Before the Red Book
Born on July 26, 1875, in Kesswil, Switzerland, Carl Jung came from a long line of Protestant ministers and scholars. Although as an adult he was not a member of a congregation, Jung did not lose interest in what he called “the religious problems of modern man.” The Red Book teems with Jung’s meditations on the nature of religion and science, the god image in different times and cultures, and the relation of humans to imagination. It is sprinkled with texts from a range of religious, mythic, and symbolic systems.
A voracious reader, Jung became a man of enormous learning. From his earliest years, he strove to comprehend his active dream life and sought to understand things he considered invisible and inexplicable. Jung described his own uncompromising probing of the unconscious in vivid detail in the Red Book.
Jung entered the University of Basel in 1895 to study medicine, receiving his diploma in 1900. He decided to specialize in psychiatry, which was, he later said, “quite generally held in contempt” at the time. In 1900, Jung began working at the Burghölzli Mental Hospital a part of the University of Zurich, from which he received his medical degree in 1902. Under the tutelage of its director, Eugen Bleuler (1857–1939), a notable Swiss psychiatrist, Jung formulated theories of schizophrenia (a term coined by Bleuler) and psychological complexes.
Jung’s work came to the attention of the Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. Between 1907 and 1912, Jung was Freud's close collaborator and was widely thought to be his most likely successor as leader of the psychoanalytic movement. However, they became estranged when it became clear that they disagreed about the nature of the psyche and the unconscious.
Jung charged Freud with dogmatism in reducing all mental problems to sexual issues; Freud accused Jung of succumbing to the “black tide” of occultism, or mysticism. After his split with Freud, Jung continued to develop his own distinctive system of analytical psychology, the theories of which he elaborated through the experimental experiences he describes in the Red Book.
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