Biography of C. G. Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was born on July 26, 1875, in Kesswil, Switzerland. He
grew up in a religious family (his father was a Protestant minister). From an
early age he decided on a career in medicine and he attended the University of
Bashel. In 1900, when he was 25 years old, he became an assistant at the Burghölzli,
Zurich’s mental hospital. His doctoral thesis was a report of séances
(psychic contact with deceased people, usually done in a group) that he had
observed during a two-year period. He soon turned to psychiatry and, in 1902,
published a case history about a hysterical individual.
Five years after from earning his medical degree, Jung was made a senior
staff member and director of a research laboratory. He also held an academic
appointment at a university. During the next five years, he was awarded an
honorary degree from a foreign university (Clark) and was elected the first
president of the International Psychoanalytic Association.
In 1907, Jung’s interest in dymentia
(madness) and the interpretation of dreams brought him to the attention of
Sigmund Freud. At this time, Freud’s work was not accepted in academic
circles, but Jung defended him vigorously, although he never accepted the strong
sexual implications of Freud’s teaching.
In 1912, Jung realized that he had to break with Freud and strike out on
his own. His separations from Freud, the Burghölzli, and the university, gave
him more free time, and he used this to write several important works. He called
this period a “confrontation with the unconscious,” (Jung, 973, p. 170).
From his highly personal experiences, he developed what he called analytical
In 1944, at the age of 69,
Jung suffered a massive heart attack. He struggled for life for several weeks.
After his recovery, he decided to follow his inner convictions no matter what
the consequences. The results were a flood of important manuscripts on the
psychological aspects of alchemy, Gnosticism, and religion. He died in 1961,
just as his work was becoming accepted throughout the world.
Much of Jung’s discoveries and ideas came from his own experiences,
through his personal dreams and visions. These are detailed in his autobiography