Margaret Gildea: Jung as seen by and Editor, A Student and A Disciple

My real contact with Carl Jung was limited to the year 1931, all of which I spent in Zurich, working with him and his group.

I was in my mid-twenties, and he was in his mid-fifties. Although the great American depression had started, it was not apparent to me.

The economic depression in central Europe, and the antecedents of Nazism were everywhere visible outside of Switzerland. (I saw bands of young people wandering the countryside in Austria and Bavaria, but they were not allowed in Switzerland; they were stopped at the border.)

It seemed that nothing troubled Switzerland. Like Shangri La, or the Magic Mountain, it was high up and mysterious and somehow magical or mystical, otherworldly, untroubled .

A month after I was seeded in Zurich Imarita Putnam was settled in the Berggasse paying Freud twenty-five dollars an hour. We all paid Jung ten dollars an hour, which we took to be a sign of dear-cut spiritual superiority!

The chief instructional method Jung used at that time was the seminar. These occurred Wednesday mornings from 10:00 o’clock on, until Jung tired of talking. There was a break at 11:00 for second breakfast, tea canapes, and talk. Then he resumed with renewed enthusiasm.

The material under discussion that year was the journal of an American woman who had been in Zurich the year before. She was well educated and intellectual. She had recorded a long series of dreams, hypnogogic and images. Her material was a lively example of “active imagination,” illustrated with pen and pencil, water colors, and crayon. Jung himself often drew symbols and diagrams on the board.

His method was to use each theme, sequence or symbol, as a springboard from which co launch in to an explosion of his theories, speculations and vast erudition. He ranged nor only throughout the global field of psychiatry, but also over present-day social and political subjects, as well as historical and mythological material.

He covered philosophy, psychology, medicine, economics, and folklore.

He reported his experiences at home and abroad, his prejudices and opinions on many diverse subjects. He had opinions about practically everything, and dwelled especially on the personality structure of Americans, Orientals, Teutons, Jews, Blacks: Goethe, Nietzsche, and especially Heraclitus.

Much of his Weltanschauung seems dated when I read it today, bur his philosophy, with its roots in myth and history, is timeless.

This method of instruction he later came to call “amplification.” It is central to the technique of Jungian therapy today, as it was then.

One purpose of this method is to offer the patient a way to stand back a little from his problems and see them as a little less personal, as though projected onto a screen, more universal and more human.

Ideas about the stream and continuity and universality of human life flowed through all of his teaching.

Jung’s ideas on psychological types were much discussed. I believe the typology is less used now than it was then. Hemry Murray, who knew Jung, said char Jung himself agreed that it was not everywhere applicable.

However, in Psychological Types he held that the major attitudes, introversion and extraversion were basic and fixed in an individual’s character. He considered himself to be an introvert, but in 1931 he was certainly in an extraverted period. He was enormously interested in travel, and in people. And he successfully charmed most. He was very aware of the feelings and attitudes of the people with whom he was talking, and h was always willing to discuss flaws in his theories and possible alternative explanations. He was particularly adept ac presenting his ideas in such a way that they would not be rejected our-of-hand by people representing other disciplines.

I heard him present basic theory about the collective unconscious in two different ways to two different groups. The first was that this area of the unconscious represented an anatomical construct which produced images and symbols as the thyroid produces thyroxin or the kidneys, urine. This directly explains the universal nature of symbolism. The other explanation postulates that there is indeed a vast area … “our there” … and that these symbols exist somehow outside the individual, like God, and happen to him. In either case one goal of individuation and psychotherapy is to help the patient become aware of the important elements in his psyche that communicate with the rest of mankind.

These two views of collective or universal symbol-making are not mutually exclusive, but the difference in their outlook demonstrates Jung’s empathy with his audience, and his ability to present his ideas in acceptable ways.

I wish I could convey the feeling of warmth and the glowing center that he created. After the seminars we frequently went to lunch together, and the gaiety and conversation continued until the next appointment.

Marie-Louise von Franz used the following words in describing him: “buoyant joy in life” … “festive atmosphere he created around him.” “Enormous vitality … and an unusually
large capacity for love.”

