Man Acquitted of Murder despite Testimony of Dr. Jung
[Zurich, Küsnacht] 21st December 1934
Dr. E. Neumann,
37 Sirkin Street,
My dear colleague,
Enclosed is the certificate.
Unfortunately I have not yet managed to continue our correspondence as I have had
much to do. On top of everything else I have been called as an expert witness to a very
complicated court case—a murder.254
I would like to draw your attention to Kurt Gauger’s book: Po litische Medizin,
Grundriss einer deutschen Psychotherapie (Political Medicine:
An Outline of a German
It is worth taking a look at this mentality more closely. Gauger is
something like the General Doctor to the SA.
I send my best wishes to your son. Adapting to a strange land often causes
particularly virulent infections, but hopefully it has immunized him against Palestine
I have now begun my winter break and hope to be able to write to you more fully
With warm greetings,
Your always devoted,
C. G. Jung
Jung wrote a psychiatric expertise for the jury trial of Hans Näf, which took place in Zurich from 19 to 28 November 1934 (Jung, 1937b).
Näf was accused of murdering his wife Luise, who had been found dead of gas poisoning in their at on 22 February 1934.
He was found guilty of murder and sentenced to lifelong imprisonment.
The application for revision of 28 February was rejected by the High Court but overruled by the court of cassation (Baechi, 1936).
The retrial took place from 14 to 28 November 1938 and resulted in Näf’s acquittal of the murder charge (Baechi, 1940).
Besides Jung, psychiatric expertise was given by Hans W. Maier, the director of the Burghölzli clinic, and Franz Riklin.
Jung gave his witness statement at the retrial on 23 November 1938:
“The well-known psychiatrist Dr. C. G. Jung firstly describes his method of character analysis.
By the use of ‘stimulus words’ he examines the reaction of the candidate. He explains that he carried out the test without prejudice and he would be more likely to be favorably disposed toward the defendant since he was called upon by the defense.
Näf’s reaction time was even above the average for uneducated people.
A third of the stimulus words which referred to the crime in question called forth ‘maximal disturbances,’ a further third were disturbed; indifferent words elicited no disturbances.
The expert has the impression that Näf’s behavior was attributable to his ‘defensive attitude.’
He has always lived more or less outside of society. In his case, there must exist a considerable sense of
guilt. This can be explained by his generally asocial attitude or to some particular guilt.
Reference points for ‘harassed innocence’ cannot be demonstrated” (NZZ, 24 November 1938, no. 2067).
The defense brought forward a counter expertise by Hans Kunz, who criticized Jung’s method and explained Näf’s reaction as caused by fear rather than guilt.
The acquittal was certainly an embarrassment to Jung, who was firmly convinced of Näf’s guilt as an interview with the Daily Mail in 1935 showed:
“Dr. Jung also recalled a murder case in which a man found his wife dead in a room filled with gas, and everything at rst pointed to suicide. ‘But I reasoned like this,’ the doctor went on. ‘What would be a man’s immediate instincts in such a case?’ ‘
He would fling open the window and then rush to pick up his wife.
He would not notice details, such as the position of the furniture, or even which way his wife was lying.’
‘When I questioned the husband in the case, while he reacted normally to general questions I noticed that he remembered perfectly minute details about the scene of his discovery.’
‘At his trial I pointed out my suspicions to the jury, and the Public Prosecutor produced, in the handwriting of the accused man, a list of positions of different objects in the room.’
‘Anticipating that he would be questioned, the man had written them down, intending to memorize them.’
‘He was, of course, convicted and sentenced’”
(“Word Clues to Crime,” Daily Mail, 9 October 1935). Neumann kept a copy of the illustrated report in the Zürcher Illustrierte (No. 49, 2 December 1938, p. 1498).