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Reflections on Jung in the 21st century

Reflections on Jung in the 21st Century

Transitions: The McMillan Scholar

       It is now over one hundred years ago that Carl G. Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and the person for whom this web site is named, began publishing his work on the psychology of the unconscious.  In this time, the ideas and theories which he developed have moved from being dependent on the individual person of C.G. Jung (whose work in the field of psychiatry and psychology began in 1900 and lasted until his death in 1961) to being embedded in an ongoing international culture of Analytic Psychology practitioners, theorists, and, yes, academics.  This initial column will touch on the role of Analytical Psychology and Jungian ideas in academia, specifically within the context of the work made possible through the vision of Frank McMillan, Jr, which has been based out of the perhaps unexpected location of eastern Texas, since 1986. 

       A hundred years ago, in 1916, Jung himself was in a fallow period.  He had completed a decade of work (1900 to 1909) in which he had completed training as a psychiatrist and, with his mentor, the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler, had gained international renown for his application of a scientific method (the word association experiment) to quantitatively measure indications of what Jung called unconscious “complexes.”  Along with Bleuler and the team of psychiatrists at the Burgholzli psychiatric hospital just outside Zurich, Switzerland, Jung began to develop a psychological system which gave due consideration to unconscious processes and which, in his early work, he utilized to make sense of the delusional and hallucinatory symptoms (as well as the “disorganized” and repetitive behaviors) often seen in patients with severe psychotic disorders.  Indeed, the introduction of psychological understanding to working with these patients soon led to a new conceptualization of many of these psychotic illnesses into a theoretical disease which Bleuler (in a 1911 publication1, within which Jung’s work is heavily cited) called “schizophrenia” (or, more accurately, a number of closely related mental disorders Bleuler referred to as “the schizophrenias”). 

       Jung’s work at the Burgholzli, in particular his use of the word association experiment to identify complexes and his 1906 publication on “The Psychology of Dementia Praecox”2 (Dementia Praecox was the medical terminology at that time for the disorder that modern psychiatry now denotes as Schizophrenia), attracted the attention of Sigmund Freud, a Viennese neurologist who was developing his own theories of the unconscious as he treated patients with a number of neurotic and psychosomatic conditions in the neighboring country of Austria.  From 1907 forward, C.G. Jung took on an active role in working with Freud to develop the psychoanalytic movement (including the founding of an international psychoanalytic association and conferences in Europe) while still working with Bleuler at the Burgholzli.  In these last years working at the hospital, in addition to his continuing work with patients, Jung supervised and taught psychiatry residents and students, and continued his own research work.  The professional association with Freud led to the two of them visiting the United States in September of 1909, where they were invited to deliver lectures at Clark University (in Massachusetts) describing their theories and research work on the unconscious.  Freud delivered five lectures on the theory of psychoanalysis and Jung delivered three lectures on the word association experiments which he and his colleagues had conducted at the Burgholzli.  Three years later, in September of 1912, Jung was invited to deliver a series of lectures on his psychological theories at Fordham University in New York (this was recently celebrated, in 2012, by a conference at Fordham sponsored jointly by the university and the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association of New York3).

        By 1916, however, the associations with Bleuler (at the Burgholzli) and Freud had effectively ended for Jung.  By that time, Jung had been out of the Burgholzli and in private practice for 6 years and had effectively ended his research and teaching work at that hospital and the affiliated university at Zurich.  Jung had also broken with Freud due to theoretical differences in their respective views of the essential elements which comprised the source of psychological libido (the presumed energy associated with psychological thoughts, emotions and (at the unconscious level) complexes).  The tipping point of the relationship with Freud is thought to be traceable (from an intellectual standpoint) to the publication of Jung’s work Symbols of Transformation in 1912.   Freud formally ended their personal and professional relationship in a letter sent to Jung in 2013.4    In 1906, now one hundred years in the past, Jung was continuing his work with patients in a private practice, and was deeply engaged in his own self-exploration of his unconscious (the fruits of which we can now see in his famous Red Book.5   He had retreated from writing papers or books for the larger community (this work would resurface in 1921 with the publication of his book Psychological Types6).  From that point forward, Jung continued to work and publish for the wider community, including giving invited talks and seminars to both psychiatrists (Tavistock lectures, scientific meetings) and for mental health professionals, students and the lay public (Shamdasani).  He formally re-entered academia with an appointment as a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology (known as the ETH), where he lectured from 1933 to 1941.  Coinciding with his appointment at the ETH, Jung also participated, from 1933 to the early 1950s, in a series of conferences known as the Eranos conferences7, which brought together academics from disparate fields (including religious studies, science, and philosophy) and which went on for actively through the 1960s and 1970s.  In 1948, Jung  participated with others in founding the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, which he viewed as an institute that would not only teach practical aspects of analytical psychology, but also form a home for academic discourse and research on topics of interest to the analytical psychology field.   This move to an institute solely focused on analytic psychology, however diverse it’s intentions to foster intellectual discourse from related fields, soon became the dominant model for the intellectual work of Jungian analysts throughout the world, with the formation of a number of Jungian based institutes organized as part of an international association (the International Association of Analytical Psychology).  While this model has flourished with respect to developing Jung’s ideas and many areas of analytic psychology, and done so through both the promotion of student dissertations and independent publishing, one negative consequence of this has been that much, if not the vast majority, of Jungian academic discourse has taken place outside of university settings.  This has led to a situation where there is a paucity of Jungian or analytic psychology being taught in academic settings throughout the world and, along with this, there is a similar lack of rigorous research in analytical psychology.  By contrast, other branches of psychology, such as the behaviorist and cognitive therapy models have flourished both in academia and in their extension to treatment of individuals in psychiatric and psychologic clinics affiliated with major medical centers in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

