[Carl Jung on the personal aspects of a fantasy he had]
Questions and Discussion
Dr. Harding asked for more discussion of the personal aspects of the fantasy given by Dr. Jung in the last lecture.
Dr. Jung: I could be taken as Switzerland fenced in by mountains, and the submergence of the world could be the debris of my former relationships.
You remember that when I tried to describe the condition surrounding the fantasy I spoke of the peculiar feeling I had had of the thing being atmospheric.
But here one proceeds with the utmost caution.
If I were a case of dementia praecox I would easily spread my dreams over the whole world and take it that the destruction of the world was indicated, whereas in reality all that might be indicated would be the destruction of my relation to the world.
A person with dementia praecox wakes up one day to find that the world is dead and the doctor nothing but a ghost—he alone is alive and right.
But in such cases there are always plenty of other symptoms present to prove the essential abnormality of the person.
The more normal the individual, the more it can be assumed from such fantasies that some profound social disturbance actually is in progress, and at such times there are always many more than one person whose unconsciouses register the upset conditions.
When the unconscious produces such a fantasy the personal contents are given an impersonal aspect, there being in the unconscious a tendency to produce collective pictures that make the connection with mankind in general.
One sees this process going on in dementia praecox and paranoia perfectly clearly.
It is precisely because these people often have fantasies and dreams that are collectively valid that they get followers.
First they make a break with the world through their morbidity, then comes the revelation of a special mission, and then they begin to preach.
People think them thrilling personalities, and women feel it a tremendous honor to have children by them.
By primitives they are imagined to be full of gods and ghosts.
So if I had been crazy, I could have preached the coming disaster like the man on the walls of Jerusalem.
Mrs. Zinno: Were these fantasies full of affect?
Dr. Jung: Yes, there was a great deal of affect with them.
As I could see no possible application to be made of them, I thought to myself, “If this means anything, it means that I am hopelessly off.”
I had the feeling that I was an over-compensated psychosis, and from this feeling I was not released till August 1st, 1914.
I told you last time how I began to train myself in making communications with split-off portions of the unconscious.
As I said, I was sure this voice that gave me the absurd dictum about my writing being art was undoubtedly a woman, though I could not know why.
I was much interested in the fact that a woman should interfere with me from within.
My conclusion was that it must be the soul in the primitive sense, and I began to speculate on the reasons that the name “anima” was given to the soul.
Why was it thought of as feminine?
What she said to me I found to be full of a deep cunning.
There I was, writing autobiographical material, but not as an autobiography—there was no style in it, I simply wanted to have it down in writing.
Then came this remark as though I were writing a novel. I thought this so wrong that I got angry with her.
Inasmuch as it manifestly was not scientific, I might have taken it for art, but I knew perfectly well that this was a wrong attitude.
With a secret conviction that it was art, I could easily have watched the course of the unconscious as I would watch a cinema.
If I read a certain book I may become deeply moved by it, but after all, it is all outside myself; and in the same way if I had taken these dreams and fantasies from the unconscious as art, I would have had from them only a perceptional conviction, and would have felt no moral obligation toward them.
Take, for example, this way I found of getting to know the anima; I could have looked down upon this phenomenon as from a pedestal, and in that way I would have become identified with the unconscious, and would have become its plaything.
From the trouble it took me to put up with the interference I had from this anima figure, I could measure the power of the unconscious, and it was great indeed.
In the same way that the anima played this trick of cunning insinuation upon me, giving a false slant to the situation and tempting me away from a reality grasp of it, so the animus can work in the mind of a woman.
He comes as a conviction before there is any justification in having a conviction, and throws things out of plumb, though often in such a delicate way that it takes the utmost subtlety to run him down to his lair.
My anima could easily have worked me up to the state of believing that I was a misunderstood artist, privileged to cast aside reality for the sake of pursuing these alleged artistic gifts.
If I had followed my unconscious along these lines, one fine day my anima would have come and said to me, “Do you imagine this nonsense you are doing is art?
It is nothing of the sort.”
Thus one can be ground to pieces in an enantiodromia phenomenon.
Following uncritically the unconscious turns one, as I have said, into the plaything of the unconscious opposites.
These unconscious pulls contain an extraordinary intensity.
There is energy and a certain amount of adaptation to the actual facts in them, but when examined critically, they can always be found to be beside the mark.
