The Confessional

It is far more the urgent psychic problems of patients, rather than the curiosity of research workers, that have given effective impetus to the recent developments in medical psychology and psychotherapy. Medical science almost in defiance of the patients’ needs has held aloof from all contact with strictly psychic problems, on the partly justifiable assumption that psychic problems belong to other fields of study. But it has been compelled to widen its scope so as to include experimental psychology, just as it has been driven time and time again out of regard for the biological unity of the human being to borrow from such outlying branches of science as chemistry, physics, and biology.

489 It was natural that the branches of science adopted by medicine should be given a new direction. can characterize the change by saying that instead of being regarded as ends in themselves they were valued for their practical application to human beings. Psychiatry, for example, helped itself out of the treasure chest of experimental psychology and its methods, and funded its borrowings in the inclusive body of knowledge that we call psychopathology a name for the study of complex psychic phenomena. Psychopathology is built for one part on the findings of psychiatry in the strict sense of the term, and for the other part on the findings of neurology a field of study which originally embraced the so-called psychogenic neuroses, and still does so in academic parlance. In practice, however, a gulf has opened out in the last few decades between the trained neurologist and the psychotherapist, especially after the first researches in hypnotism.

This rift was unavoidable, because neurology, strictly speaking, is the science of organic nervous diseases, whereas the psychogenic neuroses are not organic diseases in the usual sense of the term. Nor do they fall within the realm of psychiatry, whose particular field of study is the psychoses, or mental diseasesfor the psychogenic neuroses are not mental diseases as this term is commonly understood. Rather do they constitute a special field by themselves with no hard and fast boundaries, and they show many transitional forms which point in two directions: towards mental disease on the one hand, and diseases of the nerves on the other.

490 The unmistakable feature of the neuroses is the fact that their causes are psychic, and that their cure depends entirely upon psychic methods of treatment. The attempts to delimit and explore this special field both from the side of psychiatry and from that of neurology led to a discovery which was very unwelcome to the science of medicine: namely, the discovery of the psyche as an aetiological or causal factor in disease. In the course of the nineteenth century medicine had become, in its methods and theory, one of the disciplines of natural science,and it cherished the same basically philosophical assumption of material causation. For medicine, the psyche as a mental “substance” did not exist, and experimental psychology also did its best to constitute itself a psychology without a psyche.

491 Investigation, however, has established beyond a doubt that the crux of the psychoneuroses is the psychic factor, that this is the essential cause of the pathological state, and must therefore be recognized in its own right along with other admitted pathogenic factors such as inheritance, disposition, bacterial infection,and so forth. All attempts to explain the psychic factor in terms of more elementary physical factors were doomed to failure. There was more promise in the attempt to reduce it to the concept of the drive or instinct a concept taken over from biology. It is well known that instincts are observable physiological urges based on the functioning of the glands, and that, as experience shows, they condition or influence psychic processes. What could be more plausible, therefore, than to seek the specific cause of the psychoneuroses not in the mystical notion of the “soul/’ but in a disturbance of the instincts which might possibly be curable in the last resort by medicinal treatment of the glands?

492 Freud’s theory of the neuroses is based on this standpoint: it explains them in terms of disturbances of the sexual instinct. Adler likewise resorts to the concept of the drive, and explains the neuroses in terms of disturbances of the urge to power, a concept which, we must admit, is a good deal more psychic than that of the physiological sexual instinct.

493 The term “instinct” is anything but well defined in the scientific sense. It applies to a biological phenomenon of immense complexity, and is not much more than a border-line concept of quite indefinite content standing for an unknown quantity. I do not wish to enter here upon a critical discussion of instinct. Instead I will consider the possibility that the psychic factor is just a combination of instincts which for their part may again be reduced to the functioning of the glands. We may even consider the possibility that everything “psychic” is comprised in the sum total of instincts, and that the psyche itself is therefore only an instinct or a conglomerate of instincts, being in the last analysis nothing but a function of the glands. A psychoneurosis would then be a glandular disease.

