Introduction to Jungian Psychology: Notes of the Seminar on Analytical Psychology Given in 1925 (Philemon Foundation Series)
Questions and Discussion
Dr. Shaw’s question: “Could such a case as the girl you spoke of last Monday, if properly analyzed, be helped to find her true self, something midway between her superior unconscious personification
and her inferior persona, and if so, would she, do you think, have been spared the pathetic death of such a regression?
“In such a case could you explain how the mediatory function could be created?
Is it correct to call it a creation, a new thing formed from the opposites?”
Dr. Jung: Certainly the girl would have been spared much by analysis, and her development could have been a much smoother one.
The point of analysis is the making conscious of unconscious contents in order to avoid such mistakes.
As to the mediatory function, the principle can be explained very well by such a case.
In order to explain it we need the principle of the opposites.
The girl in question lived in a milieu that was too narrow for her gifts, and she could find in it no horizon, her environment being conspicuous for its insufficiency in ideas; it was narrow-minded and meager in every sense. Her unconscious, on the other hand, presented exactly the reverse picture.
There she was surrounded by the ghosts of very important people.
Such a tension as these two extremes induce is the basis of the mediatory function.
She tried to live it out through her mediumistic circle and to find there the chance to come out of the impasse in which she lived.
And so the tension between her real life and her unreal life increased.
In reality she was, as I said, a little midinette; in her séances she was a person fit to associate with great minds.
When such an opposition as that occurs, something must happen to bring things together.
It is a situation that is always difficult to handle.
If, for example, I had told her she was an important person in her unconscious, I might have started up a wrong fantasy system in her, the best way for her to meet her problem having been to get into life and do
Thus I may be told that I am a big man, and told that by a thousand people, but I can’t believe it unless I can put myself to the test and accomplish something.
In her case this was difficult to achieve, for there was always the danger that, in disentangling herself from the false elements in the unconscious fantasies, she might also lose connection with the desirable things and thus lose belief in herself.
The analyst can never be sure that in making the patient throw away a wrong form, he is not going to throw away the contained value.
For this girl, the operation of the mediatory function seems to have followed this order:
First she began speaking of ghosts, then she began to be in contact with the “ghost” of the grandfather, who had been a sort of family god.
The grandfather’s way had been the right way, and whatever came from him was exalted.
Then Goethe and all sorts of great people came into her fantasies.
And finally there was developed the important personality with which she identified herself.
It was as though each of the great personages had left a deposit in her out of which grew her greater personality.
As you know, Plato laid down the principle that it is impossible to look at something ugly without taking something of it into the soul, and it is equally impossible to be in contact with what is beautiful without
reacting to it.
Something of the sort happened to the girl.
The figure which she developed is the mediatory symbol.
It is the living form into which she slowly developed.
Thus there is created an attitude which liberates from the pairs of opposites.
She detached herself from the cheapness of her surroundings on the one hand, and on the other from the ghosts which did not belong to her.
One could say that nature working alone works along the lines of the mediatory or transcendent function, but one has to admit that sometimes nature works against us and brings the wrong personality into reality, so to speak.
Our prisons and hospitals are full of people with whom nature has been experimenting to unhappy ends.
Mrs. Dunham: Why did the girl revert to the condition of a child?
Dr. Jung: It was due to the fading of her libido, which contracted more and more following prematurely the ordinary life curve which tends always to show the maintenance of a certain tension.
In youth the libido fills out a frame of generous proportions, while in old age it contracts to a much smaller amplitude.
Going back to the transcendent function, on the one side are to be found the real facts, on the other the imagination.
This brings about the two poles.
In the case of the girl, the ghosts went much too far on the side of imagination, and the reality side was much too small.
When she put herself into reality she was a first-rate tailoress.
Fantasy is the creative function—the living form is a result of fantasy.
Fantasy is a pre-stage of the symbol, but it is an essential characteristic of the symbol that it is not mere fantasy.
We count upon fantasy to take us out of the impasse; for though people are not always eager to recognize the conflicts that are upsetting their lives, the dreams are always at work trying to tell on the one hand
of the conflict, and on the other hand of the creative fantasy that will lead the way out.
Then it becomes a matter of bringing the material into consciousness.
One admits that one is in an impasse and gives free rein to the fantasy, but at the same time, the conscious must keep control in order to have a check on the tendency of nature to experiment.
That is to say, one has to keep in mind that the unconscious can produce something disastrous to us.
But on the other hand, one must be careful not to prescribe to the unconscious—it may be that a new way is required, and even one beset with disaster.
Life often demands the trying out of new ways that are entirely unacceptable to the time in which we live, but we cannot shrink from undertaking a new way for that reason.
Luther, for example, was forced into a way of life that seemed almost criminal, viewed by the standards of his time.
Dr. de Angulo’s questions: (1) “When you read Schopenhauer for the first time, you rejected the viewpoint through which he has most influenced the world, namely his negation of life, and chose instead
the one in which he leans toward a purposive principle in life.
At the time you were making that choice, the main current of philosophic thought must have been in direct opposition to it.
I would like to know more about why you made the choice that you did.
Had you a leaning that way before you read Schopenhauer, or did Schopenhauer formulate that conception for you for the first time?
Did your observations of the girl help you to understand Schopenhauer’s argument, or did he explain the girl to you, or did it work both ways?”
