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Marie-Louise von Franz – Love War and Transformation

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Marie-Louise Von Franz – Love War And Transformation

Charlene Sieg (PP): How did you and the famous physicist Wolfgang Pauli come to work together?

Marie-Louise von Franz: He wrote to me asking if I would be willing to discuss his dreams with him.

He made it clear that he did not want analysis; there was to be no payment.

It was a funny idea! He said, “Would you be interested in sharing my dreams?”

I saw that he was in despair, so I said that we could try.

The difficulties began when I asked him for the associations which referred to physics.

He said, “Do you think I’m going to give you unpaid lessons in physics?”

And I said, ”If you don’t give me your associations, I cannot interpret your dreams.” So we had a difficulty from the beginning.

He wanted something, but he didn’t want to commit himself. He was split. I very often made remarks to elicit associations from him.

He didn’t respond and I ended up telling him I couldn’t interpret his dreams without his associations.

I dropped the subject, letting him make up his own mind. PP: Was Pauli ever in analysis with Jung?

Marie-Louise: No, although he did have a few interviews with Jung. Pauli was in analysis with an English woman, Dr. Rosenbaum.

His dreams during that analysis were dreams of psychology and alchemy. This was several years prior to his time in Zurich.

When he married and moved to Zurich to assume a professorship, he did not re-enter analysis.

But, as I said, he occasionally had an interview with Jung.

Pauli had stopped drinking throughout his analysis with Dr. Rosenbaum.

In Zurich he started to drink again and he noticed that he was sleeping a lot; he wanted to remember his dreams.

He then decided to have a pseudo-analysis, because he was too proud to admit that he needed a real analysis!

That made our work together very difficult from the start.

PP: So in a sense Pauli was asking for something that he didn’t really want?

Marie-Louise: Not exactly.

He arrived at the conclusion that Jungian psychology should be transformed into a philosophy and not used as a framework for therapy.

He believed he needed no therapy-only a philosophical discussion of dreams.

I accepted his viewpoint of himself, even though he obviously needed therapy.

PP: Why do you suppose most of us have difficulty understanding physics? Is there too much developed thinking required, or is there some sort of general psychological issue blocking our comprehension of it?

Marie-Louise: Very simply, we haven’t studied physics!  We do not have the mathematical knowledge.

Most contemporary Jungian therapists have not studied quantum physics, which has developed a language of its own.

I am pretty quick on the uptake.

If Pauli had explained the basic principles of quantum physics to me, I would have understood.

It’s not really complicated, I know now. I have since studied it myself. But that is just what he did not want to offer.

PP: And how does this relate specifically to the unconscious?.

Marie-Louise: I needed his associations to any dreams of the ring i. [See accompanying article by Herbert van Erkelens in which the ring i is explained.]

I asked him, “What does ring i mean to you?”

I was not looking for a scientific explanation of quantum physics in working with Pauli on his dreams.

I was interested in what we call associations.

Whatever association he came up with- a formula comprising the uncertainty principle, or whatever he would have answered – I would have fixed it into the dream.

That is the Jungian method. You ask for the patient’s associations and then you feed them back to him.

PP: So Pauli’s refusal to make associations to his dreams was the missing link.

Marie-Louise: Yes, and it made the process of dream interpretation practically impossible.

He thought he would go home and put it in himself!

Mercurius as a Symbol of Transformation

PP: In van Erkelen’s article there is some discussion of the need to take notice of both the inner and outer stranger. But what about the Jungian view that the unconscious belongs primarily to the inner world?

Marie-Louise: Well, it is of the inner world, except when the principle of synchronicity is involved.

With Pauli, synchronicity was often involved.

The stranger motif in dreams often relates to Mercurius, an aspect of the Self in Jungian terms.

But it is also the trickster motif and all around Pauli there were trickster effects.

In the principle of synchronicity, something that is inner appears as though outside of the person.

We are dealing with the paradoxes of the spirit Mercurius and the process of psychological transformation.

Pauli’s Break with Rational Mentor, Mach

PP: In the article there was mention of Pauli’s need to separate from his mentor, the famous philosopher of science, Ernst Mach. Could you compare Pauli’s experience with Jung’s need to break with Freud?

Marie-Louise: Yes, there were definite parallels. Mach was Freud’s contemporary; they had the same 19thcentury rationalistic prejudices.

They were both positivistic rationalist scientists who could not accept concepts such as complementarity or the uncertainty principle, which are equally important for quantum physics as well as for the Jungian view of the unconscious.

Mach and Freud were both Western rationalists who attempted to deal with the paradoxes of the unconscious, but could not do so to any real depth.

‘’We will have to ask, What is psychopathy? Psychopathy is the underdevelopment of feeling.’’