494 There is, however, no proof of this statement, and no glandular extract that will cure a neurosis has yet been found. On the other hand, we have been taught by all too many mistakes that organic therapy fails completely in the treatment of neuroses, while psychic methods cure them. These psychic methods are just as effective as we might suppose the glandular extracts would be. So far, then, as our present knowledge goes, neuroses are to be influenced or cured by approaching them not from the proximal end, i.e., from the functioning of the glands, but from the distal end, i.e., from the psyche, just as if the psyche were itself a substance. For instance, a suitable explanation or a comforting word to the patient can have something like a healing effect which may even influence the glandular secretions. The doctor’s words, to be sure, are “only” vibrations in the air, yet their special quality is due to a particular psychic state in the doctor. His words are effective only in so far as they convey a meaning or have significance. It is this that makes them work. But “meaning” is something mental or spiritual. Call it a fiction i you like. Nevertheless this fiction enables us to influence the course of the disease far more effectively than we could with chemical preparations. Indeed, we can even influence the biochemical processes of the body. Whether the fiction forms itself in me spontaneously or reaches me from outside via human speech, it can make me ill or cure me. Fictions, illusions, opinions are perhaps the most intangible and unreal things we can think of; yet they are the most effective of all in the psychic and even the psychophysical realm.

495 It was by recognizing these facts that medicine discovered the psyche, and it can no longer honestly deny the psyche’s reality. It has been shown that the instincts are a condition of psychic activity, while at the same time psychic processes seem to condition the instincts.

496 The reproach levelled at the Freudian and Adlerian theories is not that they are based on instincts, but that they are one sided. It is psychology without the psyche, and this suits people who think they have no spiritual needs or aspirations. But here both doctor and patient deceive themselves. Even though the theories of Freud and Adler come much nearer to getting at the bottom of the neuroses than any earlier approach from the medical side, their exclusive concern with the instincts fails to satisfy the deeper spiritual needs of the patient. They are too much bound by the premises of nineteenth-century science, too matter of fact, and they give too little value to fictional and imaginative processes. In a word, they do not give enough meaning to life. And it is only meaning that liberates.

497 Ordinary reasonableness, sound human judgment, science as a compendium of common sense, these certainly help us over a good part of the road, but they never take us beyond the frontiers of life’s most commonplace realities, beyond the merely average and normal. They afford no answer to the question of psychic suffering and its profound significance. A psychoneurosis must be understood, ultimately, as the suffering of a soul which has not discovered its meaning. But all creativeness in the realm of the spirit as well as every psychic advance of man arises from the suffering of the soul, and the cause of the suffering is spiritual stagnation, or psychic sterility.

498 With this realization the doctor sets foot on territory which he enters with the greatest caution. He is now confronted with the necessity of conveying to his patient the healing fiction, the meaning that quickensfor it is this that the sick person longs for, over and above everything that reason and science can give him. He is looking for something that will take possession of him and give meaning and form to the confusion of his neurotic soul.

499 Is the doctor equal to this task? To begin with, he will probably hand his patient over to the clergyman or philosopher, or abandon him to that vast perplexity which is the special note of our day. As a doctor he is not required to have a finished outlook on life, and his professional conscience does not demand it of him. But what will he do when he sees only too clearly why his patient is ill; when he sees that he has no love, but only sexuality; no faith, because he is afraid to grope in the dark; no hope, because he is disillusioned by the world and by life; and no understanding, because he has failed to read the meaning of his own existence?

500 There are many well-educated patients who flatly refuse to consult a clergyman. Still less will they listen to a philosopher,for the history of philosophy leaves them cold, and intellectual problems seem to them more barren than the desert. And where are the great and wise men who do not merely talk about the meaning of life and of the world, but really possess it? One cannot just think up a system or truth which would give the patient what he needs in order to live, namely faith, hope, love, and understanding.

501 These four highest achievements of human endeavour are so many gifts of grace, which are neither to be taught nor learned, neither given nor taken, neither withheld nor earned, since they come through experience, which is an irrational datum not subject to human will and caprice. Experiences cannot be made. They happen yet fortunately their independence of man’s activity is not absolute but relative. We can draw closer to them that much lies within our human reach. There are ways which bring us nearer to living experience, yet we should beware of calling these ways “methods.” The very word has a deadening effect. The way to experience, moreover, is anything but a clever trick; it is rather a venture which requires us to commit ourselves with our whole being.

502 Thus, in trying to meet the therapeutic demands made upon him, the doctor is confronted with a question wrhich seems to contain an insuperable difficulty. How can he help the sufferer to attain the liberating experience which will bestow upon him the four great gifts of grace and heal his sickness? We can,of course, advise the patient with the best intentions that he should have true love, or true faith, or true hope; and we can admonish him with the phrase: “Knoxv thyself.” But how is the patient to obtain beforehand that which only experience can give him?

503 Saul owed his conversion neither to true love, nor to true faith, nor to any other truth. It was solely his hatred of the Christians that set him on the road to Damascus, and to that decisive experience which was to alter the whole course of his =life. He was brought to this experience by following out, with conviction, his own worst mistake.

