Man and His Symbols
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256 of 263 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 26, 2003
In the introduction to the book, John Freeman tells the story of how Jung came to get involved with the project. Apparently, the managing director of Aldus books had seen Jung on the BBC and was so struck by his warmth and personableness that he tried to persuade Jung to apply those same qualities to a book written for the general masses, rather than for psychologists themselves. While at first refusing, Jung was swayed by one of his own dreams into changing his mind and agreeing to take on the project. Given that the book to a large degree dwells on dreams and what can be learned from them, it is an appropriate anecdote.

The publisher does not get any praise for designing the cover in such a way that it implies Jung was the author of the entire book. He was the editor and wrote one of the chapters. Neither is the book an integral whole-- the chapters treat different aspects of symbolism and the unconscious, each with their own viewpoint and flavor.

The essays in the book are as follows:

"Approaching the Unconscious" (Carl Jung)-- for those who don't know his work, this is a very nice introduction to most of the basic points.

"Ancient Myths and Modern Man" (Joseph L. Henderson)-- examines symbols as they appear in both myth and modern day culture.

"The Process of Individuation" (M.-L. von Franz)-- treats patterns of dreams over the lifetime of the individual. A good look at the concept of Animus and Anima.

"Symbolism in the Visual Arts" (Aniele Jaffe)-- IMO the weakest chapter, looks at the progression of sacred symbol to art.

"Symbols in an Individual Analysis" (Jolande Jacobi)-- Describes the treatment through dream analysis of a young Swiss man.

