Vintage JUNG

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All depth psychological schools assume the existence of the unconscious, and Jung does so in a very unique, specific way.

Within the Freudian context, the unconscious is a kind of repository for all that is inadmissible;  repressed. The Freudian unconscious - the personal unconscious - is thus made up of contents that were once conscious, but were repressed as inadmissible. The personal unconscious is essentially similar to the ego-contents from which it has split off. A censor ensures that the repressed contents can either not return or can return only in a distorted form (cf. the dream): this is the Freudian conflict model.

 

This conflict model initially arouses Jung's interest and enthusiasm, it is accepted by him as innovative and revolutionary, but later found to be too narrow; too one-sided and too fragmentary.

In addition to the unmistakable instinctual pole - the sexual libido - the unconscious also has a broader mysterious dimension for Jung, which he finds difficult to define, using terms such as creative, spiritual, numinous and collective unconscious. Libido acquires a much broader meaning: a driving force, something ego-strange, "the totally different other", a dimension that seeks to "incarnate", to integrate into the conscious ego. The “totally different other” can therefore be totally new, never before conscious. The ego, which is confronted by the whole other and which allows itself to be immersed in it, can at best be revitalised, and at worst disintegrated. In that confrontation, the place and role of the conscious ego is crucial.

Jung developed this specific dynamic not from theoretical considerations, but from personal experiences resulting in a special sensitivity and affinity for those - rather creative - facets of the unconscious. Anyone looking for examples of this need only open the 'Septem Sermones', 'Aion', or 'The Red Book'.

In showing great respect for the unconscious as a potential treasure trove, Jung thus clearly deviates from the crystal clear Freudian vision - crystal clear because it does not take into account this enigmatic aspect of the unconscious, conjured away under the name "tidal wave of the occult".

The fact that Jung does take this enigmatic aspect into account is one of the reasons why his oeuvre does not have the same transparent coherence. It is fairly easy to discredit Jung’s work from a strictly scientific angle, if only by referring to the numerous ambiguities and contradictions that it contains. Jung himself was well aware of this and almost apologetic, describing his terms as the provisional best approach; a provisional working hypothesis. His terms shadow, anima, animus and Self are not fixed concepts, but fluid, evolving descriptions, which require a poetic approach. However, a cerebral minded scientist may understandably become irritated after just a few pages. A good example is the concept archetype which is constantly being reworked and refined and that remains difficult to understand. In some cases Jung procrastinated almost a life time before introducing a term, for example the term "synchronicity". So not only should one pay attention to what Jung writes, but also to the period in which he wrote it.

Starting a school was not Jung's main concern. He probably wrote his best texts solely for himself. His poetic elusive concepts form a trap precisely because of this, especially for those who believe that they must unquestionably adopt his ideas, which threatens to turn them into religious Jung fanatics.  Jung should always be read and approached from a critical confrontational and interrogational angle, neither blindly followed, nor imitated. His oeuvre should be read as a kind of dream with which one plays and confronts oneself, and from which an own truth is distilled.

Jung himself is a text that requires interpretation.