Carl Jung – Taking Inner Life Seriously
Carl Jung, Part 1: Takinginner life seriously
Achieving the right balancebetween what Jung called theego and self is central to histheory of personalitydevelopment
Mark Vernon – The Guardian
If you have ever thought of yourself as anintrovert or extrovert; if you’ve ever deployedthe notions of the archetypal or collectiveunconscious; if you’ve ever loved or loathed thenew age; if you have ever done a Myers-Briggspersonality or spirituality test; if you’ve everbeen in counselling and sat opposite yourtherapist rather than lain on the couch – in allthese cases, there’s one man you can thank: CarlGustav Jung.The Swiss psychologist was born in1875 and died on 6 June 1961, 50 years ago nextweek. His father was a village pastor. Hisgrandfather – also Carl Gustav – was aphysician and rector of Basel University. Hewas also rumoured to be an illegitimate son of Goethe, a myth Carl Gustav junior enjoyed, notleast when he grew disappointed with hisfather’s doubt-ridden Protestantism. Jung felt “amost vehement pity” for his father, and “sawhow hopelessly he was entrapped by the churchand its theological teaching”, as he wrote in hisautobiographical book, Memories, Dreams,Reflections.Jung’s mother was a more powerfulfigure, though she seems to have had a splitpersonality. On the surface she came across as aconventional pastor’s wife, but she was“unreliable”, as Jung put it. She suffered frombreakdowns. And, differently again, she wouldoccasionally speak with a voice of authority thatseemed not to be her own. When Jung’s fatherdied, she spoke to her son like an oracle,declaring: “He died in time for you.”In short, his childhood was disturbed,and he developed a schizoid personality,becoming withdrawn and aloof. In fact, he cameto think that he had two personalities, which henamed No 1 and No 2.No 1 was the child of his parents andtimes. No 2, though, was a timeless individual,“having no definable character at all – born,living, dead, everything in one, a total vision of life”. (At school, his peers seem to have pickedthis up, as his nickname was “FatherAbraham”.)Jung was perhaps not so unusual, asmany children indulge similar internal fantasies.Where Jung differed was in taking his inner lifeseriously. “I have always tried to make room foranything that wanted to come from within,” henoted. Later he renamed and generalised No 1and No 2, calling them the ego and the self.Achieving the right balance between the twoaspects of the psyche is central to his theory of personality development, called individuation.Jung finally came into his own atuniversity. He proved himself a brilliant student,developing “a tremendous appetite on allfronts”, graduating in medicine and naturalscience in double-quick time. His first publicpaper was entitled On the Limits of the ExactSciences, in which he questioned an inflexiblephilosophy of materialism. His doctorate wasOn the Psychology and Pathology of So-CalledOccult Phenomena, and laid the foundations fortwo key ideas in his thought. First, that theunconscious contains part-personalities, calledcomplexes. One way in which they can revealthemselves is in occult phenomena. Second,most of the work of personality development isdone at the unconscious level.He first made a name for himself in theBurghölzli psychiatric hospital in Zürich,working with Eugen Bleuler, the doctor whocoined the word “schizophrenia”. Jungdeveloped the word association test of FrancisGalton, the cousin of Charles Darwin.A patient was read a list of words andasked to respond to each one with the first wordthat comes into their mind. The response, andthe time taken to produce it, is recorded.Previous research had alreadydemonstrated that prolonged response timesindicate that the stimulus word unconsciouslytroubles the patient. Sometimes, it is possible toidentify a group of such words. Jung’scontribution was to link these groups with theunconscious part-personalities and show howthe test provides a window into the distressedworld of the mentally ill. People are not simplymad, he concluded. Rather, there is a method intheir madness. In one case, Jung showed that apatient who for 50 years had been fixated on theapparently meaningless task of making illusoryshoes, had been abandoned by a lover who wasa cobbler.Jung was becoming quite well known,with his fame in Zürich prompting the first of several questions that subsequently came to doghis