Modern Psychology: C. G. Jung’s Lectures at the ETH Zürich, 1933-1941
[Carl Jung: “…soon however a very vivid dream-life developed, with the striking characteristic that her dreams came true.”]
Lecture V 17th November, 1933
Justinus Kerner belongs to the school of Romanticists, he is not really a scientist and his book contains a number of
more or less naive interpretations.
In the “Clairvoyante of Prevorst” Kerner describes the case of his patient, Frau Friederike Hauffe, who was born in
1801 in the village of Prevorst, where her father was a forester.
All we know about her immediate family is that her brothers and sisters were subject to convulsions, but we are
given to understand that there was no trace of epilepsy the most interesting fact is that her grand-father
was gifted with what the Scotch call second sight.
The Clairvoyante began life as a happy normal child, soon however a very vivid dream-life developed, with
the striking characteristic that her dreams came true; she hers elf believed in them and was often, for instance,
able to tell where a lost object was to be found.
She also showed great skill as a water-diviner.
The child had a horror of graveyards and her grandfather, who undertook her education, noticed on their daily walks
that she would suddenly be taken with uncontrollable shivering fits when they reached certain spots, and he believed
that they were then walking over long forgotten graves.
This feeling became so acute that she was unable to sit in the choir of the village church because there were tombs
directly beneath it.
She developed a specific sense for the uncanny and could see ghosts in haunted places.
In Schloss Lowenstein she peeped into the kitchen, but could on no account be induced to enter it and years later the
ghost of a woman was seen there.
These stories do not as yet prove anything, for it may merely have been the fear of ghosts that gave rise to such visions.
Nevertheless it is a fact that the Clairvoyante’s thoughts took on a visible form.
She was completely unconscious of certain thinking processes within herself and they could therefore only reach
her consciousness in the form of visions.
For it is a rule that no conscious thought becomes exteriorised: if we go into a haunted place thinking that we may
see a ghost we never do, because the thought has already been thought, but if, on the other hand, we enter it without
expectation we may see something.
To the distress of the child’s grandparents, this sense of unseen ghostly influences around her soon took the shape of real
She first actually saw a ghost in her grandparents’ house at midnight, a tall dark figure swept past her with a sigh and stood
gazing at her from the end of the passage.
She was not in the least frightened, but her grandfather was terrified when she told him what she had seen, for he had had
the same experience in exactly the same spot but had kept the incident to himself.
We might say that the child had been influenced by her grandfather, but it is more likely that she als o was gifted with second sight.
He tried to reason her out of her belief in what she had seen, but he was unable to shake her sense of reality with regard to
Kerner does not doubt that she really did see ghosts because he himself was convinced of their existence.
It is useless to reason with people who believe in ghosts, by saying “ghosts do not exist” etc.
We have to talk to them on their own level, taking for granted that there are such things; if we do not, we throw away any
advantage the conversation may offer.
In any case we can make no sweeping assertions in this field, for all proof is lacking.
In the same way you must speak to primitives in their own language, assuming that the things they believe in really exist.
The word ghost should never be mentioned among them, for to do so calls the ghosts forth.
I learned this in Africa, where I made the mistake of asking the natives what their ghost houses were and they reacted exactly as
a drawing room full of respectable people would to an obscene remark.
In any case, the Clairvoyante’s visions lead us to the conclusion that she possessed the faculty of exteriorization, of seeing psychic
processes as if existing outside herself.
These processes are based on psychological facts, but we do not know scientifically whether ghosts exist or not.
Kant may possibly be right when he says:
“It will yet be proved in the future that even in this life the human being stands in an indissoluble association with all immaterial
beings of the spirit world, that he affects them and receives impressions from them of which however he is not conscious,
so long as all goes well.”
But this noteworthy remark is very optimistic, because we should need exact physical methods to be able to prove objective
reality in this field, otherwise the subjective factor would always have to be taken into account.
In my estimation, second sight is not an illness, but a gift; you might as well say that it is pathological to be endowed with
remarkable intelligence, but the possession of a gift always carries with it the burden of responsibility.
