Burghölzli Psychiatric Hospital 1900–1909
Jung had no sooner arrived at Burghölzli and taken stock of his work there than he found himself exposed as never before to “the unbearable torture of not understanding.”
It was not that Burghölzli was any worse than other such hospitals; on the contrary, it was a good deal better, particularly as regards its building and site.
It was regarded as the best of all Swiss hospitals at that time, a model of what a psychiatric hospital should be.
When Jung went there in December, 1900, it had been in existence only a few years and was not only a fine building, equipped with every facility known at the time, but was also situated on the edge of the town, almost in the country.
It is difficult to realize how enormously Zürich has grown since the First World War, for Burghölzli is now situated far within the limits of the town.
Dr. Franz Riklin Jr. told me that it had one disadvantage from the beginning: it should and could have been built with a magnificent view of the lake and the mountains, but in those days it was thought dangerous to let psychiatric patients see the lake, because the sight of water might give rise to the idea of suicide.
It was not only the building that was far above the average at Burghölzli.
Jung’s chief there, Prof. Eugen Bleuler Sr., was unusually broad-minded, willing to allow his young assistants more freedom than was then usual.
The subject of Jung’s inaugural dissertation was Occult Phenomena. It is mentioned on the 1902 title page that this “dissertation was approved on the motion of Professor Eugen Bleuler” while Jung was his “First Assistant.”
This was really remarkable at that date.
But in spite of all these advantages, it was a melancholy fact that psychiatric knowledge was almost nonexistent at the turn of the century, that is, empirical and psychiatric knowledge that could appeal to a mind like Jung’s and give him substantial help in how to treat the individual patients whom he found entrusted to his care at the hospital.
There was indeed plenty of theory with which to diagnose and label the patients, but terms and theory never appealed to Jung except as a temporary aid.
Speaking of the terms he himself gave to various aspects of the human psyche, he wrote, in his last long book, Mysterium Coniunctionis (published in 1955): “If such concepts provisionally serve to put the empirical material in order, they will have fulfilled their purpose.”
He used to deplore the tendency of too many of his pupils to make dogma of such concepts, and once in exasperation remarked: “Thank God, I am Jung, and not a Jungian!”
This attitude was no late acquisition; it was with him from the beginning of his practice.
It was the individual patient that counted.
Did the theory and the name stand up to that test or not?
When he began his work at Burghölzli he found such tools woefully inadequate.
At first he assumed it was his own ignorance that was at fault and in order to overcome this handicap read everything that had been published on the subject, including all fifty volumes of the Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie.
It was not that there had been no inquiring minds at work on these subjects before Jung, but their books had not been accepted in the hospitals and were still difficult for the young psychiatrist to obtain.
Moreover, when he did obtain them, he found himself ostracized by his colleagues for reading such nonsense and still more for taking it seriously.
This last applied especially to the writings of Freud.
I often heard Jung speak of these first years at Burghölzli and of his horror when he found he had adopted a profession of which, as he expressed it,
“I understood nothing at all.”
Most of his colleagues seemed quite happy and to be performing their duties conscientiously to their own satisfaction.
At first he thought that there must be some recognized knowledge that had somehow escaped him.
It did not take him long to realize that his colleagues’ results were no better than his own and that for the most part they never questioned their results.
They were satisfied that they had done all that could possibly be expected of them, and therefore they could enjoy their time off duty with a good conscience.
I remember Jung telling me that in those first years he had a constant bad conscience about his patients which effectually temporarily extinguished his usual
joie de vivre and that during the first six months he spent all his free time struggling in every way he knew, mainly by reading, to cope with his ignorance and insufficiency.
In the winter of 1902–03, he made a further effort to increase his knowledge by spending a few months in Paris to study with Pierrre Janet.
When Janet, as an old man, lectured once at Zürich University, I saw Jung greet him with the warmest affection and respect.
One supposes it was this early bad conscience, and no doubt the disastrous and destructive results of overindulgence in alcohol that must have been evident in many of his patients at the hospital, that made him become a teetotaler for a number of years.
Oeri rightly attributed this to the influence of Bleuler, (who was a fanatical teetotaler) and that when he (Oeri) returned to Switzerland after a long absence abroad and met Jung again the glances the latter cast at his glass of wine turned it to vinegar on the spot!
Oeri visited his old friend while he was an assistant at Burghölzli, but from his description it must have been after Jung was finding his feet in his profession.
Oeri said that, although he had missed whatever steps there were that led Jung to choose psychiatry, there could be no doubt, after seeing him among his patients, of his enthusiasm for his work.
Oeri gave an amusing description of a personally conducted tour around Jung’s wards with which he was honored during his visit to the hospital.
In one of these wards, which housed the worst patients, the more restless were lying on their beds or standing around.
Jung engaged some of them in conversation that could show where their trouble lay.
Oeri found this so fascinating that he joined in the conversation himself, until a recumbent and apparently quiet patient suddenly leaped up in his bed and aimed a terrific blow at him from behind.
Far from showing any concern at his friend’s fright, Jung remarked with some pride that the man could indeed deliver real knockout blows if one did not look out.
He laughed so wholeheartedly that Oeri felt himself back in the Klein-Hüningen Vicarage garden where he had first heard the small schoolboy Jung laugh in exactly the same way.
Jung always found it difficult to realize the healing, “whole-making” effect that his
personality—even when unaided by understanding of the material—had on his patients, in fact
sometimes even on people who came little into personal contact with him.
