Today's Famous Person (July 26, 1875 — June 6, 1961), was a Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist who founded analytic psychology, in some aspects a response to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis. He proposed and developed the concepts of the extroverted and the introverted personality, archetypes, and the collective unconscious. His work has been influential in psychiatry and in the study of religion, literature, and related fields.

He was the son of a philologist and pastor. His childhood was lonely, although enriched by a vivid imagination, and from an early age he observed the behavior of his parents and teachers, which he tried to resolve. Especially concerned with his father’s failing belief in religion, he tried to communicate to him his own experience of God. In many ways, his father was a kind and tolerant man, but neither he nor his son succeeded in understanding each other. Our Famous Person seemed destined to become a minister, for there were a number of clergymen on both sides of his family. In his teens he discovered philosophy and read widely, and this, together with the disappointments of his boyhood, led him to forsake the strong family tradition and to study medicine and become a psychiatrist. He was a student at the universities of Basel and Zürich.

He was fortunate in joining the staff of the Burghölzli Asylum of the University of Zürich at a time (1900) when it was under the direction of Eugen Bleuler, whose psychological interests had initiated what are now considered classical studies of mental illness. At Burghölzli, he began, with outstanding success, to apply association tests initiated by earlier researchers. He studied, especially, patients’ peculiar and illogical responses to stimulus words and found that they were caused by emotionally charged clusters of associations withheld from consciousness because of their disagreeable, immoral (to them), and frequently sexual content. He used the now famous term complex to describe such conditions.

These researches, which established him as a psychiatrist of international repute, led him to understand Freud’s investigations; his findings confirmed many of Freud’s ideas, and, for a period of five years (between 1907 and 1912), he was Freud’s close collaborator. He held important positions in the psychoanalytic movement and was widely thought of as the most likely successor to the founder of psychoanalysis. But this was not to be the outcome of their relationship. Partly for temperamental reasons and partly because of differences of viewpoint, the collaboration ended. At this stage he differed with Freud largely over the latter’s insistence on the sexual bases of neurosis. A serious disagreement came in 1912, with the publication of his Psychology of the Unconscious, which ran counter to many of Freud’s ideas. Although our Famous Person had been elected president of the International Psychoanalytic Society in 1911, he resigned from the society in 1914.

His first achievement was to differentiate two classes of people according to attitude types: extroverted (outward-looking) and introverted (inward-looking). Later he differentiated four functions of the mind — thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition — one or more of which predominate in any given person. Results of this study were embodied in his book Psychological Types. His wide scholarship was well manifested here, as it also had been in The Psychology of the Unconscious.

As a boy he had remarkably striking dreams and powerful fantasies that had developed with unusual intensity. After his break with Freud, he deliberately allowed this aspect of himself to function again and gave the irrational side of his nature free expression. At the same time, he studied it scientifically by keeping detailed notes of his strange experiences. He later developed the theory that these experiences came from an area of the mind that he called the collective unconscious, which he held was shared by everyone. This much-contested conception was combined with a theory of archetypes that he held as fundamental to the study of the psychology of religion. In his terms, archetypes are instinctive patterns, have a universal character, and are expressed in behavior and images.

He devoted the rest of his life to developing his ideas, especially those on the relation between psychology and religion. In his view, obscure and often neglected texts of writers in the past shed unexpected light not only on his own dreams and fantasies but also on those of his patients; he thought it necessary for the successful practice of their art that psychotherapists become familiar with writings of the old masters.

Besides the development of new psycho-therapeutic methods that derived from his own experience and the theories developed from them, he gave fresh importance to the so-called Hermetic tradition. He conceived that the Christian religion was part of a historic process necessary for the development of consciousness, and he also thought that the heretical movements, starting with Gnosticism and ending in alchemy, were manifestations of unconscious archetypal elements not adequately expressed in the mainstream forms of Christianity. He was particularly impressed with his finding that alchemical-like symbols could be found frequently in modern dreams and fantasies, and he thought that alchemists had constructed a kind of textbook of the collective unconscious. He expounded on this in 4 out of the 18 volumes that make up his Collected Works.

His historical studies aided him in pioneering the psychotherapy of the middle-aged and elderly, especially those who felt their lives had lost meaning. He helped them to appreciate the place of their lives in the sequence of history. Most of these patients had lost their religious belief; he found that if they could discover their own myth as expressed in dream and imagination they would become more complete personalities. He called this process individuation.

In later years he became professor of psychology at the Federal Polytechnical University in Zürich and professor of medical psychology at the University of Basel. His personal experience, his continued psycho-therapeutic practice, and his wide knowledge of history placed him in a unique position to comment on current events. As early as 1918 he had begun to think that Germany held a special position in Europe; the Nazi revolution was, therefore, highly significant for him, and he delivered a number of hotly contested views that led to his being wrongly branded as a Nazi sympathizer.

He became a full professor of medical psychology at the University of Basel in 1943, but resigned after a heart attack the next year to lead a more private life. He became ill again in 1952.

He continued to publish books until the end of his life, including Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies, which analyzed the archetypal meaning and possible psychological significance of the reported observations of UFOs. He also enjoyed a friendship with an English Roman Catholic priest, Father Victor White, who corresponded with him after he had published his controversial Answer to Job.

In 1961, he wrote his last work, a contribution to Man and His Symbols entitled "Approaching the Unconscious" (published posthumously in 1964).

Today's Famous Person died on June 6, 1961 at Küsnacht, Switzerland after a short illness. He had been beset by circulatory diseases. He lived to the age of 85.


Who is today's Famous Person?


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