The Jung Cult
Origins of A Charismatic MovementBook - 1994
In this provocative reassessment of C. G. Jung's thought, Richard Noll boldly argues that such ideas as the "collective unconscious" and the theory of the archetypes come as much from late nineteenth-century occultism, neo-paganism, and social Darwinian teachings as they do from natural science. Noll sees the break with Sigmund Freud in 1912 not as a split within the psychoanalytic movement but as Jung's turning away from science and his founding of a new religion, which offered a rebirth ("individuation"), surprisingly like that celebrated in ancient mystery cult teachings. Jung, in fact, consciously inaugurated a cult of personality centered on himself and passed down to the present by a body of priest-analysts extending this charismatic movement, or "personal religion," to late twentieth-century individuals.
Noll carefully reconstructs the intellectual currents of fin-de-siècle Germany which influenced Jung. In conjunction with his scientific training in medicine, Jung was drawn equally to these other ideas and teachings of the time: the vitalist school in biology associated with Naturphilosophie , the evolutionary biology and monistic religion of Hackel, racialist speculations on Aryan origins and character, Nietzsche's theory of the "new nobility," neo-pagan sun worshippers, and the speculations of philologists and archeologists on prehistoric cultures and their matriarchical religions. Many of the themes and symbols of these völkisch beliefs were used by the National Socialists and have become so identified with Hitler and the Nazis that it is difficult to disentangle the sources from this later use. Noll deftly uncovers the worldview of early twentieth-century German culture and firmly separates Jung and his teachings from the later National Socialist movement.
Richard Noll's groundbreaking work of historical reconstruction brings scholarship on C. G. Jung to a new level of sophistication. Noll's book does for Jung what Frank Sulloway's Freud: The Biologist of the Mind did for modern Freud studies. Written for the general reader this book will also be an important source for historians of science and psychiatry and will form the basis of all future Jung criticism.