Jung's Red Book: A Visionary's Journey 

The posthumous unearthing of Carl Jung's Red Book -- a 205-page leather bound manuscript detailing the controversial figure's dialogue with his psyche � is reminiscent of an archeological finding. However, instead of mere fragments of an object yet to be reconstructed, we have a fully formed piece of art that answers pivotal questions and gives us a glimpse into not only the evolution of a visionary's journey, but also the genesis of his theory. 

The Red Book was recently exhumed from its underground vault in Zurich where it had lain hidden for the past 23 years. Begun in 1913 during a turbulent time in his life -- shortly after his split with Freud and just prior to World War I -- this disputed manuscript proves to be the foundation from which Jung's seminal work took form. Consisting of reflections in medieval calligraphy, 53 vivid paintings and drawings, and dialogues with internal guides, this major opus, written over the span of 16 years, illuminates his experiment with his unconscious and exploration of his soul. Jung later remarked that it also laid the foundation for his work on archetypes and the collective unconscious. 

In describing the rationale for his journey, Jung said, "In order to grasp the fantasies which were stirring in me "underground," I knew that I had to let myself plummet down into them." Indeed, throughout the Red Book, Jung descends into realms inhabited by otherworldly creatures and mythic beings in a journey he often feared was psychotic and referred to as "doing a schizophrenia." The terrain in which he traveled was one between conscious and unconscious. Sara Corbett comments in her New York Times article, titled The Holy Grail of the Unconscious, "He found himself in a liminal place, as full of creative abundance as it was of potential ruin, believing it to be the same borderlands traveled by both lunatics and great artists." 

The Red Book is a stunning depiction of how Jung traversed a realm he urged his analysands and the collective to discover. And perhaps it is a reminder to the analytic community of the importance of the analyst's inner journey and how we as therapists must delve deeply so that we may assist others in their journey. 

A conference dedicated to the Red Book will be hosted by the CG Jung Institute of San Francisco on June 4-6.

Jane Reingold, MFT
IMPULSE Staff Writer