AN INTERVIEW ON RADIO BERLIN
On June 21, 1933, Jung accepted the presidency of the Oberstaatliche Arztliche Gesellschaft fur Psychotherapie (International Medical Society for Psychotherapy), which united national societies in Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Sweden, and Switzerland and had its headquarters in Zurich.
Though Jewish and other anti-Nazi members had been expelled ,from the German national society, Jung as president enabled them to become members of the International Society.
Thus has Jung’s leadership been defended by his followers, while his adversaries have attacked his participation in a Society that had links with Nazi Germany.
The issue has been, and still is, warmly debated.
A document of the time is an interview with Jung by Dr. Adolf Weizsacker, a German neurologist and psychiatrist who had previously been his pupil.
It was recorded and broadcast by Radio Berlin on June 26, 1933.
On the same date Jung began a seminar on dreams, given to a group of analytical psychologists in Berlin, which continued for five days. Its members included at least four analysts who subsequently left Nazi Germany; Gerhard Adler, who settled in London; and James Kirsch, Hilde Silber (Kirsch), and Max Zeller, who settled in Los Angeles, California.
A transcript of the lectures that Jung gave in the seminar and of the radio interview has long been extant in mimeographed form.
Today we have particular pleasure in welcoming to our studio the most progressive psychologist of modern times, Dr. Carl Gustav Jung of Zurich. Dr. Jung is at present in Berlin giving a course of lectures, and he has kindly expressed his willingness to answer a number of questions bearing on contemporary problems.
From this you will see that there is a school of modern psychology which is fundamentally constructive.
We all know very well that psychology and analysis for their own sakes have rightly become suspect nowadays.
We are tired of this continual probing and breaking down along intellectual lines, and it is fortunate for us that there is one psychologist who approaches the human psyche in an entirely different way from the other well known psychologies or psychotherapies, especially Freudian psychoanalysis.
Dr. Jung comes from a Protestant parsonage in Basel.
That is important.
It puts his whole approach to man on a different footing from that of Freud and Adler.
The crucial thing about this psychology is that Dr. Jung does not tear to pieces and destroy the immediacy of our psychic life, the creative element which has always played the decisive role in the history of the German mind, but approaches it with deep reverence and does not devalue it, letting himself be guided in the practical treatment of conflicts or neuroses by the positive and constructive forces which lie dormant in the unconscious psychic life of every man and can be awakened.
Hence his psychology is not intellectual but is imbued with vision; it seeks to strengthen the positive forces in man and does not stop at triumphantly laying bare the negative elements, since that brings nothing
really new into the life of the individual or of the community.
Permit me now, Dr. Jung, to put a number of questions to you and to ask you to answer them, which you can as a Swiss, with a certain detachment, and as a psychologist, with great experience of the human psyche.
I would like to ask you, first, whether there is in your psychological experience a decisive difference between the psychic situation of the Germans and that of Western Europeans and wherein this difference consists?
The fact of the matter is that we are at the moment surrounded by the deepest misunderstandings, and it would interest us to hear, quite briefly, what you think might be the cause of these misunderstandings,
and whether the differences between our nature and theirs are so great as to make these misunderstandings comprehensible to us.
Dr. Jung: There is indeed an enormous difference between the psychic attitude of the Germans and that of Western Europeans.
The nationalism that Western Europeans know seems to them a kind of chauvinism, and they cannot understand how it is that in Germany it has become a nation-building force, because nationalism for them still
means their own brand of chauvinism.
This peculiarity of the Germans can be explained only by the youthfulness of the German nation.
Their enthusiasm for the reconstruction of the German community remains incomprehensible to Western Europeans because this necessity no longer exists for them in the same degree, since they achieved national unity in earlier centuries and in other forms.
Question: Yes, and now I would like to ask a second question which is extraordinarily important for us, because the new turn of events in Germany is being led by the younger generation.
