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Sonu Shamdasani: The Magical Method that Works in the Dark – C. G. Jung, Hypnosis, and Suggestion.

Psychoanalysis and analytical psychology today trace themselves back to Freud and Jung.

Paradoxically, this apparently self-evident view has led to the mystification of the genesis of these

professions, as it has obliterated the manner in which the development of their work was embedded within wider developments in psychology and psychotherapy.

Furthermore, a profusion of myths and legends have enveloped Freud and Jung to such an alarming

extent that new documentation, when it is taken on board, all too often ends up serving as the basis for the elaboration of new legends.

Through complex operations which have yet to be adequately mapped, Freud and Jung were cancelled out as historical figures and raised up as symbolic legitimators of discourses and practices with no necessary connection and little actual resemblance to their own.

Commencing with Henri Ellenberger, a number of scholars have demonstrated that the therapeutic practices of psychoanalysis and analytical psychology should be seen as a late phase of the transformation of the hypnotic and suggestive psychotherapies that spread across Europe and America

at the end of the nineteenth century, as well as of the long-standing varieties of moral treatment in psychiatry.

To these practices, psychoanalysis and analytical psychology added some new techniques as well as reformulations of old ones.

Critically, however, they came to stand in for the development of modern psychotherapy and psychologies of the unconscious in general.

Like Russian dolls, the figures of Freud and Jung came to conceal many other figures within them.

As John Burnham (1967, p. 214) accurately noted years ago concerning the rise of psychoanalysis in the United States:

Freud became the agent not so much of psychoanalysis as of other ideas current at the time. Psychoanalysis was understood as environmentalism, as sexology, as a theory of psychogenic etiology of the neuroses.

Likewise when Freud’s teachings gained attention and even adherents, his followers often believed not so much in his work as in evolution, in psychotherapy, and in the modern world.

It is the misunderstanding of the nature of these substitutions that has led to the prevalent vastly overinflated view of the significance of psychoanalysis in twentieth-century culture.

The fact that the terms used by Freud and Jung to characterize the practice of psychotherapy—transference, countertransference, projection, and so on—have passed into general usage has led to the widespread assumption that what these terms meant at the beginning of the century is close or identical to what they mean today.

However, these terms have been refigured by transformations in social relations, medical and nonmedical professional relationships, and affective sensibilities.

As a result, they have undergone a process of linguistic drift, to adopt Edward Sapir’s expression.

In the following I would like to give a sketch of the formation of Jung’s practice, and in particular his

relation to hypnosis and suggestion, which formed a critical counterpoint to his engagement with psychoanalysis.

For several decades now, the relation of psychoanalysis to hypnosis and suggestion has been subject to an extensive body of critical, historical and philosophical reappraisal.2

However, hardly any attention has been paid to Jung’s relation to hypnosis and suggestion.3 There are several reasons for this.

First, the prevailing Freudocentric legend of the emergence of psychoanalysis has led to the

assumption that Jung’s practice emerged from psychoanalysis, so any separate treatment of its genesis has not been seen to be necessary.4

Second, the effect of Freudian account of the genesis of the psychoanalytic movement has been to consistently downplay the significance of the Zürich school in its genesis, despite the fact that, as Freud (SE 14, p. 27) himself admitted in 1914, most of his followers had come to him by way of Zürich.

In this paper, I intend to reconstruct Jung’s relation to suggestion; as well as constituting elements of a genealogy of Jung’s form of psychotherapy, this account also opens up several additional considerations to the question of the relation of psychoanalysis to hypnosis and suggestion.

This also serves to counter the widespread identification of the formation of modern psychotherapy with the rise of psychoanalysis.

The Burghölzli was the first university psychiatric clinic to take up the practise of psychoanalysis. However it was far from being a tabula rasa, passively receiving Freud’s imprint.

The practise of hypnotism and suggestion had been introduced there by its director, August Forel.

One critical context for the introduction of psychoanalysis into the Burghölzli was thus the preexisting utilization of hypnosis and suggestion.

In 1886, Forel visited Nancy after reading Hippolyte Bernheim’s book Of Suggestion.

Bernheim promoted the therapeutic use of hypnosis and suggestion and played a key role in their rapid dissemination, and indeed of the practice of psychotherapy, with which they were initially synonymous.5

At Nancy, Forel was initiated into the practice of hypnotism by Bernheim, who gave practical demonstrations (Forel 1937, p. 167).

