Jung on Contemporary Psychological Problems
Evans: You are familiar, of course, with the work of Dr. J. B. Rhine at Duke University. Some of his work in extrasensory perception and clairvoyance, or mental telepathy, sounds much like the research into intuitive function, a phase of your work which we discussed earlier. For example, would you say that a person who has clairvoyance would be an intuitive type in your frame of reference?
Jung: That’s quite probable. Or it can be a sensation type, say an extrovert sensation type who is very much influenced by the unconscious. He has introverted intuition in his unconscious.
Evans: Dr. Jung, you speak of rational and irrational functions, thinking and feeling being rational, and sensation and intuition being irrational. Would you care to elaborate on this notion?
Jung: As you say, there are two groups, the rational group and the irrational group. The rational group consists of the two functions, thinking and feeling. The ideal of thinking is a rational result, and the ideal of feeling is also a rational result. They hold rational values. That is differentiated thinking.
The irrational group is comprised of sensation and intuition. Sensation functions in such a way that it may not prejudice facts; it shall not prejudice facts. To the sensation type, the ideal perception is that you have an accurate perception of things as they are without additions or corrections. On the other side, intuition does not look at things as they are. That is anathema to the intuition. It looks ever so shortly at things as they are, and makes off into an unconscious process at the end in which he will see something nobody else will see.
Evans: So in terms of the person who is clairvoyant—
Jung: Those people who yield the best results are always those people who are introverted, where introverted intuition comes in. But that is a side aspect of it; it is not interesting.
The other question is far more interesting, namely, the terms they use. Rhine himself uses them—recognition, telepathy, etc. They mean nothing at all. They are words, but he thinks he has said something when he says “telepathy.”
Evans: The word itself is not a description of the process.
Jung: It means nothing, nothing at all.
Evans: Now, of course, a lot of the things that you are describing, some scientists would insist are due to chance, chance occurrences and chance factors. In his own work, Rhine used statistical probability analysis methods. He reports these occurrences more often than would be expected by chance.
Jung: Well you see, he proves that it is more than chance; it is statistically plausible. That is the important point which hasn’t been contradicted.
There was some experimental proof offered in England, which resulted in the accusation: “Oh, Rhine, that’s nothing but guesswork.” And that is exactly true; that is guessing, what you call guessing. However, a hunch is guessing, but a definite guess, you know. All this really means nothing.
You see, the point is that it is more than merely probable; it is beyond chance. That’s the major point. But as you know, people hate such problems they can’t deal with concretely, and they can’t deal with this one concretely. In fact, even Rhine does not understand how often extrasensory phenomena really occur, because it is a revelation which in these sacred rooms is anathema, a revelation of time and space through the psyche. That’s the fact; that is what Rhine has made evident, but for scientists to say, “I’ll swallow that,” now that is difficult.
Evans: We might go a little further into some of your recent works in this area which many consider quite profound, but are not too well known to many of our students.
Jung: Of course not. Nobody in the general public actually reads these things. Of course, my books are at least sold.
Evans: To be more specific, I’m referring to the concept, synchronicity, which you have discussed, and which has some relevance at this point in our discussion. Would you care to comment on synchronicity?
Jung: That is awfully complicated. One wouldn’t know where to begin. Of course, this kind of thinking started long ago, and when Rhine brought out his results, I thought, “Now we have at least a more or less dependable basis to argue on.” But the argument has not been understood at all, because it is really very difficult.
When you observe the unconscious, you will come across plenty of cases which show a very peculiar kind of parallel events. For example, I have a certain thought of a certain definite subject which is occupying my attention and my interest; and at the same time, something else happens, quite independently, that portrays just that thought. This is utter nonsense, you know, looked at from a causal point of view. However, that there is something else to it which is not nonsense is made evident by the results of Rhine’s experiments. There is a probability; it is something more than chance that such a case occurs.
I never made statistical experiments except one in the way of Rhine. I made one for another purpose. But I have come across quite a number of cases where it was most astounding to find that two causal chains happened at the same time, but independent of each other, so that you could say they had nothing to do with each other. It’s really quite clear. For instance, I speak of a red car and at that moment a red car comes here. Now I haven’t seen the red car, because it wasn’t possible; it was hidden behind the building until just this moment when it suddenly appeared. Now many would say that this is an example of mere chance, but the Rhine experiment proves that these cases are not mere chance.
