Carl Jung on Toni Wolff.
[Below is an Excerpt from “Jung, My Mother and I.” Catherine “Katy” Cabot knew Carl Jung and many of the early pioneers of Depth Psychology. She was a patient of Carl Jung’s and Toni Wolff. She affectionately referred to Dr. Jung as “Onkle.”
She maintained a diary of her meetings with Dr. Jung and others as well as her correspondence with them.]
I had an extraordinary interview with Uncle today and would like to write you about it, because it concerns an analysis of Toni and might help you with your own family problems, or give you insight into them. I asked Onkel why Toni was so hard and rough and gruff at times, and not at all understanding, sometimes. Uncle said that she had a remarkable mind, was a genius and a person of quality. Her animus is her hard and gruff side which comes through whenever the unexpected happens. I said that to me she seemed like a grouchy old man with the gout, and was at moments difficult. He said that side of her was absurd and grotesque and you often get such a side with people with a special gift. Those sorts of people have something original and unmanageable. After all, everyone has a flaw and Toni has a remarkable natural mind. What Toni cannot stand is something unexpected! When something changes or something unforeseen happens, she resists it like hell!
She likes to be prepared. When she is not prepared for something different, it is as if she were tippling over. She expects no door, and there is one, so she loses her countenance, becomes unmanageable and vanishes out of the picture. Uncle went on to say that it was ridiculous, but that nothing he could say would help, “If I wear a necktie she hasn’t expected, it’s all wrong with her! She likes everything to be the rule, and is frightened if something unexpected happens. It’s far better if one takes the trouble to get her accustomed to the unforeseen. He went on to say that she could not foresee that I would not come to Bollingen, when invited after Tommy’s departure. If she has made up her mind that the devil is to come, woe unto him if he doesn’t appear; he must appear as she expects to see him, so that she is not overcome by something new to face, for she will have no “attitude” to it. She is an introvert, and like all introverts, she fears the unexpected; it is hostile! Extroverts, on the contrary, like to have things different from what they expected. They just love it when something unforeseen happens.
Toni is a very advanced person, but she comes from a most conservative family, who has lived in Zurich for centuries, and are like hard, old wood, Her mind is the only thing movable in her. If she had not that mind she would be stone-hard. She would live with the furniture of her great grandparents; she would not have a phone in the house, for the phone can ring to announce something unforeseen! Then Uncle went on to explain that with those old patrician families, you do not exist if you have a strange name, one which is not aristocratic, and one which they have not heard before, and know is all right. They must be able to invite the person on equal terms.
Then Uncle went on to tell a story about his mother-in-law, who had lived in Schaffhausen for hears; afterwards, coming to Basel, where she moved in the innermost circles. (Her ancestors had been famous in Schaffhausen as far back as 1430, an old patrician family.) This mother-in-law went to Ragaz for a cure, and met there another old lady like herself, also from Base’s most conservative set. Of course they saw quite a lot of each other. There was a girl in Ragaz who was alone, and seemed very sad. Uncle’s mother-in-law, who was a kind-hearted woman, sat down next to her on a bench one day, and talked to her, for which the young girl seemed very grateful. The next day, Uncle’s mother-in-law saw her friend from Basel, who looked horrified. She said to her, “How could you talk to that young person—one doesn’t talk to people one doesn’t know: she could be the daughter of an executioner!” Such sayings are a precious information regarding an instinctive resistance-a dark secret.
I asked Onkel if he couldn’t analyze Toni and cure here of that absurdity, the rough side of her nature, as it was unworthy of her to keep it when she had the opportunity to get rid of it, through some work with him. He said one cannot touch that subject with her-one cannot “get at it” – as when you approach her about it, the same revulsion takes placed as when something unexpected happens. It is sort of wheels-within-wheels, and one cannot do anything about it. She refuses to let one broach the subject. Besides one can’t, as the same process takes place and she gets gruff and annoyed. It is stronger than herself. She won’t own up to it, and it pushes her away and wont’ allow anyone to approach it. It is like a mine: when you touch it, it goes off. You can’t touch a mine: it is untouchable, he said. “So I dismissed it and have not tried to cure her, as she can’t be tackled yet. Maybe in time she can approach it, her great problem. But those humors of hers, those grouches, are flimsy nonsense and don’t make sense, so don’t’ pay any attention to them.
I told uncle that for a long time (since September) I had seen that her queerness and rudeness were absurd; that I had made up my mind to disregard them and just take her for her good sides, which were many. He said that was the thing to do. ~”Jung, My Mother and I;” Pages 233-236
Image: Left Toni Wolf; Center Unknown Man, Toni Wolff, Carl Jung; Right Toni Wolff.