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Jung: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short…

Jung: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (original 1994; edition 2001)

by Anthony Stevens

Series: Past Masters

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264443,112 (3.85)1
Title:Jung: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Authors:Anthony Stevens
Info:Oxford Paperbacks (2001), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:myth, psychology

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Jung: A Very Short Introduction by Anthony Stevens (1994)



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I have enjoyed a dozen books in the ‘Very Short Introduction’ series but I must say this one on Jung is the best I’ve come across. You will not find a clearer presentation of the life and psychology of Carl Jung. Quite an accomplishment since Jung’s approach to the psyche and therapy is revolutionary and multifaceted. Since the subjects covered in this short introduction are so rich in content, for the purposes of this review, here are a few quotes along with my comments, starting with Jung’s break with his teacher and mentor in the world of psychoanalysis – Sigmund Freud.

“As time passed, Jung’s differences with Freud became harder to conceal. Two of Freud’s basic assumptions were unacceptable to him: (1) that human motivation is exclusively sexual and (2) that the unconscious mind is entirely personal and peculiar to the individual.” --------- Turns out, this is the difference for Jung that made all the difference. In Jung’s view, we humans have many reasons for doing what we do well beyond the boundaries of sexuality. And also, the human unconscious taps into the entire range of experiences we have developed as a species over millions of years

“Moreover, beneath the personal unconscious of repressed wishes and traumatic memories, posited by Freud, Jung believed there lay a deeper and more important layer that he was to call the collective unconscious, which contained in potenitia the entire psychic heritage of mankind. . . . The existence of this ancient basis of the mind had first been hinted to him as a child when he realized that there were things in his dreams that came from somewhere beyond himself. Its existence was confirmed when he studied the delusions and hallucinations of schizophrenic patients and found them to contain symbols and images which also occurred in myths and fairy-tales all over the world. --------- Again, Jung acknowledged there is a personal component to the unconscious realm we encounter in our dreams, but this is only the start: there is an ocean of unconscious energy deeper and wider than the personal – the collective unconscious. Thus, Jung’s lifelong fascination with symbols, such as mandalas, numbers, mythic animals, light-infused and shadowy superhuman presences.

“What distinguishes the Jungian approach to developmental psychology from virtually all others is the idea that even in old age we are growing toward realization of or full potential. . . . aging was not a process of inexorable decline but a time for the progressive refinement of what is essential. ‘The decisive question for a man is: is he related to something infinite or not?’ ---------- A critical difference from Freud: what happens in our psyche isn’t always about working out our relationship with our mother and father buried in our personal past; rather, every stage in the human cycle, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, old age, has its own powerful psychic energies and challenges. It is our task to accept the challenges at each stage of our life to reach the full flowering of our humanity. Thus, for Jung, psychotherapy isn’t so much about curing illness as it is about personal growth.

“Jung held it to be the business of the psychologist to investigate the collective unconscious and the functional units of which it is composed – the archetypes, as he eventually called them. Archetypes are ‘identical psychic structures common to all’, which together constitute ‘the archaic heritage of humanity’. ---------- The author devotes two entire chapters to Jung’s archetypes: the Self, the ego, the shadow, the persona, the anima/amimus. And, what is an archetype? By way of example, we read: “One example which Jung frequently quoted was that of a schizophrenic patient who told him that if he stared at the sun with half-closed eyes he would see that the sun had a phallus and that this organ was the origin of the wind. Years later Jung came across a Greek text describing an almost identical vision.’ In other words, the archetype images we encounter in dreams belong to a common dream language we share will all humans, including our prehistoric ancestors and peoples of all world cultures and societies. And, according to Jung, these archetypical images can be understood as promptings to encourage our growth.

