Monday, January 20, 2014

Lexicon of Madness -- Jung

Jung, Carl Gustav (1875-1961): Swiss psychiatrist, founder of Analytical Psychology. Prior to his break with Freud, Jung was considered "the crown prince" or heir apparent of psychoanalysis. Jung is a controversial figure, primarily due to the mystical and even occult flavor of some of his writings. His efforts to deal meaningfully with human religious experience and his period of "creative illness" after his break from Freud, during which he has a "confrontation with the unconscious" (i.e., saw visions/became psychotic), have caused him to be dismissed by most academic psychologists. Jung developed the Word Association Test ("I'll say a word and then you say the first thing that comes to mind..."), which he used to identify unconscious complexes. His personality theory introduced the terms Extrovert and Introvert and was later adopted by the creators of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  Jung's theory of archetypes (innate, ancestral psychic remnants of our shared human and pre-human history) is not entirely inconsistent with modern evolutionary psychology. In Jungian dream interpretation, a dream is an important message sent by the unconscious about the dreamer's current life situation. Jung felt that a person should seek to integrate his all aspects of his personality, and in the process become his true Self (as opposed to his persona, or mask). After successfully achieving the central tasks of life --separating from one's parents, marrying and raising a family, and become an effective contributor in one's field of endeavor -- Jung thought that a person should attempt the process of individuation. A man should embrace the feminine aspects of his personality (his anima), a introvert should employ more of the active and engaged aspects of his personality, a rational and controlled person should explore his unconscious, the irrational, the spontaneous.  Jung asserted that the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenics were symbolic communications that could be interpreted much in the same manner as dreams. Even if we ignore all the rest of Jung's contributions, we should always remember that it is as important to attend to the content of psychotic hallucinations as it is to note that the patient is hallucinating.

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