[Sonu Shamdasani eviscerates the scholarship of Frank McLynn’s “Carl Gustav Jung: A Biography”]
In 1996, Frank McLynn, another professional biographer, published his biography of Jung.
At the outset, he stated that his book “does not purport to be a definitive biography of Jung. Such a work will not be possible until all the relevant documentation is released into
the public domain”
If the last sentence seems to present an appropriately cautious position, it is cancelled out by the statement which follows: “Nevertheless, I would be surprised if future discoveries significantly alter our perception of Jung’s doctrines and their implications”.
How is McLynn in a position to know the insignificance of what he has not read?
He nevertheless expressed his certainty that future research would reveal the names of Jung’s “unknown” mistresses, and the dates of their liaisons.
He added that due to the controversies around Jung’s work, he did not “seek expert advice or academic readings” so as not to “absorb any of the conscious or unconscious parti pris the man and his doctrines provoke”.
No new research on Jung is presented.
Instead, we have the mirror opposite of Wehr: instead of a respectful tracing of known events in Jung’s life and Jung’s own interpretations of them, McLynn is harshly critical of Jung.
McLynn regarded Memories uncritically, and this led him to make rash judgements. He claimed that “Jung did not, in any significant sense of the word love Emma [his wife].
This fact might be inferred, as Anthony Storr suggests, from the simple fact that Emma is mentioned just twice, in entirely trivial contexts, in Memories”.
Similarly, he interpreted the lack of mention of Bleuler as follows: “Jung’s anger towards his father, it seems, was visited on all successive ‘father figures’”.
However, in the protocols of Jung’s interviews with Jaffé for Memories, there were several significant comments concerning his wife and Bleuler, which cause McLynn’s fantastic extrapolations to collapse.
Far from avoiding parti pris, this work epitomized the prevalent Freudocentric view of Jung.
This perspective is clearly apparent in his reading of Jung’s “confrontation with the unconscious”, which he viewed as “a general process of mental disintegration which took him to the edge of the abyss”.
For McLynn, Jung had a “mental illness”. In McLynn’s account of Jung, everything revolves around Freud.
The biographer’s idée fixe becomes attributed to Jung. This is apparent in his reading of Jung’s Siegfried dream:
“Once again Jung shied away from the obvious meaning. It is a commonplace of Jungian hermeneutics that Siegfried stands for Freud and that the murder and guilt represent Jung’s ‘parricide’.”
McLynn claimed that Salome stood for Toni Wolff, though he left open the possibility that she may also have stood for Lou-Andreas Salomé.
Concerning Jung’s Philemon, McLynn categorically stated that “the entire Philemon experience was a schizophrenic episode, a psychotic symptom in no essential way different from the delusions and voices perceived by the Burghölzli patients”.
McLynn looked at Jung’s painting of Philemon and could only see Freud.
Hence, Philemon can be considered “as a Janus figure: at once a sign of Jung’s regaining his own authority . . . after destroying Freud/Siegfried and a prefiguring of his emphasis on the tasks of the second half of life, when gurus and wise old men come into their own”.
Like Stern, McLynn regarded Jung as a prophet masquerading as a scientist: “Acres of print could have been saved if Jung had come clean and admitted that he was a prophet”.
He regarded Jung’s work as being “far from intellectually coherent”.
However, one can question the level of his familiarity with it.
For example, Jung, he claimed, was “never much interested in child psychology”.
Consequently, he concluded, “Perhaps the most serious defect in Jung’s psychology is the lack of any theory or analysis of childhood”.
However, Jung conducted detailed investigations into children’s dreams, on which he held a seminar lasting several years, published in German in 1987.
Regarding Jung’ love life, McLynn felt free to nominate mistresses at will.
He explained Jung’s warning to Sabina Spielrein about meeting Mira Gincburg by claiming “presumably she was yet another of Jung’s mistresses whose revelations could be embarrassing”.
No evidence is provided to support this claim.
McLynn simply stated that Fräulein Aptekmann and Martha Boddinghaus were also mistresses of Jung, without providing any evidence.
The image of Jung that emerges in this work is that of a psychotic philanderer. Regrettably, this image is not confined to McLynn’s ~Sonu Shamdasani, Jung Stripped Bare by His Biographers Even, Pages 81-83.