Sunday, July 11, 2021

Psychology and Alchemy by Carl Jung - summary

Psychology and Alchemy (in German Psychologie und Alchimie ) is a work by Carl Gustav Jung published in 1944. It represents the twelfth volume of his Complete Work , being in turn one of his main works dedicated to the study of alchemy .

In this work, Carl Jung advocates a revaluation of the symbolism of alchemy as intimately related to the analytical process. Using a series of dreams from one of his patients, he shows how the symbols used by the alchemists occur in the psyche as part of the repository of mythological images used by the individual in his dream states. Jung draws an analogy between the Great Work of the alchemists and the process of reintegration and individuation of the psyche in the modern psychiatric patient .

By pointing out these parallels, Jung reinforces the universal character of his archetype theory and makes a passionate argument for the importance of spirituality in the psychic health of modern man. Lavishly illustrated with images, drawings and paintings from alchemy and other mythological sources including Christianity , the book is another example of Jung's scholarship and his fascination with both esoteric and exoteric expressions of spirituality , as well as the psyche in the religion and the mysticism . 

Influenced by the pioneering work of Ethan Allen Hitchcock and Herbert Silberer (who in turn was influenced by Jung), Psychology and Alchemy is a seminal work of revaluation of a forgotten system of thought that did much to revive interest in alchemy as a a serious force in Western esoteric and philosophical culture.

In Psychology and Alchemy, it is also a fact of interest that the patient whose dreams are being analyzed in the second section is the physicist Wolfgang Pauli , who would come to collaborate with Jung on ideas such as the acausal connection principle of synchronicity . 4 Dreams are interpreted in series in order to clarify the meanings of recurring motifs and symbols, culminating in said series in the vision of a "world clock", which is actually several clocks in different planes operating at different scales and colors such as a symbol of Pauli's unconscious apprehension of some great cosmic order.