[ “Jung: A Biography,” by Deirdre Bair is fraught with errors as outlined by Sonu Shamdasani. Sadly many accept erroneous assertions as “fact.” The Footnotes of this work eviscerates much of her work.]
CHAPTER FOUR: A new Life of Jung
We come now to the most recent biography of Jung, Jung: A Biography, by Deirdre Bair (the title being the same as the English edition of Wehr’s biography).
This is the longest and most detailed to date. In this chapter, I plan to look at some of the claims made in it, and examine the evidence for them.
Given its scale, it deserves to be looked at in more detail than the previous works.
Near the beginning of the book, Bair referred to Jung’s attendance during his student days of seances at the home of a figure known only as “Walze”.
However, this figure turns out to be none other than Jung himself.
His lifelong friend, Albert Oeri later recalled, “Carl—or the ‘Walze’ [roller], as his old friends still call him with the nickname from that time”.
In reading Bair’s book in the light of my researches on Jung, this impression of mistaken identities remained with me throughout.
It was only in 1995 that the German Collected Works, the preparation of which was supported by the family, was finished, and it was only in 1993 that a complete listing of Jung’s manuscripts at the ETH had been prepared.
In 1992, the Executive committee of the heirs made a resolution of intent to study Jung’s unpublished corpus of manuscripts, seminars, and correspondences, and consider possibilities of further publications.
Bair was granted access to the Jung papers in the ETH in accordance with the general conditions of access to all scholars, but was not granted access to materials in the family archives.
The executive committee also agreed to answer specific questions.
Unfortunately, the answers were not submitted for verification.
Bair studied some of Jung’s correspondences in the ETH, and was the first biographer to utilize them.
Concerning these, she noted that that the card catalogue was restricted, and she had to know which correspondences she wanted to consult.
In the main, she did not study the unpublished manuscripts, noting that access had been limited by the Jung estate and the staff at the ETH.
Under the conditions of access, the Jung estate cannot restrict access to the manuscripts.
Like Hayman, Bair made use of the Memories protocols and the Nameche interviews.
Like Brome, she interviewed individuals who knew Jung, and also like Brome, she used anonymous sources.
In addition, she also used anonymous private archives.
She made more use of materials in public and private archives than previous biographers.
Thus, for the general public, Bair’s biography presented far more hitherto unknown material than the previous Jung biographies.
At the same time, this makes it harder to assess for anyone not familiar with some of these materials.
We pick up the story around the time when Jung entered into communication with Freud.
By 1907, Jung had become increasingly disenchanted by the limitations of experimental and statistical methods in psychiatry and psychology.
In the outpatients clinic at the Burghölzli, he presented hypnotic demonstrations, which led to his interest in therapeutics.
This led to his interest in therapeutics, and to the use of the clinical encounter as a method of research.
Jung first met Freud in 1907.
As we have seen, Jung’s relationship with Freud has been much mythologized.
It is clear that Freud and Jung came from quite different intellectual traditions, and were drawn together by shared interests in the psychogenesis of mental disorders and psychotherapy.
Their intention was to form a scientific psychotherapy based on the new psychology, and in turn, to ground psychology on the in-depth clinical investigation of individual lives.
With the lead of Bleuler and Jung, the Burghölzli became the centre of the psychoanalytic movement.
Due to their advocacy, psychoanalysis gained a hearing in the German psychiatric world.
From 1909 onwards, Jung embarked on an extensive study of mythology, comparative religion, anthropology, and folklore.
It was hoped that the application of psychoanalysis would illumine cultural history, which in turn would illumine the psychology of the individual.
He was attempting to construct a phylogenetic biologically based psychology based on late nineteenth century memory theories, and a collective transcultural psychology.
He supervised the work of students whom he encouraged to do research on such topics.
One such student was J. J. Honegger.
For Bair, following Richard Noll, what was at issue is the question of whether Jung stole Honegger’s work, and consequently, the idea of the collective unconscious.
This is absurd.
As I have shown elsewhere, notions of a collective or trans-individual unconscious were so widespread in the last quarter of the nineteenth century that it is surprising that actual term, ‘collective unconscious,’ was not used before Jung as far as I am aware.
Honegger’s research work focused on a patient, E. Schwyzer, who was born in 1862. He was a store clerk, and had not had any higher education.
He had lived in Paris and London, and, after an attempt at suicide, he was committed to an asylum in London for one and a half years.
After this, he went to Zürich, where he was committed to the Burghölzli on 7 October 1901. The case was the subject of Honegger’s presentation at the 1910 psychoanalytic
congress in Nuremberg.
According to Bair, Jung saw something universal in the patient’s solar phallus vision in 1901, but there is no evidence to support this dating.
I have argued elsewhere that the specific turn which the patient’s fantasies took was actually due to the suggestive impact of Honegger’s mode of questioning, and that the observation may have followed the inception of the mythological project.
In 1911, Honegger committed suicide. According to Bair, Honegger’s papers indicate his “mental illness”.
I have read through these papers, and do not see what Bair is talking about.
