Born on July 26, 1875, in Kesswil, Switzerland, Carl Jung came from a long line of Protestant ministers and scholars. Although as an adult he was not a member of a congregation, Jung did not lose interest in what he called “the religious problems of modern man.” The Red Book teems with Jung’s meditations on the nature of religion and science, the god image in different times and cultures, and the relation of humans to imagination. It is sprinkled with texts from a range of religious, mythic, and symbolic systems.

A voracious reader, Jung became a man of enormous learning. From his earliest years, he strove to comprehend his active dream life and sought to understand things he considered invisible and inexplicable. Jung described his own uncompromising probing of the unconscious in vivid detail in the Red Book.

Jung entered the University of Basel in 1895 to study medicine, receiving his diploma in 1900. He decided to specialize in psychiatry, which was, he later said, “quite generally held in contempt” at the time. In 1900, Jung began working at the Burghölzli Mental Hospital a part of the University of Zurich, from which he received his medical degree in 1902. Under the tutelage of its director, Eugen Bleuler (1857–1939), a notable Swiss psychiatrist, Jung formulated theories of schizophrenia (a term coined by Bleuler) and psychological complexes.

Jung’s work came to the attention of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. Between 1907 and 1912, Jung was Freud's close collaborator and was widely thought to be his most likely successor as leader of the psychoanalytic movement. However, they became estranged when it became clear that they disagreed about the nature of the psyche and the unconscious.

Jung charged Freud with dogmatism in reducing all mental problems to sexual issues; Freud accused Jung of succumbing to the “black tide” of occultism, or mysticism. After his split with Freud, Jung continued to develop his own distinctive system of analytical psychology, the theories of which he elaborated through the experimental experiences he describes in the Red Book.

Jung on His Early Life

Jung made handwritten revisions on this page of a draft of the English language translation of his autobiographical Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1963). He complains about the inadequacies of his religious teachers, including his father and his uncles, all Swiss Reformed Church pastors, and regrets that what he was taught as a child in church did not match his inner experiences. Although his views were unorthodox in terms of his Christian upbringing, Jung had a life-long interest in religious experience, which is evident in the Red Book. He said that all his thoughts "circle around God like the planets around the sun."

Page from the Protocols (drafts) for Memories, Dream, Reflections. Carl G. Jung Collection, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (001.00.00). [Digital ID # rb0001]

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Jung's First Publication

When Jung was studying medicine at the University of Basel (1895-1899), he attended seances with a cousin who appeared to be taken over by deceased personalities who communicated through her details of their previous lives. In his dissertation, submitted to the medical faculty of the University of Zurich and published in 1902, Jung attempted to treat these seances in a scientific manner as furnishing an explanation of the as yet extremely controversial psychology of the unconscious. Jung retained a life-long interested in parapsychology, the discipline concerned with investigating events and knowledge that cannot be accounted for by scientific evidence.

C. G. Jung. Zur Psychologie und Pathologie sogenannter occulter Phänomene (On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena). Leipzig: Oswald Mutze, 1902. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (002.00.00). [Digital ID # rb0002]

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Jung's Study of Schizophrenia

In 1907 Jung published his study of the devastating, baffling, mental illness schizophrenia, or, as it was known at the time, dementia praecox. Based on his work with patients at the Burghözli Mental Hospital, Jung's book was ground breaking because he treated delusional material as worthy of interpretation rather than as unintelligible raving. In the book's foreword, Jung acknowledged his debt to Sigmund Freud, stating that "even a superficial glance at my work will show how much I am indebted to the brilliant discoveries of Freud." The copy displayed belonged to and is signed by the pioneering American analyst, Morris J. Karpas (1879-1918).

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Jung Meets Freud

After exchanging publications and letters, Jung and Freud met for the first time in Vienna on March 3, 1907. As soon as Jung reached Freud's home, the two retired to Freud's study for a thirteen-hour conversation in which they exchanged ideas about psychology and related subjects. Jung's visit to Vienna lasted five or six days, after which he and his wife, Emma, vacationed in Abbazia (now Opatija, Croatia), a fashionable Austrian resort on the Adriatic Sea. In his postcard to Martha Freud, Sigmund's wife, Jung reminisces about the "splendid Vienna days" just spent with the Freuds.

