C. G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters (Bollingen Series XCVII)

Professor Jung, how did you, as a doctor, become interested in psychological medicine?

Dr. Jung: Well, when I was a student of medicine I already then became interested in the psychological aspect—chiefly of mental diseases.

I studied, besides my medical work, also philosophy—chiefly Kant, Schopenhauer and others.

I found it very difficult in those days of scientific materialism to find a middle line between natural science or medicine and my philosophical interests.

And in the last of my medical studies, just before my final exam, I discovered the short introduction that KrafftEbing had written to his textbook of psychiatry, and suddenly I understood the connection between psychology or philosophy and medical science.

Stephen Black: This was due to Krafft-Ebing’s introduction to his textbook? Carl Jung: Yes; and it caused me tremendous emotion then.
I was quite overwhelmed by a sudden sort of intuitive understanding.

I wouldn’t have been able to formulate it clearly then, but I felt I had touched a focus.

And then on the spot I made up my mind to become a psychiatrist, because there was a chance to unite my philosophical interests with natural science and medical science; that was my chief interest from then on.

Stephen Black: Would you say that your sudden intuitive interest in something like that, your intuitive under- standing, had to some extent been explained by your work during all the years since?

Dr. Jung: Oh, yes; absolutely.

But, as you know, such an intuitive moment contains the whole thing in nucleo.

It is not clearly formulated; it’s an indescribable totality; but this moment had been the real origin of my career as a medical psychological scientist.

Stephen Black: So it was in fact Krafft-Ebing and not Freud that started you oft. Dr. Jung: Oh, yes, I became acquainted with Freud much later on.
Stephen Black: And when did you meet Freud? Dr. Jung: That was only in 1907.

I had some correspondence with him before that date, but I met him only in 1907 after I had written my book on The Psychology of Dementia Praecox.’

Stephen Black: That was your first book? Dr. Jung: That wasn’t really my first book.

The book on dementia praecox came after my doctor’s thesis in 1904.

And then my subsequent studies on the association experiment’ paved the way to Freud, because I saw that the behavior of the complex provided the experimental basis for Freud’s ideas on repression.

And that was the reason and the possibility of our relationship. Stephen Black: Would you like to describe to me that meeting?

Dr. Jung: Well, I went to Vienna and paid a visit to him, and our first meeting lasted thirteen hours. Stephen Black: Thirteen hours?
For thirteen uninterrupted hours we talked and talked and talked.

It was a tour d’horizon, in which I tried to make out Freud’s peculiar mentality.

He was a pretty strange phenomenon to me then, as he was to everybody in those days, and then I saw very clearly what his point of view was, and I also caught some glimpses already where I wouldn’t join in.

Stephen Black: In what way was Freud a peculiar personality? Dr. Jung: Well, that’s difficult to say, you know.

He was a very impressive man and obviously a genius.

Yet you must know the peculiar atmosphere of Vienna in those days: it was the last days of the old Empire, and Vienna was always spiritually and in every way a place of a very specific character.

And particularly the Jewish intelligentsia was an impressive and peculiar phenomenon—particularly to us Swiss, you know.

We were, of course, very different and it took me quite a while until I got it. Carl Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, Pages 252-267.