Carl Jung’s fascination with the occult
Unknown to many people, including, perhaps, some of his followers in the Philippines, the great Swiss psychologist and psychotherapist Carl Jung had a life-long fascination with the occult and paranormal phenomena, and wrote scientific treatises on the subject.
The founder of analytical and depth psychology, Jung is best known for his theories of the “collective unconscious,” including the concept of the “archetypes” and the use of “synchronicity” (or meaningful coincidence) in psychotherapy.
Jung was a contemporary and close colleague of Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, but they later parted ways because of irreconcilable differences in their theories of psychology. Jung was bothered by Freud’s “pansexualism” in the interpretation of dreams and human behavior. Jung felt dreams also contain nonphysical and spiritual meanings.
Reality of spirits
Jung believed in the reality of spirits and the after-life, the psychic and paranormal phenomena. While maintaining a healthy skepticism, Jung later developed a passionate interest in the study of such topics after his visions and near-death experience.
He delved into research in parapsychology, flying saucers, astrology, alchemy, the I Ching, and even spirit communication or mediumship.
According to one author, Jung’s involvement with the occult “was with him from the start—literally, it was in his DNA.” His maternal grandfather accepted the reality of spirits and learned Hebrew “because he believed it was spoken in heaven.” Jung’s mother became a medium who spoke in tongues.
Jung gave lectures, such as “On the Limits of Exact Science,” in which he questioned the dominant materialist paradigm that reigned then. He said, “I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud… Science cannot afford the luxury of naivete in these matters.”
Jung never hid his interest in the study of parapsychology and his fascination with occult phenomena, despite the stern warning by Freud that his interest could ruin his reputation as a serious scientist.
In a letter to Freud dated May 8, 1911, Jung wrote: “There are strange and wondrous things in these lands of darkness. Please don’t worry about my wanderings in these infinitudes. I shall return laden with rich booty for our knowledge of the human psyche. For a while longer I must intoxicate myself on magic perfumes in order to fathom the secrets that lie hidden in the abyss of the unconscious.”
Jung studied eight spirit mediums (six females and two males), participated in séances and observed levitation on four occasions.
He wrote that the most impressive cases of levitation he had witnessed happened with Douglas Home, a Scottish psychic. “On three occasions,” wrote Jung, “I have seen him raised completely from the floor of the room… I had the full opportunity of watching the occurrence as it was taking place.
“There are at least a hundred recorded instances of Mr. Home rising from the ground, in the presence of as many persons. To reject the recorded evidence on this subject is to reject all human testimony whatever; for no fact in sacred or profane history is supported by a stronger array of proofs.”
Jung believed in the reality of spirits and their apparition. He said, “I am convinced that if a European had to go through the same exercises and ceremonies which the medicine man performs in order to make the spirits visible, he would have the same experiences.”
He also believed in the reality of telepathic communication between two or more people. And he decries the fact that mainstream science has adopted the easiest way out by ignoring them.
Jung was not the only mainstream scientist who delved deeply into the study of the unknown and forbidden fields of knowledge, such as occult and psychic phenomena.
Sir Isaac Newton spent many years studying alchemy, hoping to discover the secrets of transforming base metal into gold.
Unknown to the general public, many other well-known and highly respected scientists and intellectuals in the West were also involved in serious research into psychic phenomena.
Among these were William James, considered the father of modern psychology; Sir William Crookes, physical chemist who discovered the chemical Thallium; Frederick Myers, classicist and philosopher who cowrote the classic book “Phantasms of the Living”; Charles Richet, French physiologist and Nobel prize awardee in medicine and physiology in 1963;
Henri Bergson, famous philosopher and Nobel prize awardee for literature in 1927; John William Strutt, physicist and Nobel Prize awardee for physics in 1964; Hans Driesch, German biologist and natural philosopher who performed the first animal cloning in 1885; Robert Thouless, famous psychologist; Arthur J. Ellison, electrical and electronic engineer whom I met in the late ’80s in London; and Dr. Ian Stevenson (1918-2007), head of the psychiatry department at the University of Virginia, who did pioneering research into reincarnation, and with whom I corresponded about the phenomena of faith healing and psychic surgery.
All the above scientists, at one time, served as president of the Society for Psychical Research, whose stated purpose is “to understand events and abilities commonly described as psychic or paranormal,” and which describes itself as the “first society to conduct organized scholarly research into human experiences that challenge contemporary scientific models.”
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