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Jungian Diaspora By Thomas B. Kirsch, M.D.

The Diaspora had a profound impact on the spread of psychoanalysis to the far corners of the globe.

What is not so well known is that the rise of Nazi ism also had a profound effect on the spread of Jung’s psychology.

Before we take on that subject, I would like to make a disclaimer on what will not be covered.

This will neither be a talk on Jung’s relationship to the Nazis nor a direct discussion of his attitude towards Jews, although this issue will come up with all the individuals discussed.

Of course, Jung and anti-Semitism come up whenever Jung’s name is mentioned in psychoanalytical circles, but I want to focus today on Jung’s German Jewish students who were among the principle founders of his tradition outside of Zurich.

It is a most ironic footnote to the history of psychoanalysis when one considers that it was Jung’s German Jewish followers who rekindled spirituality and reconnected it to their Jewish roots, whereas the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, who was also alienated from traditional Judaism, found little of positive value in the spiritual aspirations of mankind.

When the Nazis came to power, there were no official Jungian institutions outside of a lay organization for analysands; no professional societies, no institutes, no training programs.

There were only individuals who had sought out Jung for analysis.

At that time, if Jung thought the individual was qualified to practice his methods, he would write a letter of recommendation to that effect.

Another caveat, I am going to limit my discussion to those Jewish people who sought out Jung before World War II.

There are Jews who became Jungian analysts after World War II who as children either immigrated from continental Europe to other countries, or survived the concentration camps.

They are not the subjects of this paper.

It is unclear who was Jung’s first Jewish analysand.

Sabina Spielrein qualifies as the first but it was before Jung had become a psychoanalyst. In any case, there were four German Jewish patients, later to become analysts, who worked with Jung prior to the outbreak of World War II, and who formed the core of what would later become the German Jewish Diaspora of Jungian analysts.

We do not have the records of who saw Jung, but my father, James Kirsch, began his analysis with Jung in 1928.

At the time he was a young psychiatrist in private practice in Berlin.

He had had two years of Freudian analysis previously.

From 1929 until 1933 he made periodic visits to Zurich where he saw both Jung and Toni Wolff  for analysis.

One of my father’s patients at that time was Gerhard Adler, whom he encouraged to go to Zurich for analysis with Jung and Toni Wolff.

Adler’s best friend was Erich Neumann, who went to Zurich in 1933 and spent a year in analysis with Jung at that time.  Another person in this circle was Ernst Bernhardt, a psychiatrist who had been in analysis with Otto Fenichel, but in the midst of a spiritual crisis, sought out Jung.

There were several others in this small circle of Berlin Jewish men who had analysis with Jung, but I shall concentrate on these four because they were all instrumental in the formation of new Jungian professional groups.

Let me start with the least well known among the four, Ernst Bernhard.

He studied to be a pediatrician, but after a spiritual crisis began an analysis with Jung in Zurich.

He went back and forth between Berlin and Zurich, but in 1935 he left Berlin permanently.

He was refused entry into England, and decided to settle in Rome.

He began his practice as a Jungian, and became friends with Eduardo Weiss, an early follower of Freud and founder of the Italian Psychoanalytic Association.

Weiss became despondent and sought the aid of Bernhardt.

Weiss did not have a formal analysis with Bernhard, but his wife did.

When they immigrated to the United States, Mrs. Weiss, on the basis of her analysis with Bernhard, became a Jungian analyst in Berkeley, California, while Eduardo lived and practiced in Chicago.

Bernhard gave a series of lectures on dream interpretation to the Italian psychoanalytic association in 1937.

When the Italian racial laws went into effect, Bernhard was forced into hiding for the duration of the war.

Through friendship with Giuseppe Tucci, then president of the Italian Institute for Middle and Far Eastern studies, he was able to remain at his residence under house arrest during the war.

Tucci was a member of the fascist party, thus able to protect him.

