The Jungians: A Comparative and Historical Perspective
by Thomas B. Kirsch
London: Routledge 1st edition (February 11, 2001

The Jungians: A Comparative and Historical Perspective is the first book to trace the history of the profession of analytical psychology from its origins in 1913 until the present. As someone who has been personally involved in many aspects of Jungian history, Thomas Kirsch is well equipped to take the reader through the history of the 'movement', and to document its growth throughout the world, with chapters covering individual geographical areas - the UK, USA, and Australia, to name but a few - in some depth. He also provides new information on the ever-controversial subject of Jung's relationship to Nazism, Jews and Judaism. A lively and well-researched key work of reference, The Jungians will appeal to not only to those working in the field of analysis, but would also make essential reading for all those interested in Jungian studies.

Table of Contents

  • Abbreviations
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • Foreword by Peter Homans
  • Introduction by Thomas B. Kirsch
  • Zurich
  • Analytical Psychology Clubs
  • United Kingdom
  • New York
  • Northern California
  • Southern California
  • United States and Canada (after 1970)
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • France
  • Smaller European Countries
  • Israel
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Latin America
  • South Africa
  • Russia and Eastern Europe
  • Emerging Groups in Asia
  • The International Association for Analytical Psychology
  • Sandplay
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography


"With The Jungians, Tom Kirsch reveals another of his many talents. He's a storyteller, who tells about the social and political twists and turns of the Jungian movement since its first days in Zurich. Dr. Kirsch, out of his love for the rich history, has dug thoroughly into the consciousness of several Jungian schools of thought and organization - their faithful followers, factions, geographic and cultural influences. Accessible and well told."
—Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D.
Author of Women Who Run With the Wolves,
The Gift of Story and The Faithful Gardener


"It is rare that an author and his subject are so perfectly matched. Only Tom Kirsch could have written this wonderful and important narrative. To grasp who 'the Jungians' are and how they arrived at their present level of cultural significance, you must read this book. This is the first and to date the only comprehensive history of the Jungian movement. It is based on original research, first-hand knowledge, and in-depth interviews with most of the major figures in the field. The vivid portraits of individual figures, many of whom are now deceased and were known by the author personally, are priceless. This book belongs in the library of every serious student of analytical psychology and psychoanalysis".
—Murray Stein
President of the International Association for
Analytical Psychology and author of Jung's Map of the Soul


"Dr. Kirsch's meticulously detailed, scrupulously researched, narrative history of analytical psychology is a book that has been urgently needed, not only by specialists but also by the general reader who wants to understand the origin and development of Jungian psychology. This book is an important ground-breaking study that will be influential 'must-reading' for many years to come".
—Deirdre Bair
National Book Award winner
Biographer of Samuel Beckett, Anais Nin, Simone de Beauvoir,
and (forthcoming) C.G. Jung


From the beginning of the 20th century Jung championed a secular psychology that also viewed the human as essentially sacred and irreducible and by so doing set himself apart from and against the strictly positivistic science that the western world espoused at and since that time. Jung's ideas, far from succumbing to collective bias and oblivion, have disseminated themselves substantively throughout the entire world for the last 100 years in the form of the many psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and professional and lay groups who presently identify themselves with Jung's ideas. 

Kirsch's book is a history of exactly how and through whom that dissemination has occurred and in whom and in what organizations it resides. Although Kirsch says his is a social and political history and not an intellectual one, that is not entirely correct, for, as he tracks people over time and about the world, he differentiates what aspect of Jung's spirit each tends most to embody (and defend): the philosophical, the clinical, the religious, the archetypal, the developmental. And in this weaving arise the confrontations, conflicts, and confluences that finally shape the ongoing state and living drama of Jungian psychology. No one other than Kirsch could have written this book. His life, like none other, has been part and parcel of the events and people he describes (see the Preface). Far from having become a passive cipher in the play, he has had a hand in its evolution and yet, in his story, he steps outside of the fray to portray its horizons.