Since to him the “torture of not understanding was the only unbearable torture,” he assumed for many years that all thoughtful people felt the same way.
Even in later years, therefore, when it happened that he did not understand the dreams of a patient, he always told him so and even advised him to try to find another analyst who would.
It was always a surprise to him when such a patient replied that he was perfectly satisfied and absolutely refused to change.
I remember one case he mentioned of a patient who had been born and lived as a small child in the East.
Jung was quite in despair at not being able to understand her dreams at all, though it did not disturb the patient in the least.
Then Arthur Avalon’s Serpent Power with its description of Kundalini Yoga fell into his hands.
Immediately the dreams were clear to him, for apparently this whole Eastern process had entered her unconscious as a tiny child, through her Ayah or the environment, had lain dormant there for some thirty years, and then come to the surface in her dreams.
This example, although it must have occurred at least twenty years later than the time we are considering, gives us the key to the reason he felt so bad in his first years at Burghölzli.
At that time he lacked the knowledge to understand the material of his patients, although even then he realized that it had meaning and that the individual, not the ward in general, was the only thing that mattered and was where the answers could be found.
Writing his thesis, which was published in Leipzig in 1902, must have helped to clarify his mind and to reveal some of the background of his cases, but probably the first real light came with the use of the association experiment.
This test was originated by the German doctor and philosopher Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920), and was developed by several others.
However, it was used in those days only to explore conscious lines of thought.
Although Jung had undoubtedly read about it before, it first appeared to him as a practical possibility for his own work about 1904, when Franz Riklin Sr. came back from Germany, where he had been working on the association test with Gustav Aschaffenburg.
His son, Franz Riklin Jr. once described how this came about. His father was greatly interested in his work with Aschaffenburg and would have liked to remain longer in Germany, but financial considerations brought him back to Switzerland to take his final medical examinations.
The same considerations made him take a post at Burghölzli in order to earn something, even during the exams.
He arrived in Zürich late one evening and, to his pleasurable surprise, found that his future chief, Professor Bleuler, had come to the station to meet his new assistant.
On the way to Burghölzli, Bleuler spoke enthusiastically of his First Assistant, C. G. Jung, and, late though it was, Jung was called from his apartment and the three spent some hours discussing the association experiment and planning how to put it to practical use in the hospital.
The test had previously been used only on conscious lines of thought, and the reason it is so often associated with Jung (I have even heard it stated that he began it) is that he was the first to inquire into the disturbances in reaction, thus making it a valuable method for investigating the deeper roots of mental illnesses.
This led Jung to a recognition of the existence of the complexes and thus, independently of Freud, to the discovery of the unconscious.
At first, like Freud and Adler, he discovered what he later called the personal unconscious, but he soon found many psychic contents which obviously reached far beyond the personal sphere. (The contents of the lower levels as depicted in the diagram on page often appeared in the results of the
association experiment and also in dreams.)
This realization forced him to dig deeper and thus to discover the collective unconscious.
Without attempting to describe the association experiment, for such descriptions can be found in many other sources, I will just mention that it consists in the test person responding to a long list of words with the first word that comes into his head.
It struck Jung that the difficulties in supplying the word (no notice of these disturbances had been taken before) were the really interesting aspects of the test, because they would lead straight to the unconscious disturbance in the test person.
The method yielded amazing and fruitful results, particularly during the time Jung was at Burghölzli, though he gave it up in his practice soon after, because he found—as his knowledge of the psyche, and particularly of dreams, increased—that it was no longer necessary to him.
For some time later, however, he continued to use it whenever he was asked by the Swiss courts for his advice in criminal cases.
In addition, he went on drawing it to the attention of young lay psychologists and also of doctors who had had little or no previous experience of the unconscious.
In 1935, for instance, when he gave a course of five lectures to about two hundred doctors at the Tavistock Clinic in London, he devoted quite a lot of time to explaining it carefully.
He also made it a compulsory examination subject at the C. G. Jung Institute, Zürich, when the statutes were drawn up in 1948.
It was the association test that primarily drew Jung’s attention to the complexes that exist in everyone. To define the term “complex” briefly, one might say that it is an unconscious or half-conscious cluster of representations, laden with emotion.
A complex consists of a nucleus and a surrounding field of associations.
A complex can be acquired by personal experience or its nucleus can be formed by an archetypal content.
When the emotion involved is acute, the complex can lead to every kind of neurotic, even pathological, disturbance.
This emotion is naturally revealed by the test words that relate to it, and here Jung must have been much helped by his own experience as a boy of the neurosis that he brought on himself by forgetting his original thought.
The reader will remember that when the boy attacked him from behind in Cathedral Square and knocked him down, the thought shot through his mind: “Now I won’t have to go to school anymore.”
As long as he forgot this motive, he was genuinely ill, but as soon as he remembered and faced the pain and shame of his trick he recovered entirely with no relapse.
If we return again for a moment to this simple example, we can see exactly how a complex can start.
If the boy Jung had never faced up to having brought his illness on himself, by forgetting its origin and purpose, he would not only have continued in his neurosis but the forgotten incident would have formed the nucleus of a complex.
All similar later experiences would have clustered around it; then any word that recalled his forgotten guilt would provoke a disturbed reaction.
But he had learned once and for all that to remember and know one’s guilt, whatever it costs in pain, is the most essential element in being able to live and breathe freely.
It can only really have been the knowledge and certainty this experience gave him that provided him with the courage to act on the information he gathered from the association test and from questioning his patients about their past lives.