“In working on a dream the starting-point for Jung was not interpretation but ‘amplification’ – that is, to enter into the atmosphere of the dream to establish its mood as well as the detail of its images and symbols, in such a way as to amplify the experience of the dream itself. Then its impact on consciousness is enhanced. ---------- Dreams are central to Jungian analysis. And if you are interested in pursuing Jung’s vision of what it means to live a full human life, reading this small book would be a great place to start.

Coda: If you would like to start working with your own dreams in a Jungian way, there is short, clear, easy-to-follow instruction given by James A. Hall, available in booklet form at amazon.com or on audible -- http://www.audible.com/pd/Science-Technology/Jung-Audiobook/B002V9YZXQ/ref=a_sea...

( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
This is the beginning of a very long odyssey for me. I think this man can teach me a lot about how to live and how to write. ( )
  Victor_A_Davis | Sep 18, 2015 |
Incidentally this is essentially the same book as 'Jung-- A Brief Insight', with different pictures.

Overall, it's a neat little book.

(9/10) ( )
  fearless2012 | Mar 11, 2014 |
Jung: A Very Short Introduction
Anthony Stevens
Nov 30, 2009 9:26 AM

I have had on my bookshelf for many years a copy of basic writings of C.G. Jung, and have known in the periphery of my mind about his interest in alchemy, and have encountered, in the Meyers-Briggs training in various management courses, his conception of psychological types. When I saw this brief introduction at the ANA meetings this year it was just the thing to improve my knowledge of his thought. The first part of the book is biography, tracing the sources and chronology of his thought, particularly his break with Freud on psychoanalysis. Jung believes in the continued development of the psyche throughout life. Eventually, he sees human consciousness as cosmically important, that God had to become incarnate in man, in order to become conscious of his creation. His theory of archetype is not as mystical as it seems, being related to the predisposition to have certain experiences, and to the “innate releasing mechanisms” of behavior studied by animal ethologists. It is possibly also related to structural anthropology and grammar rules. He sees the human being as going through orderly stages, developing a persona, meeting the early life challenges of marriage and procreation, each experience being integrated in the self through an archetype of the stage. Jung is impressed by the recurrence of similar symbols and images in dreams of people experiencing similar stresses at similar stages of the life cycle. Dreams may serve the function of integrating daily experience into the genetic and archetypical program of a successful lief. The theory of psychological types derives from the concept of archetypes but is more of an external observation, than an inner exploration of dreams and psychic experiences. There is a basic attitude, either introverted or extraverted, the introvert careful, somewhat mistrustful, reflective and retiring, the extravert outgoing, candid, forms quick relationships, and proceeds cheerfully. There are four functions: feeling, sensing, thinking, and intuitive. Feeling and thinking are “rational” functions, feeling more related to judging and assigning values to a perception, thinking more concerned with working out what is going on. Sensing and intuition are more irrational, sensing reporting the facts and intuition working out the big picture of meaning in a scene. An introvert or extravert can predominately use one of the other functions, leading to eight types.

This is a very readable introduction, certainly easier going than Jung’s own writings. After reading this book I picked up my copy of selected writings, and made my way through some of Jung’s prose. Jung is round about and the language is mystical and difficult, often defensive. Steven’s explanation of the archetype and collective unconscious certainly reduced its apparent mysticism and made more sense in the program of psychology. I certainly agree with the development of the psyche over the lifespan, and hope to live more of it myself. ( )
  neurodrew | Nov 30, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192854585, Paperback)

This is the most lucid and timely introduction to the thought of Carl Gustav Jung available to date. Though he was a prolific writer and an original thinker of vast erudition, Jung lacked a gift for clear exposition, and his ideas are less widely appreciated than they deserve to be. Now, in this extremely accessible introduction, Anthony Stevens--one of Britain's foremost Jungian analysts--clearly explains the basic concepts of Jungian psychology: the collective unconscious, complex, archetype, shadow, persona, anima, animus, and the individualization of the Self. A small masterpiece of insight and concision, this volume offers a clear portrait of one of the twentieth century's most important and controversial thinkers.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:44 -0400)

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