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The Unconscious as Seedbed of the Creative

Symbolic Life

Dr Otto Kankeleit has given me the manuscript of his book and has asked me to write a foreword.

It is not a scientific study of a theoretical nature, but a descriptive survey of the multitudinous phenomena and problems which beset the practising psychotherapist in his daily work.

It is a kaleidoscopic assortment of images, visions, flickerings on the edge of the mind—a phantasmagoria of all the things the doctor wonders about.

He finds himself confronted with a mass of problems stretching into a limitless horizon.

That is the particular value of this book: it opens vistas into reaches of the psyche extending far beyond the confines of the consulting room, giving the reader a glimpse into a world hitherto unknown to him.

It does not stop short at the pathological and does not apply to the sick the psychopathology of the sick.

It leads beyond that to the wide realm of psychic life in general, to an abiding concern with the sick person, for the principal aim of modern medicine

is not so much to eliminate the symptoms of sickness as to guide the patient back to a normal and balanced life.

Naturally this can be done only if he is given a balanced picture of the human psyche to offset his morbid and limited experience of it.

For this purpose, as the author very rightly points out, it is necessary for doctor and patient to come to terms with the nature of the unconscious, since, for good or ill, they are both involved in its mysterious reality.

the book is in many respects extremely instructive for the doctor, and a very sympathetic one because of its unbiased standpoint.

Jung’s Contribution Among the “testimonials from scholars, writers, and artists” (subtitle of Dr. Kankeleit’s book) are Jung’s answers (ibid., pp. 68f.) to the following questionnaire:

What is the respective share of the conscious and the unconscious in the creative process?

Like all psychic life the creative process stems from the unconscious.

If you identify with the creative process you usually end up by imagining that you yourself are the creator.

Have you, at the onset of a new period of creativity, observed in yourself exceptional states of any kind, in which the unconscious took the lead?

Speaking for myself, I must confess that I always notice the strangest things at the onset of a new period of creativity. (I don’t doubt that there are people who never notice such things.)

The unconscious takes the lead nightly in our dreams, so it is not at all surprising that it should usher in the creative process with all sorts of spontaneous phenomena.

Do you occasionally resort to stimulants of any kind (alcohol, morphine, hashish, etc.)?

Oh no ! Never ! A new idea is intoxicating enough.

Do you think dreams play a part in the creative process?

for years my dreams used to anticipate my creative activities as well as other things.

Have you ever experienced exceptional states of any kind (precognition, telepathy, etc.) which are not dependent on the creative process?

On closer analysis, I don’t think any exceptional states can be separated from the creative process, because life itself is creativity par excellence.

I would like very much to have a detailed description of a creative process.

I could give you a detailed description but will not do so because for me the whole thing is too mysterious.

I stand in such awe of  the great mysteries that I am unable to talk about them.

In any case, a close study of any dream series will provide perfect examples. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 786-787