Jungian Theory: A Brief Overview, II

My previous post gave a (very) brief overview of Jung’s view of himself and his work. This post aims to provide an equally brief introduction to the premises behind Jung’s psycho-therapeutic method. Further posts will expand on Jung’s archetypal theory and his method of dream interpretation. (Please see BULGAKOV RESOURCES for works that discuss Jung’s theory and psychological outlook in greater and more complete detail.)


Jung begins his therapeutic approach with the psychology of the individual (treating each patient as a unique personality) and uses a course of treatment that attends directly to the individual’s problems.[1] An important aspect of analysis is the patient’s understanding of her or his suffering not, Jung notes, the satisfaction of the “analyst’s theoretical expectations.”[2] Therefore, an analyst must not patronize a patient because, Jung writes, the individual “fight[s the] lonely fight through life.”[3] In light of his concern with the uniqueness of each patient and her/his suffering, Jung acknowledges that no “therapeutic technique or doctrine [is] generally applicable.”[4]


Jung’s psycho-therapeutic method emphasizes a dialectical process that values collaboration between patient and analyst.[5] The process consists of “collecting factual material to describe and explain” the psyche and a patient’s suffering.[6] The practice further facilitates introspection by observing images that emerge in the individual’s dreams, or other types of “spontaneous visual impression.”[7] Jung interprets this collected material using amplification, which Murray Stein defines as a form of analogical thinking that draws on “comparative studies in human culture, myth and religion.”[8] Because “a dream is too slender a hint to be understood until it is enriched by the stuff of association and analogy,” Jung writes, [9] amplification helps patients decipher their own dream images and avoids incorporating an analyst’s prejudices into their interpretation.


Jung’s “healing art” [10] aims to create awareness in an individual [11] in three steps:

  1. the recognition of unconscious psychic contents,
  2. the identification of the impact of these contents on the conscious psyche, and
  3. the integration of these unconscious contents into consciousness.

The goal of Jung’s psychotherapy is to help a patient reach a “maximum degree of consciousness,”[12] so that the individual might come to realize all of her or his capabilities[13] and experience psychic growth.[14] Jung refers to this as the process of individuation. For purposes of clarity, I call this process “psychological adaption and restoration.”


Next time: Introduction to Psychological Adaption and Restoration




[1] C. G. Jung, Collected Works: Civilization in Transition, trans. R. F. C. Hull, 2nd ed., Vol. 10 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), par. 37. See also Jung, CW 10:555; and C. G. Jung, Collected Works: Mysterium Coniunctionis: An Inquiry into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy, trans. R. F. C. Hull, 2nd ed., Vol. 14 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), par. 124.

[2] C. G. Jung, Collected Works: The Symbolic Life: Miscellaneous Writings, trans. R. F. C. Hull, Vol. 18 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), par. 18:505.

[3] Jung, CW 18:293.

[4] Jung, CW 18:515.

[5] Jung, CW 18:1391.

[6] Jung, CW 18:1507.

[7] C. G. Jung, Collected Works: The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, trans. R. F. C. Hull, 2nd ed., Vol. 9.1 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), par. 9.1:319.

[8] Murray Stein, Jung’s Map of the Soul (Chicago: Open Court, 2009), 5.

[9] C. G. Jung, Collected Works: Psychology and Alchemy, trans. R. F. C. Hull, Vol. 12 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), par. 403.

[10] C. G. Jung, Collected Works: Practice of Psychotherapy, trans. R. F. C. Hull, Vol. 16 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), par. 16:1.

[11] Edward F. Edinger, The Creation of Consciousness: Jung’s Myth for Modern Man (Toronto: Inner City Books, 1984), 57.

[12] Edinger, Creation of Consciousness, 35.

[13] Joseph Campbell, introduction to C.G.Jung, The Portable Jung, ed. Joseph Campbell, trans. R. F. C. Hull. (New York: Penguin Books, 1976), xxvii.

[14] Jung, CW 16:99.

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