Meetings with Jung: Conversations Recorded During the Years, 1946-1961

Küsnacht, 14th January 1952

Breakfast with C.G. and Mrs. Jung, and a walk afterwards with C.G.

He spoke of communists as people without ideals, with whom you could never make a treaty; the peace talks were all nonsense, to wear out the Americans.

You can’t make peace with termites, they just go on and on; that’s how it is with the Russians and it’s best to realise it.

It is constant attrition, and there’s no end to it.

He is working on a manuscript with Marie-Louise von Franz.

It is an old manuscript he found in the British Museum and there are copies; one was in Leyden for safety during the War.

She is writing a commentary on it, and it will be published as a companion volume to his own writing.

He told me how, when he built his house here forty-three years ago, there were meadows all round; the road was quiet and about twice the width of the drive up to the house.

His hedge had been at the kerb of the present sidepath and when the road was widened he had to give up part of his garden.

We went along to a little park and sat in a shelter – pretty cold, but sunny.

In the evening, after my lecture and dinner later with friends, I returned to Küsnacht at 10.15. Mrs. Jung let me in and said they were in the library.

There was C.G. in his usual chair by the window under the lamp.

He looked rather older and a bit tired, but he was full of life and, as always, went on to
some topic.

He wanted to know how many petitions there were in the Lord’s Prayer, because he was writing of this (I think correcting galley proofs of his book on Job).

I said they were really requests or statements rather than petitions, and he agreed that requests was the right word.

‘Give us this day our daily bread’, not just ordinary bread but the thing we live by.

He preferred Jerome’s rendering.

And he spoke of the wonderful language of the English translation of the Bible, and
also of the Zürich Bible, an excellent translation.

He showed me the papal pronouncement, which is in all languages as well as in seventeenth century baroque Latin; he said I should get a copy as it is immensely interesting.

It was quite a striking picture – C.G. with grey hair and feet up on a chair discussing the type of Latin, And Mrs. Jung behind, a sad look on her face at times.

15th January 1952

Walk in the morning with C.G. – got onto the unconscious.

At breakfast he had said how valuable patients’ pictures were because they gave us
knowledge of the unconscious which was not direct.

We can’t look at the unconscious directly, it absorbs us.

It’s like the legend of Perseus who cut off the Gorgon’s head: he could not look at it and could not cut it off unless he did, so he used his shield as a mirror.

Guided by the reflection in a sideways manner, he wielded his diamond-edged sword and smote off Medusa’s head.

Primitives, he said, are in the unconscious all the time.

In Africa, with the natives on Mount Elgon, he had to express himself very dramatically to get them to the point of action when he wanted them to do anything.

He spoke of the three principles in science – time, space and causality – and the need for a fourth, namely synchronicity.

It is a principle.

The book he has been writing with a physicist on these things is not yet published.

He mentioned his correspondence, it was ‘too much’, he would have to give it all his time if he were to attend to it properly.

16th January 1952

Walk after breakfast with C.G. Sunny.

He told me again, but in a different way than formerly, his dream of the mediaeval house, as follows:

I am on the first floor of a house, furnished a bit like my study – a sort of eighteenth century type.

Now I must see what is downstairs.

Beautiful old staircase, and the ground floor is sixteenth century-old, heavy, but beautiful furniture.

I thought, ‘This is nice, I didn’t know it was here – perhaps there is a cellar.’

And there was. I went down – bare walls, the plaster coming off, and behind were Roman bricks; a stone-flagged floor at the bottom.

In one corner was a stone with a ring in it.

I lifted it and looked down, and below were prehistoric remains – bones, skulls and old pottery.

He had this dream during his visit to Clark University in America with Freud.

He told the dream to Freud who said it must mean he wanted to get rid of someone.

Freud kept pressing this point and then said, ‘Well, it must mean you want to get rid of your wife.’

In their discussion Freud disregarded everything in the dream except the bones and skulls, which he related to the death of someone.

He saw the dream only from the point of view of his theory.

Freud was bound up in his theory, it was protective; everything must be reduced to something derogatory, Then you were in a superior position.

So with spirituality – to Freud it was nothing but sexuality.

For him everything could be explained.

He asked Jung to promise: ‘Promise me that you will support the dogma of sexuality.

If we have no dogma, then the black flood of occultism will sweep in and swallow us.’

The Freudians are all suffering from folie à deux and reduce everything to something else.

As against this is Jung’s notion of the collective unconscious, something bigger and greater existing in its own right.

Sitting in the shelter he told me as he finished recounting the dream of the mediaeval house, ‘It was then, at that moment, I got the idea of the collective unconscious.’

He said he had had a dream over and over again, before 1930, of a new wing in his house, a lovely room full of wonderful manuscripts.

He could make nothing of this then, but when he began to study alchemy he found that it had all been foreshadowed in this recurring dream.

He said it was always like this with his dreams; he would dream of what he would write – like the mediaeval house dream and the notion of the collective unconscious.

17th January 1952

We talked of dreams and organic disease, and he spoke of a girl with muscular atrophy.

He was consulted and asked for her dreams.

She had two: in one her mother was hanging – had hanged herself – from the candelabra in the centre of the room and was swinging there.

In the second dream a horse had gone mad and was in the house; it rushed along the corridor and jumped out of the window.

The mother, the source of life, and the horse, the life principle. C.G. felt, therefore, that the outlook was bad.