Whenever it was possible, he faced them with the truth, and wherever they had the courage to face whatever they had done or whatever had happened to them, it was always with beneficial results.
He risked this, in his early years at Burghölzli, in a case that proved to be a milestone in his practice and which in later years he spoke of more frequently than any other of his early cases.
The case involved a mother who had to face the guilt of having murdered her favorite child.
As a young girl this woman had been in love with a wealthy young man whom she believed was too much above her ever to propose to her, and in despair she had married another.
Five years afterward a friend of the first man told her that he had been inconsolable when he heard of her marriage.
Shortly afterward she was bathing her two children in water that she knew was not drinking water, yet she allowed the girl to suck the sponge and even gave the boy a glass of the infected water to drink.
She was acting from an unconscious wish to destroy all trace of her present marriage so that she should once more be free for the man of her choice.
The little girl contracted typhoid fever and died.
The mother’s depression, which had started when she learned the truth about the man she had loved, became so acute after the girl’s death that she had to be sent to Burghölzli where, after conscientious examination, she was labeled “dementia praecox” with a poor chance of recovery.
It was with this label and with nothing known of her history except the death of her child that Jung found himself responsible for her.
At first he did not dare question the diagnosis; but when her dreams, the association test, and careful questioning revealed the story, he found himself in a terrible conflict, for he knew from his own experience that she would not recover unless she was told and faced the truth, and yet he was uncertain about whether or not she had the necessary courage.
He was forced to act entirely on his own responsibility; he knew very well that his colleagues would have been dead set against such a course.
At last he made up his mind to tell her outright that she had murdered her child, although he knew that if she could not accept the fact it might well mean the end of his own career.
She was evidently a brave woman because after an outbreak of despair she faced the truth, with the result that in three weeks she could leave the hospital.
Jung was able to trace her for many years; there was no relapse.
Of course, it had not been a premeditated murder, for which she could have been held legally responsible.
Yet she had known that the water was infected, so that somehow she had known the truth from the beginning, just as Jung had known he was escaping from school.
This case made a tremendous impression on the young doctor, but he kept the reason for her recovery entirely to himself.
He felt that the woman was already bearing an almost intolerable burden, in the loss of the child and the guilt of what she had done, and he could not risk anyone speaking of it or even possibly raising a legal question.
He was, however, confirmed in his previous convictions: the paramount importance of the individual and of hearing what he can tell of his past life and of treating each case differently in the way that suits its psychology.
Although it now sounds almost incredible, until Freud and Jung saw the importance of the individual story and individual psychology, no one in psychiatry had dreamed of taking these elements seriously.
Jung always gave Freud the full credit of having been the first to introduce psychology into psychiatry, although the latter was himself a neurologist, not a psychiatrist.
As Jung read his books, they more and more seemed to point “the way to a closer investigation and understanding of individual cases.”
It was not only in his profession but also in his private life that Jung found his roots during the years at Burghölzli.
Several years before, while he was a young medical student at Basel, Jung had had an indelible experience that now bore fruit.
He was going on an expedition with a friend to Schaffhausen when his mother asked him to visit an old family friend, Frau Rauschenbach.
He was probably quite willing to do so, for one of his earliest memories concerned this very Frau Rauschenbach.
He remembered vividly that while he was still living at Laufen—certainly before he was five years old—he was led by a “young, very pretty and charming girl” on a “blue autumn day along the Rhine below the falls.”
The sun was shining through the leaves, in a way which he always especially loved, and there were “a lot of yellow leaves on the ground.”
As a girl Frau Rauschenbach had had a great admiration for his father, but then she had married and lived at Schaffhausen, so that Jung probably never saw her again until sent to call on her by his mother when he was twenty-one.
During this visit he saw a young girl, still in her teens, go up the stairs and knew in a flash, beyond all doubt, that he was looking at his future wife.
He was rash enough to confide this conviction to the friend he was with and was well laughed at for his pains.
Emma Rauschenbach was still only a child—barely fourteen—and belonged to a rich industrial family.
Jung was not only a young student, just two years into the long medical course, but, a year or so after his father’s death, at the lowest ebb of the family fortunes.
No ridicule or rational considerations changed Jung’s inner conviction, however, although he probably fully realized that he must wait for years before he could prove to his friend or anyone else that his conviction was based on fact.
I do not know if he saw Emma Rauschenbach again while he was still a student but, since he married her after a not altogether rapid courtship in his third year at Burghölzli (1903), he must have approached her soon after he found himself in an independent position.
Inwardly he certainly knew even then that he was destined to go far in his profession, but his circumstances at the time he married cannot have been inviting for a girl brought up as Emma Rauschenbach had been. Her father was a successful businessman and from all she told me later of her girlhood, she grew up at Schaffhausen within a traditional Swiss social pattern.
Psychiatry was still the most despised branch of medicine and, although they had their own separate and attractive flat, Jung’s work obliged them to live at Burghölzli for the first six years of their marriage.
Moreover, through all the early years of his professional life, his chief worldly ambition was to become a professor, with leisure for study and congenial colleagues.
It was not until many years later that he finally sacrificed this dream, for he learned, through his “confrontation with the unconscious,” that it was incompatible with his real task.
When he was made a professor in 1935, his wife, according to Swiss usage, was from then on always addressed as “Frau Professor,” and she told me then, with great disgust, that it was the title she disliked the most of any and that, as a young girl, she had always been determined never to marry a Herr Professor!
Yet she must have known, when she married the young Dr. Jung, how likely it was that this fate would befall her.
It is therefore not surprising, as Jung reported, that she refused him at first.
