Jung, Carl Gustav – Memories, Dreams, Reflections

  • time-lines. The shape of time was a constant concern from the primeval ages: for instance, the ancient Buddhists were imagined it in four states – linear, circular, spiral and evolutionary. These shapes are well known to Europeans through the following scholars: Aristotle said that the mechanical time is linear; for Nietzsche the eternal return is a cyclical time; Hegel is famous for his dynamic time where the dialectic could be represented like an infinite spiral; and finally, Darwin coined the expression of the evolution of species with its characteristic time in U-shape or reversed U-shape. From these four shapes of time, the most closer that could be stamped on the life of Carl Gustav Jung is the evolutionary time. The first part of his life, from the beginning till the age of 39, the descending slope of the U, is characterized by various “wounds”; while the second part of it, starting from the age of 40 till the end, so the ascending slope of the U, is best known for its “healings”. The two parts are well illustrated in his book “Memories, dreams, reflections” and, before I’ll present the meanings of the symbol of the house for Jung, a short review, by chapters, will unfold. The chapter 1 depicts Jung’s relationships with his mother and father. A central point in it is a dream he had of a fallus that was the “men eater”: according to this dream, Jung was either the subject of a sexual attack or only fantasized about it. In fact, it is well known about the later confession of Jung to Freud, in a letter, that in his early childhood he “was the victim of a sexual assault of a man I once worshipped” (Smith, 1996:49; Dunne, 2000: 30). Due to this memory it is easy, now, to trace the future of any relationship of Jung with his mentors. The second chapter also depicts Jung’s relationships with his mother and father; and also with his schoolmates while studying the first classes at Basel. At this time, in Jung rose two personalities: personality No. 1 that was centered on “I”, being young and much interested in sciences and facts; and personality No. 2 that was centered on “Me”, an old man fascinated by religion, philosophy and meanings. These two personalities reflected the distinction of inside/ outside and ego/ alter according to Jung, but a concerning subject for psychotherapists that saw in them a split of personality. Jung presents the relationship between personality No.1 and No.2, in the following chapter, through a dream he had: in this dream he was caring a tiny light (his personality No. 1) against a mighty wind, while behind him was coming a gigantic black figure (his personality No. 2). Besides this dream, the chapter sets the further developments of the relationships Jung had with his mother, father and sister. And its central events are the student years at Basel and the apprenticeship years at Zurich. Chapter 4 takes a closer look at Jung’s practice years at Zurich and the methods – like hypnosis, association and dream-work – used then. The 5th chapter presents the beginning, middle and end of the relationship between Freud and Jung that could be characterized like a tug of war: on the one side, Freud was trying to impose his hypothesis of the sexual nature of the unconscious, while on the other side Jung was laying the foundations for the mythological nature of the unconscious. From this time date the dream Jung had, on the trip to the United States, of the psyche as a house with two stores (above in a style from the 18th century, below in a style of 16th century), a Roman cellar (i.e. the personal unconscious) and a prehistoric cave (i.e. the collective unconscious). Jung is depicting his descent in the Underworld of the unconscious in the next chapter. This is a strange period that could be seen, on the one hand, like a sacrifice to the task of death and rebirth; or, on the other hand, like a deep and dark madness. The descent starts with the discovery of “synchronicity” events (when inner turmoil coincided with outer war), passing through the figures of “archetypes” (the hero, the old wise man, the anima) and ending with the drawing of “mandala” (as cryptograms of the self). Then, the chapter 7 presents the main publications of Jung after his descent in the unconscious. He is aiming to synthesize different domains – like philosophy, psychology and religion (more specifically: Gnosticism, alchemy and Christianity). From this period date dreams of houses that have wings which Jung never visited and having hidden secrets to be revealed in his forthcoming books. Besides his books, Jung created a tower at Bollingen that is the subject of chapter 8. The tower was built along twenty years, in 5 stages, separated by 4 years each. At Bollingen, near the tower, one can visit, also: 1) the cubic stone presenting what the tower meant to Jung, 2) the French soldier grave, and 3) the stone tablets with the threes of Jung’s ancestors. Those that are visiting the place could even experience the phenomenon of “sälig Lüt”, or the departed folk/ the blessed folk with little luck. The healing process of the wounds was visible not only in his writing of books and the construction of the Bollingen tower, but also in his engulfing in expeditions outside Europe – he visited North Africa, North America, East Africa and finally reached India. Not to mention the fact that he also made a trip in Italy – a country much admired also by Sigmund Freud. These travels are documented in chapter 9. The following two chapters, chapter 10 and chapter 11, draw the distinction between life and death. On the one hand, at the beginning of 1944 Jung broke his foot and this misadventure was followed by a heart attack. In this condition, at hospital, he fully grasped the laws of science – temporality, spatiality and causality – and started to have visions: he had visions of himself, his doctor, his nurse and finally of his wife. On the other hand, if life was seen by Jung governed by the laws of science (temporality, spatiality and causality), then death should be governed by the laws of dreams and mythology (beyond-temporality, beyond-spatiality and beyond-causality). Finally, in the last chapter, Jung discusses “the Christian myth” from past, trough present, to future. In the past this myth appeared, in the present it has lost all its powers, and for the future it’s up to us to reshape and develop it further. In the second part of this chapter, it is presented the “individuation process” starting from the early ages when the individual holds the secrets of the herd and ending with the final moments when he/ she has integrated the polarities and conflicts.

