Civilization in Transition

Medical psychology, on the other hand, is very far from being in this more or less enviable position.

Here the object puts the question and not the experimenter.

The analyst is confronted with facts which are not of his choosing and which he probably never would choose if he were a free agent.

It is the sickness or the patient himself that puts the crucial questions—in other words,

Nature experiments with the doctor in expecting an answer from him.

The uniqueness of the individual and of his situation stares the analyst in the face and demands an answer.

His duty as a physician forces him to cope with a situation swarming with uncertainty factors.

At first he will apply principles based on general experience, but he will soon realize that principles of this kind do not adequately express the facts and fail to meet the nature of the case.

The deeper his understanding penetrates, the more the general principles lose their meaning.

But these principles are the foundation of objective knowledge and the yardstick by which it is measured.

With the growth of what both patient and doctor feel to be “understanding,” the situation becomes increasingly subjectivized.

What was an advantage to begin with threatens to turn into a dangerous disadvantage.

Subjectivation (in technical terms, transference and countertransference) creates isolation from the environment, a social limitation which neither party wishes for but which invariably sets in when understanding predominates and is no longer balanced by knowledge.

As understanding deepens, the further removed it becomes from knowledge.

An ideal understanding would ultimately result in each party’s unthinkingly going along with the other’s experience—a state of uncritical
passivity coupled with the most complete subjectivity and lack of social responsibility.

Understanding carried to such lengths is in any case impossible, for it would require the virtual identification of two different individuals.

Sooner or later the relationship reaches a point where one partner feels he is being forced to sacrifice his own individuality so that it may be assimilated by that of the other.

This inevitable consequence breaks the understanding, for understanding also presupposes the integral preservation of the individuality of both partners.

It is therefore advisable to carry understanding only to the point where the balance between understanding and knowledge is reached, for understanding at all costs is injurious to both partners.  ~Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 532