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Phantasying in relation to Yoga Methods: East and West.


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Modern Psychology: C. G. Jung’s Lectures at the ETH Zürich, 1933-1941

Lecture IV 24th May, 1935

Last time I spoke of phantasying in relation to the different methods of Yoga in the East and in the West.

We will continue this theme today, especially in its psychological aspect of active phantasying.

It is usually older and riper people who have these phantasies, younger people also have phantasies, but of a different kind, we must realise
that there are phantasies and phantasies.

The method of actual phantasying is seldom advisable for young people as it tends to hinder them in their task of getting into reality, and the young need actual experience.

There are exceptions, but only in neurotic and pathological cases should you employ this method with young people.

It is very inadvisable to make light use of these things, I warn everyone against it.

The method is indicated for older people but it is usually harder for them to apply.

I will give you a practical example of a normal woman, neither pathological nor neurotic.

She was an American, 55 years of age, highly educated in the n tural sciences, and the head of a large college in America.

She came to me after the war saying that she had come not because I was a doctor but because I was a psychologist.

She was not ill but disorientated.

Naturally her profession brought her into contact with the young generation and she could not understand the post war phenomena, the vogue of
sexual freedom.

The sudden release from the sexual taboo was bewildering to her; older people had not foreseen this and it disorientated many of them completely, particularly the well brought up and puritanical element in America.

She had been educated in such a respectable college that the women students never even saw a male corpse, all their studies being pursued
on female corpses!

With this innocent outlook she was suddenly confronted with a state of things the description of which I will spare you, read Lindsay’s book if you want to know about it.

Things went, of course, much too far.

These cases of the sudden collapse of a taboo have parallels among the primitives; an eclipse of the sun or moon causes a panic which dissolves
the taboo and results in wild promiscuity.

The same thing happened in the Panic caused by the Messina earthquake.

At the eleventh hour the life instinct asserts itself in order to procreate so that human life shall not be exterminated.

Post war psychology was a consequence of the panic of the war with results similar to those of the Messina earthquake.

This lady in her profession had many of these cases to handle and she became so confused that she eventually dropped the whole thing and took
a ship to Europe in order to ask me what it was all about.

She had noticed, that is, not consciously but somewhere she had a dim idea, that these things are infectious and that she herself had not wholly escaped.

But with a lady of her age and upbringing it is unthinkable that she should do anything practical about it and her fear made her react negatively to the whole thing and to the young people who brought her these problems.

The result was a growing condition of inferiority and a feeling that she was not up to her work.

Everybody in her position and with her up-bringing would have reacted in much the same way.

What she saw was the coming up of the inferior man; the outburst of crime, detective stories, gangsters, the popularity of the criminal
film, are all part of the same thing.

She did not realise that her situation could also be found among the primitives because she thought the white man stood miles above and
beyond them.

The case would have been simpler had the patient been younger because then she would not have been so adapted in her life.

In dealing with older people it is more difficult to make them see that what they hate so much is happening also in them, for this is just what
they are terrified of.

At their age these things make nonsense, they cannot live them, so they get into a wild panic.

It is in no way a situation to be taken lightly, if you ever get into a similar one you will realise how tragic it is.

The age of the body is something we often swindle ourselves about, but this swindle does not help the psyche.

You cannot go back to the psychology of forty years ago.

At an age which starts at about 45 the feeling makes itself felt which is expressed in the French bon mot: “Combien je regrette rna jambe bien faite, et le temps perdu”.

This lady had not married for many excellent reasons.

Her very first dreams showed that she had many phantasies but she could not reach them because the fear of regression stood between.

The task was not to push her back into instinctive psychology, that is the task of young people, but for people who have lived most of their life
and have found an adaption, it makes no sense at all to go back into these adventures with bodies quite unsuited to them.

The task in these cases is to look for the meaning, for there is a meaning in both love and sex, and in every instinctive urge.

The use of most of the instincts is obvious, sex, hunger, etc. but the purpose is not the meaning, that is something quite different.

The Yucca moth comes to maturity just as the Yucca bud opens.

