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Image: Ann Lammers

James Kirsch’s Religious Debt to C.G. Jung by Ann Lammers

James Kirsch’s Religious Debt to C. G. Jung by Ann Lammers

­As editor of ­e Jung-Kirsch Letters (Lammers 2011),1 it has been my good fortune to spend much of the last ­five years studying the correspondence between Jung and one of his earliest Jewish disciples, James Kirsch, recently published correspondence and closely related documents are my primary sources.

In the spring of 1934 James Kirsch found himself in Tel Aviv, having fled Berlin the previous summer with his family. James Kirsch was at home in Germany.

It’s fair to say he would never have left Berlin if Hitler had not come to power.

He was a Zionist from his high-school days; but Zionism for him was an intellectual and spiritual commitment,  more than a call to emigrate personally to the Holy Land.

One may imagine that he arrived in Palestine hopeful, determined, and culture-shocked.

After an unhappy early bout with psychoanalysis, Kirsch had rejected Freud.

By spring 1934, he had already worked for ­five years with Jung.

Jung, twenty-six years older, was not only Kirsch’s analyst and teacher, but also his case consultant, mentor, and spiritual father.

Kirsch had made Jung’s psychology the lodestar for his inner journey.

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Image: James Kirsch

In the social and political chaos of the incipient Nazi era, however, the need to battle for physical and ­financial survival made it hard to focus on one’s inner journey.

Then came another disorienting blow.

Kirsch scarcely had time to settle into his house in Tel Aviv before learning that his beloved master had been swept up in the political storm. thanks to Jung’s own words, as well as to the rumors that kept being spread about him, in early 1934 Jung fell suddenly and dramatically into disrepute in Palestine.

Kirsch had reason to be alarmed by the damage Jung had done himself.

Since becoming President of the International General Medical Society for Psychotherapy, Jung’s writings for the central journal of that organization, the Zentralblatt für Psychotherapie und ihre Grenzgebiete ( Journal of Psychotherapy and Related Fields), had included some poorly chosen statements.

First came his presidential “Editorial” (December 1933), with its comparison of Jewish and Aryan psychologies. ‑en came his long essay, “On the State of Psychotherapy Today” (February 1934), describing Jews as nomads who perennially depended on host-cultures, lacking the potential for psychological evolution, and having no cultural form of their own (Jung 1934a; 1934/1968, CW 10, 9).2

In Tom Kirsch’s paper in the present issue of the Jung Journal, we read about Gustav Bally, whose public debate with Jung in 1934 centered on Jung’s December 1933 “Editorial,” with its unfortunate comparison between Jewish and Aryan psychologies.

In his letter to Jung on May 7, 1934, Kirsch describes Bally’s visit to Palestine, as a result of which he says, Jung’s books have disappeared from the bookstores overnight (1934c/2011, 40f ).

Thereafter Kirsch’s letter passes over Jung’s “Editorial” and concentrates instead on his essay, published in February 1934, “The State of Psychotherapy Today.”

A striking aspect of Kirsch’s writings in 1934 is how carefully he avoids contradicting Jung outright.

He fi­nds a way to say, “You’re right, Professor, up to a point. But you’re also wrong, in ways that you will understand once I show you.”

Jung has made a mistake, according to Kirsch, by taking one historical pattern in Judaism as the whole story.

But that’s understandable, since Jung’s prior experience, Kirsch says, had only acquainted him with a limited, tragically distorted aspect of Jewish experience. ‑is was the Judaism Jung had encountered—Kirsch explains—in Sigmund Freud.

For almost forty years, we’ve had access to two of Jung’s letters to Kirsch from this period, dated May 26 and September 29, 1934.3

From these letters, it’s well known that in early 1934 Kirsch had challenged Jung to correct some of his recently published statements about Jewish culture and psychology and to clarify his attitude toward Hitler’s regime.

We also know how energetically Jung responded to these questions.

What we’ve lacked, until now, is Kirsch’s side of the exchange.

Let me summarize what Jung says in his letter of May 26, 1934 (1934c/2011, 44f).

In his ­first and last paragraphs, he reminds Kirsch that he has just succeeded in creating a legal framework for the International General Medical Society for Psychotherapy, whose main purpose is to give Jewish psychotherapists in Germany a way to avoid the anti-Semitic regulations of their national chapter.

It’s true that he had recently published a statement that Jews are nomads, unlikely to create their own cultural forms and thus dependent on host-cultures.

But that statement was based, he says, on historical data.

Because he does not know everything, and life in Palestine is unfamiliar to him, he inserted the cautious adverb, “‑oraussichtlich” (“as far as one can see”).

