By the time he appeared on the cover of Time in 1955, Carl G. Jung was an icon in his profession and in popular culture. During the 1940s and 1950s, Americans in the fields of depth psychology, the arts, and comparative religions embraced Jung’s ideas. His concepts of the “archetype” and the “collective unconscious”—ideas that grew out of Jung’s experiences during his creation of the Red Book—had particular power.

According to Jung, archetypes are patterns of behavior or symbolic imagery present in the minds of all individuals. Archetypes inform cultural themes and images that express significant human concerns—such as birth, love, death, family, and survival. They create a psychological registry of universal experience that Jung named the “collective unconscious,” which forms a treasury of powerful, shared images and symbols that are expressed in dreams, art, fairy tales, stories, myths, and religious motifs from across widely different times and cultures.

These Jungian concepts were attractive to artists, including “abstract expressionists” like Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), who referenced myth and primal symbols in their work. Jung’s concepts also inspired numerous writers, musicians, filmmakers, theologians, and mythologists, including those featured in this section: dancer and choerographer Martha Graham (1894–1991), filmmaker Federico Fellini (1920–1993), author Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986), and mythologist Joseph Campbell (1904–1987).

Other examples of Jung’s continuing influence are the Jungian archetypes that appear in popular media, such as the films of George Lucas (b. 1944), video games, and television programs. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (1962), based on Jung’s description of introversion and extroversion and personality types, is commonly used in education, business, and industry. And Jung’s explorations of non-Christian sources of spirituality, such as gnosticism, alchemy, and Eastern contemplative traditions inform various “New Age” philosophies.

Jung as "Old Wise Man"

In its 1955 cover story about Carl G. Jung, Time concluded that Jung's "greatest achievement is that he has shown psychology a new direction: he has constructed a psychology for human beings who reach out toward the unknown, the intangible, the spiritual." The story was titled "The Old Wise Man," referring to a Jungian archetype that, representing insight and wisdom, guides others to discover who they are and who they might become. Fictional examples include Merlin (King Arthur legends), Gandulf (Lord of the Rings trilogy), and Dumbledore (Harry Potter series). In the Red Book Jung depicts a wise character he calls "Philemon" as a bearded old man with wings.

Carl G. Jung on Time cover, February 14, 1955. Bollingen Foundation Collection, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (024.00.00)
[Digital ID # rb0024]

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Rehearsal Score for Night Journey

Among the numerous other artists with whom Martha Graham collaborated was Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer William Schuman (1910-1992), who wrote an orchestral score for her Night Journey (1947). Shown is the piano rehearsal score with choreographic notes.. The title refers to an archetypal motif described by Jung: "The night sea journey is . . . a journey to the land of ghosts somewhere beyond this world, beyond consciousness, hence an immersion in the unconscious." In his mythology, the journey is a stage in which the hero experiences danger and even death.

William Schuman. Piano rehearsal score with choreographic notes for Martha Graham's Night Journey, ca. 1947. Martha Graham Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress. Courtesy of the William Schuman Music Trust (026.00.00). [Digital ID # rb0026]

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Graham's Interpretation of Oedipus Myth

Dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, one of the foremost pioneers of modern dance, was influenced by Jung's concept of the collective unconscious. In her autobiography, she said "There are always ancestral footsteps behind me, pushing me, pushing me, when I am creating a new dance, and gestures are flowing through me." In Night Journey (1947) Graham reinterpreted the Greek myth of Oedipus in Jungian terms, telling the story from Queen Jocasta's viewpoint through a flashback that merges past, present, and future. The ropes represent their joint fate as well as the umbilical cord that once joined Oedipus and Jocasta, who hangs herself with the ropes at the end of the ballet.

Photograph of Martha Graham (Jocasta), Bertram Ross (Oedipus), and Robert Cohan (Tiresias) in Night Journey, 1947. Martha Graham Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress (027.00.00). [Digital ID # rb0027]

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Graham's Analyst and Student of Jung

About 1945, Martha Graham began Jungian analysis with Frances Wickes, a former Jung student then practicing in New York City. In her autobiography, Graham said that Wickes was "a wonderful woman. She and I became friends, and I would go to have a drink or supper with her." In this letter, Graham shows how much she values Wickes's opinions as she discusses her latest work, Voyage for a Theater, which premiered on May 17, 1953. Created during a difficult period after Graham's dance partner and husband, Erick Hawkins (1909-1994), left her, the work was not considered a success.

Letter from Martha Graham to Frances Wickes, June 25, 1953. Frances Wickes Collection, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Courtesy of the Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance (028.00.00). [Digital ID # rb0028]

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Jung's Advice to a Fellow Analyst

Frances G. Wickes (1875-1967) received this letter from Jung offering advice about the treatment of a difficult patient. Originally a settlement house worker, Wickes studied with Jung in Zurich in the 1920s and subsequently established a successful practice in New York. She was a founding member of the New York Analytical Psychology Club. A specialist in child psychology, Wickes was the author of the influential The Inner World of Childhood (1927). She also treated numerous writers and other creative men and women, including the dancer and choreographer Martha Graham.

Letter from Carl Jung to Frances Wickes, August 10, 1929. Frances Wickes Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (029.00.00). Page 2. [Digital ID # rb0029]

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Dragon-Slayer Hero from Brazil

Myths in which a hero slays a dragon to rescue a princess and then marries her occur in many cultures. Jung believed the story represents a struggle to establish control of unconscious forces, saying "only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the 'treasure hard to attain'. . . . he has faced the dark ground of his self and thereby gained himself." In this example, Brazilian folk hero Prince Oscar rescues the Queen of Waters from a dragon, winning her hand. An example of Brazilian popular culture, such inexpensive pamphlets are sold at fairs and markets.