But the relationship between them was far too fateful and “meant” for any outer considerations to hold it up for long, and Emma Rauschenbach’s “No” soon became a “Yes.”
During his nine years at Burghölzli Jung learned a great deal in his work and his knowledge of the human psyche was deeply increased.
As he was to comprehend later, the symbolism in which the unconscious expresses itself is much the same in the insane and the sane, the great
difference being that in the former consciousness is entirely submerged, whereas it maintains its position in the latter. Naturally, this symbolism pours in much more freely where there are no defenses, so that Jung really had a much better opportunity to observe it than any doctor or psychologist who has not been a psychiatrist.
Before Freud and Jung, however, it had not struck any psychiatrist that the strange ideas and fantasies of the insane could mean anything at all.
Confusing and bewildering as Jung also found them at first, he never doubted that there was some meaning behind them and that it was the doctor’s deficiency if he did not understand.
Why did one patient have one kind of fantasy and another a totally different kind?
Even at the beginning of his work at Burghölzli, it struck him as amazing that his colleagues were content to classify all cases of those who thought anybody had evil designs on them as patients suffering from ideas of persecution, with no regard or interest in the content of their fantasies or in the
great difference in the kind or class of people who were regarded as the persecutors.
Another thing that struck him early in his work was the importance of the doctor’s knowledge of himself.
He soon realized that the doctor could do little or nothing unless he also risked himself, and for that he must know himself.
To repeat, a simple example of this is the case of the mother who had to be told that she had murdered her child.
Unless Jung had known that he himself could also face guilt, and that doing so had cured his neurosis, what he said to this woman would not have carried conviction, even if—which is unlikely—he had realized the importance of saying it.
If he himself had never recognized his own trick, he and his patient would have shared a common blind spot, and the healing result would not have taken place.
Of course, it took him many years and long experience to be able to eliminate his blind spots sufficiently to meet every patient as completely as this one.
I have laid such stress upon this one case only because we happen to know just how he first learned the necessity of knowing and facing his own guilt, and because we also know that his therapy had a permanently healing effect on this woman.
Soon after the senior Franz Riklin’s return from Germany, Jung set up a laboratory for experimental psychopathology at the Burghölzli Psychiatric Clinic with Riklin as his chief collaborator.
In 1905, Jung became the senior physician of Burghölzli, and in the same year he was made lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Zürich.
The association experiment was used a great deal in the clinic and a large group of young doctors participated in this work, including two Americans, Jung’s first contact, as far as I know, with Anglo-Saxons.
Soon a number of patients were coming to him from the United States.
Later he was to pay many visits there, and in some ways one can say that the Americans were the first to recognize the extraordinary quality of his psychology.
They have a certain instinctive feeling for the absolutely genuine thing, which is unsurpassed in other nationalities.
When I went to the States to lecture in 1952, I remember Jung telling me how different it would be from lecturing, for instance, in England.
In England, he said, one must be careful not to make any uneducated mistakes, but that did not matter at all in the United States.
There the one important thing was never to say anything which one was not certain was genuine through and through.
The Americans have a kind of sixth sense, he said, for detecting the real thing and for recognizing any pretenses and untested imitations.
Jung spoke English as fluently as his own language and, although he never quite lost his Swiss accent, we used often to admit ruefully that he really knew our language better than we did ourselves.
This was partly because, in contrast to most foreigners who speak English fluently, he was always grateful if one pointed out a mistake and, what is more, he seldom made it a second time.
He had, it is true, a few pet mistakes that one could correct again and again without success.
For years, for instance, he insisted on being “remembered” of things, instead of “reminded.”
When he was given a doctor’s degree at Oxford, he returned home enthusiastic about the whole ceremony and about Oxford University, and he even remarked that he was now practically an Englishman himself.
A few minutes later, however, he was as usual “remembered” of something.
I remarked in an unfeeling way that if he was now an Englishman there was no escape from being “reminded” of things.
He looked sad for a minute, but I never heard him make that mistake again.
While he was at Burghölzli, during the first years of the Psychiatric Clinic, Jung used hypnosis rather freely.
He also lectured on it at the university during his first years there.
But hewas considerably upset by one spectacular cure of a lame woman through hypnosis, a case in which he had no idea what it was that had happened.
Since Jung hated working in the dark (“the unbearable torture of not understanding”), this one case discouraged him, in spite of its apparently positive result.
As his experience in the hospital, and also in private practice, increased, he very soon gave up hypnosis altogether.
This was for several reasons: first, not understanding how it worked; second, a great dislike of telling the patient what he ought to do, for he saw more and more that the patient should be left to follow his natural bent; third, that one never knew how long a cure by hypnosis would last; and fourth, with increasing experience, he found that the unconscious itself resented it.
About this time he began to find himself in agreement with Freud, that understanding dreams is the via regia (the royal road) in therapy, and he consequently used dream analysis more and more in his treatments.
Freud was still persona non grata in academic and medical circles; nevertheless, Jung stood up for him openly and lectured on his books at the university.
His defense, not only in his lectures but also at congresses and in publications, went so far he was warned by professors that he was endangering his promising academic career.
He replied: “If what Freud says is the truth I am with him.
I don’t give a damn for a career if it has to be based on the premise of restricting research and concealing the truth.”
He took this stand in spite of being still greatly attracted by an academic life and in spite of the fact that he already had considerable doubts as to the
exclusively sexual interpretations of Freud; even then it was “if what Freud says is the truth.”
