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“Tired, Old Myths:” The New Republic Slanders Jung

Recently, in The New Republic, Jeet Heer’s sanctimonious critique of Jordan Peterson led him to one of Peterson’s sources, Carl Jung. Heer is doubtless unaware that, in his dismissive misrepresentation of Jung and his work, he had joined a shameful tradition started by Freud. “So we are rid of them at last,” wrote Freud to his colleague in July 1914, “the brutal holy Jung and his pious parrots.”1 The ignoble tradition of Jung-bashing has had a steady following by lazy minds ever since, most recently evidenced in Jeet Heer’s article, Jordan Peterson’s Tired Old Myths.

What was the reason for Freud’s hostility? Jung, previously Freud’s designated “crown prince,” had strayed from Freudian doctrine. Jung’s interest in mythology and religion led him to posit as primary a universal drive for meaning and personal development he called individuation. Freud exhorted him not to abandon Freud’s “scientific” theory that the sexual drive is the basis for human motivation. When Freud asked Jung to make a “dogma and an unshakable bulwark” of the sexual theory, Jung became alarmed, as he later noted in his autobiography—

First of all, it was the words “bulwark” and “dogma” that alarmed me; for a dogma, that is to say an undisputable confession of faith, is set up only when the aim is to suppress doubts once and for all. But that no longer has anything to do with scientific judgment, only with a personal power drive.2

Group photo 1909 in front of Clark University. Front row, Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung. Back row, Abraham Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi.

Freud’s effort to outflank Jung started with a secret committee established by Freud’s inner circle in 1913. The aim of the committee was to protect Freud from further defections and ensure his position as the unrivaled leader of the psychoanalytic movement — reminding us that no platforming and authoritarian groupthink have been with us for quite some time.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, denunciation must be a close second. Although many since Freud have been almost as zealous in their efforts to discredit Jung, his writings, like an ever-renewing spring, continue to resist such attempts. Jung’s work, which concerns itself above all with the human capacity for transformation long chronicled in myth and religion, has rightly influenced many. It has inspired thinkers and authors like Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, Jean Shinoda Bolen, James Hollis—and now Jordan Peterson.

Jung’s understanding of myth is foundational to his work, and Heer’s assumption that it can be casually dismissed as “outmoded” reveals a superficiality of understanding. Heer, astonishingly, misses the nature of the symbolic, central to the most basic understanding of Jung. He therefore grossly misapprehends Jung and embarrasses himself with his dismissal of the value of myth.

Myths from a Jungian viewpoint are stories of archetypal encounters in which the collective psyche tells us how it undergoes development. Myths are involuntary collective revelations based on unconscious psychic experience; they teach us that archetypal energy is supra-ordinate to human power, and are to culture what dreams are to the individual. Myths provide symbols – including those used by politicians and regimes – that dynamically activate the discovery of new possibilities. With Campbell, Peterson has elaborated on Jung’s understanding of myth to see in them the distilled, unconscious wisdom of ancient cultures. These authors appreciate his interpretations of myths both for their rigor and inspiration.

Heer reaches a new low with the accusation that Jung harbored Fascist sympathies, and does so without citing a single source. Jung excoriated fascism, Nazism and other dictatorial modes of governance and thought. Perhaps in keeping with today’s liberation from facts, this article seemed lacking in even cursory research. Heer’s statements about Jung’s political convictions are blatantly untrue and unsubstantiated. The New Republic should be ashamed of such a departure from journalistic integrity.

Jung’s inquiry into the psychology of dictatorship—which has relevance to the Trump regime – attempts to identify the destructive outcomes when a collective urge to flee from cultural chaos emerges. Idealized fantasies then possess groups as they yield individual rights to a charismatic leader. His observations on the psychology of authoritarianism are no more an imprimatur of Mussolini or Hitler than Freud’s sexual theory is an encouragement for sons to mate with their mothers.  

Undaunted, Heer goes on to misunderstand Jordan Peterson’s description of the archetypal masculine and feminine and accuses Peterson equating this with men and women when it is clear that Peterson is using these terms as Jung did: symbolically. Masculine and feminine, like yin and yang, are categories of psychological attitudes; they are not descriptors of men and women or gender roles. By describing men and women as having potential access to qualities imaged as the opposite sex, Jung was encouraging the integration of unconscious opposites in the service of individuation, or wholeness. Fairy tales are deeply satisfying because they portray the symbolic union with our own inner prince – an image of psychological growth and integration.

Freud, who called himself a “conquistador,” denigrated Jung because of Freud’s personal power drive—and one can’t help but speculate that those dismissing Jung and modern-day descendants like Jordan Peterson and are doing so for similar reasons. Perhaps it’s just too hard to resist taking pot shots at someone who has new ideas, especially compelling and successful ones. Envy, the stealth weapon of the outclassed, may have played a part in Freud’s ego-driven offensive—and it may be present in the varied tones of hostility displayed toward both Jung and Peterson.

