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Quotations from Carl Gustav Jung


A book of mine is always a matter of fate. There is something unpredictable about the process of writing, and I cannot prescribe for myself any predetermined course.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Introduction (1961)

A creative person has little power over his own life. He is not free. He is captive and drawn by his daimon.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 329 (1961)

A human being would certainly not grow to be seventy or eighty years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species. The afternoon of life must have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage of life's morning.

Collected Works VIII, paragraph 787

A person who has not passed through the inferno of their passions has never overcome them.


About a third of my cases are not suffering from any clearly definable neurosis, but from the senselessness and aimlessness of their lives. I should not object if this were called the general neurosis of our age.

Collected Works XVI, paragraph 83

Although we human beings have our own personal life, we are yet in large measure the representatives, the victims and promoters of a collective spirit whose years are counted in centuries. We can well think all our lives long that we are following our own noses, and may never discover that we are, for the most part, supernumeraries on the stage of the world theatre.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Student Years (1961)

An ancient adept has said: 'If the wrong man uses the right means, the right means work in the wrong way.' This Chinese saying, unfortunately only too true, stands in sharp contrast to our belief in the 'right' method irrespective of the man who applies it. In reality, everything depends on the man and little or nothing on the method.

Collected Works XIII, paragraph 4

An inflated consciousness is always egocentric and conscious of nothing but its own existence. It is incapable of learning from the past, incapable of understanding contemporary events, and incapable of drawing right conclusions about the future. It is hypnotized by itself and therefore cannot be argued with. It inevitably dooms itself to calamities that must strike it dead.

Psychology and Alchemy (1944)

Any number of answers would have been possible. Any person of clever and versatile mind can turn the whole thing around and show how I projected my subjective contents into the symbolism of the Hexagrams.

On using the I Ching

Because of some obstacle - a constitutional weakness or defect, wrong education, bad experiences, an unsuitable attitude, etc. - one shrinks from the difficulties which life brings…

Collected Works XIII, paragraph 472

Because the European does not know his own unconscious, he does not understand the East and projects into it everything he fears and despises in himself.

Collected Works XVIII (1957)

Behind a man's actions there stands neither public opinion nor the moral code, but the personality of which he is still unconscious.

Collected Works XI, paragraph 390

Caution has its place, no doubt, but we cannot refuse our support to a serious venture which challenges the whole of the personality. If we oppose it, we are trying to suppress what is best in man - his daring and his aspirations. And should we succeed, we should only have stood in the way of that invaluable experience which might have given a meaning to life. What would have happened if Paul had allowed himself to be talked out of his journey to Damascus?

Psychotherapists or the Clergy (1958)

Conformity is one side of a man, uniqueness is another. Classification does not explain the individual psyche. Nevertheless, an understanding of psychological types opens the way to a better understanding of human psychology in general.

Collected Works VI, paragraph 895

Dreams are impartial, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche, outside the control of the will. They are pure nature; they show us the unvarnished, natural truth, and are therefore fitted, as nothing else is, to give us back an attitude that accords with our basic human nature when our consciousness has strayed too far from its foundations and run into an impasse.

Collected Works X, paragraph 317

Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light but making the darkness conscious.


Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections, chapter 12 (1961)

Everything in the unconscious seeks outward manifestation, and the personality too desires to evolve out of its unconscious conditions and to experience itself as a whole.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Prologue (1961)

Fate will have it - and this has always been the case with me - that all the 'outer' aspects of my life should be accidental. Only what is interior has proved to have substance and a determining value. As a result, all memory of outer events has faded, and perhaps these 'outer' experiences were never so very essential anyhow, or were so only in that they coincided with phases of my inner development.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Introduction (1961)

For years, ever since it was published, the Bardo Thodol [Tibetan Book of the Dead] has been my constant companion, and I owe to it not only many stimulating ideas and discoveries but also many fundamental insights.

Psychological Commentaries on 'The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation' (1954)

From the beginning I had a sense of destiny, as though my life was assigned to me by fate and had to be fulfilled.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; School Years (1961)

From the middle of life onward, only he remains vitally alive who is ready to die with life.

The Soul and Death (1934)

I began to blame the philosophers for rattling away when experience was lacking, and holding their tongues when they ought to have been answering with facts. In this respect they all seemed like watered-down theologians.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Student Years (1961)

I can only gaze with wonder and awe at the depths and heights of our psychic nature. Its non-spatial universe conceals an untold abundance of images which have accumulated over millions of years of development… The only equivalent of the universe within is the universe without.

