Carl Jung – an influential thinker with glaring faults

Carl Jung left a profound mark on the 20th Century, imprinting his ideas and theories across a wide field of psychology, anthropology, archaeology, literature, alchemy, the paranormal and religious studies. He focused on individuation, the process of integrating the opposites, the conscious and unconscious, and left behind important concepts like archetypes, the collective unconscious, extraversion and intraversion.

  Alongside brilliance went personality flaws, as one biographer remarked ‘the size of the Grand Canyon.’ He married his wife Emma, a banker’s daughter for her money, slept with patients and borrowed money from them, installed his mistress in the family home as his muse, dropping her in later years when her looks went – and missed his wife most of all when she died. He may have helped countless millions with his ideas but close at hand he was damaging.

 Born on 26 July 1875 at 7.26pm Kesswil, Switzerland, he had a showy, attention-demanding 7th house Leo Sun square a creative, spiritual, vague Neptune in his communication 3rd. He also had an independent-minded, uncooperative 7th house Uranus which would incline him towards unconventional relationships. It sat uncomfortably in square to his intensely possessive Taurus Moon Pluto conjunction – so he would veer between closeness and abandonment/rejection.

  His 1st house serious, coolly detached Saturn in Aquarius was trine a 9th house Jupiter and sextile Mars in adventurous and outspoken Sagittarius.

   His search for integration would be driven by an intensely personal battle to balance the jumble of contradictory parts of himself. His internal dysfunction may also have driven his interest in alchemy – the symbolic process of burning off the dross to reveal the gold; while at the same time being adamant about not disavowing the shadow. He revelled in paradoxes, fond of quoting the physicist Niels Bohr – ‘the opposite is also a profound truth.”

  I started this post with a thought of drawing parallels between him and Mother Teresa – there’s certainly a Taurus connection with a hint of Leo, and Jupiter in Libra in the 9th. Though she was much more rooted in the grosser aspects of the earthly world with an Earth Grand Trine. Like her he has Mars in aspect to his Saturn giving him an edge. And he certainly thought that the process of redemption only came through suffering. But in his case it was an emotional or psychological agony that was required not a physical one.  

‘There is no birth of consciousness without pain.’

‘A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them.’

‘Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.’

  In terms of psychological process he was right about the journey through to transformation/individuation being arduous and at times agonizing.

  Though the semi-voluntary slog through psychotherapy hardly equates to deliberate physical pain and deprivation being inflicted on those desperate for help and support.

  Jung’s ‘spiritual-seeker’ 7th harmonic was strong, as was his humanitarian 9H (sometimes money issues); his break-through-genius 13H; leaving-a-legacy-for-history 17H; and global influence 22H.

17 thoughts on “Carl Jung – an influential thinker with glaring faults

  1. Thanks for the informative discussion, Marjorie and All.

    Both the pose of Jung on the pictured book and his accentuated Aries 3rd House reminded me of sculptor Auguste Rodin, who celebrated the individualized mind in The Thinker. A headstrong pioneer himself, Rodin also had an Aries 3rd House.

  2. A packed third house with the big hitters of Chiron, Neptune and Pluto points to the loss of siblings prior to his birth – this may have contributed to a sense of being special or unique (Sun in Leo). There is a yod: Mars 21 Sagittarius, Jupiter 23 Libra with a focal point Pluto at 23 Taurus. Jupiter in 9th (higher education) could suggest seeking out a guru or mentor-figure – Freud, but the exact quincunx to Pluto suggests there would be a bitter power struggle and deep seated rancour. Saturn (represents father) in Aquarius (rules ankles in medical astrology): his father’s name was Paul ‘Achilles’ Jung..

  3. Jung’s Red Book, his massive secret tome of alchemical/esoteric symbolic art he worked on for many years, was recently revealed. If you have dates associated with it, that might shed further light on the spiritual side of this very complex man.

