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


Introduction: The popular English journalist Frederick Sands, then foreign correspondent for the London Daily Mail, interviewed Jung at Kusnacht and published the results as five successive articles in the Daily Mail, April 25-29, 1955.

Jung had read and approved the text of the interview. Sands’s articles were headed with provocative sentences drawn from Jung’s words—”To Call Women the Weaker Sex is Sheer Nonsense,” “You Must Quarrel to Be Happy,” etc.

On September Io, 1961, three months after Jung’s death, the material of the first two articles was rearranged and published under the title “The Trouble with Women” in the Sunday magazine sections of several American papers—the Washington Post, the New York Journal, the American Weekly, and others.

Dr. Jung: A man’s foremost interest should be his work. But a woman = man is her work and her business.

Yes, I know it sounds like a convenient philosophy of the selfish male when I say that. But marriage means a home.
And home is like a nest—not enough room for both birds at once.

One sits inside, the Other perches on the edge and looks about and attends to all outside business.

The vanity of men is in most cases a result of their professional activities. The extent it reaches is sometimes almost grotesque.

Most men are afraid of something and are full of prejudices—which are not there in the case of most women. Men are inclined to resent any interference with their way of thinking and their hidebound convictions.

This is especially the case with their manly prestige, which they feel they have to guard even when it is not threatened.

They may be afraid that they are ill—or of being told that they are ill; they may have financial or some other suppressed worries.

But more often than not they are suffering merely from—fear. Men almost invariably are not honest, either with themselves or with me.

So many women are just crying out for a better understanding with their husbands.

Their men are incapable of grasping this—which is not strange since men do not understand women anyway. But women are unable to realize that in business their husbands are not the monarchs of all they survey.

As often as not they are underdogs who have to put up with a great deal—a bullying boss, for instance. And the best remedy for that is a woman’s understanding.

After a day at business in such uncongenial circumstances—having to be pleasant to people he doesn’t like—a man comes home in the evening wanting to bang someone over the head.

Instead he is expected to continue the torture by being very nice to his wife.

A woman, of course, has also had her day’s worries with the children and the household. She would like to talk about them.

She is, in fact, just in the mood for a chat. But her husband is tired and taciturn. The average woman cannot visualize a man’s problems.

His secretary understands her boss better than his wife does.

I have never said so much to anyone in an interview before. Probably I shall find myself in trouble—especially with the women—for some of the things I have said.

Women are much tougher than men underneath. To call women the weaker sex is sheer nonsense. Beware those angel-faced types who always appear weak and helpless and talk in a high-pitched voice. They are the toughest of them all.

Be cautious and prepared for anything with quiet women.

The old proverb says “Still waters run deep”—and that’s particularly so in the case of women.

I know it sounds malicious, but quiet women usually have some surprises in store for us once we start delving beneath the surface.

Talkative women should not be taken at their face value. Often their talk is only a blind.

Many people talk too much because they do not want to discuss essential things. Women who talk most think least.

Women will call me cynical and dislike me for being so frank. It is women’s instinct to capture and hold one man.

It is man’s instinct to get as many women as possible.

Man tries not to be caught, at least for as long as he can readily Cluck his pursuer. That is the instinct of the fast-running animal: escape by flight.

A woman’s best prey is the man that no other woman has been able to catch.

To catch a man that any woman could have caught—that makes the prize relatively valueless.

But once she gets her man, woman holds him in a strong grip and makes sure that no other women are in the offing.

That is natural and necessary, for it is man’s nature to alight here and there and then take flight again—if he can.

I have terrible trouble making people see what I mean!

Every psychological statement is also true when it is turned round to mean the opposite. That is complicated—but that is nature.
There are, for instance, any number of quite virile men who have a certain idea of the woman they want; they make a beeline for that woman and are never troubled by any other women.

Such men generally get a wife they have to watch, for they are not the kind to stay inside the nest.

And if they are not careful they may find the female, perched outside, flying off on occasional sorties of her own.

A woman is at her best only when she loves a man.

Personal relationship is her basic need and when that ’falters she grows dissatisfied and argumentative in a way that often leads to divorce.

But this certainly doesn’t mean that men and women should remain placid.

On the contrary, some tension must prevail in their daily lives, for otherwise there cannot be the ideal relationship in sex—and this is a “must” between husband and wife.

I once had an “ideal-looking couple” who came to consult me. Something had gone wrong.

When I looked at them I wondered what could have brought them to me.

They appeared perfectly suited to one another in every way and, as I soon discovered, they were blessed with all the material things life could offer.

But eventually I found that the real trouble was that they were too well suited. This prevented any tension existing in their intimate relations.

They coincided so much that nothing happened—a situation as awkward as the opposite extreme of total in- compatibility.

Look at it in terms of everyday life.

Is a conversation likely to be in any way interesting when you know beforehand that your partner will agree with everything you say?

What is the use of discussing a conviction already shared and accepted as a matter of course?

The incentive to discussion dies—there is no potential.