(2) “It is not clear to me whether you believed that the purposive principle which you thought could be traced out in the workings of the unconscious was something that applied to the life of the individual alone, or whether it was a part of a general purposive principle that directs the universe from behind the scenes, so to speak.”
(3) “I understood you to say that it is a general psychological law that the attainment of a higher level of development is always at the cost of some apparently terrible mistake.
I take it for granted that the analytical experience enables one to avoid the mistake, but substitutes for it the principle of sacrifice.
Is that correct?”
(1) From Schopenhauer I first got the idea of the universal urge of will, and the notion that this might be purposive.
It helped me very much in working out the problem the girl presented, because I thought I could trace clearly in her signs of something working in the unconscious toward a goal.
(2) I became interested in the nature of the unconscious and asked myself if it were blind.
This I could answer with no, it is generally purposive.
But if one asks if the unconscious is the world or if it is psychology, then the question becomes ticklish.
It was not possible for me to think of the brain as the background of the universe, and so I did not extend the purposive principle to the universe.
But now I have had to modify my viewpoint with respect to the relation between the unconscious and the universe.
If I think of the question purely intellectually I still say what I said before.
But there is another way of looking at it—that is, we can ask, “Is there a need in us to satisfy these metaphysical problems?”
How can we arrive at a suitable answer to this question?
The intellect denies itself before the task.
But there is another way of tackling it.
Suppose, for example, we are concerned with a certain historical problem.
If I had five hundred years at my disposal I could solve it.
Well now, I have within myself a “man” who is millions of years old, and he perhaps can throw light on these metaphysical problems.
If we put these things up to the unconscious, when we get the view that suits the “old man” things go right.
If I am holding views that are out of keeping with the unconscious, they are certain to make me ill, and so it is safe for me to assume that they contradict some main current in the universe.
Does this answer suit you, Dr. de Angulo?
Dr. de Angulo: I think I understand what you mean by it, but I can’t accept it.
Dr. Jung: Shall we argue it further?
Dr. de Angulo: No.
Dr. Jung: Then as to your third question, I would not go so far as to say we can avoid all mistakes by analysis, otherwise one could analyze life instead of living.
One should be willing to make mistakes cheerfully.
The most perfect analysis cannot prevent error.
Sometimes you must go into error; moreover, the moral things in you cannot come out until you give them a chance.
The recognition of truth cannot come to daylight till you have given yourself a chance to err.
I believe firmly in the role that darkness and error play in life.
When analysis is based on a sound technique it surely does take one not only out of night into day, but the other way around also.
It is perfectly true you can substitute a sacrifice for some grotesque nonsense or other.
Dr. Mann’s question: “If Nietzsche had been able or willing to make the ideal of Zarathustra real in his own life, would the book ever have been written?”
Dr. Jung: I believe the book would certainly have been written in any case, because there is a tremendous urge in a creative mind to get the product of the fantasy down in some relatively permanent
form in order to hold it.
Thus practically all peoples have made idols in order to give permanence and concretization to their ideals.
One might say that every symbol seeks to be concretized.
With this in mind, when we read in the Old Testament that it was engraved upon the stone, “Up to here God has helped us, ”we know that it was done in the effort to hold on to the faith that had brought them that far. Egypt had pyramids and embalming in order to concretize the principle of immortality.
In the same way, Nietzsche felt the need to materialize his symbol.
That is the regular course of events.
One first creates the symbol and then one says to oneself, “How does this thing happen?” or “What does it mean to me?”
This, to be sure, requires a strongly reflective mind which most artists have not got, but which Nietzsche did have to a high degree.
The artist in general, when he has not got the reflective mind, wants to get away from his work as soon as possible.
He especially wants to get away from the image and hates to talk about it.
Thus Spitteler, soon after Types appeared, gave a lecture in which he cursed the people who want to understand symbols; the Olympische Frühling, according to him, has no symbolic meaning, and if you seek for one in it, it is just as if you tried to get symbolism out of the song whistled by a bird.
Of course, Spitteler is loaded with symbolism; the only thing is that he does not want to see it, and in fact the artist is often actually afraid to see it and to know what his work means.
Analysis is fatal to second-rate artists, but that should be a feather in its cap. In analysis, or in an analyzed person, only something big comes through, whereas it is the tendency of our times to make it easy for every little cat or worm to be born into the art world.
Everyone who uses a brush is an artist, everyone who uses a pen is a writer.
Analysis puts such “artists” out of the running, it is poison to them.
Dr. Gordon:6 What is the person who brings forth “cats” and “worms” to think of them?
Dr. Jung: He is to think that his is a hard life when, after a day of work, he must still labor over such things.
This is a burden imposed upon him by his unconscious, but he must not mix up the products thus created with art.
The fact that convinced me of the truth of Freud’s theory was the evidence of repressions which I could find in my association experiments.
Patients could not respond to certain tests where pain entered in, and when I asked why they could not respond to the stimulus word, they always said they did not know why, but when they said this it was always in a peculiar, artificial manner.
I said to myself that this must be the thing that Freud described as repression.
Practically all the mechanisms of repression became clear in my experiments.
As to the content of the repression, I could not agree with Freud.
In those days he was speaking only of sexual trauma and shocks to explain the repression.
I had had then considerable experience with cases of neurosis in which sexual things were of quite secondary importance compared with the role played by social adaptation.
The case of the mediumistic girl, for example, was one such. ~Carl Jung, 1925 Seminar, Pages 9-14