Many years ahead of his time, Jung recognized that we were on the cusp of a transitional moment that would culminate in a fundamental reorganization of our worldview. To succeed in our egocentric age, with its values of conquest, extraction of resources, and individualism, Jung foresaw the emergence of a new orientation based on increased integration of ego with the unconscious. The unconscious, long equated with the archetypal, symbolic feminine, embraces darkness, receptivity, feeling, and a relational stance to others and the earth itself. It is a shame that Jeet Heer has so misread – or not read – Jung. He has missed entirely Jung’s prescience about psyche’s collective trajectory—hardly an “old story,” but the myth for our time. 


Joseph Lee, Lisa Marchiano, and Deborah Stewart are Jungian analysts and the creators of the podcast This Jungian Life. Find them on Twitter at @ThisJungianLife and on Facebook.


1 Kerr, J. (1993). A most dangerous method: The story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein. New York: Vintage Books, p. 471.
2Jung, C. G., & Jaffe, A. (1989). Memories, dreams, reflections. New York: Vintage Books, p. 150.


  1. Pingback: 01/06/2018, 23:04 – Colin Walker

  2. me says

    don’t you lump Jung’s critics with Freud

    their research methods were HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE

    that goes for both of them

    • Declan says

      Modern psychoanalysis doesn’t itself claim to be a science, but there is scientific evidence for the efficacy of psychoanalysis.

      • dirk says

        There are many cases known where patients (sometimes with serious mental illnesses) came out completely healthy thanks to the personal attention of the psychoanalyst, e.g. by falling in love with him, always a good and highly efficacious method.

        • Declan says

          There have unfortunately been such cases, yes. It’s a gross form of abuse and grounds for dismissal from any analytic or counselling organisation. It’s not considered a ‘good method’.

      • markbul says

        Even analysts themselves have pretty well given up of most of Freud’s claims. And a treatment that goes on forever can hardly be put forth as a success. If by efficacy you mean that some people buy in and keep going back and paying, then yeah. That anyone is ever ‘cured’ of anything, as Freud and his followers claimed for decades? Ridiculous.

        • Declan says

          Yes, while many of Freud’s theories have been discarded there are other which have been accepted, both in psychiatry and neuroscience. The psychical characterological types of the DSM are still grounded in Freud’s discoveries, for example (even if some of the names have changed).

          Elsewhere psychoanalytic, or psychodynamic, theory has developed somewhat over the last 120 years or so.

          Long term therapy would be rare, usually only in the case of psychotically structured clients and not in the hope of a cure.

          If you google ‘efficacy of psychoanalysis’ or ‘psychodynamic therapy’ there are countless scientific studies. You can find some references here… http://psychoanalysis.org.uk/resources/evidence-base-of-psychoanalytic-psychotherapy

          I’m neither that well up on Freudian theory nor his claims of a ‘cure’. I do know he said the following. “…much has been gained if we succeed in turning your hysterical misery into common unhappiness. With a mental life that has been restored to health, you will be better armed against that unhappiness.”

  3. Nick says

    Excellent defense of two free thinkers. I am an atheist. By this I mean that, to me, the likely answer to weather or not we were created by an omniscient being that lives in some actually destination is no. But thinkers like Jung and Peterson have placed doubts in my mind about weather or not some belief in “god” is necessary to the human condition. While this creates a conflict in my mind it is a good one to have because it brings me closer to truth. Shame on those who try to use base tactics to discredit genuine thinkers because they don’t reach your conclusions.

  4. I remember Jung being the “cool” counterpoint to Freud about twenty years ago, right after high school. I identified with vaguely new agey liberal types who liked school.

    Now he’s identified with Peterson and with fascism.

    This dynamic of something belonging to the left, then to the right as the left moves on to new territory is getting tired.

    • dirk says

      Dynamics cannot get tired Dain, but tiresome, yes! If Margie may, so do I.

    • Mike Ross says

      Peterson is identified with Fascism? As in constantly warning us against it? He’s certainly no fan.

      • Bucko says

        Ah, but you see, this is merely a part of his dastardly plan. He’s only pretending to despise fascism, so that he can lure in the unsuspecting and naive with exhortations to “clean your room”. Once clean, they shall all be in his thrall, a willing army ready ready to do his fascist bidding!

        – A Leftist, probably.

  5. Societal progress is, and for the foreseeable future must be, evolutionary. Change must be tested and seen to be sustainable over time. Evolution is the natural application of rationalism – weight of our faith in a belief based on the practical evidence rather than intellectual fancy.