When you know that your opinion agrees with your partner’s, there is no point in mentioning it at all. So what does there remain to talk about?

It is far more interesting and productive to discuss something about which different views are held.

I do not particularly enjoy a discussion in which everybody agrees with me—there is no obstacle to overcome, no tension, no productive flow.

Difference of opinion can be fruitful; so can quarrels fiery are in the way of getting together, and one has to make an effort to surmount them.

Mentally, morally, physically: in ail these ways Nature, has created an extreme difference between man and woman, so that he finds his opposite in her and she in him.

That creates tension. If man and woman were the same, that would be stalemate. The earth would be sterile.

Where the land is flat there is no flow of water; it has nowhere to go; it stagnates. In order to produce energy you must have opposites—an above and a below.

There must be a difference in level, and the greater it is the swifter and more forcefully does the water flow. To me a particularly beautiful woman is a source of terror.

A beautiful woman is as a rule a terrible disappointment; you cannot have your cake and eat it. In men, beauty and brain are seldom found together.

The brain of a highly attractive man of handsome physique becomes merely the appendage of his wonderful torso.

At my country retreat I do as I please.

I write, I paint—but I spend most of the time just drifting along with my thoughts.

It seems to me we have reached the limit of our evolution —the point from which we can advance no further.

Man started from an unconscious state and has ever striven for greater consciousness.

The development of consciousness is the burden, the suffering, and the blessing of mankind.

Each new discovery leads to greater consciousness, and the path along which we are going is merely an extension of it. This inevitably calls for greater responsibility and enforces a great change in ourselves.

We must draw conclusions from what we know and discover, and not take everything for granted. Man has come to be man’s worst enemy.

It is a clash between man and God, in which man’s Luciferan genius has produced in the H-bomb the power to destroy more effectively than any ancient god could.

We must begin to learn about man until every Jekyll can see his Hyde.

The strains and stresses of twentieth-century living have so affected the modern mind that in many countries children are no longer able to concentrate.

Here in Zurich the schoolteachers of the upper part of the lake asked me why it is that they are no longer able to carry out the full curriculum.

The children, they said, seemed unable to concentrate.

I told them that the fault lay with the cinema, the radio, television, the continual swish of motor-cars and the drone of planes overhead.

For these are all distractions. The same distractions affect adults as well.

You cannot go into a hotel or a restaurant and carry on an intelligent conversation over a meal or a cup of tea because your words are drowned by music.

Some time ago I was in a New York hotel and wanted to have a discussion with an American professor. It was impossible—we gave it up.

I have nothing against music at the proper time and place, but these days one can’t get away from it.

I have just returned from the Ticino, in Italian Switzerland, where they love music.

But when they turned on the radio in the restaurant I got so exasperated that I pulled out the plug. Jazz and all that sort of stuff is silly and stultifying.

But it is even worse when they play classics in such a place. Bach, for instance. Bach talks to God. I am gripped by Bach.

But I could slay a man who plays Bach in banal surroundings. Cocktails and all they stand for are just as bad.
They simply kill all sensible conversation.

Why, most of the people who go in for cocktail drinking are only able to keep up a decent conversation after the third.

Worst of all is television.

Without knowing it man is always concerned with God.

What some people call instinct or intuition is nothing other than God.

God is that voice inside us which tells us what to do and what not to do. In other words, our conscience.

In this dark atomic age of ours, with its lurking fear, man is seeking guidance.

Consciously or unconsciously he is once more groping for God.

I make my patients understand that all the things which happen to them against their will are a superior force.

They can call it God or devil, and that doesn’t matter to me, as long as they realize that it is a superior force.

God is nothing more than that superior force in our life. You can experience God every day.

There are for instance, the “strange recurrences” that happen in the lives of certain individuals.

Many patients come to see me about them.

They want, quite naturally, to know why these things recur, whether the cause lies in themselves, and whether there is anything they can do to end it.

These recurrences may be so conspicuous that—especially if they are unpleasant—the person concerned may begin to feel himself the victim of some sinister form of persecution.

We must make a clear difference between this and the persecution mania of an unhinged mind. The occurrences are often quite genuine and not merely imagined.

Once I was walking in the garden of my house with a lady who had consulted me.

She had told me, among other things, that whenever she was in the country she was attacked by birds—black birds.

Hardly had we got away from the house than several crows approached and swooped down on us, fluttering about and cawing angrily.

They left me alone, but kept on flying at my patient.

One of them even nipped her on the back of the neck before I drove them off. Another strange case: I treated three daughters and their mother.

The three young women kept on having terrible dreams about the elder lady, who was a model mother. They dreamt of her as a wild animal.

Years later she became prone to fits of melancholia in which she acted like a wild beast. The fact is that what happens to a person is characteristic of him.

He represents a pattern and all the pieces fit.

One by one, as his life proceeds, they fall into place according to some predestined design.

All that I have learned has led me step by step to an unshakable conviction of the existence of God. I only believe in what I know.

And that eliminates believing.

Therefore I do not take His existence on belief—I know that He exists. Carl Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, Pages 244-251