Thursday, October 09, 2008

Journeying with Jung 13

Chapter 12: Our Psychoanalytical Flag:

Every movement needs a flag under which it can promulgate its message.  It also needs a flag-bearer. Freud saw himself being in need of an heir and a flag-bearer.  For him no one would be capable of filling these roles better than Carl Gustave Jung.

Overarching interest in Mythology:

Mythology was a central preoccupation of Jung because he felt it was a veritable quarry for images and symbols which corresponded to the archetypes within the collective unconscious.  After his dream of the four-storeyed house 'archaeology or rather mythology" got him in its grip.  He saw it as a 'mine of wonderful material.  (Hayman, 118).  Exploring the psyche was like going on an archaeological dig and mythology gave such a dig a grand romantic sweep as it were.  Hayman lists his wide reading in the literature of ancient religions and myths and how he visited many archaeological sites.  Jung wrote that 'a thorough understanding of the psyche (if at all possible) will come only through history or with its help."  (Quoted op.cit., 119)  He also read widely in the writings of the theosophists.  Theosophy was founded in New York in 1875 by the scholarly writer G.R.S. Mead and Jung had many of her works in his library.  This movement covered such esoteric subjects as Gnosticism, astrology, Eastern religions, Western philosophy, clairvoyance and telepathy.  Hayman is interesting on why Jung took so readily to mythology:

In the winter of 1909-10, taking myths to represent the common ground between the individual imagination and the consciousness of the race, Jung delegated to Sabina and two of his assistants - the 24 year old Johann Jakob Honegger and Jan Nelken - the task of studying mythology and collecting material that seemed thematically relevant from patients' delusions, hallucinations, fantasies and dreams.  (Ibid., 121)

Professor Zschokke:

None of us can easily forget our earliest of influences.  It was likewise for Jung - he had never discarded what Professor Zschokke had taught him in his early days at university viz., that the growth of the human body parallels or indeed reiterates the whole evolution of the race.  As Hayman puts it, 'If antiquity corresponded to the childhood of the individual, and if mythology could be read like a map of antiquity, Jung might arrive at exciting new insights into the psyche, the spirit, the soul." (Ibid., 119)  This early belief backed up in a more scientific way his abiding interest in mythology.

The Collective Unconscious:

In 1959, when John Freeman was interviewing Jung on the television he said among other things that there was a turning point in his thought and that was that "there is an impersonal stratum in our psyche." (Quoted ibid., 122)  This short sentence is as good a definition as any as to what the collective unconscious is.  Another insight quoted by Hayman further on is that 'while the personal unconscious consists for the most part of complexes, the content of the collective unconscious consist of archetypes.' (Quoted ibid., 122)  Jung defines archetypal images as those with an archaic or primordial character which correspond to familiar mythological motifs.  He outlines three sources of archetypes: dreams, fantasies and the delusions of paranoiacs.  Needless to say, Freud would have agreed with none of this.  However, he did not quite let the father of psychoanalysis in on the whole of it or of its import.

Freudian Autocracy:

Freud saw the psychoanalytic movement as his and his alone, and he could not permit any diversion or bifurcation in its central tenets.  At one stage he writes to Jung stating that he wished to wallop the collective Viennese "behind" for departing from his teachings.  Hayman points out that 'at a November meeting in Vienna, insisting that all hysteria came from memories accumulated between the ages of one and four, he attacked Jung's view that it might be hereditary or somatic in origin.' (Ibid., 124) The differed greatly on the importance and on the role of mythology in psychotherapy.  While they spoke spoke about this subject in their letters, it is obvious that they were trying not to provoke one another.

Freud, as I have stated, was by temperament an atheist who considered himself a scientist (though this contention is open to debate) and he was very critical of the role of religion in the psyche and said:

It occurs to me that the ultimate basis of the human need for religion is infantile helplessness, which is so much greater in man than in animals.  After infancy he cannot imagine a world without parents, and invents for himself a just God and a kindly nature, the two worst anthropomorphic falsifications he could have perpetrated. (Quoted ibid., 125)

On the other hand, Jung was obsessed with the ideas he had imbibed at his mother's knee - a keen interest or blatant obsession with things of the spirit and with the other world or the occult.

It was Jung's view, then, that psychosis brings us into direct confrontation with the symbols that fill the unconscious and that these have more of a connection with mythology than with the individual.  Freud would not have seen symbols as primary.  Rather, for him, they were very much in a secondary position to language, history and personality itself.

Freud also wielded a 'literary dictatorship' over the official publication of the psychoanalytical movement - The Yearbook. Freud writes to Jung, who was the journal's editor: 'You will reprimand the Viennese, and I will deal with the Zurich people when they wander off on their own.  These reviews must express our personal convictions; this is an essay in literary dictatorship, but our people are unreliable and need to be disciplined.'  (Quoted ibid., 127)  As Ernest Jones put it, Freud was too mistrustful of the average mind to favour democratic methods.  Every branch of the international movement according to the founder had to have a leader who was in a permanent position and who could rule on orthodoxy as it were. (See 128) Hayman also shows that Freud positively bullied his followers.  Now that the International Psychoanalytical Association was to be formed, Dr Jung was to be president for the rest of his life, with the power to excommunicate anyone who ignored the rules.  (See 129) Freud's language is interesting in all the above quotations as well as his comment to Binswanger: 'When the empire I've founded is orphaned no one but Jung must inherit it - all of it.  My politics, as you see, pursues this object consistently.'  (Quoted ibid., 130)  The language used by Freud is autocratic, forceful and paternalistic.  It shows a man with a huge Ego who wished to dominate the movement he founded which he deemed to be "an empire."  For a man who loathed religion his movement had become a virtual religion with him as God and Jung as his only Son.  For the great populariser of the unconscious and its role in our psyche, it would seem that Freud was totally unaware or unconscious of how much like a religion his movement was and how much religious language he had imbibed culturally and how much he used such language in his writings.

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