Cover image for What is wrong with Jung
What is wrong with Jung
McGowan, Don.
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Publication Information:
Buffalo, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 1994.
Physical Description:
219 pages ; 24 cm
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BF109.J8 M35 1994 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In this detailed and systematic critique of the theories of psychologist Carl G. Jung (1875-1961), Don McGowan exposes the many flaws in Jungian analysis and methodology. Beginning with Jung's interpretation of religion and his attempts to draw parallels between mythology and his patients' dreams, McGowan finds a consistent lack of rigor, a highly selective use of evidence, and a tendency toward broad generalization, which ignores important cultural distinctions.

Jung's popular theory of the collective unconscious is especially criticized as an example of over-interpretation and a failure to examine the diversity of cultural evidence. His proposed archetypes, derived from a narrow and rather biased study of Indo-European cultures, may reflect nothing more than patterns of cultural conditioning, argues McGowan, and not some universal substructure of the human mind, as Jung suggests.

In Jung's ideas about the "blond beast" and other "innate" characteristics of various races, McGowan detects disturbing echoes of Alfred Rosenberg, the German Nazi Party's chief ideologist; and his attitude toward women, by today's standards, is decidedly sexist - all of which makes his continuing popularity in the politically correct 1990's difficult to understand.

Despite these fundamental problems in Jungian analysis, McGowan points out that some of Jung's ideas have enduring scientific value. Jung's contrasting categories of extraversion and introversion, and his thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting personality types are based on empirical observations.

What Is Wrong With Jung? is the only critique of Jung's work that does not attempt to promote another school of psychological analysis in place of the Jungian approach. McGowan's objective, thorough, and very readable presentation will be of interest to critics and advocates of Jung alike.

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Reviews 1

Choice Review

McGowan has written a work intended to serve as a corrective to those people who have made Jung something of a cult figure. McGowan purports to have demonstrated that Jung's major theoretical constructs are not supported by evidence; that Jung engaged in slipshod, inadequate, and incorrect scholarship; and that Jung's logic is inconsistent and often contradictory. The author also demonstrates that he does not understand (or if he does, does not communicate it) Jung's notion of psychological as opposed to physical fact; does not understand the Jungian concept of self--as the center of balance between opposites--or that Jung did not present his system as a finished, complete work. McGowan expresses the opinion that not only do Jungian approaches contribute little to psychology (or to any other discipline) but also suggestes that all psychoanalytic orientations are of little worth. This reviewer suggests that this is where McGowan began and, of course, where he ended. There are many excellent critiques of Jung; this is not one of them. M. W. York; University of New Haven