        If we now fast forward one hundred years in time to the present time in which I am writing this blog entry, we can reflect on how C.G. Jung’s psychological theory of the mind continues to interact both with a larger community of lay individuals and practitioners of Analytic Psychology, as well as with academic institutions and the scientific community.  This is especially pertinent to the shifting role of the McMillan scholar position, which began in 1986 at Texas A&M University in College Station and which now continues in a new incarnation through the Jung Foundation of Houston. In addition to the McMillan scholar position (more about this later), there are certainly other footholds in academia (i.e. colleges and universities outside of the various Jungian Institutes and Foundations affiliated with the International Association of Analytical Psychology (IAAP)), but they are few and far between.  In terms of the current presence of academic scholars affiliated with universities, there are only a few examples I am aware of university positions in academia for Jungian scholars (it is my hope that this current blog post may inspire those who are working with Analytical Psychology or Jungian research in university settings to write in with your comments and observations!).  Among those I am aware of we can count the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies at the University of Essex in England, where Andrew Samuels and Renos Papadopoulis are professors and both write and teach in the area of analytic psychology, at both undergraduate and graduate levels.  Sonu Shamdasani, one of the leading academicians who covers the work of Jung and Analytical Psychology, is a scholar with training in the history of medicine, and he currently is a professor at the University College in London.  A number of academics who work in the field of analytical psychology, including Joseph Cambray (a recent president of the IAAP) have found positions teaching at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California, which offers several degree programs in fields such as clinical psychology and mythological studies in addition to graduate programs in Jungian and Archetypal studies.  Verena Kast, a former president of the IAAP and current President of the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, taught for many years as a professor of psychology at the University of Zurich.  Interestingly, both Drs. Kast and Cambray have also played a role in the McMillan Scholar story as it has evolved over the last three decades.  Apart from the  supported faculty positions just mentioned, throughout the world there are assuredly many Jungian analysts who are affiliated with universities and medical centers, mainly in the fields of psychology and psychiatry.  For instance, at the University of California at San Francisco, where I completed my psychiatry residency training, there were several Jungian analysts who were affiliated clinical faculty in the department of psychiatry, and at least one Jungian analyst on faculty  directing one of the inpatient units I worked on.

       One of the most innovative experiments in bringing Jung to an academic setting occurred at Texas A & M University in College Station.  There, a faculty position was created in the department of psychology, through the efforts and generosity of Frank McMillan, Jr., a Texas geologist and engineer who had come across the writings of C.G. Jung through a fortuitous meeting with an eccentric artist in a diner in East Texas (the story is told in detail in the book Finding Jung by Frank McMillan III8 and also covered in an article9).  McMillan, Jr., who would later tell analyst David Rosen that “Jung saved my life,” worked effortlessly to create the position at his alma mater (Texas A&M), a Texas university more better known for it’s outstanding engineering and agricultural science programs, although also comprised of a flourishing college of humanities, medical school, and many other academic disciplines.  There, for close to twenty years, the McMillan Scholar position supported a full time faculty member who published on Jungian topics, taught classes on Analytical Psychology, supervised graduate students and their dissertations on themes relevant to Analytical Psychology, performed innovative research on the topic, and hosted an annual speaker in a series known as the Fay Lectures.  Each of these Fay Lectures was by a noted Jungian analyst and consisted of an annal series of lectures delivered at Texas A&M University.  The analysts involved were international in scope and were well-respected scholars, and each Fay Lecture was eventually published in book form (these books are available through Texas A&M Press, as well as on the world wide web: http://www.tamupress.com/pages/series_description.aspx).  From 1986  to 2012 the McMillan Scholar position at Texas A&M was held by Dr. David Rosen, a psychiatrist and Jungian analyst by training.  David brought a wealth of energy, intellect, generosity of spirit, and good humor to his work as a scholar, editor and lecturer at Texas A&M, and apart from his work related directly to the position at Texas A&M, he is an accomplished author on topics as diverse as the process of creativity in treating depression, the Tao of Jung, the spiritual insights and mythical journey of Elvis Presley, and volumes on Haiku poetry.  A second volume of his life memoir is in the works (the first volume, published in 2014, covers his life through the stage of his becoming a psychiatrist10) which will cover his period of time as the McMillan scholar and will no doubt shed some light on the complexities and challenges of being a Jungian analyst and scholar working in a university setting.  David now describes himself as being “in recovery” from academia (there is hope for those of us still working in academic settings!) and continues his individuation process through creative writing projects and a budding career as the stand-up comic “Dr. Nada.”

