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Psychology's magician

(Original article by Algis Valiunas at The Atlantic...)

"For Jung, the discoveries he made never lost the gleam of the uncanny. Where Freud shone a searchlight of austere rational understanding on the unconscious, Jung came to eschew the very notion of understanding, indeed the very word: the adept knew wondrous things without understanding them. Such knowledge bypassed the conventional mental circuitry and went straight to — where exactly? Jung couldn’t say; perhaps no one could. These matters remained enveloped in a haze of mystery.

Freud had it much easier: his dogmatic lifelong atheism foreclosed the ultimate questions and allowed him perfect clarity in his limited range of sight. But Jung never slackened in his pursuit of the ultimate — both ultimate good and ultimate evil, which he tended to find inseparable. He was frequently off in the empyrean or down in the bowels of hell, consorting with gods and demons as ordinary men do with family and friends. Few persons conducted such conversations, and most of them were inmates of lunatic asylums. For a time the thought that he might be insane terrified him. The fear dissipated, however, as he became convinced that his visions were genuinely revelatory and belonged to the primordial psychic reality that all men have in common: the collective unconscious, he called it. Poets and such may get away with beliefs like these, for their madness is pretty well taken for granted, but it was a most unorthodox way for an esteemed psychiatrist to think..."


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