Tina Keller’s analyses with C. G. Jung and Toni Wolff, 1915-1928.

Tina Keller became acquainted with the study of psychology and the name of Carl Jung through her husband Adolphe Keller, whom she met in the autumn of 1911.
Adolphe Keller had completed theological and philosophical studies at the University of Basel and in 1909 had moved to Zurich to assume the prestigious position of pastor of St. Peter’s Church (Keller 1981; Staehlin 1969).
Adolphe Keller had met Carl Jung during a study group at the Burgholzli Hospital; at that time, Jung was second in command when the psychiatric clinic was under the directorship of Eugen Bleuler, a pioneer in research on schizophrenia.
Adolphe Keller attended the study group to enhance his knowledge of current developments in psychoanalytic theory and practice; he wished to stay informed of these developments because he engaged in pastoral counselling as part of his professional duties.
Tina Keller met Carl Jung in person shortly after she and Adolphe Keller were married in 1912; in fact, during the Kellers’ honeymoon, Adolphe was reading Jung’s recently published book Transformations and Symbols of the Libido (1912).
Jung invited Adolphe and Tina Keller to attend weekly meetings at his home in Kusnacht: Jung was then trying to formulate his own ideas, sorting out where he agreed and where he differed from Freud.
He invited a group of friends to his house for regular open evenings, where he would speak to us and use that audience as a sounding-board.
My husband’s contributions to the discussions were specially appreciated, because of his academic training and his theological and philosophical background. (Keller 1968, pp. B-2 – B-3)
Initially, Tina Keller attended the gatherings to learn about the ideas that were of interest to her husband, but she quickly became interested in them herself.
In addition to attending the weekly discussion group, the Jung and Keller families engaged in social activities together and Adolphe Keller was the Jung family’s pastor, officiating at all important Jung family religious events (Keller 1969, p. 14).
Tina Keller began analysis with Jung in 1915 at the recommendation of her husband; she was experiencing severe anxiety and Adolphe Keller thought Jung might be able to help her. Initially, Jung sent her to Maria Moltzer, a Dutch lay analyst who worked as ‘a woman collaborator of Dr. Jung’s.
Then, as the result of a dream, I transferred to Dr. Jung’ (Keller 1972, p. 5). Keller worked analytically with Jung on and off from 1915-1924; her treatment was interrupted periodically due to external events, such as Jung’s mandatory military service and the demands of her growing family.
In 1924, after an absence from analysis, Keller wished to resume her sessions with Jung.
He was not available, however, because he was departing shortly to study the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico (Jung & Jaffe 1963; McGuire 1978).
Therefore, Jung transferred Keller to Toni Wolff, a former patient of his who had become a lay analyst and his primary associate, with whom Tina worked analytically until 1928.
While in analysis with Wolff, Keller became ‘closer to Dr. Jung.
I now belonged to the intimate circle of pupils around him that participated in his thought’ (Keller 1981, p. 24).
During the analysis with Wolff, Keller continued ‘from time to time. . . [to have] a private session with [Jung]’, and attended his seminars, including ‘that special seminar where Dr. Jung told us of his own development [active imaginations]’ (ibid., p. 24).
Keller was referring to the 1925 seminar on analytical psychology, delivered in 16 weekly lectures from March 23 to July 6, in which Jung ‘briefly discussed the experiences and methods he used to work with the unconscious materials and waking fantasies he experienced during his years of self-experimentation [1912-1918]’ (Keller 1968, p. C-5).
At Wolff’s request, Jung showed Keller part of his Black Books:
Toni Wolff asked Dr. Jung to let me read part of his ‘black book’ where he had described his own ‘active imaginations’ in which, I believe, Toni Wolff had given him the kind of help she had given me. It was a great privilege to thus be allowed to see. (1981, p. 25)
Wolff was also responsible for getting Keller invited several times to Jung’s personal retreat, the tower at Bollingen (1968, p. C-5).
An important personal development occurred during the analysis with Wolff, that is, Keller discovered a deep urge to become a doctor and, with Wolff’s encouragement and despite Jung’s and her husband’s objections, she began medical studies.
‘My husband was shocked, Dr. Jung was discouraging—and yet something in me was stronger than all the obstacles’ (1968, p. C-6).
By 1928, Keller had passed the two preliminary exams required for medical school and had begun working in hospitals and clinics in Zurich (1968, p. C-7).
However, in 1928 the family moved to Geneva to allow Adolphe to pursue a career in ‘an international relief organization for the churches that had suffered from World War I’ (1968b, p. C-7).
Because of the geographical distance, Keller was not able to continue her analysis with Wolff and, with the exception of occasional consultations with Wolff and Jung, Keller’s formal analytic treatment came to an end (Keller-Jung Correspondence, ETH).
However, she did complete her medical studies once the family settled in Geneva and, in 1931, passed the Swiss examinations to secure the credential of a medical doctor.
After becoming a certified physician, Keller ‘set up a private practice. . .on the basis of [her] analysis with Dr. Jung’ and worked ‘as the only Jungian representative in Geneva for nearly 20 years. . .. Dr. Jung sent me patients, and I continued seeing him from time to time’ (1968, p. C-7).
In 1948, when Adolphe Keller retired and their five children had grown up, he and Tina returned to Zurich.
Tina Keller worked in private practice while her husband divided his time between Zurich and Los Angeles, where the Kellers’ elder son lived.
Also in 1948 in Zurich, the informal community of individuals interested in Jung’s work coalesced into a formal training institute.
Tina Keller asked Jung to recommend her as an analytic member of the newly formed organization, but he refused on the grounds that he was ‘old and did not wish to interfere in matters of the Institute’ (1968, p. F-1).
The admissions committee of the Jungian Institute rejected Keller’s application to become a member.
She was upset by the rejection from the Institute as well as by Jung’s refusal to assist her: ‘having been his only representative in Geneva, I could not understand this refusal and I was very angry.
I wrote to Dr. Jung and declared my separation from the Jungian “school” (1982, p. 293). Unfortunately, this letter was not included in the published version of Jung’s correspondence by Princeton University Press, and cannot be located in either the private collections at the ETH or in the Keller Family Papers.
After the disappointing rejections by Jung and the Jungian Institute, Keller continued to work in private practice in Zurich.
However, in the winter of 1958, her husband suffered a stroke while visiting their elder son in the Los Angeles area; at that time, Keller closed her practice and moved to California to care for her husband.
Five years later, Adolphe Keller died (1963).
Tina Keller stayed in California until 1971, at which time she decided to return to Geneva, where she remained professionally active until her own death in 1986 at the age of 99 (P. ~Keller, personal communication, May 17, 2002).
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[Tina] Keller’s analysis with Jung, 1915-1924

