Thursday 16 October at 7.30 pm
at The Essex Church, 112 Palace Gardens Terrace, London W8 4RT


Robert Segal

Joseph Campbell is often taken as a disciple of Jung. His ‘Hero with a Thousand Faces’ is typically read as a symbolic expression of the psychological journey of the second half of life – the journey from ego consciousness to the unconscious and back. In later works, Campbell breaks altogether with Jung and gives entirely different explanations of myth, such as ethological ones and even diffusionist ones. Yet even in ‘Hero’, on which this lecture will focus, Campbell’s approach to myth is surprisingly at odds with Jung’s. For his part, Campbell always deemed himself his own theorist of myth and a not mere follower of Jung.

Robert-SegalROBERT SEGAL is Sixth Century Chair in Religious Studies, University of Aberdeen. He came to the UK from the US in 1994 and taught religious studies at Lancaster University for twelve years, before going to the University of Aberdeen in 2006. His PhD from Princeton University was in religions of the Greco-Roman world. He teaches and writes on theories of myth and theories of religion. Among the works he has written or edited are The Poimandres as Myth, Joseph Campbell, Jung on Mythology, The Gnostic Jung, Hero Myths, Theorizing about Myth, Myth: A very Short Introduction, The Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion, and 30-second Mythology.

No booking required £15
Lectures are followed by discussion and liquid refreshment
Further information from The Administrator, C G Jung Club London, PO Box 19017, London N3 3WY Tel 020 8343 3387 Email


  1. Hi IAJS community and Robert;
    It’s interesting that you bring up the ethological position. I found in The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology that Campbell’s arguments were in fact directly aligned with Jung’s, in that the idea of archetypal patterns is seen as analogous to biological instincts, if not a direct expression of them. So in that sense i wouldn’t have seen Campbell’s take on ethology as differentiating him from Jung’s position on the archetypes in depth psychology – and this is pretty close to a position on myth. Having said that, by the time of his Historical Atlas of World Mythology, Campbell is relying on diffusionist theories in a way that does seem to remove him from Jung’s orbit. Wish i could be there to hear more on the analysis of Hero … enjoy the no doubt fascinating discussion all!
    (PS this is my first comment as a new member, i hope i haven’t offended any protocol issues or anything…)

  2. I see myths are Jung’s tool in the study of the Archetype. Campbell believes myths by necessity enable direct interaction with universal will. This will is progressive and is the highest form of psychic energy. Campbell did believe in myths as symbolic. This may go beating Jung’s Archetypes because symbolic here may include certain rites of passage and other processes that must be experienced. They typically involve that which is beyond words. It does not follow that they would not be consciously known, but it could be they have transcendent or multiple layered meaning. Your Article from Sacred Narratives is adament Campbell’s assertion of myth’s meaning as psychological, symbolic, Jungian, and spiritual natured is pure speculation. The three theorist cited do not necessarily disagree with Campbell’s theory. In fact, I am asserting academically one could argue they support each other. Also, there is one crucial misread I believe, of Campbell’s Myth’s to Live By. I am very interested in any responses you have.

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