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Psychology and Alchemy [Hardcover]

C. G. Jung , R. F. C. Hull
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 1953 0710016425 978-0710016423 First English Edition

Alchemy is central to Jung's hypothesis of the collective unconscious. In this volume he begins with an outline of the process and aims of psychotherapy, and then moves on to work out the analogies between alchemy, Christian dogma and symbolism and his own understanding of the analytic process.

Introducing the basic concepts of alchemy, Jung reminds us of the dual nature of alchemy, comprising both the chemical process and a parallel mystical component. He also discusses the seemingly deliberate mystification of the alchemists. Finally, in using the alchemical process as providing insights into individuation, Jung emphasises the importance of alchemy in relating to us the transcendent nature of the psyche.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; First English Edition edition (Dec 1953)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0710016425
  • ISBN-13: 978-0710016423
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,399,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Readers . . . who believe that medieval and early modern alchemy was only a misguided effort to transform base metals into gold, or at best a crude preparation for scientific chemistry, will experience a great and probably bewildering surprise."--Thought --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard going at first - but repays effort 30 Jun 2003
By Graham Mummery TOP 1000 REVIEWER
When I first read this book, I found it very hard going. Possibly did not understand it. Perhaps even thought that it was badly written, as one is overwhelmed by the wealth of alchemical material. Jung's colossal intellect running miles ahead of me. Coming back, (after twenty years!) I find my opinion has changed.

Firstly, I will concede this is definitely not a book for the Jung beginner. It is one of deep scholarship. The fruit of over twenty years of study by Jung's to come to terms with alchemy.

The essential thesis is that the symbols and processes described in alchemical texts mirror those of the psyche at its deepest level. Understanding alchemy helps in understanding our psychological and spiritual development.

Jung then develops this with an analysis of a long series of dreams by a patient. The patient has since been revealed as Wolfgang Pauli, one of the pioneers of the Quantum Theory. In this Jung shows how the symbols are similar to those in alchemy. There follows a discussion of religious symbols in alchemy.

All of this when I first read it was hard going. My problem was a lack of understanding of alchemy. Having read around the subject a little further, I now find this work easier to understand. With some background knowledge, the book becomes very enlightening and enriching.

For background reading before tackling Psychology and Alchemy, I would particularly recommend Peter Marshall's Philosopher's Stone: A Quest for the Secrets of Alchemy (which also has a handy glossary of alchemical terms) and Jay Ramsay's Alchemy: The Art of Transformation: The Path of the Soul are particularly useful.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very, very, very hard book to understand. 3 Oct 2000
By Magus
Please don't be put off by my rating, if you are the serious Jungian student who has attended Jungian courses then I guess you won't have the same difficulty as me. It is a very difficult book to understand & I don't think that it is made easier by the fact that it has been translated from another language. I am a big fan of Jung & always find his own work quite difficult to comprehend. However, this book proved especially hard and litrerally I guess I just didn't have the Latin to appreciate this book as much as others could. In the first part of the book he outlines the dreams of patients during various stages of theraphy. He then analyses the symbols in relation to mythology & religion with a great emphasis placed on Alchemy. Jung then explores the origins of Alchemy and its relation to psychotheraphy & the transformation of the mind (its images, thoughts etc.) during the various stages. These images are then analysed in relation with the symbols found in old drawing/writings within Alchemy that highlight the change made from a useless substance to one of great value. You start to see why he has chosen Alchemy in relation to Psychology as they are essentially both based on transforming an unproductive state into a more valuable & appreciative state. In doing this he explores the origins & the meanings of the prima materia, and to be honest with you for half the book I thought I knew what it was but by the end of it there were so many different explanations that I got confused... This being (to my current understanding) a mass of confusion/chaos/the first substance, which is the primary step for an Alchemist's work to be done. I won't go much further but just to say that this book is for the SERIOUS Jungian student & not fully comprehensible by a lay-Jungian psychologist like myself.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great 27 Jun 2001
By A Customer
A series of essays with Alchemical themes, this can be hard going (as another reviewer has remarked), but you should be alright if youve read some of the books leading up to this one (Archetypes & the Colloctive unconcious & "Psychological types" are probably a good idea). A worthwhile companion to the extraordinary "Psychology & Alchemy", & One for psychologists and those who love the "arcane" alike. Persevere with Jung and you will be richly rewarded, I promiss.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the thoroughness of Jung 2 Dec 2009
This is an admirable expose of alchemical principles and was the first book that I read about alchemy. It therefore gave me a thorough grounding in the subject and the symbols and the allegories that are its foundation. Jung became more and more involved with alchemy towards the end of his life and so rich is this book it enables the realisations that this mysterious subject has its parallels in many of the religious traditions world wide. Anyone who is interested in the oblique and obtuse secrets that exist in the alchemical world should read this difficult book. It is literally stuffed full of thorougly researched material and can also be used as a reference book.I would say however that for the reader that has just a passing interest in the subject there are other books that give a broader and less dense overview.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Lars
If you are interested in psychology, but have not read too many of Jung's books, the title alone "Alchemy" might conjure up images of mystics and newage mumbo-jumbo. In truth though, this book deals with the imagery produced by the subconscious or more to the point the collective unconscious. As usual Jung was not deterred by dogma and he has no problem analysing controversial subjects (Aion, the I-ching etc.) This is no exception. Jung analyses the imagery of Alchemy in dreams and draws conclusions concerning spirituality. However Everything is presented with good arguments and with rational thinking.
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