When Jung started seeing Keller analytically in 1915, he was 41 years old, a psychiatrist in private practice, and a writer and thinker exploring the fundamental principles of the newly emerging field of analytical psychology.

A year later Jung wrote, but did not publish, the essay ‘The transcendent function’, in which he described the method he developed for working with waking fantasy materials from the unconscious; this method he later termed active imagination (1916). Jung engaged in these self-experiments with active imagination from approximately 1912 to 1918.

According to Jung’s later recollection:

Today I can say that I have never lost touch with my initial experiences.

All my works, all my creative activity, has come from those initial fantasies and dreams which began in 1912, almost fifty years ago.

Everything that I accomplished in later life was already contained in them, although at first only in the form of emotions and images. (1963, p. 192)

Jung further stated that:

The knowledge I was concerned with, or was seeking, still could not be found in the science of those days. I myself had to undergo the original experiences, and moreover, try to plant the results of my experience in the soil of reality; otherwise they would have remained subjective assumptions without validity. (1963, p. 192)

With the exception of this single essay and the seminar on analytical psychology given in 1925, which Tina Keller attended, no other information on Jung’s personal technique of active imagination was known to the public.

When Tina Keller began analysis with Jung in 1915, she was 28 years old.

She had been married three years, was the mother of two young children and pregnant with a third, and was active with the duties of a pastor’s wife; all the while her personal life was ‘inundated with intuitions and fears’ (1968, p. B-5).

Her husband’s concern regarding her symptoms of anxiety led him to seek advice from his friend Carl Jung. According to Keller, ‘Dr. Jung proposed psychoanalysis because my husband complained of my irrational fears’ (1968, p. B-4).

‘I seemed neurotic to my  husband. He could not understand such irrational fears and was irritated’ (1981, p. 11).

She went on to explain that:

Dr. Jung did not consider me ‘sick’. He said my fears were a symptom, showing that I was in a growth-process he called ‘individuation’. He believed the symptoms were necessary to keep me from escaping the process; the fears, he believed, would only disappear, as I became more mature. This might take a very long time. In fact, ‘individuation’ is a life-long process. . .(1981, p. 11)

She reported that Jung wanted to ‘strengthen my ego, for he believed it was overwhelmed by the strong personality of my husband’; and in that regard, Jung encouraged her to ‘follow that which is alive in you and it will lead you to God, even if it seems to go in another direction’ (1981, p. 26).

My husband believed that my state of anxiety would disappear after a few sessions and dream interpretations, just as he had seen physical symptoms disappear in some of the people he treated. But Dr. Jung knew that real analysis would take a long time; he knew it would affect my religious attitude, and this might easily endanger my marriage. (1972, p. 4)

Keller then discussed her husband’s concern that the analysis should free her permanently from the anxieties (1972, p. 4).

In fact, Adolphe Keller wrote a number of letters to Jung expressing his concerns that the analysis was making his wife’s fears worse rather than better.

Keller’s early analysis coincided with the years of Jung’s own self-experimentation.

Keller reported going to sessions and seeing Jung’s personal active imagination paintings and writings in plain view; in fact, Jung was instructing Keller on the method he was using to explore his own unconscious.

‘Dr. Jung wrote in his “black and his red books” during emotional upheavals and during the period of discovery described his “visions” and then wrote dialogues and commentaries. . .sometimes these paintings would be visible in Jung’s consultation room’ (1981, p. 25).

During Keller’s analysis with Jung, he focused primarily on her symptoms of anxiety and confusion concerning religious matters, and in that regard, Jung’s primary goal was to strengthen Keller’s ego.

Outside the sessions, he encouraged her to continue the analytic process by working with the unconscious material on her own.

It was difficult for her to find time to devote to writing down her dreams and associations to every symbol.