As regards contemporaneous indications of Honegger’s mental condition we have Jung’s comment to Freud that Honegger committed suicide to avoid a psychosis, but there is no implication on the part of Jung that Honegger was mentally ill when he was practising as a psychiatrist and working with Jung as a student and assistant.
Indeed, in March 1910, when Jung went on a trip to America, he entrusted his patients to Honegger.
Around this time, Jung’s theoretical development led to changes in his technique.
These changes played an important role in his dispute with Freud. Ernst Falzeder has reconstructed the role played in this by Elfriede Hirschfeld, a patient who was treated by
both Freud and Jung.
Falzeder noted that “Freud and Jung criticized each other, using the case of Frau Hirschfeld as the ostensible motive”.
On 2 January 1912, Jung wrote to Freud: I said, all she wanted was a little bit of sympathy which you, for very good reasons best known to yourself, may have withheld . . .
I myself would not, often very much malgré moi, behave in such an abstract way, because sometimes I couldn’t withhold my sympathy, and, since it was already there anyway, I gladly offered it to the patient, telling myself that the patient as a human being was entitled to as much esteem and personal concern as the doctor saw fit to grant him.
As Falzeder noted, in retrospect, Freud made the following comments in a paper delivered to his “secret committee” in 1921:
She was also the first occasion when Jung revealed his doubtful character . . . During a holiday stay in Zurich she once let him come to make his acquaintance. On this occasion he expressed his amazement that she could endure being in analysis with me without warmth and sympathy, and he recommended himself for a treatment in a higher temperature and with more verve.
In 1914, in his history of the psychoanalytic movement, Freud cited a letter from a patient of Jung about his analysis with Jung to indicate “the form taken by the Neo-Zurich therapy under these influences”:
This time not a trace of attention was given to the past or the transference. Wherever I thought I recognized the latter it was pronounced to be a pure libidinal symbol. The moral instruction was very fine and I followed it faithfully, but I did not advance a step. It was even more annoying for me than him, but how could I help it? . . . Instead of freeing me by analysis, every day brought fresh demands on me, which had to be fulfilled if the neurosis was to be conquered—for instance, inward concentration by means of
introversion, religious meditation, resuming life with my wife in loving devotion, etc. It was almost beyond one’s strength; it was aiming at a radical transformation of one’s whole inner nature. I left the analysis as a poor sinner with intense feelings of contrition and the best resolutions, but at the same time in utter discouragement. Any clergyman would have advised what he recommended, but where was I to find strength?
The aim of Freud’s citation was to show that Jung’s therapeutic technique had nothing to do with psychoanalysis.
The patient in question appears to be none other than Oskar Pfister.
In 1914, Karl Abraham wrote to Freud apropos Pfister:
“his letter quoted in the ‘History’ was written in opposition to Jung; with his change of attitude he returns to Jung, and now back to you again!”
After reading Freud’s work, Jung commented to Poul Bjerre:
In a breach of medical discretion, Freud has even made hostile use of a patient’s letter—a letter which the person concerned, whom I know very well, wrote in a moment of resistance against me. Supposing I were to publish what people have told me about Freud!!! These practices are characteristic of the Viennese policies. Such an enemy is not worth the name.
Despite making use of material from Falzeder’s article, Bair claimed that Jung felt that his break with Freud deprived him of the right to use Freud’s psychology in his therapy,and that Jung realized that he would have no credibility after Freud’s citation of the letter.
No sources are given for these claims, which present a misunderstanding of the conflicts between Freud and Jung. There is no indication that his break with Freud led Jung to change his practice. Rather, Jung’s changes in technique were one source of their conflict.
The outcome of Jung’s mythological researches was Transformation and Symbols of the Libido.
Here, Jung synthesized nineteenth century theories of memory, heredity, and the unconscious and posited a phylogenetic layer to the unconscious that was still present in everyone, consisting of mythological images.
Jung attempted to apply his new theory of the libido to explain the symbolism of the mythology and folklore.
For Jung, myths were symbols of the libido and they depicted its typical movements.
He used the comparative method of anthropology to draw together a vast panoply of myths, and then subjected them to analytic interpretation.
He later called this the method of amplification.
Jung’s work was based on a psychological interpretation of an article written in French by Miss Frank Miller, “Some instances of subconscious creative imagination”, which was originally published by Theodore Flournoy in his journal, Archives de Psychologie.
In the second part of the work, Jung revised and widened the concept of the libido. He noted that while the term stemmed from the sexual sphere, its connotation in psychoanalysis had become much wider.
He presented a new model of libido, in which there were three phases of development: a pre-sexual stage, a pre-pubertal stage starting from around the age of three to five, and maturity.
There were a multiplicity of drives and instincts which were distinct from the libido.
Bair claimed that the “terror” of writing the second part of the work led Jung to practice yoga.
She noted that for Jung, the second part was in a language that corresponded to how the archetypes spoke, that it embarrassed him and went against the grain, but he was compelled to write it down.
No source is given for these statements. In actuality, they stem either from Memories or from the protocols, and refer to Jung’s subsequent confrontation with the unconscious, and specifically to the composition of the Black Books.