On his return, he began practicing hypnosis, and introduced it into the Burghölzli.

Forel sided with Bernheim in the conflicts between the Nancy school and the Salpêtrière school

in Paris, led by the neurologist Jean Martin Charcot.

In accordance with the Nancy school, he claimed that he could hypnotize around 80-90% of people.

Forel gave lectures on hypnosis with clinical demonstrations.

At the Burghölzli, it wasn’t only patients whom he hypnotized. The staff too were hypnotized.

He gave a nurse a posthypnotic suggestion to place the paper basket on someone’s lap.

He regulated the menstruation of female attendants through hypnosis.

He hypnotized attendants at the noisy wards so that they would not be disturbed by loud noises when they slept but would awaken if any of the patients did anything dangerous.

He adopted a similar procedure with nurses made to sleep next to suicidal patients, and states that his successor, Eugen Bleuler, has been able to confirm the efficacy of this procedure, which indicates that the practice was continued by him (Forel 1889/1906, pp. 94-5, 100, and 256).

For Forel, hypnosis and suggestion, as well as being used for therapeutics and research, were significant as tools for hospital management that reinforced and maintained preexisting hierarchical relations.

It is still a widespread belief that the in-depth investigation of individuals lives, with a particular accent on sexuality, was an innovation of psychoanalysis.

It is important to grasp this was already a feature of hypnotic therapies.

Forel (1889/1906, p. 242) advocated an individualizing approach:

One must gain the full confidence of the patient by affection and intimately insinuating one’s self into all sides of his mental life; one must sympathize with all his feelings, get him to relate the whole story of his life, live it all over again with him, and enter into the feelings of the patient.

But one must naturally never lose sight of the sexual aspect, which differs so enormously according to the kind of person, and which may form an actual danger.…It must be understood that it is not sufficient to follow  the usual stereotype medical control, which consists in paying attention to the discharge of semen, or coitus, and pregnancy; but it is necessary to take into consideration carefully all the higher regions of the intellect, mood, and will, which are more or less connected with the sexual sphere.

When this has been carried out, one has to map out the proper definite aim in life for the patient, and start him on his way full of energy and confidence.

In situations where hypnotic suggestion ran into difficulties, Forel (ibid., p. 201) commented:

As soon as I notice that a person remains uninfluenced or does not obey well any longer, I ask him, “What is it that is exciting you? Why don’t you tell me what you have got on your mind?”

And this question, asked in a friendly but definite tone, rarely fails to elicit a positive reply.

The patient notices that I have recognised the cause of the failure at once, and almost always confesses it.

I can generally reassure him thereby, and, in consequence, attain what I am aiming at. 6

Jacqueline Carroy (1991, pp. 179-200) has made the important observation that in the hypnotic literature, suggestion functioned as a heterodox, umbrella term, which, as well as imperative suggestion, included paradoxical injunctions and interpretations.

Following Carroy’s observation, if one studies psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic cases in the twentieth century, one finds that “interpretation” functioned in a similar catchall manner.

Whilst the theoretical account of practices changed considerably, the same was not the case in the practices themselves.

In the psychoanalytic literature it is not hard to find some of the best examples of authoritarian directives under the rubric of interpretation.

Indication of the continued use of hypnosis at the Burghölzli is a 1902 paper by Franz Riklin in which he depicted his use of hypnosis to lift amnesias in cases of epilepsy.

The context of the Burghölzli and its pool of inpatients enabled the experimental utilisation of hypnosis.

Thus Riklin (1903, pp. 214-5) admitted that whilst he felt there were some therapeutic benefits demonstrated, his main interest was scientific research.

For Bleuler (1922, pp. 42-3), it was hypnosis, and especially the concept of suggestion, that first gave therapeutic attempts a firm foundation, made psychotherapy into a science, and furnished

proof for the unconscious, which enabled the creation of a pathology of psychic functions.

In 1906, he wrote a work, Affectivity, Suggestibility and Paranoia, in which he put forward his own theory of suggestion.

For Bleuler, Bernheim’s definition of suggestion was too wide.

Bleuler subsumed suggestibility within affectivity.