Although the final break with Freud did not come for a few more years, and toward the end of the friendship,
Freud stayed more than once with the Jungs in their house by the lake at Küsnacht, by far the most important part of the Freud chapter in Jung’s life took place while he was still at Burghölzli, so this seems the right place to mention it.
I did not know Jung in those days, but I often heard him speak about the break.
It was, however, already in the past, a completely digested experience, in which there was no longer any emotion.
In spite of the reservations he had from the beginning Freud undoubtedly meant a great deal to Jung during his years at Burghölzli.
He had a great respect for him and always acknowledged his debt to him.
As he has frequently said and written, he regarded him as a superior personality and projected the father onto him, but I do not think he ever felt, even from the first long meeting in 1907, that their paths would run parallel for more than a limited time.
In 1909, two years after they first met, they went to America together, since each had been independently invited to lecture at Clark University.
Already the relationship was becoming problematic to Jung.
His trust in Freud was shaken again and again by limitations in Freud’s objective observation.
Jung felt more and more that Freud put other things, such as his authority, his pet theories, and his passionate attachment to an exclusively sexual explanation of everything above the search for truth.
While they were in the United States they analyzed each other’s dreams, an activity which revealed these characteristics of Freud far more clearly than ever before.
Nevertheless, Jung felt a strong affection for Freud, and he suffered a great deal when he began to see that a parting of the ways was inevitable.
A dream Jung had while he was in America, a dream that led to his writing the book that is now Symbols of Transformation, was the message from the unconscious itself that showed Jung he could no longer remain on Freud’s path but must somehow find his own way in a completely unknown realm.
Freud interpreted this dream (the whole text is given in Memories and in Man and His Symbols) entirely reductively, on the personal level, and did not seem to have had any idea of how inadequate this was.
Jung had already been deeply disappointed when Freud refused to provide the necessary details from his private life as associations to one of his own dreams because, as he said with “a curious look” at Jung, “I cannot risk my authority.”
Jung added, “At that moment he lost it altogether.”
I should perhaps explain that it is impossible for any honest analyst, Freudian, Jungian, or whatever he may be, to analyze any dream adequately if
associations are withheld, a fact that was, of course, perfectly well known to Freud.
When in addition to refusing to provide personal associations for his own dream, Freud insisted on taking the archetypal dream of Jung’s on the purely personal level, Jung was faced with a probable break with Freud if he “stuck to his guns,” so to speak.
He saw this clearly, even at the time, but he could not yet bear the idea of losing Freud’s friendship.
He therefore decided to humor him, to answer his inquiries for personal associations with an invented association.
In Man and His Symbols he candidly admitted that he told Freud a lie.
It would be easy to misunderstand Jung here.
Jung never told an easy, unconscious lie, but when he decided, as in this instance, that there was a still more important issue at stake, he could go against traditional morality and do something—like telling a lie—for which the traditional moralist could condemn him.
But the big difference between ordinary lying and conscious lying is that in the latter case you know you have done it, and you suffer for it by knowing that you have done something below your standards and can no longer pride yourself on your upright character.
Jung used to say that consciousness is widened by such actions but that it is also darkened: it is no longer all white, so to speak, and it is really unethical if one maintains or even thinks that it is.
Although admittedly Jung “pulled the wool” over Freud’s eyes in giving an association that was not genuine, one is still surprised that Freud did not notice that he was failing to live up to Jung’s standard.
According to Ernest Jones’s biography of Freud, he actually noticed nothing wrong in the relationship until two or three years later.
In fact, at the time of the trip to America, it was Jones himself whom Freud feared would fail to remain his “close adherent.”
Jones said that in America “Freud formed an exaggerated idea of my independence,” which led him to make “the special gesture of coming to the station to see me off to Toronto at the end of the stay and expressing the warm hope that I would keep together with them.
His last words were: ‘You will find it worth while.’”
Ernest Jones was indeed one of his most faithful adherents to the end of his life, so that the whole account of the time in America, among many other examples in Jones’s biography, gives one a strange idea of Freud’s ability to judge character.
But it was not until the following year (1910), in Vienna, that Jung became aware of the exact area in which Freud could stand no other opinion.
From the beginning of the acquaintance, Jung dimly suspected that Freud’s religious feeling was projected into his sexual theory.
That Freud rejected religion entirely is well known.
Confronted with the totally unexpected death of his daughter, Sophie, in 1920, he wrote to Sandor Ferenczi: “Since I am profoundly irreligious there is no one I can accuse and I know there is nowhere to which any complaint could be addressed.”
But, as Nietzsche found to his cost, no human being can afford to announce that “God is dead.”
Someone or something inside him will take revenge.
Jung was more and more impressed by the way in which Freud spoke of sexuality.
He wrote: There was no mistaking the fact that Freud was emotionally involved in his sexual theory to an extraordinary degree.
When he spoke of it, his tone became urgent, almost anxious, and all signs of his normally critical and skeptical manner vanished.
A strange, deeply moved expression came over his face, the cause of which I was at a loss to understand.
I had a strong intuition that for him sexuality was a sort of numinosum.
He went on to say that his intuition was confirmed by a conversation in 1910 when Freud suddenly said to him: “My dear Jung, promise me never to abandon the sexual theory.
That is the most essential thing of all.
You see, we must make a dogma of it, an unshakable bulwark.” Jung, in spite of his previous intuition, was amazed, for no one wants to make a dogma except “to suppress doubts once and for all.
But that no longer has anything to do with scientific judgement; only with a personal power drive.”
