To Wilhelm Bitter
Dear Colleague, 17 April 1959
Best thanks for your news concerning the publication of the report of the meeting.
As you can imagine, your question about miracle cures cannot be answered in a few words.
The best way to answer it would probably be in the form of case histories, as it is very difficult to lay down any general principles in regard to this strange material.
The first thing is to distinguish between apparent cures, i.e., those which appear miraculous to the layman, and cures which appear miraculous also to the initiate.
I would guess that a high percentage of so-called miracle cures are due to psychic associations which have nothing miraculous about them for us.
I remember the case of a woman of 60 who had been walking on crutches for 17 years because of an inexplicable pain in her left knee.
This was at the time I conducted Forel’s clinic for treatment by hypnosis and suggestion, before the first World War.
When I told her I was going to hypnotize her, she fell without any assistance from me into an hypnotic somnambulism from which I had the greatest difficulty in awakening her.
As soon as she came to, she leapt up and cried, “I am cured!”
When her female companion handed her the crutches, she waved them away and marched home in triumph without any support.
My students were deeply impressed by this “miracle.”
The basis of the cure was that she had a son on whom she set all her ambitious hopes, but who had become mentally ill and was actually in the clinic in my department, though I didn’t know this because in the meantime she had remarried and bore another name.
For her I represented the successful son and her transference therefore fastened on me.
The cure was a demonstration in my favour ad maiorem gloriam filii.
She was able to give up her neurotic pains in exchange for this blissful transference.
Much the same thing happens in church, where it is well worth one’s while to be cured directly by the mother of God and be publicly admired for this privilege.
But it is a very different matter in the case of some organic disease, tuberculosis for instance, when by all medical standards no sudden curative processes can be expected to supervene and yet a cure is effected.
I have treated a number of cases of chronic pulmonary tuberculosis which necessitated annual visits to Davos, and observed that the lesion healed up in a few weeks so that no further visits were needed.
For the layman this is miraculous, but for the doctor it is something that can nevertheless be understood.
The same is true of tumours.
I have seen several cases where some psychic event, or psychological treatment, caused not only proliferating metastases to vanish but the primary tumour as well.
Not that these observations would be enough to make me believe in the possibility of a psychotherapeutic cure for tumours.
In some cases of psychotherapeutic treatment, contact with the sphere of the archetypes can produce the kind of constellation that underlies synchronicity.
Naturally in these circumstances anything that borders on the miraculous, or actually is ·miraculous, may be expected, because for the life of us we cannot discover exactly h ow a synchronistic result comes about.
Obviously the greatest caution is indicated, since cures that are psychically understandable in themselves can come about in such ultra-refined ways that very great experience is needed in order to recognize them as such.
Even so, there are instances of cures which by our standards were just as unthinkable as that connection between the dream and the real scarab.
At whatever point we enter the sphere of the archetypal, synchronistic events may be expected with some degree of probability and, as you rightly point out, they happen to believers and unbelievers alike.
These phenomena are relatively rare, and they occur on a plane Beyond belief and disbelief.
It is clear that such things do not happen only under inner psychic conditions; very often they also need an external ambience to happen in, for instance a numinous spot.
At Lourdes, where Mary appears as a kind of rebirth giving Earth Mother, it is the cave and the underground spring.
The latter is actually one of Mary’s appellatives: page pagon.
These are roughly the thoughts that have come to me on the subject of “miracle cures.”
With best greetings,
C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 498-500