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Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume 2, 1951-1961

To Pastor Werner Niederer

Dear Pastor Niederer, 13 August 1960

It is clear from your manuscript that your recommendation raises a very delicate problem.

You are risking difficulties not only with your own colleagues but-and this is more serious-also with the medical faculty. Naturally one cannot avoid taking risks, for nothing new would happen without them.

But one must ask oneself in all seriousness whether the difficulties would jeopardize the whole project, or can really be overcome.

It is quite inconceivable that all theologians, to a man, would go in for a training analysis, as you rightly de- mand that they should.

Nor is a training analysis the end of it, for in addition they would have to acquire a whole lot of technical knowledge, for which purpose, as you know, the C. G. Jung Institute was founded.

A diploma from this Institute is the minimal preparation needed for the activity you have in mind.

The mental and moral maturity you also require of the trainee is indeed commendable, but it is a postulate that cannot be carried out in practice.

Hence there are good reasons for combining psychotherapy, as a rule, either with a study of medicine, which is long and expensive and therefore offers some guarantee of the perseverance, reliability, and responsibleness of those who take up such a profession, or with a completed course of academic studies which at least ensures an all-round education.

But lay psychologists, too, are necessarily obliged to work together with doctors because the neuroses are frequently and unavoidably complicated by dangerous psychotic phenomena to which only a man who is protected by a medical diploma can and should expose himself.

So if you were to attempt such a radical breakthrough it is 1000 :1 that you will fail.

One has to be content with tentative, self-sacrificing efforts gradually to alter the marked aversion of the theological mind for psychology and transform its prejudices against the human psyche into a positive interest.

Unfortunately hardly a beginning has been made with this work in the world of theology.

The first step would be to sweep away all the various prejudices that hamper understanding.

Secondly, large numbers of theologians would have to acquire a deeper knowledge of psychology, which would be possible at first only in the realm of theory.

But nothing is gained by encouraging unprepared, prejudiced persons, however well-intentioned they may be, to take up a practical activity of whose scope, meaning, and risks they haven’t the glimmering of an idea.

They would endanger not only themselves but also the “patients” entrusted to their care.

One should first educate the educator and not hand the pupil over to an incompetent who, if he is honest, only gets his education from the pupil.

It would, however, be a delusion to assume that everyone can meet the demand for moral maturity. In my experience the opposite is generally the case.

In my opinion, therefore, it would be much more suitable if a serious attempt were made in the theological faculty, the breeding ground of theologians, to come to terms with the facts of psychology on the basis of real knowledge, and to give the student some conception of the contemporary problems he will meet with in his parish.

I would even advise you to ask a leading member of the theological faculty to give you a candid opinion of your proposal after a thorough study of your manuscript.

His reactions would show you what your chances are, and how a further modus procedendi might be worked out.

You will probably find it pretty difficult to convince any authority at all that your project is worth taking seri- ously.

It would then be up to you to prove that it is.

With kind regards,

C.G. Jung Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 581-582