It took Jung some years to understand fully that what he had “observed in Freud” was “the eruption of unconscious religious factors.”
Freud, who always made so much of having no religion, had now constructed another compelling image, in the place of the jealous God, Yahweh, whom he had lost.
Jung said that the advantage of this transformation for Freud was, apparently, that he was able to regard the new numinous principle as scientifically irreproachable and free from all religious taint.
At bottom, however, the numinosity, that is, the psychological qualities of the two rationally incommensurable opposites—Yahweh and sexuality—remained the same. The name alone had changed, and with it, of course, the point of view: the lost god had now to be sought below, not above.
But what difference does it make, ultimately, to the stronger agency if it is called now by one name and now by another?
It was interesting to me, when reading Jones’s biography of Freud, to find that in almost every case of Freud’s many friendships that ended in hopeless misunderstandings, sexuality was the bone of contention.
Jones often emphasized Freud’s tolerance, but one can clearly see that this came to an end when the sexual theory was involved.
To Freud—and probably also to Jones himself—it was impossible to desert this theory except from sheer cowardice, or opportunism.
Freud even wrote to Jones concerning Jung: “Anyone who promises mankind liberation from the hardship of sex will be hailed as a hero, let him talk whatever nonsense he chooses.”
Certainly, Jung never promised mankind anything of the kind.
In certain individual cases, in which sex was really the basic problem, he even emphasized it as much as Freud, but he saw more and more clearly that no general rule could be made, for it is not the only urge.
Only a fanatic can ever believe that his truth is the only truth.
But to Freud his sexual theory was the one ultimate truth and—as the old Jews would risk and sacrifice everything for Yahweh—so Freud would risk and
sacrifice everything for his convictions regarding sexuality.
Ernest Jones pointed out some superficial analogies between what he called Otto Rank’s “defection” from Freud and Jung’s.
He was, however, honest enough to end this comparison with the following words: “The outstanding difference in the two cases is of course that Jung was
not afflicted by any of the mental trouble that wrecked Rank and so was able to pursue an unusually fruitful and productive life.”
It seems to me that Jones would have found a far more interesting parallel if he had chosen Josef Breuer instead of Rank as a comparison.
The roles were indeed reversed, since Breuer was a much older man than Freud, but there are really interesting analogies to the necessary break in each case.
Jones even said that Breuer’s “attitude had been most satisfactory so long as Freud was a young son in need of help, but he seemed to grudge his growing independence as many fathers do with their children.”
I need hardly add that it was Breuer’s refusal to accept Freud’s totalitarian claim with regard to sexuality that led to the final break after twenty years of friendship.
Be all this as it may, Jung had already realized in America that if he was to explore adequately the field that was opening up before him, he would not be able to go on pretending to agree with Freud’s pet theories.
He went back to the United States almost every year until the outbreak of the 1914 war, to lecture or to give consultations.
Probably the American sixth sense for detecting the real thing strengthened, or rather reinforced, Jung’s own innate sense that facts are far more important than theories, but it was not until he came to write the book (now Symbols of Transformation) that he realized fully how unpalatable these facts would be to Freud.
Emma Jung was more hopeful here than her husband; she thought that Freud would magnanimously accept the facts. Nevertheless, as she once told me, she had her own doubts of Freud by this time.
He told her on one occasion that one of his daughters had disturbingly many dreams.
Mrs. Jung said confidently, “You analyze them, of course, or at least understand them yourself?”
But Freud replied, “My dear lady, I must use all my time attending to the dreams of my patients, so that my daughter can go on dreaming.”
This gave Emma Jung as great a shock as any her husband suffered in other fields.
She took it for granted that Jung would give his full attention to any important dream a family member had, and the fact that this was not the case
with Freud shattered her faith in him as probably nothing else could have done.
Nevertheless, she also was sad when it became clear that her husband was to lose this friendship.
The fact that many men were able to go only a certain distance with Jung was always a great grief to Emma Jung.
Women take more easily to psychology, for ideas are not as important to them and they can therefore accept something new in the realm of ideas much more readily than men.
It is the realm of relationship which is all important to women, as we see in Emma Jung’s shock over Freud’s attitude to his daughter’s dreams, which would have been unlikely to disturb a man seriously.
If one reads Jung’s “Retrospect” carefully (this was one of the last things he wrote), it is easy to see what it was that made the break between these two psychologists inevitable.
The most important thing in Jung’s life was his creative spirit, which in “Retrospect” he called his daimon and which revealed ever new truths to him.
He said that he could never stop at anything once attained, but always had to hasten on to try to keep up with his creative daimon.
When people no longer understood him—as Freud was unable to understand the facts and ideas in Symbols of Transformation—Jung still had to move on.
He wrote that he often felt as if he were on a battlefield, saying: “Now you have fallen, my good comrade, but I must go on. . . . I am fond of you, indeed I love you, but I cannot stay.”
That was just it; he was fond of Freud, he even loved him, and it tore his heart to leave him, yet he could not stay.
He had to follow his creative daimon and somehow make his own peace with the new ideas that were crowding in on him, just as, when the battle is still raging, the officer or soldier cannot stay with his wounded or even with his dying friend.
One wonders whether Freud ever understood why Jung had to leave him, or whether he himself ever really saw that Jung had to go his own way against the father, just as he himself had had to go against Breuer, whom he had known much longer and from whom he had even accepted money, both as gifts and loans.
Since in both cases the bone of contention was Freud’s unacknowledged religious conviction concerning sexuality, it does not seem likely.