    If we can learn anything from the past century it is the destructive nature of the overreach and hubris of the Enlightenment faith in reason, and the suffering this can cause. Reason is a powerful tool when applied to simple tasks like putting a man on the moon, but it has its limitations. We must expect it to fail when applied to a system that’s complexity exceeds our imagination.

    Myths are the DNA of social evolution. Religions, as the conscious representation of our collective unconscious, are their embodiment. We can no more construct a new social order from scratch than we can create a truely new species from scratch, let alone a long term successful one.

    The risks of hubris were already ancient knowledge then the myth of the Tower of Babel was written.

    • Wait, what? Putting a man on the moon was a “simple task”?

      It was the most complex, difficult project the human race had ever attempted to that point. Simple? That had to be a troll, and I’m probably a fool for replying.

      • Tim says

        Putting a man on the moon was simple in that it was merely the manipulation of energy and matter. Basically engineering. It was simple enough that it was completed less than a decade after the goal was articulated.

        Understanding or controlling ourselves, individually or as a species, now that is compliex!

      • Daco says

        IKR? There are trolls, grammarians, and grammarian trolls here. LOL.

  6. John G Lammi says

    The various people that I know who voted for Trump include lesbian feminists, lesbian immigrants, a gay Muslim immigrant from Iran, heterosexual Muslim immigrants from Iran, Armenian immigrants from the Middle East, and none of them are seeking a duce/dictator. It seems that the Clinton group has the duce ethos on steroids going on.

    • I have no doubt that there are few types who delude themselves into believing that the monster will eat them last, but the fact that some very stupid people voted for Trump does not change the fact that the overwhelming majority of his voters resent black people and women and think the ideal society keeps both of those groups under the thumbs of white men.

      Also, every Trump voter I know really is a racist, so my evidence cancels out yours.

      • GrantH says

        “Every Trump voter you know is really a racist” …

        One would think your liberal education would have taught you that pejoratives are a canard – the adult playing as a 5 year old (mine is bigger than your nyaah nyaah nyaah).

        It is satisfying to insult and call people names that assist your Ego to feel better than others, but at the end of the day, an avoidance of facts doesnt make you any more smarter than others, just more obviously puerile than others.

        Perhaps your unconscious desire for the need to grow up led you to this article on pyschoanalysis – for indeed if you wish to find the enemy, it might be thee.

  7. Gregory Bogosian says

    Carl Jung’s relationship to Fascism was more complicated than you give it credit for. He ran the organization that published Mein Kamph and other Nazi propaganda. But he also provided intelligence to the Allies about Hitler’s psychological state during the war. He both aided and hindered the National Socialist cause at various times. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Jung#Anti-Semitism_and_Nazism

    • Martti O. Suomivuori says

      Mein Kampf was published by Franz Eher Nachfolger GmbH. Carl Jung did not run this organisation. It belonged to the Nazi Party since 1920.
      Are you just making stuff up as you go?
      What really bugs me in these Peterson discussions is the sheer mass of BS people excrete with no respect to the truth which in the days of internet is well within any literate person’s reach.

        • dirk says

          And what to think of Freud’s recommendations of the Gestapo in 1938 (“heartily, to everybody”) that he signed and embellished before he could leave Austria after the Anschluss? It was a jewish Witz of course, but nevertheless, some people might run away with it, or use it to prove something.

    • Martti O. Suomivuori says

      From your link: “Jung’s interest in European mythology and folk psychology has led to accusations of Nazi sympathies”. You did not think that anybody would actually follow your link and point out your cheat?

      “Has led to accusations of Nazi sympathies” is totally something else than actually having such sympathies. Somebody accused, that’s all. Also, good to note that Hitler had not committed any of the monstrosities at the time he was still climbing to power. Nobody could foresee what he was.

        • Martti O. Suomivuori says

          “Jung is also accused of complying with the Nazi authorities, in particular with Matthias Göring, the man who became the leader of organised psychotherapy in Germany, not least because he was the cousin of Hermann Göring. In fact, Matthias put Jung’s name to pro-Nazi statements without Jung’s knowledge”. (From Deirdre Bair’s biography).

          At the time Jung was writing about the collective German subconscious vs. the Jewish the Nazi atrocities had not taken place yet. Jung was defending the Jews against the purge from the Academy.

          One thing, do you know what the Jewish collective subconscious was like in 1920s Austria? After all the pogroms and persecution, a heroic stance would be quite unexpected. I consider Jung’s talking about it about as ‘antisemitic’ as criticizing the Israeli right-wing hawks or their settlement policy.