At the same time, he (Bleuler 1906/1912, p. 62-3) made important remarks critiquing the notion that there was a common essence (aside from an exclusion of a critical attitude) attached to the various practices that went by the name of hypnotism:

There is not one hypnosis but a whole mass of conditions to which we give this name.…An hypnosis as conceived by Liébault is very different matter from an hypnosis in the Salpêtrière, the hypnosis of Braid and Mesmer differs from the modern hypnosis.

“The suggestors” of the modern shows produce again other conditions.

Whoever has seen a little of it knows that with the same technique the condition of hypnosis changes with every hypnotist and every hynpotized person.

Not only were there variations in the practices of different schools, there were variations between each practitioner in each school.

Hypnosis was thus simply a collective name.

It was Bleuler who introduced psychoanalysis into the Burghölzli.

For Bleuler, psychoanalysis was an addition and extension to the repertoire of hypnotic and

suggestive techniques, and was understood in the same way: that is, as an auxiliary psychotherapeutic technique to be incorporated into preexisting medical and psychiatric institutional practices and conceptions.

Jung started at the Burghölzli in December 1900.

His first publication was his 1902 dissertation, On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena: A Psychiatric Study.

This consisted in a study of a case of somnambulism, whom he dubbed “S.W.”

It was later revealed that the case was in fact Jung’s cousin Hélène Preiswerk (for biographical

details, see Zumstein-Preiswerk 1975).

In this study, Jung drew principally from what he called the French school, and from Théodore Flournoy and Pierre Janet in particular.

His work was closely modelled on Flournoy’s From India to the Planet Mars, both in terms of subject matter and in terms of its interpretation of the psychogenesis of Hélène Preiswerk’s spiritualistic romances.

Jung (CW 1, para. 92) invoked the concept of suggestion to explain the genesis of somnambulistic dream pictures.

In a discussion of the formation of subpersonalities, he cited Janet’s case of Lucie:

(Janet asks:) Do you hear me?

(Lucie answers by means of automatic writing:) – No.

But one has to hear in order to answer. – Yes, absolutely.

Then how do you do it? – I don’t know.

There must be someone who hears me. –


Who is it? – Other than Lucie.

All right, an other person. Shall we give them a name? – No.

Yes, it will be more convenient. – All right, Adrienne.

Well, Adrienne, do you hear me? – Yes.

Commenting on this, Jung stated:

“One sees from these extracts how the under-conscious [unterbewußte] personality builds itself up: it owes its development simply to suggestive questions which comply with a certain disposition in the medium” (para. 93, translation modified).

If the unconscious personality was built up through suggestions, this process was not an arbitrary remodeling of the personality, as it could only take place if there was a pregiven receptivty.

Jung cited Alfred Binet’s commentary on Janet’s case.

Binet had stated: “It should be carefully noted that if the personality of ‘Adrienne’ could be created, it was because the suggestion encountered a psychological possibility” (ibid.).

This conception of the limits of the reach of suggestion was to play a critical role in Jung’s conception of suggestion.7

Jung’s use of suggestion is illustrated in the case of Goodwina F. in 1902 in a paper “A case of hysterical stupor in a person in detention.”

The case was referred to the Burghölzli for a medical opinion.

The following is an excerpt from Jung’s account (CW 1, para. 264) of hypnotizing her:

Are you hypnotized now? – Yes.

Are you asleep? – Yes.

But you can’t be asleep, as you’re talking to me! – Yes, that’s right, I’m not asleep.

Look out, I’m not going to hypnotize you!

(This procedure was repeated several times.

The patient lay quite slack; the slight twitching of the arms that always occurs under hypnosis stopped.)

Are you asleep now? – (No answer).

Are you asleep? – (No answer).

You will be able to speak presently! (Passes were made over the mouth.)

In his account of this case, Jung successfully suggested to Goodwina F. that she was drinking wine and vinegar from an empty glass.8

He used suggestion to remove headaches, to enable deep sleep, and to recover memories.

He used Janet’s technique of double hypnosis in the case of Lucie, where Janet after hypnotizing Lucie (into Lucie 2) hypnotised her again (into Lucie 3).

The same technique was also used by Franz Riklin (1903, p. 222).

Jung also used a technique of Forel to suggestively transpose a patient into a particular situation, to give the patient cues around which associations could cluster.

According to Jung, his use of these techniques in this case indicated the existence of an unconscious orientation in twilight states.

Thus suggestion was here used as a tool to manage the patient, to recover memories in the

context of establishing a patient’s history, and for psychological research.