Collected Works IV, paragraph 331

I cannot love anyone if I hate myself. That is the reason why we feel so extremly uncomfortable in the presence of people who are noted for their special virtuousness, for they radiate an atmosphere of the torture they inflict on themselves. That is not a virtue but a vice.

Basel seminar (1934)

I early arrived at the insight that when no answer comes from within to the problems and complexities of life, they ultimately mean very little.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Prologue (1961)

I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life. They seek position, marriage, reputation, outward success or money, and remain unhappy and neurotic even when they have attained what they were seeking. Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon. Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning. If they are enabled to develop into more spacious personalities, the neurosis generally disappears. For that reason the idea of development was always of the highest importance to me.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1961)

I have suffered enough from incomprehension and from the isolation one falls into when one says things that people do not understand.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Introduction (1961)

I know that in many things I am not like others, but I do not know what I really am like. Man cannot compare himself with any other creature; he is not a monkey, not a cow, not a tree. I am a man. But what is it to be that? Like every other being, I am a splinter of the infinite deity, but I cannot contrast myself with any animal, any plant or any stone. Only a mythical being has a range greater than man's. How then can man form any definite opinions about himself?

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Prologue (1961)

I maintained that psychiatry, in the broadest sense, is a dialogue between the sick psyche and the psyche of the doctor, which is presumed to be 'normal.' It is a coming to terms between the sick personality and that of the therapist, both in principle equally subjective.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Student Years (1961)

I realized that one gets nowhere unless one talks to people about the things they know. The naïve person does not appreciate what an insult it is to talk to one's fellows about anything that is unknown to them. They pardon such ruthless behavior only in a writer, journalist or poet.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Student Years (1961)

I should never have joined you in the first place had not heresy run in my blood.

Letter to Sigmund Freud (March 1912)

If God had foreseen his world, it would be a mere senseless machine and Man's existence a useless freak. My intellect can envisage the latter possibility, but the whole of my being says 'No' to it.

Letter to M. Serranno (September 14, 1960)

If God is the highest good, why is the world, His creation, so imperfect, so corrupt, so pitiable?

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; School Years (1961)

If I ask the value of my life, I can only measure myself against the centuries and then I must say, Yes, it means something. Measured by the ideas of today, it means nothing.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Introduction (1961)

If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool.

Mysterium Coniunctionis (1955-56)

If people can be educated to see the lowly side of their own natures, it may be hoped that they will also learn to understand and to love their fellow men better. A little less hypocrisy and a little more tolerance towards oneself can only have good results in respect for our neighbor; for we are all too prone to transfer to our fellows the injustice and violence we inflict upon our own natures.

Two Essays on Analytical Psychology: New Paths in Psychology (1912)

If there is anything we wish to change in a child, we should first see if it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.


If we can successfully develop that function which I have called transcendent, the disharmony ceases and we can then enjoy the favorable side of the unconscious. The unconscious then gives us all the encouragement and help that a bountiful nature can shower upon a man.

Collected Works XIV, paragraph 502

In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.

Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious (1959)

In my case it must have been a passionate urge to understand that brought about my birth. For that is the strongest element in my nature.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 297 (1961)

In sleep fantasy takes the form of dreams. But in waking life, too, we continue to dream below the threshold of consciousness.

Collected Works XVI, paragraph 125

In the end, man is an event which cannot judge itself, but, for better or worse, is left to the judgment of others.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Student Years (1961)

In the end, the only events of my life worth telling are those when the imperishable world erupted into this transitory one… All other memories of travels, people and my surroundings have paled beside these interior happenings… But my encounters with the 'other' reality, my bouts with the unconscious, are indelibly engraved on my memory. In that realm there has always been wealth in abundance, and everything else has lost importance by comparison.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Prologue (1961)

In the last analysis, most of our difficulties come from losing contact with our instincts, with the age-old unforgotten wisdom stored up in us. And where do we make contact with this old man in us? In our dreams.

Psychological Reflections, 76

In therapy the problem is always the whole person, never the symptom alone. We must ask questions which challenge the whole personality.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Psychiatric Activities (1961)

Individuation is an expression of that biological process - simple or complicated as the case may be - by which every living thing becomes what it was destined to become from the beginning.

