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"There can be no doubt that Jung was an odd and unusual man..."
on 12 September 2010
... so says the author, Anthony Stevens, about our man Jung; psychiatrist, psychotherapist, cultural critic and part-time guru.
Now this Very Short Introduction is divided into eight sizeable chapters, which include a beefy biography, a run-down of Jung's most prominent theories, their relation to therapeutic involvement, and then some tailings on how Jung's legacy stands today. The biographical detail in the first chapter is pretty full, which given the complexity of Jung's upbringing and adult life is pretty handy, though presumably the following quote, "In my life No.2 has been of prime importance, and I've always tried to make room for anything that wanted to come from within", has been included for its comedy value alone.
In comparison to the VSI to Freud, Jung has less of a tangible narrative, and although his own work is known for its obscurity, perhaps breaking down the chapters further to make them lighter and easier to reflect upon would have helped. But, chewing through the chapters on Archetypes, the Stages of Life, and Psychological Types does give you a basic sense of the major texts, which Stevens sums up as Jung's "attempt to compensate for his sense of personal oddity and isolation."
I'm a big fan of Jung, certainly of his requirement for Individuation through meditative reflection and self-exploration, and the best thing to be said for this volume is how well it contrasts him as an individual against the prevalent cultural and academic trends of his time; as part Western academic, part Eastern mystic. It's a reasonable summary, but I'd say if you want a real sense of the man and his perspective before delving into the deeper stuff, give `The Undiscovered Self' a read first.