to present the Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist in a more clear and brighter light in “Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul.”

This new outstanding Watkins Publishing edition was made possible with the financial support of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation of New York. The author’s gracious contribution to Jungian scholarship continues to receive wide acclaim from professionals and academics. It also serves as an informative base for wider readership.

Although some would prefer to explore Jung’s own personal works and endeavors in the field of analytical psychology, which he founded in the 1900’s, they and others might be further stimulated by Dunne’s close examination of Jung’s childhood, education, his association with (and “divorce” from) Sigmund Freud, relationships with women patients and co-workers, most notably with Sabrina Spielrein, his fears and demons, years spent with his wife, Emma, and frequent visions and dreams related to religion.

Often referred to as C.G. Jung, Carl Gustav Jung was born in 1875, in Kesswil, Switzerland, to parents Johann Paul Achilles Jung and Emilie Preiswerk. As a child, he often spent time alone and tended to his thoughts. Dunne reveals him as an “outsider.” His so-called “inner landscape” depicted very troubled “portraits of a little boy, bewildered and wondering at an incomprehensibly beautiful and hideously profane and deceitful world.”

Reading about Jung’s dreams and visions, for me, was like being in the center of a misty forest, petrified, not able to make any sense of this maze of darkness with only little chance of coming out into the light. It’s no wonder that Jung had conflicting emotions and views about good and evil.

He was in awe of God, yet feared His power. Jung’s development of “divine darkness” was offensive to many. It represented a paradox of both good and evil contained in God as One.

Jung’s dreams or visions were almost comparable to somebody who would experience awful nightmares, extremely vivid dreams or hallucinations. It is a wonder how he could try to help himself understand God, different cultures, nature, his own emotions, let alone earn the respect and admiration of so many patients who looked up to him for treatment, advice, companionship and life’s purpose.

Dunne points out that Jung always had been sensitive to the separation of his parents.

Most people can probably understand why he experienced such confusion during his lifetime; his mother held fast to an interest in the occult, and, thus, supported her son’s own interest in the subject.

His father, a cleric, tended to force his belief in God on his son, claiming that his son would often think too much, when all he had to do was just believe.

Jung developed disturbing thoughts and feelings of death that suffocated him. Dunne offers an excerpt from Jung’s autobiography, “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”:

“...My father would be there in his clerical gown, speaking in a resounding voice. Women wept. I was told that someone was being buried in this hole in the ground….I began to distrust Lord Jesus. He lost the aspect of a big, comforting, benevolent bird and became associated with the gloomy black men in frock coats, top hats, and shiny black boots who busied themselves with the black box….”

Jung can be remembered for many contributions to the field of psychology and psychiatry. He developed the concepts of what we have come to recognize as the conscious and unconscious (or the collective unconscious). His Personality Theory still holds true today, that an individual’s entire being or ‘psyche,’ is determined by the two, the conscious and unconscious.

In her book, Dunne writes about many things that shaped Jung’s beliefs and opinions about nature, art, philosophy, anthropology,  world-wide religious beliefs, and human qualities of leadership, empathy and motivation.

He also was blessed with his own special empathy for others, and despite his somewhat intimidating size, he would make friends and strangers feel at ease. And while he suffered numerous dark moods and life-threatening illnesses, Jung could still find his sense of humor.

In “Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul,” Dunne shares reminiscences from Jung as well as from others who knew him and those who did not know him as well. She provides comments from a variety of individuals regarding his death.Dunne also leaves readers with their own interpretations of Jung’s principles and theories, and why in modern times people still find him a man of great integrity and influence.

Carol A. Wright is a former Manhattan resident who currently works as a freelance writer.

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