The demands of the outside world often pulled her away from finding the quiet and solitude needed to focus on her inner world.

‘Dr. Jung felt that my being pulled in both directions, outward and inwards, had a great advantage. . .because inner and outer must interact, and Jung was quite firm on the necessity of outer achievement as part of “individuation”’ (1968, p. B-14).

Jung helped Keller learn ways to live in both the ‘real’ world and the analytic world, especially when the two collided. Keller credited Jung with teaching her a lifelong technique to communicate between the two worlds:

Dr. Jung taught me mental hygiene and showed me how by giving into inner needs such as time for solitude, even extra sleep and relaxation, I would find energies freed for my jobs. The small acts of preparing, finding time, silence, concentration, even buying a special notebook (not writing on scraps of paper) improved the results.  Jung told me that whatever I did for the sake of my soul would profit me. (1968, p. B-13)

About herself, Keller stated that ‘there seems to be a real need for me to live close to a border, where fantasies can play, where intuition can catch glimpses of realities that are beyond visibility’ (1968, p. D-3).

In addition to the support Jung gave her on improving the quality of her external life, he also taught her various methods and techniques for communicating with the unconscious.

‘I had to learn to let the so-called “unconscious” come up. . .and for a long time I did not succeed.  One is so used to logical thinking, that letting things “come up” spontaneously seems almost impossible’ (1981, p. 15).

To help relieve Keller’s anxiety outside sessions, Jung encouraged her to express her feelings by techniques that necessitated active participation and communication between conscious and unconscious materials.

In this regard, Keller experimented with various forms of writing and painting from the unconscious.

The primary writing techniques with which Keller experimented were spontaneous writing (a form of automatic writing) and letters written to Jung not intended to be mailed.

The practice of spontaneous writing became a lifelong technique for Keller.

She highlighted its importance when she stated that ‘probably the most valuable result of my work with Dr. Jung is that I have today a technique that allows me to connect unconscious elements with my thinking and my actions in a continuous way’ (1968, p. B-16).

You will have read in Jung’s autobiography about his ‘black book’. What I am trying to describe began with a similar effort on my part to obtain release from stress by spontaneous writing—just writing as fast as possible without any reflections. Having done that during my analysis as a means of giving vent to inner pressure, I later began to do it as regular daily meditation. But by dint of writing every day I found a technique which resembles taking regular breaths of fresh air. I then seem able to combine my rational thinking with intuition, which makes me see things in a different light; now and then a whole new vista seems to open up. (1968, p. B-16)

Spontaneous writing helped Keller learn to deal with her moods and discomforts.

‘When one could not sleep, for example, Dr. Jung believed that the unconscious had something to say and one should get up and write to find out what was waiting for expression’ (1972, p. 7).

The practice of spontaneous writing proved to be of ‘inestimable value’ to Keller because by means of this writing technique ‘reason can be complemented by irrational elements’ (1968, p. B-16).

Pierre Keller, her younger son, reported that as a child growing up in Geneva in the 1930s, he remembered watching his mother fill numerous small notebooks with her writings; unfortunately, these primary materials no longer exist (personal communication, July 2002).

Keller described her method and writing procedure in the following way:

I put rational questions concerning my actions and feelings, then I would allow spontaneous answers to come up. There is a difficulty. So easily the intellect would take over and it needed a lot of practice to catch the spontaneous flashes or images of sentences that intuition lighted up for a moment. . .. I developed a more and more adequate technique, and it has corrected and directed my daily life to an extraordinary degree. (1968, p. B-16)

Jung helped her learn the method of active participation between her conscious and unconscious elements via this technique.

‘Instead of waiting for the pressure to build up I took my daily experience and let it become an interweaving of rational and irrational elements as a continuum. I cannot sufficiently stress such techniques as a means toward balance’ (1968, p. B-16).

Another technique Jung taught Keller was the writing of letters to him that she did not intend to mail. She explained the origin of this practice in these words:

Dr. Jung had told me quite early in my analysis:

‘You must begin preparing for the time when you will not be coming here. You always have questions; even as you leave my office, new ones come up. Write these questions out as letters to me. But you need not mail them; in the measure that you really want an answer and are not afraid of it, an answer will emerge from deep inside yourself’. (1972, p. 9)

Keller reports trying, but having no luck: ‘I tried, but nothing came’ (1972, p. 9).

Jung encouraged her to persist despite the initial difficulties she encountered.

Regarding her method for writing spontaneous unmailed letters to her analyst Jung, Keller explained her technique as follows:

I wrote down questions, in particular as they touched on my growth process, and allowed a spontaneous commentary to emerge. At first there came chaotic fragments, as I have said, and it took time and much patient practice before more and more meaningful sentences appeared. Now and then there would come a fragment like a story or a fairy tale. . .. Sometimes, it is helpful to imagine a person to whom I direct the questions; then the technique resembles what Jung has termed ‘active imagination’. (1972, pp. 9-10)

In these unmailed letters, different aspects of her personality came to the forefront.

In what appears a precursor to contemporary object relations theory, Keller wrote about what it was like to identify and communicate with various aspects of herself:

I felt like a whole family holding many different opinions but obliged to reach a joint resolution.

I was perplexed to find inside me all these ‘persons’ pulling in different directions.

