Mysteries of the Soul. Carl Gustav Jung’s psychology

Course description Mysteries of the Soul. Carl Gustav Jung’s psychology
Year: 2017-2018
Catalog number: 5990HC008
  • Dr. H.W.A. Blezer
  • Dr. E.M. de Boer
  • Dr. H.W. Sneller
Language: English
Blackboard: Yes
EC: 5
Level: 400
Period: Semester 2, Block III
  • No Elective choice
  • No Contractonderwijs
  • No Exchange
  • No Study Abroad
  • No Evening course
  • No A la Carte
  • Yes Honours Class

Admission requirements

This course is an Honours Class and therefore in principle only available to students of the Honours College. There are a few places available for regular students.


Introduction. This is an odd Honours Class by any count. You will vainly search for those much coveted twenty-first century skills (nor, for that matter, shall we merely ponder ‘many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore’). This course, plain and simple, is about who you are and how you can live up to your fullest potential (if anything, that is a skill of all ages); all this according to a wayward (and to many of his day no doubt somewhat irksome) individual, called Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961).

Shadow culture. The views on the human psyche by Carl Gustav Jung have gradually been marginalised, if not completely ignored, in most university psychology departments today. They have been written out of college textbooks and rendered close to anathema. Indeed, Jung ventured into patently unfashionable realms such as mythology, parapsychology, ‘Eastern wisdom’, and even ufology. Whereas traditional scientists are reluctant to accept phenomena that seem to be beyond experimental control, Jung, in his complementary holistic vision, saw in them proof of the vital proclivities of the soul. A truly visionary mind, his bold and provocative ideas even foreshadow much of the warp of the later New Age movement.
However, science may well be more prone to fashion and hype than many should like to admit. The present dire predicament of Jungian thought stands in quite marked contrast to the surge of interest in Jung in the last decades of the previous century. Moreover, Jung’s ‘counter-culturally’-tinged response to the burgeoning new disciplines of ‘scientific’ psychology and medical psychiatry and his efforts to heal a broken world and reenchant the disenchanted have exerted enormous influence, overall. The popular impact of Jung now reaches way beyond that of some of our greatest academic psychologists and psychiatrists—is this poetic justice?

Mysteries of the soul. The ‘soul’, the ‘unconscious’, the ‘Self’, and ‘individuation’ all play important roles in Jung’s psychology. Almost singlehandedly, Jung brought back the highly contentious notion of the soul into the academic psychology of his time. He also articulated teleological and collective aspects of the human psyche, which falls nothing short of a scandal within the reigning scientific paradigms. His anthropology, in a delightfully idiosyncratic way, is informed by erudite ‘turn of the century’ forays into cosmological, mythological, and theological studies (be it no doubt dated). Jung developed these insights into his grand vision of the collective unconscious and archetypes. His ideas thus also offer great opportunities for interdisciplinary study and for contextualising these disciplines in their history of ideas.

Course content. In this Honours Class, we will focus on two central ideas in Jung’s thought and work: his intriguing but also elusive notion of Self, which he defines as the centre and circumference of our total existence, and his recouping of the Freudian term ego. Self and ego delimit our sense of who we are and what we most deeply feel we are destined to become. We shall accommodate these insights in their proper Zeitgeist and in the biography of Jung.
A study of Jung’s notions of Self and ego requires various disciplinary competences, across the humanities and social sciences. We will look at this binary through its many aspects, such as they become apparent in dreams and art (also our own!); but also in myths & fairy tales; in visions; male & female; synchronicity & the paranormal. We look at Jung’s interest in Freud, Nietzsche, ‘eastern wisdom’, Gnosticism and alchemy. We shall not just be reading and conversing, you are also welcome to bring your own dreams and stories, and your pencils and sketch books: we complement weekly readings with practical engagements. We invite you to a Humanities & Social Sciences lab, where we attempt to trace the meanderings of this mercurial and controversial thinker, but also to trace the contours of our own mind, our hopes and fears.

Concluding conference. As a part of this course we shall attend and if possible contribute to the annual conference of the Jungian Society for Analytical Psychology in Driebergen.

