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Freud and Psychoanalysis (Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 4)

From Dr. Loy                                                                         9 February 1913

The same passion for truth possesses us when we think of pure research, and the same wish to cure when we consider therapy.

For the researcher, as for the doctor, we desire the fullest freedom in all directions—complete freedom to choose and practise the methods which promise the best fulfilment of their ends at any moment.

On this last point we are at one, but it remains a postulate which we must prove to the satisfaction of others if we want recognition for our views.

First and foremost there is one question that must be answered, an old question already asked in the Gospels: “What is truth?”

I think clear definitions of fundamental ideas are everywhere necessary.

How shall we contrive a working definition of the concept “Truth?”

Perhaps an allegory may help us.

Imagine a gigantic prism in front of the sun, so that its rays  are broken up, but suppose man entirely ignorant of this fact. (I disregard the chemical, invisible, ultra-violet rays.)

Men living in the blue-lit region will say, “The sun sends forth blue light only.”

They are right and yet they are wrong: from their standpoint they are capable of perceiving only a fragment of the truth.

And so too with the inhabitants of the red, yellow, and intermediate regions.

And they will all scourge and slay one another to force their fragmentary truth on the others—until, grown wiser through travelling in each other’s regions, they come to the unanimous view that the sun sends out light of different colours.

That is a more comprehensive truth, but it is still not the truth.

Only when a giant lens has recombined the split-up rays, and when the invisible, chemical, and heat rays have given proof of their specific effects, will a view arise more in accordance with the truth, and men will perceive that the sun emits white light which is split up by the prism into different rays with different qualities, and that these rays are recombined by the lens into a beam of white light.

This example serves to show that the road to Truth leads through a series of comparative observations, the results of which must be controlled with the help of freely selected experiments until seemingly well-grounded hypotheses and theories can be put forward; but these hypotheses and theories will fall to the ground as soon as a single new observation or a single new experiment contradicts them.

The way is toilsome, and in the end all we ever attain is a relative truth.

But such relative truth suffices for the time being if it serves to explain the most important concatenations of fact in the past, to light up those of the present, and to predict those of the future, so that we are in a position to adapt through our knowledge.

Absolute truth, however, would be accessible only to omniscience, having knowledge of all possible concatenations and combinations; but that is not possible for us, because the number of concatenations and combinations is infinite.

Accordingly, we shall never know more than an approximate truth.

Should new concatenations be discovered, new combinations be built up, the picture changes and with it the whole range of knowledge and action.

To what new revolutions in daily life does not every new scientific discovery lead: how absurdly small was the beginning of the first theory of electricity, how inconceivably great the results!

These are commonplaces, but one must continually repeat them when one sees how life is always made bitter for the innovators in every scientific field, and now especially so for the followers of the psychoanalytic school.

Everyone admits these commonplaces so long as it is a matter of “academic” discussion, but only so long; as soon as a concrete case has to be considered, sympathies and antipathies rush to the forefront and darken judgment.

Therefore the investigator must fight tirelessly, appealing to logic and honesty, for freedom of research in all fields, and must not allow despots of whatever political or religious persuasion to advance “reasons of expediency” in order to destroy or even restrict this freedom.

Reasons of expediency may be and are in place elsewhere, but not here.

Finally, we must make an end of the dictum of the Middle Ages, philosophia ancilla theologiae, as well as the founding of university chairs in favour of this or that political or religious party.

All fanaticism is the enemy of science, which above all things must be independent.

And when we turn from the search for Truth back to therapeutics, we see immediately that here again we are in agreement.

In practice expediency must rule: the doctor from the yellow region must adapt himself to the patients in the yellow region, as must the doctor in the blue region to his patients; both have the same object in view.

And the doctor who lives in the white light must take into consideration the past experiences of patients from the yellow or blue region, in spite or rather because of his wider knowledge.

In such cases the way to healing will be long and difficult, may indeed lead more easily to a cul-de-sac than in cases where he has to deal with patients who, like himself, have already attained knowledge of the white light, or, in other words, when his patients have already “sorted themselves out.”

With these sorted-out patients the psychoanalyst is permitted to work exclusively with the methods of psychoanalysis; he can consider himself lucky that he does not need to “play the augur.”

Now, these methods of psychoanalysis, what are they?

If I understand you aright, it is by and large a question of working directly and openly with the fundamental forces of the human psyche, to the end that the patient, be he sick or sound or in some stage in between—for sickness and health flow into each other imperceptibly—shall have his mental eyes opened to the drama that is being enacted within him.

He must learn to know the automatisms that are hostile to the development of his personality, and through this knowledge he must learn gradually to free himself from them; but he must also learn how to exploit and strengthen the favourable automatisms.

He must learn to make his self-knowledge real and to control the workings of his mind so that a balance may be struck between feeling and reason.

How large a part is played in all this by suggestion} I can hardly believe that suggestion can be avoided altogether till the patient feels really freed.

This freedom, it goes without saying, is the main thing to strive for, and it must be an active freedom.

The patient who simply obeys a suggestion obeys it only so long as the ”transference to the analyst” remains in force.

But in order to adjust himself to all circumstances the patient must have strengthened himself “from within.”

He should no longer need the crutches of faith but must be capable of tackling all theoretical and practical problems critically and of solving them himself.

That is your view, isn’t it, or have I not understood you correctly?