He said she was not neurotic, she had the disease and the prognosis was grave.

Sure enough, she died.

In the case of a man, an American he was seeing, a similar situation evolved.

This man dreamt of his father dying, and that meant himself – ‘I and my Father are one’.

Then one day he complained of his throat – some pain or tightness. C.G. thought it could be his heart.

He examined the man’s heart himself and then sent him to a cardiac specialist who said there was nothing wrong. C.G. wasn’t satisfied; he said that as he had sent the patient the specialist had probably thought, ‘Oh, it’s one of those neurotics!’

He sent the patient back for a second consultation telling him that if the specialist found his heart was sound he should get him to state it in writing, and he did so.

On the way home after this consultation, with the letter in his pocket saying that there was nothing wrong with him, the man fell dead.

He had an aortic aneurysm and the specialist had missed it.

Yesterday C.G. spoke of the Oedipus complex, that Freud had misunderstood it.

Oedipus did not know who it was when he killed his father; he was just a man he met.

This whole dogma was built on a misunderstanding.

It had been snowing in the night and the sun was shining this morning when we went for a walk, but it was cold.

C.G. wore his fur cap.

And then the snow came on again.

This afternoon we had five students at the Jung’s house.

They came, at their request, to discuss case material with me.

Before the meeting C.G. met them in his library and chatted for a few moments.

Then we gathered for the discussion and Mrs. Jung came in and joined the group.

Shortly after, C.G. came in also.

So I found myself conducting a seminar with, as audience, C.G., his wife, and five students.

C.G. did not remain throughout but left after half an hour having contributed to the discussion about my patient’s pictures.

At dinner we talked of it all and of other cases.

Of one patient he said, ‘Let him alone and see what the unconscious has to say,’ adding, ‘Often I’ve been very glad that I haven’t acted as the saviour.’

18th January 1952

Freudian psychology is neurotic psychology.

It is based on patients, and patients like the idea that someone has a theory which explains their troubles.

You never think in somatic disease about its cause only, you have to deal with it in the present.

It’s no help just to search for causes and then blame the parents.

Why not have the parents as the patients?

Freud’s doctrine of resistance: he said of C.G. when he opposed him, ‘That’s only resistance.’

But it might be another point of view; if we persist on and on that it is only resistance people get exhausted and may give up their neurosis.

But the neurosis shows fight, it’s a good thing.

At times C.G. has had to re-create a neurosis in order to get vitality into the treatment – for instance when a patient is just flat and deflated.

I raised the question of projections.

He said, ‘Well, they always appear, and we must expect them.

The physician is in the situation and must be prepared to be hurt; if no disease,
He mentioned a patient who could not talk, and he said, ‘What’s wrong with you?

Why don’t you say what you’ve come to say?’

She asked for a mirror and looked at herself in it, and then added that before seeing him she always looked in the mirror in the waiting room.

She was dissociated and had to do this in order to know where she was.

When people talk continuously in a stream it is because they don’t want to come to the point, and he may just let them go on.

Once with such a patient he fell asleep and had a dream while she was talking; the patient did not notice, and he told her.

She remarked, ‘Oh, really!’ and at once resumed her monologue.

‘It’s amazing,’ said C.G., ‘how auto-erotic some people are.’

The psychology of the Jew is bound up with his intellectual capacities and the other side, his instincts, suffer.

He illustrated this comment with the story of a Rabbi and his pupils.

The Rabbi was teaching, and the pupils agreed with everything he said.

Then he stated, ‘A barking dog never bites,’ and they assented.

Soon after they came to a farm and the dog ran out barking at them.

At once the Rabbi gathered up his skirts and, with his students, ran into a wood. ‘But,’ they said, ‘you told us a barking dog never bites, why did you run away?’

‘Well,’ he replied, ‘it’s quite true, but the dog might not know it.’

‘So if you have a theory you must disregard everything else!’ added C.G.

At breakfast he spoke of astrology (one of his daughters is interested in it), and of a German book in which he is criticised for giving support to horoscopes.

One author wrote to him saying it could not be proved, it was all nonsense; and he had replied, ‘But I have always known this.’

He went on, ‘It’s like “bringing owls to Athens”, what is the sense in telling me it can’t be proved?

Of course it can’t!

What I want to know is why it works, for it is amazing how useful it can be.

Like the I Ching, it’s all nonsense if you like; but then it can be absolutely relevant – how is that?

Naturally we can’t always prove things.

But there may be some other sort of truth; and it may be true on a basis we don’t know of.

So if we are reasonable we say we don’t know how it works; but it can certainly give astonishing insight into character.’

Doctors pay no attention to the mind, to he soul.

Nor does the Church – we have all got to be miserable sinners and get rid of ourselves and accept a dogma which will save us.

He spoke of psychology as a branch of natural science or medicine.

The physician for internal diseases must learn and know what happens when food goes into the stomach.

Likewise with the mind, it was precisely the same.

Hence his question at the eminar yesterday when discussing my patient’s pictures:

‘What would you expect the unconscious to be doing in these pictures, having heard the case history of dissociation?’

The answer: to produce a compensation, and that is what we find in the first picture and in the others.

There is bound to be a reaction.

We get patients to draw pictures in order to release something, to let us see what is going on, what the unconscious is doing. ~E.A. Bennet, Conversations with Jung, Pages 77-93