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From Conversations with C. G. Jung


As therapists we are subject to the unavoidable destinies of our patients.

We can smooth their sharp edges, lead them, and help them to experience their true fate.

But many a tragic destiny cannot be averted.

Yes, we sometimes see a patient rushing towards disaster; we should help him then to immerse himself so that he can learn and, with our help, extricate himself again.

Many can only learn from experience and cannot be protected from the suffering such experience brings.

There are some who repeatedly fall into the same situation without realizing it.

Others come to know the dangers of their weaknesses and grow with the knowledge.

When similar problems arise they may be able to avoid them, but if it is their fate to fall into the same error again at least they know, “Oh,this is the situation where I failed before.”

Then they are more in control of themselves and can be spectators instead of like a ball that is tossed about.

To know the danger is not as a rule enough to avoid making the mistake.

Life has to be lived. There are times of misfortune– certain illnesses and difficulties — through which we must pass.

A certain amount of suffering and unhappiness is our lot and no one can escape all the dark phases of life.

Consciousness of our problems does not protect us from misfortune, but at least consciousness is more helpful than

Instinct can certainly help, a natural instinct being of course better than a warped one.

It is really far better to stand consciously in the midst of one’s life — and it is undoubtedly easier.

It made sense to men in antiquity not to lead very vital lives, but for us it is right to live as fully as possible.

Life exists only where there is meaning; it does not matter what a person does provided it makes sense to him.

If one can help a person find meaning in his suffering and in his situation, either in the negative or the positive (i.e. archetypal) sense, then he can bear any conflict and any situation.

An understanding of the situation can come about immediately if its meaning is displayed in a dream.

When meaningfulness and vitality coincide the whole scale of values becomes oriented towards them.

Individuation cannot be achieved without a mystery.

The mysteries of antiquity were secrets created artificially for those who did not find any deep mystery in themselves.

As the importance of the inner life increased, the meaning of the public mysteries of antiquity decreased in value.

To own a mystery gives stature, conveys uniqueness, and assures that one will not be submerged in the mass.

Because a secret may cause suffering it is best to keep it to oneself.

The true art is in pond us et mesura -in the right balance of weight, measure and degree.

Too much secrecy causes neurosis and a split from reality, but having no mystery permits only collective thinking and action.

Mystery is essential to the experience of oneself as a unique personality, distinct from others, and for growth through repeated conflict.

There is no need to fear that analysis can destroy creative ability. That could only happen to a pseudo-artist.

There is nothing more strong and alive than the creative capacity; no system of thought can obstruct the creative urge.

Transference is the natural vehicle by which the patient regains courage.

We can only stand by ourselves if others are willing to stand by us.

The analyst’s acceptance of the patient assures him that he can be borne and implies that he too can bear himself.

When the patient is accepted he often believes, in the early stages of analysis, that the analyst sanctions everything he does.

So he lets himself sink even lower because he believes that his behaviour is confirmed and that his dark side has also been

Christ himself associated with tax collectors and whores and accepted the thief crucified beside him.

I am the least of my brethren and my own shadow.

Even when we recognize that an erotic problem lies behind a neurosis we must not express it crudely lest we frighten the patient away.

We would then have destroyed the vehicle that could rescue him.

All of us reach our destinations travelling under false hypotheses.

Columbus wanted to sail to India and found he had discovered America.

To overcome transference all the Christian virtues are necessary: love, humility, sacrifice, good will.

Depressions always have to be understood teleologically.

An overweening extraversion is often present and the depression is directly useful in imposing a period of introversion.

I had a 56 year old manic depressive patient whom I would send unmercifully to bed whenever she became carping and irritable. In this way I could cut the depressive phase short.

If the unconscious does not cooperate, if, that is, there are no dreams or fantasies, then it is very difficult to deal with a neurosis. The analyst depends on some reaction from the unconscious.

The unconscious can also express itself through a depression.

People so spoilt by success that they are no longer accustomed to struggle for it, must sometimes suffer disaster in order to wake up: otherwise life is too easy for them.

They are too comfortable and they have to pay for it somehow.

Many are plagued by chronic ailments or intermittent depressions because fate does not torment them in other ways.

Chronic illness or depression is then directly meaningful.

They are mechanisms, to be sure, but so long as people are enslaved by these mechanisms they are saved from a more cruel fate.

There are some patients the analyst must even treat emotionally, and he must not allow certain other patients to exploit him.

He can talk very openly and sternly to these and even respond emotionally to them.

Such people enslave others. They must be shown that they have a desire to dominate: they must be told the truth.

People of this kind are subject to depression because they want to rule others but cannot manage to.

Even in rearing a child it is often good for parents to react emotionally and not with cool superiority to the child’s
bad behaviour.

Children often irritate their parents just to make them show emotion.

There are neurotics who work towards a situation in order to cause an explosion; then it may be possible to straighten them out and help them.

An American woman underwent a Freudian analysis without success.

She had used foul language to her analyst but he had failed to react and he disregarded her behaviour.

When she repeated some examples to me I told her in no uncertain terms that if she were ever to speak to me again like that, I would reply to her in the same fashion.

The patient pointed out that I had become emotional and that was not permissible for an analyst.

My answer was, ” But it is human and I have the right to be human too.” This allowed her to emerge from her schizophrenia.

She had become disoriented through the unnatural behaviour of her first analyst; she was brought back to reality by the honesty of my reaction and was cured.

If it is avoidable, the same analyst should not treat both, husband and wife.

Both patients desire to have their analyst on their side.

The analyst must at times agree with the patients even when they are being foolish so that they may experience the extent of their problem, but such an acceptance of foolishness can confuse the other spouse considerably.

Often people come for analysis who wish to be prepared to meet death.

They can make astonishingly good progress in a short time and then die peacefully.