Immediately after Rome was liberated in 1944, Bernhard resumed his practice as a Jungian analyst and became the founder of the Italian Jungians, which over time has developed into two large Institutes with slightly different orientations.

The founders of both Institutes had their analyses with Bernhard.

Gerhard Adler immigrated to London in 1935.

He had received a Ph.D. in psychology in Berlin, and had already published papers on Jungian psychology while still in Germany.

When he arrived in London, there was already a medical section of Jungian analysts, and he became the leader of the non-medical Jungian section.

His book, Studies in Analytical Psychology written in 1948, is still used as a basic text in analytical psychology.

Theoretical and personal differences developed between Adler and Michael Fordham, child psychiatrist and leader of the medical section of Jungian analysts.

Klein and Winnicott heavily influenced Fordham, while Adler maintained a position theoretically and clinically close to classical Jung.

Eventually a split occurred, and two professional societies ensued.

There are many ways in which one could describe this schism, but that goes beyond the scope of this short paper.

Adler, as well as Fordham, served on the editorial board for the English translations of Jung’s Collected Works.

Later he served as president of the International Association for Analytical Psychology (IAAP) for two terms.

Along with Aniela Jaffe he co edited the collected letters of Jung.

He was often asked to present the views of C. G. Jung before the English public, both on radio and television.  He died in 1988.

Erich Neumann has been considered by many to be Jung’s most creative student.

Born in Berlin in 1905 his early studies were in philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and poetry.

He was most drawn to the mystical side of Judaism without being in anyway orthodox.

He finished his medical training in 1933 in Germany and then he and his wife, Julie, spent one year in analysis with Jung.

As ardent Zionists, they moved to Tel Aviv where they lived until his death in 1960 and hers in 1985.

At first, they set up an informal study group in Jung’s psychology, and in 1958 they were the leaders of a professional group of Jungian analysts from Israel, which became a charter group member of the International Association for Analytical Psychology (IAAP).

Neumann’s son, Micha Neumann, a Freudian psychoanalyst in Israel, has published a paper on Jung’s alleged anti-Semitism based upon the correspondence between Jung and his father.

Space does not permit me to review this entire article

In reading over the excerpts of the letters between Jung and Neumann one finds that Neumann consistently implored Jung to become more involved in the study of Judaism with little success.

Also, he wanted Jung to be more aware of the politics in Europe, which Jung refused to do.

Instead, Jung discussed his research into the spiritual practices of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Even after Kristallnacht, Neumann implored Jung to become involved in the political situation in Europe, but Jung did not.

Micha Neumann concluded that on a personal level Jung and his father had, an uncomplicated, warm, and collegial relationship.

The fact that Neumann was a Jew and Jung a Christian did not seem to influence the relationship in any anyway.

Jung was interested in what Neumann had to say about life in Palestine, and believed that it was good for the Jews to return to their native soil and roots.

In spite of all this, Micha Neumann cannot forgive Jung’s public statements in 1934 about the differences between Jewish psychology and Aryan psychology, and concluded that Jung was anti-Semitic at that time, a sentiment he feels changed only after World War II.

The journey of my father, James Kirsch, is, of course, the one best known to me, and therefore I will spend the most time on it.  As already indicated, my father began his analysis with Jung and Toni Wolff in 1928.

On October 4th, 1930 he gave a lecture to the Analytical Psychology Club in Zurich, entitled “A Contribution to the Problem of the Present-day Jew in the Light of Modern Psychology”.

It was well received, and in fact it was repeated a second time on that occasion in order to accommodate the great interest.

Jung and those close to him were in attendance.

The main topic covered in the lecture was the problem of the modern Jew recently liberated from the ghetto and exposed to Western European culture.

He discussed dreams in which he deciphered the tensions between the ghetto life and the modern assimilated Jew in Germany.

Beyond the substance of the lecture itself, it is of interest to note that this young Jewish psychiatrist was invited to speak before Jung and his students at this particular moment in history.

