The “Great and Puzzling Problem” of Symbols
In this letter to Smith Ely Jelliffe (1866-1945), an American physician, teacher, medical editor, and pioneering psychotherapist, Jung discusses schizophrenic patients and includes examples of drawings they produced.
The images contain what Jung termed “Bruchlinien,” breaking lines that split the pictures, apparently indicative of the patients” mental states. Jung here wonders whether “unconscious symbolization has a meaning or aim at all or whether it is merely reactivated stuff, i.e., relics of the past.”
However, in the Red Book Jung wrote that “if one accepts a symbol, it is as if a door opens leading into a new room whose existence one did not previously know . . . .Salvation is a long road that leads through many gates. These gates are symbols.”
Image: Letter from Carl G. Jung to Smith Ely Jelliffe, October 16, 1932. Smith Ely Jelliffe Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (021.00.00). [Digital ID # rb0021]