Carl Gustav Jung Ponders the Meaning of Death (1959)

On June 6, 1961, the great psychologist Carl Gustav Jung died at his villa at Küsnacht, on the shore of Lake Zurich, Switzerland. He was 86 years old.

Jung viewed death as a fulfillment, rather than a negation, of life. “As a doctor,” he wrote in his 1930 essay, The Stages of Life, “I am convinced that it is hygienic–if I may use the word–to discover in death a goal toward which one can strive, and that shrinking away from it is something unhealthy and abnormal which robs the second half of life of its purpose.”

To this end, wrote Jung many years later in Memories, Dreams, Reflections, a person should follow his instinct and embrace myth: “for reason shows him nothing but the dark pit into which he is descending. Myth, however, can conjure up other images for him, helpful and enriching pictures of life in the land of the dead.”

Jung certainly embraced the myth of an afterlife, as evidenced in this excerpt from an October, 1959 interview with John Freeman for the BBC program Face to Face. The 40-minute interview–in which Jung talks about formative events of his childhood, his friendship and falling-out with Sigmund Freud, and his views on religion and death–can be viewed in its entirety here.

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