Course objectives

• Acquire knowledge of Jung’s analytical psychology and their embeddedness in Freudian psychoanalysis and in the Zeitgeist of both.
• Develop analytical insight into the dynamics between mainstream and counter-cultural forces in the intellectual climate of the turn of the nineteenth century and beyond.
• Analytical insight into models of holistic psychical development and their history of ideas.
• Knowledge of the deployment of the concepts Self and ego in Jungian thought.
• Knowledge of articulations of personhood in view of various modern ‘Western’ self-understandings but also in intercultural perspective.
• Insight into the history of relevant academic disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
• To be able to manage emic (insider) and etic (outside) perspectives in science and academia.
• Developing appreciation of and skill in managing tensions between conceptual and symbolic thinking.
• Exploring and appreciating the logic of non-scientific and non-rational and differently rational worldviews.
• Developing keen faculties of judgment and proper epistemological humility regarding the limitations imposed by disciplinary boundaries when trying to understand the human psyche.
• Develop the academic courage but also the academically honed confidence to face the limits of scientific paradigms, and the skills to venture beyond, in a methodologically responsible manner.


Thursdays 13–15h; block 3 (February – March) and block 4 (April – 6 July); see programme


Old Observatory. Room c006.


Guest lecturers and workshop instructors may be invited from the Dutch Vereniging voor Analytische Psychologie, het Jungiaans Instituut, the European Jung Society, the Society for Transpersonal Psychiatry, and the like. We should like to propose the following topics and lecturers (preliminary listing); readings may be culled from the titles in parenthesis:

  1. (8 Feb) Introduction—Jung his life and time (Memories, Dreams, and Reflections; &c.) and a few words on the connective theme of the course: ego and ‘Self’ and its 12 satellites discussed here.
  2. (15 Feb) Jung and Freud—Libido, sex drive versus vital force; and Anima and Animus (Jung Contra Freud: The 1912 New York Lectures on the Theory of Psychoanalysis; The Freud/Jung Letters: The Correspondence between Sigmund Freud and C.G. Jung; Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido)
  3. (22 Feb) Dreams—The royal road to the unconscious; conceptual and symbolic thinking; signs, symbols & archetypes; and the personal and the collective unconscious (Dream Analysis: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1928-1930 By C.G. Jung)
  4. (1 March) Myths and fairy tales—Cultural amplification of personal images (Man and his Symbols)
  5. (8 March) Jung and the ‘East’—“Oriental Wisdom and the Cure of Souls: Jung and the Indian East” (Gómez in Lopez)
  6. (15 March) Jung and the ‘West’—Alchemy and Gnosis; Jung and Western esotericism; and wisdom and transformation in Jungian thought (Alchemical Studies; Psychology and Alchemy)
  7. (22 March) Jung and mandalas—the unconscious and individuation in art and creative expression (The Red Book)
  8. (5 April) Visions and (psychotic) hallucinations—Christiana Morgan (Visions: Notes on the Seminar Given in 1930-1934)
  9. (12 April) Jung, Pauli and Synchronicity (The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche: Synchronicity an a-causal connecting principle)
  10. (19 April) Jung, his mediumistic niece, Swedenborg and the paranormal (On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena)
  11. (26 April) Jung and the pre-personal, personal and transpersonal (Ken Wilber)
  12. (3 May) Jung, Nietzsche, and the ethics of the transpersonal (Jung’s seminars on Nietzsche’s Zarathustra: Notes of the Seminars Given in 1934–39)
  13. (17 May; bonus class) Analytical therapy—A brief synthesis of the 12 satellites of ego and Self discussed in this course: how does it all come together in the actual practice of psychotherapy (The Practice of Psychotherapy)?
  14. (24 May) Conference, Driebergen

Course Load

This course is worth 5 EC, which means the total course load equals 140 hours; BA3, level 400. This seminar consists of weekly discussion meetings, based on lectures, readings and practical assignments, and a conclusive conference.

• Attendance at seminar: ~24h
• Conference presentation involvement: 12h (also serves as a preparation for the essay)
• Readings, weekly summaries and other assignments: 70 h (the readings may partly be used for presentation/essay)
• Concluding essay 3.000 words: 34h

Assessment method

• 10% Participation assessed continually through participation in seminar and structured activities
• 10% Weekly summaries of readings, approximately 1A4 each.
• 20% Presentation during a research symposium
• 60% A final paper of 3000 words

Compensation of grades between components is allowed, but the final paper must be a pass.

Blackboard and uSis

Blackboard will be used in this course. Students can register for the Blackboard site two weeks prior to the start of the course.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Reading list

Partly dependent on guest speakers and workshop organisers: TBA, but see some preliminary brief references in course programme. The readings will be announced in the syllabus and distributed in PDF, on Bb and via Dropbox.


Enrolling in this course is possible from Monday November 6th until Thursday November 16th through the Honours Academy, via this link


Dhr. Dr. H.W. Sneller