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Comments on Ira Progoff’s Doctoral Thesis.


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C. G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters (Bollingen Series XCVII)

Introduction: Toward a Ph.D. degree at the New School for Social Research, New York, in early 1952, Ira Progoff submitted as his thesis a presentation of Jung’s psychological theories and an interpretation of their significance for the social sciences.

This was, most probably, the first serious notice of Jung’s work by a social scientist.

Progoff sent his manuscript to the Bollingen Foundation, which was about to begin the publication of the Collected Works of Jung, and it came to the attention of one of the Foundation’s advisers, Cary F. Baynes, an old friend of Jung’s.

Recognizing the significance of Progoff’s monograph, she sent the thesis to Jung to read and asked her daugh- ter, Ximena de Angulo, who lived in Switzerland and had known Jung since her childhood, to facilitate matters by taking down Jung’s comments.

Miss de Angulo sent Progoff her report of the interview—as the discussion turned out to be—and he took ac- count of Jung’s remarks in revising his thesis for eventual publication as a book: Jung’s Psychology and Its Social Meaning (1953)

Progoff, who had been a welfare worker while studying at the New School, was enabled through a Bollingen Fellowship to go to Switzerland in 1953.

He met Jung for discussions and attended the Eranos Conference in August, where he came under the influ- ence of the Zen scholar, D. T. Suzuki.

Out of his experiences he wrote The Death and Rebirth of Psychology (1956).

In 1966, Progoff founded Dialogue House, of which he is director, and which fosters a program for personal development through the “intensive journal” process.

A copy of Ximena de Angulo’s interview was placed in the archives of Bollingen Foundation, where it was found nearly twenty years later and made available for publication in the present collection, with the permission of Miss de Angulo and Dr. Progoff. It is published in full, except for the deletion of page numbers in the thesis, as these have no systematic relationship to the revised book.

Ira Progoff: The interview took place in the summerhouse at the bottom of the garden.

We each had a copy of the thesis, and I had brought along pad and pencil so as to be able to take notes.

As a starting question I asked Jung if he thought the thesis merited expansion into a book, and he said with- out a moment’s hesitation: “Oh, yes, most definitely.”

He went on to say that as it stood, its most obvious shortcoming was a certain onesidedness, that it told “only half the story.”

“You see, I am not a philosopher. I am not a sociologist—I am a medical man. I deal with facts. This cannot be emphasized too much,”
This, in a way, turned out to be the leitmotiv of the interview; he recurred to it again and again.

I received the impression that what bothered him about the work was that it was phrased as though he had had social theories in mind from the beginning.

I pointed out that in a thesis designed to prove the relevance of his ideas to the social sciences that had per- haps been unavoidable.

He said yes, yes, that was probably so; but it was clear that he attaches the greatest possible importance to accentuating his standpoint as a medical man, as an empiricist who discovers certain facts and erects hypotheses to explain them, but who is not responsible for the implications, philosophical or otherwise, that may be drawn from his statements.

He said that he was all the time being accused of making philosophical statements, because he made use of philosophical concepts, and because he didn’t shy away from making his assumptions clear, but that his statements were not intended as philosophy, they were intended as descriptions of fact.

“I am not particularly well read in philosophy. I simply have had to make use of philosophical concepts to formulate my findings.”

He went on to say that he thought the derivation of these philosophical concepts should be clarified.

“My conceptions are much more like Carus than like Freud.”

Kant, Schopenhauer, C. G. Cams, and Eduard von Hartmann “had provided him with the tools of thought.”

He had read their works when young, perhaps as early as his sixteenth year, at any rate well before the begin- ning of his medical studies, and they had influenced his thinking decisively.

“To Schopenhauer I owe the dynamic view of the psyche; the ‘Will’ is the libido that is back of everything.”

It is a force outside consciousness, something that is not the ego.

Kant had shown that the world is tied to the “I,” to the thinking subject, but here was this non-ego, this “Will” that was outside the Kantian critique.

When Jung came to study the dissociation of consciousness observable in schizophrenia, where people talk under the influence of something other than the ego, this non-ego struck him as the same thing as Schopenhauer’s “Will.”

“The great question was, is there a non-ego, is there something that can pull me out of the isolation-in-the- ego of the Kantian world picture?”