How do you explain the assurance of German youth in pursuit of their visionary goal, and what is the significance of the fact that the older generation cannot quite rid themselves of a kind of reserve even though they would very much like simply to affirm what is happening? What in your view should be done in order to bridge over this hopeless gulf between the generations, which deepens still further the cleavage in our German nationhood? What is the cause of it all?
Dr. Jung: The assurance of German youth in pursuit of their goal seems something quite natural to me.
In times of tremendous movement and change it is only to be expected that youth will seize the helm, because they alone have the daring and drive and sense of adventure.
After all, it’s their future that’s at stake.
It is their venture and their experiment.
The older generation naturally takes a back place and they should possess enough experience of life to be able to go along with this necessary course of events.
They too had their time, once.
The gulf between the older and younger generation is due precisely to the fact that the older generation did not go along with the times and, instead of foreseeing it, was overtaken by the storm of a new epoch.
But that is not by any means specific of the Germans.
It is something you can observe in all countries at the present time.
The older generation have immense difficulty in finding their way about in a new world.
Political changes go hand in hand with all sorts of other changes in art, philosophy, in our religious views.
Everywhere the wind of change is blowing.
And I come very much into contact with people of the older generation who have confessed to me that they have little real understanding of the new time and the utmost difficulty in finding their way about.
Many of them even turn directly to me for advice for with a little psychology one can understand these things.
With a little psychological knowledge, too, it would have been possible to foresee the changes.
But the older generation has, I am bound to say, committed the unforgivable , mistake of overlooking the real man in favor of an abstract idea of man.
This error hangs together with the false intellectualism that characterized the whole nineteenth century.
Question: Thank you, Dr. Jung. We have now heard something of your attitude to the more general problems of the situation as a whole. I would like now to ask some more specific questions about your psychology. What in your view is the position of psychology in general at the present day? What is its task in such a time of activity?
Dr. Jung: It is just because we live in an active and responsible time that we need more consciousness and self-reflection.
In a time like ours, when tremendous political and social movements are afoot, I as a psychologist am very often turned to, as I have said, by people who feel the need for psychic orientation.
This need reflects a sound instinct.
When general confusion reigns, as it does in Europe today, when there is a widespread splintering of opinions, there instinctively arises in us a need for a common Weltanschauung I would say, which allows us to take a unitary view of things and discern the inner meaning of the whole movement.
If we do not succeed in getting this view, it may easily happen that we are as it were unconsciously swept along by events.
For mass movements have the peculiarity of overpowering the individual by mass suggestion and making him unconscious.
The political or social movement gains nothing by this when it has swarms of hypnotized camp followers.
On the contrary there is the danger of equally great disillusion on awaking from the hypnosis.
It is therefore of the greatest value for mass movements to possess adherents who follow not from unconscious compulsion but from conscious conviction.
But this conscious conviction can be based only on a Weltanschauung.
Question: And you think, if I understand you correctly, that such a Weltanschauung can in certain cases best be acquired with the help of psychology—your psychology—so that people can stand firm inwardly in order to work successfully and surely in the outer world, because otherwise their unconscious impulses, moods, and I don’t know what, can obtrude themselves in their outward activities.
You see, the fact is that in Germany today psychology is suspect in many quarters precisely because it is concerned with the self-development of the so-called individual, and so they suspect this
famous parlor individualism or individualism deluxe of belonging to an age which is now really over for us. So I would like to ask you: How, just at the present time, when the collective forces of the whole community have taken the lead in molding our way of life, how are we to assess the efforts of psychology in the practical role it would have to play for the whole of life and the whole community?
Dr. Jung: The self-development of the individual is especially necessary in our time.
When the individual is unconscious of himself, the collective movement too lacks a clear sense of purpose.
Only the self-development of the individual, which I consider to be the supreme goal of all psychological endeavor, can produce consciously responsible spokesmen and leaders of the collective movement.