Collected Works XI, paragraph 144

Instead of being at the mercy of wild beasts, earthquakes, landslides, and inundations, modern man is battered by the elemental forces of his own psyche. This is the World Power that vastly exceeds all other powers on earth. The Age of Enlightenment, which stripped nature and human institutions of gods, overlooked the God of Terror who dwells in the human soul.

The Development of Personality (1934)

Intuition is not mere perception, or vision, but an active, creative process that puts into the object just as much as it takes out.

Collected Works VI, paragraph 610

It had become clear to me, in a flash of illumination, that for me the only possible goal was psychiatry. Here alone the two currents of my interest could flow together and in a united stream dig their own bed. Here was the empirical field common to biological and spiritual facts, which I had everywhere sought and nowhere found. Here at last was the place where the collision of nature and spirit became a reality.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Student Years (1961)

It is a fact that cannot be denied: the wickedness of others becomes our own wickedness because it kindles something evil in our own hearts.

After the Catastrophe (1945)

It is a risky business for an egg to be cleverer than the hen. Still, what is in the egg must find the courage to creep out.

Letter to Sigmund Freud (1911)

It is indeed no small matter to know one's own guilt and one's own evil, and there is certainly nothing to be gained by losing sight of one's shadow. When we are conscious of our guilt we are in a more favorable position - we can at least hope to change and improve ourselves.

Collected Works X, paragraph 440

It's very important not to know all the answers. Often we don't know, and if we did it would be no good, for it is greater value to the patient when he discovers the answers himself.

Meetings with Jung

Just as a man still is what he always was, so he already is what he will become.

Collected Works XI, paragraph 390

Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away -- an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Prologue (1961)

Man cannot stand a meaningless life.

Said at the end of an interview with the BBC

Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health.

The Transcendent Function (1916)

Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not.

Aion (1951)

My aim was to show that delusions and hallucinations were not just specific symptoms of mental disease but also had a human meaning.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Student Years (1961)

My own understanding is the sole treasure I possess, and the greatest. Though infinitely small and fragile in comparison with the powers of darkness, it is still a light, my only light.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Student Years (1961)

My patients brought me so close to the reality of human life that I could not help learning essential things from them. Encounters with people of so many different kinds and on so many different psychological levels have been for me incomparably more important than fragmentary conversations with celebrities.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 143 (1961)

Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.

Psychology and Religion (1938)

Nothing could persuade me that 'in the image of God' applied only to man. In fact it seemed to me that the high mountains, the rivers, lakes, trees, flowers and animals far better exemplified the essence of God than men with their ridiculous clothes, their meanness, vanity, mendacity and abhorrent egotism - all qualities with which I was only too familiar from myself.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; School Years (1961)

Nothing is more repulsive than a furtively prurient spirituality; it is just as unsavory as gross sensuality.

Marriage as a Psychological Relationship (1925)

One could say, with a little exaggeration, that the persona is that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is.

Collected Works IX i, paragraph 221

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.

The Gifted Child (1943)

One repays a teacher badly if one remains only a pupil.

Letter to Sigmund Freud (quoting Zarathustra) (1912)

Our blight is ideologies - they are the long-expected Antichrist!

Psychological Commentaries on 'The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation' (1954)

Outward circumstances are no substitute for inner experience.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Prologue (1961)

Personality is the supreme realization of the innate idiosyncrasy of a living being. It is an act of high courage flung in the face of life, the absolute affirmation of all that constitutes the individual, the most successful adaptation to the universal conditions of existence coupled with the greatest possible freedom for self-determination.

Collected Works XVII, paragraph 289

Personality need not imply consciousness. It can just as easily be dormant or dreaming.

Collected Works IX i, paragraph 508

Psychic existence is the only category of existence of which we have immediate knowledge, since nothing can be known unless it first appears as a psychic image.

Collected Works XI, paragraph 769

Psychoanalysis cannot be considered a method of education if by education we mean the topiary art of clipping a tree into a beautiful artificial shape. But those who have a higher conception of education will prize most the method of cultivating a tree so that it fulfils to perfection its own natural conditions of growth.

The Theory of Psychoanalysis (1913)

Relationship to the Self is at once relationship to our fellow man, and no one can be related to the latter until he is related to himself.

Collected Works XVI, paragraph 445

Resistance to the organized mass can be effected only by the man who is as well organized in his individuality as the mass itself.

The Undiscovered Self, chapter 4 (1957)

Science comes to a stop at the frontiers of logic, but nature does not: she thrives on ground as yet untrodden by theory.