Jung stated that his interest in therapeutics began in the context of Forel’s polyclinic, which was frequented by all sorts of people.

Jung held lectures there and demonstrated hypnosis in front of an audience of about twenty people.9

Ina seminar in 1935, Jung (1988, 1:332) recalled one incident from his demonstrations at the polyclinic, which gives indication of his experimental interest in hypnosis:

You can hypnotize suitable subjects to such an extent that they lose the sensation of the body completely. I made an experiment once with a young girl at the Polyclinic. She was a bit hysterical, and I told one of my assistants to entangle her in an interesting conversation.

He was a nice young man and it went beautifully, and then I went up behind her and pushed a needle into her neck about a centimeter deep. It would naturally be painful and she did not even wince, but her pupils contracted. The physiological person felt the pain, but her whole libido was in the man and withdrawn from the surface of the body, so she felt nothing consciously.

In his correspondence with Freud, Jung discussed the relation of psychoanalysis to hypnosis. On 5 October 1906 he wrote to Freud:

“Your therapy seems to me to depend not merely on the affects released by abreaction but

also on certain personal rapports” (Freud and Jung 1974, p. 4).

A few months later, on 4 December, he informed Freud that most uneducated hysterics were not suitable for psychoanalysis, and that hypnosis occasionally gave better results (p. 11).

The following year, he informed Freud of a case of a six-year-old girl he was treating for excessive masturbation and lying after alleged seduction by her foster-father.

He wrote, “The hypnosis is good and deep, but with the utmost innocence the child evades all suggestions for enacting the trauma” (p. 45).10

It is critical to note that at this point in time, the term “psychoanalysis” had not acquired the rigid designation that it would soon do.

Moreover, as Freud had not published details of his technique, it was not at all clear at what point it diverged from current practices in psychotherapy.

These statements indicate that, for Jung, psychoanalysis was understood to consist in certain techniques, such as abreaction and free association, which were to be pragmatically

combined with hypnosis, suggestion, and other techniques, such as Dumeng Bezzola’s psychosynthesis, and preeminently, the association experiment.

That year, Jung delivered a paper on Freud’s theory of hysteria in Amsterdam at the International congress for psychiatry and neurology.

He (Jung, CW 4, para. 28) commenced by stating that the theoretical presuppositions

of Freud’s research lay in Janet’s experiments, a statement that could hardly have pleased Freud.

The cathartic method was not without a suggestive force, as the doctor led and the patient was essentially passive (para. 39).

In Freud’s new method of free association, which Jung called educative, suggestion was discarded.

According to Jung, however, this bore a resemblance to the method of Paul Dubois, which was “undeniably successful.” 11

Thus if Freud’s new educative method did not use suggestion, it did use persuasion (para. 41).12

As we shall see, Jung’s initial turn to psychoanalysis as an instrument of research was closely tied up with his abandonment of hypnosis.

Before considering this, it is useful to consider briefly Freud’s abandonment of hypnosis.

In his autobiographical study, Freud narrated an incident which he claimed revealed to him the libidinal factor at work behind hypnosis.

On one occasion a patient awoke from a trance and threw her arms around his neck.

Freud stated that his modesty stopped him from attributing the event to his personal attraction.

The patient’s affections were supposedly directed towards a third person, and transferred onto Freud (SE 20, p. 27).

Léon Chertok (1968, p. 568) has attributed a decisive significance to this event in the genesis of Freud’s concept of the transference, which he argues arose as a defensive gesture to provide cover from the specter of erotic entanglement that had long hung over the practices of magnetism, hypnosis, and psychotherapy: The physician no longer feels himself personally involved in consequence of the libidinal demands of a female patient, and he is able to maintain a certain detachment in his relationship with her….

Psychotherapists, who for a century had been consciously or unconsciously haunted by the possible erotic complications of the relationship, could henceforth feel reassured.

Whether or not this incident had the historical significance that Chertok attributes to it, it illustrates the manner in which Freud reformulated the hypnotic rapport in terms of libido.

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen (1993, p. 53) notes

(1) that the phenomena of transference is, as Freud himself admitted, nothing other than the reemergence, within analysis, of the characteristic relationship (“rapport”) of hypnosis…and

(2) that this singular “rapport” with another person, as soon as it is recognized, is immediately interpreted in analytical terms, in that the patient’s current relationship with the analyst is understood

(and at the same time derealized) as the displaced representation or reproduction of an earlier “emotional tie” to a loved and/or hated dritte Person.