He assures Kirsch he’ll revise his opinion when and if new data come to light.

In making this point, Jung relies on scienti­fic objectivity, entirely overlooking the sensitive feeling-aspects4 of the political situation:

Now, since Palestine presents very unique conditions, I have cautiously inserted “voraussichtlich” in my sentence. I would in no way deny the possibility that something unique is being created there, but I don’t know that as yet. ( Jung 1934c/2011, 45)

Finally, signifi­cantly, Jung reminds Kirsch of an earlier letter, in which he explained why he was so reserved toward him in Ascona the previous August.

Jung admonishes Kirsch not to think that this behavior was a sign of anti-Semitism; rather it was a deliberate response to Kirsch’s precarious situation.

In February 1934, Jung had written to Kirsch:

In Ascona I just flt very clearly that it was necessary for you to stand on your own, and that it would be wrong to encourage you in any way to depend on my support. All your libido was required to realize the change, undoubtedly enormous, which Palestine represents for you. I sensed in you, as well as in your wife, the weight of a signifi­cant destiny. It moved me to show the utmost restraint. (Jung 1934b/2011, 39)

Jung’s explanation for his behavior is consistent with what seems to have been his habitual approach to his analysands and even to his children.5

When he felt responsibility toward anyone facing an important moral decision, he tried to practice scrupulous respect toward the other’s unconscious process.

His reference to “libido,” in this passage, is a way of saying that the psychic energy for the Kirsches’ move to Palestine must come from within.

They must not rely on external psychological supports, and he must not oer any.

His restrained behavior thus did not reveal bias, as Kirsch had feared, but came from his conviction that each person’s life must be informed and governed by the objective psyche.

We will return to the subject of Kirsch’s move to Palestine and what it meant to him.

Now, however, I would like to examine his side of the exchange with Jung.

 Kirsch’s side of the 1934 exchange consists of six documents.

There are three letters to Jung, dated May 7, June 8, and August 26.

He also sent Jung two essays he had written for the public in Palestine.

The sixth document was Kirsch’s article for a Zionist newspaper in Berlin, Jüdische Rundschau,6 titled “ The Jewish Question in Psychotherapy:

Some Remarks on an Essay by C. G. Jung” (Kirsch 1934a).7

It was the fi­rst in a series of articles in support of Jung 8 published that year by Jüdische Rundschau.

In his newspaper article, Kirsch promotes Jung’s psychology as a powerful source for healing, especially for Jews in their current historical circumstances.

He praises Jung’s essay, “On the State of Psychotherapy Today,” as well as taking issue with it.

Among the reasons for Jews to appreciate Jung, Kirsch writes, is his emphasis on the “personal equation” in psychotherapy.

Jung is convinced that any psychological treatment involves an encounter between two human beings; it cannot be reduced to the use of techniques.

Kirsch’s strongest argument for Jung’s psychology in this article, however, is that Jung acknowledges the creative power of the unconscious, including the healing power of religious experience.

Quoting from Jung’s problematic essay, Kirsch writes:9

The origin of the neurosis forJung is the “loss of connection” with the eternally creative images of the primal source [mit den ewig schöpferischen Bildern des Urgrundes]. “ The religions are psychotherapeutic systems. . . They are the soul’s confession and acknowledgment, and at the same time the soul’s revelation and  manifestation.” (Kirsch 1934a, 11; Jung 1934a; 1934/1968, CW 10, ¶367)

Kirsch draws attention to Jung’s view of the unconscious as the creative ground of the soul. In contrast, he describes Freud’s view of the unconscious as “purely negative and hostile to life,” a realm of “fear and infantile-perverse fantasies” (1934a, 11).

In contrast with Jung’s mature attitude toward Freud, Kirsch’s dislike of Freudian theory and practice was intense, visceral, and unmodulated, and it would remain so for the rest of his life.

Having given his general brief for Jung and having dispatched Freud, Kirsch could now address the issue of Jung’s recent misstatements. Jung has, he says, misunderstood basic Jewish psychology:

Neither are we, as Jung believes, “relative nomads,” but a restless people, a people with a collective neurosis, which since this loss of connection, and as a result of it, have found no abiding place.10 (1934a, 11)

Kirsch’s phrase, “this loss of connection,” points to the main theme in all of his writings of this period, which is the psychology of exile.

By “exile” he means the tragic separation of the Jewish soul from the source of life itself.

Many Jews, he says, are cut off from the indwelling power of the unconscious. In the Kabbalah, this divine presence has a feminine form, the Shekhinah.

