Jung at 50

The 50th anniversary of the death of Carl Gustav Jung falls on 6 June. Little seems to have been planned by way of assessment or commemoration, though I’m doing a small bit.

A series of 8 blogs begins Monday at Cif Belief. I’m in conversation with Robert Rowland Smith and Gary Lachman on 2 June at the RSA. And I’ve penned a clutch of other pieces, the first of which is just published in Management Today – businesses having made almost as much use of his ideas as therapists.

In the world of work, that breaks down into a number of elements. You may well have done a Myers-Briggs personality test, and as Professor Rowan Bayne tells me, they hold up remarkably well to empirical scrutiny. Jung has much to say about the meaning of work too, and how individuals can become too closely identified with their persona – the ‘public relations expert employed by the ego to ensure that people will think well of us’, as Anthony Stevens puts it.

And then there’s the use of archetypes to understand how brands have a life of their own. ‘They are more complex, having personalities and shadows too,’ explains Massi Tedeschi.

‘For example, throughout the ages, cleansing rituals have signified more than physical cleanliness,’ continue Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson in their book, The Hero and The Outlaw. ‘They also symbolise the removal of sin or shame, bestowing rectification and worthiness upon the person who has performed the ritual. Ivory soap has drawn from this well. Ivory is not just about getting clean; it is about renewal, purity, and innocence.’

Such associations are, of course, irrational. And they are all the more powerful for that. The Jungian approach to a marketing campaign will attempt to understand these hidden meanings, and capitalise upon them.