Saturday, November 29, 2008

Journeying with Jung 40



A preliminary Note on Mary Mellon and Jung's Anti-Nazism:

Mary Mellon passed away at the early age of 42 in October 1946.  She and her husband had done much negotiation with the publisher Kegan Paul to co-publish Jung's complete works in English on both sides of the Atlantic.  A heart attack hastened by a severe asthma attack killed her.  I mention Mary because chapter 33 finishes with her death and because quite recently a scholar named Dr. William J. Schoenl has written a book called C.G. Jung: His Friendships With Mary Mellon and J. B. Priestley (Chiron Publications, 1998), which is the fruit of extensive research into Carl Jung's unpublished correspondence.  This work illuminates the humanity of Jung and his associates Mary Mellon and J.B. Priestley. Jung's letters to Mary Mellon clearly show that he was anti-Nazi - despite an FBI file on him. Also, the book provides an authentic portrayal of life in Switzerland during World War II.

Chapter 34: Call me C.G.

After his cardiac infarct Jung took good care of himself by reducing his workload, taking two 45 minute walks per day, resting up in the afternoon and going for a swim in the lake at seven o'clock in the morning.  Outside this regimen he continues with writing and research and some consultations.  He persisted with his now obsessive interest in alchemy.  He did not complete his work on the Mysterium Coniunctionis until 1954, and it is not surprising that, written over a period of fourteen years and running to a length of some six hundred pages that it sometimes loses momentum and becomes rather dry and stodgy intellectual sustenance.  In this work he quoted the late Viennese psychologist and analyst Dr Herbert Silberer (1882 –1923) that the coniunctio or union of opposites was the 'central idea' of the alchemists.  Silberer had expressed his views in his early book called Probleme der Mystik und ihrer Symbolik (Problems of Mysticism and its Symbolism), written in 1914 when he was only 32.  Freud rejected his ideas out of hand. Poor Silberer became despondent and later committed suicide by hanging himself after being excommunicated from Freud's circle of associates.

For Jung the coniunctio was 'nothing less than a restoration of the original state of the cosmos and the divine unconsciousness of the world.'  It was equivalent to the union of yin and yang in Tao. (See Hayman, 389)

On the other hand materialism, empiricism and science had combined to produce a kind of 'causalism' that made us want to gain knowledge by 'breaking down everything into individual processes.'  In short we can say that such a method is reductionist.  For Jung, this method while more often than not very valid insofar as it provided us with good guidelines in medicine and science, nevertheless, it distracted us from the unus mundus or the overarching mystical union of the entire universe in one essential principle.  (Some, like Jung, would call this principle God - TQ).  Such an overarching mystical union validated what Jung called the synchronistic principle. Interestingly he defined the unus mundus as 'the original non-differentiated unity of the world or of Being... the primordial unconscious.  Is this primordial unconscious God?  Yes is the answer for Jung, I believe.  (See ibid., 389)

An Interesting Analogy:

There is nothing as good as an analogy to explain things, though I admit that sometimes it can strain the mystery out of the thing by being a little too rigid.  However, let's listen to Jung on an interesting analogy for the collective unconscious:

The collective unconscious is 'like the air, which is the same everywhere, is breathed by everyone and yet belongs to no one.'  It was from this that 'everything psychic takes shape before it is personalised, modified, assimilated etc. by external influences.'  (Ibid., 390)

Jung on the Shadow:

This is another tenet of Jungian psychology.  He had used the term shadow as far back as 1937 in his lectures as Yale University.  He argued that people are morally worse than they imagine.  "Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is... If it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected, and is liable to burst forth suddenly in a moment of unawareness." (Quoted ibid., 391).  In a broadcast on BBC radio in November 1946 he stated that Hitler"represented the shadow, the inferior part of everybody's personality, in an overwhelming degree" and he was "the most prodigious personification of all human inferiorities..."  (Quoted ibid., 392)

Another Heart Attack and Letters to and from Fr. White:

Later in 1946 Jung had yet another heart attack and was now very comfortable with the idea of his impending death, which he felt could happen at any moment.  In their letters they each invited the other to call him by his Christian name.  Hence the title of this chapter: "Call me C.G."  In these letters he revealed that Jesus was the archetype of the God-man and that the phenomenon of synchronicity adhered to that archetype.  (See ibid., 395)  Jung also revealed to White that he placed Buddhism and all major world religions on a par with Christianity.  White could not concur with this contention.

Jung's own method of therapy:

If Jung had once adored his father and later had a 'religious crush' on Freud, the archetypal transference must have been at work in both surges of emotion.  For himself, as for other people, Jung tended to depersonalise personal history, shifting the focus away from individual characteristics and specific circumstances.  It was likewise for Toni Wolff, one of his earliest disciples and collaborators:

Convinced as Jung was, that the collective unconscious is partly responsible for what we do, she was good at making patients feel less guilty about failure and less vain about success.  (Ibid., 401)

Many patients regarded Toni as the best analyst they ever had and even better than Jung himself. 

The C.G. Jung Institute:

On the 24th of April 1948 (Jung was now 73) the C.G. Jung institute opened due to popular demand.  Now that the pioneer himself was ageing this demand had grown.  Jung is reported to have found it strange that "C.G. Jung" would now designate not merely his private person but something objective as well.  Asked why he no longer had any opposition to the idea of an institute he replied: "They would start one between my death and my funeral in any case, so I think it is better to do so while I can still have some influence on its form."  (Quoted ibid., 396)

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