More and more frequently, however, I would get a reliable answer to a question, one that seemed to be a synthesis born of patiently listening to the various voices. (1972, p. 10)

When she reported having difficulty with the technique, Jung answered very seriously: ‘But surely you know what it means to pray’ (1972, p. 9).

At this time, Keller began her daily writing practices while kneeling on the floor in an attitude of prayer.

‘Later a voice of synthesis emerged and also through my prayerful attitude, the writing became a kind of religious experience. It has continued to be more and more reliable’ (1968, p. B-16).

Tina Keller’s paintings by means of active imagination in the Keller Family collection include one in which Keller is on her knees, apparently reflecting Jung’s suggestion to assume a prayerful attitude.

Keller believed that in teaching her these writing techniques, Jung had provided a standpoint from which to view the psychological aspect of living; he had instructed her about the construction of the conscious and unconscious dimensions of the human mind, valuing what was not conscious in equal measure to what is, and teaching her techniques to help the two parts communicate.

‘I would say one of the biggest contributions Jung has brought is that he has shown us that the relation can be made with the unconscious and fragments of the unconscious can be incorporated and integrated inside our reasonable life’ (1969, p. 53).

In addition to the writing practices she employed, Keller followed Jung’s example and began to paint images from her unconscious.

‘I painted, just expressing feelings in colour. The fact of finding an expression for confused emotions is each time a relief. Each picture that seemed an authentic expression was a step on the way of making order in chaos’ (1981, p. 14).

Sometimes painting would free me from inner pressure. I did a lot of painting. 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. (1972, p. 7)

In a general description of her painting process she described how she worked with the intense emotions that arose in her mind:

While feeling anxiety I tried to let an image emerge. Behind a state of emotion an image is concealed. If you succeed to see this image the emotion is being mastered. (Sometimes the image moves, is in action and demands your action and decision.) As I sat in the dusk [,] this image, which I then painted [,] emerged. (n.d., Keller Family Papers, Geneva)

Near the end of her analysis with Jung, Keller described seeing waking visions of a frightening figure:

‘One evening, sitting alone in my husband’s study while he was at a meeting, I “saw” in imagination a dark man sit opposite to me in a very straight-backed chair’; Keller and the dark figure then engaged in a brief interchange which Keller wrote about in her notebook and painted.

The conversation went as follows:

‘I am your doctor’, a voice seemed to say and, as I looked up, in imagination I saw a tall dark man sit on that ornamentally carved armchair. . .opposite me. ‘I do not need a doctor’, I replied, but he answered coldly, ‘I can wait’. There was a sarcasm in the tone of voice that made me shiver. . .(1982, p. 283)

Keller responded with intrigue and fear; she was ‘partly fascinated, partly afraid of him’ (1981, p. 22).

She went on to relate how, when she showed Jung the fragments of dialogue, ‘he was interested and laughed; it was the attitude of a scientist being shown an interesting specimen, for he saw how I had picked up from the unconscious fragments that were foreign to me’ (1981, p. 22).

She went on to state that after that encounter ‘no continuation came till [,] when working with Toni Wolff [,] “the black doctor” (as I called him) came more and more frequently and a whole dramatic story unfolded’ (1981, p. 22).

The black doctor she came to call Leonard, and he figured in several of her paintings and writings. Keller believed that ‘Jung’s reaction when he read of my account somehow prevented the first imagination from continuing’ until her work with Wolff (1982, p. 285).

Regarding the existence and perseverance of Leonard, whom she equated to the ‘dark’ part of her mind, Keller stated that this intense intrapsychic presence ‘might have really been dangerous and unbalanced me if it had not been for Toni Wolff’ (1969, pp. 41-43).

With Dr. Jung [Leonard] was already there, and twice in my almost automatic writings I wrote a fragment of seeing this figure, and Dr. Jung laughed. He thought it very original, but he did nothing about it, and it only became alive when I was with Toni Wolff. . ..The image of this powerful man. . .might have really unbalanced me. (You see it would not have come to consciousness; it would just have undermined me somewhere, and what it would have done to me I don’t know). (1969, p. 43)

Keller was taken aback by Jung’s response. After writing that fantasy material was ‘the basic principle of all psychoanalytic treatment’ (1913, para. 418), he laughed when Keller presented this piece of her fantasy material.

By means of an explanation for his reaction to her material, Keller wrote that ‘he was after all experimenting just like a surgeon who is trying out new methods. . .these things cannot be learned otherwise than by trial and error’ (1969, p. 43).

She took a break from her analysis with Jung. ‘I interrupted my analysis with Dr. Jung. I knew I would have to go deeper later, but I felt I must for a time take distance. Dr. Jung respected my feeling and I left’ (1968, p. B-21).

In 1924, Keller felt the need to resume her analysis.

Suddenly I needed to return to Dr. Jung.

In the first session, when I was so glad to be  back, Dr. Jung spoke of his imminent journey to New Mexico to study an Indian tribe [Hopi]. We then decided I would go to his best woman collaborator, Toni Wolff. (1968, p. B-22)

Her motivation at the time was due to her need ‘to discuss with C. G. Jung himself certain problems he had stimulated in me.

I needed again to speak of these inner experiences that were so alive in me’ (1981, p. 19).

