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Sonu Shamdasani: Wehr presented Jung’s own accounts of his experience

Jung Stripped Bare: By His Biographers, Even

In 1985, Gerhard Wehr published a work on Jung entitled, Carl Gustav Jung: Life, Work, Effect, which was translated as Jung: A Biography. Unlike the professional biographers, Wehr had previously written on the religious aspects of Jung’s thought.

In 1972, he wrote a comparative study of Jung and Rudolf Steiner (Wehr, 1972).

In 1975, he published a work on the relations of Jung’s work to Christianity, with the intention of seeing how analytical psychology could contribute to a “depth theology”. (Wehr, 1975).

Thus his work arose out of a sustained involvement with Jung’s thought.

Unlike the biographies which preceded it, it did not present any new archival material or draw on interviews with individuals who knew Jung. Wehr relied heavily on Memories, Dreams, Reflections, which was uncritically taken as Jung’s biography.

After considering Brome’s work, it comes a relief to find an absence of psycho-biographical interpretation.

Instead, Wehr presented Jung’s own accounts of his experience, and showed a firm grasp of his ideas.

Wehr relied on material that had already been published.

Thus, if there is little new in Wehr’s book to make it stand out, it is also free of the many of the flaws of some of the earlier biographies of Jung, and generally known facts are reliably narrated.

In considering Jung’s “confrontation with the unconscious”, Wehr’s account faithfully followed that in Memories, supplemented by information from Hannah’s biography.

Wehr added his own diagnosis of Jung as “‘a borderline case’ on the threshold between neurosis and psychosis”.

Wehr raised the question of whether Jung’s undertaking was indeed voluntary, or whether it was his “inner conflicts” which “were driving him to the edge of insanity”.

However, he added that such an experience could not be understood in psychopathological criteria alone, but rather should also be seen as an example of the archetypal “night sea journey”, invoking Jung’s 1912 Transformations and Symbols of the Libido.

He also suggested there were parallels to Jung’s experience in the history of Christian esotericism.

Concerning Jung’s dream of killing Siegfried, Wehr added to Jung’s own interpretation the fact that “many of his Jewish colleagues had once looked upon him as just
such ‘gigantic blond Siegfried’” and that “Siegfried was also the name of the son whom Sabina Spielrein longed for”.

Wehr’s biography concludes with three short essays that survey the cultural reception of Jung’s work, particularly in religious circles. ~Sonu Shamdasani, Jung Stripped Bare: By His Biographers Even, Pages 80-81