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Civilization in Transition


1016 1 wish to discuss no surmises with Dr. Bally, but prefer to report the facts which led me to take over the editorship of the Zentralblatt filr Psychotherapie.

About three years ago I was elected honorary [vice-] president of the General Medical Society for Psychotherapy.

When, owing to the political upheaval, Professor Kretschmer resigned from the presidency, and the Society like so many other scientific organizations in Germany received a profound shock, some leading members pressed me—I may say, fervently—to take the chair.

This, I would expressly emphasize, was the presidency not of the German but of the International Society, as is stated in the issue from which Dr. Bally quotes.

Thus a moral conflict arose for me as it would for any decent man in this situation.

Should I, as a prudent neutral, withdraw into security this side of the frontier and wash

my hands in innocence, or should I—as I was well aware—risk my skin and expose myself to the inevitable misunderstandings which no one escapes who, from higher necessity, has to make a pact with the existing political powers in Germany?

Should I sacrifice the interests of science, loyalty to colleagues, the friendship which attaches me to some German physicians, and the living link with the humanities afforded by a common language—sacrifice all this to egotistic comfort and my different political sentiments?

I have seen too much of the distress of the German middle class, learned too much about the boundless misery that often marks the life of a German doctor today, know too much about the general spiritual wretchedness to be able to evade my plain human duty under the shabby cloak of political subterfuge.

Consequently no other course remained for me but to answer for my friends with the weight of my name and independent position.

As conditions then were, a single stroke of the pen in high places would have sufficed to sweep all psychotherapy under the table.

That had to be prevented at all costs for the sake of suffering humanity, doctors, and—last but not least—science and civilization.

1018 Anybody who has the least notion about present-day Germany knows that no newspaper, no society, nothing, absolutely nothing can exist unless it has been gleichgeschaltet (conformed) by the government.

Consequently the organization of a journal or a society is an affair that has two sides.

I can wish, but whether things will turn out as I wish is another question, the decision for which rests neither with me nor with my colleagues.

Anyone who has to deal with Germany today knows how rapidly things can alter, how one unforeseen decree follows another, and how the political scene changes like lightning.

It is quite impossible to keep abreast of events from abroad, when even inside Germany people are unable, with the best will in the world, to get the political authorities to adopt a clear and binding attitude.

Since the German section of the International Society has to be gleichgeschaltet, and since, moreover, the Zentralblatt is published in Germany, there naturally arose so many difficulties that more than once we doubted the possibility of a reorganization.

One of these concerned the oath of allegiance and the “purity of political sentiment” required of the German Society.

We in Switzerland can hardly understand such a thing, but we are immediately in the picture if we transport ourselves back three or four centuries to a time when the Church had totalitarian presumptions.

Barbed wire had not been invented then, so there were probably no concentration camps; instead, the Church used large quantities of faggots.

The “modernist” oath of today is a pale and feeble offshoot of an earlier, much more robust and palpable Gleichschaltung.

As the authority of the Church fades, the State becomes the Church, since the totalitarian claim is bound to come out somewhere.

First it was Socialism that entered into the Catholic heritage and again is experimenting with the crassest kind of Gleichschaltung—not, indeed, with a view to buttressing up the kingdom of heaven but to producing an equally millenarian state of bliss (or its substitute) on earth.

Russian Communism has therefore, quite logically, become the totalitarian Church, where even the poorest mouse emits the Bolshevist squeak.

No wonder National Socialism makes the same claims!

It is only consistent with the logic of history that after an age of clerical Gleichschaltung the turn should come for one practised by the secular State.

But even in such an age the spirit is at work in science, in art, philosophy, and religious experience, heedless of whether the contemporary situation be favourable or unfavourable, for there is something in man that is of divine nature and is not condemned to its own treadmill and imprisoned in its own structure.

This spirit wants to live—which is why old Galileo, when they had done torturing him, recanted, and afterwards, so the story goes, said “But it does move”—only very softly, I’ll wager.

Martyrdom is a singular calling for which one must have a special gift.

Therefore it seems to me at least as intelligent not to worry the high inquisition for a while with the exciting news that one has discovered the moons of Jupiter without the authorization of Aristotle.

Galileo had the childlike eyes of the great discoverer and was not at all wise to his gleichgeschaltet age.

Were he alive today he could sun himself on the beach at Los Angeles in company with Einstein and would be a made man, since a liberal age worships God in the form of science.

But the “metamorphosis of the gods” rolls rumbling on and the State becomes lord of this world: more than half Europe is already swallowed up.

Science and every healing art get seven fat years, then come the seven lean.

They must learn to adapt themselves.

To protest is ridiculous—how protest against an avalanche?

It is better to look out.

Science has no interest in calling down avalanches; it must preserve its intellectual heritage even under the changed conditions.

That is how things stand today.

Neither I nor my German colleagues are responsible for them.

If the German section of the Society wants to exist at all the oath of allegiance is inescapable, as any reasonable person will understand.