When Keller was transferred to Wolff in 1924, nine years after beginning analysis with Jung, she was 37 years old; Wolff was 36.

At that time, Keller had intended to wait for Jung to continue her analysis; she saw the time with Toni Wolff as an opportunity to learn more about Jungian psychology:

‘I planned to ask her to teach me some theory while I was waiting for Dr. Jung’s return’ (1972, p. 11).

However, it became apparent in her first session that Toni Wolff would become her primary analyst.

Keller was in analysis with Wolff from late in 1924 until the family moved to Geneva in 1928.

During the four year analysis, Keller had a number of waking fantasies related to the dark figure from her unconscious, ‘the dark doctor’ [‘der schwarzer Arzt’] or ‘Leonard’, which were very distressing.

Keller was able to achieve a rapprochement with this figure from her unconscious with Wolff’s assistance and the use of active imagination in writing, painting, and bodily movement.

Keller continued using the practices of spontaneous writing and painting she employed while in analysis with Jung, but a new element arose in her work with Wolff, that is, a kind of psychological dance which Keller described as analogous to psychodrama (1972, p. 12).

Wolff had no formal university degree or credentials, and she worked as a lay analyst. According to Keller, this lack of academic qualification did not impair her skilful practice of psychotherapy.

She speculated, based on her own experience of being in analysis with Toni Wolff, that:

[Wolff] helped Dr. Jung in his confrontation with the unconscious. It is very dangerous to be alone in such a confrontation, [Jung] would now and then say, how close he had felt to insanity. But Toni seems to have been able to accompany him into those dangers and thus to anchor him to reality. (1968, p. C-1)

For Keller, Wolff created a ‘special atmosphere and a sheltered place where one felt protected’ and thus served as a catalyst:

In her presence the emotions I felt as tension were translated into images. She stood as mediator between imagination and outer reality; she was fully with the process, and at critical moments she intuitively said the right words. Her action was certainly beyond psychology; I think of her works as ‘art’ and she was a most gifted therapist. (1972, p. 11)

According to Keller, Wolff ‘was aware of the difficulties involved in an analysis’ and, therefore, ‘allowed a patient in distress to call her at any time. I think with intense gratitude of my work with Toni Wolff and of the way she was able to meet the very real dangers that threatened me’ (1972, p. 11).

In discussing Wolff’s special ‘medium like’ quality as a lay analyst, Keller reported that Wolff possessed ‘a very curious faculty’ in that:

She ha[d] the pictures, and in this case Toni was like a catalyst, and the picture was projected outside. . .because of her being with you in it, you were not afraid. I  remember in one of the pictures[,] I painted. . .the dress she was wearing[,] as if that were the kind of protection that her presence was. (1969, p. 34)

Keller stated that in Wolff’s analytical presence ‘inner pressure became images.

Already in the first session, the inner pressure I was under became acute and I suddenly wept. I also have a remembrance, as if there were movements, as of shadowy figures moving in the room’ (1981, p. 19).

Distinguishing between the two analyses, Keller stated that while before [with Jung] I was learning to deal with irruptions from the unconscious spontaneously, now I was going to confront the unconscious process, consciously meeting it.

Therefore Dr. Jung had tried to strengthen my ego through challenging me to conscious discussion. He knew it needs a strong ego for such confrontation with unconscious dynamic images. (1981, pp. 19-20)

Keller described her experience of the ‘shadowy figures’ as follows: ‘Toni wanted me to let the images come, when on evenings at home I began to be full of fears’ (1968, p. C-14).

One evening as I sat in the dusk, expectant, I saw a great door. Behind it I knew there was pain and horror, which for the present I was not meant to see. The door was ajar, and beside it I could distinguish an oversized figure in a dark blue cloak holding a light. I was told that this was the ‘guardian of the threshold’. Through the door from inside the place of horror came a process of several figures reminding me of ancient symbolical plays called ‘death-dances’ [‘Totentanzen’]. I recognized the leader as the ‘doctor’ I had seen in my husband’s study. (1982, p. 286)

She wrote out conversations with these figures in her automatic or spontaneous writings and she also painted this scene. She stated that in those days she was ‘living inside an “active imagination” that continued in the background, even while I lived my ordinary every-day life, full of home duties and studying’ (1981, p. 20).

Although these occurrences were stressful, she stated that it was also ‘a great relief to see images, instead of merely being under intolerable pressure’ (1981, p. 20).

In subsequent sessions with Wolff, the dark doctor and other characters in her images became activated.

One day I again felt the pressure of emotions, but also knew words to be quite inadequate. . .as Toni encouraged me to express in any way I felt like, I suddenly said: ‘I think I could dance it’, and the session became a kind of pantomime or dance although I had no technique. It was the beginning of bodily expression. (1968, pp. C-5 – C-6)

From this time forward, Keller took dance lessons from professional teachers; it was a practice she maintained throughout her life. In addition, she sometimes used dance and body movement in her own work with analysands.

During the time she lived in California, she worked with Trudi Schoop, a professional dancer; the two women held weekly groups of combined discussion on psychological topics followed by movement exercises (Keller 1967).

‘The daily practice of movement and body awareness has become the technique that best helps me to combine the opposites and all the various pulls in all directions into a unified pattern’ (1968, p. B-17).