  8. Jack B. Nimble says

    Jeet Heer’s article in “New Republic” does contain hyperlinks [although no citations as such], including a link to Robert Ellwood’s 1999 book “The Politics of Myth.” That book includes the following on page 52:

    “……To some extent these fulminations [against dependency on government] simply represent views characteristic of the political right, with which Jung certainly identified himself, though he claimed in a nonpartisan sense….. He was vociferously anticommunist, highly sceptical of socialism, a believer in governance by a powerful elite (insofar as that was compatible with Swiss democracy, though beyond the borders of Switzerland his rightism could at times embrace the likes of Franco in Spain and Mussolini in Italy), and held to such typical rightist positions as advocacy of firm treatment of criminals, including capital punishment……..”

    Is Ellwood being fair to Jung here? You’ll have to read his whole book to decide; I didn’t.

    BTW, supporters of Peterson need to read the following for a useful corrective:


    • Ian says

      Some correctives to the Star article on Peterson. It makes a number of errors. For example, it writes:

      “There was no reason to think he would lose his job. He was on a sabbatical, and had not even been in the classroom. The university sent him a letter asking him to stop what he was doing because he was creating an environment which would make teaching difficult, but there was no intimation that he would be fired. I saw that letter.”

      There were two warning letters to Peterson, not one. The second is on the web here.


      Readers can judge for themselves whether they think this letter appears to be laying the groundwork for future disciplinary action. It goes into extensive detail why they believe failure to use compelled pronouns would break the regulations of both the University of Toronto and the Ontario Human Rights Commission, not simply “making teaching difficult”. I am not sure why the issue of Peterson having been on sabbatical at the time is legally relevant.

      The author of the article also makes a somewhat odd recommendation, “And if this was truly a matter of free speech he could have challenged the Human Rights Act, off-campus and much earlier, by openly using language offensive to any of the already-protected groups on that list.” Rather than talking about in principle about why you oppose a law, you intentionally insult someone instead?

      The article states: “He is a biological and Darwinian determinist. Gender, gender roles, dominance hierarchies, parenthood, all firmly entrenched in our biological heritage and not to be toyed with.” I think a superficial exposure to Peterson’s ideas would convince most people of the falsity of this statement, the naturalistic fallacy.

      The overall tone of the article is: “I helped get you hired, I defended you, we were were friends, but then you went off in a different ideological direction. You betrayed me.” It is not uncommon for senior professors who believe they have furthered a junior colleagues career to believe they are owed a debt of some kind, but rarely has it been expressed so melodramatically.

      • Tim says

        Quite right. I’ve watched many of Peterson’s lectures. What he is opposing is the notion that hierarchies are ONLY social constructs, and that we can tinker with them as we choose with no reason to be concerned about possible unintended consequences.

        Of course “gender, gender roles, dominance hierarchies and parenthood” are social constructs,as can be seen by the huge differences in human societies. But they aren’t JUST social constructs.

        What he is arguing against is the idea that we are born a blank slate on which those in power can and should write as they see fit.

      • I have a superficial understanding of Peterson, including direct quotes where he says that a healthy woman wants a man who is her superior and dominates her in every respect. I think that is pretty clearly fascist and evil.

        • J. Benet Hill says

          He does not generalize so broadly as you have just stated. What Peterson intends with this statement is that, out of a sampling of women, a majority (but nowhere near all) of the subjects would indicate these are the traits they seek in their relationships with men. It is negligent and dishonest for you to so eagerly misread what it is Peterson is trying to say in this regard.

    • The debate over Jung’s Nazi or fascist sympathies and his apparent anti-semitism has gone on for a very long time and just because it has now been drawn on to highlight the problematic authoritarian suggestions in the work of Jordan Peterson it is not going to go away.

      Jung was a deeply conservative Christian and as such his sense of what constituted ‘individuation’ is not all that likely to be consonant with the Anglospherian libertarian individualism often celebrated on this website.

      There is no question that Jung cooperated with Nazis and took advantage of his Aryan-ness to promote his version of psychoanalysis as against that of Freud’s Judische Wissenschaft. There is also no question that he railed against Nazism and authoritarianism in some of his writings.

      This is not a case of either/or but one of both/and: ideologues are never comfortable with these kinds of complexity.

      • Martti O. Suomivuori says

        It also is fairly useless to project today’s SJW vocabulary and values a hundred years back to the time between two world wars, Bolshevik revolution and a couple of civil wars going on. Oh, I forgot about the depression and the collapse of the Caliphate.
        Honestly, if you read Jung’s texts do you get a feeling of antisemitism?
        I most certainly do not. It might be because of the Jews Jung dealt with in Austria.
        It is totally ridiculous how the wealthy, educated Jews are grouped with the Jews from the forests of Russia. Or, evidently, the Sionists of today who did not even exist at those times as Israel had not been established as a UN member country yet.
        There was no UN, for God’s sake, Muslim Brotherhood was in its diapers still.