       Ultimately, with Dr. Rosen’s retirement from Texas A&M, through a difficult process in which, at it’s core, the value of Jung’s work in a modern psychology department was challenged (not by faculty within the department, I should stress), and as documented in an article by Frank N. McMillan III,11 the position of the McMillan scholar moved to the Jung Center of Houston. The Jung Foundation in Houston, Texas was founded in 1958, endorsed by C.J. Jung as a location where seminars, classes, and lectures on Analytic Psychology and related topics are taught locally (and now, through archives on the world wide web, available internationally).   This was also the location in which Frank McMillan, Jr. was able to attend and learn more about Jung.  The McMillan scholar position, in it’s new location, will continue to coordinate and present the Fay Lecture series and edit the books forthcoming from that work at Texas A&M University Press.  Rather than teaching directly within a university setting (previously at Texas A&M), the scholar position will now work by disseminating research and academic work on Jung through the website of the Jung Page (http://www.cgjungpage.org) and in coordination with the Jung Center in Houston.  This in effect moves the work related to this position to a worldwide community as its’ primary focus, which was always a part of the goal when the position was at Texas A&M University, but takes the work outside of the walls of the traditional university setting.  For more formal positions within university settings around the world, aside from the many Jungian scholars who work at university settings as clinical faculty (and a handful as research faculty), the programs at the University of Essex and Pacifica University are perhaps the best known.

       The onus for carrying on academic work and research in Analytical Psychology thus, at this stage of the 21st century, lies primarily on the many Jungian associations throughout the world (where training and academic work on Jung’s ideas continue to flourish in regional associations and, through larger organizations such as the International Association for Analytic Psychology).  Journals also play a key role in continuing this work.  For instance, the Journal of Analytical Psychology continues to provide a forum where research work in Analytical Psychology can be critically presented, and other journals and web sites keep intellectual ideas and theories on Jung current and evolving.  Publications in book form also play a very large role in preserving and developing Jungian thought and ideas.  Among these, a particularly intensive series of publications has been forthcoming from the Philemon Foundation (http://philemonfoundation.org).  The Philemon Foundation, like most of the Jungian foundations and institutes throughout the world, operates outside of any particular university, overseen by a board of directors and facilitating participation by Jungian scholars from multiple countries.  The Philemon Foundation has, as it’s focus, the publication of Carl Jung’s writings, but, in addition to the work of translation, brings current scholarship to bear on both the editing, commentaries, and introductions of these works.  In essence it continues the work of the Bollingen Foundation (1948-1968), which, in partnership with Princeton University Press (Bollingen series), published the English editions of Jung’s collected works from 1957 through the 1990s.

       So, what are the opportunities and dangers of a Jungian community who’s main academic work is carried out in institutions and foundations who are friendly to Jungian ideas, rather than in the academic settings of universities and psychiatric institutes?  On the positive side, the Jungian community has continued to grow, with a focus on training analysts and, in the process, developing a rich tapestry of thoughts on themes that were of primary importance to Jung, in particular with regard to explorations of archetypal images, the existence and analysis of unconscious contents as manifested in dreams and active imagination, and the idea of personality types.  On the negative side, operating outside of the university setting, we have been on the sidelines of the major developments in psychology and psychiatry of the last half century.  Research funding at the national level, although substantial in psychology and psychiatry, has not been available to researchers using analytical psychology approaches, as academic and university discourse has largely focused on materialistic (biologic) and behavioralist models of human psychology.  In terms of treatment of psychiatric and psychological problems, something that was important to Jung himself, there have been few research studies to show the efficacy of analytical psychology, which threatens analytical psychology having a valid argument as to it’s usefulness in treating the very patients and people Jung developed his theories for.  Unconscious psychological processes continue to be studied in the university setting, but the terminology used by current neuroscientists has diverged from the terms used by analytic psychologists. Lastly, rigorous, hypothesis based science, to test and define concepts such as  “complexes”, “archetypes” and “the collective unconscious”,  key elements in analytical psychology, are scarce.  For those interested in a reading more about the difficulties of bridging Jungian thought with the academic community, David Tacey wrote a compelling article in 1997 on this topic: “Jung in the academy: devotions and resistances.”12  The situation Tacey summarized at the time seems to have changed little in the intervening 19 years.