In addition to the anxiety concerning eroticism in the therapeutic encounter highlighted by Chertok,

George Makari (1994, p. 567) has drawn attention to the epistemological anxiety that lay behind Freud’s development of his 1895 theory of transference, showing how Freud was attempting “to tame disquieting concerns about the epistemological status of hysteria and hypnosis.” 13

The significance of these points for Jung emerges when one considers his own abandonment of hypnosis.

Jung wrote of the reasons why he abandoned hypnosis in a letter in 1913 to Dr. Rudolf Loÿ. Jung stated that he had once practised hypnotic suggestion with enthusiasm, but then three significant incidents occurred.

On the first occasion, a fifty-six-year-old “withered old peasant,” when awakened out of a trance, looked at him tenderly and thanked him for being “so decent.”

Jung commented:

This insight filled me for the first time with the insecure feeling, that the nefarious person had possibly understood more about the essence of hypnosis, with the infamous consistency of feminine (at that time I said “animal”) instinct, than I with all the knowledge of the scientific profundity of the text-books (CW 4, para. 579, translation modified).

The next incident concerned a “pretty, coquettish” seventeen year-old, who suffered from nocturnal enuresis.

Jung said that he thought of the “wisdom” of the old woman, and tried to hypnotize her, whereupon she had fits of laughter.

He said that he thought to himself that this was because she had already fallen in love with him.

After hypnotizing her, the enuresis stopped.

He informed her that the next session would be the following Saturday, instead of Wednesday. On that occasion, the enuresis had returned on Wednesday night.

He thought to himself, “She wants to prove to me that I absolutely must see her on Wednesdays too; not to see me for a whole long week is too much for a tender loving heart” (para. 580).

He asked her to return in three weeks, knowing that he would be on holiday at that time.

He was subsequently informed that she had come, that the enuresis had vanished, and that she had been very disappointed not to see him.

He concluded, “The old woman was right.”

Jung stated that the third incident was the final blow. In a subsequent account of this case, he cited it in the context of his lectures at the University.

of Zürich, which commenced in 1905(Jung 1963, p. 138).

He noted that it was his practise then to inquire concerning the personal history of the

patients whom he hypnotized.

A sixty-five-year-old woman came in on a crutch, and had suffered from pain in her knee for seventeen years, without finding a cure.

When he offered to hypnotize her, she went into a state of somnambulism without his saying anything.

He had difficulty rousing her,14 and when she awoke, she jumped up and claimed to be fully cured.

He stated that he felt embarrassed and simply said to his colleagues, “Behold the marvels of hypnotic therapy!”15

A year later the woman reappeared with a pain in her back.

He stated he “saw written on her brow” that she had read the newspaper notice of the recommencement

of his course on hypnotism, and the pain in the back was a pretext for seeing him again, and allowing herself to be spectacularly cured, again, which duly happened. He concluded (CW 4, para. 582):

As you will understand, a man possessed of scientific conscience cannot digest such cases with impunity.

I was resolved to abandon suggestion altogether rather than allow myself to be passively transformed into a miracle-worker. I wanted to really understand what goes on in people’s minds.

It suddenly seemed to me incredibly childish to think of dispelling an illness with magical incantations, and that this should be the sole result of our efforts to create a psychotherapy.

Thus the discovery of Breuer and Freud came as a veritable lifesaver. 16

In his 1932 account, Jung stated that as he still felt unsure as to how she had been cured, he ubsequently questioned her, and it emerged that she had an “idiot son” who was in his ward: consequently she had looked to Jung as a second son.

Jung added that it was due to the reputation he had gained from this case that his private practice

of psychotherapy started.

He described this as his first therapeutic experience and his first analysis (1976, p. 309; 1963, p. 140).

The most striking aspect of these anecdotes is that Jung cites three cases of successful cures to justify his abandonment of hypnosis.

His initial statement concerning the wisdom of the old woman surpassing the textbooks is curious, given the longstanding recognition of the erotic and amorous nature of the rapport in the hypnotic literature, which had been most recently discussed by Janet, in his study of the “passion somnambulique.”17

In the second incident and second episode of the third incident, Jung used suggestion and trance induction with the explicit assumption of their erotic relational components—with success.

From the statement quoted above, it appears that the reason for his dissatisfaction with hypnosis was his view that its study would not lead to a psychotherapy grounded in a general psychology.

