Sunday, July 11, 2021

Man and his Symbols / Jung - overview and short summary

The Man and his Symbols is a work of psychology in which Carl Gustav Jung participatedand produced under his aegis, a few months before his death (which occurred in 1961) then under the responsibility of Marie-Louise von Franz .

Designed with the intention of making Carl Jung's thought known to the general public and written in the English language , the work was first published in 1964 , subsequently translated into several languages ​​and regularly reprinted.

The idea for Man and his Symbols was by Jung developed in two stages.

- In the spring of 1959, the BBC asked journalist (and future politician) John Freeman to interview Carl Gustav Jung at his home in Küsnacht , for his television show Face to face . Lasting forty minutes, it is broadcast on 22 october . Among those who discover it is Wolfgang Foges, who manages Aldus Books. He considers it a pity that Jung remains very little known to the general public, especially in comparison to Sigmund Freud . He then begs Freeman to help him convince Jung to express the fundamentals of his thinking in the form of a popularization book. Freeman goes to Jung's house again, who then refuses the offer.

- Two factors then come into play, which lead Jung to finally accept the offer: the unusual abundance of mail he receives as a result of the BBC show as well as a dream he has, in which he s address to a crowd listening attentively  . When Foges asked Jung, a week later, he responded favorably but set two conditions: that the book be written with some of his collaborators and that Freeman ensure the coordination  .

Structure of the book 
Abundantly illustrated, the book consists of five parts:
- Exploration essay of the unconscious (CG Jung)
- Primitive myths and modern man ( Joseph L. Henderson  (en) )
- The process of individuation ( Marie-Louise von Franz )
- Symbolism in the plastic arts ( Aniéla Jaffé )
- Symbols within an individual analysis ( Jolande Jacobi ).

Jung finishes his chapter barely ten days before the onset of the illness that leads to his death (this is his very last article) and after he has approved the draft of his collaborators.

After her death, Marie-Louise von Franz assumes the responsibility of taking over the coordination and drafts the conclusion.

The book was published in France at the same time as the original edition: in 1964. The reissues remained unchanged, with the same pagination. Some quotes from Man and his Symbols:

“Modern man does not understand to what extent his 'rationalism' has placed him at the mercy of this underground psychic world. He freed himself from "superstition" (at least he believes so) but in doing so he lost his spiritual values ​​to an alarming degree. His moral and spiritual traditions have disintegrated and he is paying for this collapse with a disarray and dissociation that is rampant throughout the world.   "
“Today we talk about 'matter', we describe its physical properties, we conduct laboratory experiments to demonstrate some of its aspects. But the word "matter" remains a purely intellectual concept, which has no psychic meaning for us. (…) Likewise, what was once “the spirit” is now identified with the intellect. It has deteriorated to fall within the limits of thought egocentric  . "
“Despite our proud claim to dominate nature, we are still its victims because we have not yet learned to dominate ourselves.