While the book felt uneven in places (and even contradictory), it serves well in the purpose for which it was intended. Someone reading the book will get the basic concepts of symbols and the unconscious, and some decent pointers to further readings in the notes if they wanted to find out more.
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118 of 125 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2000
When I picked up this book all I knew about Jung was that he was a close associate and friend of Freud. I put it down wanting to read every thing else this man ever wrote. "Man and His Symbols" outlines the Jungian ideas on the unconscious and the symbols it houses that manifest themselves on our dreams. It gives you a wider scope of humanity that proves to be enlightening and comforting in a crazed world. I was quite surprised at how easy this book proved to read in comparison to other psychology books I have read. It provides a clear overview of Jung's life work and a good introduction to his take on psychology as well as the world. Some parts were written in a curiously personal manor that enhanced a spiritual aura this work seemed to take on. This book really struck a deep cord in me and many of the people I have recommended it to.
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77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2001
If you are a layman like myself and feel that Jung may be a bit difficult to read you should start with this. Although this book does not systematically present his theories, it touches on all of Jung's important contributions to psychology. While reading this book, it was easily understood why Jung was so intrigued by mysticism. The illustrations in this book are amazing, and sometimes spellbinding, and to me they had the effect I think the authors intended -- to understand The archetypes. Read this book. It will take you places you never been or thought you could go.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2002
There are only two titles of Jung's I know of that were meant for general consumption: _Man and His Symbols_ and _Memories, Dreams, Reflections_. The rest, most of which are part of the 20-volume Bollingen series, are too involved and technical.
Lest the reader be misled _Man and His Symbols_ is an anthology of essays by several authors, namely and in their order of appearance, Carl Jung, Joseph Hendersen, Marie-Louise von Franz, Aniela Jaffe, and Jolande Jacobi. All the co-contributors are Jungian analysts themselves and so are versed in the subjects they cover. Jung picked them himself and supervised the work until his death in 1961, after which von Franz took over. Perhaps not by accident Jung finished his own essay just 10 days before his demise. His essay (just over 90 pages out of the 400 or so pages) touches, naturally, on the unconscious, the very crucial subject of dreams, the archetypes, extraversion/introversion, religion, good and evil, among other topics. Given the scope, this essay of his offers a sort of synopsis of his worldview and life's work, perhaps one of the best summaries since it was his last published piece.
Amongst Jung's books that I've read, his essay in this anthology is by far one of the most engrossing. Unfortunately I have to eke out a living like most of you so I can only savor it in installments. Of course I highly recommend this volume if only to whet your appetite for Jung's psychology, a psychology that has not only served me well, but continues to fascinate me, a psychology that is faithful to its roots--a true logos of the psyche.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2000
This is one of the most informative books that I have ever read. In the introduction John Freeman writes:"Jung's arguments (and those of his colleages) spiral upward over his subject like a bird circling a tree. At first, near the ground, it sees only a confusion of leaves and branches. Gradually, as it cirles higher and higher the recurring aspects of the tree form a wholeness and relate to their surroundings. Some readers may find this 'spiralling' method of argument obscure or confusing for a few pages-but not, I think, for long. It is characteristic of Jung's method, and very soon the reader will find it carrying him with it on a persuasive and profoundly absorbing journey." The book is written from the laymen and very easy to understand. When one first picks it up and begins reading it one is in the dark about many of the ideas the book is expressing but after a number of pages one begins to get an excellent idea of what the authors are trying to convey. It is a truly enlightening book. I recommend this book to anyone who truly wants to learn more about psychology and the human condition. For readers who are reading the book for the first time I recommend the hard cover edition as this contains more illustrations thus helping the first time reader understand many of the ideas the authors are trying to express.
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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2006
This book was originally conceived of and designed in the manner of an illuminated manuscript. The images are combined with the text to convey meaning. In the paperback most of the images are gone and the ones remaining are converted to black and white and shoved into the middle of the book where they lose their context.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2004
The Swiss Carl Jung and the Austrian Sigmund Freud are the annointed fathers of Psychanalisys, with due precedence to be ascribed to Freud, some 25 years Jung's senior and who broke loose with early tradition who saw the manifestation of the unconscious as unmeaningful. Both were men of the XIX century but their achievements changed the face of earth in the XX century . The excelent book "Man and his Symbols" is in all respects emblematic of many important facets of Jung's thoughts and ideas on the unconscious, being one of the last books he wrote and/or supervised before his death in old age, which ocurred many years after Freud's passed away in 1939 in London. In fact, the deaths of the two most important figures in Psychanalisys are emblematic of their lives, Freud dying an agonizing death to throat cancer and asking for the final shot which would take him to the depths of eternity (whatever this may be in Freud's mind) whilst Jung died naturally of old age and wholy mystical, almost religious. "Man and His Symbols" is quintessential Jung, with plenty of his vigor and energy, even if he did not write himself all the six essays of the book, but only a very important one concerning the fundamental role Dreams play in our life as a whole. It is in fact the only book by Carl Jung originally targeted to the non-professional reader and devoid of almost all psychanalytic jargon, thus making the reading of the book a pleasant experience to the non-professional reader like myself; all the five essaysts are bona fide Jung followers or adherents to his ideas. The idea of having a book targeted to the layman drew a lot of personal energy from Jung, always keen on having the right word for the right psychical situation (the same could be said of Freud). But, in the end, he gave in and agreed on the project's idea which was to popularize Jung's ideas throughout the world.