Thus it was not for therapeutic but epistemological reasons that Jung abandoned hypnosis.

In 1912, Jung stated of Freud’s original libido theory that “the correctness of this theory in regard to the neuroses, strictly speaking the transference neuroses, was proven to me later after increased experience in the field of hysteria and compulsion neuroses” (CW B, para. 212, emphasis added).

This suggests that one appeal to Jung of psychoanalysis may have been its utility in defusing the problems posed by the rapport.

Jung continued to employ hypnosis in his private practice, but soon gave it up (1963, pp. 140-1).

It is perhaps significant that Jung’s qualms about the use of hypnosis and its erotic components arise in the context of the inception of his private psychotherapeutic practice.18

Over the next few years, concern with issues of hypnosis and suggestion disappear from Jung’s writings.

Jung and other doctors at the Burghölzli took up the practice of psychoanalysis, though it is critical to note, again, that what this term denoted had yet to be fixed and circumscribed, and bears scant resemblance to what now bears this name.

Like hypnosis, psychoanalysis was employed at the Burghölzli in an experimental and research-oriented manner.

In the papers that were published at this time, there was little concern with therapeutics.19

Rather, the main concern was with explaining the psychogenesis of pathological conditions.

As the Burghölzli was the main instruction center for psychoanalysis, most physicians who came to psychoanalysis in this period were under the influence of how it was conceived and utilized in Zürich.

Indeed, this directly contributed to its dissemination, as psychoanalysis “Zürich style,” with its focus on the association experiment and research orientation, was presented in a form which lay closer to contemporary psychiatric and scientific norms.

As we have seen, the exploration of patient’s histories and the recollection of forgotten memories already featured in the use of hypnosis at the Burghölzli.

The further dimension that psychoanalysis was evoked to explain was the causal mechanisms behind symptoms and delusional formations. In 1911, Forel (1922, p. 223) had this to say about such work:

Jung and Mäder have analysed a paranoid patient with linguistic disorders who was treated by me long ago in the Burghölzli asylum, and they in part interpreted the meaning of her delusion behind her apparent linguistic disorders.

I had already in the beginning of the nineties put forward the same patient and other similar ones in my clinic in this sense, and remarked that the linguistic ellipses contained a meaning that the patient alone knew.

The issue of suggestion reemerged at the time of Jung’s break with psychoanalysis.

Critically, this involved a reappraisal of the relation of psychoanalysis to suggestion.

In his correspondence with Loÿ, Jung wrote (CW 4, para. 584, translation modified):

It is unthinkable to critical understanding that suggestibility and suggestion can be avoided in the cathartic method.  They are present everywhere…, even with Dubois and the psychoanalysts, who all believe they are working purely rationally. No technique and no self-effacement help here; the doctor works nolens volens, and perhaps most of all, through his personality, that means suggestively.

Involuntary suggestion, he claimed, played a far more important role than psychoanalysts had been willing to admit (para. 645).

If this was the case, it would not be possible to develop an objective psychology and psychopathology

from the clinical encounter, as Freud claimed, as it would be impossible to rule out the role of suggestion.

If, for Jung, Freud’s claims for the distinction between psychoanalysis and suggestion were untenable, this led him to reappraise the role of suggestion.

His considerations on the topic had important effects on his subsequent work, and the modes in which he presented it.

For Jung, conscious suggestion was to be avoided as far as possible.

However, the problem was that the suggestive effect was not limited to conscious suggestion or commands but to the very structure of psychotherapy.

In 1935, Jung (CW 16, para. 3) gave this wide definition of suggestion therapy:

“To suggestion therapy belong all those methods which claim and employ a knowledge or interpretation of other individualities.”

Psychoanalysis would certainly fall under this rubric.

At the same time, Jung did not doubt the efficacy of suggestion.

His problem with it lay in its irrationality.

In 1929 he wrote (CW 16, para. 315): As regards the maturation of the personality, the analytical approach is considerably higher than suggestion, which is a type of magical method that works in the dark and never makes ethical demands upon the personality.… Naturally suggestion can only be avoided if the doctor is conscious of its possibility.  Unconsciously there is enough and more than enough suggestive effect remaining. 20

Thus the presence of suggestion in psychotherapy was ineluctable.