The image:

  • house. So the time line of the Jung’s life has an evolutionary shape. And on both slopes of the U-shape of his time lines – both descending and ascending – he discovered that the house, in dreams, mythology and science, is a mirror of the soul. The symbol of the house stands along, by the way, in projective tests of modern psychology, by the inkblot, tree, animal and human being. And Jung provided both spatially and temporally accounts of his soul through this symbol of the house. For instance, while his life was governed by wounds, he dreamt of a house, a dream presented in chapter 5. This house is presented spatially. “I was in a house I did not know, which had two stories. It was <my house>. I found myself in the upper story, where there was a kind of salon furnished with fine old pieces in rococo style. On the walls hung a number of precious old paintings. I wondered that this should be my house, and thought, <Not bad>. But then it occurred to me that I did know what the lower floor looked like. Descending the stairs, I reached the ground floor. There everything was much older, and I realized that this part of the house must date from about the fifteenth or sixteenth century. The furnishings were medieval; the floors were of red brick. Everywhere it was rather dark. I went from one room to another, thinking: <Now I really must explore the whole house>. I came upon a heavy door, and opened it. Beyond it, I discovered a stone stairway that led down into the cellar. Descending again, I found myself in a beautifully vaulted room which looked exceedingly ancient. Examining the walls, I discovered layers of brick among the ordinary stone blocks, and chips of brick in the mortar. As soon as I saw this I knew that the walls dated from Roman times. My interest by now was intense. I looked more closely at the floor. It was of stone slabs, and in one of these I discovered a ring. When I pulled it, the stone slab lifted, and again I saw a stairway of narrow stone steps leading down into the depths. These, too, I descended and entered a low cave cut into the rock. Thick dust lay on the floor, and in the dust were scattered bones and broken pottery, like remains of a primitive culture. I discovered two human skulls, obviously very old and half disintegrated. Then I awoke”. (1989: 158-159) Much later in his life, also, Jung built the Bollingen tower: this tower is presented temporally, in chapter 8, along the stages of its construction and is another mirror of his soul governed, at that time, by the healing process. “At first I did not plan a proper house, but merely a kind of primitive one-story dwelling. It was to be a round structure with a hearth in the center and bunks along the walls (…) But I altered the plan even during the first stages of building, for I felt it was too primitive. I realized it would have to be a regular two-story house, not a mere hut crouched on the ground (…) And so, four years later, in 1927, the central structure was added, with a tower-like annex. After some time had passed – again the interval was four years – I once more had a feeling of incompleteness. The building still seemed too primitive to me, and so in 1931 the tower-like annex was extended. I wanted a room in this tower where I could exist for myself alone. (…) In 1935, the desire arose in me for a piece of fenced-in land. I needed a large space that would stand open to the sky and to nature. And so – once again after an interval of four years – I added a courtyard and a loggia by the lake, which formed a fourth element that was separated from the unitary threeness of the house (…) After my wife’s death in 1955, I felt an inner obligation to become what I myself am (…) So, in the same year, I added an upper story to this section, which represents myself, or my ego-personality”. (1989: 223-225)

The house seen spatially:

The house seen temporally:


  • Carl Gustav Jung & Aniela Jaffe (1989): “Memories, dreams, reflections”, Vintage Books Edition
  • Marie-Luise von Franz (1975): “C. G. Jung. His myth in our time”, G. P. Putnam’s Sons
  • Aniela Jaffe (1979): “C. G. Jung. Word and image“, Princeton University Press
  • Robert Smith (1996): “The wounded Jung. Effects of Jung’s relationships on his life and work”,  Northwestern University Press
  • Claire Dunne (2000): “Carl Jung. Wounded healer of the soul. An illustrated biography”, www.continuumbooks.com

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