As Hitler said recently, the leader must be able to be alone and must have the courage to go his own way.
But if he doesn’t know himself, how is he to lead others?
That is why, the true leader is always one who has the courage to be himself, and can look not only others in the eye but above all himself.
Now I come to something quite specific. What difference—though I have already stressed this a little at the beginning—what difference is there between a psychology like yours, imbued with vision, and the psychologies of Freud and Adler, which are built entirely on an intellectual basis?
Dr. Jung: It is, you see, one of the finest privileges of the German mind to let the whole of creation, in all its inexhaustible diversity, work upon it without preconceptions.
But with Freud as well as with Adler a particular individual standpoint—for instance, sexuality or the striving for power—is set up as a critique against the totality of the phenomenal world.
In this way a part of the phenomenon is isolated from the whole and broken down into smaller and smaller fragments, until the sense that dwells only in the whole is distorted into nonsense, and the beauty that is proper only to the whole is reduced to absurdity.
I could never take kindly to this hostility to life.
Question: I am particularly grateful to you, Dr. Jung, for that answer I think it will act on many of us like a liberation. In conclusion, I still have a question that is of particular concern to us today, and that is the question of leadership. From your psychological experience, have you anything to say about the idea of personal leadership and of a leading elite that is now acknowledged in Germany, in contradistinction
to an elected government dependent on the opinion of the masses as evolved in Western Europe?
Dr. Jung: Today we are living in a time of barbarian invasions, but they take place inwardly in the psyche of the people.
It is a breaking of the nations.
Times of mass movement are always times of leadership.
Every movement culminates organically in a leader, who embodies in his whole being the meaning and purpose of the popular movement.
He is an incarnation of the nation’s psyche and its mouthpiece.
He is the spearhead of the phalanx of the whole people in motion.
The need of the whole always calls forth a leader, regardless the form a state may take.
Only in times of aimless quiescence does the aimless conversation of parliamentary deliberations drone on, which always demonstrates the absence of a stirring in the depths or of a definite emergency;
even the most peaceable government in Europe, the Swiss Bundesrat, is in times of emergency invested with extraordinary powers, democracy or no democracy.
It is perfectly natural that a leader should stand at the head of an elite, which in earlier centuries was formed by the nobility.
The nobility belies the law of the nature in the blood and exclusiveness of the race. Western Europe doesn’t understand the special psychic emergency of the young German nation because it does not find itself in the same situation either historically or psychologically.
Commentator: Thank you, Dr. Jung, for answering these questions so readily, and also for the gist of your answers, which will surely be of the greatest import for many of our listeners. The fact is that we are living today in a phase of reconstruction where everything depends on inwardly consolidating what has been achieved and building it into the psyche of the individual. For this purpose we need, if I may express
my personal opinion, leaders like you, who really know something about the psyche, the German psyche, and whose psychology is not just intellectual chatter but a living knowledge of human beings.
~Carl Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, Pages 59-66
- Jung’s statements and speeches as president of the Society and its various international congresses and editor of its organ, Zentralblatt fur Psychotherapie and ihre Grenzgebiete (Leipzig), are printed in
an appendix to CW 10.
For historical accounts, see Ernest Harms, “Carl Gustav Jung—Defender of Freud and the Jews,” Psychiatric Quarterly (Utica, N.Y.), April 2946, and Aniela Jaffe, “C. G. Jung and National Socialism,” in her From the Life and Work of C. G. Jung, tr. R.F.C. Hull (New York, 1971).
Also see Jung’s letter to James Kirsch, 26 May 1934, in Letters, ed. Adler, vol. r, and below, “On the Attack in the Saturday Review of Literature,” pp. 192ff.
- For a firsthand account of the seminar by another of its members and a discussion of Jung’s “dim view of the new government and the prospects for Germany” during that visit to Berlin, see Barbara Hannah, Jung: His Life and Work (New York, 1976), PP. 209-21 3.
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