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Carl Jung
"All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. What right have we then to depreciate imagination?"

There was a time when All Psychology was Freudian. And then Carl Gustav Jung (July 26, 1875 — June 6, 1961) came along and decided to break that trend.

Swiss-born Jung was, next to Sigmund Freud, arguably the most influential psychologist of the 20th century. Having started his career as Freud's protege, the two eventually fell out over differing views on the unconscious. Freud believed it was nothing more than a mental dumpster for horrible thoughts, desires and memories. Jung believed that while that may be partially true, the unconscious also contains certain areas which were more than psychological landfills. Unable to convince Freud, Jung went off and formed his own school of thought: Analytical Psychology.

Jung pioneered a number of groundbreaking ideas in psychology, chief among them the idea of the Collective Unconscious, a deeper level of the human unconscious wherein are found the archetypes — primordial psychological forms that exist in everyone's psyche, which means that while every single conscious mind is unique, every human being has the same primordial motifs inherent since birth. It's similar to the tropes, only deeper and more mind-boggling.

Having rocked the world of psychology with his radically different interpretation of the psyche, Jung then went even further. Freud believed that all psychological neuroses could be dealt with by unearthing repressed thoughts causing them. Jung argued that neuroses arise through a lack of individuation — the process of assimilating the conscious and unconscious to form a "psychological whole" while maintaining their precarious balance. It is a process of transformation from an unhealthy, neurotic mind into a healthy, enlightened psyche that has gained knowledge of the self.

Quite a bit different from "men wish to kill their fathers and bonk their mothers", eh?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jung's interests went far beyond pure psychology. He spent much of his life exploring mythology and philosophy, especially comparing Eastern and Western ideas. Fittingly, Jung's idea of the archetypes had a huge impact on the study of myths. Joseph Campbell freely admitted that Jung's ideas were instrumental in his formulation of the Hero's Journey. Jung also spent much of his life exploring and discussing spirituality, alchemy and astrology, being especially intrigued by meaningful coincidences, for which he coined the term "synchronicity" — a term still widely used in various spiritual and occult circles. When he was 38, he had a "confrontation" with the unconscious. Fearing he may be going mad, he decided to "induce hallucinations" and record the workings of his imagination. The results were released decades later as the Red Book, a lavishly illustrated compendium of psychedelic paintings and calligraphic text.

Due to all this, Jung is perhaps one of the few people who can be classed as Mad Artist, Mad Scientist, and Mad Doctor. Or, alternatively, a 20th century Renaissance Man.

Has had a huge impact on not just psychology, but the arts as well. Chances are, if a work has some psychological imagery, and it's not referencing Freud, then it's referencing Jung. His influence can be seen in TV shows such as Northern Exposure and The Sopranos, artists such as Tool, Peter Gabriel, Billy Corgan, and Cunninlynguists, among others.

In fact, it can be argued that TV Tropes itself owes its existence to Jung's work. Perhaps we should call him "Trope Codifier Prime" for laying the groundwork of all that you read here while Wiki Walking through this site.

Jung's first years as a psychoanalyst, as well as his relationship with Freud, his extramarital affairs, and his emerging theories on the unconscious, are portrayed in the 2011 David Cronenberg film, A Dangerous Method.

On a semi-related side note, "Jung" is ROT13 for "What". Coincidence or not?


Tropes common in his work include:

  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Subverted. Jung saw examples of these as symbolic of individuation.
  • All Myths Are True: In psychological terms, at least.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Subverted. Jung started out as a Freudian, but jumped ship and formed his own school when he got tired of blaming sex for everything.
  • Archetypal Character: The Trope Namer.
  • Bad Dreams: In keeping with his idea of the unconscious as a healthy thing, Jung believed dreams were never bad for their own sake. If you have a vivid, or particularly uncomfortable dream, your unconscious is trying to tell you something...
  • Beneath the Mask: Several levels of beneath the mask, in fact. The most commonly known ones are the "persona", or public face, and the "shadow", or hidden desires, analogous to Freud's id.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Psychological example in the form of the Anima/Animus, an element of the human unconscious which manifests as basically the gender-flipped inner personality of a person, as in a male's inner feminine (Anima) and a female's inner masculine (Animus).
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Both Jung and his patients have recorded instances of prophetic dreams. In his early works Jung more often than not avoids naming himself when he reports his own prophetic dreams, as he was hoping to be seen as a medical doctor and not a "mystic" or a "psychotic".
  • Extraversion Tropes/Introversion Tropes: The extraversion-introversion duality is a creation of Jung's, and thus this classification of tropes is largely his work.
  • Gut Feeling: Intuition is one of the four functions in Jung's personality schema and he believed it to be a perfectly valid means of obtaining information about the world. Most simply it can be described as the ability to obtain information from the inner world of the unconscious. It is the opposite of sensation, through which one derives information from the external world.
  • Hive Mind: The collective unconscious can be seen as basically something like this — either literally or metaphorically.
  • Humanity Is Insane: Perhaps not all the way insane, but Jung definitely believed modern man had issues.
  • Myers-Briggs: Not his own work, but strongly influenced by his ideas.
  • One Myth to Explain Them All: Again, in psychological terms. With Joseph Campbell, the Trope Codifier.
  • Ouroboros: The serpent that devours its own tail was one of many symbols Jung tried to explain as he studied alchemy. He identified the it with "Prima Materia", the unformed world that exists prior to any understanding or differentiation of its contents. Jung also believed that the symbol was an excellent analogy for the circular movement of the alchemical opus (and his own brand of psychotherapy).
  • Our Souls Are Different: In Jungian psychology the Soul is a specific aspect of the unconscious. Jung met many people whose illnesses he traced back to their Egos becoming estranged from their Souls, and his cure attempted to reconnect these people with these repressed or unheeded parts of the unconscious. Interestingly, Jung also believed that whole nations or eras could lose their souls.
  • Psychopomp: One of many psychic phenomena that Jung studied. In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, one can read about a vision Jung experienced after having a heart attack at age 69 in which he flies out into space, sheds his mortal being, and sees a gigantic dark block before entering a small antechamber, where he sees a black-skinned Hindu priest in a white gown sitting silently, who Jung instinctively knew was waiting for him. Jung was prepared to leave the mortal world but to his great annoyance his doctor flew up into space and made him turn back. The doctor did not return.
  • Rule of Symbolism: He wrote whole books on the subject. He hypothesized that the unconscious psyche had a natural tendency to create such symbols, the roots of dreams and mythologies, as a way of communicating things to the Ego that were just outside its areas of understanding.
  • Single Issue Psychology: Averted. Jung's theories described the psyche as being even more complicated than previously thought.
  • Shadow Archetype: Jung is the Trope Namer. The Shadow is one of components of Jung's unconscious. The confrontation with the Shadow is one of the first steps in Jungian psychotherapy.
  • Synchronization: Synchronicity is an single, temporary and mindscrewy instance of this.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Jung has been accused of being a supporter of fascism, an accusation that still continues to this day despite the decidedly anti-Hitler streak in his writings.
  • We Used to Be Friends: With Freud.
  • Word Association Test: In his early days as an experimental psychologist Jung invented some "thematic" association tests as a way of tapping into the unconscious. Soon afterwards he got in touch with Freud and largely abandoned such tests in favor of dream interpretation.
  • You Are What You Hate: Jung saw emotionally-charged obsessions with others' faults as unconscious externalizations of one's own repressed faults in order to avoid having to face them.

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