504 This opens up a problem which we can hardly take too seriously. And it confronts the psychotherapist with a question which brings him shoulder to shoulder with the clergyman: the question of good and evil.

505 It is in reality the priest or the clergyman, rather than the doctor, who should be most concerned with the problem of spiritual suffering. But in most cases the sufferer consults the doctor in the first place, because he supposes himself to be physically ill, and because certain neurotic symptoms can be at least alleviated by drugs. But if, on the other hand, the clergyman is consulted, he cannot persuade the sick man that the trouble is psychic. As a rule he lacks the special knowledge which would enable him to discern the psychic factors of the disease, and his judgment is without the weight of authority.

506 There are, however, persons who, while well aware of the psychic nature of their complaint, nevertheless refuse to turn to the clergyman. They do not believe that he can really help them. Such persons distrust the doctor for the same reason, and rightly so, for the truth is that both doctor and clergyman stand before them with empty hands, if not what is even worse with empty words. We can hardly expect the doctor to have anything to say about the ultimate questions of the soul. It is from the clergyman, not from the doctor, that the sufferer should expect such help. But the Protestant clergyman often finds himself face to face with an almost impossible task, for he has to cope with practical difficulties that the Catholic priest is spared. Above all, the priest has the authority of his Church behind him, and his economic position is secure and independent. This is far less true of the Protestant clergyman, who may be married and burdened with the responsibility of a family, and cannot expect, if all else fails, to be supported by the parish or taken into a monastery. Moreover the priest, if he is also a Jesuit, is au fait with the most up-to-date developments in psychology. I know, for instance, that my own writings were seriously studied in Rome long before any Protestant theologian thought them worthy of a glance.

507 We have come to a serious pass. The exodus from the German Protestant Church is only one of many symptoms which should make it plain to the clergy that mere admonitions to believe, or to perform acts of charity, do not give modern man what he is looking for. The fact that many clergymen seek support or practical help from Freud’s theory of sexuality or Adler’s theory of power is astonishing, inasmuch as both these theories are, at bottom, hostile to spiritual values, being, as I have said, psychology without the psyche. They are rationalistic methods of treatment which actually hinder the realization of meaningful experience. By far the larger number of psychotherapists are disciples of Freud or of Adler. This means that the great majority of patients are necessarily alienated from a spiritual standpointa fact which cannot be a matter of indifference to one who has the fate of the psyche at heart. The wave of interest in psychology which at present is sweeping over the Protestant countries of Europe is far from receding. It is coincident with the mass exodus from the Church. Quoting a Protestant minister, I may say: “Nowadays people go to the psychotherapist rather than to the clergyman.” 508 I am convinced that this statement is true only of relatively educated persons, not of mankind in the mass. However, we must not forget that it takes about twenty years for the ordinary run of people to begin thinking the thoughts of the educated person of today. For Instance, Biichner’s work Force and Matter 2 became one of the most widely read books in German public libraries some twenty years after educated persons had forgotten all about it. I am convinced that the psychological needs of the educated today will be the interests of the people tomorrow.

509 I should like to call attention to the following facts. During the past thirty years, people from all the civilized countries of the earth have consulted me. Many hundreds of patients have passed through my hands, the greater number being Protestants, a lesser number Jews, and not more than five or six believing Catholics. Among all my patients in the second half of life that is to say, over thirty-fivethere has not been one whose problem in the last resort wras not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost what the living religions of every age have given to their followers, and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook. This of course has nothing whatever to do with a particular creed or membership of a church.

510 Here, then, the clergyman stands before a vast horizon. But it would seem as if no one had noticed it. It also looks as though the Protestant clergyman of today were insufficiently equipped to cope with the urgent psychic needs of our age. It is indeed high time for the clergyman and the psychotherapist to join forces to meet this great spiritual task.

511 Here is a concrete example which goes to show how closely this problem touches us all. A little more than a year ago the leaders of the Christian Students’ Conference at Aarau [Switzerland] laid before me the question whether people in spiritual distress prefer nowadays to consult the doctor rather than the clergyman, and what are the causes of their choice. This was a very direct and very practical question. At the time I knew nothing more than the fact that my own patients obviously had consulted the doctor rather than the clergyman. It seemed to me to be open to doubt whether this was generally the case or not. At any rate, I was unable to give a definite reply. I therefore set on foot an inquiry, through acquaintances of mine, among people whom I did not know personally; I sent out a questionnaire which was answered by Swiss, German, and French Protestants, as well as by a few Catholics. The results are very interesting, as the following general summary shows. Those who decided for the doctor represented 57 per cent of the Protestants and only 25 per cent of the Catholics, while those who decided for the clergyman formed only 8 per cent of the Protestants as against 58 per cent of the Catholics. These were the unequivocal decisions. The remaining 35 per cent of the Protestants could not make up their minds, wrhile only 17 per cent of the Catholics were undecided.

