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

Lecture II 27th April, 1934

There is nothing easy in psychology, the psyche does not react in a simple way, so that the simplest thing is complicated.

In an association test, for example, the questions are simple enough, but the reactions of the psyche are not.

We can make an easy experiment. I could hang up a red square.

Everyone sees the same object, it is red for everyone.

Each individual is sure that it is exactly the same for everybody else, but theoretically everyone sees an individual variation of the same thing.

No one can simply perceive it, but sees it in his own peculiar way, of which fact h6wever he is unconscious.

The mad king, Ludwig of Bavaria, made an interesting experiment.

He invited a number of artists to paint the same scene in the garden of Tivoli.

The results were exceedingly varied; some of the pictures seemed to outsiders to be very far from reality, for not only the object but the subject of the artist appeared.

In the same way every expression in speech has a different meaning for different people.

Each word has its meaning for us personally and, besides this, a content of the unconscious can creep in and complicate things still further.

All this increases the difficulty I mentioned in the last lecture of finding adequate words in everyday speech with which to describe even outer processes.

When it comes to inner processes the matter becomes harder still.

Our expressions are limited. If I say: “Es ist mir wahl” (I feel O.K.)

I think I have said something, but this assertion means something different to everybody.

A vast sphere of unconscious processes exists beside our consciousness and when we make a simple conscious assertion all kinds of things can flow in and obscure the meaning.

The unconscious is constantly at hand and is more alive and more permanently awake than the conscious.

We sleep a third of our life away and in the remaining two-thirds we are only more or less conscious.

Alert consciousness is a very rare condition, it is tiring and expensive, and as it requires so much energy we prefer to let ourselves live in a kind of torpor.

We like to let ourselves sink into a sort of dream in which at least we can still observe our thoughts, but some people cannot even achieve this, they cannot say what they have thought.

This is indeed the primeval condition of man.

The primitives spend most of their lives in this condition and are exceedingly angry if they are asked what they are thinking about.

If we relax our attention we fall into the dream which is forever flowing on in the unconscious, but it requires a special
Training to be able to observe and record this dream.

Everything of which we are not aware is stored up in the unconscious and though this is a dark, slumbering condition, it is active all the time and sometimes it takes contents of the conscious and draws them down into it.

I can make a slip of the tongue, a word has been drawn down by the unconscious, and something else substituted.

If the unconscious stopped living nothing would happen in consciousness, for all that comes into our heads proceeds from the unconscious.

Normal consciousness is very narrow, it cannot hold more than a certain number of things at the same time, all clearness is lost if this numb er becomes too large, and this can lead over into pathological symptoms.

Many of our daily actions are unconscious; the movements of our bodies, the expressions of our faces, for instance, and such automatic gestures as taking out a watch and looking at the time and very often omitting to register the same.

We see and do things and omit to record them.

Everything which has ever happened is shouldering on the threshold of consciousness, but the bridge is lacking, so it is not
immediately accessible.

Some things are so deep that the conscious will is quite powerless to reach them, they can only be touched indirectly without our conscious participation, we suddenly remember them when thinking of something else.

I will give a concrete example of this.

A man was walking along a road and suddenly became aware of vivid recollections of his childhood.

He retraced his steps and came on a farm which he had passed some minutes before.

He was struck by the smell of the goose yard which recalled the farm where he was brought up.

His nose had smelt it as he passed, but it had remained unconscious till several minutes later, when the smell came up indirectly.

Numerous things in the unconscious always remain unknown to us.

This is the reason that we really know so little of our own lives.

We do not know how to value many things which were once conscious and allow them to drop from us.

The unconscious appears to have a peculiarly fine feeling for estimating the importance of things.

Many events which happened to us in childhood, for instance, seem quite trivial to us, but the unconscious, realizing their importance, preserved them.

This fact is of considerable importance as it shows us that it matters very much what we experience, for even that which we do not experience consciously is yet experienced by our whole psyche.

If one man reads a thousand books and forgets their contents completely, and another man does not read at all, we might think they would come out equal, but this is not the case.

The unconscious registers everything, it has a fabulous memory, and all that the first man had read is stored up there.

Hypnotism could reveal it.

There was a case of a woman who suffered from complete amnesia for two days, but her unconscious registered the exact time on the clock when she was brought into hospital in spite of the fact that she was in a state of deep unconsciousness at the time.

Forel records a case of a man who was reading a newspaper in a cafe in Zurich and read of a man who was missing and wanted in Australia.

Suddenly he realised that this man was himself.

He went to Forel and told him this.

Forel hypnotized him and it turned out that as a result of dengue fever in Australia he had lost his memory, gone to Sidney and bought himself a ticket to Europe.

The people on board the steamer only noticed that he was silent, aloof, and read a great deal.

In this way he came to Zurich.

This is by no means an isolated case, in loss of memory the whole previous life may be lost, but the unconscious stores away all the images of it.

I once investigated the case of a girl of 19 who was suspected of schizophrenia and who had been in an asylum for one or two years.

She had hallucinations and strange symptoms common to those who live entirely in the inner world.

Her pupils were always dilated and only contracted when her attention could be awakened to the outer world.

I had the feeling that an inner dream was being lived.

It came out very slowly about three words an hour.

It was a story lived on the moon.

I asked her why she found it so difficult to tell me about it and she replied: “I take trouble, but it is too difficult, it was never in words”.

To think then in words is an effort.

These inner dramas and dreams cannot be willed into consciousness, they can only be reached by a special training, or by hypnosis.

They are not words, or single incidents, but a river of events.

Kant calls this sphere the territory of “dim representations”, and when we see this unconscious world with our own conscious world we see that the latter swims in the former, like an island in the ocean.

Our consciousness cannot be our psyche, it is only a very small part of our psyche, but the psyche is the whole.

When a man is whole his unconscious must also have its say.

The real being is in the unconscious.

If we wish to be aware of the whole person we must wait until the unconscious has spoken.

Students should see their friends when they are drunk before assuming that they know them.

Things come up then which we cannot see at other times, sometimes worse, and sometimes better than the things which we already know.

Consciousness is essentially the psyche’s organ of perception, it is the eye and ear of the psyche.

We locate consciousness in the forehead, but the Indians think that the Americans are mad for doing this,
the Indian thinks in the heart, and the nigger thinks in the stomach.

In fact it is only when the nigger’s stomach is affected that he thinks at all.

On the level of the taboo it is only that which makes the heart b eat, or affects the intestines, which
makes people think.

The life that we live consciously is lived in the unconscious by the primitive, he cannot think
logically, or act logically, he is alive to fear or anger, but it is very rare for a primitive to be able to detach himself sufficiently to appreciate such a thing as the beauty of nature. ~Carl Jung, Lecture II, 27April1934, Pages 96-98.