Kirsch sees this loss of connection as an archetypal pattern, which he sums up with the Hebrew term galut11 (exile). Kirsch, who knew Zionist literature,12 would have known the political associations of the word, but his usage is not political in this sense.

He says he is taking the word from the Kabbalah (Kirsch 1934d/2011, 49), where it has a mystical application.

Kirsch makes the word serve as shorthand for an archetypal pattern, a collective response to the ancient trauma of exile.

Remarkably, Kirsch’s criticism of Jung is actually a defense of Jung.

Jung, he explains, is not anti-Semitic; he is merely ill-informed.

From his unfortunate statements about the Jewish people, we can see that he has mistaken exilic Judaism for the authentic kind.

Despite this, Kirsch writes, Jung’s psychology is the best resource for Jews who are seeking healing from the illness of galut psychology.

Jung has been unfairly attacked and silenced by Jews, and yet his psychology can support them in their return to the land and to themselves.

The “new type of Jew,” who is learning to arm his own way of being, “seine Eigenart,” ­finds his best ally in Jung.

The many modern Jews who need to be healed from their spiritual sickness, their separation from divine images in the soul, need Jung’s psychology most of all.

So Kirsch concludes:

[T]here is a still larger task before us, to rediscover in the soul the living connection with the primal powers. On this journey the great Zurich psychologist, Jung, who until now has been treated with hostility, especially by Jews, and ignored in silence, can be a superb helper. For precisely here, in Jung’s personality, psychology, and psychotherapy, is something which speaks to the sick Jewish soul in its depths and can lead to its liberation. (1934a, 11)

In his May 7 letter, Kirsch goes even further, casting Jung as a prophet, whom the Jews have treated as they have oen treated their prophets, ignoring or attacking those who told them to repair their connection with God:

You are not the ­first, and will not be the last, whose warnings we cast aside. But I believe that—especially at this moment—your way will lead us back to the Living One and may be of enormous signifi­cance for the rebirth of the Jews. For this reason, it appears to me an irreparable harm if your voice should be silenced here. (1934c/2011, 43)

Many contemporary Jews, Kirsch says, are in exile from the Shekhinah, the divine, indwelling presence.

They have lost their connection to the creative, primal powers of the unconscious.

For this reason, they have no culture of their own. In this sense, Jung was right in his published statement.

“Galut psychology,” Kirsch explains, produces rigid doctrines, negative toward the unconscious, such as Freud’s reductive materialism.

Altogether it leads, in Kirsch’s phrase, to “godlessness and homelessness” (1934d/2011, 52; 1934e/2011, 56).

Having formulated his concept of an “exilic” Jewish psychology,13 Kirsch excuses Jung for his statement, “ The Jew as a relative nomad has never and, as far as one can see, will never create his own form of culture, for all his instincts and endowments assume a more or less civilized host-people for their development” (Jung 1934a, 9, trans. ACL).

‑in view of the Jewish psyche, Kirsch believes, was acquired during Jung’s long struggle with his own Jewish father-­figure:

What you are writing certainly is true for the galut Jew. It seems to me that you received your image of the Jew essentially from Freud, who of course is an excellent example of this galut psychology. (Kirsch 1934c/2011, 42)

Kirsch’s Rundschau article spells out the theory in more detail:

It seems that, due to his decade-long ­fight with Freud, only the galut image stayed with Jung.

He did not get past the phenotype14 of the Jew living in exile from the Shekhinah, to the genotype of the real Jew. (1934a, 11)

Thus Jung’s error has an innocent explanation. His long ordeal with Freud has led him to false conclusions.

Once he knows Jews who are not in exile from the divine presence—when he meets true, essential Judaism—he will revise his assumptions.

The connection Kirsch wanted to make, explaining Jung’s error by reference to Freud’s personal psychology, was based mainly on Kirsch’s intuition.

His theory, which was meant to defend Jung from accusations of anti-Semitism, did not survive Jung’s critical review.

In Jung’s letter in September 1934, he rejects Kirsch’s hypothesis:

With regard to your article [in Jüdische Rundschau], I agree entirely with its intention and conclusion and only object to the inference that in some way I identify the Jew with Freud. First of all, I don’t do that . . . ( Jung 1934g/2011, 62f )

Jung then goes on to say that, if he really described Freudian psychology as “Jewish,” it would be no more than several Jewish psychologists had said, including Kronfeld.

The reference is important, because Arthur Kronfeld, then Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Berlin, was famous for his even-handed critique of all psychotherapeutic schools.

Thus, if the eminent Kronfeld calls Freudian psychology “Jewish,” who is Jung to disagree?

