My experience with analytical psychology has been unusual.
I did not come to it by choice either professionally or personally.
It was ‘thrust upon me’ by parents, both of whom were physicians and became analysts in the 1920s.
From the age of six to eighteen I heard discussions of libido, archetype, animus, anima, thinking, feeling, psyche, ‘the wise old man’, and other bits of erudition around the breakfast- and dinner-table.
I recall that disciplinary advantage was even taken of Jungian concepts.
Instead of being bad, we were likely to be ‘unconscious’ or ‘acting out the shadow’.
We were expected to ‘pull up your inferior function’.
These and other resources such as ‘renegade’ and ‘regression’ made available to my parents rare opportunities for parent-child one-upmanship.
Amongst the children in our family who were living through this pioneering period with our parents, this kind of talk was as far as possible ignored; where it could not be ignored it was ridiculed.
My brother and I regarded it all as adult nonsense on a par with kissing, spinach, and mahjong.
It must have entered the blood-stream, however, because by the time I was a college student I was using a Jungian conceptual framework to integrate ideas I was learning in history, biology, mathematics, philosophy, literature, and sociology.
I began to feel the rightness of a psychology which reached out for these other areas of human experience with objective interest.
I contrasted it sharply with the more distrustful, rigid, and at times puritanical attitudes produced by rationalistic psychologies or anti-psychological systems.
Needless to say, this was an enormously creative intellectual experience. Paradoxically, the ‘Jungian’ orientation I had unwillingly received from my parents made me far less susceptible to intellectual faddism.
It helped me to participate in the market-place of ideas without becoming carried off my feet.
I thus was spared the evangelical appeal of Marxism or the extremities of economic determinism.
With this on the credit side, it must also be added that I was quite inflated with the power of the ideas I had begun to use, and went (perhaps the past tense is not yet called for) through an argumentative period in which I felt only Jung and I had the ultimate answer to most of life’s worthwhile problems.
The dualism of Jung’s psychological system lent itself readily to a kind of intellectual dilettantism, in which in the name of’reconciliation’ all ideas and commitments were analyzed and ultimately reduced to meaningless entropy.
About this time I entered medical school and experienced an acute need for personal psychological help.
My choice of a personal analyst was dictated neither by my intellectual understanding, such as it was, nor by professional considerations.
As I embarked upon the long journey of analysis, I reverted to that earlier misanthropic attitude towards analytical psychology.
My resistances took the form of extremely hostile intellectual scruples.
While I now looked with favor on kissing, spinach, and mahjong,
I had less use than ever for anything that smacked of the psychological as I fancied it.
It is clear that I severely punished my analyst for having had any connection with those ideas which once again had the negative valence of parental identification.
It is here that my experience with analytical psychology ceases to be unusual.
I attribute the success of my own analysis to the humanity of the analysts who went through that formidable experience with me.
No doubt they would attribute their ability to do this to their training in analytical psychology, but that is not for me to say.
As an analyst myself, I know that I owe a tremendous debt to my postgraduate training, to my colleagues, to medicine, and to the wealth of ideas that have flowed out of the centers of analytical practice since 1900.
Most specifically, I know that I owe a great debt of gratitude to Jung, although now, even as it was in 1923, his gifts are part of my heritage, as inseparable from me as my hands; nor can I feel that his gifts are particular to me, but, like those of Wilson and Lincoln and Freud, they belong to all humanity. ~James G. Whitney, Four Contacts with Jung, Pages 229-231