Contact with Jung: Essays on the influence of his work and personality

When I was asked to contribute to this volume with a description of what constituted for me the greatest stimulus in Jung’s thought, I did not have a moment’s hesitation, because I felt the same enthusiasm which I felt when I first encountered Jung’s writing.

 

What came to mind immediately was the word ‘spirit’, and I recalled the opening up of a new world by learning to consider the psyche not as an epiphenomenon but as existing in its own right and being of vital importance.

 

There are, of course, numerous other impressive and important ideas of Jung’s; new ideas, some daring, some grossly misunderstood, which had and still have their impact.

 

His theory embracing concepts concerning the depths and heights of human nature, spreading like an intricate net ‘downwards’ and ‘upwards’ on the psychic scale, into the prehistoric roots of mankind to the supra-personal realm of the spirit-is, in spite of its complexity, of sound dynamic wholeness.

 

It is knit together organically just as it has grown empirically. It is generally recognized that the richness of Jung’s contributions is such that it will probably take generations to work out their full implications.

 

Jung did not systematize his work.

 

He stood firmly in the stream of life and refused to live in an ivory tower of abstract thought, divorced from reality.

 

Life, in the last analysis, is not completely comprehensible in the sense that our intellect can fit its varied ramifications into a rational system.

 

Similarly, the human psyche in its depths and what pertains to it cannot be captured in a system. It holds life’s essence; and the psychic function in relation to consciousness is in the service of existence.

 

The greatest stimulus for me, in terms of enthusiasm and release of energy, was no doubt the fact that Jung related spirit, Geist, to depth psychology, and that his wide vision was marked by a deep reverence for the psyche.

 

The development and integration (individuation) of personality are seen by Jung as a task beyond the ‘natural’ order, a task vital not only for the individual but for mankind, in fact the most urgent task for contemporary man.

 

The recognition of the implications struck me like lightning, illuminating a landscape which had been dark.

 

The darkness fell over it again-but it was never the same: there had been light, the landscape had been seen, though it had been a glimpse only.

 

For a brief moment I had perceived a totality with intuitive certainty; now it remained to acquire the light, as a condition of seeing and developing the potential to use the full range of vision, and to focus properly.

 

It was not only an exciting experience; it was exhilarating to feel oneself in this world whose added dimension I had glimpsed.

 

The trivialities of life fell into place; values had been found; a choice could now be made.

 

My personal encounter with Jung occurred in the middle ‘thirties when he had already worked out most of his theories, and it was unforgettable.

 

He was steady and calm like a rock, relaxed like a reed, jovial like a benevolent father, radiating vitality of thought, soul, and body like a man.

 

He conveyed in tangible form in his own person and in life the reality of what it is to be centered.

 

There was nothing forced about him, nothing calculated to impress, there was no false note.

 

What vibrated forth was a certainty of value and strength rooted in that knowledge.

 

Most outstanding was his non-intellectual approach to life and its problems.

 

He was wide open to meet all experience with direct spontaneity of response, and unbiased by what he termed collective consciousness towards whatever was presented to him in matters concerning the psyche.

 

It is difficult to describe the intensity of his being-present when one faced him.

 

It was good to feel, though, and a spark of it kindled one’s life-force. To me, as to many others whose life-van force was low, whose world was at that time dimly lit and vaguely responded to, the simple directness of this impact was overwhelming.

 

One wished almost never to have met Jung, yet one would not forget it ever.

 

In contrast to what Jung represented what man can aim at, what possibilities he has, and what still remained to be approximated-one’s present wretchedness stood naked before one.

 

The urge arose simply to die-or, to live towards and for what is incorruptible.

 

Perhaps this ambivalence meant symbolically not an either/or, but both.

 

The incorruptible value was gradually revealed to me as exactly what had so deeply impressed me as a concept.

 

But here it was: a reality to be found within every psyche and to be in reach of every man if he ceases to judge it as the most ‘insignificant subject’ just because it is intangible.