It is correct that Burckhardt and Nietzsche influenced him; however, they were indirect, “side influences,” Jung said.

They were part of the atmosphere of Basel at the time he was growing up, though Nietzsche had already left the city then; “Burckhardt was our daily bread. I used to see him every day, going to his work.”

Everybody read him. Nietzsche was a great psychological critic.

“We were living at a time when there had been no wars within men’s memory, but here was a man who saw war coming, who wrote that the next century would be the most warlike of all. I felt that he was right.”

But it was as a phenomenon that Nietzsche made the deepest impression on Jung.

He saw the non-ego at work in him; Nietzsche was in a fever, in a passion, a passion that “gripped” Jung.

He told how Nietzsche’s insights and visions had tremendous fascination to a person living at that time who thought about the contemporary situation.

“In his thirty-seventh year, Zarathustra happened to Nietzsche . . . ’cla ward die eins zu zwei, Zarathustra ging an mir vorbei.’ In 1888 he went mad. That was a tremendous event; it made a deep impression on me.”

Bachofen also influenced him. “He influenced my understanding of the nature of symbols.”

Jung thought that if the thesis were expanded, it might be a good idea to take his later writings more into con- sideration, especially Aion and Die Psychologie der CI bertragung.

These, he said, were the generalities.

Then he drew out a list, and we began going through the thesis point by point: “(it is not) that the uncon-

scious is held in common. . . .”Jung: “That is leaning over backwards. It is collective, is held in cdmmon. ’Collective’ may be objectionable in some
ways, but it does convey the fact that we share unconscious contents, that there is participation mystique.”

“…Jung’s use of the term (unconscious) may partly be accounted for by the fact that he developed his thought while working under the influence of Sigmund Freud, and that he naturally adapted for his own system the terms with which he had been accustomed to working.”

This is not true, Jung said. “I had these thoughts long before I came to Freud. Unconscious is an epistemologi- cal term deriving from von Hartmann. Freud was not much of a philosopher, he was strictly a medical man. I had read these philosophers
long before I ever saw Freud. I came to Freud for facts. I read The Interpretation of Dreams, and I thought Oh, here is a man who is not just theorizing away, here is a man who has got facts. This was not Freud’s first publication, but it was the first one I read, then I read the others. We met in 1906.”

From the beginning, Jung said, he had occupied himself very much with zoology, with comparative zoology. Here he looked at me keenly to see if I took in the import of this statement.

When I responded, he went on with a gleam in his eye: “I was especially interested in palaeontology; you see, my life work in historical comparative psychology is like palaeontology. That is the study of the archetypes of the animals, and this is the study of the archetypes in the soul. The Eohippus is the archetype of the modern horse, the archetypes are like the fossil animals.”

This led me to ask him what had first taken him into psychiatry.

“Oh,” he said, “that was not until the very end of my medical studies. I had been acting as assistant to von Miller’, the internist, who had received a call to Germany, and he wanted to take me along. In my last semester, I was preparing for my final exams, and I also had to know something about psychiatry, so I took up Krafft-Ebing’s textbook on psychiatry. I read first the Introduction . . . and then it happened. Then it happened. I thought, this is it, this is the confluence of medicine and philosophy! This is what I have been looking for! They all thought I was crazy, they couldn’t understand me at all, they thought I was giving up the chance of a fine career to enter a blind alley of medicine! You see, my professors all knew that in internal medicine they had facts to work with, something to build on, and they saw a great future for it, but psychiatry, that was sort of a strange no man’s land tacked onto medicine, no one really knew anything. It was all up in the air, and it led nowhere.”

I said that looking back now, his professors’ reaction was really not surprising because, before his and Freud’s work, psychiatry really didn’t have any solid foundation and no place much to go.

“Well, yes, that is so,” he assented.

“But I knew absolutely that this was the thing for me; it came over me with the most tremendous rush. You know, my heart beat so”—he spoke with great emphasis and looked at me intently—”I could hardly stand it; I was in a regular state!”

And even at this distance in time he managed, by his voice and the forceful way he gestured, to convey some- thing to me of the intensity of this experience!

