For a variety of reasons it is welcome news that Waldstein’s book The Subconscious Self has been rescued from oblivion and made accessible to a wider public in an excellent translation.

The content of the book is equally good and, in places, very important.

In his preface to the German edition, Dr. Veraguth (Zurich) remarks that the book, first published more than a decade ago, is to be valued primarily as an historical document.

This, unfortunately, is only too true, for nowhere does the present end sooner and the past begin earlier than in medical literature.

The English edition was published at a time when another turn of the ascending spiral of scientific knowledge had just been completed in Germany.

The scientists had once again reached the point that had been reached eighty years earlier.

Those were the days of that remarkable man Franz Anton Mesmer, perhaps the first in the German-speaking world to observe that, armed with the necessary self-assurance, practically anyone could imitate the miraculous cures wrought at places of pilgrimage, by priests, French kings, and thaumaturges in sheep’s clothing (witness Ast the Shepherd, who relieved his milieu of several million marks).

This art was named “Mesmerism.”

It was not a swindle, and much good was accomplished by it.

Mesmer offered his art to science, and even founded a school, but he took too little account of the fact that ever since science has existed there has also existed an undying elite enthroned at the top, that knows everything far better than anybody else, and from time to time guards mankind against various pernicious aberrations.

It protected us from the erroneous belief that Jupiter had moons, that such things as meteors could fall from the air, that puerperal fever was caused by dirty hands, and that the brain possessed a fibrous structure.

For eighty years the elite protected psychology from the discovery of hypnotism by pooh-poohing Mesmer’s “animal magnetism.”

Nevertheless a few German crackpots and obscurantists of the Romantic Age kept Mesmer’s teachings alive, quietly collecting observations and experiences that were ridiculed by their contemporaries and successors because they smacked of superstition.

Notwithstanding the persistent mocking laughter, the numerous books from the pen of Justinus Kerner, Eschenmayer, Ennemoser, Horst, etc., to name but a few who reported “curious tales of somnambulists,” contain, along with obvious nonsense, glaring truths which were put to sleep for the next sixty years.

The French country doctor Liebeault, who made a timid attempt in the sixties to publish a little book on this subject, was stuck with his whole edition unsold at the publisher’s for twenty years.

Thirty years later there existed a literature of hundreds of books and a number of technical periodicals.

The spiral had once again entered this domain.

All of a sudden it was discovered that an enormous amount could be done, both in theory and practice, with the earlier “Mesmerism”; that apparently dangerous symptoms of nervous ailments, such as paresis, contractures, paraesthesias, etc., could be produced at will by suggestion and then blown away again—in short, that the whole army of the neuroses, accounting for at least eighty per cent of the neurologist’s clientele, were disturbances of a psychic nature.

(A realization that is so modern today that its rediscoverers are hailed as incalculably great benefactors of mankind.)

In its unfathomable wisdom the elite instantly recognized that mankind was in dire peril, and declared

(1) that suggestion therapy was fraudulent and ineffective;

(2) that it was exceedingly dangerous

(3) that the insights gained by hypnotic methods were sheer fabrication, imagination, and suggestion; and

(4) that the neuroses were organic diseases of the brain.

It had, however, also been rediscovered that our consciousness obviously does not cover the full range of the psyche, that the psychic factor exists and is effective in regions beyond the reach of consciousness.

This psychic factor such things as meteors could fall from the air, that puerperal fever was caused by dirty hands, and that the brain possessed a fibrous structure.

For eighty years the elite protected psychology from the discovery of hypnotism by pooh-poohing Mesmer’s “animal magnetism.”

Nevertheless a few German crackpots and obscurantists of the Romantic Age kept Mesmer’s teachings alive, quietly collecting observations and experiences that were ridiculed by their contemporaries and successors because they smacked of superstition.

Notwithstanding the persistent mocking laughter, the numerous books from the pen of Justinus Kerner, Eschenmayer, Ennemoser, Horst, etc., to name but a few who reported “curious tales of somnambulists,” contain, along with obvious nonsense, glaring truths which were put to sleep for the next sixty years.

The French country doctor Liebeault, who made a timid attempt in the sixties to publish a little book on this subject, was stuck with his whole edition unsold at the publisher’s for twenty years.

Thirty years later there existed a literature of hundreds of books and a number of technical periodicals. The spiral had once again entered this domain.

All of a sudden it was discovered that an enormous amount could be done, both in theory and practice, with the earlier “Mesmerism”; that apparently dangerous symptoms of nervous ailments, such as paresis, contractures, paraesthesias, etc., could be produced at will by suggestion and then blown away again—in short, that the whole army of the neuroses, accounting for at least eighty per cent of the neurologist’s clientele, were disturbances of a psychic nature.

(A realization that is so modern today that its rediscoverers are hailed as incalculably great benefactors of mankind.)

In its unfathomable wisdom the elite instantly recognized that mankind was in dire peril, and declared

(1) that suggestion therapy was fraudulent and ineffective;

(2) that it was exceedingly dangerous

( 3 ) that the insights gained by hypnotic methods were sheer fabrication, imagination, and suggestion; and

(4) that the neuroses were organic diseases of the brain.

It had, however, also been rediscovered that our consciousness obviously does not cover the full range of the psyche, that the psychic factor exists and is effective in regions beyond the reach of consciousness.

This psychic factor at least throwing a ray of light on those dark regions of the psyche from which all human achievements ultimately spring, whether they be artistic creations or nervous disorders.

It is to be hoped that books of this kind will find favour with the educated public, so as gradually to prepare the ground for a deeper understanding of the human psyche, and to free the minds of the sound and sick alike from the crass materialism of the cerebro-organic dogma.

The sensitive psychological note which Waldstein strikes gives his book a particularly attractive character, even though his analysis does not probe nearly as deeply as Freud’s researches. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 339-342

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