Note: As my Facebook friends know I have reentered college to finish up my degree in psychology. As part of one class I am writing a paper on the influence of astrology on Carl Jung. Jung is widely embraced in the astrological world because his theories on archetypes, which he used to create a therapeutic model, fits neatly with the symbolic language of astrology. What follows here is the rough draft of this paper presented in parts. Your comments are appreciated. Citations and references are in APA style.
Most biographies such as Claire Dunne’s (2012) do not fully recognize the influence of the paranormal on Jung’s childhood. The first surviving child of five children, the son of parson, he grew up in poverty. Jung’s grandfather was a well-known and successful physician, his mother’s family socially prominent. Though Jung recounts early dreams and recollections of his childhood in his autobiography few biographies recount the roadmap that led Jung into a career that explored the inner world of the human psyche.
The fact is that Jung’s childhood was truly terrifying. There was a perpetual, unnamed strain between his parents. At the age of three he became ill prompting a separation of his parents. His mother went away to a hospital for several months, which disturbed Jung greatly. He developed a deep distrust his mother and admits thereafter of having a distrust of all women. While he trusted his father, he viewed his father as powerless.(Jung 1989)
But there was more amiss in the Jung household than parents in discord. As a parson’s son, he was surrounded by the religiously devout on one hand and the paranormal proclivities of his mother’s side of the family on the other.
Jung recounts his impressions of the funerals over which his father presided. He witnessed time and again men in tall black hats and funerary dress lowering boxes into the ground. People he knew were suddenly not around anymore. He was told that the Lord Jesus was taking the deceased “unto himself”. (Jung 1989) Far from being a comforting figure, for Jung the Lord Jesus became associated with the primal image of being buried in the ground, a figure of death.
If that wasn’t enough to scar a child’s psyche, Jung was steeped by culture in general and by his mother’s family in particular in paranormal experiences. Stories of the unexplained, dreams that foretold the death of a person, clocks that stopped suddenly at their owner’s death, the shattering of glass at the moment punctuated his childhood. His maternal grandfather believed himself to be surrounded by ghosts and held regular conversations with his deceased first wife. His second wife, Jung’s maternal grandmother, was considered clairvoyant. His mother kept a regular diary of her “strange occurrences.” (Main 1997)
In this rarified atmosphere, Jung experienced troubling paranormal events himself. At the age of seven or eight, when his parents were sleeping apart, he witnessed a terrifying apparition of a detached head with its body following that emanated from his mother’s bedroom. His dreams were vivid and frightening featuring underground rooms, phallic symbols and his mother’s voice. In his mind his mother while perfectly normal during the day became a scary preternatural figure at night. (Jung 1989)
Further complicating his relationship with his mother, she treated him as a “little adult”, a confidant with who she would share her secrets. On the other hand, during periods of when his parents did not sleep together, he shared a bedroom with his father. (Dunne 2012)
Tying together the threads of the narrative of Jung’s life we find a childhood that was an emotional minefield. Parental conflict, religion and the occult were overwhelming forces that confused and perplexed his developing psyche. As we will see Jung begged for a rational explanation of the disturbances in his life. He would spend his lifetime seeking these answers in the realm of psychiatry.
Dunne, C. (2012). Carl Jung wounded healer of the soul. London, UK: Watkins Publishing.
Jung, C G (1989) Memories, dreams,reflections Chapters 1 & 2, trans. Richard and Clara Winston Random House, New York, NY