Given what happens soon after this, it takes on even greater significance

When Hitler came into power in 1933, my father applied for emigration to Palestine the very next day, and left within a few months.

He also advised all those around him to leave as quickly as possible.  He settled in Tel Aviv and began a practice of Jungian analysis there.

Jung was critical of my father for leaving Berlin, and did not think that the situation warranted such dramatic action.

A letter from Jung to a German colleague, Wolfgang Kranefeld, written in 1934, states that Jung thought my father was an “ass” to leave Germany at that time.

One of those who followed him to Tel Aviv was Hilde Silber, at the time a widow with two small children.

She was a patient of his with a strong erotic transference.

We all know that sexual liaisons between patients and their analysts happen too often, especially in the early days, and it was the case here.

They eventually married, and I am the result.

Life in Palestine in the 1930s did not appeal to my father and mother, and so they applied to the Home Office in England to emigrate there.

Jung had just given a series of lectures at the Tavistock clinic, and the man in the Home Office had heard about the lectures.

As a result, my father and mother were allowed entry into England.  He practiced there until 1940, when it looked as if England too, were going to be overrun by the Nazis.

He had relatives in San Francisco, and therefore applied for immigration to the United States.

In the meantime my mother had begun her practice as an analyst.

Jung had sent her a patient, and that was how her career as an analyst was launched.

The trip across the North Atlantic in October of 1940 was extremely dangerous.

Our boat was attacked several times by German U-boats, and in retrospect, we were lucky to survive the trip.

My parents had plans to practice in New York, but the Jungians there did not welcome my parents.

Instead, he visited his relatives in San Francisco, and on the way stopped in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles appealed to him, and so he brought the family there.

He and my mother became the founders of the Los Angeles Jung group and remained prominent personalities within the Jungian community until their respective deaths in 1989 and 1978.

An added complication to this story is similar to that of many other émigrés from Europe.

My father had his medical education at Heidelberg University in Germany, and was not licensed as a physician in the United States.

In 1944 he spent seven months in New York and passed the medical license there.

However, he needed an American internship in order to practice in California.

The year before Otto Fenichel had died of a heart attack while doing his California internship.

My father had fears that the same thing might happen to him, and so did not do an American internship.

Therefore, he never was able to use his medical license in California.

Eventually an angry patient claimed that he was practicing without a license and sued him.

After that he never used his medical degree.  The lack of a proper license hampered him for the rest of his career, as he never became part of the larger psychological and psychoanalytic community in Los Angeles.

The animosity between Freudians and Jungians during that period and my father’s lack of proper California credentials left him and his students marginalized

I have focused on these four Jewish men, because they were all the founders of new Jungian professional groups in foreign countries-Italy, England, Israel, and the United States.

In that sense, these German Jewish men were among the pioneers and founding fathers of the Jungian tradition.

They sought out Jung when they were in the midst of spiritual crises and discovered through him a way to deal with their spiritual issues and Jewish identity.

They were all forced to leave Germany because of the rise of Nazism, and they were all from Berlin.

In many ways their stories were not too dissimilar from what happened to many psychoanalysts.

There were no Jungian organizations at that time, and the Jewish influence in analytical psychology was much less than in psychoanalysis.

Moreover all four of these men had the unenviable position of being Jungian, Jewish, and at the same time having to defend Jung against the attacks of being a Nazi and anti-Semite which began after World War II.

Many other Jewish people, such as Aniela Jaffe, Jung’s personal secretary late in his life, Rivkah Schaerf-Kluger, Sigi Hurwitz, and others were in analysis with the Jung during the 1930s, but they did not have the same organizational impact on the spread of analytical psychology in the world, and so have not been discussed.

The Diaspora had a profound effect on the spread of analytical psychology, and it is a bit of the history that is not well known either by analytical psychologists or psychoanalysts.