    “creative, spiritual, vague in communication, uncooperative” I felt all these things trying to read his original books. I’ve found much value in other people’s summaries of his work. Trying to read it for myself, I got quite lost.
    His personal life sounds like such a mess. Apparently the ultimate individual self-construction need not include wisdom and compassion for those affected by a narcissistic quest.

    • Having grown up in the bush in Zim and steeped in a story like the wind and a far off place by LvdP, I read Jug and the Story of our Time in the 6th form. It gives a clear porte of entry to Jug’s Collective works. I the read Bohoeffer’s Ethics which taught me to box the compass, and in my second year of uni I spent all my time reading jung (instead of theology).

      I found his ideas live, his thought guided me when I was in difficulty and his interest in tarot and astrology encouraged me to go and see for myself

      If you can find the live element and move with it, step into the movement… I loved in MDR the dream where the only way to enter the holy of holies is to stoop/bend your knees. Know the Lvdp scandal are those of Jung confirmed?

  4. His relationship with his Mother was also interesting. She has variously been described as depressed or psychic and was absent from the family periodically. On the role of the benefit of suffering the philosopher Simone Weil – similar time frame – also wrote about this. Perhaps some generational alignments were at play?

  5. I used to pore over my parents copy of Man and his Symbols as a child, and along with my obsession
    for Greek myths it paved the way for my interest in Astrology. His work on synchronicity obsessed me in the 80s like many others 😉

  6. I missed the Earth Grand Trine in Mother’s Theresa chart, a hazard of being dyslexic, we simply don’t see some things. Carl Jung was all the rage in Astrology Circles in the 1980’s. Jung’s Mercury/Venus midpoint is sextile his Moon. I have found sextiles always work consistently. So he may have had a very fixed view of women. Could his Saturn sextile Chiron be another indicator of someone searching for a higher mindfulness. Illuminating fixing the never ending pain. His Mars is also trine Chiron with Saturn on Mar/Chiron midpoint. Which ties in with his singular quest for healing people. He wanted to be seen as the people’s healer and master. With a Leo Sun is the 7th, Mars Chiron midpoint on Saturn the Teachers energy would be very focused.

  7. All that 3rd house Taurus energy with Pluto on the IC. That really explains his home life. And it takes a square from Saturn to make it super-fixed. Taurus is archetypally a selfish sign. It gives you self-esteem but has no interest or understanding in sharing (an 8th house / Scorpio theme) whether that’s possessions, ideas or whatever.

  8. Thanks Marjorie for picking up on Jung.

    ‘Wholeness’ was certainly a central theme of his work – as it had been in German thought at least since the days of Schiller. The debates tended to recur every time Western philosophers were reintroduced to Indian monism – more specifically Indian Brahmanism. Monism led Jung to adopt the Hegelian system still prevalent at his time, proposition and antithesis resolved at a higher level (synthesis), but applied to feeling and intention as well as thought.

    Yet at the same time, Jung was drawn to Tibetan Buddhism. In fact he once said that he owed all his greatest insights to the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The essence of Buddhist philosophy is however ‘no-thing-ness’ rather than Oneness. There is no God, Brahman, Wholeness – no ultimate substance in which we all partake. Instead every supposed thing arises purely in dependence on every other thing: no thing has any independent existence – there is no eternal soul.

    Once the relative / interdependent nature of phenomena is understood then it is possible to transform one into another (as in alchemy). When it comes to states of mind, then the more usual method of transformation is by imagining a picture (a saint, a role model, an archetype, a mandala etc) and projecting it outwards. After a period of meditation on the image, the meditator reabsorbs it. Repeated creation, projection and absorptions should eventually produce the desired mental state. [There are many other mental exercises but this is the more usual.]

    So there we have the fundamental paradox in Jung’s work – the integration of disparate entities or forces into a ‘wholeness’ or the acceptance of ‘no-thing-ness’ and an awareness of their interdependent arising. I suppose the end is the same in either case since wholeness or completeness is by definition a no-thing-ness.

