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

Lecture IX 15th December, 1933

The phenomena with which we have been especially concerned in the Clairvoyante’s experience, fall under three heads:

1 . Supernatural sense perceptions (clairvoyance, etc.) .
2. Ghosts and Spirits .
3 . Vision of the Sun Circle, or Mandala (Mandala is the Indian term for circle).

  1. The Supernatural sense perceptions consist principally of clairvoyant phenomena.

They appear in space and time.

At first it may seem nonsensical that such unnatural things can happen and I am aware, from the reactions that I have received, that a large part of my audience looks upon the Clairvoyante’s case as a very exaggerated one.

This is, however, sheer ignorance.

We simply do not know how common such experiences are.

Every one of us has Frau Hauffe in our unconscious , but the human psyche is amazingly unknown.

Such a mass of irrefutable evidence exists, however, that we cannot overlook these phenomena, and, as a psychologist, I handle these things too frequently not to believe in them.

We should approach such things with an attitude of unlimited patience, allowing the material to work upon us in its own way.

But in this field it is very easy to deceive ourselves, we cannot be too careful how we sift our material, for we are on dangerous ground.

We must assume, then, that at any rate some of the reports of the Clairvoyante’s strange experiences which I have given you really correspond to the facts.

After so many years it is of course impossible to verify them, but such things really do occur and I have met with similar cases.

I should like to stress the fact that intense withdrawal from outer reality brings about an animation of the inner world which calls forth these phenomena.

People like Frau Hauffe, whose psychic energy has left the outer world, have such experiences; it is simply a fact, even if it is a very inconvenient one, which we must take into account.

The existence of such things is only denied by those who are determined to prove their own theories of the universe, so determined that they simply ignore everything that does not fit in with them.

Such people deny these phenomena any scientific validity and leave any inconvenient and too obtrusive facts to the poets.

But psychology, of all things, demands that we be honest and shut our eyes to nothing.

This brings us to the strange problem of the relativity of space and time.

We have fixed ideas about these and when we meet with facts, such as those experienced by Frau Hauffe, we are greatly disturbed for these phenomena go right against our usual conception of the absolute validity of space and time.

Some of the cleverest people, however, have always questioned the absolute character of space and time; Kant, for instance, had such doubts when he wrote:

“Space is a necessary a priori conception, which lies at the base of all external perceptions. One can never conceive of there being no space although one can quite well imagine finding no objects in it.”

Space is a pure conception, the condition a priori of all spatial experiences generally.

It possesses “empirical reality” and is the frame of all outer experience.

Time is “the formal condition a priori of all phenomena”.

Time as inner sense (space being the outer sense) has “subjective reality”.

It would be difficult to challenge these formulae.

Modern physics have also come to doubt the absolute character of space and time.

If they are relative factors they cannot possess absolute validity; we have to assume that an absolute reality would be differently constituted from our space and time reality.

It is possible then that phenomena appear which are not subject to the laws of space and time.

The psychic facts have neither length, breadth , nor weight, but are essentially spaceless, and it is exceedingly difficult to determine their duration.

We are unable to measure the time in which a psychic process takes place; we can measure the psycho-physical reactions, but psychic things in and for themselves cannot be determined by time.

On the contrary, we often experience the fact that psychic events do happen in an unbelievably short fraction of time.

It has been proved over and over again that very long dreams can take place in the shortest time imaginable.

You dream, for instance, of long military preparations, then war is declared, it breaks out, the guns thunder . . .and you find that you are being called in the morning.

Did the endless dream happen between the first knock and the last, or did it start earlier and lead up to the moment of the knocking from an anticipatory knowledge of the very second in which the knock at the door would occur?

Another long dream culminates in your head being cut off and at that very instant the canopy of the bed falls on your neck.

It is common knowledge that in the second before they drown, people can see their whole lives pass before them in a flash.

This can also happen when falling over a precipice.

Thus we get endless examples of a different space and time reality which cannot be grasped by the empirical mind.

I have chosen the case of the “Clairvoyante of Prevorst” in order to show you how intense introversion causes the characteristic peculiarities of the psychic
background to come out into the light of day, for it is very important that we should understand this inner life.

Numerous examples show us that without doubt everyone of us is capable of having anticipatory dreams.

Read J. W. Dunne’s book: “An Experiment with Time”, where the author relates the dream he had in Africa, describing the terrible Martinique earthquake the night before the newspaper accounts reached him.