To me this was the high point of the interview—well, no, perhaps there was another one, which I’m coming to later—but at any rate it made the greatest possible impression on me to see how vividly he was able to reproduce

this event before the mind’s
eye; one could feel the sense of destiny, the nervous excitement that must have gripped him. “. . . term ’persona’ . . . derived from Etruscan, meaning mask.”
Jung said the Latin word persona came from per sonare, to sound through, because masks had a sort of tube inside, from the actor’s mouth into the mouth of the mask, a built-in megaphone to amplify the sound so it would carry.

The mask came to be called persona after this megaphone. Not Etruscan.

“… the therapy of individuation …” Jung: “Why therapy? It is not a therapy. Is it therapy when a cat becomes a cat? It is a natural process. Individuation is a natural process. It is what makes a tree turn into a tree; if it is interfered with, then it becomes sick and cannot function as a tree, but left to itself it develops into a tree. That is individuation.”

I said I had always understood that individuation involved consciousness.

“Oh,” he said, “that is an overvaluation of consciousness. Consciousness is a part of it, perhaps, yes, but that depends on how much consciousness there is naturally there. Consciousness can also block individuation by not allowing what is in the unconscious to develop.”

He said it was therapy to restore the free flow from the unconscious, but the process itself is natural, and it will force itself meant to be an artist, but does something else, then pretty soon this development which is blocked will produce all kinds of symptoms, and in the end he will find himself painting whether he wants to or not, or else he will be very sick.

I asked him if it was what made a tree grow into a tree, if it was not the same thing as the Aristotelian entelechy, the inherent potentialities within the acorn which develop it into the oak.

He hesitated, and I had to say it again another way, but then he said it was the same thing. (I think his prejudice against Aristotle is so great that it made him unwilling to commit himself; probably because “Aristotelian” thinking within the Church produces such intellectual aridity and doctrinaire rigidity.)

I was still not quite sure I had understood aright, and I said it had always bothered me whether, say, a Hindu yogin or a primitive medicine man, a truly wise one, of course, could be considered to be individuated, since they were not “conscious” in our sense of what went on inside them.

“Well, I don’t know about that,” he said. “They may not be conscious but they hear the inner voice, they act on it, they do not go against it—that is what counts. The primitive may not formulate it in the way you mean, but he has a pretty clear idea what goes on; I understand his language. When I go to him, we speak the same language.”

“You know, it is possible to have ’consciousness’ in globo, so to speak, without its being differentiated.”

It is on this that the Church bases the development of its dogma; otherwise we today would be in the posi- tion of knowing more than the apostles, since the dogma has been set down in the intervening centuries.

What has been defined and differentiated into dogma was present in globo in the inspiration of the apostles.

He repeated that individuation was a natural process; that “it can happen without consciousness.”

These statements, and especially the decisiveness and assurance with which he made them, made a deep impression on me.

The part about how he came to specialize in psychiatry was the most exciting of the interview, because it is a moving thing to hear how a person received the “call,” and because it opened up new perspectives for my own private research into his philosophical antecedents, the subject I had originally meant to write my thesis.

But this part held the most meaning for me.

The thought of this principium individuationis at work through all nature and through all mankind, East and West, has something awe inspiring and majestic about it.

I can’t explain exactly why it came as a revelation to me. I had previously had a slightly different perspective on it, with more of an accent on effort and less on nature and process.

That he knew so definitely what he was talking about gave me a direct intuition of the importance of “fact” and “experience” in psychology.

I could see that it was a fact that he was talking about, though it might escape definition, just as a tree is a fact.

A tree is not a bad analogy, because we do not understand how a tree functions either, how it raises up to its crown the huge volume of water that circulates in its system, for example, yet the tree is an indisputable fact, a natural process.

. . meaning of terms ‘introvert,’ ‘extravert’ depends on context of Jung’s theory of types, can only be grasped in terms of his total system . ..” Jung’s comment here was that this was misleading; his terms are not deduced, they arise from the facts.

He feels that whatever application is made of his ideas, in fairness to him it should always be phrased so that this fact of cardinal importance is clear.

For the same reason he objects strenuously to the word “system”; he says he has no system, he deals with facts and attempts to construct hypotheses to cover them.

“System” sounds closed, dogmatic, rigid.

He wants the experimental, empirical, hypothetical nature of his work emphasized. As to the spelling of extravert, he says extrovert is bad Latin and should not be used. He also prefers archetype.

