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The Jung Cult:
Origins of a Charismatic Movement
Richard Noll

Winner of the 1994 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Psychology, Association of American Publishers

Hardcover | 1995 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691037240


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.


"These are engaging books that deserve the serious attention of [readers]. . . . The intense and serious-minded engagement of the authors in this series with the founding texts of modernity and liberalism might inspire a much-needed and long-awaited reawakening in the American academy."--Adam Wolfson, The Public Interest

". . . [a] fine work of scholarship."--Library Journal

"Noll succeeds brilliantly in demonstrating not only that Jung was steeped in a wide variety of Volkische sources, but that the influence of these sources upon Jung's thinking-and upon his praxis-can be traced in detail during the critical years 1912-1916 during which Jung first began to depart from Freud and the created his own distinctive psychological system. The book constitutes a major contribution to the historical understanding of Jung's intellectual development, one that will necessarily inform all subsequent discussions. The book both clarifies existing issues and opens up new avenues for further textual and historical investigations."--John Kerr, Editor of Analytic Press

"[A] provocative and original study. . . . Noll is excellent at tracing the influence of what he calls "volkish utopianism" on Jung's thought. . . . Noll's touch as a sociologist is just as sure as when he is writing as an historian of ideas. His analysis of the present-day Jung cult is acute and in some respects devastating. . . . Noll is at his best when discussing the economic basis of the present-day Jung cult. . . . the cult is big business."--Frank McLynn, The Guardian

"The Jung Cult recommends itself to anyone interested in Jung, psychology, or the making of a New Age culture. . . . By situating him within the intellectual environment of his day, Noll allows a single Jung to emerge--complex, comprehensible and much more a product of his time than he or his followers ever cared for the world to know."--Harvey Blume, Boston Globe

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File created: 1/4/2017

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