A very brief introduction to Carl Jung and Analytical Psychology

Wow. If there is one very complex theory I can’t seem to completely wrap my head around, it’s Analytical psychology. I would love to learn more about it because I understand it so little. After days of research, I’ve collected some thoughts on the ideas of Carl Jung and what it means to me as a future therapist.

Jung is one of the reasons I got interested in going into counseling in the first place. I fell in love with his theory of personality first. Then as I’ve learned more about such topics as synchronicity (when things seem to feel greater than coincidence), my interest has increased.

This is the information I have gathered.

Analytical psychology has been around since the early 1900s. Jung started working a psychologist in a hospital with patients that had severe mental illness, notably schizophrenia. He believed this was due to a “brain toxin”. He also worked with those in psychosis which he thought was due to the rest of the psyche being overwhelmed in the conscious psyche, which was repressing the psyche as a whole.

He was first president of the International Psychoanalytic Association. He was heavily influenced by Sigmund Freud and they worked together extensively. Then in 1913, Freud and Jung broke up their friendship. Apparently, Freud had little tolerance with people who disagreed with him.

Waaaaaah!

Also, Analytical psychology is not the same as psychoanalysis. That was Freud’s game but Jung was heavily influenced by him.

And here’s how Jung was a radical, freethinking psychologist:

He didn’t believe it was not completely necessary to use experiments in natural science to understand the human psyche.

Preposterous! Why use a therapeutic method without scientifically significant evidence behind it? Certainly not on this blog!

But it does have evidence that it’s effective treatment.

Here’s my idea on though.

Back then and now, psychology is still in its infancy. We probably know more about the universe and astronomy than the oceans on earth and what’s going on in the human brain. Currently, to treat mental conditions such as schizophrenia or major depression, we bathe the brain in chemicals which we are finding out have other effects even after the FDA approves them. I could very well be wrong, and if I am, please correct me, but the average effectiveness percentage I find for most mental health medications is about 65%. Also, we still cut into the brain with knives to relieve cancer and seizures. Not that it doesn’t work, my point is we just don’t know enough about the neurology of the brain to have a satisfying result.

Imagine having a broken arm. A doctor knows how to reset it and put a cast on so it can heal and function properly again. Would it not be wonderful if we could do something as helpful as the physical ailment as we can the brain? I think in the future, maybe even in my lifetime, we will see these mental health biochemical treatments as ancient medicine and come up with better methods.

Anyway, back to Jung.

He believed humans experience the unconscious through things like art, dreams, religion, and symbolic dramas we enact in our relationships and life pursuits. He thought an individual’s life can be improved by making the unconscious, conscious and letting it come to the surface.

He also came to believe human beings developed defense mechanisms like projection, denial and compensation when experiencing “neurosis.”

Here’s some examples of how to use Analytical psychology:

  • analyze your dreams for unconscious awareness to bring it forward to your conscious
  • explore spirituality or religion: life, death, meaning, happiness, fear, etc.
  • contributing to humanity: volunteering, making art, planting a garden, poetry, etc.
  • questioning social norms

Dreams:

Jung thought dreams could show ideas, beliefs, and feelings that are trying to be made conscious. By making them conscious, the individual’s psyche becomes “whole”.

The kind of sexist part:

Jung stated that women were naturally irrational and men were rational by nature. This was later dismissed and debunked by psychologists but also, a bunch of old white men founded psychology so I’m not surprised they came to this conclusion.

Here’s the craziest part. It actually has evidence to back it up that it’s an effective therapeutic strategy.

Here’s the meta-analysis:

Using health insurance data as well as qualitative studies were used to find the effectiveness of Analytical psychology treatment. Scientifically significant improvements were shown in: lowered level of symptoms, reduction in interpersonal problems, personality structure, and every day life conduct. After 90 sessions, patients remained stable for up to 6 years. After treatment, the analysis showed patients needed less healthcare attention down to the average level of healthcare received by most people. This therapy works even for people with severe mental distress.

Analytical psychology is empirically shown to be an effective method of treatment.

Evidence:

Christian Roesler. Evidence for the Effectiveness of Jungian Psychotherapy: A Review of Empirical Studies. Retrieved 16 August 2016 from http://www.mdpi.com/2076-328X/3/4/562