        • Are you seriously suggesting “antisemitism” is “SJW vocabulary” and to criticize it “SJW values”? I highly recommend what we call “history” in English as an antidote to your serious case of presentism.

          Personally, as someone who has always had a soft spot for ol’ SJW Nietzsche, I suspect anti-antisemitism has a long and honorable past.

      • KDM says

        Ok, but Zionist cooperated with the Nazis too. No one at that point in time was aware of the monstrous atrocities coming in the near future. I don’t think any halfway decent human could’ve thought up that kind of evil psychosis. It’s still on the surface of all of our collective psyches today, so much so that it overshadows other equally monstrous behaviors. It’s been said that the (non orthodox) Jews have made the Holocaust a type of religion, where it’s a matter of faith, not to be questioned, Hitler is the new satan, the 6 million were the human sacrifice (Jesus) and Israel is the redeeming promise land. BTW, I’ve read this from books written by Jews so please don’t fling the AS word at me. It’s the magical talisman invoked to end all conversation and investigation. It’s used as a curse with a pointed finger or tweet.

        BTW, if everyone that has ever been accused of Antisemitsm is to be dismissed then we’ll be having to write off probably 2/3rds of the great thinkers, philosophers, businessman and other towering figures of Western Civilization. Tons of really smart people have had unflattering things to say about Jews but no none of these people lit up ovens and gas chambers for crying out loud!!

    • R.E. Galvin says

      A useful corrective for what? There are literally hundreds of videos by and of Peterson on line and anyone can judge for themselves his demeanor and approach. Find me any public “expert” who answers “I don’t know” to questions as much as he does. Peterson talks with people across the entire political and sociological spectrum and treats everyone with respect (despite the frequent disrespectful performances of leftist interviewers). Marxism is a respected ideology? Certainly among the cloistered academicians who went to college and never left who are partially the focus of his concern. That a doctor of psychology who raised a damaged human would have a knee jerk reaction to one issue raised by Peterson is not surprising, he appears to be reflexively defending his child, his parenting and the results of his own scholarship and abilities (or lack of) in practice.

  9. Trump is a dictator? Lmao. He’s attacked by every old guard including rinos, neoliberals, Hollywood and even jimmy carter said he’s never seen a president so attacked by the media. A dictator who wants people to keep their guns lol! Thats as rare as a unicorn. You know as much about trump as heer knows about jung.

  10. Margie says

    He’s not a dictator because our institutions don’t allow it, but he wants to be one!

    • prosecho says

      Reminds me of something Abigail Adams said in a letter to her husband John
      ” All men would be tyrants if you let them .”

    • That’s amazing how you can read minds like that. You should really go to Las Vegas and start playing poker, someone with your talents could make a lot of money.

      Donald Trump is such a terrifying fascist dictator that literally no one fears speaking out against him on literally any platform.

    • Martti O. Suomivuori says

      I bet Trump was as surprised as you and me when he actually got elected.
      He is incompetent which is a bad thing but also a good thing.
      He does not know how to get his way.

  11. Stephen Mundane says

    On being told by an associate that a researcher had found experimental evidence for his concept of ‘Repression’, Freud was heard to remark: “I do not require experimental data for the validity of my concepts, they exist anyway.”

    Jeet Heer it seems has a lot in common with Sigmund but likely lacks Freud’s intellectual vigour and his capacity for work. A lazy mind indeed.

    I enjoyed the article, thanks.

    • dirk says

      Neither did Kant for all his a priori insights. Francis Bacon’s inductive method was refreshing, but not the whole thing.

      • Kant did not claim a priori knowledge of contingent facts like Freud seems to do in that quote; he claimed a priori knowledge of the possibility of perception. Also, you seem to be saying that Bacon was an improvement on Kant, but Bacon was one or two hundred years before Kant.

        • dirk says

          And therefore, Bacon might have been more specific with his emphasis on mere observations first, without an a priori cadre, a hypothesis, dream or phantasy.

  12. Antoinette beard says

    For the most part Freud was displeased with Jung because during his entire career as a psychologist and psychiatric, Jung studied and practiced astrology, incorporating it into his understanding and treatment of his patients. He admitted that without this knowledge, he would not have been aware of certain points regarding the proper treatment of his patients. Proof that he indeed practiced astrology is found in a letter he wrote to his “colleague and mentor” Sigmund Freud on June 11, 1911. He wrote that his evenings were largely taken up with astrology, and that he “makes horoscopes and calculations” in order to find the core of psychological truth. Freud responded negatively by asking him not to delve any further into the “occult”. This, by and larga, began the demise of their relationship. Medical astrology is by no means new. Hippocrates, the “father of modern medicine” practiced himself. He stated that a physician without the knowledge of astrology can never truly call himself a physician.

