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* The Collective Unconscious: Jung's notion that we are being "carried along," sustained and directed by this deep, dark well of unconscious archetypal meaning and energy that seeks to make itself known and become integrated into our conscious life. Here's the alpha and omega.
* The Persona: The self we manifest publically is not the whole story but a necessary "mask" that helps us get by in the world, the ideal image we have of ourselves. We latch onto these social identities to define us, but as a part of the "collective psyche" they do not distinguish us in any significant way. Jung's struggling awareness of the "split" between his two personalities, "No. 1" and "No. 2," led to this concept.
* The Shadow: There lives within us another side of our personality that is filled with all those aspects of ourselves we hide away, both from ourselves or others, as unacceptable. The shadow has a "dark side," which is the stuff we find morally reprehensible, but it also has a "bright side" containing our unembraced potentialities. Daryl Sharp describes the shadow as a "hodgepodge of repressed desires and uncivilized impulses." It serves our wholeness by nagging and ambushing the persona (ideal self) with a larger sense of our humanity.
* The Affirmation of Wholeness over Dualism: Given the primary role of the collective unconscious and how it seeks to integrate the persona and the shadow, we are to be wary of all one-sided emphases in terms of personal growth.
* The Nature of God as Light and Dark: Jung came to see God as embodying both light and shadow as well. His dream very early in life of God defecating on the church jolted him into a kind of "blasphemy" that was both horrifying and redeeming. He eventually came to see God as embodying the wholeness and synthesis of opposites that every person needs.
* The Desire to Ground Psychology Historically: Jung could have easily become just another crackpot esoteric with all his mystical visions, dreams and overwhelming intuition. Yet he struggled long and hard to substantiate his subjective experiences, to verify their occurrence and meaning in the "outer world" cross-culturally and give "reality" its due.
I am completely captivated by Jung's thoughts about Christianity and how this "myth" needs to grow and develop or it will die on the vine. I am convinced as a pastor that the Church's sense of faith needs more of an "experiential" focus than a "dogmatic" one. Jung was not afraid to open himself to the awesome mystery of the Other, even if it meant moving into the unknown and sacrificing what he held most dear. I'm convinced that Jung offers an invitation into the "larger life" of God, one that values the questions and trusts both the presence and absence of God as necessary to our wholeness.
Reading this autobiography energizes me to move beyond dabbling with Jung, to seek a deeper understanding and integration of his insights. I intend to be more forthright with encouraging others to listen to their dreams and to "own" their shadow. In particular, given my largely evangelical tradition, I'm eager to broaden out the spiritual direction conversation beyond the usual obsession with persona tinkering. I hope to help others open up to and trust the terrifying richness swelling up from the collective unconscious. This work has prompted me to pursue other works by James Hollis, Jeremy Taylor, Daryl Sharp, June Singer, and David Tacey.
I think when he was a boy Jung was indeed a little crazy, and maybe it was that slightly off-kilter mindset that allowed him to become such an excellent psychotherapist. He steadied out as he got older, and thankfully stopped having dramatic visions of god doing disgusting things.
Jung also provides some excellent insight into the character and mind of Freud. Freud too was a little nuts, and Jung makes no bones about showing us this. He reinforces the notion that everything should be taken with a grain of salt, even the most revered ideas of the world's greatest thinkers. Truth changes, and is relative to the environment in which it is perceived.
My only criticism of the book stems from Jung's musings after he has detailed his relationship with Freud and other aspects of his academic career. He enteres a stage of his life in which he decides to "confront his unconscious," i.e., to study it himself in as great a detail as possible. Here, Jung fades into a dreamy, imprecise rambling about what he calls his "fantasies." Jung never explains exaclty what he means by "fantasies." Is he talking about dream material, or waking reveries? Or is he referring to the mysterious "visions" that plague him from time to time? He doesn't elaborate. But he goes on for what seems like fifty pages at least simply rambling about nothing. He stops giving detailed examples as he did earlier in the book and loses himself in a kind of drug-induced reverie that leaves the reader standing out in the rain. I simplly did not know what he was talking about at this point in the book, and Jung should have done a better job at elucidating what kinds of things he was engaged in at this point of this life.
Nevertheless, I would highly recommend this autobiography to anyone interested in Jung. Some small knowledge of psychological theories will help you out, but there's always a dictionary and wiki if you don't have that.
I highly recommend this book and have already read parts of it more than once. It is that interesting.
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