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430 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1961
"Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible. The loneliness began with the experiences of my early dreams, and reached its climax at the time I was working on the unconscious ... But loneliness is not necessarily inimical to companionship, for no one is more sensitive to companionship than the lonely man, and companionship thrives only when each individual remembers his individuality and does not identify himself with others."
Mystics, Gnostics, alchemists, Buddhists, Taoists, philosophers and many others were preoccupied with understanding the mind better. Jung studied all of them by himself, read anything that he could put his hands on about myths, ancient religions, behavior of the primitives. He also studied and interpreted his own dreams, taking into account symbols discovered in all the books he read, his visions, his memories, his encounters with other cultures and his patients’ behavior and connected in his mind all the knowledge he could get (and believe me, it is pretty clear in this book that he was like a sponge for any knowledge of this kind) and reached mindblowing conclusions.
His theories about the collective unconscious, about good and evil as being facets of a whole (pertaining to his theory about the shadows which is brilliant), of God arranging in his omniscience so that Adam and Eve would have to sin by having created the serpent before them and therefore placing in them the possibility of doing it (this echoed both Steinbeck’s view from East of Eden and Spinoza’s philosophy of the lack of will and of a God who sees the bigger picture in which bad is not really bad which I was happening to read in the morning – should I categorize this as synchronicity, a concept also defined by Jung?), all these helped me have a more comprehensive view of life and they also helped me understand myself better.
"Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away – an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains."No, this is not a biography per se. So, if you expect it to be like one, you’ll be disappointed. Jung chiefly speaks here of inner experiences, being most certain that these and only these form the prima materia of his scientific work. He is sure that inner experiences also set their seal on the outward experiences that came his way and assumed importance for him in his youth or later on. He discovered that anxiety presented itself in dreams of objects that were now small, now suffocatingly large (God, I’ve wondered so many times why, when I closed my eyes sometimes, I had this very disturbing image in my head). He discovered the basis for his theory of persona (the mask that we are wearing when interacting with others) when he was in primary school, he became conscious of the concept of ego in himself at some point when he was seized with rage that someone had dared to insult him.
"I knew so little about myself, and the little was so contradictory that I could not with a good conscience reject any accusations. As a matter of fact I always had a guilty conscience and was aware of both actual and potential faults. For that reason I was particularly sensitive to reproofs, since all of them more or less struck home. Although I had not in reality done what I was accused of, I felt that I might have done it. I would even draw up a list of alibis in case I should be accused of something. I felt positively relieved when I had actually done something wrong. Then, at least I knew what my guilty conscience was for. Naturally I compensated my inner insecurity by an outward show of security, or – to put it better – the defect compensated itself without the intervention of my will."The dream that he had which made him realize what consciousness really means in our human psyche is most interesting and I choose to add it here below. I will however add this as a spoiler (and the rest of the review as well) as I feel that I cannot summarize the richness of his ideas in a short text and this review will become way too long if I do not do this. It is up to you if you choose to read on or not. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>