The Jungians

Excerpt from The Jungians: A Comparative & Historical Perspective by Thomas B. Kirsch, Ph.D., Jungian analyst. Published by Routledge in 2000.

JUNGIANS TODAY, pp. 251-252

As has been mentioned several times in this book, Jung was not interested in developing a sectarian psychological ‘school.’ His interests lay in studying the unconscious as it manifested itself in comparative religion, mythology, anthropology, ethnology, psychiatry, and modern atomic physics. Although his books were widely read in England and the United States, and many words which he coined such as complex, archetype, introvert, extravert, became a part of everyday language, Freudian psychoanalysis was the predominant depth psychology during his lifetime. The lasting effects of the feud between himself and Freud, compounded by his deep interest in the non-rational aspects of the psyche, were at variance with the culture of the times. At the end of his life he had grave doubts whether he had truly been understood.

In the four decades since his death, Jung and Jungians have gained a degree of general acceptance which did not exist during his lifetime. Many of Jung’s ideas have become a part of the general culture of the world, sometimes with acknowledgement and many times not. In addition, the books of many Jungian analysts have garnered wide readership, and other writers have been openly influenced by Jung. …

Jungians have struck a chord; the culture recognizes the importance of the unconscious and desires information that does not immediately point to pathology. Professionally, to be a Jungian analyst is a legitimate occupation and, therefore, is apt to receive approbation like that earned by other schools of psychoanalysis, which means it will also have to weather similar forms of condemnation.



As mentioned previously, Jung used alchemical symbolism in “The Psychology of the Transference” to describe the process and stages of analysis. The medieval symbolism of alchemy provides an arcane template for the intensely personal experience of analysis. Using the language of the alchemists, Jung described the various processes which take place in the analytic vessel and emphasized the need to keep the alchemical vessel hermetically sealed during certain phases of the work. As we have noted, Jungians have variably kept the container properly sealed; more often in the past than in the present the vessel badly leaked. And what is meant by “alchemical container” also has had myriad interpretations. Jung and the first generation of Jungians kept much looser boundaries than succeeding generations, often mixing social and professional relationships. Succeeding generations have been much stricter in delineating boundaries between professional and personal relationships. Self-disclosure is another issue which has undergone a shift in emphasis. While self-disclosure can be done in a conscious way that can be therapeutic, and in such a way that the container will hold, some Jungian analysts have given too literal an interpretation to Jung’s belief that the analyst must be as much “in the work” as the analysand.

~Thomas B. Kirsch, Ph.D., Jungian analyst, The Jungians: A Comparative and Historical Perspective