Leonard’s presence in Keller’s mind caused psychological distress and stirred intrapsychic controversy about her religious convictions. He frightened her at times by communicating images in the active imaginings ‘that warned [her]’ and threatened her religious convictions; she stated firmly to Leonard that she would converse with him only ‘with Christ or not at all’ (1981, p. 23).

It was most important I had the protection of Toni Wolff during this critical time.

I went to her twice a week, but I also had many conversations at home. . .I painted many pictures and even in these Toni’s presence seemed a safe anchor. But it was the reality of my religion that made me see clearly when I must stand firm. (1981, pp. 22-23)

Keller had numerous encounters with Leonard.

She stated that by virtue of these encounters she was learning a new orientation to being:

I was living in two worlds or rather in a borderland between them. Whatever Leonard might be, his function was to help me join my separate worlds. . .. He stimulated and encouraged my desire for medical knowledge. . ..He seemed to confront me with  the dark side of life, with what I would rather be blind to. It seemed that Leonard was offering me his help for a new orientation. One of his guidelines was the acceptance of change: I must learn to think of all human conditions as relative and transitory, also human relationships, even marriage and children. (1982, p. 288)

She further stated that during the period when Leonard was an active figure in her analysis, Wolff encouraged her to do writings and paintings using active imagination when she was at home.

Keller had a mixed response to Leonard.

On some occasions he was helpful and non-threatening, such as the times when he suggested she pursue a career in medicine or when he gave her an occasional ‘brilliant flash of intuition’ (1981, p. 23).

At other times, however, Keller was terrified by this figure from her unconscious.

She understood that his existence could be viewed by some as a psychological possession: ‘I am fully aware of the danger of “possession”, even if it is thought of as possession by a psychic complex’ (1982, p. 288).

However, Keller reached a serious impasse and knew she ‘was in a precarious situation’ psychologically (1982, p. 288).

The rapprochement with Leonard came when Keller reached this point of acute psychological crisis.

It was an occasion in which Leonard’s ‘tempter’ side was present, what Keller called his ‘dangerous side’ (1982, pp. 288-89).

The crisis involved Leonard attempting to communicate some occult information to Keller which terrified her for an entire week.

I came to a serious crisis. . ..One day Toni Wolff said out loud for the black doctor to hear ‘if this man has a message for you, he must first translate it in such a way that it can be understood by a modern woman’. As she said this, I had the impression as if a flash of lightning went through the room and I was free. The tension left, the obsession

was gone and never came back. . . I saw the ‘black doctor’ lift his hat and bow to Toni Wolff as he left the room, and I knew he would only come back after he found a way to translate. (1981, p. 23)

It was the work that Wolff did in the session that day with the dark figure inside Keller’s mind that freed her from his grip and the fear of insanity by possession.

Keller concluded by stating that:

I went through the most important part of my analysis [with Toni Wolff]. I owe her an enormous debt of gratitude, for I believed she saved my sanity. . .. The work with Dr. Jung had been the preparation, strengthening my ego so that it would withstand the impact of unconscious images. (1972, p. 11)

Nearly 40 years after this event, Keller wrote in 1981 that, after the memorable session with Wolff, Leonard no longer threatened her sanity.

After that time he became more of an adviser to Keller, ‘in particular in my work, where I am more realistic as Leonard shows me also the negative, and I become more and more aware how I had been too optimistic and overvalued people and their possibilities’ (1982, p. 291).

She also recalled that ‘in later years, when [Wolff] was no more so close  to Dr. Jung, she once asked me to help her do “active imagination”. . ..I then became sadly aware of her difficulty to let her own images emerge’ (1968, p. C-4).

In an interview in 1969, when asked about Toni Wolff’s capacity for active imagination she stated that ‘[Wolff] never had it.

She could “medium” others’ unconscious materials, but not her own’ (p. 53).


Keller was ambivalent about Jung.

She was fascinated by him, attributing her interest to the fact that Jung was ‘a pioneer in a passionate search, trying to look behind the visible into the dark world of the psyche’ (1968, p. B-3).

However, she was also repelled by him, stating that ‘Dr. Jung could be so sarcastic. He made fun of people in an unfeeling way’ (1968, p. B-3).

She went on to say that ‘[Jung] was not the kind of man [she] was attracted to’, concluding that ‘perhaps only a man who did not wish to be labelled “good” could explore the dark unknown? A “good” man, like [her] husband, would keep to the light side of life’ (1968, p. B-3).

In addition to having an ambivalent response to Jung the person, she also had a mixed response to her analysis with him.

He did teach her useful techniques to help navigate her anxieties, but she stated that in general ‘it is difficult to remember what Dr. Jung said in the many sessions I had with him. . .I wondered whether much of our conversation was not a waste of time’ (1968, p. B-11).

She also had doubts about his judgment in recommending psychoanalysis as the treatment of choice for her anxieties considering her personal circumstances; she talked about the advantages and disadvantages of involving a woman with small children in a long depth-analysis.

Dr. Jung, however, felt sure that when I met him I was already in the growth-process and could not have avoided it. So I found myself involved in a long depth-analysis without knowing what I was undertaking. (1968, p. B-4)

There was also the apparent contradiction between what Jung had stated about fantasies being the sine qua non of analytic treatment and his response to Keller’s fantasies when presented in the analysis.

