Meet Joe Campbell
Insights into the ideas of a mythologist
(more about Joseph Campbell)

Sources #7: Jung

From its infancy, psychology has used mythology for source material. Freud's famous use of the Oedipus myth is but one easily-noted sample.

Some might even see psychology as successor to the role of mythology in culture, as a parallel to the more-commonly-stated progression from religion to psychology.

In a fair turnabout, Joseph Campbell and other mythologists have used psychology as source material for mythology.

It's no surprise, then to learn that Campbell was closely associated with the thought of Carl Jung.

In 1953, for example, he was chosen to edit the Papers from the Eranos Yearbooks This series of papers was presented at the Eranos conferences in Ascona, Switzerland over a twenty year period. In his role, Campbell met the great man himself, as well as such other scholars of religion (and therefore mythology and psychology) as Mircea Eliade and D.T. Suzuki.

Although not a psychologist, he was chosen by Viking to edit The Portable Jung. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Bollingen Series of books on psychology, anthropology and myth (a list at Amazon).

In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, written before the link-up with Jung, Campbell swings back and forth between Freudian and Jungian interpretations; later work is more solidly based on Jung (though from Campbell's own unique point of view). His reliance on interpretation through metaphor is closely intertwined with Jung's theory of archetypes; we will explore this more thoroughly as we get into Campbell's works.

Next time: Pop Culture


  1. I have enjoyed reading books by Campbell for years. His common sense look at religion, metaphorical connotations, psychology and the current condition of mankind has fascinated me for quite some time. His views have opened my eyes so to speak in terms of religion and its true meaning...which is metaphorical. I just read Thou Art That and agree that we must all slay the ego/dragon within and seek the garden/paradise within our hearts. It is all within us and not up there or out there somewhere.

  2. Thanks, TS.

    I was once hired to "ghost" a book in the posthumous series of which "T.A.T." is apart; the book was to be J.C. on Freud and Jung. Unfortunately, the project was put on hold when the guy who hired me took an unexpected (and I suspect unwanted) 90-degree career turn; fortunately, I myself took one around the same time and ended up in East Asia, a rich field for psycho/mytho/religious exploration.


Please leave me a message; I can't wait to hear from you!