The experience I described is not the only one of its kind that I had.
Often [when] writing I would have peculiar reactions that threw me off.
Slowly I learned to distinguish between myself and the interruption.
When something vulgar or banal comes in, I must say to myself, it is perfectly true that I have thought in this stupid way at some time or other, but I don’t have to think that way now; I must not accept this stupidity as mine in perpetuity—for that is an unnecessary humiliation.
If I just tell the anima that she is working off some collective notion on me which I have no idea of accepting as part of my individuality, that does no good at all—when I am in the grip of an emotion it is no support to me to say it is a collective reaction.
But if you can isolate these unconscious phenomena by personifying them, that is a technique that works for stripping them of power.
It is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to personify them, for they have always a certain degree of separateness.
This separateness is a most uncomfortable thing to reconcile oneself to, and yet the very fact of the unconscious presenting itself that way gives us the means of handling it.
It took me a long time to adapt to something in myself that was not myself—that is, to the fact that there were in my individual mind parts that did not pertain to me.
After this I began to work on the problem already ancient in the world, “Has woman a soul?”
I decided she could not possibly have an anima, because then there would be no check on the woman from within.
Then I came to the idea that woman must have an animus, but it was not till much later that I was able to develop this further because the animus is much harder to catch at work.
These ideas about the animus and the anima led me ever further afield into metaphysical problems, and more things crept up for reexamination.
At that time I was on the Kantian basis that there were things that could never be solved and that therefore should not be speculated about, but it seemed to me if I could find such definite ideas about the anima, it was quite worthwhile to try to formulate a conception of God.
But I could arrive at nothing satisfactory and thought for a time that perhaps the anima figure was the deity.
I said to myself that perhaps men had had a female God originally, but, growing tired of being governed by women, they had then overthrown this God.
I practically threw the whole metaphysical problem into the anima and conceived of it as the dominating spirit of the psyche.
In this way I got into a psychological argument with myself about the problem of God.
At first it was the negative aspect of the anima that most impressed me.
I felt a little awed by her.
It was like the feeling of an invisible presence in the room one enters.
Then a new idea came to me: In putting down all this material for analysis, I was in effect writing letters to my anima, that is to a part of myself with a different viewpoint from my own.
I got remarks of a new character—I was in analysis with a ghost and a woman.
Every evening I wrote very conscientiously for I thought if I did not write it, there would be no way for the anima to get at it.
There is a tremendous difference in the assumption of telling something and the actual telling of it, a fact which I was once able to test out experimentally.
I told a man whom I was testing to think of something disagreeable, but to let it be something I did not know about.
I took his electric resistance in the so-called psycho-galvanic experiment, and there was very little change.
In some way I knew that he was thinking about something very disagreeable that had happened that morning, but something which I had found out only by accident, and of which he was confident I knew nothing.
I said to him, “Now I will tell you what that disagreeable thing was,” and as soon as I told him I got a tremendous reaction in the current.
For the sake then of trying to achieve the maximum of honesty with myself, I wrote everything down very carefully, following the old Greek mandate: “Give away all thou possessest, then thou shalt receive.”
The writing of this material took me into November 1913, and then I came to an end of it.
Not knowing what would come next, I thought perhaps more introspection was needed.
When we introspect we look within and see if there is anything to be observed, and if there is nothing we may either give up the introspective process or find a way of “boring through” to the material that escapes the first survey.
I devised such a boring method by fantasizing that I was digging a hole, and by accepting this fantasy as perfectly real.
This is naturally somewhat difficult to do—to believe so thoroughly in a fantasy that it leads you into further fantasy, just as if you were digging a real hole and passing from one discovery to another.
But when I began on that hole I worked and worked so hard that I knew something had to come of it—that fantasy had to produce, and lure out, other fantasies.
Of course, in using a hole I was using an archetype of considerable power in stimulating the unconscious, for the mystery attaching to caves comes down from immemorial times; one thinks at once of the Mithraic cult, of the catacombs, etc.
Why do we have a peculiar feeling on entering a cathedral?
Just because it is an archetypal situation that has always aroused the unconscious of man.
I had just such a feeling of awe when I saw the Grand Canyon of the Colorado; it had to be like that, and my unconscious was touched in a peculiar way.
So the more I worked on this fantasy hole, the more I seemed to descend.
Finally I felt I had to come to a place where I could go no further down.
