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Collected Letters Vol. I


Dear Mr. N.,                      2 October 1954

Not knowing the case of Mrs. N., I am quite unable to give you any advice how to treat her.

At all events, at that age a psychosis is always a serious thing which transcends all human efforts.

It all depends whether one can establish a mental and moral rapport with the patients. The shock treatment, as a rule, dulls their mental perception, so that there is usually little hope of gaining an influence on them.

I certainly wouldn’t know how you could set about giving her a religious outlook, since you yourself have a merely intellectual conception of the deity. I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that people with a religious outlook would be immune to psychosis.

Such statement would only be true in borderline cases.

The question of religion is not so simple as you see it: it is not at all a matter of intellectual conviction or philosophy or even belief, but rather a matter of inner experience.

I admit that this is a conception which seems to be completely ignored by the theologians in spite of the fact that they talk a lot of it.

St. Paul for instance was not converted to Christianity by intellectual or philosophical endeavour or by a belief, but by the force of his immediate inner experience.

His belief was based upon it, but our modern theology turns the thing round and holds that we first ought to believe and then we would have an inner experience, but this reversal forces people directly into a wrong rationalism that excludes even the possibility of an inner experience.

It is quite natural that they identify

the deity with cosmic energy, which is evidently impersonal and almost physical, and to which nobody can pray, but the inner experience is utterly different: it shows the existence of personal forces with which an intimate contact of a very personal nature is thoroughly possible.

Nobody who is not really aware of an inner experience is able to transmit such a conviction to somebody else; mere talk-no matter how good its intention is-will never convey conviction.

I have treated a great number of people without religious education and without a religious attitude, but in the course of the treatment, which as a rule is a long and a difficult undertaking, they inevitably had some inner experiences that gave them just the right attitude.

It is of course quite impossible to give you a short account of the way in which you attain that inner experience.

It is particularly not true that anyone could say: it is so and so; it is not transmitted by words. I don’t know whether you know something of my writings; there I say a lot about ways and means, but the danger is that when you read such things you get quite confused.

You might have a talk with one of my pupils, e.g. Mrs. Frances G. Wickes 101 East 74th Street, New York.

She could explain things to you better than I can do it in a letter.

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. I, Page 183-184