I next ask, must not every single case be treated differently —within the limits of the psychoanalytic method?

For if every case is a case by itself, it must surely require individual treatment.

“II n’y a pas de maladies, il n’y a que des malades,” said a French doctor whose name escapes me.

But broadly speaking, what course, from a technical point of view, does analysis take, and what deviations occur most frequently?

That I would gladly learn from you. I take it for granted that all “augur’s tricks,” darkened rooms, masks, chloroform, etc., are out of the question.

Psychoanalysis—purged so far as is humanly possible of suggestive influence—appears to have one essential difference from psychotherapy a la Dubois.

With Dubois, all talk about the past is prohibited from the outset, and “moral reasons for recovery” are placed in the forefront; whilst psychoanalysis uses the subconscious material from the patient’s past and present to promote self-knowledge.

Another difference lies in the conception of morality: morals are above all ‘ ‘relative.”

But what forms (in broad outline) should one give them at times when suggestion cannot be avoided? Expediency must decide, you will say.

Agreed, as regards old people or grown-ups who have to live in a not very enlightened milieu.

But if one is dealing with children, the seed of the future, isn’t it a sacred duty to enlighten them about the shaky foundations of the so-called moral conceptions of the past, which have only a dogmatic basis, and to educate them to full freedom by courageously unveiling the truth?

I ask this not so much with respect to the analysing doctor as with respect to the educator.

Should not the founding of progressive schools be regarded as a task for the psychoanalyst?

From Dr. Jung                                                           11 February 1913

The relativity of “truth” has been known for ages and does not stand in the way of anything, and if it did would merely prevent belief in dogmas and authority.

But it does not even do that.

You ask me—or rather tell me—what psychoanalysis is.

Before considering your views, permit me first to try to mark out the territory and give a definition of psychoanalysis.

Psychoanalysis is first of all simply a method—but a method complying with all the rigorous requirements which the concept of a “method” implies today.

Let me say at once that psychoanalysis is not an anamnesis, as those who know everything without learning it are pleased to believe.

It is essentially a way of investigating unconscious associations which cannot be got at by exploring the conscious mind.

Again, psychoanalysis is not a method of examination in the nature of an intelligence test, though this mistake is common in certain circles.

Nor is it a method of catharsis for abreacting, with or without hypnosis, real or imaginary traumata.

Psychoanalysis is a method which makes possible the analytical reduction of psychic contents to their simplest expression, and for discovering the line of least resistance in the development of a harmonious personality.

In neurosis there is no uniform direction of life because contrary tendencies frustrate and prevent psychological adaptation.

Psychoanalysis, so far as we can judge at present, seems to be the only rational therapy of the neuroses.

No programme can be formulated for the technical application of psychoanalysis.

There are only general principles, and working rules for individual analysis. (For the latter I would refer you to Freud’s work in Vol. I of the Internationale Zeitscrift fur drztliche Psychoanalyse?)

My only working rule is to conduct the analysis as a perfectly ordinary, sensible conversation, and to avoid all appearance of medical magic.

The main principle of psychoanalytic technique is to analyse the psychic contents that present themselves at a given moment.

Any interference on the part of the analyst, with the object of forcing the analysis to follow a systematic course, is a gross mistake in technique.

So-called chance is the law and order of psychoanalysis.

At the beginning of the analysis the anamnesis and diagnosis naturally come first.

The subsequent analytic procedure develops quite differently in every case.

To give rules is almost impossible.

All one can say is that very frequently, right at the beginning, a number of resistances have to be overcome, resistances against both the method and the analyst.

Patients who have no notion of psychoanalysis must first be given some understanding of the method.

With those who already know something of it there are very often misconceptions to be set right, and also all those objections to be answered which are levelled by scientific criticism.

In either case the misconceptions are due to arbitrary interpretations, superficiality, and gross ignorance of the facts.

If the patient is himself a doctor his habit of knowing better may prove extremely tiresome.

With intelligent colleagues a thorough theoretical discussion is worth while.

With the unintelligent and bigoted ones you begin quietly with the analysis.

In the unconscious of such folk you have a confederate who never lets you down.

The very first dreams demonstrate the wretched inadequacy of their criticism, so that from the whole beautiful edifice of supposedly scientific scepticism nothing remains over but a little heap of personal vanity.

I have had very amusing experiences in this respect.

It is best to let the patients talk freely and to confine yourself to pointing out a connection here and there.

When the conscious material is exhausted you go on to dreams, which give you the subliminal material.

If people have no dreams, as they allege, or forget them, there is usually still some conscious material that ought to be produced and discussed, but is kept back owing to resistances.

When the conscious is emptied then come the dreams, which as you know are the chief object of analysis.

How the analysis is to be conducted and what is to be said to the patient depends, first, on the material to be dealt with; second, on the analyst’s skill; and third, on the patient’s capacity.

I must emphasize that no one should undertake an analysis except on the basis of a sound knowledge of the subject, and this means a thorough knowledge of the existing literature.

Without this, the work will only be bungled.

I do not know what else to tell you beforehand. I must wait for further questions.

As to the question of morality and education, let me say that these things belong to a later stage of the analysis, when they find—or should find—their own solution.

You cannot make recipes out of psychoanalysis!  ~Loy/Jung Letters, CW 4, Para 608-631