We can have prophetic dreams without possessing second sight, innumerable people have such anticipatory dreams.
The Clairvoyante, however, soon began to show unmistakably pathological symptoms , the first of these was an extraordinary
sensitiveness to light and irritation of the eyes and this condition lasted a year.
This is a common symptom and is psychogenetic.
It is a kind of psychic blinking, an inability to stand the clear light of consciousness.
This typical psychological affection, which is a symbolic over sensitiveness to light, is also often met with in people who have an
unconscious bad conscience; they blink from fear that they might reveal themselves.
Nothing of importance happened after this till the Clairvoyante reached her nineteenth year, when she became engaged to Herr
Hauffe, a colorless young man who plays only a shadowy role in the story.
On the day of the betrothal an old preacher died, he was a man whom she greatly honoured and revered.
The Clairvoyante was singularly affected at his funeral.
She could hardly tear hers elf away from the grave and was in a very strange condition, as the result of a vision in which the old
preacher appeared as a ghost hovering over the grave.
She was used to seeing ghosts and look them as a matter of course, but this experience impressed her very deeply, for at this
moment she felt the stirring of a life in her innermost b eing; she wrote a poem ab out it and remained for a long time under its spell.
The Clairvoyante married in August 1821 and at first she lived a normal life and had a child.
Shortly after her marriage, in February 1822, she had a fateful dream: she dreamt that she lay in bed beside the corpse of the
preacher; in the next room she heard the voice of her father talking to two doctors who had been called in in consultation as she
was very seriously ill.
She called out to them: “Leave me alone beside this dead man, he can cure me and no doctor can”.
She felt as if they wished to draw her away from the corpse and cried aloud in her dream:
“How well I feel beside this dead person, now I shall be completely cured”.
Next day she was seized with a violent fever which lasted fourteen days; a bad neurosis followed which led to her death in her twenty-ninth year.
What has happened here?
The Clairvoyante has taken the side of her dream.
We think we could not possibly allow ourselves to be entangled in a certain fate through a dream, but Frau Hauffe could not have acted
otherwise, she was so constituted that the dream was her reality, she identified with the dead man and died while she still lived, that is to
say she dropped back more and more into the psychic background.
The death of the old preacher was the experience that made clear to her that she lived more with the dead than with the living, the figures of
the inner world were her realities, beside which husband and child were mere shadows.
If she accepts the dream, she will accept her inner reality and feel well, but then she must follow it into the psychic background until she
ceases to exist.
If a patient were to bring me a dream in which the dead and not the doctor worked the cure, I should ask:
“Why did you come to me?
“If she replied: “The dream seems strange to me, I cannot imagine why I should think that the dead could cure me”, I should undertake the case;
but if she gave the same answer as in the dream, it would be fatal, I could do nothing for her.
As a matter of fact such a person would probably never come to analysis and if she did she would certainly manage to man oeuvre the doctor
on to the side of death, unless he had great experience in such cases.
One might say that the very fact of her coming to analysis would in itself be a considerable argument against her being wholly on the side of
But it is a very ominous dream and as a doctor I consider it very questionable whether anything could have been done for her.
There are cases where it is better not to interfere; we must fulfil our duty as doctors, but the fact remains that some people are not meant to
be cured, they are not fitted for life and if you step in and interfere fate always takes its revenge on you.
I have known cases where people become as it were somnambulists and disappear into the unconscious, it is as if they had never been born.
This disproves the theory that a child’s mind is a tabula rasa, for it shows us that the unconscious is no empty surface, but a prepared ground; the brain
is complete with the history of the world and every child is born with an unconscious assumption of the world.
But for this we could not grasp the world at all.
There is no escape from this psychic background with which we enter life, it can only be accepted, we are bound to see the world through our
own inborn temperament.
Frau Hauffe feels healed and normal when she slips back into the psychic processes and ill if she ventures into the real world where she encounters insurmountable
conflict; so she steps ever further back into the unconscious. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lecture V, Pages 25-28.