On Psychological Insights
Ignaz Tauber: Hans Baumann wants to speak.
Hans Baumann: I wrote Prof. Jung a letter with a problem that has already preoccupied me for a long time.
It was quite difficult to precisely formulate my question in that letter.
I’ve been thinking about it again, and it ends up being the following: In regard to our scientific insights we naturally only have our human sense organs at our disposal, and insofar as all our insights are human insights.
But the object we recognize is outside of the human condition.
On the other hand, wherever we occupy ourselves with psychological problems, it is an introspection.
We are, therefore, in considering the question, simultaneously subject and object.
And for me personally, that makes all psychological insights, in a certain way, doubtful in regard to the numinous.
G. Jung: Yes, this is in effect a somewhat complicated epistemological problem.
There are certain things we must first clarify.
Let’s take the natural sciences, for example.
In the natural sciences you have a so-called real object that is in no way tied to your psyche.
It is independent.
I mean, you can die and the object is still there.
With the psychic it is apparently a wholly subjective business, in that it only functions as long as you psychically function.
But if one examines this more closely, we are actually dealing, in the case of the natural sciences, with insights that hinge on an external object that is difficult to recognize.
Which means, they are conditioned by the object.
How difficult these observations are, demonstrates, for example, modern nuclear physics.
It is extraordinarily difficult to get a picture of what’s happening in nature.
Here we come to a point (as you have correctly emphasized in your letter) where the experiment, or the observation, disturbs the process and distorts it beyond recognition, so that you either can observe it only in part, by sacrificing other things – because if you want to see one thing you have to sacrifice the other – or that the reliability of the observation is completely put in question by the uncertainty principle.
It is therefore not an easy thing to see the “object as is. ” We are always “on the way towards it.”
It follows that all insight is in some way anthropomorphous.
Let’s take, for example, Niels Bohr’s model of the atom, the planetary model.
That is an anthropomorphous model.
If we sort of compare the electrons with planets revolving around a core, it is not really accurate.
Because an electron is rather an electrically charged cloud that cannot be compared to a tiny planet.
These are exactly such “anthropomorphisms,” which also occur in natural sciences.
Now, in psychology it is also a matter of dealing with the perception of certain processes that are difficult to discern, which actually lay beyond, or are the basis of, our psychological observations.
This you see for example with our dreams.
It is not even certain that they are the way you remember them, but are probably quite different, yet unrecognizable.
Only upon awakening do they clothe themselves in images.
processes in the unconscious they are virtually unrecognizable, equally as much as the processes in the atom.
This is why the conceptualization in modern psychology of the unconscious has remarkable parallels with the terminology of nuclear physics, simply because they both come up against the unknowable.
Now, our idea of psychology is that which I know about these inner processes. That is psychology.
Recently, a university professor told his students that we didn’t really need psychology, because that was what one knew about oneself anyway.
This is exactly as if a professor at the medical faculty would say, “Anatomy you don’t need, that’s what you have, what you are!
And physiology you don’t need either.
After all, you can digest without knowing anything about physiology.
You don’t need a textbook in order to digest. This you are; this you do, you do it every day!”
This shows that there is a general prejudice that assumes the psyche is what we know about ourselves.
But in truth the psyche is precisely that which we don’t know about ourselves!
What we know about ourselves is our consciousness and its contents.
This consciousness, however, is considerably disturbed by objective processes, which in themselves are unconscious and unknown to us; it finds itself in opposition to them.
But we can experience them indirectly through their effects on consciousness, borrowing from it certain images for illustration [of those objective processes].
[In an analogous fashion] we create a model of the atom from certain characteristics that the atom presents, and which remind us of certain conscious contents.
A model, is it not?
And in the same way we create, with what consciousness allows us, models for the processes of the unconscious.
But these processes are the essential ones.
If they did not exist, our consciousness couldn’t function at all.
I couldn’t pronounce the next sentence if I didn’t have the cooperation of the unconscious.
For these are fundamental processes.
These are processes that have to do with the instincts and that have instinctual forms, which one calls archetypes.
The archetypes in themselves can’t be formulated; we don’t know them; they are not visible.
