Jung’s Red Book

Carl Jung's The Red Book

Carl Jung was so cool. His brand of psychology is a kinder, gentler one than his pal Sigmund Freud embraced. While Freud was calling women hysterical and claiming “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” Jung explored the human psyche through dreams, art, religion, mythology and philosophy. Jung embraced the idea of a collective unconscious.

Around the time he and Freud went their separate ways (due to irreconcilable differences, natürlich), Jung began filling a red book with drawings, paintings and words. This book will be on display at the Hammer Museum from April 11-June 6 in “The Red Book of C. G. Jung: Creation of a New Cosmology.”  According to the Hammer Museum’s web site:

Carl Jung began work on the Red Book in 1914 at the age of thirty-eight. He had established a successful private psychological practice in Zurich, but subsequently fell into a period of personal and spiritual turmoil. It was during this period that Jung formulated what would become his most important and famous theories about archetypes, the collective unconscious, and the process of individuation. The Red Book is a collection of Jung’s personal writings and drawings, chronicling the often horrific and troubling explorations of his own unconscious.

From what I’ve seen, this book reminds me of the work of William Blake. There’s a bit of the visionary in Jung, which is why this Red Book, which he created between 1914 and 1930,  remained locked up in a Swiss vault for 80 years. His family was terrified that everyone would think he was a nut, and he’d lose all credibility. Quite the contrary, this book is both beautiful and brilliant. One can see the seeds of his later theories being sketched out in this volume.

You can see more images here (Guardian UK) and read and excerpt here (NPR).


~ by Valerie Palmer on April 7, 2010.

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