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

Language and Archetypes by L. Stein

Any attempt to assess the value of Jung’s work by one who has used his ideas in his own professional life, and to a considerable extent based his professional outlook upon them, must consist in a revelation of the points at which Jung’s discoveries converged upon and illuminated certain professional questions, which ultimately can, of course, be traced back to personal problems.

Any appraisal, therefore, is bound to be fundamentally a subjective one, perhaps more obviously so in the case of one who, like myself, approached psychology from a distance and, originally, in the interests of a search for knowledge in a sphere which did not seem to be purely psychological.

As a student of comparative philology, my interests centred on the phonetic and semantic laws governing the changes in language in space and time, and on an attempt to discover the reasons for these changes.

Philology can only establish correspondences between linguistic patterns and draw conclusions as to the relationship between them.

It cannot and does not mean to derive from them any universal laws.

Physiological studies of normal and abnormal cases also failed to provide a satisfactory answer.

It seemed, then, that the key to the problem must lie in psychology.

A study of academic and experimental psychology brought me no nearer to the solution.

There followed an intensive study of the writings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, based on personal experience of his Spiritual Exercises.

Their procedure consists, to some extent, in the reexperiencing and balancing of both the sufferings and joys of Christ and other contrasting :figures, such as Christ and Lucifer.

In meditation, it is stipulated, both the body and the mind must experience as vividly as possible the various emotional attitudes; inner and outer vision must come into play.

In this way I arrived at a first idea of what consciousness is.

It also brought home to me the necessity for a psychosomatic approach to the human problem, and the conviction of there being no hard-and-fast division between physical (outer) reality and psychic (inner) reality; they are two aspects of one and the same entity which we tend to experience separately.

What St. Ignatius expresses in the Christian framework, Jung made more real to me through his concept of archetypes, their dynamism, and his emphasis on the need for the integration of opposed patterns in order to produce a new whole.

I had already, as a speech therapist, come to understand the basic pattern of stammering, that is, the rhythmical reiteration of syllables, as a regression to the primeval pattern of babbling, which is the result of the integration of the two yet more primitive emotional patterns of action, viz. sucking and crying.

Jung’s concept of the integration of opposites enabled me to recognize babbling-this combination of sucking, an expression of tender love, and crying, an expression of aggression -as a successful union of opposites.

If babbling is valued as a reaffirmation of this union by both patient and therapist, it leads to further development in the sense of reaching higher levels of integration (Stein, 1949).

The symbolism of the spiral enabled me to take over into the psychological field what I had learned from the writings of J. Hughlings Jackson.

The very theme of the union of love and aggression (female and male) was also the key to my real understanding of archetypes, particularly through their expression in mythological motifs.

I was especially impressed by the story of the relationship between Aphrodite and Ares, the archetypal images of love and aggression, which, significantly, led to the birth of Harmonia.

The first syllable of the girl’s name is based on the root ar, ‘to join’, which also appears as the first syllable of the word ‘articulate’.

On the basis of the symbolism of ‘harmony’, I constructed a space-time framework for the evolution and integration of language as a symbolic process.

The more I have studied Jung’s work, the more I have come to see that the essence of his greatness lies in this concept of archetypes with their contrasting and complementary meanings.

The ‘existence’ or ‘reality’ of these entities is, be it noted .not deduced from psychological data. Rather, they are, like Newton’s gravity, ‘invented’ and stipulated as agents responsible for the observed phenomena.

Jung himself, while claiming for analytical psychology the status of an empirical science, does not seem to appreciate the fact that the existence of his archetypes need not be proved,
since it is the inquirer himself who puts them there so that the job can be done (Stein, 1958).

Curiously enough (or not so curiously), research carried out independently by communication theorists and linguists has revealed that linguistic patterns are ‘binary coded’ ; that is, they
convey meaning in so far as the complementary or contrasting aspect, characteristic of the archetypes, is inherent in them.

What we are nowadays concerned with is not so much the actual linguistic form as what it is that people are trying to say and how they are trying to convey it.

This is in direct line with Jung’s attitude to psychological phenomena.

A concept of my own, directly inspired by that of Jung’s archetypes, and as yet by no means fully investigated, may help to explain the collective character of language ( as distinct from that of any particular national language) and hence account for language behaviour in terms of ‘factors’, that is, innate patterns of action or archetypes.

Verbal statements made under the guidance of archetypal images are truly operational, inasmuch as they involve activities which the recipient of the communication, notably the patient, can carry out without having been explicitly told or taught.

In the linguistic system used by the partners in true communication, certain archetypal entities are encoded and decoded.

The code contains themes into which the archetypes are metamorphosed or transformed.

One such theme known to linguists as the ‘phoneme’ (the minimum feature of the linguistic system by which one thing that may be said is distinguished from another which might have been said) (Gleason, 1955) is analogous to the mythologem. According to Trubetzkoy (1936) and Martinet (1949), the phonemes can be accounted for by a primary theoretical entity called the ‘archephoneme’.

This can realize itself in two linguistic patterns which fulfil a complementary, contrasting function; or the two opposites can remain fused or be ‘neutralized’.

Here we find a link with analytical psychology, which operates with archetypes characterized by their bipolarity.

The investigation of certain language disorders has led me to amalgamate the linguistic and the analytical concepts into one.

For the phenomenological aspect of language, or what is being said about primary existent things and how it is said, Plato, and Aristotle after him, used the term rhema (from ereo, ‘I say’; it refers to actual form and structure).

The ancient Indian linguists distinguished the observable form from a kind of prototype called sphota, which literally means ‘a bursting’, ‘a splitting open’, ‘that from which the
meaning bursts forth’.

It is the ‘eternal sound’ or ‘abiding word’ conveying the meaning (Brough, 1951).

As a substratum of expression or pre-linguistic event it is not observable or describable; it is a theoretical entity which I have named archerhememe (Stein, 1963)..

Thus my two loves, analytical psychology and linguistics, have joined together through the ubiquity of the archetype which, since Jung ‘invented’ it, has insinuated itself into divers fields. ~L. Stein, Contact with Jung, Pages 75-78