Thursday, October 02, 2008

Journeying with Jung 7

Chapter 6 - Lunatic Asylum

The asylum referred to here is the Burghölzli which is the common name given for the University of Zurich psychiatric hospital. It is located on the "Burghölzli", a wooded hill in the district of Riesbach of southeastern Zurich.  It was here that Carl Gustave Jung was to spend his internship as a young psychiatrist.  It had many prestigious directors in its history and still survives and operates today.  Here is what the WIKI says about this illustrious foundation:

Auguste-Henri Forel (1848-1931) was the fourth director of Burghölzli, and spent nearly twenty years at the helm. Under his leadership, the hospital began to gain recognition throughout the medical world. Forel was able to combine the "dynamic approach" of French psychiatry with the biological orientation of the German school of psychiatric thought. In 1898 Eugene Bleuler (1857-1939) became director of the Burghölzli, where he would remain until 1927. The "Bleuler era" is considered the most illustrious period at the hospital, largely due to the advent of psychoanalysis, usage of Freudian psychiatric theories, and the creative work of Bleuler's assistant, Carl Gustav Jung(1875-1961). Bleuler was followed as director by Hans-Wolfgang Maier (1882-1945) and afterwards by his son Manfred Bleuler (1903-1994).

In addition to Jung, many renowned psychiatrists spent part of their career at the Burghölzli, including Karl Abraham (1877-1925), Ludwig Binswanger (1881-1966), Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922), Franz Riklin (1878-1938), Constantin von Monakow (1853-1930), Adolf Meyer (1866-1950), Abraham Brill (1874-1948) and Emil Oberholzer (1883-1958). Albert Einstein's son, Eduard Einstein was a patient at Burghölzli. Today the Burghölzli remains an important center (sic) for psychiatric research and the treatment of mental illness.  (see this link here )

Hayman reminds us that Jung was rather more ambitious than his colleagues at researching and filling the gaps in his knowledge of clinical practice.  In six months only he devoured some fifty volumes of a contemporary Psychiatric Encyclopaedia.

Forel, Bleuler, Jung and Laing:

It was interesting to learn from Hayman that Forel had pioneered a method of "emotional contact" with patients.  They rejected the fact that the babble of schizophrenics was meaningless.  They all listened carefully and as sympathetically as possible to their patients. Bleuler worked extremely hard and influenced Jung greatly.  Here is what our present biographer says about this pioneer:

Bleuler believed in spending time with patients, chatting, empathising, and giving them tasks that would show them they could cope with practical problems.  He worked hard, visiting wards at least four times a day, and usually completing his first round by six in the morning.  (Op.cit., 53)

It is also interesting to note that Eugen Bleuler had coined the terms schizophrenia (which he used to substitute for the former designation of dementia praecox because it was neither a dementia nor did it always occur in young people, praecox = young), autism and ambivalence which is an emotional attitude in which the co-existing contradictory impulses (usually love and hate) derive from a common source and are thus held to be interdependent.

Undoubtedly Jung was inundated with work at an overcrowded psychiatric hospital.  Initially Jung idolised Bleuler, but he later dropped most references to him in later life.  To this extent, I feel that Jung shared much with Freud in being himself a strong opinionated man with a big ego.  No wonder the two were to fall out as they were too alike.  Both felt that they were pioneers, as indeed they were, and both did not acknowledge easily other great researchers from whom they had learnt much.  Jung also witnessed much self-abasement among the psychiatric patients - eating excrement, drinking urine and incessant masturbation.  He was later to recount that he could observe in exaggerated form "all the phenomena present only fleetingly in normal people."  (Ibid., 54)  Jung was called upon by Bleuler awhen he was a psychiatric registrar to read and critique Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams for their seminars at the Burghölzli.  Jung also wrote his doctoral thesis under Bleuler's guidance.  However, it also interested to note that he had sanitized certain facts for his doctoral thesis and had disguised the fact that he had himself played a central role in the séances he had conducted with Helly and others of his cousins some years previously. (Nor did he reveal that they were blood relations.) Jung now presented his role as that of objective and scientific observer. (See ibid., 57-59).  His thesis was approved on Bleuler's recommendation at the medical faculty at Zurich in 1902.

Above a picture of Jung as a young psychiatrist outside the Burghölzli. 

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