He loved jokes of all kinds. He prided himself on his use of American slang and idiom, and loved to trace the philology of Americanisms.

People have asked me repeatedly about Jung’s religious beliefs.

Like most humans I think his beliefs changed over the course of his long life.

The last scholar I talked with who had seen him, after his eightieth birthday, was Karl Kerenyi, the anthropologist. He said that like all old professors Jung and he talked about their colleagues, and as to religion, Kerenyi said char he believed Jung thought of himself as a “kind of Pope … of the Gnostics.”

For me one of the most illuminating ideas was the concept of projection, which Jung made vivid, in part by acting it out.

I remember particularly his description of the man who had a split in his personal icy, or a latent psychosis.

This man is vaguely aware that something is wrong: “There’s something like schizophrenia around here-I feel i can smell it. Aha, He’s got it, not me.” What a relief!

He emphasized particularly the role of opposition in the psyche, that an attitude held in the conscious mind exists in its opposite in the unconscious, that these opposites are in a scare of dynamic tension, and that there is a rhythm, or cyclic swing between them.

He frequently referred to Heraclitus, and the law of enantiodromia: that everything on reaching its peak or culmination turns into its opposite. “One must observe the eternal up and down movement of the wave of the unconscious.

It raises the spring from the depths in winter, and then it buries the whole creation again.”

So he talked nor only about the opposition, bur about the role of the transcendent function , in reconciling the opposites, in successful psychotherapy.

If one attitude is held too vigorously in the conscious mind, its opposite exists with equal vigor in the unconscious.

Thus he would look piercingly at us and say: “You American women wear too fancy hats. That is because you are afraid there is nothing inside your heads. You should go and buy a plain hat on the Bahnhof Strasse; and show some respect for what is inside your heads.

He would lean across the podium and scold us (for our own good).

“You American women do all your thinking right here (pinching the bridge of his nose). You must learn to think with your bellies.”

“You think love is an emotion, and if for a minute you don’t feel it you think the world is coming to an end. love is not an emotion. It is an attitude coward!”

“You Americans hardly ever notice that wine has individuality. Wine is just Hock or Claret or Champagne, and nothing more. This is a barbarous attitude. Wine has soul. It is something living. It is spiritual.”

Professor Henry Murray cold me that he and Stanley Cobb were in Zurich together once, and asked Jung to dinner. They both told him about their problems with stammering.

He listened sympathetically, and said: “Don’t give it up! It’s your major sexual asset! You know women find it most attractive.”

He talked a lot about the problems of transference and countertransference.

He was not especially interested in analyzing the transference, unless it was distorted by inflation, or otherwise blocking the way.

He felt transference did no harm, and in face could be used as a bridge to other relations. But beware of countertransference.

Dr. Renee Nell told me that he said, “Beware of being too pleased with your patient. When you find yourself congratulating yourself on what a fine job you have done, and how well your patient is doing, and you are looking forward to the next hour . .. that is just the moment when you will get a tremendous kick from behind right in the counter-transference!”

In the fantasies he had just read about the woman’s being caught in a cave, in the dark, alone and frightened . “She has to remain down there in the dark until she can stand it, then it will be overcome, and will turn into its opposite, Light.”

For instance, “St. Paul had the Christian revelation at the time of his greatest sin. When he was apparently the farthest away from Christ … . He was on his worse errand, on the road to Damascus … . Just there he had the vision of Christ.

That would be absolutely incomprehensible if we did not know that the Yea is quite close to the Nay.

And finally: “What is the nature of man? According to some he is wrong, sinful, little better than an earthworm. But this is absolutely wrong.

Who has created the religions of the world? Man.

If left to himself he can naturally bring about his own salvation.

Who has produced Christ? Who has produced Buddha? All that is the natural growth of man.

Man has always produced symbols that redeemed him, so if we follow the laws that are in our own natures they quite naturally will lead us to the right end.~C.G. Jung, Emma Jung and Toni Wolff -A Collection of Remembrances; Pages 23-27