For a professional within the field itself, like myself, this gives rise to a dual gift: first, an invaluable aid in locating oneself and one's own ideas within the collective of the movement, and second, the spurring of intimations of what lies beyond the knowns of the present Jungian world. Concerning the book itself, Kirsch is a master of the matter of fact. In sweeping but trenchantly accurate statements (the accuracy is the gift) he avers simply what is and what isn't. In a brief paragraph he explains how the introduction of Jung's continental philosophying into England has given rise to a British traditionally empiricist reaction (and then spells out that reaction in the splits and vicissitudes of the English groups). In addressing Jung's monumentally injudicious gaffes of the mid 1930s, he says, "As we analysts know, timing is critical in analysis, and the same holds true for politics" His summing ups share the same precise and parsimonious qualities: "In my experience, almost all Jungians, in addition to amplifying and interpreting dreams, recognize the primarily symbolic nature of the unconscious, the importance of working with the transference / countertransference relationship, and the necessity for maintaining strict professional boundaries." In the reading, lesser known gems fall from the pages from time to time. I did not know that Jung had met Lacan. Kirsch says where and how. Nor did I know that he had spoken in England before 1925 (he gave a seminar in Cornwall in 1923; I do not think it is published as yet).

The chapter on Germany alone is worth the price of the book. Kirsch has ferreted out and redacted material in strict temporal sequence that is more complete than any I have read before. This involves the history of Jungian psychology in Germany but, more importantly in my opinion, Jung's relationship to the Nazis. Kirsch is more even-handed and straightforward in his accounts than in any other I have read, including his father's extensive statements on the same subject. And Kirsch (the son) arrives at what feels to be extremely fair judgments, plainly delivered and patently devoid of polemical covering up. A second chapter of particular worth is the last one, "Observations and Conclusions." Again, it is the precision and the matter of factness that make it valuable for seeing in one place and through plain language the present edges of things Jungian. In the foreword, historian Peter Homans says that Kirsch is "generous" in this history.

In my opinion, it is true beyond a doubt. Generous in its plethora of material, its reader-friendly expression, and in its sharing of personal information. In its historical place, its importance for the Jungian world resembles in kind the book Bollingen by William McGuire in which he, like Kirsch, fleshes out an intellectual movement related to the Jungian world in the specific details of the persons and places and modus operandi served by the foundation set up (now defunct) by Mary Mellon. Both books make people whose names and writings are synonymous with Jungiana come to full sentient life. Besides Kirsch and McGuire, we have only histories of Jung and his ideas. I highly recommend Kirsch's book as a very interesting read, a source of new information, and a singular documentation of Jungian ideas and their embodiment in the world. For the lay person, even one not familiar with the Jungian world, the book is a history of how a little known psychology - one that is unique and friendlier than probably any other to the spiritual - becomes a part of the culture of nations and the world.
—David I. Tresan, M.D.


The Jungians sets out to describe the social and political history of the Jungian communities throughout the world and accomplishes its aims admirably. It will be the gold standard for historical inquiry into the Jungian movement for decades to come with an informative discussion of the development of every institute and of the contributions of each significant figure in analytic psychology.

—Irving Yalom 


This is a must for every psychiatrist and psychologist who is interested in the history of psychiatry and psychology, and for every layman who is interested in these fields.

—Adolf Guggenbühl


The following review by Ann Casement was published in the The Jung Page

Thomas Kirsch's book, The Jungians: A Comparative and Historical Perspective, is unique in providing an historical overview of the development and spread of the Jungian movement from its beginnings early in the 20th-century. This highly readable narrative is equally accessible to the specialist and to the interested reader.

Peter Homans, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Chicago, in his Foreword to the book asks three vital questions: what are the forms of thought and action which compose any of the depth psychologies; where are their origins; and how do they affect the lives of the people living within that culture. Homans concludes that Kirsch sheds new light on all three. The book particularly addresses itself to the second question in tracing the evolution of the Jungian movement from its origins with Jung in Zurich around 1912 to its formalization over the ensuing years into groups and institutions. Jung's ideas were disseminated by first-generation German-Jewish males to many parts of the world e.g. London, Los Angeles, Rome, New York, Tel Aviv. They were deeply interested in spiritual matters and 'carried the spirit of the numinosum and the "God-image" within.' This missionary zeal found it difficult to adapt to more secular changes that began to encroach on the movement, for instance, clinical ideas about theory and practice from psychoanalysis. Michael Fordham, the British analytical psychologist, was the pioneer of this new movement and Kirsch acknowledges him to be one of the truly innovative minds in the Jungian movement.

