Friday, September 26, 2008

Journeying with Jung 5

Chapter 4:  The Geology of the Person:

Again Hayman has come up with a gripping chapter title.  I am reminded that Freud, under the influence of the archaeologist Friedrich Schliemann spoke about the archaeology of the person, namely that he perceived a layering effect in the human psyche, and hence we have what is commonly termed as the topographical model of the psyche.  One might add that Hayman is arguing the same thing with respect to Carl Gustave Jung that here we have an insight into Jungian topography of the psyche.

Search for Meaning:

Jung was not quite 20 years of age when he entered the University of Basel as a medical student where as a young enthusiastic and idealistic student he was expecting anatomy and physiology to provide an explanation of what life might mean.  Here he came under the influence of Professor Friedrich Zschokke.  This man spoke about what he termed the "geology of the person" maintaining that everything we find in the human person can be found in the course of evolution.  Followers of this theory, like Jung, would argue that "ontogenesis recapitulates phylogenesis,"  a theory and terminology proposed by the biologist Haekel, meaning that the lifelong development of the individual human body goes through the same stages as the evolution of the human race.  If such could happen for the human body, then something parallel could happen for the human mind.  Hence we had Haekel arguing for a phylogenetic psychology which focused on the phylogeny of the soul.  (Op. cit., 30)  Jung was a firmly convinced follower of this school of thought.  Obviously this is a one-sided theory that forgets about the influence of the environment on all creatures.

All of this heady stuff, along with much personal and spiritual experiences, convinced Jung of the importance of the pursuit of meaning in life.  Hayman points out that it was a source of puzzlement to him that other people "were not going all out" to discover the purpose of life:

'Whenever we look for the real reason, we reach the great void, an area of the vaguest hypotheses.  Our flimsy intelligence simply stops functioning at the point where the true explanation starts.'  Throughout his long career, Jung's priorities lay substantially unchanged, and he revealed them when he exhorted his audience to 'abandon the safe path that has been laid out for us by the esteemed scientists and acclaimed philosophers, to make our own independent sorties into the realm of the unfathomable, to pursue nocturnal shadows and bang on doors which DuBois-Reymond has locked permanently with his little key saying Ignorabimus. (We shall not know.)'  (ibid. 39)

Jung's Spiritualism, Séances, the Occult and Parapsychology:

Jung was surrounded by a sense of religious realities, mainly the Swiss Reformed Church, of which his father and eight of his uncles were ministers.  However, as a young boy he had little time for the official church or indeed his father with whom he had a very poor relationship.  This church did nothing for him on a personal level.  Then his mother was a highly-strung spiritual woman who felt she could get in touch with the spirits from the other world.  No wonder the young boy had a strong sense for the spiritual world.  He felt that he himself had a privileged access to the experience of God in his own life - unlike his father.  Let me return to Hayman again:

It was natural that Jung gravitated towards spiritualism.  His cousins had talked about strange goings-on in the family, and the vogue for seances, which had started in the USA during the 1840s, had spread to Europe during the 1850s.  Nor would psychology and spiritualism have seemed unconnected.  One mainstream approach to the unconscious was through the activities of mediums.  Some of the most eminent thinkers and doctors - William James, Théodore Fluornoy, Frederick Myers - became involved in parapsychology.  (ibid., 32)

It is also interesting to note that the inveterate reader devoured some seven books by the eighteenth-century Swedish scientist and mystic, Emanuel Swedenborg who was convinced that dreams offer direct access to an otherwise invisible world from which angels and demons exercise influence on everyday life.  It's also interesting to note that the great English pre-Romantic poet, writer and engraver, William Blake was also a disciple of the great Swedish visionary's work.   There are two references to Blake in Hayman's biography but only one refers to Jung directly and that is where the author mentions the psychiatrist's allusion to "introverted sensation types" as being "mystical dreamers, artists and cranks" who focus on the background of consciousness.  Jung assigned both William Blake and himself to this category.  (See ibid., 232).

Jung now organised in his early twenties séances with the encouragement of his mother.  All of these involved working with his cousins.  In fact his mother actually came to the séances while his father lay in bed either ill or having retired early.  Needless to say he was kept in the dark about them.  All of his Preiswerk cousins were intrigued by the occult and the paranormal.  His cousin Helly, four years younger than cousin Luggy fell madly in love with her older cousin Carl Gustave and became jealous of the better looking Luggy whom Carl seemed to prefer.

A Note on Hypnosis:

The eighteenth century Austrian physician, Franz Anton Mesmer is reputed to have discovered hypnotism which was then called eponymously Mesmerism.  While Jean-Martin Charcot, to whom I have alluded with respect to Freud already, thought the hypnotic state to be a pathological one, his rival at Nancy, Professor Hippolyte Bernheim regarded it as a heightened state of suggestibility, and recommended its therapeutic use.  Hayman points out that "for a time the terms psychotherapy and hypnotism were synonymous."  (Ibid., 33)  From his earliest medical years then, Jung was acquainted with hypnosis and learned the technique.

The Intrapersonal:

Jung would certainly not have used this modern term.  Interpersonal relationships refer obviously to how people relate one to another.  An Intrapersonal relationship refers to how an individual related to him/herself.  Returning to Hayman we read:

Most of his fellow students formed relationships with girls, but though he was to go through a long period of trying to find a father substitute, he was already building the foundations for his theory that the psyche's most important relationship is with itself, that the path to spiritual maturity is through the integration of the self.  (ibid., 33)

Above Jung with pipe again!

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