Paragraph on incest. Jung suggests looking up Die Psychologie der Ubertragung for a clearer view of the meaning of incest.

Paragraph as it stands is insufficient. (Immediately following the preceding sentence is a notation which is clear enough in itself, but which doesn’t seem to me now to have much connection with the incest paragraph.

However, I shall set it down here.)

“The archetype is the form of instinct, it is how the instinct appears to us; cf. Der Geist der Psychologie,’ Era- nos Jahrbuch 1946.”

Jung went on to say that an example of what he meant was the story of King Albrecht and Johannes, later known as Johannes Parricida.

The king and his suite were riding from Zurich to Basel.

Johannes and some companions wished to murder the king, but they couldn’t seem to make up their minds to do the deed.

Johannes kept hesitating.

When they came to the ford over the Limmat, at Baden, then he did it, he murdered the king.

“That is the archetype; you see, the ford is the natural ambush, the place where the hero slays the dragon. Then suddenly Johannes found it in him to do the deed; the archetype was constellated.”

“. . . Jung considers the libido intensity of the anima to be so great that he refers to it as ’maim,’ that is, as having a miraculous quality.” (Ref. to Two Essays.)°

Jung says he never could have said “miraculous” but ausserordentlich wirksam, i.e., effective, or even numinous. But not miraculous.”. . . Jung’s concept of individuation . . . opens the possibility of new conceptions of the nature of Man.”

Jung said to put “of the nature of the psyche. . as Jung uses the term ’consciousness,’ it signifies a part, a small part of consciousness in general.”

Jung said this is unclear, should be a “part of the cognitive” or something like that. Consciousness simply is consciousness, not part of it.
“The representation collective refers to the condition in which there is a failure to distinguish between the individual and the group as a whole.”

According to Jung, the above is participation mystique.

A representation collective is a generally held idea, like “democracy is the best form of government,” which everyone accepts without questioning; a kind of basic premise which is simply assumed to be true, which nobody dreams of investigating.

All sorts of cultural and political slogans would come under this heading.

He went on to say that he had known Levy-Bruhl personally, that he had been Jung’s house guest in Kiisnacht.

Levy-Bruhl had had many good ideas, but contemporary sociologists and anthropologists had completely failed to understand him, had misunderstood his idea that primitives think a-logically, and especially the conception of participation mystique.

These attacks had rattled him so much that later he took a lot back, and in later editions dropped the “mystique” out of the term, but Jung has stuck to the formulation of the first edition because he thinks it accurately describes the facts.

In this connection, Jung told of having gone to hear a lecturer who attacked the concept of participation mys- tique, and who told an anecdote to illustrate the fact that natives distinguish perfectly between themselves and others, and
between persona and objects.

While the railroad from Mombasa to Nairobi was being built, a great deal of Native labor had to be employed, and the white engineers had the greatest trouble in getting them to work without constant supervision.

As soon as the engineer’s back was turned, they dropped their work. One man thought he would fix that.

He had a glass eye, and when he had to leave, he called the Natives together and said: “I am going, but I am leaving my eye to watch you,” and he took the eye out and placed it on the table.

“You keep working, because this eye will see you if you stop.”

When he returned he found to his consternation that nobody had worked. “We put a hat over your eye so it couldn’t see us loafing,” the Natives told him.
Far from disproving Levy-Bruhl’s conception, as the lecturer thought, this anecdote backs it up: so little were the Natives able to separate the glass eye from its wearer that they went to the trouble to put a hat over it to prevent it from “seeing.”

When Jung afterward wrote a polite letter to the speaker pointing out this fact, he received an irate reply, and the lecturer became his life-long enemy!

“. . . Jung’s failure to be able to give an absolute definition of consciousness . • .” Jung commented: “How can consciousness explain itself ?”
“The ’collective representations’ by which society contains the individual, etc . . .” Again, it should be “participation mystique.”
Jung reworded the sentence to read as follows:

“The participation mystique by which society contains the individual may be understood as a statement of the fact that individuals are still undifferentiated from each other, that is to say, they have not yet been self-consciously broken up into individual personalities.”

“On this ’pre-conscious’ level, the individual contains him read: “On this ’pre-conscious’ level the individual is

unconscious of himself.”

