Friday, October 03, 2008

Journeying with Jung 9

Chapter 8 - Moon People

The title of this chapter is more obviously self-explanatory.  I work as a resource teacher in an Asperger's/Autistic outreach unit in a secondary school.  Recently, when several of our charges were somewhat "high" or "in their own worlds," I heard one of our SNAs (Special Needs Assistants) remark: "There must have been a full moon last night!"  She then went on to recount how her father had worked with severely mentally handicapped people for years and that the day after a full moon was always one on which many of his charges were more disturbed than normal.  How true this is I don't know, but maybe for some future post I'll research this contention more fully.  What interests me is the reference to the moon, the Latin for which is "luna" from which word we get the English terms "lunatic" and "lunacy."  So the moon has traditionally been associated with mental disturbance.

Hence, in this chapter we are introduced to some of Jung's early patients or "moon people."  It opens with an account of one such case, of a young woman of nineteen who had been in the asylum for two years in a catatonic state.  Her brother, a Doctor, brought her to Jung who persevered with her until he released her into the world cured a year or so later.  Hayman informs us of his persistence and his refusal to let any case baffle him:  "Where other doctors would assume a case was hopeless, he would go on talking, listening, demonstrating that his support was not going to be withdrawn." (Op.cit., 72)  He got her to talk about her life on the moon and then bit by bit rehabilitated her.

Sabina Spielrein:

Jung gave considerable help and analysis to a young Russian girl called Sabina Spielrein, a medical student who was a patient at the Burghölzli Mental Hospital near Zürich. This girl was a rabbi's granddaughter who wore her hair in pigtails and dressed like a child.  She was at the hospital from August 1904 until June 1905 - one full year.  Here is what the WIKI says about Sabina's relationship with Jung and it is substantiated also by Hayman in this biography:


A student of medicine in Zürich, Spielrein was admitted in August 1904 to Burghölzli Mental Hospital near Zürich, where Carl Gustav Jung worked at that time, and remained there until June 1905. While there, she established a deep emotional relationship with C. G. Jung; later Jung was her medical dissertation advisor, and his own work bore a certain influence of Spielrein's. The historian and psychoanalyst Peter Loewenberg, however, found that this was a sexual relationship, in breach of professional ethics, and that Jung was dismissed by Bleuler from the Burghölzli for this offense. Spilerein graduated in 1911, defending a dissertation about a case of schizophrenia, and was later elected member of Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. She carried on with Jung until 1912, and later saw Freud in Vienna. In 1913 there was a final breach between Freud and Jung.  See this link Here

Unfortunately Sabina died in Rostov in 1942, having been murdered by the Nazis.  She was a rather remarkable woman to say the least and was one of the first female psychoanalysts.  Both her daughters were murdered with her in 1942.  Her husband and a brother had perished during Stalin's reign of terror (Great Terror in the mid-nineteen thirties.)

Such patients were, according to Jung, women in need of "spiritual rebirth" and this often led to sexual relations with the learned and gifted therapist.

Word-Association Test:

By now Jung had used over 25,000 stimulus words on 150 normal subjects, and one law he had discovered was that "the quantity of associations depending on the sound of the stimulus word (as opposed to its meaning) was inversely proportional to the subject's attentiveness."  (Hayman, 77)  Again and again, also in these tests Jung was substantiating  Freud's view of repression:

Jung argued that hysteria always involves repression, and dealing with his subjects' tendency to forget answers they had given when stimulus words touched a complex, he compared the forgotten words with excuses.  The evasiveness was due to the same sort of anxiety that produced what Freud called 'screen memories.' Memories of trivial childhood events lingered in the mind when traumatic experiences or unconscious fantasies were concealed behind them.  (Ibid., 76-77)

The conclusion is simple enough - our reactions are determined not by free will but by complexes which are touched when certain words are said as in these tests, or in everyday conversation when certain words are said the reactions of the hearers can be explosive to say the least. In short, a complex has been touched.

Above, Jung at work in his study.

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