It was (so it seems to me) a temperamental difference between the two men:
Jung could not stay with what he had attained, his creative daimon urged him onward; whereas Freud did stay, the whole of his life, with his attainment of the sexual theory, never able to bring himself to question its eternal truth but standing by it and defending it until the end, although he was quite willing to revise other parts of his theory.
The later years at Burghölzli were a time when life opened out more and more for Jung.
Not only was he beginning to feel more confident in his profession, but it was also a time when life beyond the borders of Switzerland opened up increasingly.
There were congresses in Germany and elsewhere, at which he met a great many people who were working in his own field, with the opportunity to exchange ideas, which he always found stimulating.
His attitude to congresses was always rather an ambivalent one, for there is usually a good deal of narrow-mindedness and condemnation of new ideas, and too many of the participants are more moved by personal ambition than by the search for truth for its own sake that was by far the most important thing to
In later years I attended many congresses in which Jung took part; I witnessed his enormous pleasure at conversations that really interested him, and his disappointment and impatience with the inevitably stupid and petty aspects of such meetings.
He often used to say in later years: “If our civilization is destroyed and disappears, it will be mostly due to stupidity and only in the second place to evil.”
All his life, like Saint Paul, he found it difficult “to suffer fools gladly.”
He found it particularly hard to suffer the blindness and prejudice with which new possibilities were met in academic and medical circles, for these prevent otherwise intelligent people from being open to a free exchange of ideas and cause them to react to life far more stupidly than is really necessary.
Probably the most exciting of his journeys to lecture during these years was the first to America, in 1909, which lasted for seven weeks including the voyage each way.
Some letters to his wife give a good idea of the impact made on him by the “New World.”
For an introverted Swiss, the open-door extraversion of America is the greatest contrast that can be imagined.
The Swiss, although they are hospitable and exceedingly friendly once they feel they really know someone, take a very long time to open their doors to strangers.
An invitation takes a long time to mature, and months, if not years, usually elapse between the first “you must come to see us” and the invitation to come on a definite date.
The Americans, on the other hand, keep open house. Jung used to say that every door was wide open in America and that it was all but impossible to get five minutes alone.
Once he found himself in a spare room with a door open to the double room occupied by his host and hostess, and any attempt to shut it during his toilet was immediately frustrated.
“They evidently regarded me as their baby and felt they had every right to look after me all the time, in fact they clearly regarded it as their sacred duty!”
Clark University bestowed the degree of Doctor of Law honoris causa on both Jung and Freud during this visit.
This was the first of many honorary degrees in the next decades, but from the beginning until the end such gestures made little impression on Jung.
He appreciated them, for they made a welcome contrast to the lack of recognition in other academic circles, in fact to the almost fanatical opposition his psychology aroused.
He always had an adequate reaction to both recognition and censure, but neither made any difference to his essential standpoint, which was founded on inner conviction, unshaken by either excessive praise or blame.
Much as he enjoyed the contrast of America, particularly the beautiful countryside, like many Europeans he found it tiring and in the end was glad to board his ship and find peace and solitude once more on the Atlantic Ocean.
Jung always loved the sea and was an excellent sailor, able to enjoy his food when most of the other passengers were laid low.
America finally put an end to his time as a teetotaler, which had evidently begun to wear on him.
He now wrote to his wife that he was “honorably withdrawing from his various teetotal societies.”
Jung had the best attitude to wine of anyone I ever knew: he enjoyed it thoroughly, knew a great deal about it, could at times drink a good deal, but never for a moment did he lose his objectivity toward it.
It is therefore difficult for anyone who knew him well in later years to imagine him as a teetotaler.
He wrote to his wife from the return voyage:
“Only the forbidden attracts. I think I must not forbid myself too much.”
Certainly, he was most successful in permitting himself alcohol, and one is amused to think how pleased his friend Oeri must have been when he found Jung’s teetotal stage was at an end.
The year 1909 was a fateful year for Jung, for he then left Burghölzli and settled in the house he had built on the lake at Küsnacht.
Emma Jung told me that during the last years at Burghölzli they often spoke of how much they would like to build a house of their own, but that it took
some time to find the right site.
One recalls Jung’s early resolution, made when he was a small child, on the shore of Lake Constance, to live beside a lake, for even then he thought, “Without water, nobody could live at all.”
He could not even see the lake in the distance from his flat in Burghölzli, so naturally his house could not be built until he found the right site by the lake. Mrs. Jung told me that they finally found this more or less by chance.
They were out for a Sunday walk along the lake when, between the villages of Erlenbach and Küsnacht, they unexpectedly came on some land for sale.
Her eyes still shone as she described the joy and excitement this aroused in them both.
It was an unusually attractive site, for the land there is broad between the lake and the main road that runs along the entire length of the lake.
Of course, it was only a quiet road in those days; it has since developed heavy traffic, and many otherwise wholly satisfactory houses by the lake have been ruined by constant noise where the land between road and lake is too narrow.
Fortunately, the Jungs bought a deep piece of land and thus built their house far enough from the road not to be at all seriously disturbed as the traffic increased year by year.
At first the ground they bought had only a rather narrow front on the lake, but they were able later to increase this considerably.
Jung said in Memories that he left Burghölzli because his private practice had become too large and as a sacrifice to Freud, so that he could devote more time to all the things Freud wanted him to undertake.
In those days the doctors at Burghölzli were allowed to take private patients in addition to their work in the hospital, and Jung could no longer cope with all he had to do.
He cherished the illusion that by retiring he would not only be freed from his hospital work but that his private patients would also find other doctors at Burghölzli and he would at last find himself free for research and an academic career.
