What about Carl Jung?

TMA2 completed (and backed up twice, thrice and more). Continuing to look at the self, the course materials stepped back from Lacan’s ‘subject of language’ approach to the early psychoanalysis of Freud and Klein. TMA2 was about the effect of Kleinian thought on social relations compared with more recent developments in sociology. In psychoanalysis the root of identity is underpinned by primitive emotions and desires; a product of unconscious reactions to early experience. We learn to repress socially unacceptable behaviours and develop defences, which sometimes turn to neuroses, in later life. Sociologists such as Giddens, deny there is an unconscious layer and suggest that identity is a product of post-traditional culture. Freed up from pre-established restraints of family, subjectivity is about reflexivity; founded on future possibilities, based on individual choice.  Psychoanalysis has largely been replaced by psychodynamic counselling and the origin of the authentic self transferred from the internal psyche to the external environment.

I wonder where Jung is in all of this. Subjectivity for Jung was inherent  “. . . Man brings with him at birth the ground-plan of his nature. . . .” (Collected Works 4: 728) Neither a product of an unknown psyche nor a cultural response, identity was part of a shared spiritual experience.  “In some way or other we are part of a single, all-embracing psyche, a single ‘greatest man. . . .'” (The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man [Collected Works 10: 175])

What’s been most interesting about this unit is the evidence of a changing knowledge base but Jung seems to have slipped out of the frame altogether. What’s missing often says more than what is present. As what we don’t say reveals more about us than what we do. One problem with Jung is that he was seen as discrediting Christianity and his reputation unfairly damaged. Unfairly because Freud was also anti-religion and far more vehemently so. But I wonder if there is another reason. In an era of individualism, and dominance of the narcissistic personality type, it’s maybe not surprising that the idea of a shared spirituality is downplayed. With sharing comes responsibility and in a postmodern, post-traditional society, that’s no longer a popular idea. However, to cover Freudian psychoanalysis without at least a mention of his one time partner or his work on myths, symbols, archetypes and the collective unconscious is a loss and discredits his contribution to the literature on the identity of the self.

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