Jung’s Red Book records an extraordinary series of self-induced visions that Jung experienced between 1913 and 1917, together with his reflections and interpretations of them, which he continued to reinterpret and refine until about 1930. The book, which was only publicly published in 2009, takes us to the core of the personal experience on which Jung drew more circumspectly in his psychological works.
Despite denials that would have left Shakespeare’s Queen Gertrude decidedly unconvinced, not to mention his repeated attempts to distance his psychology from anything that might be considered “metaphysical,” Jung could hardly be more deserving of the epithet “Gnostic.” A central aim of this book is to establish that there should be no doubt about the profound influence that the spiritual tradition generally referred to as Gnosticism had on both the formation of analytical psychology as well as Jung’s personal spiritual weltanschauung.
We live in fascinating times, where recent advances in trauma theory, attachment theory, relational psychoanalysis, and infant research not only allow us, but require us, to revisit and reconsider the fundamental tenets of our theory and practice.
Many psychotherapists and general medical practitioners subscribe to the popular understanding that psychotherapy is a treatment for those suffering from mental health problems. They earnestly believe that psychotherapy might offer some relief and insight to those patients who are suffering from problems that do not respond well to mainstream biologically based medical treatments. They value the fact that its effectiveness can be demonstrated by an evidence base, and consider it to be an important addition to the repertoire of mainstream medicine.
“Everything in the unconscious seeks outward manifestation and the personality too desires to evolve out of its unconscious and experience itself as a whole. I cannot employ the language of science to trace this process of growth in myself, for I cannot experience myself as a scientific problem.” – Jung, from the Prologue to Memories, Dreams, Reflections
As part of my research journey for my book, Carl Jung and Alcoholics Anonymous, I travelled to Akron, Ohio to visit the home of Dr. Bob Smith, one of the co- founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. On a tour of his home, the guide asked if anyone knew what the peculiar black stick was in Dr. Bob’s bedroom. I explained it is a blackthorn shillelagh (pronounced “shi-lay-lee” – a wooden walking stick associated with Irish folklore) given to Bill Wilson as a present for Dr. Bob when the former visited Ireland.
I would like to think of my book, Carl Jung: Darwin of the Mind, as offering a useful primer for the non-specialist who wishes to gain a general understanding of Jung. I also have, however, another objective: that of placing Jungian thought within the context of contemporary evolutionary science.