Monday, November 24, 2008

Journeying with Jung 36



Chapter 31: The German Psychosis:

I have already referred to the fact that Switzerland remained neutral during WW II and that this idyllic mountainous state provided a sort of Shangri-La existence for its population and especially for Jung.  He took little or no interest in politics, being quite happy in exploring the psychic inner worlds of his patients and most especially his own unconscious world - both individual and collective.  Indeed, I have also referred to the fact that as he got older he was far less inclined to be interested in the personal lives of his patients, being all the while far more interested in their collective unconscious.  We Irish should understand that sense of neutrality - we ourselves having being neutral during WW II also.  Indeed, we were so because we were far too young as a nation and far too hostile to Great Britain whose forces of occupation had only left our shores within living memory.  So the neutral position was understandable, even if somewhat lacking in sympathy for the woes of the other countries of Europe.  However, back to neutral Switzerland and to Carl Gustave Jung, who while not an open Nazi, or even a Nazi-sympathiser, had some opinions, widely documented, that were openly anti-Semitic and somewhat pro-Nazi.  He seemed, to my mind, to do a sort of "tight-rope walk" as regards his moral attitude to Nazism and Hitlerism. 

Internal Battles are the only Important Battles:

Most psychotherapists would agree with this.  I have personally always believed that say the likes of Ian Paisley and Radavan Karadzic would make great candidates for any form of therapy because they projected outwards so much hate onto others.  Where did all that anger come from?  Why did they foment so much violence?  Anyway, I will return to the insightful words of Ronald Hayman here:

At the beginning of the First World War, he had decided that his main duty was to explore the depths of his own psyche, and throughout the second he went on believing that the battles that mattered the most were internal.  'One could say that the whole world, with its turmoil and misery, is in an individuation process.'  If only people understood this, they would not be at war, 'because whosoever has the war inside himself has no time and pleasure to fight others.'  (Hayman, op.cit., 365)

This above passage with direct quotations from Jung are singularly important to my mind.  They show us Jung's complete pre-occupation with his internal world, with his inner struggles.  This, of course, is not to say that he was self-obsessed, solipsistic or even narcissistic.  No, rather he was on a much deeper internal psychic journey in pursuit of Self or individuation or self-realisation or self-actualisation - call it what you will.  Call it the pursuit of meaning as the Jewish psychiatrist Viktor Frankl puts it in his logotherapy.  In other words, Jung was very far from being an egotist which would have meant he could have been self-obsessed, solipsistic or narcissistic.

Jung and the Hero Myth:

His dream world was the richest source of inspiration for Carl Gustave Jung.  Not a night went by without his unconscious yielding up some wonderful fruit by way of imagery to this widely-read dilettante, to this explorer of the psyche.  Of all of his experiences in India, the most significant, he said, was the fact that he had had a wonderful dream in his hotel in Calcutta.  The dream had him swimming like a mighty warrior in pursuit of the Holy Grail.  He used the following description when interpreting this dream: "Seek rather for your fellow men the healing vessel, the servator mundi, you urgently need.  You are in danger of ruining everything the centuries have built.' (Quoted ibid., 357) Hayman comments that Jung always tended to push his life  towards the dimension of myth. (see ibid., 357).  To end this post I will quote the following passage in full because it sums up what I wish to say on mythology and Christianity:

Lecturing at Yale, he had said: 'Life has gone out of the churches and it will never go back.'  He now changed his mind: the trend was reversible, and he was the man who would reverse it.  If Nazism was a symptom of spiritual sickness, his duty was to save civilisation from Wotan-oriented paganism.  Since this could not be done by imposing eastern religion on Western culture, the best chance was to cure Christianity of the disease that had driven his father to despair and premature death.  People no longer responded to the images of wholeness in the rituals, dogmas and traditions preserved by the church.  Unlike him, its spiritual leaders had no experience of direct contact with God... (Op.cit., 358)

This is a particularly pertinent and insightful passage, but at times, I feel that Hayman is a little too imprecise with the terms he uses.  For instance, when talking about religion and Christianity he uses both these terms interchangeably with another term, namely 'church.'  This leads not so much to confusion, but rather to a fuzziness of thinking and a muddying of waters not altogether already too clear.



Above an example of Nazi War Propaganda.

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