He said “within his own archetype” was misleadingly worded, that a clear distinction must be made between the archetype and archetypal images, which is how the archetype appears to us.

“The archetypes exist in the unconscious as undifferentiated symbols . . .”

Jung suggests rereading “Der Geist der Psychologie” (Eranos 1946): the archetypes are psychoeides, are noumena (not numina!).

Only the image is empirical, he said.

“. . the individual in society may be understood as a piece of the archetype, a piece that has been differenti- ated out of the collective representation.”

Jung: “. . . differentiated out of participation mystique, i.e., out of the collective unconscious.”

He said, “The archetype of the individual is the Self. The Self is all embracing. God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”’

. symbol . . . in other areas it appears with metaphysical or ontological overtones where it leads into the philosophical side of his system.”

Jung said if one studied the definitions of “symbol” in the Types’ one saw that it was not metaphysical.

(I think what he is getting at here and in other places is that he does not aim for a metaphysical overtone or for philosophical aspects. If we find such overtones it is because general usage has given some of the concepts he makes use of such overtones. He could, of course, have chosen entirely new terms, but I think he did not do so because he wants to redefine the traditional terms, show where they arise out of experience, and thus keep the tradition alive, but with a different foundation.)

“Only by the fact that (the libido analogue) comes from the collective suprapersonal layer of the unconscious is it able to function as a transformer of psychic energies . . .”

Jung said this was well-expressed and showed the correct understanding of what he means by “collective” in collective unconscious.

“. . psychological problems of Western man . .” Jung said Protestantism also belongs in the context, i.e., pre-Christian paganism, Greco-Hebrew religiosity, and Protestantism.

This brought to my mind the reference to his Swiss Calvinist background, and I asked if it was correct. He said no, no touch of Calvinism.
The Reformation was introduced in Basel by Oecolampadius (in 1529), according to Jung the mildest of all the Reformers.

Important factors in keeping the Reform within bounds were the fact that the city was a bishop’s seat and that the university had been founded by Aeneas Silvius (Piccolomini) when he became Pope Pius II.

Of all Swiss Protestant cities, Basel has always had the most tolerance and understanding of Catholic ways, viz., the celebrated Basler Fastnacht.

Jung attributes his own attempts at a sympathetic understanding of Catholicism to this element in his back- ground.

. . when a culture becomes too highly rationalized .. .individuals are not able to experience the natural flow of unconscious materials.”

Jung commented that symbols can lose their efficiency; they age.

“The result is a vacuum in the psyche between the upper and lower layers.” Jung: “What should that be ?”
He seemed to think the idea ought to be worded differently. “The mechanisms of convention . . . keep people unconscious.

. . . (They) follow their customary runways without the effect of conscious choice.”

Jung suggested saying “without bothering about conscious choice, without being confronted with the necessity of making up their minds.”

“The lunatic is an individual completely overcome by the unconscious.” Jung says it must read: “more or less overcome by the unconscious.”
I pointed out that it appeared to be a direct quotation from his writings, but that didn’t bother him. He said in that case it must be incorrectly translated.
“. . . (demons) involve the reactivation of archaic images stored in the unconscious from past historical eras ..

Jung corrected this to read “they are the archetypal images which are always in the unconscious.” He commented in general that it is important to differentiate the terminology correctly.
,”. . . Jung’s statement that the entire tradition of psychoanalysis—commencing with Freud and extending through his own work—has been possible only because Western civilization has been passing through a crisis in its deepest beliefs.” (My italics.)

Jung says this must be taken much further back; the tradition begins with the German Romantics, comes down through Schopenhauer, Carus, etc., i.e., requires to be set in a larger historical perspective.

“. . . Jung’s conception of consciousness . . . two levels of meaning: one as the totality of the psyche, that is to say, as cognition in general; . . . the other as the small segment of awareness that centers around the ego.” (My italics.)

Jung said the first (italicized) part is wrong, only the second is correct. “. . contemporary situation … searching for new religions, … etc.”

Jung asked to have the words “and moral” inserted into the latter part of the sentence, i.e., “the total ques- tioning of intellectual and moral values and the search throughout Western civilization for the meaning of life.” Carl Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking; Interviews and Encounters, Pages 205-218

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