Man’s Immortal Mind

Jung was invited by the Tavistock Clinic in London—officially called the Institute of Medical Psychology—to give a series of five lectures, which he delivered September 30 to October 4, 1935, to an audience of some two hundred medical men and women. A mimeographed transcript of the lectures was privately circulated under the title “Fundamental Psychological Conceptions”; not until 1968 was the text published, as Analytical Psychology: Its Theory and Practice.’

The London press took notice of Jung’s presence, and during his visit several interviews were published, of which one in the Observer for October 6, 1935, is noteworthy. It is abridged here. “The laughter of Dr. C. G. Jung may be heard in London at the moment, after a silence of ten years”—thus the anonymous reporter begins, and he goes on to describe Jung’s enormous good humor. “As he talked, the abrupt cleavage between his own psychological theory and practice and those of Freud, with whom he parted company intellectually many years ago, became apparent. How abrupt is the cleavage he revealed in a sentence typical of his sudden, epigrammatic manner of speech—”

Sex is a playground for lonely scientists.

You might as well study the psychology of nutrition as the psychology of sex.

Primitive man, of course, had the sex instinct, but he was much more deeply concerned with feeding himself. Besides, why base the psychology of a man on his bad corner?

When I deal with one who is mentally unbalanced I am not concerned only with one function of his mind and body. I look for the ancient man in him. I try to trace the strata of the human mind from its earliest beginnings, just as a geologist might study the stratification of the earth. The fear of ancient man crouching at the ford is in all our unconscious minds, as well as all other fears and speculations born of man’s experience through the ages. The mind of mankind is immortal.

For instance, I remember suddenly feeling, during an earthquake in Switzerland, that the earth was alive, that it was an animal. At once I recognized the ancient Japanese belief that a huge salamander lies inside the earth, and that earthquakes happen when he turns in his sleep.

A patient of mine once told me that whenever lightning flashed she saw a great black horse. That is another primitive idea—that lightning was a horse’s leg striking downwards, the horse of Odin.’ If a man or a woman ceases to be able to communicate with us, we say that he or she is insane. But if I can find the ancient man in them, if I can explain the great black horse in the lightning, I may be able to make them communicate with me. I may be able to restore the bridge—more easily if I can discover from their dreams what is in their unconscious minds.

That is why I correspond not only with medical scientists, but with students of religion and mythology in all parts of the world. That is why I am at present studying medieval texts in the British Museum. The medieval stratum in our
unconscious mind is nearest to the surface.

The study of medical science is in transition. The relationship between mind and body is being more fully appreciated. Not that there is anything new in that. The
medieval doctors studied dreams. Eastern medicine is based on psychotherapy—the treatment of disease by hypnotic influence.

Psychology is not yet, of course, a recognized part of the medical curriculum. There is much enthusiasm, but there is also much misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Still, I have four hundred students at Zurich, and the criminal courts call me in as a last resort if they are unable to decide upon the guilt or innocence of a suspect.

In twenty years you will have your organization of approved medical psychologists, just like your Medical Register.

And your next book?

It is nearly finished. I shall call it “Dream Symbols of the Individuation Process.”‘ It’s about how man becomes himself. Man is always an individual, but he’s not always himself.

. . . “Be yourself,” as the Americans say. ~C.G Jung Speaks.