José Bernardo da Silva. O Principe Oscar e a raihna das aguas. (Prince Oscar and the Queen of Waters). Joàzeiro do Norte, Cearà, Brazil: Tip. São Francisco, ca, 1970. American Folklife Center, Library of Congress (020.00.00). [Digital ID # rb0020]

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American Scholar of Jung

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) became a celebrity thanks to televised interviews with journalist Bill Moyers, which aired in 1988. In his best-known work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell argued that all hero stories are expressions of the same archetypal pattern, which he called the "Hero's Journey," or the "monomyth." As well as introducing Jung's ideas about archetypes and the collective unconscious to a wider audience, the book popularized comparative mythology itself—the study of the human impulse to create stories and images that, though clothed in the motifs of a particular time and place, draw on universal themes. Campbell's wife, Jean Erdman, danced with Martha Graham's company, and he was a Graham friend.

Joseph Campbell. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Bollingen Series XVII. New York: Pantheon Books, 1949. General Collections. Courtesy of the Joseph Campbell Foundation ( (030.00.00). [Digital ID # rb0030]

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Jung's Influence on Star Wars

The Star Wars films follow the archetypal journey of Luke Skywalker, who battles villains, rescues a princess, and is mentored by wise old man Obi Wan Kenobi. Having read The Hero with a Thousand Faces in college, George Lucas rediscovered it and said he "began to realize that my first draft of Star Wars was following classic motifs. . . . so I modified my next draft according to what I'd been learning about [them] and made it a little bit more consistent." Lucas and Joseph Campbell became friends, and Lucas researched later film ideas in Campbell's library. Tom Jung (unrelated to Carl) also designed posters for The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi, and numerous other well-known films.

Tom Jung. Star Wars poster. Hollywood: Twentieth-Century Fox, 1977. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. COURTESY OF LUCASFILM LTD. Star Wars: Episode IVA New Hope & 1977 and 1997 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable law (031.00.00). [Digital ID # ppmsca.19349]

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Archetype Print

Printmaker Michael Ponce de Leon (1922-2006) became known for his metal collage intaglios, prints with an embossed quality that he achieved by pressing incised lines or shapes into paper or metal along with paint. This work's title and Ponce de Leon's comments on his philosophy of art suggest familiarity with Jung's ideas: "Every creative artist is a unique individual who has his feet firmly planted in mid-air. He uses all his negative energies—" tensions, anxieties and other vulnerabilities"— and transforms them into rich reservoirs of positive forces, from which his art emerges carrying with it the mystery and wonder of the unknown."

Michael Ponce de Leon. Archetype, 1961. Metal collage intaglio print. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Courtesy of the Estate of Michael Ponce de Leon (032.00.00). [Digital ID # ppmsca.24397]

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Jung and Federico Fellini

Italian film director Federico Fellini (1920-1993), winner of four Best Foreign Film Oscars, first read Jung in 1961. Many of his famous cinematic creations, particularly 8 1/2 (adapted as the Broadway musical and film Nine) were deeply influenced by Jung's concepts of the archetype and collective unconscious. They are a unique combination of memory, dreams, and fantasy. From 1960 through 1990, Fellini recorded and illustrated his dreams every morning after waking, referring to it as his "night work." After Fellini's death, the book was locked in a bank vault for fourteen years until his heirs agreed to publish it.

Federico Fellini. The Book of Dreams. Ed. Tullio Kezich and Vittorio Boarini. Contribution by Vincenzo Mollico. New York: Rizzoli International, 2008. General Collections, Library of Congress. Courtesy of Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. (033.00.00). [Digital ID # rb0033]

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Jung and Jorge Luis Borges

Argentinean author Jorge Luis Borges acknowledged, "I"ve always been a great reader of Jung. . . . I read it as a kind of mythology, or as a kind of museum or encyclopedia of curious lores." Borges contributed significantly to "magical realism," a genre of Latin American fiction in which fantastic elements are blended into a realistic atmosphere. Borges's short story La biblioteca de Babel describes a universe in the form of a vast library composed of endless interlocking hexagonal rooms that contain all possible books of a certain format. Described as "arguably the finest French printmaker of his generation," Erik Desmazières (b. 1948) created fantasy spaces to complement Borges's prose.

Erik Desmazières."La salle des planètes (The hall of planets)." From a suite etchings for Jorge Luis Borges. La Biblioteca de Babel (The Library of Babel). Boston: Godine, 1998. Etching and aquatint. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Courtesy of Fitch-Febvrel Gallery (035.00.00). [Digital ID # ppmsca.06666]

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Jung's Psychological Types

In this influential work published while he was working on the Red Book, Jung differentiated people into two groups, extraverts (outward-looking) and introverts (inward-looking). These terms have become so common that most people do not realize that Jung formalized them into a diagnostic tool for understanding the different ways people psychologically process their experiences. Using Jung's theories, Katharine Cook Briggs (1875-1968) and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers (1897-1980) developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), published in 1962. The MBTI is widely used in business and education to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.

C. G. Jung. Psychological Types. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1923. General Collections, Library of Congress (011.00.00). [Digital ID # rb0011]

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