C.G. Jung Letters, Vol. 1: 1906-1950


Dear Herr N., 22 March 1939

Your first dream shows that you yourself are identical with an unconscious feminine figure which as you know I call the anima.

So the process you are in is a real one, but it is being falsely played out on you instead of on the anima.

The second dream follows from the first.

Through the identity with the anima you are driven up to a steep cliff where you find yourself in a very precarious situation.

You can’t hold the child because it doesn’t belong to you.

The icy storm goes together with the heights on which no man can live: again an expression of an unnatural and dangerous situation.

In Goethe, Euphorion is the child of Helen, begotten by father Faust.

That is a normal situation.

Obviously the processes in Faust are real.

Such things cannot possibly be “wishful fantasies.”

They are on the contrary the material which, when it comes up in a man, can make him go mad.

This is also true of the fourth stage of the transformation process; the experience in the Beyond.

It is an unconscious reality which in Faust’s case was felt as being beyond his reach at the time, and for this reason it is separated from his real existence by death.

It expresses the fact that he still had to “become a boy” and only then would he attain the highest wisdom.

Euphorion stands for the future man who does not flee from the bond with the earth but is dashed to pieces on it, which means that he is not viable under the existing circumstances.

Faust’s death must therefore be taken as a fact.

But like many a death it is really a mystery death which brings the imperfect to perfection.

The Paris-Helen-Euphorion episode is actually the highest stage that the transformation process has reached, but not in itself the highest, for the element Euphorion has not
been integrated into the FaustMephisto-Paris-Helen quaternity as the quinta essentia.

The connections you adduce with typology are interesting but difficult.

Goethe himself was an intuitive feeling type.

Faust first appears as Goethe’s shadow, namely as an introverted scientist and doctor (thinking and sensation).

Now comes the first transformation: he discovers his countertype (“feeling is all”) and at the same time realizes the projection of the anima, as is invariably the case in the analytical process.

Behind Gretchen stands the Gnostic sequence: Helen-Mary-Sophia.

They represent a real Platonic world of ideas (thinking and sensation on the mystic level).

Here Goethe divines the fact that unconscious, undifferentiated functions are contaminated with the collective unconscious, with the result that they can be realized only in part rationally
but for the most part irrationally, i-.e., as an inner experience.

All the rest of Part Two is closely connected with Goethe’s alchemical knowledge, which no one should underestimate.

I was amazed at the amount of Hermetic philosophy I found in it.

For your own clarification I would urgently recommend you to take account of the thought-processes of alchemy in relation to Faust.

By the same post I send you two offprints of my writings, “Die Erlosungsvorstellungen in der Alchemie” and jjDie Visionen des Zosimos.”

Now a general remark.

I don’t know if I am deceiving myself, but it seems to me as though you have understood the “reality character” of Faust’s experience in a rather limited psychological or perhaps
psychologizing way.

Forgive me if this criticism offends you.

But I had a rather uncomfortable feeling when you spoke of “wishful fantasies.”

The idea of a wishful fantasy is an expression taken over from Freud’s personalistic psychology of neurosis, which enables the doctor to break a patient of his silly megalomania or
hysterical pretensions.

But this only disguises the fact that the doctor does not understand in what respect such ideas are perfectly correct.

They are just as incorrect as the dream in which you give birth to a child, but in a deeper sense they are just as correct as Goethe’s Paris-Helen experience.

When an insane person says he is the forefather who has been fecundating his daughter for millions of years, such a statement is thoroughly morbid from the medical standpoint.

But from the psychological standpoint it is an astounding truth to which the broadest possible consensus gentium bears witness.

It is expressed in the words: Scit et te Deum esse.

Freud would say: “An incestuous wish-fantasy,” because he would like to save the poor patient from a bit of obnoxious nonsense.

But I would say to the patient: “What a pity you are too stupid to understand this revelation properly.”

In the case of Goethe’s Faust-which I consider altogether superb-! would anathematize the expression “wishful fantasy” from beginning to end.

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung

“For He [God] doth know that . . . ye shall be as gods.” Gen. 3:5. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 264-266.