    • markbul says

      No. None of it. Freud could have taught Lenin a few things about controlling cadres.

    • Martti O. Suomivuori says

      We see the shortcomings of Freud today.
      We should remember that the neuron was a recent discovery at that time and the ways neuron communicated with each other was still behind the future horizon. If Freud had lived today, he would have got rid of his painful lip cancer, of course, but he’d also have the tremendous resources that modern neurosciences have to offer about the neural correlates of various phenomena of the human consciousness.
      A great creative mind he was but hopelessly born in the wrong period. Hopelessly hooked on his own ego and opiates as well but that could have been different in a surrounding where at least some of the people could have corrected him when he ran out of the ballpark.
      The problem with today’s audience is that they have the means to understand Freud and Jung but once we approach the realm where neurosciences and psychology are now, they do not even master the vocabulary.
      Jordan Peterson does but he twists and misuses the terms to make his message understood.
      Which again is the factor that keeps me from taking him too seriously.
      As a clinical psychologist, he must be quite an ace, though.
      I am sure he can heal.

  13. John A says

    Oh dear. Yes, myth, archetypes, symbolism, dreams etc can be fascinating, hauntingly beautiful, and, of course, meaningful. But it’s too easy to drink the Jungian Kool-Aid.

    For example … “Fairy tales are deeply satisfying because they portray the symbolic union with our own inner prince – an image of psychological growth and integration.” Erm (*tries to suppress retching instinct*) maybe. But that’s a sweeping statement made with the wording of an absolute conviction. Fairy tales are both more and less than your claim (more in the sense that we can obviously get more than the particular symbolism of an inner prince, and less in the sense that any such purported or sensed meaning should not be taken as some deeply true universal; don’t be overly dramatic).

    BTW, this is coming from someone who’s had decades of psychotherapy (in the UK sense – i.e. purely the talking therapy, not pharmacology) and analysis, with highly experienced professionals, but I’ve also a scientific background and a skeptical nature that balks at the ungrounded, fanciful, generalised assertions like yours and Peterson’s.

  14. dirk says

    Jung does not fit well into the anglosheric thinking and feeling. It is a central European thing, like romanticism (also easy to mock it, but very essential and human). Nice that Peterson feels attracted (because it has more to do with feelings than with ratio). I wonder whether Freud, Adler and Jung saw themselves as scientists.

    • Declan says

      I know Freud considered himself a scientist. He did start out as a neuroscientist and famously discovered the anaesthetic use of cocaine.

      He was determined to put psychoanalysis forward as a scientific theory and fell out with Jung, the ‘crown prince’ to Freud’s kingdom, over Jung’s refusal to accept Freud’s sexual theories as an ‘unshakable bulwark’, Jung’s belief in the collective unconscious and archetypes, and Jung’s spiritual leanings. Freud thought these would dilute psychoanalysis as a ‘scientific theory’.

      I’m not sure where Adler fell.

      • dirk says

        Thanks Declan. Of course, what you mentioned about Freud’s work on anaesthetic use of cocain, that was sane, applied science, but did he consider his psychoanalysis also as such? If it is true what Stephen Mundane (above) said ( F. did not require experimental data to validate his concepts) that doesn’t sound very scientific, but more gnostic, spiritual. Jung not only behaved often as a guru,an orientalist, but felt himself also as such, can that combine with science? Peterson of course also presents himself as guru, and speaks more often about moral and spiritual things than just only on clinical psychology (but is there a sharp distinction?). He uses his words ‘very careful’, he says, but that might just be a way of expressing, to impress his interviewers.

        • Declan says

          He did, as far as I know, consider psychoanalysis to be scientific (or that it would prove to be). He believed drive theory had a basis in biology. He was also very sensitive to his standing and the standing of psychoanalysis in the medical community and was anxious to present psychoanalysis as a science. That’s also why he was very intolerant of dissenters. This was complicated by his status as a Jew which contributed to his falling out with Jung who, being Christian, Freud felt would be more acceptable to the scientific community.

          I’m not sure Jung was entirely enamoured of his status as a guru. He once said something to the effect of he’d hate to be a Jungian. (it’s discussed in this interview… https://speakingofjung.com/podcast/2018/4/19/episode-33-pamela-power)

          My understanding is that Peterson uses findings in clinical psychology as evidence that Jung may have been correct in some of his theories. I think, though I’ve not read it (and I understand it’s a very difficult read) that his Maps of Meaning uses this intermarriage of Jung (and others) and science to formulate Peterson’s thesis.

