Carl Jung on Speaking in Tongues
To E . V. Tenney
Dear Dr. Tenney, 23 February 1955
It was a great pleasure to receive a letter from you.
I often wondered how you were faring and how you digested all the difficult
stuff you have devoured in Zurich.
I see from your letter that the digestive process has made a great step forward, which is very satisfactory.
There is no objection to your making extracts from the seminar notes, but I must warn you that I have never been able to go through them and correct minor errors of all descriptions found all over the texts.
It is also expected that you wouldn’t use them for quotations in printed papers without special permission.
Now as to your questions:
1 . Speaking with tongues (glossolalia) is observed in cases of ekstasis (= abaissement du niveau mental, predominance of the unconscious) It is probable that the strangeness of the unconscious contents not yet integrated in consciousness demands an equally strange language.
As it does demand strange pictures of an unheard of character, it is also a traditional expectation that the spiritual demonic inspiration manifests itself either in hieratic or otherwise incomprehensible language.
That is also the reason why primitives and civilized people still use archaic forms of language on ritual occasions (Sanskrit in India, Old Coptic in the Coptic church, Old Slavonic in the Greek Orthodox church, Latin in the Catholic church, and mediaeval German or English in the Protestant church).
There are case reports about mediums that spoke foreign languages which were unknown to them in their waking state.
Theodore Flournoy in Geneva reported such a case in which he showed that it was a question of a cryptomnesic Sanskrit the medium had picked up in a Sanskrit grammar whose existence nobody was aware of.
It is exceedingly difficult to establish the authenticity of these cases on account of cryptomnesia.
2 . The healing function is not necessarily a characteristic of individuation; it is a thing in itself.
It also doesn’t work exclusively through transference; that is a Freudian prejudice.
It is evident that healing presupposes a special kind and faculty of understanding and compassion.
3 · You find visual images in the process of analysis chiefly with people of a visual type.
The way the unconscious manifests itself depends very much upon your functional type.
It can manifest itself in the most unexpectedly various ways.
Your story of the Catholic priests is delightful; they were obviously shielding themselves from the devil when he crept up in what you said.
If you discuss religious problems and you bring in a psychological point of view, you instantly collide with the concretism of religious belief.
You know the Virgin has been taken up to Heaven, and that ought to be believed quite concretely although no theologian can explain to me whether she has been taken up in her shirt or other pieces of clothing or naked, and what happened to her garments: did they become eternal too, or what happened to the microbes that are in every human body: did they become immortal too?
You see, psychology takes into account all such heretical aspects, while the believers in concrete truth never think of such things.
You are quite right that you did not found any organization, things always become rigid.
I am very glad that Time has brought out a decent article; I was afraid they would make a caricature of it as is usually the case.
Another aspect of this concretism is the rigidity of scholastic philosophy, through which Father “White is wriggling as well as he can.
He is at bottom an honest and sincere man who cannot but admit the importance of psychology, but the trouble is that he gets into an awful stew about it.
Analytical psychology unfortunately just touches the vulnerable spot of the church, viz. the untenable concretism of its beliefs, and the syllogistic character of Thomistic philosophy.
This is of course a terrific snag, but-one could almost say -fortunately people are unaware of the clashing contrasts.
Father White, however, is by no means unconscious of those clashes; it is a very serious personal problem to him.
But it is the same with Protestantism: there is the same difficulty between a concrete or historic belief and a symbolic understanding.
One could well say it is a problem of our time whether our mind is capable of developing itself so that it can understand the symbolic point of view or not.
I had some correspondence recently with Upton Sinclair; he is going to publish my last letter in the New Republic.
You will see when you read that letter how I try to insinuate the symbolic point of view into a rationalistic attitude.
Now I think I have answered all your main questions.
My best regards to Mrs . Tenney,
C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 227-229