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

To Virginia Payne

Dear Miss Payne, 23 July 1949

I do remember the Clark Conference of 1909.

It was my first visit to the United States and for this reason my recollections are particularly vivid, although I must say that the details of the Conference itself have largely disappeared.

But I do remember some incidents. I traveled on the same boat with Professor Freud who was also invited and I remember vividly our discussion of his theories.

We chiefly analyzed our dreams during the trip and also during our stay in America and on the way back.

Professor William Stern from Breslau was on the same boat, but Freud didn’t feel particularly enthusiastic about the presence of an academic psychologist.

No wonder, because his position of pioneer in Europe was not particularly enviable.

I still sympathize entirely with his negative feelings, since I enjoyed the same fate for over 30 years.

Two personalities I met at the Clark Conference made a profound and lasting impression on me.

One was Stanley Hall, a the President, and the other was William James whom I met for the first time then.

I remember particularly an evening at President Hall’s house.

After dinner William James appeared and I was particularly interested in the personal relation between Stanley Hall and William James, since I gathered from some remarks of President Hall that William James was not taken quite seriously on account of his interest in Mrs. Piper and her extra-sensory perceptions.

Stanley Hall had prepared us that he had asked James to discuss some of his results with Mrs. Piper and to bring some of his material.

So when James came (there was Stanley Hall, Professor Freud, one or two other men and myself) he said to Hall: “I’ve brought you some papers in which you might be interested.”

And he put his hand to his breast-pocket and drew out a parcel which to our delight proved to be a wad of dollar bills.

Considering Stanley Hall’s great services for the increase and the welfare of Clark University and his rather critical remarks as to James’ pursuits, it looked to us a particularly happy rejoinder.

James excused himself profusely.

Then he produced the real papers from the other pocket.

I spent two delightful evenings with William James alone and I was tremendously impressed by the clearness of his mind and the complete absence of intellectual prejudices.

Stanley Hall was an equally clear-headed man, but decidedly of an academic brand.

The Conference was noteworthy on account of the fact that it was the first time that Professor Freud had an immediate contact with America.

It was the first official recognition of the existence of psychoanalysis and it meant a great deal to him, because recognition in Europe for him was regrettably scarce.

I was a young man then.

I lectured about association tests and a case of child psychology.

I was also interested in parapsychology and my discussions with William James were chiefly about this subject and about the psychology of religious experience.

As far as I remember we didn’t make many contacts with psychologists or psychiatrists with the exception of old Dr. Putnam, who curiously enough was an adept of Hegel’s philosophy.

Apart from that he was an unprejudiced, very human personality whom I liked and admired.

Since it was our first stay in America we thought it all very strange and we felt we didn’t speak the same mental language as our American surroundings.

I had many discussions with Professor Freud about the peculiar American psychology which, to myself at least, was more or less enigmatical.

I only got the gist of it when I carne back in 1912.

Then only did I begin to understand the main and distinctive features of American compared with European psychology.

We spent a very interesting week in Dr. Putnam’s camp in the Adirondacks and continued to be bewildered by the peculiar ways and ideas of the many native guests at that camp.

It was a large party of about 40 people.

I cannot remember much of the papers presented at the Conference, nor of other discussions that took place, but we felt very much that our point of view was very different and that there hardly existed
a bridge between the then prevailing American views and our peculiar European standpoint.

It is not for me to judge the effect on psychiatry in general, since this is a specifically American development which I haven’t followed up.

The influence of psychology on psychiatry is still very small for obvious reasons.

In any great institution there is no time at all for individual investigation-at least it is so in Europe, and the number of alienists I have taught is quite small.

Hoping I have been able to give you at least an idea of my recollections of the Clark Conference,

I remain,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 530-532.