Carl Jung’s Lost Book


Once upon a time, Carl Jung decided that the best way to deal with his inner upheavals was to face them.

Had he been a psychiatric patient, Jung might well have been told he had a nervous disorder and encouraged to ignore the circus going on in his head. But as a psychiatrist, and one with a decidedly maverick streak, he tried instead to tear down the wall between his rational self and his psyche. For about six years, Jung worked to prevent his conscious mind from blocking out what his unconscious mind wanted to show him. Between appointments with patients, after dinner with his wife and children, whenever there was a spare hour or two, Jung sat in a book-lined office on the second floor of his home and actually induced hallucinations — what he called “active imaginations.” “In order to grasp the fantasies which were stirring in me ‘underground,'” Jung wrote later in his book Memories, Dreams, Reflections, “I knew that I had to let myself plummet down into them.” He found himself in a liminal place, as full of creative abundance as it was of potential ruin, believing it to be the same borderlands traveled by both lunatics and great artists.

During those six years, he wrote down his journeys in psychedelic detail, with paintings to illustrate the places his mind had gone. He continued to work on the book for the next ten years. When he died, he left no instructions. His family put the book in a Swiss bank vault, and kept it unseen for a very long time.

It’s going to be published next month, finally, which makes it less interesting as a roleplaying seed. When I first saw the article I quoted above, I thought the book was still locked away, with only a couple of dozen people having ever read it. That’d be cool. Still, a neat story as-is, and one could always edit it.


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One Response to “Carl Jung’s Lost Book”

  1. Jack Kessler Says:

    Awesome. I didn’t know about this. I have to snag it as a holy book for the Jungian Knights. Thanks!

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