 The Gulf War: The Dark Side of God

PP: Would you mind commenting on the current world crisis in the Gulf? What might be manifesting in the world psyche to bring us to this point?

Marie-Louise: The problem of evil and the dark side of God is manifesting, because we have not taken this side seriously.

Rationalistic philosophies as well as Christianity have swept this paradox of the dark side of God under the rug.

They don‘t know how to deal with it – because of this, we do not know how to cope with evil and psychopathology.

When we had Hitler, everybody said, “This can’t be happening in our civilized Germany, in our rational century.”

But Hitler was a psychopath, and now we have another psychopath in Saddam Hussein.

And there will be another and another, until we learn how to deal with them. We will have to ask, What is psychopathy?

Psychopathy is the underdevelopment of feeling.

In our current Western society we believe in science and rationalism, but we neglect the feeling function.

This lack of the feeling function leads to the psychology of the psychopath.

The result is a sentimentality that never goes to the source of the problem.

Now the peacemakers want us to educate children without soldier’s toys-no tanks, no water pistols. That’s nonsense.

Children have to learn to deal with the dark side, not push it away.

PP: So it’s not about not giving my child a water pistol-it’s about helping him understand. . .

Marie-Louise: . . .teaching your child how to use it wisely: to use his pistol when necessary, but with moderation-but not to tell him never to use it.

That’s the Christian sheep mentality, which then topples over into cruel sadism.

PP: Many people in the United States believe that Saddam is the evil monster; there is little recognition of Bush’s shadow or what he is manifesting in our country. To me, both leaders seem to be shadow projections of the other. What is America’s part in this?

Marie-Louise: America is too sentimental.

Freedom and free market, liberty and equal jobs and democracy for everybody, world police looking for order, preventing cruelty.

This is a rose-colored sentimentality that is the shadow of brutality.


Americans are attacked, they get exas rn

perated and then they bang the



“America is too sentimental. Freedom. . .democracy for everybody, world police looking for order.. . .This is a rose-colored sentimentality

that is the shadow of brutality.”


PP: How would you evaluate Bush’s position so far?

Marie-Louise: I must say I think Bush is right in doing what he is doing.

If there is a madman who wants to kill little children by the dozens, you have to allow the police to fetter him and put him in prison.

You can’t be sentimental in a single case like this and say the poor man has had an unhappy childhood and kills little children only for that reason; we should understand him and let him go. You have to shut him away.

PP: Is there a point (public or private) at which the dark forces of such psychopathology can be integrated before reaching such an acute level when a military force has to be brought in to smash it into the ground?

Marie-Louise: We will always have to smash it into the ground.

If you are attacked by a poisonous cobra, you have to shoot it dead, unless you want to commit suicide.

And that is what we don’t want to face, because we are too sentimental.

PP: Is “we” worldwide?

Marie-Louise: No, the Asian people think differently.

PP: So in the West we are too sentimental for the cobra.

Marie-Louise: Yes. The cobra is quite innocent; God made her that way.

But in spite of this inherent innocence, we have to shoot her if she attacks us.

PP: In the United States I have seen a polarization of good and evil surrounding the Gulf War: The U.S. is good and Iraq is evil. “We” are doing the right thing, the good thing. We are not very eager to own our shadow or to acknowledge the evil aspect of ourselves as individuals and of our country on a collective level. We end up with a caricature of the good Americans and the crazy, mad Iraqis. I’m afraid we take in very little from these wars; instead, we fight and move on to another place, without psychologically digesting the xperience.

Marie-Louise: Yes, but you can’t expect or demand that level of understanding and integration now.

When you are fighting, you need conviction.

If a criminal attacks you with a knife in the night, you have to concentrate on getting away.

You can’t think, the poor man wants money from me, he has had an unhappy childhood and I should pity him.

You have to concentrate on getting out from under the knife.

Then, when you are in your own flat, you can say, “I don’t hate that man. He’s a tragic figure.”

Now that the war has begun, you can only be convinced that you are right to beat down the snake.

Then will come the moment to be generous, not full of revenge, not seeking power and manipulation.

PP: At this point in our history, the United States is called on to “beat up the bad guy“ because we have a certain level of military superiority. We are faced with a difficult challenge of not misusing this power.

Marie-Louise: Yes, you are pushed into the role of the world police.

PP: Yes. That doesn’t feel good to me.

Marie-Louise: No, but isolationism is also difficult.

PP: Since the fighting-the battles in the night-never actually touch American homes, American soil, war remains somewhat unreal to us. If blood were spilled on our soil, would we not have an opportunity for a deeper learning?

Marie-Louise: You have a lot of problems on your American soil – a lot of crime to deal with.

PP: So we experience war daily, in other words.

Marie-Louise: Drugs, violence, crime, racist hate-you have your shadow right at your doorstep.