512 The main reasons given for not consulting the clergyman were, firstly, his lack of psychological knowledge and insight, and this covered 52 per cent of the answers. Some 28 per cent were to the effect that he wras prejudiced in his views and showed a dogmatic and traditional bias. Curiously enough, there was even one clergyman who decided for the doctor, while another made the irritated retort: “Theology has nothing to do with the treatment of human beings. All the relatives of clergymen who answered my questionnaire pronounced themselves against the clergy.

513 So far as this inquiry was restricted to educated persons, it is only a straw in the wind. I am convinced that the uneducated classes would have reacted differently. But I am inclined to accept these sample results as a more or less valid indication of the views of educated people, the more so as it is a well-known fact that their indifference in matters of the Church and religion is steadily growing. Nor should we forget the above-mentioned truth of social psychology: that it takes about twenty years for the general outlook and problems of the educated to percolate down to the uneducated masses. Who, for instance, would have dared to prophesy twenty years ago, or even ten, that Spain, the most Catholic of European countries, would undergo the tremendous mental revolution we are witnessing today? 8 And yet it has broken out with the violence of a cataclysm.

514 It seems to me that, side by side with the decline of religious life, the neuroses grow noticeably more frequent. There are as yet no statistics with actual figures to prove this increase. But of one thing I am sure, that everywhere the mental state of European man shows an alarming lack of balance. We are living undeniably in a period of the greatest restlessness, nervous tension, confusion, and disorientation of outlook. Among my patients from many countries, all of them educated persons, there is a considerable number who came to see me not because they were suffering from a neurosis but because they could find no meaning in their lives or were torturing themselves with questions which neither our philosophy nor our religion could answer. Some of them perhaps thought I knew of a magic formula, but I soon had to tell them that I didn’t know the answer either. And this brings us to practical considerations.

515 Let us take for example that most ordinary and frequent of questions: What is the meaning of my life, or of life in general? Today people believe that they know only too well what the clergyman will or rather must say to this. They smile at the very thought of the philosopher’s answer, and in general do not expect much of the physician. But from the psychotherapist who analyses the unconscious from him one might at last learn something. Perhaps he has dug up from the abstruse depths of his mind, among other things, some meaning which could even be bought for a fee! It must be a relief to every serious-minded person to hear that the psychotherapist also does not know what to say. Such a confession is often the beginning of the patient’s confidence in him.

5l6 I have found that modern man has an ineradicable aversion for traditional opinions and inherited truths. He is a Bolshevist for whom all the spiritual standards and forms of the past have somehow lost their validity, and who therefore wants to experiment with his mind as the Bolshevist experiments with economics. Confronted with this attitude, every ecclesiastical system finds itself in an awkward situation, be it Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, or Confucianist. Among these moderns there are of course some of those negative, destructive, and perverse natures degenerates and unbalanced eccentrics who are never satisfied anywhere, and who therefore flock to every new banner, much to the hurt of these movements and undertakings, in the hope of finding something for once which will compensate at low cost for their own ineptitude. It goes without saying that, in my professional work, I have come to know a great many modern men and women, including of course their pathological hangers-on. But these I prefer to leave aside. Those I am thinking of are by no means sickly eccentrics, but are very often exceptionally able, courageous, and upright persons who have repudiated traditional truths for honest and decent reasons, and not from wickedness of heart. Every one of them has the feeling that our religious truths have somehow become hollow. Either they cannot reconcile the scientific and the religious outlook, or the Christian tenets have lost their authority and their psychological justification. People no longer feel redeemed by the death of Christ; they cannot believe for although it is a lucky man who can believe, it is not possible to compel belief. Sin has become something quite relative: what is evil for one man is good for another. After all, why should not the Buddha be right too?

