Who is Carl Gustav Jung?
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), an imaginative, Swiss gentleman, spent his life focused on the study of the human psyche, meaning both the unconscious and conscious minds, and its integration with the personality and the greater cosmic whole. Jung’s childhood exposed him to the teachings of both the occult and orthodox religious issues. (1) The impact of his openness to philosophy and theosophy as well as eastern and western religious practices and beliefs seemed to play a significant role in the development of his psychological theories and practice.
In the early years of his psychological studies, Jung was involved with Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and the psychoanalytical movement. Psycho-analysis involves the belief that the human mind comprises both unconscious and conscious parts, and an individual’s behavior and conscious states can be explained in terms of unconscious motives. Freud’s cornerstone was in his concept of the unconscious as a repository of desire, unacceptable wishes, and unpleasant memories. He perceived humanity as creatures of conflict and defects, seeming to prefer a focus on individual limitation to growth. Freud assumed that sexual desires, or libido, were primarily responsible for motivating individual behavior, and that these drives stemmed back to childhood. (2)
Jung held reservations about some of Freud’s ideology. In Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Jung addressed Freud ‘s inability to understand religious experience and its validity in the human psyche. This limited perspective concerned Jung, as he alleged it considerably narrowed Freud’s view of the world. (3) Jung believed a psychiatrist could not work with the psyche without dealing with religion because he found that religious beliefs were an inescapable part of humanity and thus, the conscious and unconscious. As such, religious realities had an affect on individuals, bringing forth events in psychic life. Despite this difference, Freud and Jung both maintained a strong interest in dreams and the value they contained in uncovering the unconscious mind.
After seven years with the psychoanalytical movement, Jung broke with Sigmund Freud due to fundamental differences in how they viewed the unconscious, specifically the existence of the collective unconscious, and its relation with the conscious mind. (4) One of the underlying philosophical motives in Jung’s work was the play of opposites, from which derived the idea of psychic energy and its flow between the two opposing poles. Unlike Freud, Jung believed that libido was not restricted to sexual meaning; instead, he viewed this energy as general desires, longings, or urges. As we will see, Jung’s work, which he termed Analytical Psychology, revolved around the process of inner development and the goal of obtaining psychic wholeness.
To fully understand Jung and his ties with astrology, it is helpful to first grasp some of his main concepts. Keep in mind the renditions stated here are condensed and do not reflect the fullness or totality of Jung’s theories. The purpose is to provide the reader with a greater insight into some of the main elements Jung developed in order to understand individuals and their potential; and within the scope of this section, how those elements interact with astrology.