Rather, they are present as active factors, somewhat like the crystal lattice in a mother lye.
There is a lattice system, an invisible lattice system, in a completely amorphous mother lye, which, at a certain point of saturation, i.e. when the point of saturation is attained, becomes effective, namely in that ions are compelled to take certain axial positions through this hypothetical, non-existing structure.
These, then, cause the molecules to settle along these axes, and especially in the axial intersections.
And from that a crystal forms. Exactly thus it happens in the unconscious psyche.
We have an axial system, that is, an archetypal system, which is the foundation of all conscious forms, let’s say, all principal forms.
Because our consciousness is, in turn, also conditioned by the outside, by the non-psychic world, by the material world, the “world of bodies in motion,” which is the definition of reality.
On the other side, however, there is a non-existing, potential axial system that represents the objective psyche.
You can very well compare this to a crystal.
You could say, “This is the psyche of a crystal.”
The crystal has an axial psyche. It’s the same with us.
We also have a mathematical foundation of the human being, the psychic human.
You can observe this in mandalas – there we have a definitive or mathematical structure, an axial system, that brings about infallibly, and in the uncanniest way – certain things that seem quite miraculous to us.
But it is a mathematical structure, as for example the so-called “3 + 1” structure of traditional mandalas.
Let’s take one of the best known: the symbol of the trinity plus one (the devil). That’s a quaternity.
That’s an axial system, and it’s simply an externalization, a projection of the psychic axial system.
It follows that we have in the psyche the so-called subjective conscious processes –
these are admittedly subjective – and the objectively present psychic foundations, which are, strangely enough, not personal but general.
These are the same with the Indian, the Chinese, or the African, or whatever, always the same, in spite of our consciousness being toto coelo different.
This, then, is the collective unconscious, which is impersonal – as impersonal as, for example, the human liver.
The human liver is approximately the same in a Chinese, or an Indian, or an African, or an Eskimo.
Just as the heart and all the fundamental vital functions are about the same.
They are not personal.
It’s not your personal prerogative to have a heart, or your personal achievement
to have a stomach.
It’s not a personal, but rather an objective matter.
The fact that you have a psyche is an objective matter.
You don’t owe this to your own efforts. Neither is it a willful decision of your parents.
Rather, when you are born, you are born with a psyche – in fact, with this psyche, which is everywhere, which even the apes still have, and the dogs, and so on, an animal psyche, a natural anthropoid psyche, to begin with.
It’s an anthropoid psyche. And that is objective, an objective crystalline system.
For example, cooking salt simply has a cubic nature. Water has a hexagonal structure.
It simply has it, so this it is [categorized]. If it doesn’t have it, it’s not water.
You cannot suddenly discover water that crystallizes in another system, or cooking salt. It’s impossible, it’s part of it.
And so, to every living being belongs a psyche that is objective, which we didn’t seek, which is present before we even know it.
Hence there are, for example, children’s dreams that are dreamt at a time when there is not even a continuous consciousness present, where consciousness consists of islands that only later come together as continents.
Children can have dreams that anticipate their whole life. It is already planned; it is the fundamental design.
In such a design, in such a dream, a psychosis may show up, for example, later the child develops schizophrenia.
Or some great catastrophes may appear [in a dream] – and yes, they occur.
Or ideas that later will determine the life of this child already [appear] in its earliest dreams.
And, these are dreamt at a time when consciousness is not even continuous.
That is the objective psyche.
Perhaps you’ve also had the experience of a talented astrologer quietly telling you your whole life story from your horoscope – and it is accurate!
That wouldn’t be possible if not everything were fundamentally laid out and aligned in a synchronistic manner with the positions of the stars.
That is incredibly simple. If one has seen it a few times one is convinced.
So, I ask my patients quite unabashedly and shamelessly, “Do you have your astrological chart with you?”
Then they blush and say, “Yes, just by chance.”
Sometimes they opine that I might be just another biased idiot who would consider such a thing an incredible stupidity.
No, it turns on quite a few lights. It is truly astonishing. And sometimes very uncomfortable.
Once I had an assistant who later committed suicide.
Years before. [ … ]There is such an astrological system.
