521 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles 48, Calif.
9 September 194981
Dear Dr. Jung:
Today I should like to write you about a case which has been keeping my mind occupied for quite some time.
This lady, Mrs. H82 ( at the time of the dream about forty) has been my patient for about two years during the war years.
After that, she came quite regularly to my dream seminar. She asked me for one appointment in
April ’48, because she had a series of frightening dreams.
At this single interview, which took place sometime in May ’48, she read the enclosed series of dreams and then asked me whether they were death dreams.
She thought of that because of the mentioning of St. Peter’s gate, and because of the extraordinary emotion which accompanied the first dream. 83
Her main association to the Green Dolphin Street was rather long, telling of the story of the book, The Green Dolphin Street, in which a young woman is in terrible danger of life and in utter emergency finds a shaft within a rock which is far out to sea, and climbs this dangerous shaft which is like an elevator shaft and arrives then on top at a nunnery.
The gate between this shaft and a little garden is called St. Peter’s Gate in the book.
When she asked me whether this dream did not indicate death, I must admit that I had that thought too, but there was a healthy woman sitting in front of me, and I just did not have the heart to agree with her question.
I do not know whether I acted right, and I believe that is my first lie in a very, very long time that I told a patient.
Sometime in October of’ 48 she came to the seminar and looked very bad, and
I asked her why she looked so sick, and she said she did not know, but suddenly at four o’clock sharp she felt something like an explosion in her, and very sick after that and has not yet recovered.
When she came to the next seminar meeting a week later she told me that her brother-in-law had committed suicide by shooting himself at four o’clock sharp that day.
This brother-in-law played a certain role in her analysis as he was a doctor and gave a certain amount of medical advice to her and her children, but there was no close personal relationship between my patient and her brother-in-law at any time, and at the time of the suicide they had not met or seen each other for a number of years.
In May ’49, when I was in Zurich, I received a letter from one of her friends that she had been operated of cancer of the breast.
She afterwards sent me a number of dreams84 which at the time I discussed also with Fraulein Wolff.
Since my return to Los Angeles I have seen her regularly once a week.
All her dreams point undoubtedly to a fatal outcome: dreams like, “My mother (but not my personal mother) has irrevocably decreed that I must be executed,” or “An uncle who died eight years ago of cancer is digging a grave.”
Then there are other dreams which tell her to give up all thoughts of love, life, marriage, interest in people, and dedicate herself to something religious.
Shortly before and after her operation in May she had some experiences in which she had completely resigned from life and felt something of what is beyond life.
These experiences had given her, who is otherwise a very simple, practical, extraverted American woman, a wonderful detachment, an indescribable relaxed kind of wisdom.
A few weeks after the operation she recovered physically to a large degree and felt much stronger, and this experience of death receded and she made attempts to go back into life, although half of all the dreams were nothing but announcements of quickly approaching death.
Now her strength is waning, she has pleuritis, bronchitis and other symptoms indicating a rapid growth of the cancer through the chest.
I am so very puzzled because I do not understand this dream, the psychology or what-have-you) meaning of this dream, and secondly because I do not know what to tell her.
When I discussed it with Miss Wolff she said: “Don’t rub it in.”
It would be my inclination to tell her quite frankly that her time of life is limited, and that she should realize it so that she could take care of her three children in the best possible way and prepare properly for death.
On the other hand, I just haven’t got the courage to tell her that.
She herself does not interpret her present symptoms, pleuritis and bronchitis, as what it really is.
If she herself would have a realization of what is happening to her, the work on her dreams would be more fruitful.
Another complication is that her thinking does not seem to me as clear as t used to be. I am not sure whether this is due to drugs that she receives to a large degree, or whether possibly the cancer has gone into the brain.
Pardon me for writing so extensively about this case, but I would appreciate your help in it.
With cordial greetings,
Faithfully yours, JAMES KIRSCH ~James Kirsch, Jung-Kirsch Letters, Page 131-133
83 In the patient’s first dream, dated 1 April 1948, she faints and then, conscious that she has fainted, has another dream within her dream. She is now in a rocky shaft, being forced upward by “a wind of tremendous force.” This reminds her of a movie, “Green Dolphin Street.” As in the movie, the rocky shaft opens at “St. Peter’s Gate.” The dreamer is finally expelled into a pool of water in a peaceful setting, far below. Sinking below the surface, she has great difficulty coming up for air. After waking, she feels physically as if she had spent a long time under water.
84 In the patient’s second dream, dated 26 April 1948, she sees a room in which a fire is burning in the shape of a quarter-circle. Beyond it are rich foods, jewels and treasures, guarded by a dragon. The dreamer wakes and sleeps again. In her next dream she is speeding through space with a group of people, one of whom says, “Mercury is really doing a good job this trip.” Then she stands with a child in an ancient plaza, through which a small train passes. Nearby in a “religious building” they see an ancient beehive oven, with flames rising from it. Figures walk by in procession, “the dying carrying the dead,” and enter the religious building. Inside it “a woman of commanding
appearance” is asked to say a blessing. The woman leans over and wraps her feet in strips of cloth.