"I tried to give expression to the process as it formed in me. I followed the unconscious directives without preconception as to where they might lead, allowing them as far as possible to create their own picture. The result was both a story and an example, an analogy, of Jung's model: a description of how psychic energy flows toward unconscious aims through the elaboration of ideas." -- A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious
Jung began his empirical investigations of the psyche over a hundred years ago. He'd long been drawn to philosophy and religion in accordance with the spirit of the times and his upbringing. While he was intellectually inclined, his father was a country pastor who believed devoutly in man's service to God; his mother leaned toward the occult and even held seances.
As a psychiatrist at the turn of the last century, he saw an increasingly scientific world-view coming into open conflict with a religious outlook that had changed little over centuries. He was intuitively drawn to balance the schism and so began the task of reconciling a rational scientific method to an irrational psychic reality. It was largely misconstrued -- and no wonder:
Science was in full swing. The fruits of its method had gained rapidly since the Renaissance. New ways of thinking excited inquiring minds as never before, and rational science split from philosophy. Once the printing press freed knowledge from the clutches of the Church, and hungry souls peered beyond its veil, thought began to expand at exponential rates. So long had the natural mind been repressed by other-worldly fixations, nature became an oyster to be devoured in the sauce of a thousand new discoveries.
Jung's intellectual breadth straddled both views at a time when a major shift in consciousness was altering the way we see the world in unprecedented measure. His studies afforded him a wider historical perspective than the narrow rational approach of his clinical contemporaries.
A rigorous empiricist, he applied his comparative method to all things psychic. Myths, artifacts, dreams, art, and literature concealed unconscious processes invisible to the causal eye. Jung condensed his knowledge of symbols into core ideas and concluded that experience is shaped by pre-conscious forms which reflect psychic functions. Such ideas weren't new, but his empirical studies laid the groundwork for concepts which went beyond philosophical speculation.
He introduced his landmark theory of psychic energy in 1912. His, Symbols of Transformation, caught the new reductive psychology off-balance. It traced the flow of unconscious energy forward through symbolic ideas which compensated the causal method of medicine.
He saw causality as applicable only up to a certain point. Beyond its limitations, a prospective, goal-oriented viewpoint is necessary to discern the unconscious purposes of our motives. His ideas separated him from the more subjective biases of his mentor, though he later remarked that his psychological education began not with Freud but with Nietzsche.
He illustrated his efforts to reconcile a statistical, personalistic psychology with the historical facts of its nature through changes in philosophical and religious ideas. Below ego's temporal perspective, they reflected inner conditions which compensated consciousness. The objective orientation of the modern intellect is only the most recent addition to an animal psyche with its own innate demands.
His, Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, amplified the model he advanced in 1912. Based on the laws of energy and the unconscious clash and cooperation of the opposed forces underlying its production, his adaptations of physical laws to psychology were verifiable and predictable -- but in a way logical thought was not accustomed to.
Symbolically, the facts of psychic opposition are projected in many forms: gods and devils, conflicts between the sexes, instinct and reason, the individual vs. society, progression/regression, and on through religious wars and ideological and political disputes. The compensating structure of conscious/unconscious reverberates in every human activity. These opposites reflect the dual nature of psychic energy.
Because the unconscious puts a premium on the development of the individual as "the only real carrier of life", an increasing subjectivity accentuates certain functions to the exclusion of others. Jung outlined them in his, Psychological Types. Cultural changes reflect shifts in consciousness that can be compared historically to show trends in development.
Jung traced conditions which initially appeared as basic social structures but gradually dissolved into personal qualities. The enslavement of the masses in antiquity for the advantage of a privileged few was only one phase in a fluid process of psychological differentiation which re-emerged centuries later in the individual as a subjective function. The bias of type and attitude proved to be a new stage in the evolution of consciousness.
Just as a privileged few enslaved those subject to their tyranny, the preferred individual function grew focused enough to repress other functions. It expanded the creative abilities of individuals to contribute to cultural advancement. As consciousness sharpened its ability to focus, however, it also narrowed. The new gain in focus began to repress a more diffuse spiritual instinct. For every gain, something was forfeited.
Jung showed how instrumental to human development the unconscious force of the Christian message really was: the idea of the soul, the psychic stability of the smallest unit, the real carrier of life. It took root over centuries as a subjective function -- the not-so-conscious task of the individual in its most recent form.