To Eleanor Bertine

Dear Dr. Bertine, 9 January 1939

I’m sorry to hear that you are chiefly concerned with borderline cases.

It is a thorny task, on the other hand a very interesting one.

I remember Mrs. X. very well.

She was due for a psychotic interval, not being born yet out of the mists of the Bardo life.

In such a case it is of course the right thing to let people talk of their experiences during the morbid interval, because the contents of such experiences need integration into the sum-total of personality.

Of course, it is most unorthodox from the psychiatric point of view to take psychotic things seriously.

But for the patient it is much better to be unorthodox, since the psychiatrist doesn’t know what to do with such cases.

Such a treatment is always a risk as there is a delicate question of how much a patient can stand his pathological material.

If the patient is unable to stand it, then there is a natural tendency at work to wall-up the experienced material.

Thus if you should find a certain resistance or if you should meet with a flaring up of emotions you had better help the walling-up tendency.

But if a patient can stand his material you can help him in integrating and understanding.

The more a patient can understand the better, and he is protected against a complete inundation, and even if a new inundation should come along it would remain a psychotic interval which would not cause definite and irreparable destruction.

I have often seen that people with a certain amount of psychological preparation were not completely destroyed by an acute psychosis.

They came out of it as if out of a dream.

They did not “coalesce” but retained their fluidity.

If there are any congealed regions, you would find there: inaccessibility, lack of emotion, or inadequate emotions and complete immutability.

In drawings you would presumably find breaking lines or splinters or asymmetrical regions of destruction and dissolution.

As soon as the general condition of a patient is more or less reasonable again, one should remove him from a hospital, as the hospital atmosphere is most contagious.

If Mrs. X. is quiet enough to stay at home, you surely should see her.

If her emotionality increases under the treatment, then one should reconsider the hospital question.

But if she is able to discuss her material without getting too much excited, the treatment ought to be continued, because there is a real chance of a far-reaching improvement.

I have seen cases improving completely.

It doesn’t matter that the psychiatrist says afterwards that it was no schizophrenia.

As you know it is indifferent to the devil what you call him.

Concerning the treatment you depend entirely upon the material the patient produces.

You have to follow the ways of nature and not your own good intentions, i.e., you must leave that to the alienists.

It would certainly be a good thing for Mrs. X. if you could hold her hand as long as possible, i.e., until she can trust her own system again.

My best wishes for a happy New Year,

Cordially yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. I, Pages 252-254