This collection of 11 wide-ranging lectures which appeared originally in 1933 was based on lectures previously given when Jung was in the process of absorbing a considerable period of study of Eastern religions, Gnosticism and other religious sources.
It was a time, according to the translator Cary F. Baynes, ‘when the Western world stands on the verge of a spiritual rebirth...after a long period of outward expansion, we are beginning to look inside ourselves once more.’ Before the decade was out, this optimistic viewpoint was to be shattered by war. But the insights in this book remain undiminished in the 21st century.
There are 10 lectures: 'Dream Analysis in its Practical Application'; 'Problems of Modern Psychotherapy'; 'Aims of Psychotherapy', 'A Psychological Theory of Types'; 'The Stages of Life'; 'Freud and Jung – Contrasts; Archaic Man'; 'Psychology and Literature'; 'The Basic Postulates of Analytical Psychology'; 'The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man'; and finally 'Psychotherapists or Clergy'.
Modern Man in Search of a Soul appeared shortly after Freud’s ‘Civilization and its Discontents’ and ‘The Future of an Illusion’ which took a very different, even dismissive, view of religion – and Jung looks openly at their differing positions, offering a more inclusive, overarching view of man’s spiritual search, one capable of acknowledging and learning from the attitudes and belief systems of ‘primitive man’ at one with his environment. In the same way he acknowledges the ‘complicated psychic activities’ involved in literature, drawing on writers as varied as Goethe, Melville and Conan Doyle in his reflections.
In The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Jung, fresh from his studies in Kundalini yoga and other Eastern traditions, is hopeful about the new attempts to bring together Western and Eastern thought leading to a more substantial ‘psychic reality.’ So many of his declarations in this Collection have proved to be stepping stones to where we are now, and he concludes boldly with his final essay where he considers the roles of the psychotherapist and the priest when faced with ‘spiritual suffering.’ Nearly a century since its appearance, Modern Man in Search of a Soul continues to be one of Jung’s most approachable and popular books.