Dissertation Title:

Zarathustra, The Red Book, and the Confrontation with the Unconscious


Chad Kreutzinger

Date, Time & Place:

August 30, 2021 at 2:00 pm


Friedrich Nietzsche was as much a guide for C. G. Jung through the underworld of the unconscious as Virgil was for Dante. With the publication of Jung’s The Red Book and its notable parallels to, and even inspiration from, Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, a new survey of the psyche opens.

Both Jung and Nietzsche detailed their unconscious encounters in books that have become legendary for their symbolic mystery. Despite numerous attempts at explication, no extended study has read these symbols as metaphors of personal significance nor correlated them to the moral and typological theories each thinker is most known by. This dissertation examines the role of the confrontation with the unconscious in the shaping of metaphor and personality as exemplified by the transformation of personal symbols in the two particularly visionary chapters of “On the Vision and Riddle” and “Mysterium” from Thus Spoke Zarathustra and The Red Book into the theories propounded in Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals and Jung’s Personality Types.

Following the revelatory emphasis each author places on their confrontations in their autobiographies, this work takes up biographical details, contemporaneous correspondence and unpublished fragments to drop into the tumult of professional isolation, illicit relations, emotional implosion and horrifying dreams that altogether conspired and initiated their visionary writings. By paralleling their developing theories on the importance of symbol-formation in the revivification of personality, a new vista opens on their own transformation of personal symbols as they unconsciously projected them into theories of universal moral development and behavioral typology.

Though both Nietzschean and Jungian studies may benefit from this overlap in the intellectual history of analytical psychology and moral philosophy, the more valuable outcome is in Jung’s imitation and novel developments of Nietzsche’s psychological theories, illustrating the orientation Zarathustra and The Red Book provide for the landmarks and pitfalls in the course of one’s own confrontation with the unconscious.

  • Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, I, 2014
  • Chair: Dr. Patrick Mahaffey
  • Reader: Dr. Christine Downing
  • External Reader: Dr. Lydia Reineck
  • Keywords: Friedrich Nietzsche, C. G. Jung; Depth Psychology, Zarathustra, Elijah, Personality Types, Genealogy Of Morals, Salome, Personality Types, Psycho-autobiography, Metaphor, Symbol-formation