Wellhausen and the “Documentary Hypothesis”

Jung thus rejects a part of Kirsch’s defense of him.

We still need to grasp why Kirsch calls Freud a “galut Jew,” and what is involved in general when he speaks of “galut psychology.”

In this connection, it may be enlightening to recall a theory popular with nineteenth- and twentieth-century biblical scholars.

As a lifelong student of the Hebrew Bible, Kirsch had apparently heard of what is called the “documentary hypothesis,”15 concerning the historical development of the Torah.

One passage in his June 8 letter points to this likelihood:

Now it is interesting—and with this begins the problem of post-biblical Judaism—that a new concept of the relationship with the divine emerged at the time of Jeremiah. The Jerusalem priesthood believed that national misfortune could be avoided, and God could be appeased, if ritual rules—they created new ones and codi­fied old ones—were adhered to as closely as possible.  A fence was erected around the teachings. It was the general principle to build as many new fences as possible.

As a consequence the Jews got stuck in the narrows. (1934d/2011, 50)

Here Kirsch puts a biblical and historical foundation under his conception of the galut.

First he mentions Jeremiah, the prophet who warned that God would punish the people’s disobedience by causing them to be cast out of the land he had given them.

Kirsch’s other references—the codifi­cation of ritual rules, the wish of the Jerusalem priesthood to appease God and avoid national misfortune, the practice of erecting “fences” around doctrine, the consequence of getting “stuck in the narrows”—all point to the aftermath of the Babylonian Exile. ‑is collective disaster, which came with the fall of the Kingdom of Judah in the sixth century BCE, was experienced as a divinely inflicted punishment.

One important response to the experience of exile was a collective decision that it should never happen again.

Kirsch is aware of the ancient history, and it seems likely that he is also familiar with a theory of biblical scholars about its impact on the composition of the Torah.

During their sojourn in Babylon, the theory goes, a group of Aaronite priests wrote down what the Jewish community needed to do from now on to satisfy God and thus protect themselves from ever being cast out of the land again.

The solution was to embrace a purity code, a detailed elaboration of divine laws applying to every aspect of life.

This code was to be overseen by priests of the restored Jerusalem temple.

A “priestly source,”16 a document which became one of the last, formative documents of the Torah, has been hypothesized by biblical scholars since the nineteenth century, following the teaching of Julius Wellhausen, a German Lutheran professor of the Old Testament.

This theory was in common currency during Kirsch’s lifetime.

In early life, Kirsch had studied Hebrew.

He had always been interested in the Scriptures (Kirsch 1986, 148).

While in Palestine, he studied Hebrew seriously and read the Torah in the original.

I have no direct evidence that he knew about the so-called priestly source, but what he writes about the “galut” is consistent with a psychological adaptation of Wellhausen’s theory.

Wellhausen was critical of the “priestly source,” seeing it as legalistic and uninspired.

In the fi­nal paragraph of his best-known work, Prolegomena to the Study of Ancient Israel, he wrote these words about the post-exilic theocracy:

. . . [T]he cultus became a pedagogic instrument of discipline. It is estranged from the heart. . . . It no longer has its root in childlike impulse, it is a dead work, in spite of all the importance attached to it. . . . At the restoration of Judaism the old usages were patched together in a new system, which, however, served only as the form to preserve something that was nobler in its nature, but could not have been saved otherwise than in a narrow shell that stoutly resisted all foreign influences. (1883/1957, 425)

Kirsch takes Wellhausen’s point and gives it a psychological explanation.

The trauma of exile, and the fear of repetition, cramped post-exilic Jews in their relationship with God.

Their priests surrounded their teachings with “fences” and led the people into “the narrows,” repressing the people’s once-lively relationship with God.

New inspiration was suspect.

The canon of scripture was closed; revelation was ­finished.

This is the background Kirsch sees for the mindset of galut Jews in the modern day, the “godless and homeless,” who mistrust the soul and reject the creative images of the unconscious.

Such doctrinaire rigidity, he suggests, is what Jung encountered when Freud insisted on the centrality of the theory of infantile sexuality and rejected Jung’s ground-breaking Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (Jung 1912).

By mistaking Freud for the true Jewish “genotype,” Kirsch writes, Jung

. . . overlooks the real tragedy of Freud, and the whole galut, namely that we have lost the connection to the soul’s original creative source.

Jung therefore reaches mistaken judgments, for example that “for the Jew it is less dangerous to evaluate his unconscious negatively.”17 On the contrary, for the Jew in exile it is especially characteristic, but also especially dangerous, to destroy the connection to the unconscious. The “culture form” of the Jew—he has always had one of his own—is a special form of dealing with the unconscious. (Kirsch 1934a, 11)

Kirsch expects Jung to appreciate his thesis:

I believe you’ll be able to confi­rm my interpretation.

