Jung Stripped Bare: By His Biographers, Even

In 1999, Ronald Hayman, another professional biographer, published his biography of Jung,

A Life of Jung. Hayman was the first biographer who was aware of the status of Memories, Dreams, Reflections, and drew on the protocols of Aniela Jaffé’s interviews with Jung.

Furthermore, he was the first biographer to draw on the Countway interviews, supplemented with some interviews of his own.

Of the biographers of Jung to date, Hayman devoted the most space, comparatively speaking, to giving summaries of Jung’s actual writings.

Also, he did not rely on existing translations of Jung’s works, and sometimes revised existing translations and supplied his own.

Like the previous biographers, Hayman did not consult the Jung archives in Zürich.

Like Stern, Brome and McLynn before him, Hayman presented his own retrospective analysis of Jung.

This is particularly marked in his account of Jung’s “confrontation with the unconscious”, which he regarded as a breakdown.

Hayman employed Ellenberger’s rubric of the “creative illness”, but went further in stressing what he considered to be the psychopathological nature of Jung’s experiences.

In his reading of Jung’s Siegfried dream, Hayman contended that Jung’s “need to keep silent” about Sabina Spielrein stopped him from “writing honestly about this dream”, as Siegfried obviously signified Spielrein’s Siegfried fantasy—a connection which had been posited by Wehr.

The assumption that one knows what this dream “really meant” led to the claim that Jung did not write honestly about it.

Like Brome and McLynn, Hayman saw Freud as the critical figure in Jung’s “confrontation with the unconscious”. In his discussion of the figures of Salome and Elijah, he noted:

One factor in his disorientation was the loss of the people who mattered to him most—Freud and Sabina. Both Jewish, they could be both be associated with the Old Testament. Though he was to speculate at length about the meaning of Salome and Elijah—pointing out that in myth an old man is often accompanied by a young girl who represents the erotic while he represents wisdom—he never made the obvious equations. . . . Like dissidents who have been eliminated in a Soviet purge and vanish from new prints of old photographs, they are mentioned in none of Jung’s accounts of his dreams and visions. It was as he had forbidden himself to think about them. . . . Perhaps he saw it but he did not dare to admit he was conflating Sabina with Lou Andreas-Salomé.

Nowhere is evidence provided for such claims.

Hayman’s interpretations are taken as facts, and he gives the impression of knowing the hidden content of Jung’s mind.

Regarding Jung’s own interpretations of his experience, Hayman argued that Jung “always tended to mythologise his experience, and now he was verging on psychosis, Gnosticism gave him a kind of licence”.

It is striking how many commentators have reinterpreted Jung’s fantasies in terms of people in his life, leaving to one side his own interpretations of them in terms of subjective tendencies or functions of his personality. Jung’s tendency to personification, such as in the figure of Philemon, Hayman read in terms of the tendencies of schizophrenics.

He attributed “delusions of grandeur” to Jung. Furthermore, central features of Jung’s work are attributed to such tendencies:

“His inclination to believe in what he called the independence of the unconscious is in line with his boyhood refusal to accept responsibility for such images as the giant penis and the divine turd.”

Psychobiography thus becomes a tool of criticism.

Jung becomes remade according to each biographer’s fixed ideas.

Critically, none of the biographies discussed in this chapter drew upon Jung’s extensive unpublished manuscripts and notes, nor on his voluminous correspondence at the ETH.

These are available for scholars to study upon application.

Nor did any of the biographers have access to the Jung family archives, which contains private materials, such as Jung’s correspondence with his wife, the Black Books, and the Red Book.

Thus, the most important unpublished materials remained unexamined.

Confronted by this situation, one could simply base oneself on what is known, and be careful not to overstep the bounds of the available documentation.

The works of Hannah and Wehr can generally be seen to fall into this category.

On the other hand, there is the danger of filling in the gaps of the available information with intreprefactions.

The works of Stern, McLynn, Brome, and Hayman at times fall into this category. ~Sonu Shamdasani, Jung Stripped Bare: By His Biographers Even, Pages 84-86