Now it would be superstitious and false to say, “This car has appeared because here were some remarks made about a red car; it is a miracle that a red car has appeared.” It is not a miracle; it is just chance—but these chances happen more often than chance allows. That shows that there is something behind it.
Rhine has a whole institute, many co-workers, and has the means. We have no means here to make such experiments; otherwise, I probably would have done them. Here it is just physically impossible, so I have to content myself with the observation of facts!!
Evans: An interesting area which is being discussed a lot in the United States today, and I’m sure is of interest to you as well, is that of psychosomatic medicine, an area dealing with the way in which emotional components of personality can affect bodily functions.
Jung: As an example of this, I see a lot of astounding cures of tuberculosis—chronic tuberculosis—effected by analysts; people learn to breathe again. The understanding of what their complexes were—that has helped them.
Evans: When did you first become interested in the psychic factors of tuberculosis? Many years ago?
Jung: I was an analyst to begin with; I was always interested naturally. Maybe also because I understood so little of it, or more importantly, I noticed that I understood so little.
Evans: To expand on my earlier question, we are right now becoming more and more interested in the United States in how emotional, unconscious personality factors can actually have an effect on the body. Of course, the classic example in the literature is the peptic ulcer. It is believed that this is a case where emotional factors have actually created pathology.
These ideas have been extended into many other areas. It is felt, for example, that where there already is pathology, these emotional factors can intensify it. Or sometimes there may be actual symptoms or fears concerning pathology when no true pathology exists, such as in cases of hysteria or hypochondriasis. For example, many physicians in America say that 60 to 70 percent of their patients do not have anything really physically wrong with them, but they instead have disorders of psychosomatic origin.
Jung: Yes, that is well known—since more than fifty years. The question is how to cure them. Evans: Speaking of such psychosomatic disturbances, as, for instance, your experiences and studies into tuberculosis, do you have any ideas as to why the patient selects this type of symptom?
Jung: He doesn’t select; they happen to him. You could ask just as well when you are eaten by a crocodile, “How did you happen to select that crocodile?” Nonsense, he has selected you.
Evans: Of course, “selected” in this sense refers to an unconscious process.
Jung: No, not even unconsciously. That is an extraordinary exaggeration of the importance of the subject, to say he was choosing such things. They get him.
Evans: Perhaps one of the most radical suggestions in the area of psychosomatic medicine has been the suggestion that some forms of cancer may have psychosomatic components as causal factors. Would this surprise you?
Jung: Not at all. We know these since long ago, you know. Fifty years ago we already had these cases; ulcer of the stomach, tuberculosis, chronic arthritis, skin diseases. All are psychogenic under certain conditions.
Evans: And even cancer?
Jung: Well you see, I couldn’t swear, but I have seen cases where I thought or wondered whether or not there was a psychogenic reason for that particular ailment; it came too conveniently. Many things can be found out about cancer, I’m sure.
You see, with us it has been always a question of how to treat these things, because any disease possible has a psychological accompaniment. It just all depends upon —perhaps life depends upon it—whether you treat such a patient psychologically in the proper way or not. That can help tremendously, even if you cannot prove in the least that the disease in itself is psychogenic.
You can have an infectious disease in a certain moment, that is, a physical ailment or predicament, because you are particularly accessible to an infection—maybe sometimes because of a psychological attitude. Angina is such a typical psychological disease; yet it is not psychological in its physical consequences. It’s just an infection. So you ask, “Then why does psychology have anything to do with it?” Because it was the psychological moment maybe that allowed the infection to grow. When the disease has been established and there is a high fever and an abscess, you cannot cure it by psychology. Yet it is quite possible that you can avoid it by a proper psychological attitude.
Evans: So all this interest in psychosomatic medicine is pretty old stuff to you.
Jung: It’s all known here long ago.
Evans: And you are not at all surprised at the new developments . . .
Jung: No. For instance, there is the toxic aspect of schizophrenia. I published it fifty years ago—just fifty years ago—and now everyone discovers it. You are far ahead in America with technological things, but in psychological matters and such things, you are fifty years back. You simply don’t understand it; that’s a fact. I don’t want to figure in a general corrective statement; you simply are not yet aware of what there is. There are plenty more things than people have any idea of. I told you that case of the theologian who didn’t even know what the unconscious was; he thought it was an apparition. Everyone who says that I am a mystic is just an idiot. He just doesn’t understand the first word of psychology.