In 1946, he wrote: “Suggestion happens of its own accord, without the doctor’s being able to prevent it or taking the slightest trouble to produce it” (CW 16, para. 359, note 19).

At the beginning of his correspondence with Freud, as cited earlier, Jung had highlighted the significance of the rapport in psychoanalysis.

He continued to stress its importance in psychotherapy.

In 1924, he stated that through taking an anamnesis, one established “what the old magnetisers

and later the hypnotists called the ‘rapport’” (CW 17, para. 181).

He claimed that this formed the only safe means to tackle the unconscious.

A further concern that the problem of suggestion gave rise to, which played a critical role in Jung’s presentations of his theories, was the difficulty of ruling out the charge of suggestive influence.

In 1911, Jung took up a short article by an American woman, Frank Miller, as the basis for his

Transformations and Symbols of the Libido.

Many years later, in 1957, he (Jung 1977, p. 339) explained his reasons for basing this study upon a

woman whom he had never met to Richard Evans:

I was always a bit afraid to tell of my personal experiences with patients because I felt that people might say it was merely suggestion, you know. I took that case because I had no hand in it. It was old

Professor Flournoy, an authority….I knew him personally very well, a fine old man, and he certainly wouldn’t be accused of having influenced the patient. And that is the reason why I analyzed these fantasies.21

As Jung saw it, he could not present his work with patients as evidence for his theories, as such work would be open to the charge that the phenomena in question were due to suggestion.

This raised the problems of how to establish the proof for his theories and how to present them.

For Jung, the solution took the form of a comparative historical and cross-cultural study of the individuation process—preeminently, in his study of alchemy.

In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, he stated that it was his encounter with alchemy that enabled him to substantiate his ideas, through providing them with a historical basis (1963, p. 226).

Jung claimed that alchemy and spiritual practices in other cultures demonstrated that the phenomena he was observing were not artifactual products of his suggestions.

Thus it is not incidental that in his published writings Jung did not turn primarily to the extended presentation of case material to support his theories, but rather to the comparative and historical study of symbolism, i.e., to material which occurred independently of his practice.

One reason for this was that in case of material from his practice there was no way to obviate the charge of suggestive influence.

Thus the problem of suggestion had far-reaching ramifications in Jung’s work, and had effects on his treatment of topics, which at first sight appear to be far removed from it.

Further discussion of this issue requires reconstruction of what was actually occurring in Jung’s

practice, which will be taken up elsewhere (Shamdasani 1997).


1) This paper is a revised and expanded version of a paper which originally appeared in a special issue of Psychologie Clinique 9

(2000) on the history of psychotherapy, edited by Jacqueline Carroy, whom I would like to thank.

2) See Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen (1993), The Emotional Tie: Psychoanalysis, Mimesis, and Affect; Léon Chertok and Isabelle Stengers (1992), A Critique of Psychoanalytic Reason: Hypnosis as a Scientific Problem from Lavoisier to Lacan; and François Roustang (1983), Psychoanalysis Never Lets Go.

3) I have only come across one work on the subject: James Hall (1989), Hypnosis: A

Jungian Perspective, which is a contemporary clinical study.

4) On this issue, see my “From Geneva to Zürich: Jung and French Switzerland”(1998), and “Memories, Dreams, Omissions” (1995); and Eugene Taylor, “The new Jung scholarship” (1996).

5) On this issue, see Jacqueline Carroy (2000), “L’invention du mot de psychothérapie et ses enjeux.”

6) Forel’s recommendation strongly resembles what Freud would later call the fundamental

rule of psychoanalysis, to speak whatever came to one’s mind, and the “analysis of resistances.” Freud was certainly familiar with this work, as he reviewed it.

7) In “The aims of psychotherapy” (CW 16, 1929), Jung justified his practice of giving his own associations and ideas to his patients’ dreams with the statement: “As is well known, one only allows something to be suggested that one is anyway already quietly ready for” (para. 95, translation modified). This position enabled Jung both to acknowledge the presence of suggestion whilst delimiting its ramifications.

8) Under the teetotal regime at the Burghölzli, such suggestions were perhaps the closest one could get to an alcoholic drink.

9) Jung/Jaffé transcripts, Library of Congress, Washington, pp. 316-17. The course lists at the University of Zürich indicate that between 1906 and 1909, Jung presented some courses under the title “Psychotherapy with demonstrations,” as well as on hysteria. In 1910, the title of the former changed to “Introduction to psychoanalysis,” which ran until 1913 (Verzeichnis der Vorlesungen an der Hochschule Zürich, Staatsarchiv, Zürich).

