Here and there, Ive referred appreciatively to the work of Carl G Jung.
Recently, I have found some research done about Jungs own social context, the ideas that formed him, and it appears that he lived in part of Europe that was much like today's seekers scenes in California, Arizona, Totnes UK and Byron Bay, Australia.
However, very few ever study Jung using historic and sociological methods. If one does, some surprising things emerge.
Richard Noll was able to read German, as many Jungians cannot. He studied the intellectual movements influential at the time young Jung grew up and was finding his professional identity. He uses the methods of Weberian sociology to argue that Jung was not a scientist, but a charismatic leader of an elect society of initiates. Noll's use of the term 'cult' is sociological. Jung was not as disastrously coercive as Jim Jones or L Ron Hubbard, but he kept a lot of things secret, and resisted any attempt to apply methods of historical resource, and the Jung family still keep guard over some very sensitive papers--very different from the climate in which science is done.
By all means enjoy Jung's ideas. But...avoid the trap of discipleship. Do not become an inmate of Jungs ideas, or of anyone elses.
No one should ever put in a position of privilige so great as to be made exempt from scrutiny by an historian.
an interview with Richard Noll.
It appears that Jung was mightily influenced by various German folk essence movements, ideologies in which notions of biological and spiritual evolution were mushed together. He was also quite fascinated by various forms of theosophy and seance, and associated with persons who were. Later, it was patients with these very same interests who sought Jung out for therapy, knowing he would respect them for these beliefs, not laugh them out of of the office.
So his beliefs about a primordial collective consciousness were unscientific generalizations from his own experience, and from a very select and biased clinical sample.
Jung concealed the sources of his actual ideas, especially authors whose names would have impaired Jungs own academic crediblity if he cited them directly, such as Bachofen. According to Noll, Bachofen influenced Jung's eventual concept of collective unconscious, but Jung never cited Bachofen as a source, for Bachofen had become an embarrassment by then.
Ive heard it said that if someone quotes authoritively from a source but does not refer to that source, it can give that person an air of authority as if they are channelling something from another world.
What is amazing is that independently of Jung, off in Italy, a quite different man also became interested in Bachofen -- and took Bachofen's ideas in some idiosyncratic directions. Julius Evola, a traditionalist and elitist who tried hard to radicalize the Italian Fascist movement (and failed).
Going from Bachofen and other such authors Jung and Evola and many others visualized some kind of pagan golden age, saw civilization and restraint as thwarting an orginal state of vitality and prescribed ways to get back to one's roots. Some methods such as psychoanalysis were private and peaceful (though expensive and affordable only to a wealthy elite)--but other methods entailed social activism and violence, such as various forms of fascism.
Jung was an elitist but was content with with his private initiatory form of analysis--a model of 'individuation' which according to Noll, ironically enough, takes Jungs own personal life as the template(!)
Unlike Jung, Evola was an elitist but did not trust in slow methods of private transformation. Evola believed social change, even when violent, was what was needed to purify a decadent civilized society and return it to its more vital life giving roots. Evola prescribed social and political action, not therapy as the remedy.
Evola and Jung both used Bachofen's ideas, but otherwise the two men wouldve probably disliked each other.
Evola's ideas later became so influential during the radical right terrorist years in Italy that someone once said that just having Evola's books in ones possesion could lead to trouble.
(Mark Sedgwick, Against the Modern World: Traditionalism and the Secret History of the Twentieth Century.
So given that I have referred to Jung in earlier posts, please see fit to examine these articles.
Any time you feel yourself getting emotionally involved in someone's body of work, check the social and historic background of the author and use independent sources.
That way, one can find a way to enjoy that author but retain one's adult autonomy.
I would especially urge anyone to read these articles if they think they wish to enter Jungian analysis or become an analyst...a hell of a lot of time and money are involved and its best to learn family secrets beforehand.