In the 1913 essay, ‘The theory of psychoanalysis’, Jung highlighted the primacy of fantasy as that which fueled the analytic process; but in reality when Keller brought in her initial automatic fantasy writings in the form of conversations with Leonard, the dark internal doctor, Jung laughed at her.

While he found the fantasies ‘interesting’ from a scientific perspective, he did nothing in his role as Keller’s analyst to work on them with her.

Keller believed this negative response from Jung drove the fantasies underground to return only when she had begun analysis with Wolff, who created a special atmosphere where Keller felt safe and who also had a facility with materials from the unconscious which Jung appeared to lack.

Thus there is an apparent incongruity between what Jung wrote and how he actually responded to this particular individual in analysis.

At the age of 94, Keller summarized her view of Jung in the following way:

Even something that is long past, if it still stirs the emotions, is like an undigested meal, a portion of life that one has been unable to assimilate, but also unable to fully reject. My meeting with Dr. Jung, his ideas and personality, was such an undigested portion of my life. His image stood before my mind’s eye as a great rock, blocking my way and outlook. My whole experience involving Dr. Jung’s thought and person seemed like a sphinx to whose question an answer must be found. I had to face the painful fact that I was blind in my admiration and later in my hostility. While blind anger blocked my way I was forced to think and to wait and think again till my emotions gradually calmed down and could see more realistically. (1981, p. 76)

However, despite the negative aspects of Jung and Jungian analysis, Keller did benefit from her encounter with him.

She learned through the writing and painting techniques to work with the warring elements of her psyche, using the technique of active imagination, which she considered of ‘inestimable value’ in the development of her personality (1968, p. B-16).

For example, when Jung suggested she write letters to him that she did not mail, he was teaching her about the strengths within herself that would respond if she persevered in her efforts.

As stated in ‘The transcendent function’, Jung considered the technique of active imagination as more than an adjunct to analysis; he also viewed it as the education of the analysand in a form of self-development that would overcome the limitations and exceed the duration of the analysis.

Because individuation is a lifelong process that continues after the completion of an analysis, Jung taught the technique of active imagination to assist the patient during, as well as after, the analysis.

As Jung stated in ‘The transcendent function’: The transcendent function not only forms a valuable addition to psychotherapeutic treatment, but gives the patient the inestimable advantage of assisting the analyst on his own resources, and of breaking a dependence which is often felt as humiliating.

It is a way of attaining liberation by one’s own efforts and of finding the courage to be oneself. (1916, para. 193)

She concluded by saying that, ‘I would say one of the biggest contributions Jung has brought is that he has shown us that the relation can be made with the unconscious and fragments of the unconscious can be incorporated and integrated inside our reasonable life’ (1969, p. 53).

Regarding her own process of working with the writing and painting techniques she learned from Jung she said, ‘If one is willing to tolerate darkness, one gradually begins to see a little’ (1981, p. 77).

She also talked about numerous writings in her small journals in which she would work through intense feeling states by writing, sometimes in several daily exercises, to reach a more objective view of someone or something that was causing her distress (1981). Keller stated that ‘the most valuable result of my work with Dr. Jung is that I have today a technique that allows me to connect unconscious elements with my thinking and my actions in a continuous way’ (1968, p. B-16).

Jung taught Keller about the psychological aspects of living.

He taught her to value the unconscious in equal measure to the conscious, thus instructing her in how to activate the transcendent function.

Keller also stated that viewing pairs of opposites as relative and not as moral imperatives was a revelation (1981).

For example, the pair of opposites that constitute good and bad is such a case.

  1. G. Jung believed wholeness not goodness must be the goal of human evolution.

This means a fundamentally new orientation [the transcendent function], contrary to the idea that a one-sided ‘good’ can gradually overcome a one-sided ‘bad’. . .I am still [at age 94] in that process. (1981, p. 85)

Keller had only praise for her analytic encounter with Toni Wolff, especially for Wolff’s assistance with the various forms of active imagination. ‘

Active imagination. . .is the incredible mastery with which Toni helped me deal with this powerful figure of imagination [Leonard, the dark intrapsychic doctor] that makes me say that she did for me what Dr. [Jung] could never have done’ (1968, p. C-2).

The analysis with Wolff assisted Tina in two other important ways.

First, Keller discovered dance and body movement as a form of spontaneous active imagination.

From this time in her life until her death, Keller used dance and movement as essential aspects of her self-care regimen and her practice of psychotherapy (1967, 1968).

Second, Keller decided to attend medical school while in analysis with Wolff.

Keller credits Wolff not only with saving her from insanity, but also with supporting and encouraging her desire to pursue medical studies against the advice of both Jung and her husband (1968, p. C-6).


Both Jung and Wolff used various forms of the technique of active imagination in their analyses of Tina Keller.

Jung worked with her fantasies through writing techniques—automatic writing and therapeutic letters to him that she did not mail—as well as encouraged her paintings of active imagination in which she struggled with opposing intrapsychic forces in an effort to achieve a new state of being, which Jung called the transcendent function. Wolff worked with Keller by using both the writing and painting techniques, but additional elements arose in sessions with Wolff that did not occur in sessions with Jung.