We are dealing with a collective standstill, a repression with all its consequences. Also we are not nomads, but rather a restless people that has lost its living God, despite all the warnings of the prophets. (Kirsch 1934c/2011, 43)

Jung’s letters of 1934 give Kirsch his general approval, but they don’t really say what he thinks of the concept of an “exilic” psychology.

He did not adopt the word explicitly in his writings. “Exile” has no entry, for instance, in the Index to ­The Collected Works.

On the other hand, as Dr. Drob has reminded me, Jung writes frequently about internal alienation.

In this sense, he has a great deal to say about psychological “exile,” that is, separation from “the mythological/spiritual sources that once gave meaning to life.”18

He also brings attention to the psychological disorders that follow when one is separated from the God-image and from the soul.

In this connection, consider Jung’s lines in “Liber Primus” of Th­e Red Book (2009, 232f ), addressing his own neglected soul,19 from whom, it would be fair to say, he had been in exile.

Also, whether or not Jung embraced Kirsch’s concept of exile at the objective level, in 1934 he must have known that Kirsch himself was having an exilic experience.

James Kirsch’s paradoxical exile in Palestine was surely a source of perplexity for him.

He was profoundly Jewish in identity, but he was also deeply, culturally German.

In fleeing Germany, he had lethe land where he was educated. He had lost his cultural- linguistic world and his professional network. When he writes about the psychology of a people traumatized by exile, his own experience resonates in the words.

From his high school days in the Blau-Weiss student union (Kirsch 1986, 149), Kirsch may have believed that in Palestine he would be at home.

If so, he was disappointed.20 His sojourn in Tel Aviv lasted only eighteen months.

“Then he will open the ears of men”

In spring 1934, Kirsch also sent Jung a sixteen-page lecture, written for an audience in Tel Aviv, possibly for a class that met at his house.

Its title was from the Book of Job.

In handwritten Hebrew, it reads:

“then he will open the ears of men.”21

Thee lecture had two broad aims: to reveal Freud as a false guide and to present Jung as a true interpreter of dreams, who could mediate transcendent images of unity and healing for the Jewish soul.

This lecture, like all of Kirsch’s documents in this period, uses the concept galut to explain Freud’s limitations.

After offering his own interpretation of “Rumpelstiltskin,” which is quite different from Freud’s, he makes a direct connection between Freud’s reductive analysis of the fairytale and the “exilic” experiences of Freud’s own childhood:

. . . I cannot give an exact proof of this interpretation, but the allusion to Rumpelstiltskin, who aer all is able to turn straw into gold, is certainly more than the male sexual organ. Thus the tragedy of the galut Jew has been realized once again in Freud’s psyche. Fate led him into the creative depth of life, but at that moment he closed it off with a theory conditioned by his uprooting and his childhood experiences of the galut. (Kirsch 1934b/2011, 272)

The remainder of Kirsch’s lecture is devoted to a discussion of Jung’s psychology, which he explores in connection with biblical passages on dream interpretation and prophecy. (This lecture appears as an appendix to ­e Jung-Kirsch Letters.)

Although I have focused upon Kirsch’s ambivalence about life in Palestine, I want to leave you with a taste of his positive passion for the people whom he was addressing when he directed them to Jung’s psychology as the modern key to their ancient birthright. Near the end of his lecture, Kirsch writes:

With the return to our own land it is necessary to remember our own essence, the special character of our existence. Everything will depend on whether our heart will harden, our ears go deaf and our eyes blind, or whether this time our eyes will see, our ears will hear, and our heart will understand (Isaiah 6:10).

Whether we can give the true name to that which speaks to us through dreams and visions: “This is a holy place.” “‑en he will heal us.” (1934b/2011, 278)

He then introduces the text of a dream, brought to him by a woman who had been, he says, “totally estranged from anything Jewish until awakened by events of the Hitler era” (Kirsch 1934b/2011, 278).

In her dream, she descends the stairs in a bookstore, passing by more and more precious items, until she comes to a dark room.

