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Jay Dunn Prospects for C.G. Jung’s Psychology


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

At first glance, the temper of the United States seems to stand in direct opposition to the basic tenets of analytical psychology.

American materialism, extraversion, and rationalism are antithetical to a psychology that attempts to probe the inner world of man.

One would expect a society that places value on the principle of scientific causality to resist a psychological viewpoint that introduces the concept of synchronicity .

Americans gave ready acceptance to behavioristic psychology.

They found this formulation attractive because it provided a basis for the belief that a new start in a new land would result in a better individual.

The philosophical pragmatism of William James added its impetus to their scientific positivism.

They continued to judge by one criterion, ‘Will it work?’

On this basis the standards were utilitarian, and the human equation was subordinated to the relentless advance of technology-mass production was, for instance, an American contribution to the world. Its value was proved by the high standard of living it produced.

However, not all of the results were beneficial:

the inventor was influenced by his invention, and the American applied the uniformity and pace of the assembly-line to himself.

Working hard at producing objects, he came to regard himself as another ‘thing’.

This gave rise to the conformity in the United States that was so evident to visitors from abroad and found public expression in The Organization Man (Whyte, 1956).

The genius of this country lies in the capacity to make things work, to make more of them, and to make them better, and so we may expect this spirit to influence the growth of analytical psychology in America.

It will become more businesslike, and there will be an increase in emphasis on clinical and therapeutic problems.

It follows that the practical applications of Jung’s psychology will undoubtedly receive great attention.

It is noteworthy that Americans have been drawn to analytical psychology in the same number and to the same degree as their European counterparts; indeed, during the ‘twenties and ‘thirties, Jung’s seminars in Zurich were well attended by people from the United States.

These early adventurers were weather-vanes of their national character.

They anticipated the growing sophistication now taking place in their country regarding the world and themselves.

The appearance of the Collected Works has, indeed, brought Jung’s name before the general public at a fortunate time, and now they can explore and judge the value of his contribution for themselves.

Americans are suspicious of speculative thinking.

Despite the fact that the major advances of modern knowledge derive from theoretical speculations, the United States has not produced men of the calibre of Einstein, Wohler, Steinmetz, etc.

The American remains wary, and it is unlikely that Jung’s theoretical formulations will get much attention or be developed to any great extent.

The forefathers of present-day Americans left a Europe that was conceived to be in the process of freeing itself from a dark age.

They were reacting, in part, against the static mentality of the Old World.

The new nation saw frontiers to conquer, action replaced reflection, and a drive towards accomplishment formed which still influences the national outlook.

This is another reason why the American approaches analytical psychology with caution: its techniques of amplification and active imagination, in particular, appear to lead him back to a former mentality that he had actively rejected.

Practical as he is, the American is not immune to the influence of images; indeed, he lives under a powerful mythologem: the archetype of the Utopian ideal. From the beginning, European immigrants looked to the New World for redemption.

They placed their hopes for a better life in the newly discovered lands.

Every schoolboy in America is taught that his country accepts the weary and downtrodden, and he grows up with the idea that others are less fortunate than himself, and he must help them.

Living with this great promise accounts for the optimism and naivete so characteristic of the American.

It causes him to look ahead, not backward, and in this Jung’s prospective-ongoing ideas will prove attractive.

He believes that continual growth and expansion are virtues in themselves, and he expects future generations to achieve what his own leaves undone.

Pessimism is not only unhealthy, it is un-American.

The Utopian ideal accounts for the youthfulness and vitality of this country, and it was not accidental that Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer, sought the Fountain of Youth in Florida.

The recent admission of Alaska and Hawaii into statehood closes the last frontiers. Immigration is strictly limited, and Ellis Island is up for sale.

Disentanglement and isolation from the affairs of the world are no longer possible.

The American’s one-sided image of himself is ending, and, little by little, he is forced to accept himself as a paradox-the ‘ugly American’ is coming into view.

Americans are realizing that their motives are not always ideaJistic-they, too, a must be confronted.

This can result in increase in consciousness which may add depth and weight to the national character.

It is here that we may expect analytical psychology to make its most important contribution.

Countless Americans travel to Europe in search of their past.

Lacking deep roots in their own country, they travel abroad in the attempt to re-establish a connection with their origins, and they may well be equally receptive to Jung’s discovery of the historical psyche.

The collective unconscious can enable the American to regain the values of the past without renouncing his interest in the present and future.

I want to suggest that individuation, in so far as it can be experienced by the American, is reflected in a folklore theme that grows out of his own soil.

It reaches expression in the tale of the Western gun-battle.

This gun-fight drama is played time and again in endless variation on television and in the cinema.

Young boys buckle on their gun-belts and re-enact this fight in the streets, and they continue to play at being cowboys despite the lure of the space age.

The gun-fight appears in an endless variety of settings, but the essentials remain the same.

The location is the OId West; two men meet in a face-to-face confrontation, and the encounter is to the death; the atmosphere has an aura of fatefulness, as though destiny guided all the preceding events to just this moment.

The hero faces his opponent by himself.

His friends may be nearby, but they accept the fact that the man must face this crucial encounter alone.

The code forbids interference, just as it determines that the fight must be fair.

Each proponent has an equal opportunity to draw, and nothing is more despicable than shooting a man down while he is at a disadvantage.

The rules of the drama are inviolate.

The gun-fight scene is typically American, and the theme of civilizing the Wild West reveals essential character traits of the people.

The issues at stake are simple.

Law and order triumph over disorder, and the righteous always win.

Americans face their opponents in open combat, and the fight is fair and square.

This tendency to state the conflict in simple terms and to resolve it by direct action is clearly an enactment of the ego-shadow conflict.

We may expect the future development of analytical psychology in this country to be influenced by its characteristics.

It is far too early to do more than speculate on the future of analytical psychology in America.

Its fundamental contributions that widen consciousness will not be lost, but neither will they remain catholic.

Whatever emerges as the final product, it is very likely that it will bear the label, ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ ~Jay Dunn, Contact with Jung, Pages 164-167