Contact with Jung: Essays on the influence of his work and personality

I first met Jung in 1931

At that time I was far more conversant with Freud.

In fact, the only thing of Jung’s that I had read was his article in Keyserling’s symposium on marriage.

But after a few minutes with him it was apparent to me that he was the man with whom I wanted to work.

Like many of the analysts of my age, I originally started work for therapy, not training.

It was only later that the notion of being an analyst myself emerged (Jung always felt, I thing, that one’s personal analysis was the most essential part of training.)

From that time on he became the most important man in my life.


His effect upon me was not so much his ideas as it was his quality as a man and his generosity in letting me experience this quality in relation to him.


In my subsequent work with him it was not his interpretations that helped me to find myself and my own way.


Rather, it was his values and attitudes that carried the greatest impact.


Of these, two not unconnected values stand out.


The first was his extraordinary ability to catalyze the health and to favor the growth of the people he worked with.


He made one feel authentic.


The second was his flexibility and tolerance-his relativist position.


In my second or third interview he asked me if I was in the right place.


This rather unnerved me, because I thought at first that it was the prelude to dismissal.


I found, however, that he was exploring the appropriateness of himself for me, rather than that of Freud or Adler, who were the other two giants in the field at that time.


He said none of them had the whole truth; if they had, the other two would be withering on the vine.


On the contrary, he said, they all seemed to be flourishing.


He said, ‘We each have our own truth, which seems sympathetic and meaningful to a surprisingly large number of people.


After all, though our work is carefully documented, our concepts are essentially a generalization and an abstraction of our own psychology.


In the last analysis, it is impossible for a man to transcend himself.


This essentially non-doctrinaire attitude of Jung’s has permitted me to feel perfectly free to move around in all sorts of psychological climates.


This has been a great boon, and has helped me to synthesize various ideas and to find my own style as an analyst.


Paradoxically, I have come to feel more Jungian because of it; he never withdrew his sanction because of my apparent eclecticism.


In sum, then, Jung conferred the gifts of authenticity and freedom on those who were lucky enough to work with him.


I cannot imagine a more significant contribution. ~Joseph Wheelwright, Contact with Jung, Pages 224-225