Memories, Dreams, Reflections

[Carl Jung: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves” in context.]

We always require an outside point to stand on, in order to apply the lever of criticism.

This is especially so in psychology, where by the nature of the material we are much more subjectively involved than in any other science.

How, for example, can we become conscious of national peculiarities if we have never had the opportunity to regard our own nation from outside?

Regarding it from outside means regarding it from the standpoint of another nation.

To do so, we must acquire sufficient knowledge of the foreign collective psyche, and in the course of this process of assimilation we encounter all those in compatibilities which constitute the national bias and the national peculiarity.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

I understand England only when I see where I, as a Swiss, do not fit in. I understand Europe, our greatest problem, only when I see where I as a European do not fit into the world.

Through my acquaintance with many Americans, and my trips to and in America, I have obtained an enormous amount of insight into the European character; it has always seemed to me that there can be nothing more useful for a European than some time or another to look out at Europe from the top of a skyscraper.

When I contemplated for the first time the European spectacle from the Sahara, surrounded by a civilization which has more or less the same relationship to ours as Roman antiquity has to modern times, I became aware of how completely, even in America, I was still caught up and imprisoned in the cultural consciousness of the white man.

The desire then grew in me to carry the historical comparisons still farther by descending to a still lower cultural level. ~Carl Jung, Memories Dreams and Reflections, Pages 246-247.