Its father and mother are dead long before it comes out of the egg, yet it knows exactly what to do.

It collects pollen, rolls it into a ball, puts it on its thorax, and pushes it down so that the fruit of the Yucca plant is fertilized.

Then it lays fifty eggs.

If there were more, the plant would be destroyed, and then their means of subsistence would be gone.

Now who told the moth how many eggs to lay?

The moth is born with pictures, prepared in its system; the sun goes down and it knows that now it is the time to do this or that.

The instinct holds two aspects, the first is dynamic, pushing into action, but if there were only just action then eggs could be laid in any plant,
but it must be just the Yucca, so the moth has an image of that in itself in order to know what it should do.

These images are equal in importance to the action itself.

This system of images is also born in human beings, it is the archetypes, the potential force in man, but it only comes to the
surface when the moment for it is ripe, then the archetype functions as an urge, like an instinct.

In the collective unconscious the archetypes and the instincts are one and the same thing.

The English biologist Rivers refers to this as the “all or none reaction”, it goes right through or it does not start.

The archetypal or image side seldom comes to the surface in young people, they take instinct for granted, and never stop to think what the
meaning of it is, it just functions naturally.

But when the instinct becomes questionable, as always happens when you get older, you begin to wonder what it all means; the split has
already appeared and the images are liberated.

The active side of the instinct has become less demanding so the side of the images is dominating, it is as if the moth stopped
and wondered ” Why do I do this”, as if it would like to free itself from blindly following its instinct and look at the pictures instead.

This leads to philosophic questions which seem absurd to people who are actively living their instincts.

Hesitation only comes when the instinct begins to weaken.

The same instinct that moved you at the age of fifteen may be moving you again when much older and yet there is something showing
that the whole process which is happening in the unconscious is different, the images are becoming liberated from the active instinct.

When this process has a great deal of intensity, but remains in the unconscious, then these ideas get a strong hold in the unconscious which
dynamically influences the conscious, and a conflict ensues with neurotic complications.

Sexual perversions, for instance, often arise from this source, and this explains sudden abnormalities which appear in quite normal people.

They are not as a rule put into action but result in a perversion of phantasy.

How often do we hear of a respectable, elderly man who suddenly develops a penchant for the kitchen staff.

In such cases it is necessary to find the split in the instinct and to make it conscious, as it were to make the Yucca moth conscious of what it has done, and we must keep in mind that the possible explanation is that the moth did not act from biological, but from mythological reasons.

Experience with the primitives teaches us this.

The Great Spirit came to an Indian chief of forty in a dream and said to him:

“Now you will be a woman, you will eat with the women, sit with the women, and dress like a woman”.

He did so next day and of course he became taboo, mana, regarded as a wizard, and so on.

An image had detached itself from his natural instinct which turned him right round, but it does not usually work so
plastically or so quickly.

The natives who get the big dreams have lost their lust for fighting, their interest is now in the images instead of
being in life itself.

I will give you an example.

It concerns a man of fifty who found himself in the unpleasant situation of having to be a Don Juan.

He had to run after women, who in turn ran after him, and he had to envy every young couple he saw in the street, thinking that they
had what he was seeking.

I asked him why on earth he had to do this and he replied “They have a secret and I must discover it.”

It turned out that he had a negative mother complex.

She was a remarkable woman, too strong for his father, and so of course she had phantasies of other men, which she repressed, and
because of this repression the interest naturally went over on to the only son.

She constantly told him how he should feel, and treated him as if his feelings were hers.

Men whose mothers have done this to them get sentimental ideas, they never think that a man is just moved by the sexual instinct, but
that he is moved by a noble motive, the girl might be hungry, or have some secret sorrow.

He made several girls very unhappy, and then they really were sad for his sadism had made them so, but he went on believing in his good
intentions .

He was continually seeking for something and became like Bernhard Shaw’s figure in “Man and Superman”.

His mother had poisoned his feelings with her criticism and constant guidance. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lecture IV 24 May 1935, Pages 212-214.