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Psychology of the Unconscious: A Study of the Transformations and Symbolisms of the Libido. Hardcover – April 15, 1992
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Breaking from Freud by allowing for nonsexual psychic forces driving the libido, Carl Jung made a more lasting name for himself than did his mentor. Psychology of the Unconscious is a prodigious leap away from Freud's dictatorial constraints, exploring the mythic aspects of our interior lives in exquisite detail. While he sometimes sacrifices readability for erudition, this is no failing for the interested student, who strives to follow Jung as he moves from Norse mythology to Shakespeare to Sanskrit etymology quickly but seamlessly. Focusing in particular on the vivid dream and fantasy life of "Miss Miller," he often uses her words as a kind of airstrip from which to take off on his own flights of imagination, always careful to stay focused on analysis and understanding and limited only by his exhaustive knowledge.
Having demonstrated to his own satisfaction that the libido (the energy of the unconscious) transcends sex, Jung sets about showing the reader how it is so. Never denying Freud's crucial insights into sexual history and fantasies, he goes beyond them to tell a story prefiguring mythicists like Joseph Campbell's. The libido becomes a hero, escaping from confinement, having multifarious adventures in the world, but always returning to the source of its power--the unconscious--in dreams and imagination. This powerful, elastic theory is still in use today, and Jung's Psychology of the Unconscious deservedly takes its place among those books that have most greatly influenced the way we think about ourselves. --Rob Lightner
Jung is readable in this first exciting bloom of his extraordinary journey into the unconscious.---Joseph C. Mark, Contemporary Psychology
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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.