Collected Works XVI, paragraph 524

So often among so-called 'primitives' one comes across spiritual personalities who immediately inspire respect, as though they were the fully matured products of an undisturbed fate.

Marriage as a Psychological Relationship (1925)

Submission to the fundamental contrariety of human nature amounts to an acceptance of the fact that the psyche is at cross purposes with itself. Alchemy teaches that the tension is four-fold, forming a cross which stands for the four warring elements. The quaternity is the minimal aspect under which such a state of total opposition can be regarded. The 'cross' as a form of suffering expresses psychic reality, and carrying the cross is therefore an apt symbol for the wholeness and passion which the alchemist saw in his work.

Collected Works XVI, paragraph 523

Thank God I'm Jung and not a Jungian.


That Boehme should obtain a glimpse into the centrum naturae by means of a sunbeam reflected in a tin platter is also understandable.

Psychology and Religion: West and East

The Bardo Thodol [Tibetan Book of the Dead] offers one an intelligible philosophy addressed to human beings rather than to gods or primitive savages. Its philosophy contains the quintessence of Buddhist psychological criticism; and, as such, one can truly say that it is of an unexampled superiority.

Psychological Commentaries on 'The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation' (1954)

The alchemist saw the essence of his art in separation and analysis on the one hand, and synthesis and consolidation on the other.

Foreword to Collected Works XIV

The art of letting things happen, action through non-action, letting go of oneself, as taught by Meister Eckhart, became for me the key opening the door to the way. We must be able to let things happen in the psyche.

Foreword to Wilhelm's 'The Secret of the Golden Flower'

The Christian missionary may preach the gospel to the poor naked heathen, but the spiritual heathen who populate Europe have as yet heard nothing of Christianity.

Psychology and Alchemy (1944)

The conscious mind does not embrace the totality of a man, for this totality consists only partly of his conscious contents... In this totality the conscious mind is contained like a smaller circle within a larger one.

Collected Works XI, paragraph 390

The decisive question for a man is: is he related to something infinite or not?

Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 300 (1961)

The ego stands to the Self as the moved to the mover, or as object to subject, because the determining factors which radiate out from the Self surround the ego on all sides and are therefore supraordinate to it. The Self, like the unconscious, is an a priori existent out of which the ego evolves.

Collected Works XI, paragraph 391

The experiences of the alchemists were, in a sense, my experiences, and their world my world. This was, of course, a momentous discovery: I had stumbled upon the historical counterpart of my psychology of the unconscious.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 196 (1961)

The goal is important only as an idea; the essential thing is the opus which leads to the goal: that is the goal of a lifetime.

Collected Works XVI, paragraph 400

The greatest and most impossible problems of life are all in a certain sense insoluble. They can never be solved but only outgrown.


The healthy man does not torture others - generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers.

Return to the Simple Life (1941)

The heaping together of paintings by Old Masters in museums is a catastrophe; likewise, a collection of a hundred Great Brains makes one big fathead.

Civilization in Transition (1934)

The images of the unconscious place a great responsibility upon a man. Failure to understand them, or a shirking of ethical responsibility, deprives him of his wholeness and imposes a painful fragmentariness on his life.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections, chapter 6 (1961)

The least of things with meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without.


The life of man is a dubious experiment. It is a tremendous phenomenon only in numerical terms. Individually, it is so fleeting, so insufficient, that it is literally a miracle that anything can exist and develop at all.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Prologue (1961)

The man who promises everything is sure to fulfil nothing, and everyone who promises too much is in danger of using evil means in order to carry out his promises, and is already on the road to perdition.

After the Catastrophe (1945)

The psyche creates reality every day, the only expression I can use for this activity is fantasy.

Collected Works VI, paragraph 78

The psyche is a self-regulating system that maintains its equilibrium just as the body does. Every process that goes too far immediately and inevitably calls forth compensations, and without these there would be neither a normal metabolism nor a normal psyche.

Collected Works XVI, paragraph 330

The psychiatrist knows only too well how each of us becomes the helpless but not pitiable victim of his own sentiments. Sentimentality is the superstructure erected upon brutality.

Ulysses: A Monologue (1932)

The psychic processes of neurotics differ hardly at all from those of so-called normal persons - for what man today is quite sure that he is not neurotic?

