Carl Jung — Biography

Carl Jung as a child * 26. 07. 1875 - Kesswil, Thurgau, Switzerland
06. 06. 1961 - Zurich, Switzerland

«Fate will have it (and this has always been the case with me) that all the „outer“ aspects of my life should be accidental. Only what is interior has proved to have substance and a determining value. As a result, all memory of outer events has faded, and perhaps these „Outer“ experiences were never so very essential anyhow, or were so only in that they coincided with phases of my inner development.

An enormous part of these „outer“ manifestations of my life has vanished from my memory — for the very reason, so it has seemed to me, that I participated in them with all my energies. Yet these are the very things that make up a sensible biography: persons one has met, travels, adventures, entanglements, blows of destiny, and so on. But with few exceptions all these things have become for me phantasms which I barely recollect and which my mind has no desire to reconstruct, for they no longer stir my imagination.»

(«Memories, dreams, reflections» C.G.Jung, A.Jaffe)

Thou for Carl Jung himself actual events were much less of importance than their influence on his soul and psycho, we will try to stuck mostly to the milestones of his life story and his thoughts and theories over them we discuss on other pages of our site.

Memories from the childhood and young ages

Carl Gustav Jung was born on 26 July 1875 in a small town Kesswil in Switzerland. His father, Paul Achilles Jung, was a pastor in a Swiss performed church. His mother, Emilie Preiswerk, was a daughter of a professor of Hebrew and was coming from a wealthy family with a long history. His father’s father and grandfather both were doctors.

Young Carl Jung was studying in Basel’s gymnasium and in 1895 he entered Basel’s University. From school years he loved zoology, biology, archeology and history. In the University he studied medicine and psychiatry as well as philosophy and theology. At this time he gets also interested in occult knowledge and reads a lot of literature about the topic.

After graduating the University he wrote a dissertation dedicated to investigation of occult events and titled as “On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena”, which can be seen as a prelude to his following creative way in sixty years long.

In 1900 Jung moved to Zurich, where he worked as an assistant of a famous specialist Eugen Bleuler in a psychiatric hospital Burghölzli. This time he published his first works and articles in psychiatry, precisely, about his newly invented test of word associations. His everyday work in hospital consisted in examination of patients, taking care of them, printing and maintaining their medical histories, etc.

In February 1903 Jung married Emma Rauschenbach, 20y.o. daughter of a wealthy manufacturer. In the following years they had 5 children and lived together for 52 years until Emma’s death.

In 1907 he published his work “The Psychology of Dementia Praecox”, copy of which he sent later to Sigmund Freud. This book appears to be the first psychosomatic theory of schizophrenia and in his next works, Jung was following an idea of psychogenic sources of this disease, thou, he had to refuse from “toxins hypotheses” replacing it with a neurochemical explanation.

Sigmund Freud in Jung’s life

Meeting with Freud was an important milestone in life and scientific growth of Jung. By the moment of personal meeting in February 1907 in Wien, Jung was already well known thanks to his experiments with word associations and due to discovery of complexes. Using Freud’s theory in his work (he was very familiar with his works) Jung was also helping to psychoanalytical movement by his authority. The meeting started a productive cooperation and personal friendship, which lasted till 1912.

Carl Jung und Sigmund FreudGroup photo 1909 in front of the Clark University.

In 1909Jung, together with Freud and Hungarian psychoanalytic Sándor Ferenczi, traveled to USA where they read a course of lectures in Clark University to spread ideas of psychoanalysis.

In 1910 Jung resigned from hospital Burghölzli and starts his private practice at his house on the Zurich Lake’s shore. At this time he became the first president of the International Psychoanalytic Association and meanwhile was deeply studying myths, legends and fairytales and their connection with psychology. From this point friendship between Freud and Jung started moving towards its inevitable ending.

The main reason of tension between two great scientific was a question of libido and its real nature. Freud believed that mental disorders develop due to repression of sexuality and replacement of the erotic interest from external world’s objects to the inner world of a patient. When by Jung’s opinion, contact with the outside world is supported also in other ways and that loss of contact with reality (what can be observed in schizophrenia) cannot be explained just by repression of sexuality. Therefore Jung started using the term «libido» for the psychological energy in common.

1913 was a year, when Jung’s and Freud’s cooperation and friendship ended. They personally met for the last time in September 1913 at the Fourth International Psychoanalytical Congress in Munich and were never together after this.

Time of withdrawal and then back to society

Break with Freud was very difficult for Jung. In fact, it was a personal drama, a spiritual crisis and a state on edge of a deep soul disorder and nervous breakdown. In the subsequent six years (1913-1918) Jung went through a harsh period, which he named as a time of «internal uncertainty» or «creative illness» (Ellenberger). Most of his time Jung was spending in attempts to understand the significance and meaning of his own dreams and fantasies and to describe it as much as possible in terms of everyday life. A big manuscript in 600 pages called «Red book», illustrated with Jung’s own drawing and full of ideas and thoughts, was the result of this period.

In the 20s Jung made a couple of long-term, exciting journeys to visit different parts of Africa and to Pueblo Indians in North America. A report of these researches (including also a travel to India, which he made later, in 1938) he included into his autobiographical book «Memories, Dreams, Reflections».

War and after

In the 30s Jung was already internationally famous. He was awarded the title of Honorary President of the Psychotherapy Society of Germany. And in November 1932 the Zurich City Council gave him a prize in literature, annexing to it a check for 8000 francs.

In 1933 Hitler came to power in Germany. Psychotherapy Society was immediately reorganized according to social-democratic principles and its president, Ernst Kretschmer resigned. Jung became president of the International Society, thou it was modified into a set of small organizations and individuals. Later Jung commented that it was done in order to protect Jewish therapists and let them stay in the organization.

In 1935 Jung became a professor of psychology at the Swiss Polytechnic School in Zurich, and in the same year he founded the Swiss Society of Applied Psychology.

Another milestone on the life-path of Jung can be attributed to the end of the Second World War II. He also described this point in his autobiography. In early 1944, he broke his leg, and also had a heart attack. During the attack he lost consciousness and felt that he was dying. As the result he had a vision where he saw our planet from aside and himself as a sum of his actions and words. He wanted to enter a temple, but his doctor went towards him and brought him back to life. Jung noticed how much he was disappointed to be back and live further. After this his way of living changed. He was no more paying attention to small events of his life and concentrated his mind on work and on global international problems.

End station of the life journey

In November 1955 died his wife, Emma, which was for more than 50 years his partner and student and lead active psychoanalytical practice on her own, following theories of her husband.

Not long before his death Jung finished his autobiographical book «Memories, Dreams, Reflections» and, in cooperation with his students, a popular book «Man and His Symbols» where the main theories of analytical psychology were described in simple way for masses.

Carl Jung died on 6th of June, 1961, in Küsnacht, on Lake Zurich after a short illness.





„Our very nature is distinctiveness. If we are not true to this nature we do not distinguish ourselves enough. Therefore must we make distinctions of qualities.“

- CG Jung