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archetypes of the collective unconscious.

Karl Gustav Jung

Carl Gustav Jung was born in 1875, at Kesswill near Lake Constance in Switzerland. His father was a Swiss Reformed minister and Carl grew up in parsonages in the Rhenish villages which his father served. Most of his childhood years were spent at Klein-Hünigen which is now an industrial suburb of Basel. As he tells us in his memoir, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1962) he had several early childhood dreams and fantasies that had great impact on him throughout his life. One of the earliest of these was a dream at the age of four, when the family was at the parsonage at the Falls of the Rhine. He dreamt that he was roaming a nearby field and discovered stone steps leading to an underground chamber. There he found himself before a great, enthroned phallus with a single eye staring at the ceiling. He awoke, screaming. (About that time, he also fled in terror from a Catholic priest in his black cassock, whom he saw coming down the road.) It has been suggested that the dream may have been inspired by an incident involving sex abuse, but to Jung, even in old age, it was a revelation of an underground deity. Other childhood experiences included one in which he awoke in the night to see ghostly faces emerge from his mother’s bedroom, one blending into another. When he was around ten, he found a curiously shaped stone on the banks of the Rhine which he painted black and white and deposited in a pencil box in which he also placed a little black manikin he carved from the end of a ruler. He put a message in with the manikin, and hid the pencil box in the attic.

When he was thirteen, Jung was pushed by a schoolmate onto the cobblestones in front of Basel Cathedral, and was stunned. He was kept out of school for several months, during which he roamed the countryside, deeply engrossing himself in nature. He finally forced himself back to his studies and to school. Not long after, he experienced a fantasy in which he saw God enthroned high above Basel Cathedral. In the fantasy, a turd fell from the divine throne and shattered the roof of the cathedral. This image haunted him for many days after, and led to a religious conversion experience.

Although he would have preferred to become an archeologist or, if not that, a research biologist, Jung went to medical school. As he later said, he had no interest in becoming a healer but medicine was as near as he could come to science and still have a vocation enabling him to make a living. While he was a medical student, he became fascinated with a young teenage cousin, Helly Preiswek, who seemed to have remarkable psychic talents. She held family séances in which she brought spirit messages from various deceased members of the household. Jung did not believe that she was actually receiving such messages, but did think that she entered an altered state of consciousness during the séances. On one occasion, while in trance, she drew a very complex round design which she explained as a cosmic pattern. Jung was fascinated by her ability to produce this, since Helly was not a particularly bright young woman and had received little education. This, indeed, later furnished him with the subject matter for his doctoral dissertation.

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