Evans: There is certainly nothing mystical about the statements you have just been making. Now to pursue this further, another development that falls right in line with this whole discussion of psychosomatic medicine has been the use of drugs to deal with psychological problems. Of course, historically drugs have been used a great deal by people to try to forget their troubles, to relieve pain, etc. However, a particular development has been the so-called non-addictive tranquilizing drugs. These, of course, became prominent in France with the drug, chlorpromazine. Then followed such drugs as reserpine-serpentina, and a great variety of milder tranquilizers, known by such trade names as Miltown and Equinal. They are now being administered very freely to patients by general practitioners and internists. In other words, not only are the stronger tranquilizers being administered to mentally ill patients such as schizophrenics, but to a great extent today these drugs are being dispensed almost as freely as aspirins to reduce everyday tensions.
Jung: This practice is very dangerous.
Evans: Why do you think this is dangerous? These drugs are supposed to be nonaddictive.
Jung: It’s just like the compulsion that is caused by morphine or heroin. It becomes a habit. You don’t know what you do, you see, when you use such drugs. It is like the abuse of narcotics.
Evans: But the argument is that these are not habit-forming; they are not physiologically addictive.
Jung: Oh, yes, that’s what one says.
Evans: But you feel that psychologically there is still addiction?
Jung: Yes. For instance, there are many drugs that don’t produce habits, the kind of habits that morphine does; yet it becomes a different kind of habit, a psychical habit, and that is just as bad as anything else.
Evans: Have you actually seen any patients or had any contact with individuals who have been taking these particular drugs, these tranquilizers?
Jung: I can’t say. You see, with us there are very few. In America there are all the little powders and the tablets. Happily enough, we are not yet so far. You see, American life is in a subtle way so one-sided and so uprooted that you must have something with which to compensate the real nature of man. You have to pacify your unconscious all along the line because it is in absolute uproar; so at the slightest provocation you have a big moral rebellion in America. Look at the rebellion of modern youth in America, the sexual rebellion, and all that. These rebellions occur because the real, natural man is just in open rebellion against the utterly inhuman form of American life. Americans are absolutely divorced from nature in a way, and that accounts for that drug abuse.
Evans: But what about the treatment of individuals who are seriously mentally ill? We have the problem of hospitalized, psychotic patients. For instance, certain schizophrenics are so withdrawn that they are virtually impossible to interact with in psychotherapy; so in many hospitals in the United States, drugs such as chlorpromazine have been used in order to render many such patients more amenable to psychotherapy. I don’t think most of our practitioners believe the drugs cure the patients in themselves, but they at least make the patient more amenable to therapy.
Jung: Yes, the only question is whether that amenability is a real thing or drug-induced. I am sure that any kind of suggestive treatment will have effect, because these people simply become suggestible. You see, any drug or shock in the mind will lower stamina, making these people accessible to suggestion. Then, of course, they can be led, can be made into something, but it is not a very happy result.
Evans: To change the topic for a moment, Professor Jung, I know our students would be interested in your opinion concerning the kind of training and background a psychologist, a person who wants to study the individual, should have. For example, there is one view that says maybe he should be trained primarily as a rigorous scientist, a master of such tools as statistics and experimental design. Others feel, however, that a study of the humanities is also important for the student who wants to study the individual.
Jung: Well of course, when you study human psychology, you can’t help noticing that man’s psychology doesn’t only consist of the ramifications of instinct in his behavior. There are other determinants, many others, and the study of man from his biological aspect only is by far insufficient. To understand human psychology, it is absolutely necessary that you study man also in his social and general environments. You have to consider, for instance, the fact that there are different kinds of societies, different kinds of nations, different traditions; and in the interest of that purpose, it is absolutely necessary that one treat the problem of the human psyche from many standpoints. Each is naturally a considerable task.
