Jung for the Fool?
November 30, 2009 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Good books on Carl Jung and the general history of psychology written for laypeople?

Lately, NPR has been talking about the publishing of Carl Jung's Red Book, his private journal of sorts that he used to develop his theory of psychology and the collective unconscious. It sounds interesting, but the reprints cost $200 a piece, and I'm guessing I wouldn't be able to get much out of it if I didn't better understand Jung's theories. I don't know if I'd plan on ever reading the Red Book, but I'm definitely intrigued by what little I've heard about Jung.

Are there any good books written for laypeople about Jung and the transition away from Jung and Frued's theories to the more modern psychological methods like CBT? I'm fine with a biography of Jung, so long as it explains the theory well. I'm especially curious about the Jungian ideas of archetypes (I'm embarrassed to admit this is because I've been playing Persona 3 and thus learning a bit about the Tarot arcana lately).

Bonus points if the book is not too dry. I'm not looking for a book to try to definitively prove whether or not Jung was right. I get that his arguments were largely based on assumptions, and sometimes not even wrong. I'm just curious about how Jung relates to the history of psychology, what his theory was, and what his legacy is. I have a basic understanding of the general history because I took an Intro to Psychology course in college as an elective.

Other good books about psychology in general (not self help) would also be good if anything you recently read was great, as my family is asking about ideas for gifts for this Christmas and I don't have too many ideas so far.
posted by mccarty.tim to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Jung wrote and edited Man and His Symbols specifically as a text for laypeople.
posted by hermitosis at 9:43 AM on November 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sorry, link.
posted by hermitosis at 9:44 AM on November 30, 2009

The Introducing... series is usually pretty good, although I haven't specifically read the Jung book.
posted by electroboy at 9:51 AM on November 30, 2009

Jung also wrote a really amazing introduction to the Wilhelm/Baynes version of the I Ching or Book of Changes, which will fascinate you if you're already learning a little about divination.
posted by hermitosis at 9:52 AM on November 30, 2009

The Introducing... series is usually pretty good, although I haven't specifically read the Jung book.

I have; it's a very enjoyable weekend read.
posted by gimonca at 10:03 AM on November 30, 2009

His autobiography "Memories, Dreams, Reflections" is also good...
posted by Busmick at 10:29 AM on November 30, 2009

Seconding Jung's autobiography. I believe he actually talks a little about the Red Book in it, though it's been 21 years since I read it.

There's also The Portable Jung which has a nice selection from Jung's writings, including the "Psychological Types" stuff which eventually gave rise to the Myers-Briggs tests. (Though I've read that Jung would probably have been against such a test.)

Something about your question makes me want to also suggest some of the works of Joseph Campbell, who often refers to Jung in discussing the ways myths and symbols can interact with everyday life and thought. I would suggest the videos of the "Power of Myth" series but they appear to be out of print. (I think watching the videos is better than reading the transcript book, because of the interview format.) But also Hero With a Thousand Faces and Inner Reaches of Outer Space are good.

Another good into to the ideas of Jungian archetypes and psychology is the work of Jean Shinoda Bolen, in particular Goddesses in Everywoman and Gods in Everyman.

Since you mention the Tarot - you'd probably have to go digging in a big library for it, but I swear in college I found a book in the NU library that had Jung writing about the imagery of the Tarot. Have no idea what it was called though.
posted by dnash at 11:01 AM on November 30, 2009

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