At the time, I calculated the charts myself because I wanted to find out how they worked. I saw that he had a symbol.
There is a symbol for every degree of the zodiac, from the ascendant, from the moment of birth.
A horse grazing, unaware that it is stalked by a tiger.
The commentary, already printed and available long ago, read, “One who will prematurely disappear through suicide. Before his time.” And so it was.
I had a tremendous shock when I discovered this.
At the time I couldn’t yet tell why this would have to happen. But then it came to pass.
Such things make a deep impression, even when once in a while it isn’t true.
But it provides a perspective; it is interesting.
So, it happened to me, for example, in 1911, when I got acquainted with these things, because I studied the history of symbols at the time.
Then I realized the overwhelming importance of astrology in antiquity. It had an enormous influence.
I first wanted to know something about it before making a judgment.
Then, a little booklet from 1595 or 1596 came into my hands, from an old colleague.
He’d been professor of medicine in Wurzburg, a certain Mr. Goclenius, at the end of the 16th century.
He’d written a nice compendium, a kind of vade mecum for physicians at that time, concerning diagnosis based on chiroscopy, that is, the study of hand lines.
Then there was something else … what was it?
Ah yes, then mainly a treatise of astrology [By Mr. Gocienius] from a medical perspective. Very interesting!
Therein one finds the first individual horoscopes and rather smart questions, for example about the psychological relationship between murderer and victim, how this is expressed astrologically.
The interesting thing is that they are related; the two have similar constellations in their charts.
At any rate, there I read how he’d written categorically, “Mars in medio coeli semper significat casum ab alto” – Mars in the zenith always signifies a fall from high above.
And about two weeks later the chart of the German emperor came into my hands.
He had Mars in medio coeli, meaning, he was a belligerent lord, not an emperor of peace as he was called.
Whoever has Mars above is, according to old tradition, of a belligerent nature.
And then [came the question], “How can the German emperor – by God – fall?”
One couldn’t even imagine such a thing at the time!
But lo and behold, three years later it came to pass.
Then I told myself, “Well, heavens, there must be something to this business!”
Then I started to preoccupy myself seriously with it [Astrology], and I found that it was the old psychology.
It was the old psychology, based on the objective-psychic.
The case with the objective psychic, you see, is such: I have a certain character and a certain individuality, and that consists of imponderables.
It’s something like when you give a wine connoisseur a special wine that you know where it comes from, and this wine connoisseur can tell you, it’s such-and-such year, such-and-such location, and so has to be such-and-such vineyard.
This is possible.
And so, too, is man imprinted at the moment of his birth with the location, the country, his environment, the whole kairos, the moment in time.
And this is expressed in the horoscope.
This is why you can already discern certain predispositions in the horoscope (the
birth chart), which sometimes later in life might play a very big role.
Astrology, in fact, is coming into full bloom in our time, not in the Middle Ages.
There it was in its infancy. In our time, astrology is at its peak.
But when you open the encyclopedia, it says there, “as late as
1722, Lord so and so had a horoscope made for each of his children.” That old fool! Such superstition!
And, of course, the idiots who wrote this didn’t know a thing about it – that real astrological literature only exists in our time!
Only today have we a science of astrology. Never before have so many horoscopes been cast.
I know a professor of philosophy in England who taught an introductory course in astrology – at an English university. Voila, that’s the situation!
In Switzerland we are a bit backwoods; this I would like to have said, mind you: a bit
Well, I am not here to make an apology for astrology.
But that such a thing is possible and has legitimacy is only so because there exists an objective psyche.
The psyche is not a random thing, nor an accident, but a definite, functional disposition that is more or less identical for all human beings, just like the physiological and anatomical dispositions.
Just like everyone has a sternocleidomastoideus, so he also has a certain archetype.
And just as the body is composed of various organs, so the psyche consists of various archetypes, of inborn forms.
These are not inborn ideas, but forms of psychic happenings. They are forms of instinct.
Instinct is not simply a dynamism that does something; rather, instinct is specific and therefore has a specific form. ~Sabi Tauber, Sabi Tauber: Encounters with Jung, Page 145-152