Man and his symbols

by C. G. Jung

Book, 1964

Status

Available

Call number

APJ

Call number

APJ

Publication

New York : Dell Publishing Co., 1968, c1964.

Original publication date

1964

Physical description

xi, 415 p.; 18 cm

Local notes

Man and His Symbols owes its existence to one of Jung's own dreams. The great psychologist dreamed that his work was understood by a wide public, rather than just by psychiatrists, and therefore he agreed to write and edit this fascinating book. Here, Jung examines the full world of the unconscious, whose language he believed to be the symbols constantly revealed in dreams. Convinced that dreams offer practical advice, sent from the unconscious to the conscious self, Jung felt that self-understanding would lead to a full and productive life. Thus, the reader will gain new insights into himself from this thoughtful volume, which also illustrates symbols throughout history. Completed just before his death by Jung and his associates, it is clearly addressed to the general reader.

User reviews

LibraryThing member DarkWater
If anthropology is the study of what it means to be human, we may consider Jung as much an anthropologist as a formative psychologist, for he does well to remind us unabashedly of what man truly is – a thinking animal, but a chthonic animal nonetheless. Though we may like to think otherwise, civilized man is not so different from archaic man. “Thoughts … are a relatively late discovery of man,” he stresses, and yet, as Joseph Campbell points out, “consciousness thinks it’s running the shop. But [in fact] it's a secondary organ of a total human being, and it must not put itself in control. It must submit and serve the humanity of the body.” The “human body represents a whole museum of organs, each with a long evolutionary history behind it.” Truly, “Modern man is in fact a curious mixture of characteristics acquired over the long ages of his mental development. This mixed-up being is the man and his symbols that we have to deal with.”

Contemporary man “is blind to the fact that, with all his rationality and efficiency, he is [still] possessed by powers that are beyond his control. His gods and demons have not disappeared at all; they have merely got new names. They keep him on the run with restlessness, vague apprehensions, psychological complications, an insatiable need for pills, alcohol, tobacco, food -- and above all, a large array of neuroses.” In other words, “What we call civilized consciousness has steadily separated itself from the basic instincts. But these instincts have not disappeared. They have simply lost their contact with our consciousness and are thus forced to assert themselves in an indirect fashion.”

In short, our intimacy with the total psyche has been an unfortunate jetsam of evolved society. But Jung points out, “As a plant produces its flower, so [we know] the psyche creates its symbols. Every dream is evidence of this process.” Thus, through these symbols, through these echoes of the unconscious, we can again come to know and relate to the whole Self. Cultivating a relationship with these symbols means becoming more familiar with the unknown parts of one’s Self (and also with the selfsame struggles of ancient man). Jung reminds us that “the study of individual, as well as of collective, symbolism is an enormous task”, but with his help we find ourselves much closer to accomplishment.
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LibraryThing member aulsmith
This collection of essays was designed by Jung to introduce his work to lay people. Evidently all his other work is very technical.

I've long thought that Jungian psychology was at best an misguided effort to understand the role of culture on the individual and at worst a crock. Reading here about the analysis of the dreams of several women where the analyst steers them into roles determined for them by a masculine elite, I've decided it really is a crock.

If you still find meaning in 20th century psychological thinking and want to get your life to conform to a Western, middle class standard of "good," you will probably find a lot of interesting material in this book. Otherwise, give it a miss.
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LibraryThing member DWallaceFleming
This ranks as one of the most interesting nonfiction books I've read. Jung's theories and capabilities to generalize across cultures and through time are nothing short of astounding.

Much of this information is so dense that it gave me the feeling of learning something and being influenced without being able to list out general principles.

The illustrations throughout help to strengthen the variety of arguements which are developed and the through-line of counterpoint with Freudian thought creates a nice synergy.
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LibraryThing member michelamad
The first essay (Jung's) was much more interesting than the others, which I found a bit too academic. ¡
LibraryThing member stpnwlf
Very interesting collection of writings about archetypical symbology and psychology.
LibraryThing member librisissimo
Substance: Jung and his compatriots explain his theories for the non-professional. I find the reasoning about dreams being messages from the subconscious to be circular, regardless of whether or not the theory itself is true. They also go to great lengths to avoid dragging God into the conversation, especially as a possible source of the dreams.… (more)
LibraryThing member iayork
Here are some of Carl Jung's most advanced theories: This anthology of essays by Jung and his colleagues yields great insights into Jung's school of depth psychology and the psychology of archetypes. This is a must read for any magician and other workers of the mind. One of the later essays reports the revelation that the visions of certain attuned minds answer to some of the images of the quantum realm drawn from experiments in quantum physics. Consciousness is a quantum phenomenon expanded to the human scale of size by the central nervous system.… (more)

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