Cult Fictions: C.G. Jung and the Founding of Analytical Psychology

Cult Fictions: C.G. Jung and the Founding of Analytical Psychology

Cult Fictions: C.G. Jung and the Founding of Analytical Psychology

Cult Fictions: C.G. Jung and the Founding of Analytical Psychology


As the inspection of Freud's legacy leads scholars to seriously examine his persona, so has analytical psychology come under scrutiny in a whirl of controversy over the character of its founder, C.G. Jung. In Cult Fictions, leading Jungian scholar Sonu Shamdasani presents the history of the movement's founding, from Jung's establishment of The Psychological Club in Zurich in 1916 to the later reformulations of his approach. Shamdasani relates the disputes over the legitimacy of Jungian analysis to current concerns about the institutionalization of psychotherapy as a science, its impact on popular and academic views of self and society, and the widespread panic concerning cults that has led Jung to be regarded by some as a figure analogous to David Koresh or Jim Jones. Cult Fictions presents a sober, accurate and revealing account of the history of the Jungian movement and an agenda for the evaluation of analytical psychology today.


I was nobody: I might have turned out to be a country doctor. A man finds himself singled out, isolated and alone: People are attracted and come.

(Jung to Edward Thornton, 1951)

What is a psychological association? From the inception of modern psychotherapy, this question has never ceased to be asked, whatever the particular therapeutic school. Should psychotherapists organise themselves according to a traditional model? Or was there something within the very nature of the psychotherapeutic enterprise and its understanding of human relations that contained the conception of a new form of social order? If so, how was this to be implemented? These questions were not simply limited to the issue of how psychotherapists should arrange their institutions, but had bearings on whether they could make wider contributions to society. Modern psychotherapy held out the promise of a deeper understanding of human nature than had previously been possible. It was hoped that this would in turn lead to a new era of transformed social relations. There has been no end of psychologies of the nursery, of school, of industry, of corporate life, of the nation and international relations propounded this century. There has been no form of social organisation that has not—for better or worse—met with an attempted psychological reformulation. Today, the institutions of psychotherapy are undergoing a legitimation crisis, and the societal legacies of psychotherapy are increasingly contested. Hence it is important to consider their historical genesis.

At the beginning of the twentieth century psychotherapy assumed the traditional medical model of one-to-one private practice. It

1 Cited in Edward Thornton, The Diary of a Mystic, p.134.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.