517 There is no one wrho is not familiar with these questions and doubts. Yet Freudian analysis would brush them all aside as irrelevant, for in its view, it is basically a question of repressed sexuality, which the philosophical or religious doubts only serve to mask. If we closely examine an individual case of this sort, we do discover peculiar disturbances in the sexual sphere as well as in the sphere of unconscious impulses in general. Freud sees in the presence of these disturbances an explanation of the psychic disturbance as a whole; he is interested only in the causal interpretation of the sexual symptoms. He completely overlooks the fact that, in certain cases, the supposed causes of the neurosis were always present, but had no pathological effect until a disturbance of the conscious attitude set in and led to a neurotic upset. It is as though, when a ship was sinking because of a leak, the crew interested itself in the chemical constitution of the water that was pouring in, instead of stopping the leak. The disturbance of the instinctual sphere is not a primary but a secondary phenomenon. When conscious life has lost its meaning and promise, it is as though a panic had broken loose: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow7 we die!” It is this mood, born of the meaninglessness of life, that causes the disturbance in the unconscious and provokes the painfully curbed instincts to break out anew. The causes of a neurosis lie in the present as much as in the past, and only a cause actually existing in the present can keep a neurosis active. A man is not tubercular because he was infected twenty years ago with bacilli, but because active foci of infection are present now. The questions when and how the infection occurred are totally irrelevant. Even the most accurate knowledge of the previous history cannot cure the tuberculosis. And the same holds true of the neuroses.

5l8 That is why I regard the religious problems which the patient puts before me as authentic and as possible causes of the neurosis. But if I take them seriously, I must be able to confess to the patient: “Yes, I agree, the Buddha may be just as right as Jesus. Sin is only relative, and it is difficult to see how we can feel ourselves in any way redeemed by the death of Christ.” As a doctor I can easily admit these doubts, while It is hard for the clergyman to do so. The patient feels my attitude to be one of understanding, while the parson’s hesitation strikes him as a traditional prejudice, and this estranges them from one another. He asks himself: “What would the parson say if I began to tell him of the painful details of my sexual disturbances?” He rightly suspects that the parson’s moral prejudice is even stronger than his dogmatic bias. In this connection there is a good story about the American president, “silent Cal” Coolidge. When he returned after an absence one Sunday morning his wife asked him where he had been. “To church,” he replied. “What did the minister say?” “He talked about sin.” “And what did he say about sin?” “He was against it.”

519 It is easy for the doctor to show understanding in this respect, you will say. But people forget that even doctors have moral scruples, and that certain patients* confessions are hard even for a doctor to swallow. Yet the patient does not feel himself accepted unless the very worst in him is accepted too. No one can bring this about by mere words; it comes only through reflection and through the doctor’s attitude towards himself and his own dark side. If the doctor wants to guide another, or even accompany him a step of the way, he must feel with that person’s psyche. He never feels it when he passes judgment. Whether he puts his judgments into words, or keeps them to himself, makes not the slightest difference. To take the opposite position, and to agree with the patient offhand, is also of no use, but estranges him as much as condemnation. Feeling comes only through unprejudiced objectivity. This sounds almost like a scientific precept, and it could be confused with a purely intellectual, abstract attitude of mind. But what I mean is something quite different. It is a human quality a kind of deep respect for the facts, for the man who suffers from them, and for the riddle of such a man’s life. The truly religious person has this attitude. He knows that God has brought all sorts of strange and inconceivable things to pass and seeks in the most curious ways to enter a man’s heart. He therefore senses in everything the unseen presence of the divine will. This is what I mean by “unprejudiced objectivity.” It is a moral achievement on the part of the doctor, who ought not to let himself be repelled by sickness and corruption. We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses. I am the oppressor of the person I condemn, not his friend and fellow-sufferer. I do not in the least mean to say that we must never pass judgment when we desire to help and improve. But if the doctor wishes to help a human being he must be able to accept him as he is. And he can do this in reality only when he has already seen and accepted himself as he is.

520 Perhaps this sounds very simple, but simple things are always the most difficult. In actual life it requires the greatest art to be simple, and so acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the acid test of one’s whole outlook on life. That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least o my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most impudent of all offenders, yea the very fiend himself that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved what then? Then, as a rule, the whole truth of Christianity is reversed: there is then no more talk of love and long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide him from the world, we deny ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves, and had it been God himself who drew near to us in this despicable form, we should have denied him a thousand times before a single cock had crowed.

521 Anyone who uses modern psychology to look behind the scene not only of his patients’ lives but more especially of his own life and the modern psychotherapist must do this if he is not to be merely an unconscious fraud will admit that to accept himself in all his wretchedness is the hardest of tasks, and one which it is almost impossible to fulfil. The very thought can make us sweat with fear. We are therefore only too delighted to choose, without a moment’s hesitation, the complicated course of remaining in ignorance about ourselves while busying ourselves with other people and their troubles and sins. This activity lends us a perceptible air of virtue, by means of which we benevolently deceive ourselves and others* God be praised, we have escaped from ourselves at last! There are countless people who can do this with impunity, but not everyone can, and these few break down on the road to their Damascus and succumb to a neurosis. How can I help these people if I myself am a fugitive, and perhaps also suffer from the morbus sacer of a neurosis? Only he who has fully accepted himself has “unprejudiced objectivity.” But no one is justified in boasting that he has fully accepted himself. We can point to Christ, who sacrificed his historical bias to the god within him, and lived his individual life to the bitter end without regard for conventions or for the moral standards of the Pharisees.

