In the annals of psychiatry there are several schools of thought. Sigmund Freud based many of his theories of human behavior on sex, while one-time Freud colleague, Carl Jung, postulated that factors such as spirituality are also influential in human behavior.
Born in 1875 in Switzerland to Emilie and Paul Achilles Jung, Carl Jung grew up as the son of a pastor, a circumstance that undoubtedly contributed to his belief that human behavior and the human psyche are influenced by spiritual beliefs.
Jung had a deep personal experience with neurosis early in his long life. At the age of 12, when knocked to the ground by a bully at school, Jung lost consciousness and was so traumatized by the incident that whenever it came time to study or go to school, he would faint.
Jung’s parents and doctors postulated that he might be epileptic, but when Jung heard his father express doubts that he would never be able to support himself, he summoned the resolve to overcome the problem and, although he fainted a few more times, he returned to his studies.
Jung decided to study medicine, but his interest in the occult and spirituality drew him into the field of psychiatry, allowing him to combine the two interests. When he graduated from the University of Basel with a medical degree, his doctoral dissertation was titled “On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena.”
In 1903 Jung married Emma Rauschenbach, and despite his purported romantic dalliances with other women, he remained married to her until her death in 1955.
Working with patients at the University of Zurich asylum, Jung wrote “Studies in Word Association,” a publication which attracted the attention of Freud. The two men met in 1907, and reportedly conversed non-stop for 12 to 13 hours!
Jung and Freud became friends and colleagues, but the association soured when Jung began developing his own theories, which diverged from Freud’s. While Freud focused on repressed or expressed sexuality as motivators of behavior, and had little use for religion or myths as part of motivation, Jung postulated that religion was important in human development, that sex is only one motivator of behavior, and that people are striving toward what he called “individuation,” or self-knowledge. Jung argued that, far from being unimportant, religion or spirituality plays a key role in human development.
Thus, Jung developed the school of analytical psychology in which spiritual experiences play an important role in human development. It postulates that people who manage to become individuated by integrating various aspects of personality, including spirituality, are more balanced and therefore happier and emotionally healthier.
In addition to Jung’s personal achievements in the field of psychology, some of his patients went on the form Alcoholics Anonymous, which heavily incorporates spirituality as a treatment for alcoholism.
Throughout his career, Jung published many influential works, including “Psychology of the Unconscious,” “Psychological Types,” “Memories, Dreams and Reflections,” and “The Archetypes of The Collective Unconscious.”
Like Freud, Jung contributed significantly to the practice of psychotherapy, which incorporates his theories of introversion and extraversion in treating patients, and his work has had a lasting impact in the field.
Carl Jung died at his home in Switzerland on June 6, 1961 at the age of 85 following a brief illness.
By Frank Kourt, Staff Writer