When my patients come into my office in El Masnou, their attention often gets caught by a painting on the wall with the image of a man. Some ask who the man is and why the painting is there, others wonder if he is a relative or a guru, given the central position I gave him in my working space. Well, the man inside a beautiful black frame hanging on my wall is Carl Gustav Jung. He took the place of a mandala that used to be there, and is now inspiring my work, while he also gets known by the people who step into my office. Now, who was Carl Gustav Jung and why is he hanging on my wall? When I say his name many do not know him, so I prefer to explain him through another relevant figure.
Jung was born nineteen years after Sigmund Freud, who is the father of Psychoanalysis and the theory of the unconscious mind. However, when I used to study Psychology in Buenos Aires, during the 1990’s, Jung was only mentioned as the one who disagreed with Freud’s theories and choose a more “mystic” approach, which is why he then parted ways with his early mentor. Years later, while I was studying to become a yoga teacher, more or less twenty years ago, I heard again about Jung: I learnt that he studied oriental techniques and arts, including yoga and spontaneous production of mandalas, and opened a dialogue between East and West about these topics. When I arrived in Spain, fifteen years ago, I felt the need to know more about him and his work, so I started to read about him as an autodidact, and then took a specific course on his school of thought and contribution to Modern Psychology. He was born in Swiss on 26th July in 1875 from a family of humble origins, his father was a pastor and his mother a medium. He died at 86 years of age, on the 6th of June in 1961. Unlikely Freud, who was a neurologist, Jung, who was a psychiatrist, never saw the existence of the Unconscious as a means to treat mental illnesses, while his work was focused on athorough analyses for self-realisation of the human being to the fullest potential, the development of personality and creative activities. His objective was to find the connection between the individual and the universal soul, or the Collective Unconscious. Jung was a pioneer in the field of the soul and believed that the soul is connected to the spirit. This also shows a connection with the ancient oriental practices, such as the philosophy of yoga. The study of soul was Jung’s passion and damnation too, because his own soul was also troubled. Due to his breakup with Freud in 1913, to define his approach, Jung abandons the word “Psychoanalysis” and chooses “Analytical Psychology”, as it is known nowadays.
Collective Unconscious, archetypes, extroverted/introverted, the analysis of the “shadow archetype” (the unknown side, everything a person is not fully conscious of) are all words which we have to thank Jung for. He also created a number of important concepts: the “anima/animus”, describing the animus as the unconscious masculine side of a woman, and the anima as the unconscious feminine side of a man, each transcending the personal psyche; the symbolism used in the work with dreams to access the Shadow, and the differentiation of it from the Self and the Ego. In Analytical Psychology, through the “individuation process”, individuals become conscious of the Persona, which is the mask we take on in our every day life. After different stages which to be explained would require an extensive writing, the experience of the Self happens with greater self-consciousness.
I’d like to finish this post with a powerful sentence that I bring with me in my daily work as a psychologist and is related to the creation of a relationship that can heal: “Psychotherapy is basically a conversational relationship between a physician and a patient, a dialogue as a tool for
knowledge and understanding”. (Carl Gustav Jung, Complete Works, Volume 11).