Jung: A Biography

Author(s) : Deirdre Bair

Jung: A Biography

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One of the most influential thinkers of our time, Carl Gustav Jung has profoundly touched virtually all aspects of our modern culture, including medicine, religion, philosophy, literature, art, and, of course, the ever-evolving field of psychoanalysis. Despite his renown, however, the details of Jung's life have been steeped in secrecy and controversy. Now, however, author Deirdre Bair draws on new research into untapped sources to reveal the father of analytical psychology as we have never seen him before.

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Born in Switzerland in 1875, this son of a poor country parson and his troubled wife would by the end of his life become an iconic figure, his vast body of writings and teachings known the world over. Through his pioneering theories of personality and the unconscious, Jung is responsible for many terms we now consider common: the archetype and the collective unconscious, introvert and extrovert, anima and animus, synchronicity and individuation, and even New Age spirituality.

Jung was Sigmund Freud's "crown prince," handpicked by the elder father of psychoanalysis to become the first president of the International Psychoanalytic Association in 1910. However, in 1914 Jung abandoned Freud's theory to found his own system of analytical psychology. As Freud's influence has waned over the years, Jung's ideas-on dream interpretation, on the integration of the psyche as the goal of personal development, on the common roots of all human mythologies-have achieved an overwhelming ascendancy.

Yet Jung has also been the subject of much dispute and conjecture. Did the respected scientist fake the data that led to his seminal theory of the collective unconscious? Was he an anti-Semite, a Nazi sympathizer and collaborator? Was he a misogynist who conducted polygamous relationships throughout his life? Did Jung really author his well-known autobiography, Memoirs, Dreams, Reflections, or was it vetted and rewritten after his death?

Drawing on unprecedented access to private archives, restricted interviews, analytic diaries, and early drafts of Jung's own writings, Bair addresses these accusations and separates fact from myth and misconception, revealing surprising discoveries about Jung's personal and professional life. We learn the truth about Jung's role as "Agent 488," working for the U. S. government during World War II; about his relationships with the women in his life; and about the actual content of the papers that purportedly proved his scientific malfeasance.

No apologist for her subject, Bair paints an engrossing, objective, and very human portrait of the controversial genius. The result is a groundbreaking, authoritative, and thoroughly readable work that promises to be the source for future discussion and debate about Jung and about his lasting impact on how we think about ourselves and our world.

Author Biography:

Deirdre Bair received the National Book Award for Samuel Beckett: A Biography. She has been a literary journalist and university professor of comparative literature. Her biographies of Anaïs Nin and Simone de Beauvoir were also prize finalists, and she was awarded fellowships from (among others) the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations and the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College. She divides her time between New York and Connecticut.

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