It was therefore planned that the managing editor of the Zentralblatt, Dr. Cimbal of Hamburg, would bring out a special issue with statements by leading German psychotherapists, together with a signed introductory statement by the president of the German Society, Professor Goring of Elberfeld, for exclusive circulation in Germany.

Such, too, were the instructions which I gave to the managing editor.

To my great surprise and disappointment Professor Goring’s political manifesto was suddenly printed in the current issue of the Zentralblatt [VI 13].

I do not doubt that there were inside political reasons for this, but it was one of those lamentable tactical gaffes which were the bane of German foreign policy even in the Wilhelm era.

In this way my name unexpectedly appeared over a National Socialist manifesto, which to me personally was anything but agreeable.

And yet after all what is help or friendship that costs nothing? The incident is naturally so incriminating as to put my editorship seriously in question.

In Germany everything must be “German” at present if it is to survive.

Even the healing art must be “German,” and this for political reasons.

From the standpoint of medicine itself, it is unimportant whether it is called “German” or “French,” but it is extremely important that it should live, even if under undeniably
difficult conditions, as I know only too well.

It is a cheap jibe to ridicule “Germanic psychotherapy,” but a very different thing to have to rescue medicine for humanity’s sake from the seething chaos of revolution.

It is easy to stand by and be funny when the main point is to get a young and insecure science into a place of safety during an earthquake, and that was my aim in helping to reorganize the psychotherapeutic movement in Germany.

Medicine has nothing to do with politics—I only wish it had!—and therefore it can and should be practiced for the good of suffering humanity under all governments.

If the doctors of Petersburg [sic] or Moscow had sought my help I would have acceded without hesitation, because I am concerned with human beings and not with Bolsheviks—and if I was then inevitably branded a Bolshevik it would have bothered me just as little.

Man after all still has a soul and is not just an ox fatted for political slaughter.

If I am called into the arena for the sake of the soul I shall follow the call wherever it may be.

This naïve belief of mine in the human soul may, from the Olympian standpoint of a hypertrophied intellect or of partisan blindness, appear laughable, suspect, unpatriotic, and God knows what.

I do not pride myself on being a good Christian, but I do believe in the saying, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”

The doctor who, in wartime, gives his help to the wounded of the other side will surely not be held a traitor to his country.

There is no sense in us doctors facing the National Socialist regime as if we were a party.

As doctors we are first and foremost men who serve our fellows, if necessary under all the aggravations of a given political situation.

We are neither obliged nor called upon to make protests from a sudden access of untimely political zeal and thus gravely to endanger our medical activity.

My support of the German doctors has nothing to do with any political attitude.

If it is interpreted politically—which has doubtless happened already or soon will—the interpretations are a reflection on those who make them.

I have never been in a position to stop the formation of myths.

024 Admittedly I was incautious, so incautious as to do the very thing most open to misunderstanding at the present moment: I have tabled the Jewish question.

This I did deliberately.

My esteemed critic appears to have forgotten that the first rule of psychotherapy is to talk in the greatest detail about all the things that are the most ticklish and dangerous, and the most misunderstood.

The Jewish problem is a regular complex, a festering wound, and no responsible doctor could bring himself to apply methods of medical hush-hush in this matter.

As to the difference between Jewish and “Aryan-Germanic-Christian-European” psychology, it can of course hardly be seen in the individual products of science as a whole.

But we are not so much concerned with these as with the fundamental fact that in psychology the object of knowledge is at the same time the organ of knowledge, which is true of no other science.

It has therefore been doubted in all sincerity whether psychology is possible as a science at all.

In keeping with this doubt I suggested years ago that every psychological theory should be criticized in the first instance as a subjective confession.

For, if the organ of knowledge is its own object, we have every reason to examine the nature of that organ very closely indeed, since the subjective premise is at once the object of knowledge which is therefore limited from the start.

This subjective premise is identical with our psychic idiosyncrasy.

The idiosyncrasy is conditioned (1) by the individual, (2) by the family, (3) by the nation, race, climate, locality, and history.

1 have in my time been accused of “Swiss wooden-headedness.”

Not that I have anything against possessing the national vices of the Swiss; I am also quite ready to suppose that I am a bigoted Swiss in every respect.

I am perfectly content to let my psychological confession, my so-called “theories,” be criticized as a product of Swiss wooden-headedness or queer-headedness, as betraying the sinister influence of my theological and medical forbears, and, in general, of our Christian and German heritage, as exemplified for instance by Schiller and Meister Eckhart.

I am not affronted when people call me “Teutonically confused,” “mystical,” “moralistic,” etc.

I am proud of my subjective premises, I love the Swiss earth in them, I am grateful to my theological forbears for having passed on to me the Christian premise, and I also admit my so-called “father complex”: I do not want to knuckle under to any “fathers” and never shall (see “queer-headedness”).

1027 May it not therefore be said that there is a Jewish psychology too, which admits the prejudice of its blood and its history?