    • dirk says

      “Anglospheric”, I meant of course. To understand Jung’s fascination with myth and religion, one should also be aware of the central and eastern European contexts of movements of the time such as theosophie, the anthroposophie of Rudolf Steiner, and such gurus more (and composers such as Richard Wagner). I wonder whether they saw themselves as scientists or truth explorers. Or that something else played, and just only there.

  15. Thank you for the article but for the writers to complain of no citations then in the same paragraphs cite none yourself instantly killed the argument. Please add at least two clear citations for “excoriated”.

    “Heer reaches a new low with the accusation that Jung harbored Fascist sympathies, and does so without citing a single source. Jung excoriated fascism, Nazism and other dictatorial modes of governance and thought.”

    My opinion: the internet is killing supported argument in the rush to publish shorter articles for ADHD readers.[citation needed]

  16. dirk says

    Anybody that noticed the resemblance of Jung and Peterson? Don’t stick at the moustache, look at the head, the eyes, the severity!

  17. Nicolas says

    Freud and the Freudians have deprived Jung of many of his best ideas and, to boot, have defamed him as an anti-Semite. Actually Jung was far more candid and correct then Freud in identifying psychotherapy as an ethical rather than technical enterprise; and Freud was far more anti-Christian than Jung was anti-Semitic.

    Thomas Szasz, Heresies, 1976, p. 139

    • dirk says

      Anti-dogmatic yes, maybe, but not unethical, because Freud’s view of religion as something like a relict of antiquarian devotion for a common male authority on subjects like truth and morals was, I fear, a little bit closer to adult and civil than Jung’s mythological, spiritual and astrological convictions.

  18. markbul says

    Both Freud and Jung were master story-tellers. And not much more. If you like the stories – as I did when I was a young man – then you get something from them. Other than that, neither was a scientist, and both were loosely, if at all, tethered to reality. Freud was a total fraud who did enormous harm to many people, including most of his patients. All of Freud’s ‘discoveries were made up from whole cloth – Just So Stories, as Kipling famously called them. And Jung’s archetypes are also just so stories. They ‘fit’ in some sense, but they don’t really exist outside of metaphor. And Jung really did believe that archetypes were more than metaphor – he saw them living inside the ‘collective unconscious’ – whatever the hell that’s supposed to be. So when I see Peterson talking about Jung and archetypes, I can only hope he’s using the metaphors to make points, and not actually believing that the dead and risen god actually exists inside our joint brain-matrix, or some such foolishness.

    Regarding guilt by association, it’s the kind of thing scoundrels do. If I can’t come up with a rational take-down of your beliefs, I’ll just tie you to a demon. And everyone hates demons!

    • Darren, Nottingham says

      Jung’s interpretation of the transition from the Old to the New Testament – treating it as a moment in the evolution of human consciousness – is much more than story telling.

  19. Charles White says

    Heer’s Main purpose in criticizing Jung had little to do with Jung, it had to do with minimizing Peterson. With the allusion to Jung being a National Socialist, is the set up that Peterson is, much like Dyson tried to do. Minimizing Jung can be used to minimize Peterson. Heer’s Article will be quoted widely by the left. Sadly this nicely written article that rebuts Heer will not receive as wide an exposure.

    Next up will be criticism by the left of the Russian literature greats that have also informed Peterson’s philosophical construct and that he so loves.

    If you cannot attack the man directly, then attack his sources

  20. “[A]nd everyone hates demons”, or the demon archetype is reviled in the collective unconscious? A problem I had with Jung, as I remember, was his tendency to wrap quite simple concepts in mystical language. But then, time has passed and mysteries seem less mysterious as we gradually come to grips with them, or our shared cultural beliefs and assumptions (CU) either find rational explanations or cocoon them in comfortable perhapses.

    We now have an understanding of neural networks – how their fundamental behaviour is pattern recognition, generalisation, and creation of symbols and archetypes that allow us to think in abstraction and share complex ideas.

  21. T. Grant says

    I am so glad that the article mentioned Clarissa Pinkola-Estes. I read her work decades ago and have applied Jungian principles to the Bible and other myths ever since, much as Peterson does.

    It would be wonderful to have a female who could match his level of training to counter some of his ascertains and interpretations.

    Peterson presents his ideas “as if” they were doctrinal, but they are not. There should be room for different perspectives as to what a story could mean (as this is part of their brilliance of mythology – one can return in different seasons of life to find new gems of wisdom).

  22. andrewcorpe@me.com says

    Tired old myths ? The ideology that gave rise to millions of deaths and hardship and continues to drive the left eg. Jeremy Corbyn, McDonnel, Venezuela pre-dates Jung and the author of this article.