I said to myself that, that being the case, I would then go horizontally, and then it seemed as if I were in a corridor, and as though I were wading in black slime.
I went in, thinking to myself that this was the remnant of an old mine.
Far ahead, I could see a dim red light, and following this I came to a cave full of insects, bat-like in form, and making a strange noise.
I saw in one end of the cave a rock, and on the rock was a light, a luminous crystal. “Ah,” I said, “that’s it.”
I took it up in my hand and found it was like a ruby.
Where it had been there was a hole which it had covered.
Forgetting now entirely that I was making a fantasy, I said to myself, “How curious to put a crystal over a hole.”
I looked into the hole, and then I could hear the noise of rushing water.
I was shocked, and as I peered further down, in the dim light I could see something floating, the body of a fair-haired man.
I thought at once, “That is the hero!”
Then there came floating past a big black something nearly as big as the body of the man and coming after him with moving legs.
This was a scarab, and after it came a ball that was like a luminous sun, glowing dark red in the waters like a sunrise before a storm.
When it was in the middle of the field of vision, hundreds of thousands of snakes threw themselves on the sun and obscured it.
I withdrew from the hole, and then blood came gushing from it as from a severed artery.
I had a most disagreeable feeling.
The blood kept gushing up and would not stop.
I had the feeling of being absolutely powerless, and I was utterly exhausted.
When I came out of the fantasy, I realized that my mechanism had worked wonderfully well, but I was in great confusion as to the meaning of all those things I had seen.
The light in the cave from 9 2012: This fantasy took place on December 12, 1913.
In Liber Novus, Jung wrote: “I see a gray rock face along which I sink into great depths.
I stand in black dirt up to my ankles in a dark cave.
Shadows sweep over me.
I am seized by fear, but I know I must go in.
I crawl through a narrow crack in the rock and reach an inner cave whose bottom is covered with black water.
But beyond this I catch a glimpse of a luminous red stone which I must reach.
I wade through the muddy water.
The cave is full of the frightful noise of shrieking voices.
I take the stone, it covers a dark opening in the rock.
I hold the stone in my hand, peering around inquiringly.
I do not want to listen to the voices, they keep me away.
But I want to know.
Here something wants to be uttered.
I place my ear to the opening.
I hear the flow of underground waters.
I see the bloody head of a man on the dark stream.
Someone wounded, someone slain floats there.
I take in this image for a long time, shuddering.
I see a large black scarab floating past on the dark stream. / In the deepest reach of the stream shines a red sun, radiating through the
There I see—and a terror seizes me—small serpents on the dark rock walls, striving toward the depths, where the sun shines.
A thousand serpents crowd around, veiling the sun.
Deep night falls.
A red stream of blood, thick red blood springs up, surging for a long time, then ebbing. I am seized by fear” (Liber Primus, chapter 5, “Descent into Hell in the Future,” p. 237).
The crystal was, I thought, like the stone of wisdom.
The secret murder of the hero I could not understand at all.
The beetle of course I knew to be an ancient sun symbol, and the setting sun, the luminous red disk, was archetypal.
The serpents I thought might have been connected with Egyptian material.
I could not then realize that it was all so archetypal, I need not seek connections.
I was able to link the picture up with the sea of blood I had previously fantasized about.
Though I could not then grasp the significance of the hero killed, soon after I had a dream in which Siegfried was killed by myself.
It was a case of destroying the hero ideal of my efficiency.
This has to be sacrificed in order that a new adaptation can be made; in short, it is connected with the sacrifice of the superior function in order to get at the libido necessary to activate the inferior functions.
If a man has a good brain, thinking becomes his hero and, instead of Christ, Kant, or Bergson, becomes his ideal.
If you give up this thinking, this hero ideal, you commit a secret murder—that is, you give up your superior function.
With all of this I give you the impure thoughts that lay back of the Types, where I have carried over into abstract terms the contest between the superior and inferior functions, first seen by me in the symbolic form of the slaying of the hero.
Such things as I have described in these fantasies speak in symbolic form of things later to become conscious and to take form as abstract thoughts, when they will look altogether different from their plastic origins.
A similar case to mine is that of the famous chemist who discovered the so-called benzol “ring.”
He first visualized his theory of a ring as couples dancing in a peculiar way. ~Carl Jung, 1925 Seminar, Chapter 6, Pages 47 – 53.