 

It became empirically true that spirit is the function that makes man truly human.

 

I am using ‘spirit’ here according to Jung (1948, C. W., pp. 208 ff.), as antithesis to stasis and inertia (the classical concept of matter), opposite to nature in the sense of the instinctual and biological sphere of the psyche.

 

I consider it also as an ‘immaterial substance’ seen as the vehicle of psychic phenomena, of life itself I include the sum total of all the phenomena of rational thought, or of h,tel1ert, including will, memory, imaginatioin, pmver, and inspiration motivated by ideals.

 

I will omit here any reflection upon the strictly religious aspect of spirit.

 

Now I will touch briefly upon an aspect of my theme which always was a concern of Jung’s (since I have known him) and the implications of which have become a universal concern in our time.

 

It is the apparently two-faced and paradoxical quality of the spirit.

 

Seen from the standpoint of depth psychology, spirit is incorruptible because as a ‘psychic dominant’ or archetype it always was and simply is; as it is rooted, like all archetypes, in the objective (collective) unconscious.

 

It acts as a functional complex whose dynamic effects manifest themselves in consciousness in one way or another depending, most decisively, upon the individual’s attitude; that is, upon the degree of consciousness and his relation to his unconscious.

 

As such, nobody can deny the spirit’s reality or try to negate it in his own existence without serious psychological consequences.

 

Reflections on Spirit and Pseudo-spirit Its dynamic presses towards expression in consciousness.

 

If not allowed authentic expression, its energy value becomes displaced and the person becomes addicted to ‘spirit-substitutes’ including ‘isms’ of all sorts.

 

I caruiot here go into the involved dynamic equilibrium the spirit serves to maintain in the unconscious, nor its transformative effect.

 

I will confine my reflections to certain outward manifestations and indicate their relation to the ‘pseudo-spirit’.

 

One basic fact has to be stressed: that the inner life, the life of the spirit, unfolds according to definite laws and that it follows its own order.

 

Jung’s work bears evidence that the psyche is not a chaos made up of random whims and accidents, but is an objective reality: ‘The elusiveness, capriciousness, haziness, and uniqueness that the lay mind always associates with the idea of the psyche applies only to consciousness, and not to the absolute unconscious …. ‘ (r954, C. W., p. 230).

 

We cannot rely, therefore, upon the supremacy of an exclusively conscious, rational order based upon an undifferentiated consciousness.

 

It is the psyche which is ‘the world’s pivot’. It is the psyche which brings about ‘ . . . an intervention in the existing natural order’ of which ‘no one can say with certainty where this intervention will finally end’ (ibid., p. 2r7).

 

The reality of the psyche stands over against ‘common sense’, which tends to blunt the spirit and lull man into security.

 

In the historical development of the image of our world and the universe, common sense had been wrong, and physics had, every now and then, to correct it.

 

It does so up to this day when the fastest revolutionary adaptation known so far has to be made: to a new concept of time and space, and to the manifold possibilities man has at present.

 

Progress in all fields of natural science and technology is of such magnitude that it has more than a pragmatic bearing.

 

It represents an expansion of life which can be thought of as equivalent to a step in evolution.

 

Man’s voice and image can be carried over space and time, penetrating ‘matter’.

 

He can communicate with others while they are projected into the orbit of this earth and moving with the necessary speed.

 

He can observe such a living being, listen to his heart-beat, follow the course of his physiological functions.

 

He can observe and register almost whatever he chooses.

 

 

Those abilities, to mention only a few, reason refused to grant even to a god.

 

A great deal of what had been intangible for the range of our senses has become tangible reality by means of more sensitive instruments created by the ingenuity of man, that is to say, by his reflection and creative intuition which are qualities of the spirit.

 

At present, we have to face the fact that it depends upon man’s psychic condition whether he will use the results of science in the service of progression or of regression.

