This volume makes available the text of five lectures which Jung gave, in English, to the Institute of Medical Psychology (the Tavistock Clinic), London, in 1935. A mimeographed version has apparently been in private circulation among Jungians for more than thirty years—and extracts have been published in French—but this is their first presentation to the general English-speaking public. The delay in publication appears all the more mysterious when one discovers that these lectures provide an extremely clear, readable, and at times amusing exposition of Jung’s theories. In them Jung not only describes his views on the structure of the mind, giving lucid accounts of his psychological types, of the personal and collective unconscious and of archetypes, but also explains vividly his techniques of dream analysis and active imagination and the role played by transference in analytic therapy. The volume is in many ways comparable to Freud’s Introductory Lectures and will doubtless come to occupy an analogous position in Jungian writ. One surprise is the amount of time he gave to word association tests, which he used to exemplify his general standpoint in a way that is reminiscent of Freud’s use of parapraxes.
Apparently only minor stylistic revisions have been made to the original text and, particularly in view of the fact that Jung seems to have delivered the lectures without reference to a prepared script and to have answered questions as fluently as he lectured, one is immediately impressed by his mastery of colloquial English and by his artistry in putting across in a foreign language not only his theory of psychology but also his own conception of himself.
This is, I think, the right way to put it. These lectures do not reveal Jung’s personality, they portray the persona he wished to present. C. G. Jung, Jung clearly wished his English audience to believe, was a direct man, down-to-earth even when scaling the heights or plumbing the depths, a countryman more at home with peasants and aristocrats than with urban middle-class intellectuals, too virile and familiar with the facts of nature to have much time for those sex cases which so interested Freud, but nonetheless, as befits a pastor’s son, an heir to the Christian spiritual tradition. At times it is clear that he is contrasting himself with Freud but wishes his audience to appreciate that he is too much of a gentleman to do so explicitly.
Of course, Jung may really have been like his persona, but on the other hand he may not have been. His Memories, Dreams, Reflections, which led some reviewers to label him psychotic, reads to me like the account of a life-long identity crisis and it is hard not to suspect him of attitudinizing. One of the unexpected and confusing consequences of the rise of dynamic psychology has been the fact that its practitioners, if sufficiently distinguished, are able to foist onto their successors their own idea of themselves, using their professional prestige and skills to get it accepted. Both Freud and…
This article is available to online subscribers only.
Please choose from one of the options below to access this article:
Purchase a print premium subscription (20 issues per year) and also receive online access to all all content on nybooks.com.
Purchase an Online Edition subscription and receive full access to all articles published by the Review since 1963.
Purchase a trial Online Edition subscription and receive unlimited access for one week to all the content on nybooks.com.