10) When they took up psychoanalysis, doctors at the Burghölzli were not initially aware that Freud had abandoned his 1896 seduction theory. This led to the somewhat embarrassing situation for Freud that the theory that they were replicating and “validating” was one that he had discarded.

11) Dubois was a major figure in the landscape of early-twentieth-century psychotherapy, and his method of rational persuasion was highly influential. On his relation to suggestion, see my “Claire, Lise, Jean, Nadia, and Gisèle: Preliminary Notes towards a Characterisation of Pierre Janet’s Psychasthenia.”

12) In 1913, Jung stated that psychoanalysis had nothing to do with the work of Dubois (CW

4, para. 527). In his “On the history of the psycho-analytic movement”(SE 14) Freud claimed that the Zurich school had merely made a detour via Vienna, to end up in Berne, where Dubois cured with ethical encouragement.

13) See also Makari’s (1997) “Dora’s hysteria and the maturation of Sigmund Freud’stransference theory: a new historical inter-pretation.” One might further conjecture that part of the appeal of Freud’s concept of the transference, as presented in the Dora case, over Janet’s concept of the somnambulistic passion was the implication that responsibility for therapeutic failures lay on the side of the patient. Some support for this view is found in Sándor Ferenczi’s diary entry of 4 August 1932, where he critically notes that among the things he learnt from Freud was “the seeking and finding of the causes of failure in the patient instead of partly in ourselves” (in Dupont 1988, p. 184).

14) In an account of the same case in 1932, Jung stated that he had twenty students present,

with whom he was supposed to be demonstrating hypnosis and at this point he thought: “‘Now I am in a mess,’ and I prayed to God to perform a miracle on her behalf” (1976, 2:308).

15) In the context of the clinical demonstrations at the Burghölzli, such an occurrence appears to have been not uncommon. Forel had described his practice as follows: “I began with those who had already been hypnotized previously, and thus I saved myself from having to prepare new patients. When the new patients’ turn arrived, they were, as a rule, already so much influenced that they fell asleep at once” (1906, p. 225). Some of the older patients that Jung dealt with, such as Babette Staub, the subject of his On the Psychology of Dementia Praecox (CW3), who called herself Forel’s “star,” were already well “trained” by Forel. In her notes of Jung’s lectures on psychoanalysis in May 1912, Fanny Bowditch Katz records him saying that hypnosis “is often successful, but often not. In certain cases, indispensable. It is more successful where a number are hypnotised together, as one unconsciously imitates the other. He has often treated a dozen or so at the same time, beginning with the easiest subject at one end of the line and finding the last ones already gone when he reaches them” (Countway Library of Medicine).

16) The reference to Breuer indicates that Jung was initially attracted to the cathartic method of Studies in Hysteria. For Breuer, this involved getting the patient to talk under hypnosis. In his account of the case of Lucy R., Freud described how he had been led to abandon hypnosis and use Breuer’s procedure in a waking state as he had found that he had not been able to bring as large a percentage of cases into somnambulism as Bernheim had done. In dispensing with induced somnambulism, he took his cue from Bernheim, who had demonstrated that the memories of events in somnambulism were only apparently forgotten, and could be recalled in a waking state (Studies in Hysteria, pp. 107-9). Bernheim had dissolved the concept of hypnosis under the rubric of suggestion.

17) Janet presented this notion at the International Congress of Experimental Psychology in Munich in 1896 and reprinted in his Névroses et idées fixes (vol. 1, pp. 113-143). Jung had a copy of this work in

his library. 18) In 1907, in a paper he co-wrote with Frederick Peterson, Jung put forward a

qualified view on the utility of suggestion, based on diagnostic criteria. They noted that the skilled physician was able to affect acute hysterical states with suggestion, but not in cases of dementia praecox (Jung and Peterson, “Investigations with the galvanometer and pneumograph in normal and insane individuals,” CW 2, para. 1068).

19) For an example, see Nelken (1912),“Analytische Beobachtungen über Phantasien eines Schizophrenen.”

20) It is important to note that Jung did not doubt the efficacy of magic. This topic will be taken up elsewhere.

21) Frank Miller’s article, however, was heavily shaped by Flournoy’s conceptions. See my “A woman called Frank”(1990).


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