10 Carl Jung Best Books: Start Exploring Your Unconscious Mind

Discover our guide with Carl Jung best books that are perfect for times when you’re feeling introspective and want to explore your own psyche.

Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Jung is the founder of analytical psychology. His approach to mental health was developed partially in response to psychoanalysis, the approach to psychology developed by Sigmund Freud. While the two started on the same page when it came to an understanding of the mind, they differed greatly in their ideas and butted heads repeatedly throughout their careers.

Jung is known for developing the concepts of introverted and extroverted personalities and the concept of the four archetypes. Self-discovering is a fascinating subject; you might also enjoy articles about discovering yourself.

Here Are The Top 10 Carl Jung Best Books

1. Modern Man in Search of a Soul

Modern Man in Search of a Soul
A book cover with the title in black capital letters on a brown background

This collection of essays on psychology covers ideas of spirituality, dream analysis, and the connection between psychology and literature. Jung discusses the spiritual problems experienced by humankind following the destruction of World War I. The psychologist also discussed how Eastern thought could affect the mind and extensively discusses Kundalini yoga. Jung credited the practice for helping him develop a higher level of consciousness. In the essays, Jung also breaks down his theory of psychological types and the psychology of each stage of human life.

“At first we cannot see beyond the path that leads downward to dark and hateful things but no light or beauty will ever come from the man who cannot bear this sight. Light is always born of darkness, and the sun never yet stood still in heaven to satisfy man’s longing or to still his fears.”

Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul
Modern Man in Search of a Soul
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Carl Jung (Author) - Christopher Prince (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 08/18/2011 (Publication Date) - University Press Audiobooks (Publisher)

2. Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Memories, Dreams, Reflections
A book cover with a man wearing glasses smoking a pipe on a green background

This partially autobiographical work follows Jung’s life and was written by biographer Aniela Jaffe. When the project was initially proposed to Jung, he hesitated to work with someone else to tell his life story. Over time, he realized the importance of sharing his story with the world and began working closely with Jaffe.

Jung wrote the book’s initial chapters (regarding his childhood and early adult years) himself, and the psychologist partially wrote the chapter regarding his travels around the world. The book was published two years after Jung passed away and was met with controversy by Jung’s family, who wanted to keep Jung’s private life shielded from the public.

“The meaning of my existence is that life has addressed a question to me. Or, conversely, I myself am a question which is addressed to the world, and I must communicate my answer, for otherwise I am dependent upon the world’s answer.”

Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections
Memories, Dreams, Reflections
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Carl Jung (Author) - James Cameron Stewart (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 03/15/2016 (Publication Date) - Ukemi Audiobooks (Publisher)

3. The Red Book

The Red Book
A book cover with a book title in yellow capital letters on a red background

Jung’s Red Book details the experiments the psychologist performed in his career between 1914 and 1930. The book only became available to the public in 2009. The start of The Red Book followed Jung’s falling out with Freud, and many mental health professionals today debate whether Jung was going through a mental break when the book was written. Jung stated that he was “menaced by a psychosis” during the period The Red Book was created. When the book was written, Jung continued to see patients, serve in the military, and lecture students.

“Be silent and listen: have you recognized your madness and do you admit it? Have you noticed that all your foundations are completely mired in madness? Do you not want to recognize your madness and welcome it in a friendly manner? You wanted to accept everything. So accept madness too. Let the light of your madness shine, and it will suddenly dawn on you.”

Carl Jung, The Red Book
The Red Book: A Reader's Edition: Philemon
  • Audible Audiobook
  • C. G. Jung (Author) - Mike Fraser (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 05/28/2020 (Publication Date) - Echo Point Books & Media, LLC (Publisher)

4. Psychology of the Unconscious

Psychology of the Unconscious
A book cover with the book title in German written in black capital letters on a yellow background

This commentary by Jung provides insight into discovering the early stages of schizophrenia. In the book, he follows the life of Frank Miller, a woman who was a performer, lecturer, and writer. Swiss psychologist Theodore Flournoy wrote about Miller, and it was through Flournoy’s writings that he learned about Miller’s life.

Based on Miller’s descriptions of her historical fantasies, Jung predicted that she would eventually receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Miller went on to require other mental health treatment but was never diagnosed with the disease. Later in his career, Jung stated that he was using Miller’s life to work to answer questions about his own psyche, as he lived with similar fantasies.

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

Carl Jung, Psychology of the Unconscious
Psychology of the Unconscious: A Study of the Transformations and Symbolisms of the Libido
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Carl Jung (Author) - Martyn Swain (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 05/25/2020 (Publication Date) - Ukemi Audiobooks (Publisher)

5. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious
A book cover with the book title in bold black lettering and a white flower with green leaves surrounded by a gold circle, set on a black background

In this groundbreaking work, Jung hypothesized that there are two sectors of the unconscious mind: the Freudian unconscious (also known as the personal unconscious) and the collective unconscious, which the collective soul of humanity experiences. In addition to exploring the subconscious mind, Jung also explored the idea of archetypes. The concept of archetypes is based on the idea that everyone has an unconscious mind that contains an awareness of a past psychic life. Jung believed that archetypes are connected to reincarnation and past lives.

“The mirror does not flatter, it faithfully shows whatever looks into it; namely, the face we never show to the world because we cover it with the persona, the mask of the actor.”

Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious
The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious
  • Jung, Carl (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12/01/2013 (Publication Date) - Important Books (1 Dec. 2013) (Publisher)

6. The Undiscovered Self

The Undiscovered Self
A book cover with the book title and author’s name in black lettering on white background

This duo of essays discusses the massive impact that World War II had on society. In this work, Jung asks the public to consider the importance of psychological reflection for the betterment of society and encourages people to begin discovering their true selves if they have not already done so.

The psychologist explains why self-reflection and awareness are key to improving society and how people can use this knowledge to lessen the likelihood of another worldwide war. In the second essay, Jung explains how dreams can provide insight into one’s psyche and why the analysis of dreams can be an important part of understanding the inner workings of the self.

“Just as man, as a social being, cannot in the long run exist without a tie to the community, so the individual will never find the real justification for his existence, and his own spiritual and moral autonomy, anywhere except in an extramundane principle capable of relativizing the overpowering influence of external factors. The individual who is not anchored in God can offer no resistance on his own resources to the physical and moral blandishments of the world. For this he needs the evidence of inner, transcendent experience which alone can protect him from the otherwise inevitable submersion in the mass.”

Carl Jung, The Undiscovered Self

7. Two Essays on Analytical Psychology

Two Essays on Analytical Psychology
A book cover with the book title in bold black letters on white background

Widely regarded as the best introduction to the theories of Jung, these two essays cover the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind. In these essays, Jung attempts to incorporate his work with that of Freud—these two volumes were written just before the psychologists had their falling-out. Jung describes how psychoanalysis was developed. In addition to incorporating his beliefs with Freud, Jung also works to tie in the ideas of Pierre Janet, Friedrich Nietzche, and Alfred Adler. The psychologist also continues explaining the collective unconscious, the idea that all people share ideas that shape the direction of humanity.

“The unconscious has still another side to it: it includes not only repressed contents, but all psychic material that lies below the threshold of consciousness.”

Carl Jung, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology
The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology
  • Jung, C. G. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 369 Pages - 04/01/1972 (Publication Date) - Princeton University Press (Publisher)

8. The Structure and Dynamics of a Psyche

The Structure and Dynamics of a Psyche
A book cover with the book title in black lettering and the author’s name in white lettering on orange background

Also considered a solid choice for an introduction to Jung’s work, The Structure and Dynamics of a Psyche discuss the conscious and unconscious mind and emphasize the idea of a collective unconscious. In this work, Jung also discusses ideas of collective and psychic energy and how these ideas affect the general direction of humanity. While many psychologists utilize this book in their works, people not in the mental health field also sing its praises for helping them understand how their minds work.

“Life’s cessation, that is, death, can only be accepted as a reasonable goal either when existence is so wretched that we are only too glad for it to end, or when we are convinced that the sun strives to its setting “to illuminate distant races” with the same logical consistency it showed in rising to the zenith.”

Carl Jung, The Structure and Dynamics of a Psyche
The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche (Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 8) (Collected Works of C.G. Jung, 12)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Jung, C. G. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 608 Pages - 01/21/1970 (Publication Date) - Princeton University Press (Publisher)

9. The Psychology of the Transference

The Psychology of the Transference
A book cover with the book title in white lettering on black background followed, and a photo of a white-haired man

This text delves into the provider/patient relationship. It explores Freud’s idea of transference—redirecting feelings onto someone else (for example, a client expressing their repressed feelings to their therapist). Jung also explores the idea of countertransference, in which a provider transfers their feelings regarding someone in their life onto their patient. Readers state that The Psychology of the Transference is one of Jung’s most readable works, as he describes concepts and uses the idea of alchemy to tie transference and countertransference together.

“To the extent that the transference is projection and nothing more, it divides quite as much as it connects. But experience teaches that there is one connection in the transference which does not break off with the severance of the projection.”

Carl Jung, The Psychology of the Transference
The Psychology of the Transference
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Jung, C. G. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 198 Pages - 06/01/1969 (Publication Date) - Princeton University Press (Publisher)

10. Man and his Symbols

Man and his Symbols
A book cover with the book title in red letters author’s name in black letters over a circular red, green, and white design

In Jung’s final work, he divides his thoughts into five sections: An exploration essay of the unconscious, Primitive myths and modern man, The process of individuation, Symbolism in the plastic arts, and Symbols with individual analysis. Jung wrote the first chapter independently and completed it just a week and a half before he passed away. He approved the drafts of the rest of the chapters before he died (his collaborators wrote these).

The book taught people who did not have a high-level psychological education about the importance of exploring the unconscious and how doing so could lead to a happier, healthier humanity. Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best books for Buddhism!

“The sad truth is that man’s real life consists of a complex of inexorable opposites—day and night, birth and death, happiness and misery, good and evil. We are not even sure that one will prevail against the other, that good will overcome evil, or joy defeat pain. Life is a battleground. It always has been and always will be; and if it were not so, existence would come to an end.”

Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
Man and His Symbols
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Carl G. Jung (Author) - Raj Ghatak (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 10/05/2021 (Publication Date) - Random House Audio (Publisher)

Join over 15,000 writers today

Get a FREE book of writing prompts and learn how to make more money from your writing.

Powered by ConvertKit