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Carl Jung on the provisional life; where one does not exist really


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C. G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters

The provisional life; where one does not exist really, they are only a spectator; so any experience is ghost-like, perfectly abstract, without a trace of realization.

I remember a very impressive case of this, a girl about 25 years old.

She proved to be absolutely inaccessi- ble.

She lived things, she did things, but she did not know what she was living.

I said: “Cannot you see what you do, damn it?”
But no, nothing touched her, so she had no relation to the world at all, she lived in a sort of mist.

Finally I said: “Well, it is no good, I cannot waste my time any longer; if you will not try to see what you are doing I must give it up.”

And it happened three or four months later she shot herself, and since she was a stranger here I was called in to give evidence.

I saw the corpse.

She had shot herself through the heart in the street and had not lost consciousness for a minute or two.

The expression on her face was completely altered. For a long time I stood watching her face and asking my- self: “What kind of expression is that?”

It was most extraordinary, the expression of someone who was convinced, say, that a thing was black, and to whom it was very important that it was black, but to whom one had finally prove that it was red; and it was as if she suddenly realized it was red.

It was a look full bewilderment and a sort of of pleasant surprise.

I saw what had happened: at the moment when she shot herself, while she was still alive, yet felt it was done and irrevocable, she understood what life was for the first time.

I have seen several cases where serious attempts at suicide have occurred, and just as they thought: now it is the end, they understood what life was, and they never tried it again.

Sometimes people have to injure themselves very badly in order to awaken to what life really is.

The unconscious works sometimes with the most amazing cunning, arranging certain fatal situations, fatal ex- periences, which make people wake up; they are dangerous, they may cost their lives, but that simply shows how deeply unconscious people often are. Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Pages 339-340.