[Carl Jung: “Why don’t they understand me?”]

Memory of C.G. Jung by William Alex

The time had come to say goodbye to Dr. Jung and to Zurich.

I thought this meeting would probably be my last encounter with him.

He was aging and I was preparing to cross an ocean and a continent to contend with an untried and uncertain future as a Jungian analyst.

I sat before him in his study, Institute diploma in hand , and expressed to him as well as I could how much these years of analysis and training had meant to me.

He listened quietly, nodded his head reflectively and added some words of advice for my future career.

The time ran out and I got up to leave, shook hands and started down the broad stairs of his .home leading to the front door as I had done on previous occasions.

To my surprise he accompanied me down the stairs.

I thought this was a very nice , warm farewell gesture , opened the door and started to walk down the garden path toward the front gate and the street.

Jung continued to walk beside me. I didn’t quite know what to make of this and slowly walkeddown the street toward my parked car a short distance away feeling both honored and puzzled.

Jung continued to walk beside me silently, pipe in mouth , evidently lost in thought , and I, too, said nothing.

Suddenly he turned to me and asked , “Why don’t they understand me?”

There was a tone in his voice I had not heard before that was at once plaintive, questioning, and hurt.

I intuitively felt I knew what “they” referred to .

“They” was the world out there, the world of science, of academic psychology and psychiatry, of organized religions, of prejudices that persist in misunderstanding and misquoting his discoveries and insights into the inner world, the human soul.

I sensed in his question something of the loneliness of the explorer, of the quester who dares to look beyond the accepted and the known; who cannot do otherwise.

I answered, “Dr. Jung, you know as well as any man alive why they don’t understand you. Is it not because you are probably fifty or a hundred years ahead of your time?”

He looked at me for a brief while, nodded quietly, extended his hand for a final handshake, turned and walked back toward his home.

It happened, to my gratification, that this was not the last encounter I had with Jung. I met him again on several other occasions.

And we spoke of other things. But still today, more than a quarter of a century later, among the memories and images I have of Jung, I, at times, see him walking quietly with me and hear him ask the same question.

I respond in fantasy in a way much the same as I did then.

I say, “I don’t think the world has yet caught up with you , Dr. Jung, … not quite yet. ~C.G. Jung, Emma Jung and Toni Wolff -A Collection of Remembrances. Pages 3-4.