When I was in Los Angeles my friends told me, “Don’t go out of the hotel after five o’clock.”

Here in Kusnacht, Switzerland, I can walk until one or two o’clock in the morning.

That’s why you have your problem of evil right at your doorstep-you are forced to learn to deal with it.

” People need to become individuals, because leaders such as Hitler can only win when the individual gets obliterated by the collective.”

 Love, Psychopathology, and the Mass Media

PP: Can you say anything more about Saddam Hussein and our current world situation?

Marie-Louise: He’s a psychopath and therefore so mixed up, you don’t know what is conscious and what is unconscious.

I consider him a heavy case of psychopathy -real abnormal, and that means the feeling function is completely deficient or non-existent.

PP: In terms of Jungian typology, would you say that psychopaths tend to have a dominant thinking function?

Marie-Louise: Psychopaths end up rallying in asylums and in prisons, because they use their thinking function, their intelligence, for criminality.

The psychopath can kill 20 people.

When the judge asks him in court, ”Have you ever felt remorse for the widows and children of the people you have killed?”, the psychopath answers, ”No, I don’t care,’’

Every psychiatrist knows that psychopaths are practically incurable.

PP: Practically incurable? Are you suggesting there may be a small window into their psyche?

Marie-Louise: The psychopath can only be cured by a miracle: if he falls madly in love.

When his partner knows how to bring the feeling back, his feeling function awakens and he can be saved.

But if that mad transference does not occur, the incurable disease of psychopathy remains.

You can look it up in any book on psychopathology.

PP: I never thought of a psychopath being cured by a wild, mad transference of love. We need to find Hussein a good woman! [Laughter]

Marie-Louise: Well, you can’t inject a great transference. It happens from God or it doesn’t. You can’t do anything.

PP: Where should our inner work be focused now?

Have we made much progress, psychologically, since Hitler?

Marie-Louise: Our work is to help people become individuals; people need to become individuals, leaders such as Hitler can only win

when the individual gets obliterated by the collective, like following the mass chant of “Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!” [very animatedly].

 “In your schools.. . you do not learn how to identify when feelings are being manipulated to pinpoint the source and the means of manipulation.”

Today, the chant in the Arab world is, “Saddam, Saddam, Saddam!”

Everywhere there are people looking at the television and nodding yes, showing no independent thinking of their own.

People are not educated to become independent. Learning not to believe the media would be the task.

School children, for example, may learn to hate Iraqis or Jews because of media influence.

We must help our children learn to evaluate, to judge critically, the ways in which their feelings are being manipulated by media propaganda.

PP: Television runs the American culture.

Marie-Louise: The Americans are too uncritical.

PP: Yes. I didn’t grow up with much television, so I was lucky. It forced me out in the woods.

Marie-Louise: The urban children have to have something else.

PP: Unfortunately, what they have most of now are videos, televisions, and arcades of games – mindless, hypnotic activities that leave them completely.. .

Marie-Louise: . . . open for a mass movement. I think children have weak egos and are naturally easily influenced.

One should educate them to learn critical thinking.

PP: Do you mean in school?

Marie-Louise: In your schools you learn spelling and you learn saying your opinion and you learn talking.

But you do not learn how to identify when feelings are being manipulated – to pinpoint the source and the means of manipulation.

That has not been done yet. PP: Is this lack of critical thinking partly why our children are turning to drugs at such an early age?

Without critical thinking, children are vulnerable to manipulation from all directions in society.

Marie-Louise: I think the drug problem is related to urbanization, not living a natural life, not having natural adventures, not learning a natural deployment of fantasy.

Instinct, the animal, is now sought electronically. Harmonized calves, so to speak! [Laughter] Then you become sick and suicidal.

Current Directions

PP: What are you working on now?

Marie-Louise: I’m working on a paper on alchemy that has never been translated or studied.

It was written by a shiekh in Baghdad, of all places, between A.D. 880 and 920-a thousand years ago.

A friend of mine deciphered it together with a specialist and I am now writing a commentary. A Shiite mystical sheikh!

So I’m counterbalancing Saddam by digging up [and preserving] Baghdad culture.

PP: That’s a good countermove, wouldn’t you say? They are taking down the buildings, and you digging up.

Marie-Louise: I’m digging up their values. Counter-magic.

PP: Counter-magic! Well, we’ve all wondered what to do [much laughter] and have come up with nothing. Is this a manuscript you’ve been working

on for some time?

Marie-Louise: For five or six years.

I’m very slowed down now and I can’t do much writing, but all my spare time is devoted to it.

PP: Any new emerging dream patterns?

Marie-Louise: My unconscious gives me good dreams when I work on the alchemy paper and critical dreams when I see patients or interviewers,

so we have to stop. Enough extraversion! [Much laughter]