Many other characters enliven the pages of the book, including a number of inspiring women such as Marie-Louise von Franz - the Anna Freud of the Jungian movement - Vera Bührmann, Aniela Jaffé, Jolande Jacobi, Esther Harding, Rix Weaver, Toni Wolff and Elizabeth Goodrich Whitney. The latter is described by Joseph Henderson as 'a wonderful listener and a wonderful analyst' and it is in part due to her tolerance and to that of Henderson's that the San Francisco Institute was saved from the affliction of splitting that has been the fate of so many other Jungian groups.

There are lingering shadows over the Jungian movement which the author has not evaded. For instance, there is the abiding one of Jung's association with National Socialism in the 1930s and the accompanying charges of anti-Semitism. Kirsch does not deny that Jung's attention was at one time captured by events in Nazi Germany. However, his original research has turned up the fact that Gustav Richard Heyer, who had Nazi affiliations and was the first significant individual in Germany to work with Jung's ideas, states in a document that there were different attitudes to political situations between himself and Jung. The latter would not have anything to do with Heyer after 1945.

Kirsch also cites personal conversations with a number of Jewish people who saw Jung during the 1930s who say they detected no trace of anti-Semitism in him. Hilde Kirsch, the author's mother, told him that it was through her analysis with Jung that she came to understand what it meant to be Jewish. As a result of his own research, Kirsch professes to a sense of personal relief that Jung pulled away from any association with the Nazis possibly as early as 1934. Other accounts of Jung's actions during the 1930s are more critical, including those by Geoffrey Cox, Andrew Samuels and Micha Neumann, Erich Neumann's son.

Recently, Kirsch has had an exchange of letters with Harold Blum, the director of the Freud Archive in New York, in the new journal Psychoanalysis and History, when Blum called Jung a Nazi (personal communication).

Another all pervading shadow is that of splits in Jungian groups which lend a dark core to many of the chapters in the book. For Kirsch, these splits resemble family dynamics with which this reviewer would agree having heard some analysts referring to training candidates as 'the children' and analysts as 'the parents'.

Another factor is the clinical/archetypal divide. Many Jungians are caught in a split idealizing/demonizing transference onto psychoanalysis. On one side of the split is an over-valuing of psychoanalysis - an example of this is a Jungian declaring about a group dominated by the British Psycho-Analytical Society: 'If there is an elite, I want to be part of it!' This fantasy is still part of some Jungians mindset in spite of the fact that psychoanalysts themselves admit - both publicly and in private - that psychoanalysis itself is in danger of survival at all let alone as an 'elite' practice.

The other side of the coin is a denigration of psychoanalysis by some analytical psychologists who eschew it altogether in spite of the fact that many Jungians have creatively integrated psychoanalytic clinical theory and technique into their work.

The splits that result from this and from personality clashes in different parts of the world are extremely destructive of all concerned and the fall-out seems to be endless in its aftermath. The Jungian community is overdue to address this shadow in its midst in every way it can. Apart from anything else, there are increasing demands related to greater professionalization bringing with it the need to adjust to the exigencies of data protection, human rights, state regulation and continuing professional development, to which analytical psychologists, along with all other professionals, will have to adapt. At the moment, some Jungians respond to these demands through hysteria, denial or an epimethean retreat into the unconscious. It is to be hoped that increasing professionalization may help shift the focus in some Jungian groups from family dynamics to an emphasis on developing professional organizations.

Kirsch is ideally placed to write an 'insider' account of analytical psychology as he is the son of two prominent Jungian analysts who left Germany to escape the Holocaust, has himself been a Jungian analyst for many years, and was a two-term President of the International Association for Analytical Psychology (IAAP). In spite of this close personal involvement, he manages to maintain an admirable detachment from his subject. For Kirsch, being a Jungian means sharing a common lineage and a sense of the 'twilight areas of the psyche.' This book will deservedly be widely read.

—Ann Casement