C.G. Jung and Analytical Psychology

"There is no human being who does not carry a treasure in his soul."

C. G. Jung was a Swiss psychoanalyst in his own right prior to meeting Sigmund Freud. His work at the renowned Swiss hospital, the Burghölzli, gave him the opportunity to study and conduct research, out of which his own ideas on psychology emerged. In 1906, Jung was introduced to Freud by way of The Interpretation of Dreams. Interested in Freud’s ideas, Jung sent Freud his research on the Word Association Test and this led to a rich correspondence. Eventually the two men met and talked late into the night. With Freud’s full support, Jung was elected as the first chairman of the International Psychoanalytic Association. Over time, Jung began to publicly express his own ideas on libido, symbolization, creativity and religion, and the purpose of dreams as he began to integrate his own ideas and early research. Freud was unwilling to entertain or accept Jung’s ideas, particularly those related to the collective unconscious. In 1913 Jung published The Psychology of the Unconscious where he publically diverted from Freud on several issues. While Freud based his theories on one dominate theme, the Greek myth of Oedipus, and saw the unconscious and dreams as depository material from the day, Jung concluded that a wealth of personal and mythological themes expressed themselves universally in dreams and visions and other manifestations from the unconscious and that this material was not only useful, but held deep meaning from the soul. Jung’s ideas on archetypes and complexes led to his own model of the psyche, which was named Analytical Psychology.

Jung’s resignation from the Freudian dominated psychoanalytic world thrust him into an individuation journey where he grappled with the loss of his relationship with Freud, and the analytic community as he had known it. His own dreams and visions challenged him to turn inwards and this was confirmed with the onset of WWI. The historian Henri Ellenberger named Jung’s psychological descent a “creative illness,” which is partially documented in the Red Book. Through Jung’s early writing, we see the formulation of many seminal ideas that continue to influence us today. During this mid-life crisis, Jung never quit writing, publishing and seeing patients. Over his lifetime, Jung wrote 20 volumes exploring and outlining his ideas on the psyche. The most approachable works for the lay-person are Memories, Dreams, Reflections and Man and His Symbols. Below are a few ways in which Analytical psychology can be recognized in our contemporary psychological world.


There are several areas where Jung took the lead in psychotherapy techniques. First, Jung forthrightly acknowledged the ways in which therapy impacts both people involved and because of the transference/countertransference issues that naturally emerge, he advised that every therapist have his or her own analysis or therapy. Second, Jung gave up using the couch because he believed the therapeutic relationship of two people being in the room was of great importance. Thus, Jung valued the healing nature of the two-person relationship that is available in the analysis and that is encouraged by the contemporary Relational School of psychoanalysis.

Complexes and Archetypes

A complex is a collection of feeling toned autonomous images that are felt through our body, mind, and emotions. Having a crush on someone is just as much of a complex as having a critical thought about ourself or another. Jung compared being in a complex to being caught in a mousetrap; he is known for saying that “we don’t have complexes, the complexes have us.” Jung originally wanted to call his psychology Complex Psychology because he saw complexes as making up the structure of the psyche. In other words, without them we would be an empty sack without a personality. They are not something to get rid of, but they are something to wrestle with so as to come into relationship with them. Jung understood complexes as the personal shell of powerful somatic feelings, ideas, images and experiences. And within the shell of every complex is a core, which is the archetype. Archetypes are never seen or related to directly but can only be understood or seen through images. People often get confused by this concept and talk about archetypes as if they were complexes. Because archetypes are only known through an image (somatic feeling, thought, visual image) Jungian psychology values the healing power of the symbol and image. These images are thought to originate in the collective unconscious, a concept that Jung defined when he understood through his research and clinical experience that certain patterns were cross-cultural and universal amongst humanity.


This is a popular term today. Originally Jung used the shadow as a way to describe what is unwanted or disavowed or unknown and what is deposited in the unconscious. He saw the shadow as not only dark and difficult, but also what may be bright enough to illuminate what has been disowned. Working with the shadow brings about creative and spiritual energy to further the individuation journey. One of his considerations of psychic energy concentrated on progression and regression. When something was not ready to become conscious to the ego, it fell into the unconscious and was considered a “regression of energy” until it gathered enough momentum to resurface again in a new form so that the ego might consider it. Jung did not fully agree with Freud’s idea that repression was primarily the way material was placed in the unconscious, but thought there was a purpose that was dependent upon the movement of psychic energy.

Word Association Test

Jung’s theoretical model of the psyche resulted from his early research using the Word Association Experiment where patterns and themes emerged to reveal the deep archetypal patterns within the personal and collective unconscious. While working at the Burgholzi Hospital, Jung developed his own version of the word association experiment, which highlighted complexes within the psyche and mapped the psychological work and the varying underpinning of archetypal themes for individuals that emerged through such things as somatic changes, emotional reactions, or delays in response times. It is still used in some places today and is the basis for the Lie Detector Test.


The Self is a psychological construct for this spiritual nature of the psyche that is deeply personal and most times ineffable, but the numinous quality may be seen or experienced through particular symbols and images. Inspired by William James’s philosophical thoughts on religion, Jung placed great value on the spiritual or transpersonal aspect of the psyche (the Self) and saw the relevancy expressed through the vast images from the collective unconscious. His work included ways in which this religious function became visible and documented its healing function and its role in the individuation process. While Jung explored the relationship with the Self from many angles, his study of the great religions and his own mandala drawings were pivotal in the development of his ideas. He saw the psyche as “by nature religious.” His belief was that the ego was often challenged and defeated by the purposive energy of the Self which recognizes the inherent emerging relationship between the ego and the Self. While the transpersonal aspect of the psyche was debated in psychoanalysis or often overlooked, now, many psychotherapist deliberately take into consideration the spiritual/religious material while working with individuals.


The formulation of psychological types in Volume 6 of the Collected Works is the foundation of the contemporary Meyers Briggs, a personality test that is commonly used today to help people in the work place with vocation issues and with psychological awareness for every day issues. Jung’s seminal ideas on introversion and extroversion, emerged from his attempts to understand his relationships with Freud and Adler. These definitions remain active within the collective along with the four psychological functions of intuition, sensation, feeling, and thinking.

Active imagination

Is an active creative process Jung developed and practiced extensively with himself and others to deepen one’s relationship to the unconscious, the body, and the imagination. This work is similar to a contemplative practice and is a way of life for those who become actively engaged with their dream life and the manifestations from the unconscious. Jung’s technique is a foundation for many guided imagery tools today. As a form of contemplation, active imagination requires a lowering of consciousness and a softening of the ego so that unconscious material can become conscious. Rather than emptying the mind, an active relationship is developed and practiced on a regular basis between the ego and the unconscious. Jung’s association process was to continually return to the original image, rather than Freud’s association process that was one word moving to another like a necklace of pearls. By returning to the image, the relationship between the ego and the unconscious begins to evolve in an organic and poetic way that supports pyschological integration and expands ones experience of oneself through meaningful discoveries.

Creative approaches

Today we think nothing of alternative or integrated modes of therapy or expressive arts therapy. However Jung was probably the first art therapist or first expressive therapist because not only did he embraced the power of the creative process and grappled with how and why it was an invaluable tool for healing the psyche, he also encouraged his patients to write their dreams, then draw or sculpt them, and then perhaps move them into another modality. He actively used art processes himself and encouraged others to use modalities such as art, writing, movement, and music in order to continue a relationship with the unconscious material that surfaces through dreams and visions so as to nourish a symbolic life. It’s clear that Jung’s work was the beginning of the creative arts therapies and this supported by much of his writing, in particular Volume 16 of his Collected Works.

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