CARL GUSTAV JUNG by Frank McLynn

CARL GUSTAV JUNG

A Biography

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A thorough and often critical biography of the second most important figure in 20th-century psychology (the first of two Jung biographies due out this fall). Veteran biographer and intellectual historian McLynn (Robert Louis Stevenson, 1994, etc.) appropriately devotes a great deal of space to the final break in 1912 between Freud and his onetime protÇgÇ Jung. The author does an excellent job of delineating their intellectual differences: In contrast to psychology's founding father, Jung rejected the near-monocausality of sexuality for psychological disorders, downplayed the role of transference in treatment, and was highly sympathetic to religion's role in the search for meaning and psychic health. While praising his subject's ``astonishing fertility of ideas and . . . eclecticism of inspiration,'' McLynn demonstrates how disturbed many of his most important personal relationships were. The author concludes that, having had many affairs, Jung ``had destroyed both [his wife Emma's] life and that of Toni Wolff [his longest and most important mistress] as thoroughly as it was possible for a human to do by his habitual infidelities, his coldness, his ruthlessness and his rating of anima archetypes over flesh-and-blood women.'' On the most controversial aspect of the Swiss thinker's life, McLynn is restrained and fair-minded but pulls no punches in revealing how Jung was ``at best ambivalent and, at worst, openly supportive'' toward the Nazis in the 1930s. And if he was often intellectually insightful and culturally sophisticated, Jung was also prone to fatuous one-dimensional judgments of others. In addition, Jung's presentation of his ideas often was stylistically murky and sometimes even self-contradictory. While McLynn could have explained a few of Jung's more recondite ideas more fully, this very solid, well-paced biography will help readers understand both why Jung was so intensely admired and hated, and why, in terms of intellectual influence, he came to be so thoroughly overshadowed by his great nemesis, Freud. (For an even harsher view of Jung, see Richard Noll, The Aryan Christ, p. 935.)

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-15491-7
Page count: 640pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1997




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