In Memories, Jung stated:
I was frequently so wrought up that I had to eliminate the emotions through yoga practices. But since it was my purpose to learn what was going on within myself, I would do them only until I had calmed myself and could take up again the work with the unconscious.
Thus Jung’s comments about his experiments in active imagination from 1913 onwards are mistakenly taken to refer to his composition of a scholarly work in 1911–1912.
It was in 1913 that Jung broke of his personal relation with Freud.
On 21 September, Freud wrote a letter to Alphonse Maeder in which he indicated that he doubted Jung’s ‘bona fides’.
Maeder communicated this to Jung, who then wrote to Freud indicating that he had resigned his position as the editor of the Jahrbuch.
As we have seen, Jung’s confrontation with the unconscious has attracted all manner of diagnoses.
Like Frank McLynn, Bair referred to Jung’s experiences as “psychotic” visions, following the familiar myth of Jung’s madness.
She did not provide evidence for her diagnosis. In the course of my own study of this period, based on Jung’s Black Books and his Red Book, I have found no evidence which
would support such a diagnosis.
In his 1925 seminar, Jung narrated a significant event that occurred when he was writing his fantasies down in the Black Books.
On one occasion, he wondered what he was doing, and heard a voice which said that it was “art”.
This led him to think that: “Perhaps my unconscious is forming a personality that is not I, but which is insisting on coming through to expression”.
He continued his dialogues with this figure. He recognized this voice as that of a Dutch woman patient, who had led one of his colleagues to believe that he was a misunderstood artist.
I have previously argued that the woman in question—the only Dutch woman in Jung’s circle at this time—was Maria Moltzer, and that the colleague in question was Jung’s friend and colleague Franz Riklin, who increasingly forsook analysis for painting.
As we have seen, Brome, McLynn, Hayman and others have presented insufficiently substantiated reinterpretations of Jung’s “Siegfried” dream in terms of Freud and Sabina Spielrein.
In Memories, the date of the dream is given as 18 December 1913.
Bair commented on this episode, and criticized what she claimed were the liberties that Jaffé took with the protocols. Bair noted that in the protocols, nowhere is the date given, and that there is no account of the panic which would be sufficient for him to contemplate shooting himself, as narrated in Memories.
By contrast, Bair claimed that Jung credited this dream for bringing his confrontation with the unconscious to a “satisfying conclusion”.
What is going on here? On page 98 of the protocols, we find the following comment of Jung’s concerning this dream:
“I had to shoot myself dead, if I did not understand this dream, I thought at that time”.
Jung had given Jaffé access to the Black Books. If we look at these, we find the date is noted precisely as given by Jaffé:
18 December 1913.297 Furthermore, we find there that Jung noted that if he didn’t understand the dream, he felt that he should kill himself.
Thus, the account in Memories accords with Jung’s contemporaneous account in the Black Books. It also accords with Jung’s account of the dream to Bennet, which neither McLynn, Hayman, nor Bair cited, despite the fact that it was published.
It was on 13 December that Jung took the decisive step of commencing to evoke fantasies in a waking state, and to elaborate them.
If the Siegfried dream had actually brought his confrontation with the unconscious to a close, the critical phase of it would have only lasted a week—a rather short time for a “descent into the underworld”.
I have not found any place where Jung states that the dream brought this to a satisfying conclusion, which would be peculiar, as he was just beginning his “confrontation with the unconscious”.
There is also no suggestion of this in his comments to Bennet, cited earlier.
Throughout 1914, Jung continued with his self-experimentation on a regular basis.
He maintained his practice and full professional activity, and in his spare time, he dedicated himself to studying his fantasies, which he wrote in his Black Books.
Apart from two weeks military service, two weeks in Italy, one week in England and a couple of days in the Engadine, he remained in Zürich in 1914.
Between June and July 1914, Jung had a thrice repeated dream of being in a foreign land and having to return home quickly by ship, followed by the descent of an icy cold.
Bair stated that Jung viewed these dreams as a precognition of the war.
However, in Jung’s Black Books, there is no evidence of this. In actuality, it was only after the outbreak of the war that Jung retrospectively viewed his fantasies as having been precognitive.
After this realization, Jung commenced writing the Red Book. The outbreak of the war had convinced him that some of his fantasies were precognitive. As he noted in Memories, “I had to try to understand what had happened and to what extent my own experience coincided with that of mankind in general”.
According to Bair, after his lecture in Aberdeen on 28 July 1914, Jung realized that the only way to form a system distinct from Freud’s was to treat himself as a patient.
She noted that he recalled the diaries that he had kept until 1900, and that he decided to revive these to embark on observing himself and meditating on the unconscious,
“which he would later call individuation”.
She added that he decided to confine himself to “language metaphors”. No source is given for this statement, but it appears to be based on the following statement of Jung to Aniela Jaffé in the protocols:
This was an attempt to meditate on myself, and [I] began to describe my inner condition. This represented itself to me in a literary metaphor: for example, I was in a cloud, and the sun shone unbearably (sun = consciousness).
This statement actually refers to the commencement of the Black Books, which occurred in October 1913.