Thus, after my association experiments at which time I realized that there was obviously an unconscious, the question became, “Now what is this unconscious? Does it consist merely of remnants of conscious activities, or are there things that are practically forever unconscious? In other words, is the unconscious a factor in itself?” And I soon came to the conclusion that the unconscious must be a factor in itself. You see, I observe time and again, for instance, when delving into people’s dreams or schizophrenic patients’ delusions and fantasies, that therein is contained motives which they couldn’t possibly have acquired in our surroundings. This, of course, depends upon the belief that the child is not born tabula rasa, but instead is a definite mixture or combination of genes; and although the genes seem to contain chiefly dynamic factors and predispositions to certain types of behavior, they have a tremendous importance also for the arrangement of the psyche, inasmuch as it appears, that is. Before you can see into the psyche, you cannot study it, but once it appears, you see that it has certain qualities and a certain character. Now the explanation for this must needs depend upon the elements born in the child, so factors determining human behavior are born within the child, and determine further development. Now that is one side of the picture.
The other side of the picture is that the individual lives in connection with others in certain definite surroundings that will influence the given combination of qualities. And that now is also a very complicated factor, because the environmental influences are not merely personal. There are any number of objective factors. The general social conditions, laws, convictions, ways of looking at things, of dealing with things; these things are not of an arbitrary character. They are historical. There are historical reasons why things are as they are. There are historical reasons for the qualities of the psyche and there is such a thing as the history of man’s evolution in past eons, which as a combination show that real understanding of the psyche must consist in the elucidation of the history of the human race—history of the mind, for instance, as in the biological data. When I wrote my first book concerning the psychology of the unconscious, I already had formed a certain idea of the nature of the unconscious. To me it was then a living remnant of the original history of man, man living in his surroundings. It is a very complicated picture.
So you see, man is not complete when he lives in a world of statistical truth. He must live in a world where the “whole” of man, his entire history, is the concern; and that is not merely statistics. It is the expression of what man really is, and what he feels himself to be.
The scientist is always looking for an average. Our natural science makes everything an average, reduces everything to an average; yet the truth is that the carriers of life are individuals, not average numbers. When everything is statistical, all individual qualities are wiped out, and that, of course, is quite unbecoming. In fact, it is unhygienic, because if you wipe out the mythology of a man, his entire historical sequence, he becomes a statistical average, a number; that is, he becomes nothing. He is deprived of his specific value, of experiencing his own unique value.
You see, the trouble is that nobody understands these things apparently. It seems quite strange to me that one doesn’t see what an education without the humanities is doing to man. He loses his connection with his family, his connection with his whole past—the whole stem, the tribe —that past in which man has always lived. We think that we are born today tabula rasa without a history, but man has always lived in the myth. To think that man is born without a history within himself— that is a disease. It is absolutely abnormal, because man is not bom every day. He is bom into a specific historical setting with specific historical qualities, and therefore, he is only complete when he has a relation to these things. If you are growing up with no connection from the past, it is like being born without eyes and ears and trying to perceive the external world with accuracy. Natural science may say, “You need no connection with the past; you can wipe it out,” but that is a mutilation of the human being. Now I saw from a practical experience that this kind of proceeding has a most extraordinary therapeutic effect. I can tell you such a case.
There was a Jewish girl. Her father was a banker. She had been educated more through worldly experience and formal education, and was decidedly lacking in any understanding of tradition. I examined her history further and found out that her grandfather had been an ascetic in Galicia. With this insight, I knew the whole story, and let me explain why. This particular girl suffered from phobia, a terrible phobia, and had been under psychoanalytic treatment already with no effect. She was really badly plagued by that phobia, in excited states and so on. I observed that this girl had blocked significant influences of her past. For instance, the fact that her grandfather was an ascetic, that he lived in the myth, was one influence she had blocked. Her father too had resisted this ascetic influence. So I simply told her, “You will stamp out your fears if you gain insight into what you have lost or are resisting. Your fear is the fear of the influences from the past.” You know, the effect was that within a week she was cured from so many years of bad anxiety states, because this insight went through her like a lightning bolt. I was able to interpret the source of the problem so quickly because I knew that she was absolutely lost. She thought she was in the middle of things, functioning well, but actually she was in a sense lost or gone.
Evans: What can we learn from this remarkable case, Dr. Jung?
Jung: Well, it illustrates that it makes no sense and that our existence is incomplete when we are just “average numbers.” The more you make people into average numbers, the more you destroy our society. The “ideal state” and the “slave state” come into being. If you want to be an “average number,” go to Russia. There it is wonderful; there you can be a number. But one pays very dearly; our whole life goes to blazes, like in the case of the girl. I have plenty of cases of a similar kind. ~Carl Jung; Conversations with C.G. Jung