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Psychology of the Unconscious: A Study of the Transformations and Symbolisms of the Libido. Paperback – December 1, 2001
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Jung is readable in this first exciting bloom of his extraordinary journey into the unconscious.---Joseph C. Mark, Contemporary Psychology
About the Author
William McGuire, a writer and editor, has edited The Freud/Jung Letters and was executive editor of The Collected Works of C. G. Jung (both Princeton). Eugene I. Taylor is on the Executive Faculty at the Saybrook Institute. He is also Lecturer of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and Senior Psychologist on the Psychiatry Service at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He is the author of several books, including William James on Consciousness beyond the Margin (Princeton).
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Jung believes, in contrast to Freud, that the libido (that is, what he calls the genetic libido) is broader than the merely sexual libido. He "proves" this assertion through an analysis of the disinvestment of the world by the libido in psychosis. This disinvestment, Jung argues, is so complete in psychosis that it cannot possibly be merely the disinvestment of the sexual libido. That is, the subtraction of the sexual libido's energy from the individual's engagement with the world could not explain the completeness of the individual's disengagement with the world in psychosis. This seems to me to be a strong argument, if one accepts the premise that neurosis and psychosis can be explained by degrees of investment of the libido.
I was less convinced by his contention that as one becomes disengaged with the world, one regresses into oneself such that one's thought processes come to reflect the thought processes of earlier societies. For one, this is problematic because it assumes that some societies are more "primitive" than other societies. Secondly, it seems a bit outlandish to claim that, somehow, antique Greek myths are lying beneath the conscious mind of, for example, your average uneducated Middle American. Nonetheless, Jung marshals a huge amount of anecdotal evidence—from his practice and from mythology and literature—in support of this claim. It is enough, at least, to assume the claim is correct in order to follow his analysis of Ms. Miller through the rest of the book.
I won't go over his discussions of the importance of the symbols of fire, trees, the sun's going up and down, dragons, sea monsters, treasures obtained at difficulty, etc. All of his arguments are, again, supported by a frankly unbelievable array of examples in literature, mythology, and Jung's clinical practice.
In the end, I both was seriously challenged by and really enjoyed this book. I feel like it has given me another vocabulary with which to engage with literature, film, and art. I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the subject.