 

Not only does he gain power to explore outer space and use atomic energy, but also the world of the infinitesimal is opening up in similar dimensions.

 

He will, most likely, in the near future be able to influence and plan his own evolution by directed effects upon the genes.

 

It is true: ‘Unconsciousness (for contemporary man) is a sort of ontological inferiority or evil … ‘ (Chardin, 1959, p. 248).

 

Our materialistic outlook seduces us to ignore the fact that while ‘ . . . physics . . . is in a position to detonate mathematical formulae, [the latter still are] the product of pure psychic activity.’

 

Jung reminds us, however, that man ‘ … himself did not create the spirit, rather the spirit makes him creative . . . ‘ Nor does man have the spirit.

 

‘In reality it has him . . . it possesses him in exactly the same way that his physical world appears to be the willing object of his designs and yet in reality turns into an obsessive idee force . . . Spirit threatens the naive-minded man with inflation . . . The danger becomes all the greater the more our

interest fastens upon external objects and the more we forget that the differentiation of our relation to nature should go hand in hand with a correspondingly differentiated relation to the spirit …. If the outer object is not offset by an inner, unbridled materialism results, coupled with maniacal arrogance or else the extinction of the autonomous personality, which is in any case the ideal of the totalitarian mass state’ (cf. Jung, 1948, C. W., p. 213).

 

The spirit is thus ‘a great help and equally great danger.

 

It seems as if man were destined to play a decisive role in solving [its twofaced and paradoxical quality] … by virtue of his consciousness …. ‘ (Jung, 1954, C. W., p. 222).

 

Reflections on Spirit and Pseudo-spirit As long as we have not done this, we should not be surprised to find the cultural vehicle, in which we expect to zoom ahead, in reverse gear.

 

But most of us are perplexed: in spite of our expectation of greater closeness with and understanding of human beings, we find ourselves more separated and estranged by all sorts of ‘isms’.

 

Instead of abundant enthusiasm of consciousness and reflective perception, we find mechanization engulfing the spirit in a mass-psyche.

 

No doubt, these are manifestations of pseudo-spirit since: ‘The archetype is spirit or pseudo-spirit :1 what it ultimately proves to be depends on the attitude of the human mind’ (Jung, 1954, CW p. 206).

 

An attitude depends, of course, upon the degree and quality of consciousness: the more consciousness is developed, the more differentiated it becomes and the more it can differentiate in turn.

 

In contrast, as long as man is ‘absorbed by the opinions and tendencies of collective consciousness’ he is the ‘ever-ready victim of some wretched “isms”‘ and of the pseudo-spirit.

 

This is so because all ‘isms’ are ‘sophisticated spirit-substitutes’, that is, substitutes for the lost link with psychic reality.

 

But instead of establishing the missing link with psychic reality, spirit substitutes destroy the meaning of the individual and culture in general.

 

An addict of any ‘ism’ is dangerous to himself and others like a primitive man living in a technically highly developed society.

 

Since this is being written with the deepest appreciation of Jung, the creative thinker, physician of the mind, and teacher, I am closing with words of his, relevant to the above:

 

‘True, the archetype of the spirit is capable of working for good as well as for evil, but it depends upon man’s free-i.e. conscious decision whether the good also will be perverted into something satanic.

 

Man’s worst sin is unconsciousness, but it is indulged in with the greatest piety even by those who should serve mankind as teachers and examples.

 

When shall we stop taking man for granted in this barbarous manner, and in all seriousness seek ways and means to exorcize him, to rescue him

from possession and unconsciousness, and make this the most vital task of civilization?

 

Can we not understand that all the outward tinkerings and improvements do not touch man’s inner nature, and that everything ultimately depends upon whether the man who wields the science and the technics is capable of responsibility or not?’ (Jung, 1948, C.W., p. 48). ~ Margit Van Leight Frank, Contact with Jung, Pages 194-200

 

https://www.nytimes.com/1989/02/11/obituaries/margit-van-leight-frank-91-psychologist.html

 

 

 

When I was asked to contribute to this volume with a description of what constituted for me the greatest stimulus in Jung’s thought, I did not have a moment’s hesitation, because I felt the same enthusiasm which I felt when I first encountered Jung’s writing.