Inner development can advance enormously if there is knowledge of the nearness of the end.

It seems as if a further step in consciousness has to be reached before the end of life.

Psychology is a preparation for death. We have an urge to leave life at a higher level than the one at which we entered.

After a stroke general debilitation or senile depression can occur.

If the brain is damaged,consciousness can slip back many levels.

The real personality has then departed; what remains carries on the fight against death.

Conflicts do not reach the whole person any more and are therefore not real conflicts any longer.

If the question of an abortion arises the whole situation with all its implications must be taken into account.

If the parents are married and healthy the child must be accepted, and the sacrifice of living a more modest life should be met if it is financially necessary.

If the parents are not married the question must be weighed very carefully: would it be favourable or not, damaging or useful?

It is wrong to brand sexuality as the main criterion of morality.

When some people have suppressed their own personality they have a tendency to put the personalities of others under pressure; this makes them fear their own nature.

There are patients who can accept neither the world nor themselves.

It is the task of the analyst to bear with them until they can bear themselves.

Everyone in the world is crying out to be accepted.

The analyst must pay the price for the damage done to his patients by others before him.

If someone is in great danger, perhaps a borderline case, it is of fundamental importance that the patient should realize his condition.

If the poles of the psyche are torn apart the analyst should take great care that the patient does not identify himself with one side of his conflict.

It is important to help to create a broad base for the patient to stand on.

He must increase his knowledge because knowledge protects.

The patient also needs to become more independent or the analyst will be blamed for his condition, especially if the patient clings too tightly to the analyst and leans exclusively on him.

Many would rather believe others than to their own thinking.

It is a fact that many who are cured would prefer to return to a condition of no responsibility.

The insane do not stop up their ears so as not to hear the inner voices; rather they do it to close off the outside and so be better able to hear their own voices.

I was once seriously threatened by a patient because he had,through his analysis, made it impossible for her to fall back into the old insane, irresponsible condition.

Because the alienated have lost something (their sense of reality in most cases) they have gained something else, something that seems real to them.

Through their abaissemental they have gained a realization of the world as it is, namely the world of the archetypes, the mundus

Synchronous phenomena can also appear to them which possess a kind of worldly wisdom.

The better that patients can assimilate their impressions from the unconscious the easier it is for them to establish a vital and meaningful relationship to their environment, and their condition remains much more stable even if remnants of certain ideas are not worked out.

Degeneration of the personality sets in if such patients are left to themselves.

Even when a patient has fallen into a psychosis he is better protected if he knows something of psychology.

When geometric symbols appear in dreams or drawings they are the original images of the primeval condition.

Geometric designs may also appear if a schizophrenic destruction is threatening.

When everything is threatened with disorder and dissolution the enantiodromic process occurs, corresponding to a time-reversal.

Out of the longing for order the process is reversed as a compensation.

This is the inverse of the process expressed in Boltzmann’s principle (increase of disorder) thus, dreams, pictures and fantasies from the unconscious gradually begin to exhibit an order.

Painting and drawing one’s inner pictures is a form of self-enchantment for the purpose of inner change which creates what had previously been depicted.

The more libido that goes into the paintings, the more completely do they transform the painter himself.

If someone has a mastery of total critical evaluation, it is possible for him to reach the processes of the unconscious
through automatic writing instead of through “active imagination.”

He must ask questions, begin a dialectical process,insist on explanations, and protest if he is conscious of holding a different opinion from the one which the hand is writing.

He must treat the voices as if they were patients and interject criticisms.

He must discuss and argue as if it were a matter of life and death, work constructively, observe, watch to see if something really new emerges that is outside his experience.

Such work can have extraordinary effects. The tongue and the hand are, of course, possessed by something other than oneself.

One must not enter into trivial things but remain personal and simple; probate spiritus– watch which spirit is possessing you.
There is still a vast problem here.

It is as if such voices or visions were autonomous.

I still do not have a final opinion on this.

The technique of active imagination can prove very important in difficult situations — where there is a visitation,say.

It only makes sense when one has the feeling of being up against a blank wall.

At such times images can break out of the unconscious.

I experienced this when I separated from Freud. I did not know what I thought. I only felt, “It is not so.”

Then I conceived of “symbolic thinking” and after two years of active imagination so many ideas rushed in on me that I could hardly defend myself.

The same thoughts recurred. I appealed to my hands and began to carve wood — and then my way became clear.

Active imagination is only legitimate if one is confronted with an insurmountable obstacle in a situation where no one can give advice.

When I left Freud I did not know where else to begin, but I knew that something else was there and that I must find it.

It drew me to my inner self and my hands fashioned symbolic objects.

Later on ideas began to come and I began to write them down.

I knew that something in Freud’s teaching was questionable and that I must find that “other.”

I had a strong resistance to such irrational behaviour because it did not fit at all with my picture of the world.

Active imagination and automatic writing, painting and carving pictures from the unconscious, are all indirect methods of finding out what the unconscious means.

Indirect methods are indicated only when the direct way will not allow one to advance.

Schizophrenic cases who have hallucinations have a better prognosis than those who hear voices.

Those who hear voices are more deeply enslaved by the unconscious.

There is no difference in intelligence level between those who tend to have dreams and those who have visions.

The unconscious behaves as if the laws of our world did not exist.

It flies to the roof contemptuous of the laws of gravity.

We must bring its demands down to earth and somehow try to realize them.

We must follow up the fantasies and dreams and search until something is found that can be realized.

Then we have succeeded in approximating the demands of the unconscious to the possibilities of the conscious world.

It is a very real help to find an expression that combines and satisfies the demands of the inner and outer worlds, the unconscious and the conscious.

That is the achievement of the so called transcendent function. ~Carl Jung, Jung-Ostrowski, Pages 13-19.