reputation. It concerns his allegedwomanising.At university, he discovered that hecould sway an audience with the force of hischaracter and ingenuity of his ideas. In Zürich,he gave public talks. “Clusters of womenformed a phalanx around him before and aftereach of his lectures,” writes Deidre Bair in herseminal biography. Then, a woman calledSabina Spielrein became his patient and, it wasrumoured, his lover – perhaps just one of many.Later, he certainly formed a ménage à trois withToni Wolff, to which his wife Emma onlyslowly became reconciled. Sleeping withpatients is now the unforgivable sin amongpsychotherapists. Had Jung committed it?After examining the evidence overseveral chapters, Bair concludes that it isimpossible to discover the truth of whathappened, though the rumours and speculationappear wildly exaggerated. After all, this was anage in which husbands and wives would greeteach other with a chaste shake of the hand, evenin private.Jung had an electric personality. It ishardly surprising that such charisma wasinterpreted as erotically unsettlingly.Further, the phenomenon of patientsdeveloping powerful feelings for their therapists– part of what is called transference – was thennew. Freud’s earliest collaborator, Josef Breuer,dropped the “talking cure” when one of hispatients didn’t just fall in love with him butdeveloped a phantom pregnancy, naming him asthe father. Freud first thought that transferencewas unhelpful and should be circumvented.Then, he came to believe that it was thecornerstone of psychodynamic therapy becauseit brings back to life otherwise buried feelingsand affections.Continued on Page 21
News That Sounds Like aJoke
Night club singer Simon Ledger wasarrested following a performance at theDriftwood Beach Bar on Britain’s Isle of Wightin April after a patron complained to police.Ledger was covering the 1974 hit “Kung FuFighting,” and two customers of Chinesedescent reported that they felt victims of illegal“racially aggravated harassment.” [DailyTelegraph, 4-27-2011]
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Carl Jung – Freud and the Nazis
Carl Jung, Part 2:A troubled relationshipwith Freud – and theNazis
Continued from Page 20
On the 50th anniversary of Jung’s death it is time to putaccusations of himcollaborating with the Nazis torest
Jung’s relationship with Freud wasambivalent from the start. First contact wasmade in 1906, when Jung wrote about his wordassociation tests, realising that they providedevidence for Freud’s theory of repression. Freudimmediately and enthusiastically wrote back.But Jung hesitated. It took him several monthsto write again.They met a year later and then it wasfriendship at first sight. The two talked non-stopfor 13 hours. Freud called Jung “the ablesthelper to have joined me thus far”, and spoke of how Jung would be good for psychoanalysis ashe was a respected scientist and a protestant – adark observation that was to haunt Jung threedecades later when the Nazis came to power.For now, different tensions persisted. Arequest Jung made highlights one axis of difficulty: “Let me enjoy your friendship not asone between equals but as that of father andson,” he wrote. The originator of the Oedipussituation, in which murderous undertonessupposedly exist between a father and a son,was alarmed. Freud did anoint Jung his “son andheir”, but he also experienced a series of neurotic episodes revealing the fear that Jungwas a threat too.One such incident occurred when theytravelled together to America in 1909.Conversation turned to the subject of themummified corpses found in peat bogs, whichprompted Freud to accuse Jung of wanting himdead. He then fainted. A similar thing happenedagain a while later.A different sign of conflict came whenJung asked Freud what he made of parapsychology. Sigmund was a completesceptic: occult phenomena were to him a “black tide of mud”. But as they were sitting talking,Jung’s diaphragm began to feel hot. Suddenly, abookcase in the room cracked loudly and theyboth jumped up. “There, that is an example of aso-called catalytic exteriorisationphenomenon,” Jung retorted – referring to histheory that the uncanny could be projections of internal strife. “Bosh!” Freud retorted, beforeJung predicted that there would be anothercrack, which there was.All in all, from early on, Jung wasnagged by the thought that Freud placed hispersonal authority above the quest for truth.And behind that