Modern Psychology: C. G. Jung’s Lectures at the ETH Zürich, 1933-1941

Lecture XI 19th January, 1934

I shall begin by giving you a diagram [diagram III, p . 47), the Right side of which illustrates the outward going development which we were discussing in the last lecture.

The centre is the subject to which everything is related.

Right side of diagram.

We do not perceive people and objects as they really are, we see rather an image of them, for we are always caught in subjective prejudices which have the effect of a kind of fog.

This peculiar element surrounds us and has a deceiving and distorting effect upon our perception and colours our impressions.

It is the greatest possible art to see people and things objectively, and the more important they are, and the nearer they stand to us, the thicker the fog becomes; we can even be completely caught in our own unconscious assumptions.

William James calls this fog the “fringe of consciousness”.

The further things lie from us the more objective we can be, and in the sphere of abstract ideas (Section III + in diagram III) an impersonal or non-ego way of looking at things exists, which is quite free from subjective prejudice.

It is impossible to live entirely in the personal attitude, the non-personal catches us somehow; we need both personal and impersonal points of view.

To approach the Divinity has always been felt as an escape from the futility of personal existence.

I once saw something very touching in the newly excavated tomb of a Pharaoh: a little basket made of reeds stood in a corner and in it lay the body of a baby; a workman had evidently slipped it in at the last minute before the tomb was sealed up.

He himself was living out his life of drudgery, but he hoped that his child would climb with Pharaoh into the ship of Ra and reach the sun.

But the personal element is also necessary in life: a woman once came to me absolutely broken down because her dog had died.

She had drifted away from all human contact, the dog was her only relationship; when that disappeared she went to pieces.

The primitive makes no distinction between the personal and impersonal: “L’etat c’est moi “, as Louis XIV said, is just how the primitive king looks upon his kingdom.

Nature simply produces a thing, she never tells us her laws, but human intelligence discovers them and makes abstractions, classifications according to sex, age,

family, tribe, race, nation etc.

These are natural classifications, but they correspond to abstractions so they belong to Section III + in diagram III.

Abstractions can become more important than the human unit, it is a question here of “how man”? Not of “who”?

The abstract sphere also contains groups which are characterised .by an idea: the state, the church, parties, societies, isms etc.

These groups have the peculiarity of looking upon themselves as something superior, they usually possess a symbol, the cross, the crescent, the sun, the star, the swastika, and so on.

The totem animals of the nations are also to be found in this zone: the Prussian eagle, the British lion, the Gallic cock and so on. Symbols such as the sun symbol belong to the sphere of highest ideals (Section IV + in diagram III); the sun often symbolises the father, the life giver.

This brings us to the end of the right side of the diagram, the side of the conscious.

Left side of diagram.

The side which we shall now consider is the dark shadow side which we do not like to think ab out and yet it constantly invades our everyday life in the form of bad moods and sudden tempers.

We know very little of this dark sphere, but as a working hypothesis let us visualise it as it appears on the Left side of the diagram, the unconscious side, where ghosts and phantoms take the place of people and objects.

Inside the “fringe of consciousness” is the land of projections, of affects and moods of an inexplicable nature; dreams and phantasies reach us through this sphere and so called hunches and inspirations.

Here again the fog circle influences the contents of this circle [Section I- in diagram III) with unconscious assumptions.

It is the spirits [Section III – in diagram III) which give rise to these affects, hunches and dreams.

The primitive has a better realisation of the autonomy of this inner side than we have. He does not speak of having a mood, but of being possessed by one; “they”, the spirits or

ghosts, steal his soul away and make him ill, so he knows that he has to work day and night to remain aware of them and keep them at bay.

We saw that the Clairvoyante’s world was peopled with ghosts, just as the outer world is inhabited by human beings.

So the spirit world is equivalent to the outer world and these spirits also form different groups.

In this connection it is an interesting fact that the Roman Catholic Church organises its angels in a celestial hierarchy of 9 orders and 3 groups, this hierarchy reaching its zenith in the Godhead.

