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Schoenl, W. (2009). Lewin, Nicholas. Jung on War, Politics and Nazi Germany: Exploring the Theory of Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. London: Karnac Books, 2009. Pp. 412. Pbk. $59.95 / £24.99.. J. Anal. Psychol., 54(4):533-534.

(2009). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 54(4):533-534

Book Reviews

Lewin, Nicholas. Jung on War, Politics and Nazi Germany: Exploring the Theory of Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. London: Karnac Books, 2009. Pp. 412. Pbk. $59.95 / £24.99.

Review by:
William Schoenl

Lewin's book has three main parts. Part one historically examines Jung and his politics. The second part discusses the evolution of Jung's theories of the collective unconscious and archetypes; it asks: how well did he construct his theories? Part three considers how he applied his theories in attempting to understand Nazi Germany. The book reaches its climax with what he wrote about the Third Reich.

I found the following points in part one particularly interesting and significant. Lewin's survey of Jung and his politics suggests Jung was more politically informed and sophisticated than some critics have stated. Moreover, Lewin sees him becoming more hostile to the Nazis by May 1934. A letter by Jung to Mary Mellon provides corroborating evidence for Lewin's view: in it Jung said he challenged the Nazis already in 1934 at a reception in Baron von Schnitzler's house in Frankfurt (Jung to Mellon, 24 September 1945). Lewin believes that before World War II Jung was concerned with attempting to understand and explain events in terms of his theories of the collective unconscious. Jung thought that when individuals are caught in a mass movement such as the Nazi movement, then archetypes begin to function.

In part two the author proceeds to examine Jung's collective unconscious and archetype theories which, in his view, contain flaws. One is that Jung proposed racial and national layers of the collective unconscious. Another is a mismatch, Lewin says, between Jung's original ‘neo-Lamarckian’ ideas and his later cultural observations.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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