 

What came to mind immediately was the word ‘spirit’, and I recalled the opening up of a new world by learning to consider the psyche not as an epiphenomenon but as existing in its own right and being of vital importance.

 

There are, of course, numerous other impressive and important ideas of Jung’s; new ideas, some daring, some grossly misunderstood, which had and still have their impact.

 

His theory embracing concepts concerning the depths and heights of human nature, spreading like an intricate net ‘downwards’ and ‘upwards’ on the psychic scale, into the prehistoric roots of mankind to the supra-personal realm of the spirit-is, in spite of its complexity, of sound dynamic wholeness.

 

It is knit together organically just as it has grown empirically. It is generally recognized that the richness of Jung’s contributions is such that it will probably take generations to work out their full implications.

 

Jung did not systematize his work.

 

He stood firmly in the stream of life and refused to live in an ivory tower of abstract thought, divorced from reality.

 

Life, in the last analysis, is not completely comprehensible in the sense that our intellect can fit its varied ramifications into a rational system.

 

Similarly, the human psyche in its depths and what pertains to it cannot be captured in a system. It holds life’s essence; and the psychic function in relation to consciousness is in the service of existence.

 

The greatest stimulus for me, in terms of enthusiasm and release of energy, was no doubt the fact that Jung related spirit, Geist, to depth psychology, and that his wide vision was marked by a deep reverence for the psyche.

 

The development and integration (individuation) of personality are seen by Jung as a task beyond the ‘natural’ order, a task vital not only for the individual but for mankind, in fact the most urgent task for contemporary man.

 

The recognition of the implications struck me like lightning, illuminating a landscape which had been dark.

 

The darkness fell over it again-but it was never the same: there had been light, the landscape had been seen, though it had been a glimpse only.

 

For a brief moment I had perceived a totality with intuitive certainty; now it remained to acquire the light, as a condition of seeing and developing the potential to use the full range of vision, and to focus properly.

 

It was not only an exciting experience; it was exhilarating to feel oneself in this world whose added dimension I had glimpsed.

 

The trivialities of life fell into place; values had been found; a choice could now be made.

 

My personal encounter with Jung occurred in the middle ‘thirties when he had already worked out most of his theories, and it was unforgettable.

 

He was steady and calm like a rock, relaxed like a reed, jovial like a benevolent father, radiating vitality of thought, soul, and body like a man.

 

He conveyed in tangible form in his own person and in life the reality of what it is to be centered.

 

There was nothing forced about him, nothing calculated to impress, there was no false note.

 

What vibrated forth was a certainty of value and strength rooted in that knowledge.

 

Most outstanding was his non-intellectual approach to life and its problems.

 

He was wide open to meet all experience with direct spontaneity of response, and unbiased by what he termed collective consciousness towards whatever was presented to him in matters concerning the psyche.

 

It is difficult to describe the intensity of his being-present when one faced him.

 

It was good to feel, though, and a spark of it kindled one’s life-force. To me, as to many others whose life-van force was low, whose world was at that time dimly lit and vaguely responded to, the simple directness of this impact was overwhelming.

 

One wished almost never to have met Jung, yet one would not forget it ever.

 

In contrast to what Jung represented what man can aim at, what possibilities he has, and what still remained to be approximated-one’s present wretchedness stood naked before one.

 

The urge arose simply to die-or, to live towards and for what is incorruptible.

 

Perhaps this ambivalence meant symbolically not an either/or, but both.

 

The incorruptible value was gradually revealed to me as exactly what had so deeply impressed me as a concept.

 

But here it was: a reality to be found within every psyche and to be in reach of every man if he ceases to judge it as the most ‘insignificant subject’ just because it is intangible.

