Carl Jung’s Counseling Beliefs

The question was posed concerning how the counseling philosophy and practice of the famed psychoanalyst Carl Jung (1875-1961) compares with biblical counseling. Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychologist. As a boy, he developed a lifelong interest in superstition, mythology, and the occult. Jung was a disciple and good friend of Sigmund Freud. Early in his career Jung used Freud’s theories, but their friendship later ended as Jung challenged some of Freud’s theories, especially Freud’s over-emphasis upon the role of the sexual drive in man’s behavioral choices.

Like Freud, Carl Jung believed the unconscious part of the mind contains personal drives and experiences of which an individual is unaware. But Jung also thought the members of every race share a deeper level of unconsciousness, which he called the collective unconscious. He believed this collective unconscious contained the wisdom that guides all of humanity. He explained human behavior as a combination of four psychic functions—thinking, feeling, intuition, and sensation—and proposed individuation, a lifelong process of self-becoming. He was heavily involved in the occult and both men openly attacked Christianity.

Jung’s counseling methodology was that of psychoanalysis. He believed the purpose of therapy is to bring people in contact with the “collective unconscious.” “According to Viktor Von Weizsaecker, ‘C. G. Jung was the first to understand that psychoanalysis belonged in the sphere of religion.’” Unlike his mentor, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung believed there is a place for religion in a person’s life. However, he viewed all religions as basically the same: myths that, though untrue, have an effect on the human personality.

In contrast to Jung’s doctrine the Bible teaches that man is consciously aware of his choices and personally responsible for them (Col 3:21). Though influenced by one’s parents and society (Prov 22:6), each individual is accountable to God for his own behavior (Deut 24:16) and, therefore, must be also held accountable in this life by man. Man is born with a sin nature inherited from Adam (Rom 5:12). Man’s wisdom is foolishness to God (1 Cor 3:19). God is the only source of true wisdom (James 1:5). The answer to man’s problem lies outside of himself—in Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God personified (1 Cor 1:30).

In contrast to Jung’s methodology, the Scriptures teach that the only way to be delivered from the power and penalty of sin is through the redemption found only in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:23,24; 5:17). There is no solution inside of man. God’s Word is the all-sufficient source of wisdom for living (Ps 1). While Jung believed all religions are myths, the Bible teaches that all religions which are contrary to its teachings are myths and that it is foolishness to put one’s faith in them (1 Tim 1:4; 2 Tim 4:4). Psychoanalysis must be replaced by true biblical counseling that focuses on the heart of man being transformed by God’s truth. We should counsel with dependency upon God’s wisdom, as Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth, Your word is truth” (Jn 17:17).

For a theological introduction to biblical counseling, read Counseling One Another: A Theology of Inter-Personal Discipleship.

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