Collected Works VIII, paragraph 667

The real therapy only begins when the patient sees that it is no longer father and mother who are standing in his way, but himself…

Collected Works VII, paragraph 88

The view that dreams are merely the imaginary fulfilments of repressed wishes [cf. Freud] is hopelessly out of date. There are, it is true, dreams which manifestly represent wishes or fears, but what about all the other things? Dreams may contain ineluctable truths, philosophical pronouncements, illusions, wild fantasies, memories, plans, anticipations, irrational experiences, even telepathic visions, and heaven knows what besides.

Collected Works XVI, paragraph 317

The whole dream-work is essentially subjective, and a dream is a theatre in which the dreamer is himself the scene, the player, the prompter, the producer, the author, the public and the critic.

Collected Works VIII, paragraph 509

The wine of youth does not always clear with advancing years; sometimes it grows turbid.

The Stages of Life (1930)

The wise man who is not heeded is counted a fool, and the fool who proclaims the general folly first and loudest passes for a prophet and Führer, and sometimes it is luckily the other way round as well, or else mankind would long since have perished of stupidity.

Mysterium Coniunctionis (1955–56)

The word 'belief' is a difficult thing for me. I don’t believe. I must have a reason for a certain hypothesis. Either I know a thing, and then I know it - I don’t need to believe it.

Interview (1959)

There are things that are not yet true today, perhaps we dare not find them true, but tomorrow they may be.

Collected Works VII, paragraph 201

There is no birth of consciousness without pain.

Collected Works XVII, paragraph 331

These four functional types correspond to the obvious means by which consciousness obtains its orientation to experience. Sensation (i.e. sense perception) tells us that something exists; thinking tells you what it is; feeling tells you whether it is agreeable or not; and intuition tells you whence it comes and where it is going.

On his four psychological functions, in Man and His Symbols

They do not deceive, they do not lie, they do not distort or disguise… They are invariably seeking to express something that the ego does not know and does not understand.

On dreams, in Collected Works XVII, paragraph 189

Thus, from the psychological (not the clinical) point of view, we can divide the psychoneuroses into two main groups: the one comprising collective people with underdeveloped individuality, the other individualists with atrophied collective adaptation.

Collected Works XVI, paragraph 5

To be normal is the ideal aim of the unsuccessful.


To the extent that a man is untrue to the law of his own being and does not rise to personality, he has failed to realize his life's meaning.

Collected Works XVII, paragraph 314

Today as then I am a solitary, because I know things and must hint at things which other people do not know, and usually do not even want to know.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; School Years (1961)

Trees in particular were mysterious and seemed to me direct embodiments of the incomprehensible meaning of life. For that reason the woods were the place where I felt closest to its deepest meaning and to its awe-inspiring workings.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; School Years (1961)

Ultimately, every individual life is at the same time the eternal life of the species.

Collected Works XI, paragraph 146

Under the impress of Freud's personality I had, as far as possible, cast aside my own judgments and repressed my criticisms. That was the prerequisite for collaborating with him. I had told myself, 'Freud is far wiser and more experienced than you. For the present you must simply listen to what he says and learn from him.' And then, to my own surprise, I found myself dreaming of him as a peevish official of the Imperial Austrian monarchy, as a defunct and still walking ghost of a customs inspector!

Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 159 (1961)

We are a psychic process which we do not control, or only partly direct. Consequently, we cannot have any final judgment about ourselves or our lives.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Prologue (1961)

We can take the theory of compensation as a basic law of psychic behavior. Too little on one side results in too much on the other. Similarly, the relation between conscious and unconscious is compensatory.

Collected Works XVI, paragraph 330

What Freud calls 'the dream façade' is the dream's obscurity, and this is really only a projection of our own lack of understanding. We say that the dream has a false front only because we fail to see into it.

Collected Works XVI, paragraph 319

What we are to our inward vision, and what man appears to be sub specie aeternitatis, can only be expressed by way of myth. Myth is more individual and expresses life more precisely than does science. Science works with concepts of averages which are far too general to do justice to the subjective variety of an individual life.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Prologue (1961)

When we are old, we are drawn back, both from within and from without, to memories of youth.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections; Introduction (1961)

Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.


Who has fully realized that history is not contained in thick books but lives in our very blood?

Woman in Europe (1927)

Whoever sunders himself from the mother longs to get back to the mother. This longing can easily turn into a consuming passion which threatens all that has been won.

Collected Works V, paragraph 352

Yoga in Mayfair or Fifth Avenue, or in any other place which is on the telephone, is a spiritual fake.

Psychological Commentaries on 'The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation' (1954)

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.


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