These books do not consist of “random thoughts”, “daily happenings”, or “jottings from readings”, as Bair claimed.
The Red Book has not been publically available for study.
However, unlike Jung’s previous biographers, this did not stop Bair from making a number of striking claims concerning its contents. For example, she noted that in the Red Book, Jung presented “illustrated drawings of his fantasies accompanied by interpretive texts”.
However, in the Red Book, Jung’s drawings generally do not represent his fantasies, nor does he interpret them.
The paintings may best be regarded as active imaginations in their own right.
Bair claimed that Red Book contains variations of the Salome, Elijah, and Philemon fantasies. This is not the case at all.
She went so far as to say that “all” Jung’s inner figures stemmed from Goethe’s Faust.
This is not true: a reading of Memories is sufficient to disprove this claim, as Jung refers to figures who do not occur in Goethe’s Faust, such as Ka and Atmavictu (not to mention Elijah and Salome), and the actual text contains many more.
Bair claimed that at this time, Jung abandoned the Black Books for the Red Book, as he felt that a special book was needed for the language metaphors that arose when Philemon spoke.
However, Jung did not abandon the Black Books, and he carried on writing in it while he worked on the Red Book.
One source on the Red Book that Bair cited was Richard Hull. She noted that in 1961 Jung invited Hull to read the Red Book, and that Hull considered that it gave “the most convincing proof that Jung’s whole system is based on psychotic fantasies” and that it was the work of a lunatic.
She added that Jung decided not to publish the Red Book “as it lets the cat right out of the bag”.
The last statement is given in quotes, but its source is unidentified. After viewing the Red Book, Hull wrote as follows to William McGuire:
She [AJ] showed us the famous “Red Book”, full of real mad drawings with commentaries in monkish script; I’m not surprised Jung keeps it under lock and key! When he came in and saw it lying—fortunately closed—on the table, he snapped at her: “That should not be here. Take it away!” although she had written me earlier that he had given permission for me to see it.
Thus, it is clear that Hull made no prolonged study of the work. In my own experience, it took several years of study to understand the work properly, and it was not until I studied the Black Books that I fully understood it.
While the Red Book has not yet been published, one critical text from this period has been published.
In 1916, Jung composed a work which he titled “The seven sermons to the dead”.
In Memories, Jung noted that “these conversations with the dead formed a kind of prelude to what I had to communicate to the world about the unconscious: a kind of pattern of order and interpretation of its general contents”.
The text presents an outline of a psychocosmology written in a literary and symbolic style. Bair stated that it is like a self-help textbook, which is a bizarre description.
According to Bair, the Sermones spontaneously arose from nowhere.
In actual fact, the Sermones presented a preliminary synthesis of the points that Jung had been slowly working towards in the Black Books and in the Red Book. In Memories, Jung gave the following account of the circumstances in which it arose:
Around five o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday the front-door bell began to ring frantically. It was a bright summer; the two maids were in the kitchen, from which the open square outside the front door could be seen. Everyone immediately looked to see who was there, but there was no one in sight. I was sitting near the door bell, and not heard but saw it moving. We all simply stared at one another. The atmosphere was thick, believe me! Then I knew that something had to happen. The whole house was filled as if there were a crowd present, crammed full of spirits. They were packed deep right up to the door, and the air was so thick it was scarcely possible to breathe. As for myself, I was all a-quiver with the question:
“For God’s sake, what in the world is this?” Then they cried out in chorus “We have come back from Jerusalem where we found not what we sought.” That is the beginning of the Septem Sermones.
According to Bair, this event occurred on a stifling day in the summer of 1916.
She recounted how Toni Wolff had left after eating a meal with the family and spending the afternoon with Jung by the lake. She added that a thunderstorm loomed, and that everyone hoped that it would end the uncomfortable heat.
The narrative sounds almost like an eyewitness account.
Bair stated that her account is based on two “protocols”, which are unidentified.
If one consults the Black Books, one sees that the day in question was actually 30 January 1916.
Heatwaves are not exactly common in Zürich in the winters.
After completing the work, Jung had it privately printed.
Through the years, he gave many copies to students, friends and colleagues. Bair claimed that when Jung recopied the text, he was horrified by what he read, and decided to let few people read it.
No sources are given for this comment. Jung’s “horror” would be very strange, given that the Sermones presented the elaboration of what he had been working on for several years, and would continue to elaborate, and moreover, given that he regarded it as “a kind of prelude to what I had to communicate to the world about the unconscious”.
In 1925, the work was translated by H. G. Baynes, and privately published by Watkins Books. Jung gave copies of these to his English-language students.
As a number of commentators have correctly pointed out, the Sermones presents the first account of many important themes which would preoccupy Jung throughout his later work.
At this point in time, Bair claimed that Jung abandoned the Red Book, as well as the figure of Philemon, as he realized that he could not publicly show the raw material of the Sermones.
In actual fact, he continued to work on the Red Book for over a decade longer, and continued to deliberate concerning whether to publish it.
It was only around 1930 that he put it to one side.