He was in touch with something which had not yet reached his sphere of consciousness.

Dreams border all the time on things which are right outside our space and time conception.

Dunne speaks of a displacement in time.

It is as if a slip occurred in the time we are familiar with and enabled us to see round the corner into another order of time.

  1. Ghosts and Spirits.

These phenomena are projections from the background of the psyche, autonomous inner images of a subjective nature, obeying no conscious intention, but coming and going at their own volition.

We all experience these autonomous contents, only they strike us in different ways, for instance when we say:
“It has suddenly occurred to me” or such and such a thing has «just come into my mind”; if we stood a little closer to Frau Hauffe’s makeup, we should say that we saw a ghost; or again if we were nearer to the lunatic, we should declare: “A voice told me so and so.

“A man walked down a London street, taking no notice of the names of the shop s or the advertisements, but he heard a loud trumpeting voice announcing them.

We have this sort of thing within us, but we are unaware of it till something goes suddenly out of gear and out it all pours.

is only through a certain effort that the conscious registers what it encounters; that which is not in its focus is also recorded, but it fails to reach consciousness and remains unconscious.

This shows us that the psyche is not identical with consciousness.

The threshold of consciousness, where the unconscious is forever intruding, is very indistinct: we notice things and do not really notice them, or we forget them and they suddenly appear.

All we have ever heard lies dormant in our unconscious till something provokes it and it walks out autonomously.

A patient was once brought to me in a very neurotic condition, she was a girl of 18 who had been most carefully brought up and had led a very sheltered existence; yet, to the horror of her family, she now swore with a fluency that a bargee might have envied.

I was asked how she could possibly be acquainted with such a vocabulary?

I could not tell just where she had heard such language, I could only suggest that she had, for instance, heard navvies and carters swearing at their horses.

The street is full of such things and the unconscious always sees and hears everything, but it requires a great effort of concentration to register this consciously.

If the light were suddenly to go out and you could no longer see me, you would not be likely to think that I had ceased to exist, yet it would be no more foolish than to assume that the contents of the psychic background only exist when we can see them.

These autonomous things follow their own laws and not ours.

The ancients understood this far better than we do, they did not speak, therefore, of being in love but of being possessed or hit by a god.

We do not only experience these psychic contents as a state of possession, but also as a sense of loss, for the unconscious can steal away fragments of our conscious psyche and rob us of our energy.

This is what has happened when we say that we have “keine Lust” (no inclination) for something or other.

The primitive would say that he had lost one of his souls, for he believes that he has many, and he would lie on the ground trying to remind himself who he was.

We are moved by the same instinct when we bite our nails during a dull lecture to remember who is sitting there, for we are in danger of partially losing ourselves.

The psyche has a great desire to become whole and to collect back its scattered parts.

When we say: “I jumped out of my skin”, or “I was beside myself with rage”, we mean just the same as the primitive when he says: “l have lost a soul”.

We cannot escape b eing influenced by psychic contents, it is our natural condition; therefore I always feel very suspicious when somebody assures me that he is very normal, too many normal people are just compensated madmen.

The really normal man has no need to be always correct, or to stress his normality; he can be possessed by an idea, a conviction, a feeling, he can live all sides of himself and do many foolish things.

  1. Mandalas.

This third phenomenon, the circle or mandala, is one of the most remarkable in existence.

Unfortunately it is very little known, although it is a fundamental expression of the human psyche.

Up till the present, this phenomenon has been given very little consideration, and yet mandalas occur all over the world.

Since man has existed, the circle has had its symbolic and magic meaning, we meet it everywhere, from the sand paintings of the Pueblos to the mandalas of the Chinese and the same basic elements are always present.

It is really necessary that we should realise that such things exist, even if we know nothing of them.

I have purposely used a case of Kerner’s and not one of my own in bringing this phenomenon to your notice, so that there could be no question of influence or suggestion.

When I was a student, I came across a girl of fifteen who was a somnambulist, gifted with second sight and she produced a circle very similar to the Clairvoyante’s.

She spoke of the central point as full of energy and radiant light and of the second ring as cold.

Whereas the Clairvoyante of Prevorst looked up on her circle as a wall, protecting her from the darts of the outer world, the magic circle has, from time immemorial, been used as a protection against the inner world, the world of spirits. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lecture IX,15Dec1933, Pages 39-42.