Letters Volume I

To Henri Flournoy

Dear Colleague, 29 March 1949

I have just read your sympathetic report of my work with particular pleasure.

Thank you for the interest you have been good enough to take in the objective exposition of my ideas.

It interested me very much, however, to find in your epilogue a few references to the archetypes which seem to me to contain some misunderstandings.

I do not deny the existence of facts whose existence Freud has proved. I do not believe in theories and have no intention at all of replacing his theory with another.

What I intend is to demonstrate new facts-the existence of archetypes, for example-whose existence, moreover, has already been accepted by other sciences: in ethnology as representations collectives (Levy-Bruhl); in biology (Alverdes); in history (Toynbee); in comparative mythology (Kerenyi, Tucci, Wilhelm, and Zimmer, representing ancient
Greece, Tibet, China, and India); and in folklore as “motifs.”

The well-known idea of the “behaviour pattern” in biology is synonymous with that of the archetype in psychology.

As the term “archetypus” clearly shows, the idea is not even original; this notion is found with the same significance as early as in Philo Judaeus, in the Corpus Hermeticum, and in Dionysius the Areopagite.

My inventiveness consists in nothing but the fact that I believe I have proved that archetypes do not appear only in the “migration of symbols” but in the individual unconscious fantasies of everyone without exception.

I have furnished proof of this in several large volumes which unfortunately have not yet been published in French.

As I see it, the idea of a psychic “pattern of behaviour” is not at all astonishing, since the similarity of autochthonous psychic products was admitted to be a fact even by Freud.

His is the honour of having discovered the first archetype, the Oedipus complex.

That is a mythological and a psychological motif simultaneously.

But obviously it is no more than a single archetype, the one representing the son’s relationship to his parents.

So there must be others, since there is still the daughter’s relationship to the parents, the parents’ relationship to the children, the relationships between man and woman, brother and sister, etc.

Very probably there are also “patterns” representing the different ages of man, birth, death, etc.

There are any number of typical situations, each represented by a certain innate form that forces the individual to function in a specifically human way.

These are the same as the forms that force the birds to build their nests in a certain way.

Instinct takes a specific form, even in man.

That form is the archetype, so named because unconscious thought expresses itself mythologically (vide Oedipus).

I am only continuing what Freud began and I often regret that the Freudian school have not known how to develop their master’s fortunate discovery.

In reading your epilogue, I asked myself whether you mistrust my qualifications or my scientific competence as the Freudians generally do.

There is undoubtedly a basis for your criticism, but unfortunately I do not know the reasons for it, and it would be most useful to me to know them.

No one has yet been able to prove my hypothesis false.

Freud himself certainly did not think it necessary to know Greek mythology in order to have an Oedipus complex (and neither do I, for that matter).

Obviously the existence of an archetype-that is to say, the possibility of developing an Oedipus complex-does not depend on historical mythologems.

What is the logical error in this reasoning?

I have never been able to discover the slightest difference between incestuous Greek fantasy and modern fantasy.

Undoubtedly incestuous fantasy is pretty universal and obviously it is not unique in being able to express itself through a mythologem.

What more natural conclusion can we draw than that we are dealing here with a generally human disposition, which is instinctive and innate, as instinct is with all animals?

How else can we explain identical or analogous products among tribes and individuals who could not have known of the existence of parallel creations?

Do you really believe that every chick invents its own way of breaking out of the egg? Or that every eel makes an individual decision to start for the Bermudas, as though the idea were entirely novel?

Why don’t people take into account the thoroughly documented facts that I present in my alchemical studies?

But they don’t read those books, and they are satisfied with quite puerile prejudices, like the one that I mean inherited ideas, and other nonsensical things!

So-while I admire the conscientious way you presented my essays I admit that I cannot help being somewhat sorry that you could not avoid making such a derogatory reference without the slightest proof or explanation.

After your fine attempt to be strictly objective, a confession of your Freudian faith would perhaps have been enough to ease your conscience.

But it seems to me you could have done that without disqualifying the heretic.

I do not habitually write letters of this sort.

But I thought I should make this exception in view of the personal esteem which has always characterized my relations with both your father and yourself.

I am, dear colleague,

Yours with best regards,

C.G. Jung [Letters Volume 1, Pages 524-527]