522 The Protestants must sooner or later face this question: Are we to understand the “imitation of Christ” in the sense that we should copy his life and, if I may use the expression, ape his stigmata; or in the deeper sense that we are to live our own proper lives as truly as he lived his in its individual uniqueness? It is no easy matter to live a life that is modelled on Christ’s, but it is unspeakably harder to live one’s own life as truly as Christ lived his. Anyone who did this would run counter to the conditions of his own history, and though he might thus be fulfilling them, he would none the less be misjudged, derided, tortured, and crucified. He would be a kind of crazy Bolshevist who deserved the cross. We therefore prefer the historically sanctioned and sanctified imitation of Christ. I would never disturb a monk in the practice of this identification, for he deserves our respect. But neither I nor my patients are monks, and it is my duty as a physician to show my patients how they can live their lives without becoming neurotic, Neu* rosis is an inner cleavage the state of being at war with oneself. Everything that accentuates this cleavage makes the patient worse, and everything that mitigates it tends to heal him. What drives people to war with themselves is the suspicion or the knowledge that they consist o two persons in opposition to one another. The conflict may be between the sensual and the spiritual man, or between the ego and the shadow. It is what Faust means when he says: “Two souls, alas, dwell in my breast apart/* A neurosis is a splitting of personality.

523 Healing may be called a religious problem. In the sphere of social or national relations, the state o suffering may be civil war, and this state is to be cured by the Christian virtue of forgiveness and love of one’s enemies. That which we recommend, with the conviction of good Christians, as applicable to external situations, we must also apply inwardly in the treatment of neurosis. This is why modern man has heard enough about guilt and sin. He is sorely enough beset by his own bad conscience, and wants rather to know how he is to reconcile himself with his own nature how he is to love the enemy in his own heart and call the wolf his brother.

52 4 The modern man does not want to know in what way he can imitate Christ, but in what way he can live his own individual life, however meagre and uninteresting it may be. It is because every form of imitation seems to him deadening and sterile that he rebels against the force of tradition that would hold him to well-trodden ways. All such roads, for him, lead in the wrong direction. He may not know it, but he behaves as if his own individual life were God’s special will which must be fulfilled at all costs. This is the source of his egoism, which is one of the most tangible evils of the neurotic state. But the person who tells him he is too egoistic has already lost his confidence, and rightly so, for that person has driven him still further into his neurosis.

525 If I wish to effect a cure for my patients I am forced to acknowledge the deep significance of their egoism, I should be blind, indeed, if I did not recognize it as a true will of God. I must even help the patient to prevail in his egoism; if he succeeds in this, he estranges himself from other people. He drives them away, and they come to themselves as they should, for they were seeking to rob him of his “sacred” egoism. This must be left to him, for it is his strongest and healthiest power; it is, as I have said, a true will of God, which sometimes drives him into complete isolation. However wretched this state may be, it also stands him in good stead, for in this way alone can he get to know himself and learn what an invaluable treasure is the love of his fellow beings. It is, moreover, only in the state of complete abandonment and loneliness that we experience the helpful powers of our own natures.

526 When one has several times seen this development at work one can no longer deny that what was evil has turned to good, and that what seemed good has kept alive the forces of evil. The archdemon of egoism leads us along the royal road to that ingathering which religious experience demands. What we observe here is a fundamental law of lifeenantiodromia or conversion into the opposite; and it is this that makes possible the reunion of the warring halves of the personality and thereby brings the civil war to an end.

527 I have taken the neurotic’s egoism as an example because it is one of his most common symptoms. I might equally well have taken any other characteristic symptom to show what attitude die physician must adopt towards the shortcomings of his patients, in other words, how he must deal with the problem of evil.

528 No doubt this also sounds very simple. In reality, however, the acceptance of the shadow-side of human nature verges on the impossible. Consider for a moment what it means to grant the right of existence to what is unreasonable, senseless, and evil! Yet it is just this that the modern man insists upon. He wants to live with every side of himself to know what he is. That is why he casts history aside. He wants to break with tradition so that he can experiment with his life and determine what value and meaning things have in themselves, apart from traditional presuppositions. Modern youth gives us astonishing examples of this attitude. To show how far this tendency may go, I will instance a question addressed to me by a German society. I was asked if incest is to be reprobated, and what facts can be adduced against it!