Bair noted that the composition of the Red Book and the Sermones served two important functions: they dispelled the ghosts that haunted his house and provided domestic harmony, and brought about the end of his concentration on his personal unconscious.
In Jung’s own understanding, his confrontation with the unconscious did not signify a concentration on his personal unconscious, but rather, marked the exploration of the collective unconscious. And this endeavour by no means ended in 1916.
In his postscript to the Red Book, Jung wrote:
I worked on this book for 16 years. The acquaintance with alchemy in 1930 took me away from it. The beginning of the end came in 1928, when Wilhelm sent me the text of the “Golden Flower”, this alchemical treatise. There the contents of this book found their way into reality. I could work on it no longer. It will seem to a superficial observer like an insanity. It could also have become one, if I had not been able to hold the overwhelming force of the original experience. I always knew, that that experience contained valuable things, and because of this I knew not better than to write it in a “valuable”, that is, expensive book, and to paint it with the images that appeared.
As noted, the Red Book forms the centre of Jung’s later work.
If one does not get this right, it has serious cumulative consequences.
If one does not place Jung’s confrontation with the unconscious in a proper perspective, or understand the significance of the Red Book, one is in no place to understand fully Jung’s intellectual development from 1913 onwards, and not only that, but his life as well: for it was his inner life which dictated his movements in the world.
If a work does not present an accurate account of Jung’s prime concerns in the teens and the 1920s, it is not well positioned to show how Jung’s concerns in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s directly grew out of this.
For Jung’s work on his fantasies in Black Books and the Red Book formed the core of his later work, as he himself contended.
The Red Book is at the centre of Jung’s life and work.
A definitive biography of Jung without an accurate account of it would be like writing the life of Dante without the Commedia, or Goethe without Faust.
We have seen some indications of the shortcomings of how Bair’s biography deals with Jung’s inner life.
How does it fare with the social organization of analytical psychology, and Jung’s relations with his followers? We may address this question by looking at its treatment of the Psychological Club.
This was founded at the beginning of 1916 in Zürich, through a gift of 360,000 Swiss francs from Edith Rockefeller McCormick.
It was initially housed in a sumptuous property on Löwenstrasse 1.
At its inception, it had approximately sixty members. For Jung, the aim of the Club was to study the relation of individuals to the group, and to provide a naturalistic setting for psychological observation to overcome the limitations of one to one analysis, and to provide a venue where patients could learn to adapt to social situations.
At the same time, a professional body of analysts continued to meet together as the Association for Analytical Psychology.
The Club was underused, and there was little participation from the members. This led to protracted discussions concerning the “Club problem”, in which members attempted to come to an agreement as to the value and purpose of the Club.
Bair claimed that on 13 November 1916, a paper was read to the Club by Harold McCormick on the subject of the Club problem.
However, an examination of the minutes of the Psychological Club indicate that no such event took place. In actuality, a letter was sent to members of the Club by Emma Jung, soliciting their views on the Club problem.
The copy of McCormick’s work in the McCormick archives has the following noted by hand: “To the executive committee of the Psychology Club, Frau Dr. Carl Jung—President, By Request. Respectfully submitted, Harold F. McCormick, November 13, 1916”.
Thus, it was actually his reply to Emma Jung’s circular.
Bair claimed that most of the members directed their replies to Harold McCormick’s paper and noted that Moltzer “disdainfully” called it a letter.
This is not the case, as many of the replies make no mention of McCormick’s reply.
As noted, it was not a paper delivered to the Club, so Moltzer’s description is not inappropriate.
In a previous work, I studied in detail an unsigned text, which had been the basis of Richard Noll’s claims that under the guise of forming a psychological science, Jung had formed a new religion based on his self-deification as the Aryan Christ.
The text, which I call “analytical collectivity”, outlines out a model for the psychological development of the individual, through undergoing and overcoming the experience of deification, and develops parallels between this and Christ’s crucifixion.
It ends with sketching out how individuals experiencing this could come together to form an analytical collectivity, which the author claims was prophetically anticipated by Goethe in his poem “The Mysteries”.
For this reason, the author approves of the Psychological Club, and sees it as a vehicle for embodying such an analytical collectivity.
Noll had claimed that the text was by Jung, that it was presented by him at the inaugural meeting of the Psychological Club, which took place on 26 February 1916, and that it presented the esoteric messianic mission of the Jung Cult.
I demonstrated that no such text was presented at the inaugural meeting, and that there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Jung was not the author of the text, and that the most likely author was Maria Moltzer.
Bair criticized my work and defended Noll’s scholarship, and argued that each of our cases for authorship should be taken as unproven.
She put forward the case that Franz Riklin should be considered as another candidate, and suggested that both Riklin and Moltzer may have been responsible for the content of the text, and that some of the handwriting on the text resembled that of Riklin.
Another possibility she suggested is that Riklin wrote these comments on Jung’s draft, or that he was the author.
The question of considering Riklin as a candidate for the authorship of the text is certainly a valid one. However, I actually considered this and discarded it during the course of my research for my previous book.
