The Collective Experiment
In 1915, Jung held a lengthy correspondence with his colleague Hans Schmid on the question of the understanding of psychological types.
This correspondence gives no direct signs of Jung’s self-experimentation, and indicates that theories he developed during this period did not stem solely from his active imaginations, but also in part consisted of conventional psychological theorizing.
On March 5, 1915, Jung wrote to Smith Ely Jeliffe:
I am still with the army in a little town where I have plenty of practical work and horseback riding . . . Until I had to join the army I lived quietly and devoted my time to my patients and to my work.
I was especially working about the two types of psychology and about the synthesis of unconscious tendencies.
During his self-explorations, he experienced states of turmoil.
He recalled that he experienced great fear, and sometimes had to hold the table to keep himself together, and “I was frequently so wrought up that I had to eliminate the emotions through yoga practices.
But since it was my purpose to learn what was going on within myself, I would do them only until I had calmed myself and could take up again the work with the unconscious.”
He recalled that Toni Wolff had become drawn into the process in which he was involved, and was experiencing a similar stream of images.
Jung found that he could discuss his experiences with her, but she was disorientated and in the same mess.
Likewise, his wife was unable to help him in this regard. Consequently, he noted, “that I was able to endure at all was a case of brute force.”
The Psychological Club had been founded at the beginning of 1916, through a gift of 360,000 Swiss francs from Edith Rockefeller McCormick, who had come to Zürich to be analyzed by Jung in 1913.
At its inception, it had approximately sixty members.
For Jung, the aim of the Club was to study the relation of individuals to the group, and to provide a naturalistic setting for psychological observation to overcome the limitations of one-to-one analysis, as well as to provide a venue where patients could learn to adapt to social
At the same time, a professional body of analysts continued to meet together as the Association for Analytical Psychology.
Jung participated fully in both of these organizations.
Jung’s self-experimentation also heralded a change in his analytic work.
He encouraged his patients to embark upon similar processes of selfexperimentation.
Patients were instructed on how to conduct active imagination, to hold inner dialogues, and to paint their fantasies. He took his own experiences as paradigmatic.
In the 1925 seminar, he noted: “I drew all my empirical material from my patients, but the solution of the problem I drew from the inside, from my observations of the unconscious processes.”
Tina Keller, who was in analysis with Jung from 1912, recalls that Jung “often spoke of himself and his own experiences” :
In those early days, when one arrived for the analytic hour, the so-called “red book” often stood open on an easel.
In it Dr. Jung had been painting or had just finished a picture.
Sometimes he would show me what he had done and comment upon it.
The careful and precise work he put into these pictures and into the illuminated text that accompanied them were a testimony to the importance of this undertaking.
The master thus demonstrated to the student that psychic development is worth time and effort.122
In her analyses with Jung and Toni Wolff, Keller conducted active imaginations and also painted.
Far from being a solitary endeavor, Jung’s confrontation with the unconscious was a collective one, in which he took his patients along with him.
Those around Jung formed an avant-garde group engaged in a social experiment that they hoped would transform their lives and the lives of those around them. ~Sonu Shamdasani, the Red Book, Page 204-205