       Whereas many Jungian analysts or Analytical Psychology scholars would eschew the need to bring analytical psychology into the fray of the modern university setting,  I would argue that Jung himself worked hard to do so throughout his career (teaching at the ETH until 1941 and later, giving addresses at Psychiatric Congresses up to his very last years) and that, through his support of conferences such as the Eranos conferences (in which Jung and others presented papers from an analytical psychology perspective in a setting where many viewpoints and academic frameworks were represented), he both expected and took pride in the fact that the analytical psychology framework he and others had worked to develop could be used in interactions with scientists and thinkers from different schools of thought.  It must be said that it behooves those interested in analytical psychology in the current century to work to further this work, both through finding ways to re-enter academic discourse in university settings and through the participation in conferences in which different views of psychology, science and the humanities are presented.  Such interactions can be challenging and, at times frustrating (the politics of academia and sometimes dismissive nature of academicians who are critical of Jung’s theories can certainly be unpleasant at times), but if Jung’s ideas and the subsequent developments in analytical psychology have import for the human race and our understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe, they should be able to take their place, influence and be influenced by the discourse outside foundations and institutions that are based solely on analytical psychology and Jung’s ideas. 

       David Rosen, the first McMillan Scholar, often tells the story of Frank McMillan, Jr. telling him that “Jung saved my life,” meaning that his discovery of Jung’s ideas and approaches helped move him from a place of despair to one of finding a soulful in-depth understanding of his own psychological experiences and ideas.  I think that for McMillan Jr., at the core of his vision for the McMillan Scholar position, his hope was that Jung’s ideas would be introduced to students and academicians in university settings and that analytical psychology would continue to play a role in the academic discourse of our present times.  It is my hope that, as the new McMillan Scholar, I can help to fulfill that vision through continuing the tradition of the Fay lectures and publications and, through the Jung Page, to highlight scholarly activities in Analytical Psychology throughout the world.  The Jung Page is already a rich resource for those wishing to learn more about Jung and Analytical Psychology and will continue to be so.  I encourage all to explore the resources contained within and welcome any comments or suggestions on how to make the website more useful for those with an interest in Jung and Analytical Psychology.


Michael Escamilla, MD



1. Bleuler E.  Dementia Praecox oder die Gruppe der Schizophrenien [Dementia Praecox or The Group of Schizophrenias].  Published originally as a chapter of G. Aschaffenburg’s Handbuch der Psychiatrie, Leipzing 1911.

2. Jung, C.G.  The Psychology of Dementia Praecox (1907).  Published in English in volume 3 of the Collected Works of C.G. Jung, The Psychogenesis of Mental Disease, Bollingen Foundation Press, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1960.

3. Mattson ME, Wertz FJ, Fogarty H, Klenck M, Zabriskie B, editors.  Jung In The Academy And Beyond: The Fordham Lectures 100 Years Later.  2015.  Spring Journal Inc., New Orleans.

4. http://www.openculture.com/2014/06/the-famous-letter-where-freud-breaks-his-relationship-with-jung-1913.html

5. Jung, C.G. The Red Book: Liber Novus.  Edited by Shamdasani, S.  W.W. Norton and Co., New York, NY 2009.

6. Jung, C.G. Psychological Types (1921) published in English as volume 6 of the Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Bollingen Foundation Press, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey 1971.

7. http://www.iaap.org/iaap-congresses/2004-barcelona/568-wednesday-september-1-2004/534-walking-in-the-footsteps-of-eranos.html

8.  McMillan, Frank N. III.  Finding Jung.  Frank McMillan Jr., A Life in Quest of the Lion. Texas A & M University Press, College Station, Texas, 2012.

9. McMillan, Frank N. III. And Rosen, D. “Synchronicity at the Crossroads: Frank McMillan Jr., Forrest Bess, and Carl Jung.” Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche, 6(2): 86-102, 2012.

10. Rosen, DH.  Lost in the Long White Cloud.  2014.  WIPF and Stock; Eugene, Oregon.

11.  McMillan, FN III, “Frank N. McMillan III on Ancestors: The Quick and the Dead”, Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche, 8(3): 77-80, 2014.

12. Tacey, D.  “Jung in the academy: devotions and resistances.”  Joutnal of Analytical Psychology, 42 (2) 269-283, 1997.

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