I closely studied examples of Riklin’s handwriting, and found that they bear no resemblance to the writing on the text in the Countway library.
More critically, Riklin wrote a reply to the Club inquiry, dated 16 November, 1916. He stated that his few visits to the Club had convinced him that there was a spirit there that was no good for him, and it presented nothing in common with his life and needs.
He couldn’t identify the Club with analysis, and found that many were against him, which he considered went beyond what he considered tolerable human relations.
He noted that he would have put up with what he had experienced towards him if he had the sense that he was needed, but he had other tasks.
He ended by turning the question around, and asking, what did the Club want from him, or what did it want to criticize? So far, he had heard little that was useful.
I find it quite inconceivable that the same person who wrote the above would also have written the visionary manifesto for the Club embodied in “analytical collectivity”.
Thus, the most likely author still remains Maria Moltzer.
If there are shortcomings in how Bair’s biography deals with Jung’s inner life and the social organization of analytical psychology, how does it deal with his outer life?
To explore this question, we may consider how the biography treats Jung’s travels.
In the 1920s, Jung embarked upon a series of travels, to North Africa (1920), to New Mexico (1924–1925), and to Kenya and Uganda (1925).
These travels formed part of Jung’s attempt to forge a psychology that had cross-cultural validity.
Furthermore, given Jung’s theses concerning phylogenetic inheritance, it followed that what one could witness in less civilized cultures could correspond in some manner to phylogenetic layers in the unconscious of Europeans.
For Jung, such travels could be considered as a form of phylogenetic time travelling. Thus, the motivation for his travels directly stemmed from the theoretical issues with which he was engaged.
At the end of 1924, Jung visited New Mexico.
Bair claimed that the ethnologist and linguist Jaime de Angulo had maintained that the Pueblos were “too civilised” and did not deserve serious study.
The opposite was actually the case. On 16 January 1925, Jaime de Angulo had expressed his intentions to Mabel Dodge:
I made up my mind that I would kidnap him if necessary and take him to Taos. It was quite a fight because his time was so limited, but I finally carried it. And he was not sorry that he went. It was a revelation to him, the whole thing. Of course I had prepared Mountain Lake. He and Jung made contact immediately and had a long talk on religion. Jung said that I was perfectly right in all that I had intuited about their psychological condition. He said that evening “I had the extraordinary sensation that I was talking to an
Egyptian priest of the fifteenth century before Christ”.
According to Bair, what Mountain Lake told Jung was superficial.
In actuality, Jung considered this one of the key conversations in his life. To Cary de Angulo, he wrote that:
“I made friends with
Mountain Lake and I talked to him sympathetically as if he were a patient in advanced analysis, it was a great time”.
According to Bair, what Jung had to say about his time in Taos boiled down to just a few paragraphs in the Memories protocols in which he appeared to be irritated to have to talk about it.
In actuality, Jung dealt with his experiences in Taos at length in a manuscript entitled “African Voyage”.
That same year, Jung visited the Wembley Exhibition in London, where he was impressed by the survey of tribes under British rule.
He consequently decided to make a trip to Africa. Jung made the trip together H. G. Baynes and George Beckwith.
Along the way, they met an English woman called Ruth Bailey, who then joined them for the rest of the trip. The trip made a profound impression on Jung.
On the way back, they followed the course of the Nile up north. Jung subsequently recalled:
Thus the journey from the heart of Africa to Egypt became, for me, a kind of drama of the birth of light. That drama was intimately connected with me, with my psychology . . . I had not known in advance what Africa would give me; but here lay the satisfying answer, the fulfilling experience. It was worth more than any ethnological yield would have been . . . I had wanted to find out how Africa would affect me, and I had found out.
By contrast, Bair viewed Jung’s travels as a form of escapism.
She noted that Jung’s trip to East Africa enabled him to reflect on what in his “home ‘atmosphere’” was “too highly charged to endure”.
The implication is that Jung travelled to get away from the triangular situation between himself, his wife, and Toni Wolff.
The sentence cited actually comes from Memories, and Jung was not referring to his “home” but to Europe in general: “the atmosphere had become too highly charged for me in Europe”.
Bair claimed that on Jung’s return, he wondered why he went.
No source is given for this statement, and it is contradicted by the abiding sense of the significance of his trip which is present in Memories.
According to Bair, Jung reconsidered the papers and talks he had been producing and asked himself whether they contained a coherent message.
No source is given for this statement. In actuality, on Jung’s return, he continued to work on the Red Book, and there are no signs that he was in any doubt that it contained a coherent message.
Bair then referred to the following statement from the Memories protocols, without noting where they are from:
My “scientific” question went: what would happen if I switched off consciousness? I noticed from dreams that something stood in the background, and I wanted to give this a fair chance to come forward.
She also referred to Jung’s comments about resorting to yoga, which she had previously referred to in connection with the composition of the second half of Transformations and Symbols of the Libido.
In actuality, these passages do not refer to Jung’s thoughts and activities after his African voyage, but to his confrontation with the unconscious, and more specifically, to the years between 1913 and 1917.
