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Jung's Interview

This is Jung: A 1959 Interview for the BBC


When the psychiatrist was 84 years old and he enjoyed the purest kind of eloquence, he gave an interview that represents one of the best insights into his mind.

Jung is probably the greatest archeologist of the human spirit that the West had during the twentieth century. Among the many contributions he made, the theory of the collective unconscious stands out, which is composed of a series of archetypes that inhabit in men as symbols and diseases, which give shape to the psychic content of each individual thus tracing recurring patterns. As a doctor Jung wanted to make the unconscious conscious, thus facing the shadow (the “original horror” that is hidden in our memory) and to face our demons in order to find our individualization and to reach the center of our mandala.

On October 22, 1959, the BBC’s Face to Face —an unusual program that sought to “unmask public figures”—transmitted a segment on Jung, included in the anthology C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters. The psychiatrist, who was 84 at the time and was still active in his field, spoke to John Freeman, with a great eloquence and character, about education, religions, consciousness, human nature and his relationship to Freud. In the video, and in terms of the importance of the psyche, Jung says: “We need more understanding of human nature, because the only danger that exists is man himself — he is the great danger, and we are pitifully unaware of it. We know nothing of man — far too little.”

Freeman concludes the interview with a memorable question, and the answer Jung gave could not be more relevant to the ubiquitous nature of our time:

FREEMAN: As the world becomes more technically efficient, it seems increasingly necessary for people to behave communally and collectively, now do you think it’s possible that the highest development of man may be to submerge his own individuality in a kind of collective consciousness?

JUNG: That’s hardly possible. I think there will be a reaction — a reaction will set in against this communal dissociation. You know, man doesn’t stand forever, his nullification. Once, there will be a reaction, and I see it setting in, you know, when I think of my patients, they all seek their own existence and to assure their existence against that complete atomization into nothingness or into meaninglessness. Man cannot stand a meaningless life.

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