The book is an important document of Jung's thought in the final days of his long and prolific life and stresses the many differences in important points of view he had vis-'a-vis Sigmund Freud, who, in the beginning of their relationship in 1906, was almost a father figure to the younger Jung and to whom Jung was supposed to be the heir apparent in the field of Psychanalisys. But Jung and Freud splitted apart their relationship on very personnal matters, due to Freud's lack of confidence in anyone but himself. The acerbic and bitter feud between the two, is documented in the many letters they exchanged for almost a decade and, in my opinion, Freud is the only one to blame, being a man of extremely bad temper and all too skitishy, with an overpowering ego with no admission of any wrinkle in the front of his followers scouts . There is a pretty much good medium sized book who documents the increasingly acerbic correspondence between the two, called "The Freud-Jung Letters" and which is also a good read, even in the available abridged version. In the same vein, see the quasi autobiographic essay by Jung and Anne Jafet, "Memories, Dreams and Reflections", where Jung (hesitatingly) talks about having reached in his last days the equilibrium between conscious and unconscious life, something he said to be one of the most important achievements of his.
In Jung's view, symbols are important archetypal manifestations of man's powerfull unconscious and occur in each and every human society, primitive or advanced, and could not be simply dismissed or ruled out, as always civilized societies do, as only belonging to ancient backward peoples. According to Jung, symbols are archetypal manifestations of our innermost unconscious mental life and have an important role in balancing our waking life as long as we let them play unscathed and don't see them as something that we must be scared of. But, exactly from where symbols come? How do they get formed? In Jung's view, nobody will never know a precise answer for that question, which is to be placed in the dominion of the perpetually Unkown, and all societies seem to think that they were formed many aeons ago in the time of their ancestors, an always wrong assumption when we know that even ancient Greeks and Egyptians thought this way. Symbols, as many other things, simply do Exist and Are and play an important function in helping men by balancing their acts and lives, having although a disruptive influence whenever not correctly interpreted and unduly repressed. As Jung remembers, Goethe said in Faust: In the beginning there was the ACT. Symbols may be a timeless representation of things to be done and not to be thought out. But what are they? Couldn't they be messages from God? Different from Freud, a very irreligious man and who bashed even Jewish religion in his magistral books "Moses and Monotheism" and "Totem and Taboo", the open-minded and mystical Jung thinks that symbols can even be messages from an upper entity. Civilized men, betting all their chips in Reason as supreme, that is, in the primacy of a conscious (rational) attitude towards life, have increasingly attached an "off-limits" tag to the unconscious, thus spliting the psyche into two entities apart, not benefiting from the positive influence the unconscious may and should have on our being as a whole.
The many black and white pictures and images profusely portrayed in the book help the reader a lot in understanding the jungian message about the significance of symbols and this paperback amazingly lightweight edition is agreeable to handle and flip and to carry along with one self. "Man and his Symbols" is a pretty much good book and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
The works of Jung have been, in my opinion, under-rated. The 'discovery' of the 'unconscious' in the 1900s has been said by some to be discredited. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, certain interpretations/'meanings'/aspects etc of the'unconscious ' have been quite rightly discredited, much as occurs in any major discovery/field of science. Much of what Sigmund Freud has said, to some, has been discredited. But in my view, the works of Jung are far better and more accurate, for example, than those of his more famous colleague (Freud), and the progress of science seems to be bearing this out. Freud placed far too much emphasis on the sexual side of our natures, in which findings in psychology and other fields has proved time and again. However, just because some have misintepreted various aspects of the 'unconscious' doesn't of course mean that the theory of the 'unconscious', however you want to define it, is discredited.
Jung has contributed much to our understanding of ourselves and our inherited 'instincts', if you prefer, in the 20th century. His discourses are providing some input, for example, to the growing field of evolutionary pychology; that is, much of our behaviour is inherited from evolutionary processes. This is also the very same view, as I understand it, of Jung.
The theory of the unconscious is by no means dead, and this book explains in a clear and meaningful way many of Jungs and others findings in this fascinating field. Much that goes on in religion and myth and superstition, for example, is not well understood by science; much of this book seeks to explain it. In my opinion , for what it is worth, there is much to be learned here.
Jungs contributions will continue to provide input to various fields of human study for years to come. This book proivides a very good overview of many of his ideas, and was one in which he intended to write for the general public.
Recommended for those who wish to obtain a deeper understanding of their natures, and the nature of that of mankind in general.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2002
There are only two titles of Jung's I know of that were meant for general consumption: _Man and His Symbols_ and _Memories, Dreams, Reflections_. The rest, most of which are part of the 20-volume Bollingen series, are too involved and technical.
Lest the reader be misled _Man and His Symbols_ is an anthology of essays by several authors, namely and in their order of appearance, Carl Jung, Joseph Hendersen, Marie-Louise von Franz, Aniela Jaffe, and Jolande Jacobi. All the co-contributors are Jungian analysts themselves and so are versed in the subjects they cover. Jung picked them himself and supervised the work until his death in 1961, after which von Franz took over. Perhaps not by accident Jung finished his own essay just 10 days before his demise. His essay (just over 90 pages out of the 400 or so pages) touches, naturally, on the unconscious, the very crucial subject of dreams, the archetypes, extraversion/introversion, religion, good and evil, among other topics. Given the scope, this essay of his offers a sort of synopsis of his worldview and life's work, perhaps one of the best summaries since it was his last published piece.
Amongst Jung's books that I've read, his essay in this anthology is by far one of the most engrossing. Unfortunately I have to eke out a living like most of you so I can only savor it in installments. Of course I highly recommend this volume if only to whet your appetite for Jung's psychology, a psychology that has not only served me well, but continues to fascinate me, a psychology that is faithful to its roots--a true logos of the psyche.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2006
As other reviewers have pointed out, the editor did not make it sufficiently clear that Dr. Jung only wrote one chapter of this book and that his role was largely in editing it. Nevertheless, the authors that were chosen did a wonderful job of presenting his ideas, and they're as fresh today as they were in the early 60s when the book was written. One cannot help but reflect on the Jungian notions of balance between the collective consciousness and unconscious as we reflect on some of the world events taking place today. The rise of raw fundamental Islam as shadow juxtaposed with the sterile West frequently came to mind. The role of dreams and symbols in processing our ongoing issues was also well developed.

As with all things related to Jung this is not the kind of book that is easily read. However, if you want to become aware of Jungian thought as it pertains to the universality of symbols, the dynamics of dreams and the collective unconscious, this is your book. For a more complete look at Jungian psychology as a whole I would also recommend The Portable Jung.
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