There is no evidence that Jung continued to practise yoga after this period. Chronology is the foundation of historical work. Without an accurate chronology, a biography lacks a firm basis.
As we have seen, it was in 1928 that Jung’s work on the Red Book began to draw to a close, when the Sinologist Richard Wilhelm sent him a copy of the Chinese text, The Secret of the Golden Flower.
Jung’s collaborations with Orientalists such as Wilhelm, Heinrich Zimmer, Walter Evans-Wentz, and Wilhelm Hauer played an important role in his attempt to construct a psychology which had both historical and cross-cultural validity.
According to Bair, The Secret of the Golden Flower gave Jung the courage to make public his study of alchemy, which he been keeping “almost sheepishly hidden”.
She added that this enabled him to overcome Toni Wolff’s objections that alchemy was simply quackery.
Jung himself had this to say about the significance of the text for him in his preface to the second German edition of 1938:
My deceased friend, Richard Wilhelm . . . sent me the text of The Secret of the Golden Flower at a time that was crucial for my own work. This was in 1928. I had been investigating the processes of the collective unconscious since the year 1913, and had obtained results that seemed to me questionable in more than one respect…My results, based on fifteen years of effort, seemed inconclusive, because no possibility of comparison offered itself…. The text that Wilhelm sent me helped me out of this difficulty. It contained exactly those items I had long sought for in vain among the Gnostics. Thus the text afforded me a welcome opportunity to publish, at least in a provisional form, some of the essential results of my investigations.
At that time it seemed to me a matter of no importance that The Secret of the Golden Flower is not only a Taoist text concerned with Chinese yoga, but is also an alchemical treatise. A deeper study of the Latin treatises has taught me better and has shown me that the alchemical character of the text is of prime significance.
Thus, Jung here notes that he did not initially realize the significance of the alchemical nature of the text, and in fact, he does not refer to alchemy in his commentary to the text!
Concerning Toni Wolff’s relation to alchemy, it is interesting to note that Thadeus Reichstein, who subsequently won the Nobel prize for Chemistry, presented a paper on the subject to the Psychological Club on 7 Nov 1931.
He commenced by saying that the president of the Club had invited him to lecture on alchemy a year ago. The president of the Club was Toni Wolff.
In 1946, she presented a paper to the Analytical Psychology Club in London, which was taken up with explaining and justifying why Jung took up alchemy, and indicating the significance of its study.
Another Orientalist with whom Jung collaborated with was the Indologist Wilhelm Hauer, who also founded the German Faith Movement. Bair stated that Jung had practised yoga for twenty years, and was interested in Hauer’s views concerning its utility in psychotherapy.
However, there is no evidence that Jung practiced yoga for twenty years: he frequently cautioned Westerner’s against its use, and his correspondence with Hauer shows no signs of a practical interest in yoga.
What interested Jung was the symbolism of yoga, and the parallels between this and the individuation processes of his patients.
Bair stated that in 1934, Jung severed all connection to Hauer.
This is not the case, as their correspondence, which continues through to 1938, shows that they maintained amicable colleagiate terms, and discussed the possibility of several collaborative projects.
Indeed, Hauer presented a series of lectures to the Psychological Club in 1938, which Bair noted later on, which contradicts the previous statements.
Jung’s interdisciplinary relations with such scholars featured prominently in his speech at the founding of the Jung Institute in 1948, where he presented a list of about twenty topics for further research in complex psychology.
According to Bair, this list actually represented the topics which Jung focused on for the rest of his life and that he completed research on them. A study of his subsequent
works shows that neither is the case. As was clearly indicated, the list represented Jung’s recommendations for students.
Finally, we come to the issue of sex.
Jung to Spielrein: When I fall in love, one of my first instincts is to feel sorry for the woman involved, because I know, whatever she may imagine when the affair starts, what she really wants is something permanent, the everlasting peace of the double bed, something resolved.
This statement occurs in Christopher Hampton’s recent play, The Talking Cure. There is no evidence that it—or anything like it—ever took place. As we have seen, much speculation and rumour has surrounded Jung’s relations with his female patients, and has been taken as established fact.
A former editor of the Journal of Analytical Psychology, Coline Covington, asserted that:
Soon after his treatment of Sabina [Spielrein], Jung suffered from what seems to have been a psychotic breakdown. Following this episode, Jung continued to exhibit compelling erotic transferences to his women patients (to the point of including Toni Wolff in his domestic household) in which he would replicate his childhood relationships—his intense relationship with his nurse and more distant one with his mother and his desire to eliminate his father altogether so as not to have to know about his own need for a father who would both love him and his mother.
The implication of this is that Jung’s treatment and relation with Spielrein played a role in his “psychotic breakdown”. However, Jung’s formal treatment of Spielrein actually took place in 1905.
Covington does not cite which patients she is referring to, or any evidence to show that Jung had “compelling erotic transferences” to them, but she somehow “knows” what Jung didn’t know, namely that in these relations, Jung was unconsciously replicating his unavowed Oedipal desires.