 

It became empirically true that spirit is the function that makes man truly human.

 

I am using ‘spirit’ here according to Jung (1948, C. W., pp. 208 ff.), as antithesis to stasis and inertia (the classical concept of matter), opposite to nature in the sense of the instinctual and biological sphere of the psyche.

 

I consider it also as an ‘immaterial substance’ seen as the vehicle of psychic phenomena, of life itself I include the sum total of all the phenomena of rational thought, or of h,tel1ert, including will, memory, imaginatioin, pmver, and inspiration motivated by ideals.

 

I will omit here any reflection upon the strictly religious aspect of spirit.

 

Now I will touch briefly upon an aspect of my theme which always was a concern of Jung’s (since I have known him) and the implications of which have become a universal concern in our time.

 

It is the apparently two-faced and paradoxical quality of the spirit.

 

Seen from the standpoint of depth psychology, spirit is incorruptible because as a ‘psychic dominant’ or archetype it always was and simply is; as it is rooted, like all archetypes, in the objective (collective) unconscious.

 

It acts as a functional complex whose dynamic effects manifest themselves in consciousness in one way or another depending, most decisively, upon the individual’s attitude; that is, upon the degree of consciousness and his relation to his unconscious.

 

As such, nobody can deny the spirit’s reality or try to negate it in his own existence without serious psychological consequences.

 

Reflections on Spirit and Pseudo-spirit Its dynamic presses towards expression in consciousness.

 

If not allowed authentic expression, its energy value becomes displaced and the person becomes addicted to ‘spirit-substitutes’ including ‘isms’ of all sorts.

 

I caruiot here go into the involved dynamic equilibrium the spirit serves to maintain in the unconscious, nor its transformative effect.

 

I will confine my reflections to certain outward manifestations and indicate their relation to the ‘pseudo-spirit’.

 

One basic fact has to be stressed: that the inner life, the life of the spirit, unfolds according to definite laws and that it follows its own order.

 

Jung’s work bears evidence that the psyche is not a chaos made up of random whims and accidents, but is an objective reality: ‘The elusiveness, capriciousness, haziness, and uniqueness that the lay mind always associates with the idea of the psyche applies only to consciousness, and not to the absolute unconscious …. ‘ (r954, C. W., p. 230).

 

We cannot rely, therefore, upon the supremacy of an exclusively conscious, rational order based upon an undifferentiated consciousness.

 

It is the psyche which is ‘the world’s pivot’. It is the psyche which brings about ‘ . . . an intervention in the existing natural order’ of which ‘no one can say with certainty where this intervention will finally end’ (ibid., p. 2r7).

 

The reality of the psyche stands over against ‘common sense’, which tends to blunt the spirit and lull man into security.

 

In the historical development of the image of our world and the universe, common sense had been wrong, and physics had, every now and then, to correct it.

 

It does so up to this day when the fastest revolutionary adaptation known so far has to be made: to a new concept of time and space, and to the manifold possibilities man has at present.

 

Progress in all fields of natural science and technology is of such magnitude that it has more than a pragmatic bearing.

 

It represents an expansion of life which can be thought of as equivalent to a step in evolution.

 

Man’s voice and image can be carried over space and time, penetrating ‘matter’.

 

He can communicate with others while they are projected into the orbit of this earth and moving with the necessary speed.

 

He can observe such a living being, listen to his heart-beat, follow the course of his physiological functions.

 

He can observe and register almost whatever he chooses.

 

 

Those abilities, to mention only a few, reason refused to grant even to a god.

 

A great deal of what had been intangible for the range of our senses has become tangible reality by means of more sensitive instruments created by the ingenuity of man, that is to say, by his reflection and creative intuition which are qualities of the spirit.

 

At present, we have to face the fact that it depends upon man’s psychic condition whether he will use the results of science in the service of progression or of regression.

