Carl Jung: Quotes

There is a good documentary about Carl Jung: Matters of the Heart, 1983.


“The psyche is the greatest of all cosmic wonders and the sine qua non of the world as an object. It is in the highest degree odd that Western man, with but very few and ever fewer exceptions, apparently pays so little regard to this fact….Swamped by the knowledge of external objects, the subject of all knowledge has been temporarily eclipsed to the point of seeming nonexistence.”   C. G. Jung, 1946, CW 8, par. 357.

“Not nature but the ‘genius of mankind’ has knotted the hangman’s noose with which it can execute itself at any moment.”  C. G. Jung, 1952, CW 11, par. 734.

“Today humanity, as never before, is split into two apparently irreconcilable halves….The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate….That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner contradictions the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposite halves.”  C. G. Jung, 1959, CW 9, par 126.

“Philemon and other figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life….  Psychologically, Philemon represented superior insight.  All my works, all my creative activities, have come from those initial fantasies and dreams which began in 1912.”    C. G. Jung, 1961, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 183.

“Man’s soul is a complicated thing, and it takes sometimes half a lifetime to get somewhere in one’s psychological development.  You know, it is by no means always a matter of psychotherapy or treatment of neuroses.  Psychology has also the aspect of a pedagogical method in the widest sense of the word…It is an education.  It is something like antique philosophy, and not what we understand by a technique.  It is something that touches upon the whole of man and which challenges also the whole of man in the patient or whatever the receiving part is as well as in the doctor.”

“Consciousness is one factor, and there is another factor, equally important, and that is the unconscious.  That can interfere with consciousness anytime it pleases.  ‘And, of course,’ I say to myself, ‘now this is very uncomfortable because I think I am the only master in my house.’  But I must admit that there is another somebody in that house that can play tricks.  And I had to deal with the unfortunate victims of that interference everyday in my patients.”

“Biographies should show people in their undershirts.  Goethe had his weaknesses, and Calvin was often cruel.  Considerations of this kind reveal the true greatness of a man.  This way of looking at things is better than false hero worship!”  C. G. Jung, 1946, C. G. Jung Speaking, p. 165.

“The great events of world history are, at bottom, profoundly unimportant.  In the last analysis, the essential thing is the life of the individual….This alone makes history, here alone do the great transformations first take place, and the whole future, the whole history of the world, ultimately spring as a gigantic summation from these hidden sources in individuals…In our most private and most subjective lives we are not only the passive witnesses of our age, and its sufferers, but also its makers.  We make our own epoch.”  C. G. Jung, 1934, CW  l0, par 315.

“The archetype is a force.  It has an autonomy.  It can suddenly seize you.  It is like a seizure.”

“In our time, when such threatening forces of cleavage are at work, splitting peoples, individuals, and atoms, it is doubly necessary that those which unite and hold together should become effective; for life is founded on the harmonious interplay of masculine and feminine forces, within the individual human being as well as without…..Bringing these opposites into union is one of the most important tasks of present-day psychotherapy.”  Emma Jung, 1955, Anima and Animus, p. 87.

“After my wife’s death in 1955, I felt an inner obligation to become what I myself am.  To put it in the language of the Bollingen house, I suddenly realized that the small central section which crouched so low, so hidden, was myself!  I could no longer hide myself behind the “Maternal” and the “spiritual” towers.  So, in that same year, I added an upper story to this section, which represents myself, or my ego-personality.

I had started the first tower in 1923, two months after the death of my mother.  These two dates are meaningful because the tower, as we shall see, is connected with the dead.

At Bollingen I am in the midst of my true life, I am most deeply myself.  Here I am, as it were, the “age-old son of the mother.”  That is how alchemy puts it, very wisely, for the “old man,” the“ancient,” whom I had already experienced as a child, is personality No. 2, who has always been and always will be.  He exists outside time and is the son of the maternal unconscious.  In my fantasies he took the form of Philemon, and he comes to life again at Bollingen.”  C. G. Jung, 1961, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 225.

“Man has always lived with a myth, and we think we are able to be born today and to live in no myth, without history.  That is a disease.  That’s absolutely abnormal, because man is not born everyday.  He is once born in a specific historical setting, with specific historical qualities and therefore, he is only complete when he has a relation to these thinks.  It is just as if you were born without eyes and ears when you are growing up with no connection with the past.  From the standpoint of natural science you need no connection with the past; you can wipe it out, and that is a mutilation of the human being….The statements of every religion, of may poets, and so on, are statements about the inner mythological process, which is a necessity, because man is not complete if he is not conscious of that aspect of things….We are only deeply unconscious of these facts because we live all by our senses and outside of ourselves.  If a man could look into himself, he could discover it.  And when a man discovers it in our days, he thinks he is crazy, and he may be crazy.”

“I never could claim that any kind of human work could reveal something about the nature of God or about his existence.  I only know that the idea of God is a pattern, an age old pattern, a primitive pattern that always has been and never lost its—what we call—numinosity.  It is always there and it still plays the same role as it always did.  We can establish the existence of that pattern, and that is, for our practical purposes, enough.  Because when we can integrate such an idea in our minds, the idea of such a being, then that gives an entirely different scope to things.”

“Man’s relation to God probably has to undergo a certain important change: Instead of the propitiating praise to an unpredictable king or the child’s prayer to a loving father, the responsible living and fulfilling of the divine will in us will be our form of worship and commerce with God….His goodness means grace and light and His dark side, the terrible temptation of power….Man has already received so much knowledge that he can destroy his own planet….Let us hope that God’s good spirit will guide him in his decisions because it will depend upon man’s decision whether God’s creation will continue….Nothing shows more drastically than this possibility how much of divine power has come within the reach of man.”  C. G. Jung, 1956.  Letters, Vol. II, p. 316.

“The world hangs on a thin thread, and that is the psyche of man.  Nowadays we are not threatened by elementary catastrophes.  There is no such think in nature as an H-bomb; that is all man’s doing.  We are the great danger.  The psyche is the great danger.  What if something goes wrong with the psyche?  You see, and so it is demonstrated to us in our days, what the power of the psyche is of man, how important it is to know something about it.  But we know nothing about it.  Nobody would give credit to the idea that the psychical processes of the ordinary man have any importance whatever.  One thinks, ‘Oh, he has just what he has in his head.  He is all from his surroundings, he is taught such and such a thing, believes such and such a thing, and particularly if he is well housed and well fed, then he has no ideas at all.’  And that’s the great mistake because he is just that as which he is born, and he is not born as tabula rasa, but as a reality.”