By Claire Dunne
Watkins Publishing, $24.95, 272 pages
Claire Dunne’s Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul is a beautifully illustrated biography of one of the greatest minds in twentieth-century psychology. Best known for his concepts of introversion, extraversion, archetypes, and the collective unconscious, Jung believed that the best doctors examine their own personal hurt in an effort to better care for their patients – hence, the notion of a “wounded healer.”
With confident ease, Dunne tells a comprehensive tale of the intellectual advancements of a field that was shifting dramatically beneath the tutelage of such masters as Jung, Freud, Adler, and James. While psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud initially functioned as a kind of father figure to Jung, Dunne writes, the relationship soon diverged as Jung took issue with Freud’s emphasis on human sexuality. As he stepped afield of sexual theory, Jung instead began to explore art, mysticism, spirituality, and collective thought. By 1913, Freud and Jung were no longer speaking to one another, and Jung found himself alienated for a time by his own psycho-spiritual convictions.
“What Jung called his confrontation with the unconscious has been known to humanity from spiritual history through the aeons. It’s in the Gnostic texts of early Christianity, the dark night of the soul of St. John of the Cross, the shamanic trials of primal cultures, the Nekyia episode of Homer’s Odyssey, the night sea journey recorded in many mythologies. It is personal and collective, an initiation of death and rebirth, only undertaken by the few and always perilous.”
Dunne’s biography is a beautiful edition, with glossy pages, colorful photographs and artwork on nearly every page. More biographical than theoretical, Wounded Healer of the Soul is a readable story that can introduce even the psycho-analytical neophyte to the twentieth-century world of id and ego, of subconscious and collective conscious.
Reviewed by Jennie A. Harrop