‘S.W.’ and C.G. Jung: mediumship, psychiatry and serial exemplarity
In the aftermath of the ﬁrst world war, a special issue of Médecine et Hygiène appeared with special notices ‘A La France Médicale’. Swiss medical and paramedical societies greeted the resumption of scientiﬁc relations with France.
As the president of the Swiss Society for Practical Psychology, Jung wrote:
“The psychopathology of the neuroses owes certain of its decisive results to the researches of French scholars.
I will mention in the ﬁrst place the celebrated works of Charcot and of Pierre Janet, in particular the theory of the latter on ‘the lowering of the mental level’, which has proved itself and has furnished an extremely fecund point of view for the study of these troubles.
Swiss psychiatry equally owes a considerable enrichment to the researches of the hypnotisers Liébault and Bernheim, which were continued here [chez nous] by Forel.
The investigations of Pierre Janet were particularly useful for the comprehension of functional troubles in the domain of the neuroses and above all of hysteria, where his researches have a fundamental bearing.” (Jung 1945, p.8)
(This letter was not included in Jung’s Collected Works, nor does it feature in the General Bibliography of his writings.
It is reproduced here in English for the ﬁrst time.) Sonu Shamdasani, From Geneva to Zurich, Page 117
Two years later Jung gave an interview to Pierre Courthion which was published in La Tribune de Genève under the title ‘Spiritual values of the Swiss’.
To the question, ‘How did you begin?’ Jung replied: “I was ﬁrst a clinical doctor, then a privatdozent at the University of Zürich.
I wrote on associations experiments, dementia praecox, occult phenomena, etc …
I was the student of Pierre Janet and above all of Théodore Flournoy whose observations on somnambulism are absolutely remarkable.
It was only in 1906 that I made the acquaintance of Freud.” (Courthion 1947) Sonu Shamdasani, From Geneva to Zurich, Page 117
The extent of the impact that Flournoy’s work initially made on Jung is indicated by the following statement in Jung’s tribute to him, which appeared in the German and French editions of Memories, Dreams, Reﬂections, though not in the English (on how this came to be misconceived as Jung’s autobiography, see Shamdasani 1995):
“As I was still a doctor at the Burghölzli when I read his book, From India to the Planet Mars, it made a great impression on me.
I wrote to Flournoy, that I wanted to translate it into German.
It was after half a year that I received his reply, in which he apologized for having let my question lie unanswered for so long.
To my regret, he had already appointed another translator.” (Jung 1963/1994) Sonu Shamdasani, From Geneva to Zurich, Page 117
Had this been the case, Jung’s ﬁrst publication would conceivably have been the German translation of Flournoy’s From India to the Planet Mars.
In that work, Flournoy singled out four theories that he particularly drew from:
without perhaps always citing them explicitly, I have constantly borrowed their forms of expression, their views, and their metaphors which, by the way, have now entered more or less into the public domain to the point where it would be diﬃcult to manage practically without them.
I particularly want to mention mental disaggregation of M.P.Janet, the double-ego of M. Dessoir, the hypnoid states of MM. Breuer and Freud, and above all the subliminal consciousness of M. Myers.” (Flournoy 1899/1994, p.(6–7) Sonu Shamdasani, From Geneva to Zurich, Page 117