And may it not be asked wherein lie the peculiar differences between an essentially Jewish and an essentially Christian outlook?

Can it really be maintained that I alone among psychologists have a special organ of knowledge with a subjective bias, whereas the Jew is apparently insulted to the core if one assumes him to be.

Presumably he would not have one assume that his insights are the products of a mere cipher, or that his brain emerged only today from the featureless ocean of non-history.

I must confess my total inability to understand why it should be a crime to speak of “Jewish” psychology.

If 1 were in the position—as Dr. Bally supposes me to be—of not being able to point to a single difference between the two psychologies, it would amount to exactly the same thing as not being able to make plausible the difference between the peculiarities of the English and the Americans, or the French and the Germans.

I have not invented these differences; you can read about them in innumerable books and newspapers; as jokes they are on everybody’s tongue, and anyone who fails to see that there are one or two psychological differences between Frenchmen and Germans must have come from the back of beyond and know nothing about our European madhouse.

Are we really to believe that a tribe which has wandered through history for several thousand years as “God’s chosen people” was not put up to such an idea by some quite special psychological peculiarity?

If no differences exist, how do we recognize Jews at all?

1029 Psychological differences obtain between all nations and races, and even between the inhabitants of Zurich, Basel, and Bern. (Where else would all the good jokes come from?)

There are in fact differences between families and between individuals.

That is why I attack every levelling psychology when it raises a claim to universal validity, as for instance the Freudian and the Adlerian.

All levelling produces hatred and venom in the suppressed and misjudged; it prevents any broad human understanding.

All branches of mankind unite in one stem—yes, but what is a stem without separate branches?

Why this ridiculous touchiness when anybody dares to say anything about the psychological difference between Jews and Christians? Every child knows that differences exist.

103° It seems to be generally assumed that in tabling the discussion of ethnological differences my sole purpose was to blurt out my “notorious” anti-Semitism.

Apparently no one believes that I—and others—might also have something good and appreciative to say.

Whatever it be, and however critical it be, I would never have the audacity to maintain that “ten tribes are accursed and two alone holy.”

That saying comes from no Christian.

My criticism and appreciation will always keep well outside this glaring contrast, and will contain nothing that cannot be discussed civilly.

I express no value-judgments, nor do I intend any veiled ones.

I have been engaged for many years on the problem of imponderable differences which everybody knows and nobody can really define.

They are among the most difficult problems of psychology and probably for that reason are a taboo area which none may enter on pain of death.

To many people it is an insult if one credits them with a special psychological idiosyncrasy, and in dealing with parties and nations one must be even more careful.

That is why any investigation of these imponderables is so extraordinarily difficult, because, as well as doing his work, the investigator has to perform a grotesque egg-balancing dance around highly charged sensibilities.

It is high time the practicing psychologist understood more about these psychic imponderabilia, because from them arise a good half of the things that go wrong in the world.

Anyone who could define the nature of these imponderable differences would truly have gazed deep into the mystery of the human soul.

For my part, I do not belong to those savants who concern themselves exclusively with what is known already—an extremely useful activity, no doubt—but prefer to sniff around territories where nothing is yet known.

103 2 Consequently I am amused to find myself cast in the role of the nitwit who is unable to spot a single difference between Jews and Christians.

It is, in spite of Bally, an undoubted fact that the difference exists, just as water existed before the chemist discovered H20; but it cannot be grasped as yet, because all the views that have been put forward so far are unsatisfactory.

These purely cognitive difficulties have, however, nothing to do with the question of whether the imponderables exist.

I intend shortly to publish a few no doubt very inadequate and arguable apergus on this subject.

I am as little capable as anybody else of putting forward anything final, but I shall be content if I succeed in provoking discussion.

I would like to bring the parties together round a conference-table, so that they could at last get to know and acknowledge their differences.

Very often this sort of knowledge is the way to understanding. I wish I could do the same for the brothers in enmity on the left and right of the Rhine.

Naturally nothing like this can be attempted without inviting the kicks of both sides.

Would the cure be successful? The possibility of defeat in a good cause has never alarmed me.

But, my public will object, why raise the Jewish problem today of all days and in Germany of all places?

Pardon me, I raised it long ago, as anybody knows who is acquainted with the literature.

I did not speak about it only since the revolution; I have been officially campaigning for criticism of subjective psychological premises as a necessary reform in psychology ever since 1913.

This has nothing to do with the form of the German state.

If I am to be exploited for political ends, there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

Or can anyone stop anything he pleases in Germany? It is rather late in the day for my critical attitude to attract attention only now, and it is, alas, characteristic that it should be construed in such a way as to suggest that Nazism alone has lent wings to my criticism.

It is, I frankly admit, a highly unfortunate and disconcerting coincidence that my scientific programme should, without any assistance of mine and against my express wish, have been lined up with a political manifesto.

But an event of this kind, although regrettable in itself, often has the consequence of ventilating problems which would otherwise be sedulously avoided. ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Pages 535-544