She is guided to the door by a “small, bent-over man, wearing a cap on his head and a heavy coat, with a large bunch of keys”:

He opened the door and pointed to a table, a large, round table, where ten men with long beards and caps were seated, holding prayer books. In the middle of the table was a silver box, lined with velvet, in which lay a diamond that sparkled so brightly, the table was lighted by it. (278)

Kirsch explores the imagery of the dream and concludes:

So this dreamer, to whom until now Palestine and Judaism had consciously meant very little, found a very old truth. She did not read or learn about it, but by experiencing the unconscious, she discovered the old Jewish idea that community can only be established with the help of the radiant force of a great symbol; the idea that the meaning and value of being a Jew and a human being are bestowed by this diamond, which is separate from all and yet unites all. (279)

Finally he offers this summary:

For this woman, and for psychotherapy, the same thing has happened through dreams as happened for Saul. He went out to search for female donkeys and instead found a kingdom. She was looking for medication to treat a neurosis and instead found the royal diamond which heals the soul. So I believe that dreams, visions, and other emanations of the unconscious can lead us Jews back to creativity, to humanness, and thus to Judaism and its lively further development.

We only have to learn, with the help of modern and exact science, to let the unconscious speak to us in its own language and to understand it. (279)


Kirsch’s letters to Jung in the spring of 1934 are complex and demanding, especially taken together with their background essays.

The more I study this little cluster of writings, the more impressed I am by the writer’s intellectual energy in addressing a whole series of problems simultaneously, using “exile” as his interpretive lens.

Kirsch tries to save Jung from further anti-Semitic gaffes, to rebuild his reputation among the Jews of Palestine, and to educate him in a better understanding of “Jewish psychology.”

Along the way, he challenges the perception, both Jung’s perception and that of the public, that Freud’s psychology is authentically Jewish.

Finally, Kirsch needs to make sense of his own psychological and spiritual struggle, as a Jew who is both at home and not at home in Palestine.

The idea of “galut psychology,” complex as it is, enables him to tackle all these problems at once.

If I may return in closing to James Kirsch’s personal situation, I believe he would agree that in the struggle to deal with all these problems, his personal answer was something like this.

Authentic Jewish identity is found in connection with the Shekhinah.

Clinging to the land defensively, fearing exile, leads only to the loss of that inner connection.

If there is anything Kirsch must fear, it is not that he may be cast out of the land, but that he may lose touch with the source of life.

Once he is reconciled over Jung’s recent mistakes, he is able to go back to relying on him.

For James Kirsch, C. G. Jung would always be, as he writes about the bent over old man in the woman’s dream, “the guardian of the threshold, the keeper of the keys . . . a religious fi­gure who opens a spiritual room” (Kirsch 1934b/2011, 279).

For the rest of Kirsch’s life, Jung—or Jung’s psychology—held the keys to his spiritual home.

  1. The book consists of the complete correspondence of C. G. Jung and James Kirsch, in English translation. Eleven of Jung’s nearly eighty letters to Kirsch were previously published, in whole or in part, in C. G. Jung Letters and Briefe C. G. Jung. They appear in ­e Jung-Kirsch Letters in a fresh translation and with omitted passages restored.
  2. The salient passage in Jung’s essay, “Zur gegenwärtigen Lage der Psychotherapie” (“The State of Psychotherapy Today”), reads: “Der Jude als relativer Nomade hat nie und wird ‑oraussichtlich auch nie eine eigene Kulturform schaen, da alle seine Instinkte und Begabungen ein mehr oder weniger zivilisiertes Wirtsvolk zu ihrer Entfaltung ‑oraussetzen” (1934a, page 9; 1934/1968, CW 10, ¶353).


  1. Eleven of Jung’s letters to James Kirsch are previously published in German and English. The two 1934 letters mentioned here have been available since 1973 in G. Adler, ed., C. G. Jung Letters, vol. I (160; 171f ). In this paper, letters exchanged between Jung and Kirsch are cited to A. C. Lammers, ­e Jung-Kirsch Letters, 2011.


  1. Compare Jung’s clinical admonition to Kirsch, in his letter of November 9, 1929: “You are not hearing feelings perceptively enough” (Jung 1929/2011, 6).


  1. During our fi­rst conversation, on August 16, 1991, Franz Jung told me that his father had typically withheld advice from his children when they were facing moral decisions because he felt they must be guided by their internal resources.


Franz Jung said that as an adolescent he sometimes wished his father would provide him with more guidance in dicult situations (F. Jung, 1991).


  1. A biweekly Zionist newspaper in Berlin, Jüdische Rundschau [ Jewish Review], the organ of the Zionistische Vereinigung für Deutschland [Zionist Union for Germany], appeared from 1902 to 1938.


  1. “Die jüdische Frage in der Psychotherapie: Einige Bemerkungen zu einem Aufsatz ‑on C. G. Jung.” ‑e article can be viewed in microfi­che at the Jewish Reading Room of the New York Public Library. A transcription, with English translation and commentary by this writer, will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Jung Journal.
  2. Subsequent articles in the series were written by Erich Neumann and Gerhard Adler.

