About this website
This photo was taken in 1914 right after Kunkel got his MD. He was drafted to serve in the First World War as a medical doctor. After was injured on the battlefield and lost an arm, he retrained. Kunkel had planned to be a surgeon, but as his daughter has said, "he was made to be a psychiatrist".
This website is my attempt to present the key ideas of Fritz Kunkel and draw out the advice woven into his writings to help us on our way.
Kunkel died in 1956, and though popular when alive, he soon fell into obscurity. In 1980 Jungian psychologist John Sanford explains why he undertook to bring back Kunkel's ideas by producing a new volume of his work. "I had a series of dreams (where) I saw Dr. Kunkel alive and actively teaching a small group of people … When the third dream came I began to realise that the dreams had a meaning that transcended my individual personality. That is, they were meant for many people, not just for me. It was then I began to suspect that it was of great importance that Kunkel’s writings come before the public eye once more” (from Fritz Kunkel: Selected Writings, edited, with an introduction and commentary by John A. Sanford.)
Sanford’s book is a key text, along with Kunkel’s writing in English. In his commentary Sanford draws out the ways Kunkel overlaps with, and importantly differs from, Jungian thought. I believe absolutely the case that Kunkel is essential to connect Jungian thought with the Christian world. Kunkel does not replace Jung, but rather fills in a 'lacuna' in Jung's thinking. Sanford's articulation of this is really masterful in the one youtube clip that exists of him speaking about Kunkel (especially see from 11 mins onwards).
How Kunkel came to me was through John Sanford, and I came across him because of his mother Agnes Sanford – a pioneer of the healing of memories and what came to be known in the Christian world as “inner healing”. As a new Christian in the 1990s I read all Agnes Sanford’s books with utter fascination – especially her autobiography Sealed Orders. I also read all Leanne Payne's and John and Paula Sandford’s books, who, in many ways, stood in her wake. As a depth psychologist Kunkel's We Psychology integrates psychology and religion, and for me his ideas very much compliments the spiritual ideas expressed by those Christian authors. Reading him was like an awakening.
If John Sanford felt called to bring out a book to honour his dream and re-present Kunkel to a new generation, my attempts have been more small steps over time. I wrote to John Sanford in 2004, but he was sadly ill (he died in 2005). His wife replied to say thank you for my letter, and how her husband would be so pleased to learn of someone with a keen interest in Kunkel’s work. I wrote two articles for Sublime Magazine - The Power of We (2006) and The King Inside (2007), and in 2011 I wrote an essay for my Pastoral Theology Masters entitled 'Discuss and evaluate how the works of Jung can be used in pastoral care today'. (See the Writings page to read these).
In this essay I jumped at the chance to use Kunkel’s thinking as a way to assess Jung usefulness, or not, to the Christian world. My intention was to carry on this work in my final dissertation, but it became clear that it would be hard to do so. There is not enough (or any) knowledge about him, at least in UK academia – and even those who had analysis with Kunkel and studied under him, became leading Jungians (John Sanford and Robert Johnson). I wrote to Martha Deed, a Quaker in the USA with an interest in Kunkel’s work. She kindly sent me a booklet she edited of a series of lectures Kunkel did for the Quakers called The Psychology of Personal Crisis. I have since started my own Kunkel journal, and have built up a modest collection of his books.
Dr Timothy Locke is a therapist influenced by Kunkel practising in California. His doctrinal dissertation was on the practical applications of Kunkel's We Psychology. Locke has helpfully brought out some youtube clips where he explains Kunkel's approach. He said to me in an email exchange - "Like you, it seems, I still find his work compelling, both profound and accessible".
And now this website. Since discovering the vitality of Kunkel, I have some friends who I talk to about him, seeking to relate his ideas to our inner lives, and a phrase was coined - 'let's ask the uncle'. I hope he would approve of our inner image of him.
My desire in doing this blog is for more people seeking fullness of life to discover this kindly uncle for themselves and internalise his wisdom.
Sarah Larkin 2018. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org