529 Granted such tendencies, the conflicts into which people may fall are not hard to imagine. I can well understand that one would like to do everything possible to protect one’s fellow beings from such adventures. But curiously enough we find our- selves without means to do this. All the old arguments against unreasonableness, self-deception, and immorality, once so potent, have lost their attraction. We are now reaping the fruit of nineteenth-century education. Throughout that period the Church preached to young people the merit of blind faith, while the universities inculcated an intellectual rationalism, with the result that today we plead in vain whether for faith or reason. Tired of this warfare of opinions, the modern man wishes to find out for himself how things are. And though this desire opens the door to the most dangerous possibilities, we cannot help seeing it as a courageous enterprise and giving it some measure of sympathy. It is no reckless adventure, but an effort inspired by deep spiritual distress to bring meaning once more into life on the basis of fresh and unprejudiced experience. Caution has its place, no doubt, but we cannot refuse our support to a serious venture which challenges the whole of the personality. If we oppose it, we are trying to suppress what is best in manhis daring and his aspirations. And should we succeed, we should only have stood in the way of that invaluable experience which might have given a meaning to life. What would have happened if Paul had allowed himself to be talked out of his journey to Damascus?

530 The psychotherapist who takes his work seriously must come to grips with this question. He must decide in every single case whether or not he is willing to stand by a human being with counsel and help upon what may be a daring misadventure. He must have no fixed ideas as to what is right, nor must he pretend to know what is right and what not otherwise he takes something from the richness of the experience. He must keep in view what actually happens for only that which acts is actual. 4 If something which seems to me an error shows itself to be more effective than a truth, then I must first follow up the error, for in it lie power and life which 1 lose if I hold to what seems to me true. Light has need of darkness otherwise how could it appear as light?

531 It is well known that Freudian psychoanalysis limits itself to the task of making conscious the shadow-side and the evil within 4 [A more literal translation, which brings out the meaning more clearly while losing the play on words, would be: “He must keep in view only what is real (for the patient). But a thing is ‘real’ (wirklich) if it ‘works’ us. It simply brings into action the civil war that was latent, and lets it go at that. The patient must deal with it as best he can. Freud has unfortunately overlooked the fact that man has never yet been able single-handed to hold his own against the powers of darkness that is, of the unconscious. Man has alxvays stood in need of the spiritual help which his particular religion held out to him. The opening up of the unconscious always means the outbreak of intense spiritual suffering; it is as when a flourishing civilization is abandoned to invading hordes of barbarians, or when fertile fields are exposed by the bursting of a dam to a raging torrent. The World War was such an invasion which showed, as nothing else could, how thin are the walls which separate a well-ordered world from lurking chaos. But it is the same with the individual and his rationally ordered world. Seeking revenge for the violence his reason has done to her, outraged Nature only awaits the moment when the partition falls so as to overwhelm the conscious life with destruction. Man has been aware of this danger to the psyche since the earliest times, even in the most primitive stages of culture. It was to arm himself against this threat and to heal the damage done that he developed religious and magical practices. This is why the medicine-man is also the priest; he is the saviour of the soul as well as of the body, and religions are systems of healing for psychic illness. This is especially true of the two greatest religions of humanity, Christianity and Buddhism. Man is never helped in his suffering by what he thinks of for himself; only suprahuman, revealed truth lifts him out of his distress.

532 Today the tide of destruction has already reached us and the psyche has suffered damage. That is why patients force the psychotherapist into the role of the priest and expect and demand of him that he shall free them from their suffering. That is why we psychotherapists must occupy ourselves with problems which, strictly speaking, belong to the theologian. But we cannot leave these questions for theology to answer; challenged by the urgent psychic needs of our patients, we are directly confronted with them every day. Since, as a rule, every concept and every point of view handed down from the past proves futile, we must first tread with the patient the path of his illness the path of his mistake that sharpens his conflicts and increases his loneliness till it becomes unbearable hoping that from the psychic depths which cast up the powers of destruction the rescuing forces will also come.