  23. Vins says

    Having tracked JBP’s rise for about a year, my humble opinion is the man is on the correct track with the truths he is speaking, both literal and metaphorical. Of course, as nothing is perfect, one can nitpick and miss the usefully essential. Never forget you only start taking flak when you’re over the target…

    • dirk says

      The reason is, Vins, that he went a year to the continent Europe for study. Without that, you remain a new world Wasp , with little affiliation with the essentials, unscientific, but ever so true. Then, you won’t come much further than the behaviourism of Watson and allies.

  24. KD says

    Jung . . . Wrong surname, case closed! Next?

  25. KD says

    By the way, forget Jung, read Schelling in his late period.

  26. dirk says

    Oh yes, Schelling, another central European giant, completely neglected in the english speaking world, for being idealistic? I am really getting depressed here, in the midst of so many anglo saxons with their specific aversions.

  27. Pingback: Stray Thoughts: Louis Armstrong, Telephone Sanitizers, Angry Jungians – Current Affairs | Culture & Politics

  28. Patrick says

    > Myths from a Jungian viewpoint are…

    Heer is fatuous, but literally everything in this paragraph was absolute gibberish and its ridiculous to see a magazine that bills itself as “a platform for free thought” venerating this pseudo scientific nonsense. Free thought includes analyzing things that society tells you it is politically unpalatable to consider… but free thought includes analyzing them for the purpose of determining whether they are any good. Free thought that never rejects bad ideas is just credulity- freedom, but without the thought.

    Jung’s ideas are not scientifically supported, that conversation has been had, and there is no merit in pretending that Jung was anything other than a pseudo scientist crafter of just-so stories.

    • dirk says

      How to reflect on the inner, deepdown essentials of humankind? With science or technology? Where (as we were taught in science publication courses on college) even use of the word -I- was discouraged? And values and literacy are shunned? There was another antrhopologist (also from the continent again), studying myths of tribes and cultures, Levi-Strauss, with his -The savage mind- ( incorrect translation of his -La Pensee sauvage-, but that’s a sideway),was that also pseudo?

      • Patrick says

        1. I don’t know what you mean by “inner, deepdown essentials of humankind.”

        2. Without knowing that I can’t answer.

        3. It is possible that the answer is “using the definition you’ve provided, we don’t, because those don’t exist.”

        4. But no matter what I can say for certain that the answer is not Jungianism because Jungianism is mystical gibberish.

  29. dirk says

    Wittgenstein would probably agree with you, he also said that one should keep silent about things on which one cannot talk. But then added: but the mystical exists nevertheless,(though difficult to explain in words), it just appears. (-es zeigt sich-). Schluss?

  30. Erik says

    Peterson has become a powerful critic of the SJW/ Neo-Marxist Left, and as such, he is being attacked in an effort to discredit him and his ideas. There has been a spate of these attacks on JBP recently as his influence has grown. The point is to demonize him so that people unfamiliar with his, or Jung’s, thought dismiss him before they listen to him.

    • josh says

      Sure, Peterson gets targeted because he set himself up as a critic of the left, and not all of the flack he gets is fair. Nonetheless, much of what Peterson says is wrong, and the Jungian mysticism is just blather. Peterson just reads the lessons he wants into a non-representative selection of stories. He elides important points in those stories, ignores the cultural context in which they were produced or edited, and draws unsupported interpretations and unlikely symbols out of them which he then declares the ‘true’ meaning. It’s okay to think he is right about some things, and to point out when he is misrepresented, but he shouldn’t get a pass when he starts spouting drivel.

  31. Monty says

    “Drivel” is in the eye and ear of the beholder, Josh. To assert that the metaphysical has no place in a discussion of human behavior is just the rankest kind of nonsense. Human beings have been around for a lot longer than the scientific method has, and our consciousness — what we are, how we feel, how we act — was formed over long aeons. Our minds didn’t develop in a highly-rational, structured, well-understood physical environment. Dr. Peterson says that we acted out our symbols and beliefs long before we could articulate them, and I think the historical record supports that very well.

    We don’t know what “consciousness” really is — as even cognitive neuroscientists will agree if they’re being honest. Mind is not brain. For most of us, most of the time, the world is still flat and the dark is full of monsters. (And that goes for scientists as much as anyone else.)

    If we do not carve out a space for the metaphysical in our own development, where does that leave us? When Dr. Peterson says (and I paraphrase) that science can tell us what *is* but not how to *act*, he’s making a very important and little-appreciated point. Human beings have to act in the world, and most of what we act out, we act in relation to other people. Human beings are gregarious, emotional, irrational, goal-oriented creatures — and for us to exist in relative harmony, understanding the symbolic world we operate in is essential. Religion and myth are not comforting lies (in fact, religious instruction is frequently frightening and terrible, so not very comforting) but vital underpinnings of our minds. This (I think) is the core Jungian concept of the archetype: the fundamental structures and symbols of human consciousness.

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