Eleanor Bertine

Symbolic Life

The author of this book has undertaken the important task of investigating the problems of human relationship from the standpoint of analytical psychology, an undertaking which will be welcome not only to the psychotherapist but also to those interested in the wider field of general psychology.

Facts that are of the greatest significance for an understanding of human relationships have undoubtedly come to light in the course of my own and my colleagues’ researches.

While the conclusions which Freud and Adler had drawn from their intensive studies of neurosis were based on the personal psychology of their neurotic patients, which they tried to apply to the psychology of society, analytical psychology has called attention to more general human facts which also play an important role in neurosis but are not specifically characteristic of it, being a normal part of the human constitution.

I would mention in particular the existence of differences in type, such as extraversion and introversion, which are not difficult for a layman to recognize.

It is obvious that these two diametrically opposed attitudes must have a very decisive influence on the relationship of individuals, and the psychology of the function types—thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition—further differentiates the general effects of extraversion and introversion.

These attitude and function types belong mainly to man’s conscious psychology.

The researches of analytical psychology have shown, further, that it is not only the data of the senses and unconscious personal repressions which exert an influence of consciousness.

It is also profoundly affected by unconscious, instinctive—that is, innate—patterns of psychic behaviour.

These patterns are just as characteristic of man as are the instincts in the behaviour of animals.

But while we know about the instinctive patterns in animals only by observing their outward behaviour, the human psyche offers a great advantage in that—thanks to ideas and language—the instinctive process can be visualized in the form of fantasy images, and this inner perception can be communicated to an outside observer by means of speech.

If the animal psyche were capable of such an accomplishment, we would be able to recognize the mythology which the weaver bird is expressing when it builds its nest, and the yucca moth when it deposits its eggs in the yucca flower.

That is, we would know what kind of fantasy images trigger off their instinctive actions.

This insight, however, is possible only in the case of human beings, where it opens up the boundless world of myth and folklore that spans the globe with analogies and parallel motifs.

The images which appear here conform with those in dreams and hallucinations to an astonishing degree, to say the least.

This discovery was actually made by Freud, and he erected a monument to it in his concept of the Oedipus complex.

He was gripped by the numinosity of this motif, or archetype, and accordingly gave it a central place in his theory-building.

But he failed to draw the further and inescapable conclusion that there must be another, “normal” unconscious beyond the one produced by arbitrary repressions.

This “normal” unconscious consists of what Freud described as “archaic remnants.”

But if the Oedipus complex represents a universal type of instinctive behaviour independent of time, place, and individual conditioning, it follows inevitably that it cannot be the only one.

Although the incest complex is undoubtedly one of the most fundamental and best known complexes, it must obviously have its feminine counterpart which will express itself in corresponding forms.

(At the time I proposed calling it the Electra complex.)

But incest, after all, is not the only complication in human life, though this sometimes seems to be the case according to Freudian psychology.

There are also other typical patterns which regulate the relation of father to son, mother to daughter, parents to children, brothers and sisters to each other, and so on.

Oedipus is only one of the existing patterns and determines only the behaviour of the son, and this only up to a point.

Mythology, folklore, dreams, and psychoses do not fall short in this respect.

They offer a veritable plethora of patterns and formulas not only for family relationships but also for man and woman, individual and society, conscious and unconscious, dangers to body and soul, and so forth.

These archetypes exert a decisive influence on human relationships.

Here I would mention only the eminently practical significance of the animus (the archetype of man in woman) and anima (the archetype of woman in man) , which are the source of so much fleeting happiness and long-drawn-out suffering in marriage and friendship.

The author has much to say about these things, based on her medical practice and on her arduous but rewarding work with people.

She deserves to be heard, and I hope her book will find a large number of attentive readers. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 534-536