Carl Gustav Jung was a famous psychiatrist, as you no doubt know – or can presently discover on Wikipedia. But his is not a name that springs to the lips as readily as Freud’s. We make ‘Freudian slips’ we do not make ‘Jungian slips’. Considering how often one hears Jung’s ideas echoed in all manner of ways, this is a little hard to understand.
His problem perhaps, is a reflection of the age we live in. In the western world, at least, we are fast becoming a secular society. And, with the advent of the new discoveries in neuroscience, the soft science of psychology is well on its way to becoming a hard one. In view of all the fabulous things that we can visualise with modern scanning techniques, psychiatrists and psychologists are going to run from people like Jung who thought that we are more than simply a brain, that consciousness is more than just a byproduct of protoplasm. He believed that man has a spiritual nature. His was the psychology of the soul.
So Jung was a bit of a mystic, and these days the ideas of mystics are not going to headline in the scientific journal of anything. On the other hand, they are tremendous fun. Almost every fairy story can be viewed, arguably, as a Jungian journey. The hero starts out, he meets the challenges and the monsters and he comes home a better man. Whole. He’s found his heart, he’s found his courage and he knows, at the end, who he is. You can’t ask for much more than that from life and Carl Jung tried hard to help us understand how to get it.