One case which has attracted speculation is that of Christiana Morgan. In the 1930s, Jung presented a series of seminars to the Psychological Club on her visions. At the beginning of his seminar, he indicated his intention:
the lectures are about the development . . . of the transcendent function out of dreams and visions, and the actual representing of those images which ultimately serve in the synthesis of the individual: the reconciliation of the pairs of opposites and the whole process of individuation.
Christiana Morgan has been the subject of a biography by Claire Douglas. In this, Douglas contended that Jung exploited Morgan, and entered into a sexual relationship with her.
Douglas stated that after Morgan’s death, Henry Murray sent her correspondence with Jung to Gerhard Adler, who forwarded them to Franz Jung. She commented:
Until the Jung family releases the documents they own, there can only be suppositions about J’s problems with his anima and with countertransference, and about that gossip that Jung broke through a number of his patients’ rings of fire by sexually exploiting them.
Bair in turn cited and affirmed this position. She stated that the Jung estate claims that the letters exist, but, up to 2003, has not made them available to scholars.
Living members of the Jung heirs do not know of such a hidden cache of documents. There are a number of letters between Jung and Christiana Morgan at the Jung archives at the ETH, which are accessible. I consulted these in 2002.
They do not provide any evidence of sexual exploitation on the part of Jung, and do not support the account of their relationship presented by Douglas and Bair.
I also found no evidence for this in the papers of Christiana Morgan at the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard, nor in the Henry Murray Papers in the Houghton Library at Harvard.
If individuals wish to make such claims, then they are beholden to provide the evidence for them.
On 31 October 1930, Jung wrote to Morgan:
This letter is a humble request—would you give me the permission, to use your material you trusted to my hands, in order to explain the secrets of unconscious initiation processes? As a matter of fact I already used it in a course of 12 German doctors, from a purely impersonal point of view naturally, hiding any personal inferences.
While the seminars were in progress, Jung sent Morgan copies of the notes which were prepared.
In June 1931, Morgan thanked Jung for not having detracted from the quality of the visions, and for actually having enhanced them.
During the course of the seminars, there was some gossip about the identity of the subject.
On 5 November 1931, Morgan wrote to Jung that she had considered this in advance, and felt all right about it. She was not pleased that Peter Baynes had informed someone as to her identity, but ultimately had a sense that such experiences were not purely personal and belong to Jung and his work as much as to herself.
In a later letter on 15 August 1932, Jung explained the attitude he took to her material:
Concerning the trances I am well aware of the personal side of it, but I carefully kept away from any hint to the personal implications. Otherwise people begin to find it too interesting and then they fall into the error to devour each others personal psychology instead of looking for themselves and learning the more difficult task of an impersonal attitude. There are some, quick enough to grasp something of the actual personal background and it is often difficult to keep them off the scent. Life on a personal level is the
smaller affair, the higher level however is impersonal. And there is such a thing as responsibility to history. Many years later, Morgan wrote to Jung informing him of the gratitude in which she and Henry Murray held him. She informed him that it was through him, and in particular, his concept of the anima, that they found the “Way”, and that they owed their creative life and joy to him.
In a similar manner to Brome, Bair utilized anonymous sources.
Also like Brome, these sources are mentioned in connection to comments about Jung’s alleged extra-marital relationships.
Bair noted that around 1907 “As the women fluttered before him, his numerous flirtations grew increasingly dangerous, and by extension, increasingly exciting”.
No source is given for this statement. Referring to events in 1909, she argued that diaries of some wealthy women who lived in Zürichberg hinted at other liaisons, and that
there is one in which a woman graphically described “treatment sessions” in her house which turned into sex.
This is a serious allegation. It goes beyond Brome’s claims concerning Jung’s extramarital relations, as it alleges that these encounters took place in a context of treatment, and hence would have constituted malpractice.
In the footnote, Bair noted that in her interviews with daughters of these women, they indicated that “something between flirtation and actual affairs” had occurred between their mothers and Jung.
We are not told how many women these were. In historical work, it is essential to provide evidence for one’s assertions.
Otherwise, there is no way to judge their veracity. I have studied a number of diaries of patients of Jung. In my own experience, in some of these it is not always easy to differentiate reported events and conversations from dreams, active imaginations, or fantasies.
In addition to anonymous sources, there are quite a number of statements for which no sources are given. An example is the following: speaking of Jung’s financial circumstances in 1914, Bair referred to “Jung’s insistence that he was incapable of adult activity”.
Where does such a strange statement come from? The relationships that Brome and Bair allege may have taken place: but firm evidence needs to be given for them. Given the errors in their works, I will, for the time being, give little credence to such allegations until documents are presented in the public domain.
The same goes for other information attributed to anonymous sources, unidentified private archives, and to unattributed information.
This chapter has by no means been a comprehensive review of Bair’s biography, and has focused on factual errors, of which there are many more than those detailed above. As a result of the cumulative effect of these errors, I find the general portrait of Jung in this biography to be quite unconvincing.
If, as Jung had maintained, the cardinal task for any biography of him was to put the development of his thought in the centre, the latest biography does not succeed, any more than those before it. ~Sonu Shamdasani; Jung Stripped Bare by his Biographers Even; Pages 87-127