For example, Wolff actively engaged in conversations with Keller’s dark doctor figure from her unconscious, and through Wolff, Keller also discovered a form of psychodrama or movement, a dance if you will, to help express through bodily sensations what she could not describe in words. Keller used these various manifestations of the technique of active imagination throughout the course of her long life to help maintain psychological balance by means of actively engaging with unconscious materials to achieve the transcendent function for herself.

She understood that the growth process was something not restricted to being in analysis, and at age 82 stated: ‘the “individuation” process does not stop when there are no more sessions with a therapist’ (1968, p. E-3).


Ce travail historique donne des indications sur les pratiques cliniques de C.G. Jung et Toni Wolff en regardant leur fac¸on de conduire l’analyse de Tina Keller (psychotherapeute et m´edecin suisse) au moment des premi`eres ann´ees d’´elaboration de la psychologie analytique (1915-1928).

Les documents d’origine en anglais et allemand utilis´es pour cette ´etude font partie des ´ecrits autobiographiques de Keller qui dans leur grande majorit´e ne sont pas publi´es. Le pr´esent article donne des informations biographiques sur la vie de Keller et pr´esente en d´etail ses analyses avec Jung et Wolff.

L’accent est missur la technique de l’imagination active et la description des pratiques cliniques de Jung et de Wolff dans ces deux analyses de Keller.

Diese Arbeit dokumentiert aus historischer Sicht die klinischen Vorgehensweisen von C.G. Jung und Toni Wolff mit ihrer Analysand in Tina Keller, einer Schweizer Arztin und

Psychotherapeutin, w¨ahrend der Gr¨ undungsjahre der Analytischen Psychologie (1915 1928). Dieses Themenfeld wird anhand der Untersuchung weitgehendunver¨ Offentlichter Originaldokumente erforscht, in English und Deutsch, die auf Kellers autobiographic Aufzeichnungen beruhen.

Diese Arbeit Biete biographische Informationen ¨ uber Kellers Leben und Details aus ihren Analysen mit Jung und Wolff unter besonderer Ber ¨ucksichtigung der Technik der Aktiven Imagination und der Beschreibung der Behandlungstechnik von Jung und Wolff in Kellers Analysen.

Questo saggio storico documenta la pratica clinica di Jung e Toni Wolff con la loro analizzanda Tina Keller, un medico e psicoterapeuta svizzero, durante gli anni formative della psicologia analitica (1915-1928).

L’argomento viene esaminato mediante l’analisi di documenti in inglese e tedesco, in gran parte non pubblicati, basati sugli scritti autobiografici della Keller.

Ci forniscono informazioni biografiche sulla vita della Keller e dettagli della sua analisi con Jung e con Wolff, che evidenziano la tecnica dell’immaginazione attiva e descrivono la pratica clinica delle analisi di Jung e Wolff con la Keller.

Este ensayo hist ´ orico documenta la pr´ actica cl´ınica de C.G. Jung y Toni Wolf con su analizando Tina Keller, unam´edico y psicoterapeuta Suiza durante los a nos de formaci on de la psicolog´ıa anal´ıtica (1915-1928) El t´opico es investigado por medio del examen de documentos originales, que han estado largamente sin publicar, en ingl´es y Alem´an, basados en los escritos autobiogr´ aficos de Keller.

Ellos presentan informaci ´on biogr´ afica sobre la vida de Keller y detalles de sus an´ alisis con Jung y Wolf, enfatizando la t´ecnica de la imaginaci ´on activa y describiendo la pr´ actica cl´ınica de Jung y Wolf en el an´ alisis de Keller


Jung, C. G. (1912). Psychology of the Unconscious: A Study of the Transformations and Symbolisms of the Libido. CW B.—— (1913). ‘The theory of psychoanalysis’. CW 4. —— (1916). ‘The transcendent function’. CW 8. —— (1925). Analytical Psychology: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1925. —— (1937). ‘Psychology and religion’. CW 11.

Jung, C. G. & Jaffe, A. (1963). Memories, Dreams, Reflections. New York: Vintage Books. Keller, T. (1967). Therapist Course. Keller Family Papers, Geneva. —— (1968). ‘Recollections of my encounter with Dr. Jung’. C. G. Jung Biographical Archive, Boston.

—— (1969). ‘Interview notes’. R. D. Laing Archive, Glasgow, Scotland. —— (1972). ‘C. G. Jung: some memories and reflections’. Inward Light, 35, 1–18.

—— (1981). ‘Autobiography’. Keller Family Papers, Geneva.

——(1982). ‘Beginnings of active imagination—analysis with C. G. Jung and Toni Wolff,

1915-1928’. Spring, 279–94.Keller, T. & Jung, C. G. (1931-1959). ‘Correspondence’. C. G. Jung Archive, ETH, Zurich.

McGuire, W. (1978). ‘Jung in America, 1924-1925’. Spring, 37–53.

Staehlin, J. (1969). ‘Adolf Keller’. Schaffhauser Biographien, 3, 119–29. Thayngen: Karl Augustin.


I would like to thank the Keller family for permission to cite from unpublished materials. I would also like to thank Sonu Shamdasani for his editorial advice. [MS received June 2005; submission accepted January 2006] ~Wendy Swan, Journal of Analytical Psychology, 2006, 51, Pages 493–511