We forget that only two or three hundred years ago the world of our forefathers was alive with all manner of demons, elementals and sylvan beings and to some people today

they are still a reality.

There are peasants in our Swiss mountains who believe in witchcraft when their cow gives a quart too little milk, although they would hotly deny any belief •in the supernatural.

We will now apply this diagram to the primitive mind.

Here we are at once confronted with a striking difference: the centre, the. ego, is missing, in its place is a plurality, the men of the tribe and things.

Primitives never say “I” , but “we”, for they live i n complete “participation mystique” with each other and with objects.

For instance, a man was caught and punished for stealing and although he was not the thief, he submitted without resentment because, as it was one of the men of his tribe, it might just as well have been he.

Their own personal life means very little to primitives, a native will even commit suicide in order that his ghost may haunt the thief who has robbed him.

Diagram IV, p. 49, will help you to understand primitive psychology.

The centre (1) consists of a plurality, we are dealing here with group consciousness, mob psychology; primitives are like a shoal of fish all moved together, they are given to sudden panics like the stampedes of wild herds.

The native never thinks about himself, it is therefore very difficult to come to an understanding with him.

He lives mostly in an unconscious dream, but he does not register what is happening there.

We ourselves, however, have Christmas trees and Easter hares without enquiring what they mean, simply because they are customs which our forefathers have handed down to us.

Is that any less unconscious?

Yet we assume that our consciousness is in every respect superior to that of the primitive!

Many of us live with no ego consciousness; neurotics, for instance, are frequently completely identified with their surroundings, they have no “I”, but say “we” meaning the

family, down to the uncles and aunts!

Their only standard is what others think.

A lawyer once said to me: “You can do anything provided other people do not know it.”

But if you suggest to such people that they have no individual morality, they are utterly bewildered.

In this diagram again a very definite classification exists: one man of the tribe is set apart from the others, the Chief (2 ; he represents an idea and stands before the people as the man who possesses mana, it comes to him from the universal source of life, the sun, Adhista (3), the positive god of day.

When we come to the dark side, the circle is again empty because there is no ego, but further back a single figure stands out again, the Medicine Man (4); he has immense

influence as the interpreter of the spirit world from which he draws his power.

Actually this dark sphere has no definite and separate existence, for its contents appear as outer reality and vice versa.

The primitive is quite uncertain which is which, he is never quite sure if he dreamt a thing or did it;•it is the dream generally which pushes out reality into the background.

Dreams are so vivid to him that they are usually obeyed literally.

An African negro once dreamt that his enemies had taken him prisoner and burnt him alive.

The next day he called his relatives together and implored them to burn him.

They consented to do so to the extent that they bound his feet together and put them in the fire.

He was of course badly crippled, but he did not complain, for he was convinced that by obeying the dream he had escaped a worse fate.

On this dark side we find a multitude of ghosts and spirits (5), who are connected with the dark principle, Ayik (6).

Whereas Adhista, the sun, rules the conscious side, here in the darkness Ayik reigns, he is the night wind and moves around, p erp etrating black magic.

When I tried to speak to the natives of this dark god as of a second god, they protested : “No, there is only one god!”

Then I saw that only one reigned at a time, from 6 a.m. to 6 p .m. Adhista, the beloved god of light where everything is good and beautiful and from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Ayik, the uncanny, the much feared god of darkness and evil.

What is true for the day is reversed at night.

During the day primitives forget their troubles, they lie around in the burning sun which acts like a narcotic.

The European cannot help being affected by this attitude, in such a temperature nothing matters.

I experienced this in Africa, as I lay in my hammock, hardly finding the energy to light a pipe.

I thought hard of all my most depressing problems to see if they would affect me, but I remained absolutely indifferent.

Then I became aware of the optimism of the day which switches over to the pessimism of the night. Page 50 ~Carl Jung, Modern Psychology, Vol. 1, Pages 46-50.