Jung My Mother and I

I told Onkel of my Klinik [Hirslanden] experience after he had asked me about my operation.

I said, I had a row with the nurse and also those feelings [of claustrophobia] about the two people on each side of me [in the recovery room].

He said that I was naturally irritated by such worthless carcasses and wanted to see them put out of the way.

He said when one is weak, devils catch hold of one.

He said it was stupid to tell the surgeon about claustrophobia (pronouncing it in a humorous way).

One must not hand oneself over to a doctor with a diagnosis, and especially not speak of him, as Onkel is incomprehensible – and deals with ‘bad cases.’

I can mention Onkel when I feel normal, if I wish, but never in connection with my own symptoms, otherwise I get identified with queerness etc.

Doctor [Max] Fingerhuth understands, as he is a practical doctor, and also has taken care of some of Onkel’s patients, but surgeons are only supposed to know their surgical work – and specialists the same.

Fingerhuth is favorably prejudiced in favor of analysis.

As I have mentioned already, my mother was “operation-prone.”

She had her first major operation at twenty-four and continued with them all her life.

This one was probably for a hernia, of which she had a good half dozen.

The last occurred in her seventies, when the surgeon obligingly (though unsolicited) cut out a thick layer of fat.

The shock nearly killed her.

Then I told Onkel that I had, at last, rid myself of those old women and old maids by whom I had been ‘ridden’ for so many years, and I felt like a person out of gaol.

Onkel said that to get rid of them completely, the more I take it naturally, that I don’t have to be polite to them, the more easily I rid myself of them and can be more natural – I shall be, without offending them or their noticing it – like Liittichau who stands and observes and yet offends no one.

When I still feel that I should be nice, I am uncertain. Liittichau doesn’t need to be unkind, he just withdraws and shows his indifference.

I am under no obligation to be particularly forthcoming.

Katy could not stand old maids, of which there were many in Europe in the thirties because the First World War had killed so many men.

Strangely, despite her loathing of spinsters, Katy liked to dress up as one at fancy-dress parties.

Her British spinster outfit was most unbecoming!

I then mentioned to Onkel how touched I was when at the Technische Hochschule I had seen him drawing so hard on the blackboard, working like a young professor at his first lectures trying to make a reputation.

He said that he would not have got his reputation if he had not always given quality.

He went on to say that I had never thought about such aspects and now I am beginning to discover such things.

It widens my horizon and I become more human and less auto-erotic.

It shows that I am at one with myself if I can see things that are happening around me.

Being auto-erotic shows that one is looking for effects: the effect one makes when coming into a room – not seeing or even thinking of the other people, only thinking of oneself and the effect one makes.

One must retain a certain amount of ‘thinking of oneself because otherwise it is just as bad, when you forget yourself as when you forget other people.

Katy never overcame her autoerotic side. She loved to be noticed when she entered a room, and the people in San Remo, terrific flatterers, played up to her.

The incident which stands out in my memory came when she was in her seventies, during a party in a villa in Taggia, near San Remo.

Wearing a gold lame dress, Katy swept into the room where everyone stood drinking aperitifs, like a female version of Le Roi Soleil.

Everybody looked at her, and the men dashed to her to pay homage, calling, “Katy, Katy!” while I, relegated to a page’s role, received a mere nod.

Her way of securing attention, when the conversation veered away from her, was by noisily fumbling in her handbag then going to the ladies’ room to return only after a long delay.

For my mother, other people were there to be impressed.

At eighteen, when she managed to hold center-picture in group photographs, such an attitude is normal, but later less so.

Luckily, she reserved her Roi Soleil manifestation for Italian society, after she became a contessa; in Switzerland, the Old Sea Captain came to the fore, and went down well because he was more gemiltlich.

This side, favoring male fancy dress and a beard, came out already in her teens and again in middle age.

Jung’s comment, as the entry continues, underscores the personal cost of such attention-loving attitudes, in anyone:

It is pleasant for other people when a woman is carefully groomed.

If I have less egocentricity, then I get much more out of life. It is a question of having too much or too little.

A woman with none is unpleasant, but a woman who only sees herself is a nuisance, and one who can only talk of herself and her family is insupportable.

We should be ready to realize values and see things.

People should be awake, and aware of what is going on: they will not then say unkind things and will watch themselves.

Auto-erotic means not conscious of the presence of other people – they are people who play up to everyone to see what effect they make.

One is in a dark world when too concerned with oneself, a sort of mirror labyrinth, and you get into a panic.

Auto-erotic people only see themselves, and that is why they have panics.

He told the story of a man who said he did not know women.

When Onkel asked him if he was married, he admitted that he was, and finally confessed to having thirty-two women in his life.

Nevertheless, he stoutly maintained, he knew nothing about women.

In his vanity, he only experienced himself and never saw the women.

He was in a dark world and only saw himself.

Those thirty-two women were not his choice.

He performed sexual intercourse with them to prove he had seen ‘someone.’

He only saw himself in that experience; to him a woman was merely an instrument for his vanity.

He was a fine fellow, who made an impression on women, but the women did not exist for him.

There was no personal relation because the mirror only mirrored him.

It is like Roosevelt, with his stereotype smile which he puts on for everyone.

He does not mean it for the people he smiles at, it is his smile.

Onkel said he saw him listening to the Harvard lectures with a stone-like, impenetrable face, but when someone spoke to him, instantly, a ‘smile’ sprung on his face.

Despite the fact that the person he was smiling at, was to him, less than a fly! He just screws up that smile.

I told Onkel of having seen President Roosevelt’s mother, Mrs. Delano, at the [Venice] Lido, and that she was a terrible old hag, a monster beyond description, horrible. A sort of wart-hog-like creature, not a woman but just un etre!

Onkel went on to say that President R. had no human connections with anyone.

He would not take the trouble to say, “I don’t agree with you!”

Onkel said that other people with such mothers had an ‘infantile paralysis’ too.

Women like that have an unconscious desire to keep children dependent.

Onkel told the story of a man who dreamt that a wasp came from his mother and stung him. He got infantile paralysis.

The wasp is the symbol of an exteriorized poisonous libido.

Valerie [Greene, an American at school with Catharine in Florence] had that effect on her child.

I told him of Valerie’s illegitimate son.

He said that a woman like that is capable of killing her own child.

Onkel said he had analysed a woman who had killed her child.

She allowed two of her children to drink dirty Seine bath water while in their tubs.

One child died of typhoid. She then went crazy.

Onkel decided when called in, and after making tests, to confront her with the murder.

He said it would either make her permanently crazy or cure her.

So he announced the fact to her [that she had ldlled her child]. At first he thought she would die, but she ‘took it’ and was cured. ~Jane Cabot Reid, Jung My Mother and I, Pages 189-192

 

 

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