by Claire Dunne
I first came to Jung as an ordinary reading member of the public. I was then in my late twenties, not long arrived in Australia from my native Ireland; a radio and television ‘personality’, lead actress in Michael Powell’s film They’re a Weird Mob and with early experience in writing and production. As an avid reader, my literary tastes had taken in a biography of Sigmund Freud, but not kindled an interest in psychology.
Meeting Jung in the pages of his autobiographical Memories Dreams Reflections was like encountering an old friend, a feeling I have never lost. I was drawn to his statement that the psyche is ‘by nature religious’, and empathized with his description of the opposing elements in himself: personality No 1, which fits in with our family, social, national, religious and historic environment; and personality No 2, our innate, natural state of being. His book Man and His Symbols introduced me to the developmental key of his psychology – the individuation process.
I was then entering a rather dark period of life, when everything seemed to have stopped, and I decided to trust that, underneath that state, something was happening.
A trip home to Ireland reconnected me with my cultural roots and gave me the opportunity of meeting Christy Brown, an author and poet with severe cerebral palsy that left him with the use of only the toes of one foot. This encounter resulted in my first radio documentary.
I wondered if I could do twin programmes on Freud and Jung. The script on Freud brought a letter from his daughter, Anna, ‘I cannot remember one to have been as good as yours’.
But there was many a road to travel before getting back to Jung, including pioneering two multilingual radio stations (SBS) as Foundation Director, and writing a book on my experiences in Aboriginal Australia.
When I set out to make the long delayed documentary on Jung, I met him in a dream, we liked each other, and he gave me permission to proceed. Quite simply, the script kept growing until it ended up as a book, the material of his life and work gripping my interest over two and a half years.
Once, when I quailed at the seemingly endless road ahead, a dream of Jung rescued my flailing will, demonstrated that I was doing what I should be doing, like it or not, and kept me going. I didn’t have a publisher or financial backing.
I sometimes met people who would say ‘Oh, Jung, he is too difficult’, ‘obscure’ and I would think ‘You’re the one I’m writing this for’.
Clarifying his work, making him accessible, demonstrating his earth-rooted and spiritually centred self seemed to be the task. The tools were his letters, which expressed his personality vividly, while often giving the distilled nub of his work; the individuation process which he first experienced himself; the depth content of his later writings; his universal viewpoint; plus accounts of him by his contemporaries.
If you had told me then that I was writing a biographical book on Jung that would be published in two hardcover and paperback editions, translated into seven languages, recommended by Jungian therapists as an introductory book, housed in university libraries and acknowledged by his son Franz in a letter as ‘a well-researched and far-reaching work’, I could not have envisaged it.
But something in us knows more than our day-to-day self and impels us past our presumed boundaries, to fulfil the task that life is asking of us. Somehow I arrived at a place I didn’t know I was going to, and wondered how I got there, a creative pattern that is not unknown to me.
Along the Jungian way, I encountered an inner pulse, a core of being, to which I know I am responsible above all else, one that I recognize fired Jung in his larger role, and is in all of us. Finding our way to what is already there is the job of life.
Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul by Claire Dunne
£16.99, Available from Watkins Publishing