    We are then left with the directionality of the individuation process. Starting with the ‘Self’ we can presumably extend it, like a metaphorical balloon, until it is infinite and eternal or we can go the opposite way with the cessation of all perturbations (thoughts, feelings and intentions) and the total negation of the ‘Self’ . The journey is all there really is and the direction is our own individual choice.

    • Great summery, Liz. Jung wrote a commentary on the Tibetan Book of the Dead and was fascinated by the Tibetan mandala as yet another symbol of wholeness and I believe even looked into Ufos in his ‘Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky.’

      Have you seen those beautiful sand mandalas, constructed by monks over an extended period of time while chanting and performing ritual? When completed, the monk runs his fist through the mandala, destroying it. Such a profound expression of the transience and impermanence of all things.

      • Hi Virgoflake

        I would just like to add that mandalas are not symbols of wholeness but instead represent different aspects of the universe (the word universe being used here in an everyday sense). They can be found in many cultures but particularly in Japan, China and Tibet.

        The belief is that, during meditation, by entering the mandala and proceeding towards its center you are guided through the cosmic process of transforming the universe from one of suffering into one of joy and happiness. Sometimes in the West this is taken literally in that adherents walk around mandala gardens before sitting at the centre to meditate.

        Jung found the drawing of mandalas to be extremely helpful when dealing with disturbed children. They apparently help to centre scattered energies and to focus and concentrate the mind. I understand many drawing books based on mandalas are nowadays available for children and adults in shops and supermarkets. Colouring them in on long plane or car journeys is said to be very calming.

        But yes, as you say, the Tibetan sand mandalas are very beautiful and represent the process of continuous creation and dissolution – the transience and impermanence of all things. [I guess we were all fascinated with building sand castles on the beach as children and then watching the sea wash them away – it has something of the same flavour.]

        Is an astrological chart a mandala?

        • I’ve never quite resonated to the nothingness concept.
          But mandalas being helpful for disturbed children makes me think of that phrase in trauma psychology – the fragmented or shattered self which occurs in severe dysfunction. The search for meaning is always strongest amongst those who are trying to haul together the parts of themselves scattered by explosive experiences. Astrology will be one path in the search to find meaning in a seemingly random and destructive universe. Astrology imposes a pattern, however nebulous which is better than arbitrary chaos. And in typically Uranian fashion astrology is a torch bearer, lighting the path through the madness of a disordered world that otherwise makes no sense.

        • Thanks for the clarification re the meaning of mandalas and their therapeutic value in troubled and traumatised children, Liz and Marjorie.

          The horoscope is a circle with the angles, the Midheaven and the Ascendant forming a ‘cross of matter’, the cross of ‘incarnation’. I like Marjorie’s explanation of astrology being a search for meaning in a seemingly chaotic universe and a torch of illumination in the darkness. I feel very privileged to have come into contact with astrology in this life, but then always had an interest in the esoteric, even as a child.

  9. Fascinating read, Marjorie thank you. Years ago I read his ‘Psychology and Alchemy’ before embarking on a creative project influenced by the ‘Rosarium Philosophorum’, a 16th century text richly illustrated with 20 woodcuts depicting the stages of the ‘opus’, the alchemical process which Jung uses as a basis for the book. IIRC he talks about how his patients’ dreams contained alchemical imagery and likens the Anima and Animus to the Alchemical red king and white queen, the opus itself to the therapeutic process and the philosopher’s stone to the goal of psychological ‘wholeness’.

    I was attracted to the idea of reconciliation of oppostes, astrologically speaking because I think it is something that often preoccupies Librans — the sign is about weighing and balancing opposites, the delicate balance required in maintaining successful relationships and because I think Librans of both sexes contain a little of their opposite within them. That makes me wonder if Jupiter in Libra turns this preoccupation into a ‘philosophy’ or spiritual journey. One of my favourite Jungian words is ‘enantiodromia’.

    In my own experience, the greatest psychological growth takes place when one is willing to face whatever trauma and undergo therapy with a skilled and empathetic practitioner. Without wanting to sound a little Mother Teresarish, life tends to get stale without a little grit in the oyster.

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