lay deep theoretical differencesbetween the two.Jung considered Freud too reductionist.He could not accept that the main drive inhuman life is sexual. Instead, he defined libidomore broadly as psychic energy or life force, of which sexuality is just one manifestation. As tothe Oedipus complex, Jung came to believe thatthe tie between a child and its mother was notbased upon latent incestuous passion, butstemmed from the fact that the mother was theprimary provider of love and care. Jung hadanticipated the attachment theory of JohnBowlby, which has subsequently been widelyconfirmed.Jung also believed that the contents of the unconscious are not restricted to repressedmaterial. Rather, the unconscious resources anindividual’s life. A human person is built up of layers. The conscious aspect is thepsychosomatic whole that comprises the bodyand cognisant mental life. Beneath that lies apersonal unconscious, a supply of material fromthe life of the individual. And beneath that lies acollective unconscious that is inherited. Jungbelieved he had objective evidence for thiscommon heritage from his studies of schizophrenics, who apparently spoke of images and symbols they could not havediscovered in their reading, say, or culturally.It is a contentious proposition to whichwe will return. For now, it’s worth noting thatagain Jung anticipates post-Freudian theories,this time about the nature of the unconscious. Inhis recent book, The Social Animal, DavidBrooks observes that 21st century sciences areshowing how the unconscious parts of the mind“are not dark caverns of repressed sexualurges.” Jung wrote precisely that 100 years ago,and neuroscientists, psychologists andeconomists of today might find parts of Jung ahighly suggestive read.For Freud, Jung was becoming a highlyuncomfortable read, and by 1913 theirfriendship was at an end. Jung maintained hisrespect for Freud though: when he wrote Freud’sobituary in 1939, he observed that Freud’s work had “touched nearly every sphere of contemporary intellectual life”. However, thebetrayal that Freud felt has arguably spoiledrelationships between the two schools of psychodynamic thought to this day. I wasrecently speaking with a Freudian analyst whoquite casually referred to Jung as a womaniserand Nazi. We considered the first accusation lastweek. Now, we should consider the anti-Semiticcharge.The evidence is carefully weighed inDeirdre Bair’s biography and, in retrospect,Jung could be accused of making mistakesduring the 1930s. However, other actions hetook clearly rescue his reputation.The accusation that he was a Nazi fellowtraveller stem from evidence such as a magazinearticle he had written 1918. Jung drewdistinctions between Jewish and Germanpsyches to illustrate the variety of heritableelements of the collective unconscious. WhenAryans reread the article in the 1930s, theydistorted it out of all proportion. Further, theyglossed over another observation, that theGerman psyche had “barbarian” tendencies,Jung’s reflection on the 1914-18 war. They alsomissed his main point that the unconsciousshould be taken very seriously. It can drive thedeath of millions.Jung is also accused of complying withthe Nazi authorities, in particular with MatthiasGöring, the man who became the leader of organised psychotherapy in Germany, not leastbecause he was the cousin of Hermann Göring.In fact, Matthias put Jung’s name to pro-Nazistatements without Jung’s knowledge.Jung was furious, not least because hewas actually fighting to keep Germanpsychotherapy open to Jewish individuals. Andthat was not all. Bair reveals that Jung wasinvolved in two plots to oust Hitler, essentiallyby having a leading physician declare theFührer mad. Both came to nothing.It has also come to light that Jungoperated as a spy for the OSS (the predecessorto the CIA). He was called “Agent 488” and hishandler, Allen W. Dulles, later remarked:“Nobody will probably ever know how muchProf Jung contributed to the allied cause duringthe war.”After the war, Rabbi Leo Baeck, asurvivor of the Theresienstadt concentrationcamp, confronted his friend about hisinvolvement with the Nazis. Jung admittedfailings, though perhaps also had the chance totell a fuller story. Baeck and he were fullyreconciled. Fifty years after Jung’s death, theanniversary that falls today, it is time that casualNazi accusations ceased too.[]
KNOW YOUR FUTURE TODAY!PSYCHIC ELLEN HARTWELLwww.ellenhartwell.com