Postcard from Carl Jung to Martha Freud, March 3, 1907. Sigmund Freud Collection, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (005.00.00). [Digital ID # rb0005]

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Freud Thanks Jung for Defending His Ideas

Vacationing in the Austrian Alps, Freud thanks Jung for defending his ideas at a conference in Amsterdam. Freud tells Jung that he is "better fitted for propaganda" because "all hearts open to you." In replying to Freud's letter, on September 11, 1907, Jung described his disgust at the speakers at the Amsterdam conference, most of whom he berated for "pouring unadulterated sewage" on Freud's theories, filling Jung "up to the neck" with a "contempt bordering on nausea for the genus Homo sapiens." Jung often expressed his unhappiness with what he considered Freud's "timidness before the world," his reluctance to defend "his case publicly."

Letter from Sigmund Freud to Carl Jung, September 2, 1907. Page 2. Sigmund Freud Collection, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (006.00.00).

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Jung's First Visit to America

In 1909, to observe the twentieth anniversary of Clark University's founding, its president, G. Stanley Hall (1844-1924), invited twenty-nine thinkers of international standing in the physical, biological, and social sciences to attend a conference there. Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud were among the eight invited to represent psychology and pedagogy. Freud delivered five lectures on psychoanalysis, and Jung delivered three lectures on the psychology of childhood, a topic he broadened considerably. Pictured at Clark are, seated (left to right), Freud, Hall and Jung, and, standing (left to right), three of Freuds followers, A.A. Brill (1874-1948), Ernest Jones (1879-1958) and Sandor Ferenczi (1873-1933).

Photograph of Jung, Freud, and others at a 1909 celebration of the founding of Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts. Sigmund Freud Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (007.00.00). [Digital ID # cph.3b41123]

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Jung's Criticism of Freud

Jung's hard-hitting criticism of Freud in this letter, including an accusation that he mistreated both his patients and his pupils, indicates that the relationship between the two men had soured to a point that a split between them was imminent. They had a fundamental disagreement about the role of sexuality in creating neuroses as well as other theoretical differences. Thought to have been lost when Freud left Vienna to escape the Nazis in 1938, Jung's letters were discovered in London in 1954. Freud's daughter, Anna, donated photostatic copies to the Library of Congress in 1958. The originals eventually went to the Eidgenssische Technische Hochschule (ETH, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Zurich.

Letter from Carl Jung to Sigmund Freud, December 18, 1912. Page 2. Courtesy of the ETH Bibliothek/Archives and Private Collections, Zurich. Used by permission of the Foundation for the Works of C. G. Jung, Zurich (008.00.00)

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Freud Ends Friendship with Jung

This letter from Freud to Jung effectively severed the relationship between the two men, although Jung referred a patient to Freud ten years later. After the rupture Jung did not belittle Freud's contribution to the study of psychology. In his autobiographical Memories, Dreams, Reflections Jung saluted Freud as "an Old Testament prophet [who] undertook to overthrow false gods, to rip the veils away from the mass of dishonesties and hypocrisies, mercilessly exposing the rottenness of the contemporary psyche… he demonstrated empirically the presence of an unconscious psyche which had hitherto existed only as a philosophical postulate.

Letter from Sigmund Freud to Carl Jung, January 3, 1913. Page 2. Page 3. Page 4. Sigmund Freud Collection, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Courtesy of Sigmund Freud Copyrights, by arrangement with Patterson Marsh Ltd. (009.00.00). [Digital ID # rb0009]

Read the transcript page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4

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The Hero's Struggle for Freedom

Jung had several objectives in writing this book. He identified its theme as the heros struggle for freedom, the hero being one of his principal archetypal figures. Jung asserted that another purpose of the book was to conduct a scientific analysis of myths and their role in the human psyche. Finally, Jung wanted to broaden the meaning of the term libido to include all expressions of psychic energy not just the sexual drive as defined by Freud. Jung subsequently claimed that this book marked the discovery of the collective unconscious, though the term came at a later date.

C. G. Jung. The Psychology of the Unconscious: A Study of the Transformations and Symbolism of the Libido. New York: Moffat, Yard and Company, 1916. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (010.00.00)

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