Contrary to what was rumored, Jung declared that he did not organize this campaign of publications in his defense. He wrote to Kirsch, “Adler’s article was not inspired by me. He wrote quite independently” ( Jung 1934g, 2011, 63).

  1. Passages from Kirsch’s Jüdische Rundschau article are rendered in the present writer’s English translation.


  1. “Wir sind auch nicht, wie Jung meint, relative Nomaden, sondern ein rastloses Volk, ein Volk mit einer kollektiven Neurose, das infolge dieses Verlustes des Zusammenhanges seitdem keine bleibende Stätte gefunden hat.”


  1. Galut (Hebrew): exile, exilic; implying banishment. Kirsch’s use of galut has both historical and psychological connotations, as seen in his letter of May 7, 1934, and in his brief essay (“Conclusion”), which he enclosed in the letter, as well as in his longer paper written during spring 1934, “‑en he will open the ears of men.”


Galut has also become a Hebrew synonym for the Jewish diaspora, and the term galut mentality is used among Jewish nationalists to refer to residents of the Jewish diaspora who do not support, or may even oppose, the reconstitution and reinstitution of Israel and its central socioreligious institutions due to ethnic or religious reasons.

  1. Cf. Kirsch’s reference to Theodor Herzl’s polemical essay, “Mauschel,” in “Conclusion” (Lammers 2011, 55).
  2. The term “Jewish psychology,” which sounds offensive now, was current at the time. Jung and Kirsch both use it without apology.
  3. ‑e terms phenotype and genotype appear both in Kirsch’s newspaper article and in his brief follow-up essay, “Conclusion.” ‑ese terms are borrowed from biology, from the study of animal species. Language from the hard sciences lends a tone of objectivity to Kirsch’s argument, but this is only a minor rhetorical benefi­t.

The real purpose of the phenotype genotype distinction is to clarify Kirsch’s major point: “Galut” Jews are a special manifestation, not to be confused with the “eternal essence” of Judaism.

  1. ‑ During our first conversation, on August 16, 1991, Franz Jung told me that his father had typically withheld advice from his children when they were facing moral decisions because he felt they must be guided by their internal resources.

Franz Jung said that as an adolescent he sometimes wished his father would provide him with more guidance in difficult situations (F. Jung, 1991).

The scholar most closely linked with the “documentary hypothesis” is a German Lutheran professor of the Old Testament, Julius Wellhausen (1844–1913).

In his great work of 1883, Prolegomena to the Study of Ancient Israel (1957), Wellhausen wrote about the chronological development of documents that, woven together, make up the fi­rst ­five books of the Bible.

There are four hypothetical sources, abbreviated JEDP, for Jahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and ­finally the Priestly writer.

  1. The priestly source: According to Wellhausen’s hypothesis, this document, which includes the whole of Leviticus, was written by Aaronite priests between c.500 BCE (Babylon) and c.450 BCE (Jerusalem).

Their writings focused on purity, temple rituals, and the role of the temple priesthood.

  1. Cf. 1934a; 1934/1968, CW 10, ¶353.


  1. Sanford L. Drob, Ph.D., personal communication, April 11, 2011.
  2. In “C. G. Jung and the Jewish Soul: A Dynamism between Psyche and Religiosity,” Steven Zemmelman mentions that the anima, as the soul, is sometimes mistakenly identifi­ed with the Shekhinah. He cautions: “The Shekhinah is not the Jungian anima conceived of as a contrasexual soul image but an aspect of Divinity itself . . .” (current issue of Jung Journal, 121). ‑at is, the Shekhinah emanates from the divine, as God’s immanent presence.

Although the relationship between the soul and God may be intimate, in biblical tradition the creature is always distinct from the Creator.

  1. Writing to Jung later in 1934, Kirsch comments on life in Palestine: “The political circumstances are . . . similar to the state of affairs during Roman times.

We have our Nazis, i.e., a party which wants to elevate the ‘Führer’ to be the King of Palestine and is organized like the military. ‑ey wear brown !! shirts, are responsible for acts of terror, and they murdered the most important labor leader” (August 26, 1934/2011, 61).

He adds that some rabbis “instruct their pupils strictly and in great detail about sacrifi­cial offerings, in anticipation of the ‘Führer’s’ entrance into Jerusalem as king.”

And yet, he reports, “There are a few individuals who consider the religious question from a psychological viewpoint, so that one is under the impression that they must already know you.” But most of his new

countrymen, he says, are “strongly anti-religious. If the words ‘religion’ or ‘religious’ are merely uttered, they wrap themselves in icy silence” (61).