533 When I first took this path I did not know where it would lead. I did not know what lay hidden in the depths of the psyche that region which I have since called the “collective unconscious” and whose contents I designate as “archetypes.” Since time immemorial, invasions of the unconscious have occurred, and ever and again they repeat themselves. For consciousness did not exist from the beginning; in every child it has to be built up anew in the first years of life. Consciousness is very weak in this formative period, and the same is true of the psychic history of mankind the unconscious easily seizes power. These struggles have left their mark. To put it in scientific terms; instinctive defence-mechanisms have been built up which automatically intervene when the danger is greatest, and their coming into action during an emergency is represented in fantasy by helpful images which are ineradicably imprinted on the human psyche. Science can only establish the existence of these psychic factors and attempt a rationalistic explanation by offering an hypothesis as to their source. This, however, only thrusts the problem a stage further back without solving the riddle. We thus come to those ultimate questions: Where does consciousness come from? What is the psyche? At this point all science ends.

534 It is as though, at the climax of the illness, the destructive powers were converted into healing forces. This is brought about by the archetypes awaking to independent life and taking over the guidance of the psychic personality, thus supplanting the ego with its futile willing and striving. As a religious-minded person would say: guidance has come from God. With most of my patients I have to avoid this formulation, apt though it is, for it reminds them too much of what they had to reject in the first place. I must express myself in more modest terms and say that the psyche has awakened to spontaneous activity. And indeed this formulation is better suited to the observable facts, as the transformation takes place at that moment when, in dreams or fantasies, motifs appear whose source in consciousness cannot be demonstrated. To the patient it is nothing less than a revelation when something altogether strange rises up to confront him from the hidden depths of the psyche something that is not his ego and is therefore beyond the reach of his personal will. He has regained access to the sources of psychic life, and this marks the beginning of the cure.

535 In order to illustrate this process, I ought really to discuss it with the help of examples. But it is almost impossible to give a convincing example offhand, for as a rule it is an extremely subtle and complicated matter. Often it is simply the deep impression made on the patient by the independent way the dreams deal with his problem. Or it may be that his fantasy points to something for which his conscious mind was quite unprepared. But in most cases it is contents of an archetypal nature, or the connections between them, that exert a strong influence of their own whether or not they are understood by the conscious mind. This spontaneous activity of the psyche often becomes so intense that visionary pictures are seen or inner voices heard a true, primordial experience of the spirit.

536 Such experiences reward the sufferer for the pains of the labyrinthine way. From now on a light shines through the confusion; more, he can accept the conflict within him and so come to resolve the morbid split in his nature on a higher level.

537 The fundamental problems of modern psychotherapy are so important and far-reaching that their discussion in an essay precludes any presentation of details, however desirable this might be for clarity’s sake. I hope nevertheless that I have succeeded in my main purpose, which was to set forth the attitude of the psychotherapist to his work. This may be found more rewarding than precepts and pointers to methods of treatment, which in any case never work properly unless they are applied with right understanding. The attitude of the psychotherapist is infinitely more important than the theories and methods of psychotherapy, and that is why I was particularly concerned to make this attitude known. I believe I have given an honest account and have, at the same time, imparted information which will allow you to decide how far and in what way the clergyman can join with the psychotherapist in his aspirations and endeavours. I believe, also, that the picture I have drawn of the spiritual outlook of modern man corresponds to the true state of affairs, though I make no claim to infallibility. In any case, what I have had to say about the cure of neurosis, and the problems involved, is the unvarnished truth. We doctors would naturally welcome the sympathetic understanding of the clergy in our endeavours to heal psychic suffering, but we are also fully aware of the fundamental difficulties which stand in the way of co-operation. My own position is on the extreme left wing in the parliament of Protestant opinion, yet I would be the first to warn people against uncritical generalizations of their own point of view. As a Swiss I am an inveterate democrat, yet I recognize that Nature is aristocratic and, what is even more, esoteric. “Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi” is an unpleasant but eternal truth. Who are forgiven their many sins? Those who have loved much. But as to those who love little, their few sins are held against them. I am firmly convinced that a vast number of people belong to the fold of the Catholic Church and nowhere else, because they are most suitably housed there. I am as much persuaded of this as of the fact, which I have myself observed, that a primitive religion is better suited to primitive people than Christianity, which is so incomprehensible to them and so foreign to their blood that they can only ape it in the most disgusting way. I believe, too, that there must be protestants against the Catholic Church, and also protestants against Protestantismfor the manifestations of the spirit are truly wondrous, and as varied as Creation itself.

538 The living spirit grows and even outgrows its earlier forms of expression; it freely chooses the men who proclaim it and in whom it lives. This living spirit is eternally renewed and pursues its goal in manifold and inconceivable ways throughout the history of mankind. Measured against it, the names and forms which men have given it mean very little; they are only the changing leaves and blossoms on the stem of the eternal tree.

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