JUNG by Vincent Brome


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An objective and absorbing biography of C. J. Jung is certainly needed to place alongside the autobiography, the worshipful portraits by Jungians, and Stem's astringent but limited The Haunted Prophet (1976); this literate but strangely unfocused and impersonal study doesn't really fill the void. Though Brome reveals a wry skepticism about much of Jung's work in an appendix, he seems to be repressing his doubts everywhere else. His forbidding treatment of Jung's Swiss childhood draws almost exclusively on Memories, Dreams, Reflections and is drenched in such Jungian concepts as ""introjection of imago""--so much so that there is no human being for the reader to focus on, just a schematic drawing of a mind. And though Brome calls Jung's self-analysis in terms of ""No. 1"" and ""No. 2"" personalities an ""oversimplification,"" he continues to refer to this dichotomy as Jung grows up from dilettante-ish student to ambitious young psychiatrist. When Jung encounters Freud, however, Brome (author of Freud and His Early Circle) perks up considerably, and his chronicle of their seven-year love-hate relationship as colleagues and rivals is dramatic, lucid (the disagreements on sexuality, schizophrenia, etc.), and carefully balanced; most key incidents are presented in multiple versions, without an attempt at drawing ultimate conclusions--neither Freudians nor Jungians will be especially pleased. But Brome's reluctance to analyze, or to commit himself, works less well elsewhere. Jung's ""creative"" break-down, his lifelong extramarital affair, his ""visions""--Brome neither identifies emotionally with Jung in these nor does he view them critically. Similarly, the evolving theories--collective unconscious, archetypes, etc.--are outlined with clarity, amplified by case histories and Jungian dream analysis, but with neither the passion of a believer (especially the quasi-religious theories) nor the vigor of a critic. Brome, apparently reluctant to write an openly skeptical study, attempts cool objectivity, restlessly shifting between Jung-as-he-saw-himself and a more detached view; the result is a respectable but odd and thrustless addition to the shelf of slightly skewed Jung biographies.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1978
Publisher: Atheneum