  1. The full passage reads, in the version that Kirsch quotes in his Rundschau article: “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on human beings, and when they lie on their beds sleeping lightly, then he opens the ears of men and seals them with his teachings” ( Job 33:15–16).

‑­References to ­e Collected Works of C. G. Jung are cited in the text as CW, volume number, and paragraph number. ­e Collected Works are published in English by Routledge (UK) and Princeton University Press (USA).

Adler, G., ed. 1973. C. G. Jung letters, Vol. I.: 1906–1950. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Jung, C. G. 1912. Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido: Beiträge zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Denkens. CW 5. Leipzig and Vienna: Franz Deuticke.

———. 1929. Letter to James Kirsch, November 9, 1929. In ­e Jung-Kirsch letters, ed. A. Lammers, 6. London: Routledge.

———. 1934a. Zur gegenwärtigen Lage der Psychotherapie. Zentralblatt für die Psychotherapie und ihre Grenzgebiete VII.1 (February): 1–16. Published in English as 1934/1968. state of psychotherapy today. Civilization in transition. CW 10.

———. 1934b/2011. Letter to James Kirsch, February 20, 1934. In ­e Jung-Kirsch letters, ed. A. Lammers, 39. London: Routledge.

———. 1934c/2011. Letter to James Kirsch, May 26, 1934. In ­e Jung-Kirsch letters, ed. A. Lammers, 44–47. London: Routledge.

———. 1934d/2011. Letter to James Kirsch, June 11, 1934. In ­e Jung-Kirsch letters, ed. A. Lammers, 57. London: Routledge.

———. 1934e/2011. Letter to James Kirsch, July 2, 1934. In ­e Jung-Kirsch letters, ed. A. Lammers, 58. London: Routledge.

———. 1934f/2011. Letter to James Kirsch, August 16, 1934. In ­e Jung-Kirsch letters, ed. A. Lammers, 59–60. London: Routledge.

———. 1934g/2011. Letter to James Kirsch, September 29, 1934. In ­e Jung-Kirsch letters, ed. Lammers, 62–63. London: Routledge.

———. 2009. ­e red book: Liber no‑us. Ed. Sonu Shamdasani. Trans. M. Kyburz, J. Peck, and S. Shamdasani. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.

Jung, F. 1991. Interview with Franz Jung in Küsnacht, Switzerland, August 16.

Kirsch, J. 1934a/2011. ‑e Jewish question in psychotherapy: Some remarks on an essay by C. G. Jung (“Die jüdische Frage in der Psychotherapie: Einige Bemerkungen zu einem Aufsatz von C. G. Jung”). Jüdische Rundschau Nr. 43, May 29: (11).

———. 1934b/2011. “‑en he will open the ears of men.” Presented in Tel Aviv, Spring 1934. In ­e Jung-Kirsch letters, ed. A. Lammers, 269–279. London: Routledge.

———. 1934c/2011. Letter to C. G. Jung, 7 May 1934. In ­e Jung-Kirsch letters, ed. A. Lammers, 40–43. London: Routledge.

———. 1934d/2011. Letter to C. G. Jung, 8 June 1934. In ­e Jung-Kirsch letters, ed. A. Lammers, 48–54. London: Routledge.

———. 1934e/2011. Conclusion. In ­e Jung-Kirsch letters, ed. A. Lammers, 54–56. London: Routledge.

———. 1934f/2011. Letter to C. G. Jung, 26 August 1934. In ­e Jung-Kirsch letters, ed. A. Lammers, 60–62. London: Routledge.

———. 1986. Reflections at age eighty-four. In A modern Jew in search of a soul, eds. J. Marvin Spiegelman and Abraham Jacobson, 147–154. Phoenix, AZ: Falcon Press.

Lammers, A. C., ed. 2011. ­e Jung-Kirsch letters: ­e correspondence of C. G. Jung and James Kirsch. Trans. Ursula Egli and Ann Lammers. London: Routledge.

Wellhausen, J. 1899/1957. Prolegomena to the study of ancient Israel. New York: Meridian Books. Translated by Translated by J. S. Black and A. Menzies. 1899. Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israel’s, Fifth edition. Berlin: Druck und Verlag von Georg Reimer.


­Ann Lammers PH.D is a Jungian psychotherapist, California-licensed MFT, now living and working in New England. She was the primary editor of ­e Jung-White Letters (Routledge 2007) and more recently edited and co-translated ­e Jung-Kirsch Letters (Routledge 2011). Correspondence: P.O. Box 8126, Brattleboro, VT 05304.