Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume 2, 1951-1961
To John Weir Perry
Dear Perry, 8 February 1954
I am sorry that you had to wait so long until you got my answer to your question.
All sorts of things have intervened in the meantime, and my health also has misbehaved.
I will try to answer your question as simply as possible; it is a difficult problem as you probably realize.
First of all, the regression that occurs in the rebirth or integration process is in itself a normal phenomenon inasmuch as you observe it also with people that don’t suffer from any kind of psychopathic ailment.
When it is matter of a schizoid condition, you observe very much the same, but with the difference that there is a marked tendency of the patient to get stuck in the archetypal material.
In this case, the rebirth process is repeated time and again.
This is the reason why the classical schizophrenia develops stereotype conditions.
Up to a certain point, you have the same experience with neurotic individuals.
This is so because the archetypal material has a curious fascinating influence which tries to assimilate the individuals altogether.
They are tempted to identify with any of the archetypal figures characteristic of the rebirth process.
For this reason schizophrenic cases retain nearly always a certain markedly childish behaviour.
You can observe approximately the same with neurotic patients; either they develop inflations on account of identification with the archetypal figures, or they develop a childish behaviour on account of the identity with the divine child.
In all these cases the real difficulty is to free the patients from the fascination.
Schizoid cases as well as neurotic ones very often repeat their personal infancy story.
This is a favourable sign in so far as it is an attempt to grow up into the world again as they had done before, viz. in their infancy.
They are children again after rebirth exactly as you say happened in the Taurobolia.
As a rule, you haven’t to take care of making patients revive their infantile reminiscences; generally they produce it all by themselves, because it is an unavoidable mechanism, and, as I said, a teleological attempt to grow up again.
If you go quietly along with the material the patients produce, you will see that they can’t help getting into their infantile reminiscences and habits and ways, and that they project particularly the parental images.
Wherever there is a transference, you get unavoidably involved and integrated into the patient’s family atmosphere.
The insistence of the Freudians upon making people revive their past simply shows that in the Freudian analysis people don’t naturally take to living their past again, simply because they have resistance against the analyst.
If you let the unconscious have its natural way, then you may be sure everything the patient needs to know
will be brought up, and you may be equally sure that everything you bring out from the patient by insistence on theoretical grounds will not be integrated into the patient’s personality, at least not as a positive value, but maybe as a lasting resistance.
Did it never occur to you that in my analysis we talked very little of “resistance,” while in the Freudian analysis it is the term that most frequently occurs?
When it comes to schizoid patients, there of course the difficulty of liberating them from the grip of the unconscious is much greater than in ordinary neurotic cases.
Often they can’t find their way back from their archetypal world to the equivalent personal infantile world where there would be a chance for liberation.
Not in vain Christ insists upon “becoming like unto children,” which means a conscious resolution to accept the attitude of the child as long as such an attitude is demanded by the circumstances.
Since it is always the problem of accepting the shadow, it needs the simplicity of a child to submit to such a seemingly impossible task.
So when you find that the rebirth process shows a tendency to repeat itself, you must realize that the fascination of the archetypal material has still to be overcome, perhaps because your help has been insufficient or the patient’s attitude was unfavourable to it.
But this aetiological question matters little.
You simply must try again to convert the archetypal fascination into a child-like simplicity.
There are of course many cases where our help is insufficient or comes too late, but that is so in all branches of medicine.
I always try to follow the path of nature and I avoid as much as possible the application of theoretical viewpoints, and I have never regretted this principle.
I include a charming example of a particularly enlightened American doctor just for your amusement or as a sort of consolation in case you don’t get the desired understanding from your contemporaries.
Hoping you are in good health,
P.S. I think we underrate in Europe the difficulties you have to put up with in America as soon as you try to communicate something to your audience that demands a certain humanistic education.
I am afraid that your educational system produces the same technological and scientific one-sidedness and the same social welfare idealism as Russia.
Most of your psychologists, as it looks to me, are still in the XVIIIth century inasmuch as they believe that the human psyche is tabula rasa at birth, while all somewhat differentiated animals are born with specific instincts.
Man’s psyche seems to be less [differentiated] than a weaver bird’s or a bee’s. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 148-150.