 

Not only does he gain power to explore outer space and use atomic energy, but also the world of the infinitesimal is opening up in similar dimensions.

 

He will, most likely, in the near future be able to influence and plan his own evolution by directed effects upon the genes.

 

It is true: ‘Unconsciousness (for contemporary man) is a sort of ontological inferiority or evil … ‘ (Chardin, 1959, p. 248).

 

Our materialistic outlook seduces us to ignore the fact that while ‘ . . . physics . . . is in a position to detonate mathematical formulae, [the latter still are] the product of pure psychic activity.’

 

Jung reminds us, however, that man ‘ … himself did not create the spirit, rather the spirit makes him creative . . . ‘ Nor does man have the spirit.

 

‘In reality it has him . . . it possesses him in exactly the same way that his physical world appears to be the willing object of his designs and yet in reality turns into an obsessive idee force . . . Spirit threatens the naive-minded man with inflation . . . The danger becomes all the greater the more our

interest fastens upon external objects and the more we forget that the differentiation of our relation to nature should go hand in hand with a correspondingly differentiated relation to the spirit …. If the outer object is not offset by an inner, unbridled materialism results, coupled with maniacal arrogance or else the extinction of the autonomous personality, which is in any case the ideal of the totalitarian mass state’ (cf. Jung, 1948, C. W., p. 213).

 

The spirit is thus ‘a great help and equally great danger.

 

It seems as if man were destined to play a decisive role in solving [its twofaced and paradoxical quality] … by virtue of his consciousness …. ‘ (Jung, 1954, C. W., p. 222).

 

Reflections on Spirit and Pseudo-spirit As long as we have not done this, we should not be surprised to find the cultural vehicle, in which we expect to zoom ahead, in reverse gear.

 

But most of us are perplexed: in spite of our expectation of greater closeness with and understanding of human beings, we find ourselves more separated and estranged by all sorts of ‘isms’.

 

Instead of abundant enthusiasm of consciousness and reflective perception, we find mechanization engulfing the spirit in a mass-psyche.

 

No doubt, these are manifestations of pseudo-spirit since: ‘The archetype is spirit or pseudo-spirit :1 what it ultimately proves to be depends on the attitude of the human mind’ (Jung, 1954, CW p. 206).

 

An attitude depends, of course, upon the degree and quality of consciousness: the more consciousness is developed, the more differentiated it becomes and the more it can differentiate in turn.

 

In contrast, as long as man is ‘absorbed by the opinions and tendencies of collective consciousness’ he is the ‘ever-ready victim of some wretched “isms”‘ and of the pseudo-spirit.

 

This is so because all ‘isms’ are ‘sophisticated spirit-substitutes’, that is, substitutes for the lost link with psychic reality.

 

But instead of establishing the missing link with psychic reality, spirit substitutes destroy the meaning of the individual and culture in general.

 

An addict of any ‘ism’ is dangerous to himself and others like a primitive man living in a technically highly developed society.

 

Since this is being written with the deepest appreciation of Jung, the creative thinker, physician of the mind, and teacher, I am closing with words of his, relevant to the above:

 

‘True, the archetype of the spirit is capable of working for good as well as for evil, but it depends upon man’s free-i.e. conscious decision whether the good also will be perverted into something satanic.

 

Man’s worst sin is unconsciousness, but it is indulged in with the greatest piety even by those who should serve mankind as teachers and examples.

 

When shall we stop taking man for granted in this barbarous manner, and in all seriousness seek ways and means to exorcize him, to rescue him

from possession and unconsciousness, and make this the most vital task of civilization?

 

Can we not understand that all the outward tinkerings and improvements do not touch man’s inner nature, and that everything ultimately depends upon whether the man who wields the science and the technics is capable of responsibility or not?’ (Jung, 1948, C.W., p. 48). ~ Margit Van Leight Frank, Contact with Jung, Pages 194-200

Margit Obituary

 

 

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