…I cannot outline the spiritual problems of modern man without giving emphasis to the yearning for rest that arises in a period of unrest… It is from need and distress that new forms of life take their rise, and not from mere wishes or from the requirements of our ideals.”
When Carl Jung’s Modern Man in Search of a Soul was first published in 1933 he had already treated many hundreds of patients from all over the civilized world and “every one of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living religions of every age have given to their followers” (229). His book looks at Western Civilization through those same doctorly eyes and he thinks the collective picture “presents only a somewhat more complex picture of psychic life than the individual” (210). The same basic diagnosis applies both individually and collectively. The problem is meaninglessness, relativism, nihilism and nothing less than the death of God. This problem operates on something like a psychological law of conservation. “For every piece of conscious life that loses its importance and value – so runs the law – there arises a compensation in the unconscious,” Jung says.