Thus he went on with his lectures at the University for several more years, and he built his house without a waiting room for patients.
There was a chamber that could be used as a satisfactory waiting room next to his library on the second floor,
and the library itself had a small separate room which eventually became an adequate consulting room.
But the waiting room had been built as a linen room and was entirely lined with cupboards and—as Mrs. Jung pointed out to me—it was unsatisfactory from a household point of view to have access to those cupboards only when there happened to be no patients in the waiting room.
Unlike his Tower at Bollingen, which was added to frequently, the house at Küsnacht was built almost as it stands today.
There was only one structural alteration of any consequence made in 1925 while Jung was in Africa. He was to live in this Küsnacht house for over fifty years.
Jung called the nine years he spent at Burghölzli “my years of apprenticeship.”
Since his resolve to become a psychiatrist was taken only on the eve of his final examination, he went to Burghölzli with practically no knowledge of the subject, for his medical studies had all been concentrated on the physical body.
This naturally made him very uncertain, until he had read everything he could find on the subject.
Even then he only changed one kind of uncertainty for another, for his reading and experience with other psychiatrists convinced him that the profession
itself still had everything to learn.
Difficulties were always a challenge to Jung, seldom or never a discouragement, so that, in spite of his early uncertainty and feeling of complete ignorance, his enthusiasm for his chosen profession increased rapidly.
I do not think that he ever regretted his choice for a moment.
He also rapidly increased his knowledge and with it his feeling of security, although indeed the great struggle—the “confrontation with the unconscious”—was, when he left Burghölzli, still a few years in the future.
He had, however, already served his apprenticeship and was as secure as any really conscientious psychiatrist could be at that time.
He was still often exposed to the “only unbearable torture, the torture of not understanding,” but the years at Burghölzli, even more than his time at Basel University, had taught him to face this torture and never to turn his back on it.
Moreover, he had learned that if he brought his integrity and everything he was and knew at the time into his dealings with his patients, the results could be unexpectedly good, and he had to admit great improvements, even complete cures, when he had no idea how or why they had taken place.
In later years, indeed, such cures still occurred in his practice, but by that time he had learned that they can indeed be constellated by the physician but can be brought about only through the patient’s own unconscious.
During the years at Burghölzli he, like Freud and Adler, had discovered only the personal unconscious.
He suspected that there were depths in the human psyche that were completely unknown, but it was not until he began to study mythology, and above all to experiment with his own unconscious, that he became aware of the collective unconscious as an empirical, verifiable fact.
He was indeed experiencing it daily in fantasies of his patients and, unlike the great majority of his contemporaries, he believed these fantasies to be
meaningful, but he was still far from having the key that could unlock the mystery.
Even more than in his student days, he had to face daily his own particular hell: the torture of not understanding; but he could do so by this time without feelings of inferiority and without being lamed in doing everything he could for his patients.
When Jung went to Burghölzli, he was a young man of twenty-five and still unmarried.
When he left it he was a married man of thirty-four with two small daughters and a baby son.
(His two younger daughters were born after the move to Küsnacht.)
He was, then, close to what he afterward called the middle point of life, which he placed at about thirty-five.
He often pointed out that the task of the first half of life is to establish one’s roots in outer life.
With the building of the house at Küsnacht, Jung had accomplished this task: he had made a name for himself in his profession, both in Europe and America, he had married and had a growing family, and he now had his own house and land in which to establish his roots finally.
Indeed, he went to Küsnacht with the firm intention of leaving the outer practice of his profession and of devoting himself to research.
The direction changes, Jung used to say, after the middle point of life is passed; then the task becomes to establish one’s inner roots.
The goal is no longer directed out into the world, but is rather a widening of the personality and its consolidation.
After all, the goal of the latter part of life is no longer the world but ultimately the inevitability of death.
The latter is a meaningful goal, although in our materialistic age this fact is usually ignored.
This does not mean that we have no obligations to life in its second half; we need no longer seek the world, so to speak, but when it comes to us we are still obliged to deal with its claims.
Indeed, Jung himself, though he no longer sought the tasks of his profession, always accepted them when they came to him.
So, when it proved to be an illusion that he could leave his practice behind him in Burghölzli, he fully accepted this unwelcome fact and began his lifelong task of dividing his time and energy between the two apparently conflicting tasks of an ever growing practice and research into the forgotten knowledge of the past, his new ideas, and his writing.
The dream at the end of Jung’s school days taught him that he must leave his No. 2 personality behind and go out into the world exclusively in his No. 1 personality.
He could never deny the existence of his No. 2 personality nor of the latter’s eternal world, but during the whole of his time at Basel University and during the nine years at Burghölzli he gave his full attention to No. 1 and its world: the outer, everyday world that is all most people know.
As we have seen, he fulfilled the task of the first half of life successfully, making firm, enduring roots in the outer world.
It must be emphasized that Jung never succeeded, even in his old age, in leaving his practice behind, nor did he later wish to do more than reduce it.
But moving to his quiet house on the lake and the garden he loved so well gave him a great deal more freedom: for example, he could set his own working hours and his own holidays.
Presumably, what had happened was that he had fulfilled the demand made on him by his dream: he had gone out into the world in his No. 1 personality; he had kept his lamp burning in all the storms and difficulties of finding his way into the outer world; and now he had come to the time when he must turn around once more and face his No. 2 personality and its inner world. ~Barbara Hannah, Jung: His Life and His Work, Page 57-70