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would assume a case was hopeless, he would go on talking, listening, demonstrating that his support was not going to be withdrawn."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.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Journeying with Jung 8

Chapter 7:  Wearing a Cardboard Collar

As I have already indicated, Hayman's chapter titles are always interesting, apt and more than a little atypical of biographies.  This particular title refers to his first abortive wooing of his wife to be, Emma RauschenbachJung was wearing a cardboard collar and looked quite gauche.  Added to that, his manners as well as his clothes were inelegant.  He did not make a great impression on Emma, but he did on her mother.  In August 1901, he wrote to Emma and asked her to marry him but she refused his proposal.  However, her mother liked Jung and invited him back to their magnificent country estate.  Here he proposed yet again to Emma (1882- 1955) and this time she agreed to marry him. She was to be his wife for fifty two years. She came from an old Swiss-German family of wealthy industrialists.  The wealth she inherited gave Carl financial freedom to pursue his own work and interests. They met when she was sixteen years old (some sources say fifteen) and he was twenty one. Carl and Emma were married on February 14, 1903 seven years after they first met. Together they were to have five children.

The Word-Association Test:

The psychiatrists Emil Kraepelin (1856-1926) and Gustav Aschaffenburg (1866-1944) had set up a psychological laboratory in Munich where some considerable work was being done on the word-association test.  Bleuler sent one of his assistants, Franz Riklin to study the work being done there.   In Hayman we read:

The test, which had been invented by Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton, and developed by the German physiologist and experimental psychologist Wilhelm Wundt, was already being used in the Burgholzli.  Seeing patients individually, the doctor read out words from a list, one at a time, and the patients responded with the first words that came to mind.  Using a stop-watch, the doctor recorded the interval between stimulus and reaction.  Silences, hesitations, slips of tongue, involuntary movements, changes of tone and volume provided evidence about their state of mind. (Op.cit., 64)

The background to this test is indeed worth reading several times.  Bleuler had given Jung and Riklin, when he had returned from Munich, a list of some 156 words to experiment with, but they decided to add to the number of words ending up with a test comprising 400 words in total.  Hayman is very interesting here in his discussion of this topic.  He continues:

Using a stop-watch to time the interval between stimulus and response, they found it was sometimes prolonged by internal distractions, which could also surface in awkward phrasing or visible emotional disturbance.  Subjects might fail to respond, might be distracted by nearby objects, might become embarrassed or emotional, might forget something that had been said, or return to a question that had already been raised, instead of reacting to a new stimulus.  These were all symptomatic of a "complex" - a cluster of images and ideas around an emotional centre. (Ibid., 64)

I also learned from this interesting chapter that the term "complex" and the reality to which it referred had been discovered by a scientist called Theodore Ziehen, who wrote about it in 1898 and had invented the term "feeling-toned complex."  However, this Doctor disapproved of what Jung and Riklin were doing, namely using the word-association test as an approach to the unconscious.  (See ibid., 64-5)  Jung and Riklin asserted as a result of their experiments that "the majority of complexes...relate to direct or transposed sexuality." (Ibid.,65)

However, as other scholars were soon to point out - this was also a way of using Freud's ideas on repression.  However, they did later acknowledge their indebtedness to the founder of psychoanalysis also.


This is one of the central words we all associate with psychiatry. It would seem that one effective way the human mind has of dealing with trauma is by compartmentalizing certain thoughts, emotions, sensations, and/or memories associated with the initial trauma - accident, illness or abuse - physical or sexual.  These may be called the split-off memories of the traumatic event.  Jung had travelled to Paris to hear Janet, Jean-Martin Charcot's successor at the College de France, lecture on the use of hypnosis when necessary to reach the core of the personality.  Janet maintained that it was also useful in dealing with the split-off memories to which I've already alluded.  I've referred many times in these posts to the central axiom of psychiatry/psychotherapy, if I may call it such, that the goal in personal growth in any individual is the "integration of the personality" (Dr. Anthony Storr), what Jung later called "individuation," what Roberto Assagioli (Psychosynthesis) called "self-realization", what Dr. Abraham Maslow called "self-actualization," etc.

Hearing Janet speak led Jung to think of mental illness as a dissociation of the self into subsidiary personalities or sub-personalities.  Any of these at any time to "take over" the person.

Beautiful Image:

Once again I cannot help being moved by images and metaphors. Jung, commenting on the results of the word-association test his wife Emma let him do for her, said that while our ego-consciousness assumes itself to be in control of the association process, it is

"merely the marionette which dances on the stage, activated by a hidden mechanism." He was echoing a metaphor Bleuler had used in a book review published in the previous year: "Our consciousness sees in its theatre only the puppets; in the Freudian world many of the strings that move the figures have been revealed."  (Quoted, ibid., 68)

It would seem our unconscious motives are often pulling our strings and we, unconscious of them, are blindly being moved, all the while rationalizing our choices as this, that or the other.

Thoughts on Marriage:

Jung's thoughts on marriage are interesting and unorthodox to say the least. He believed that the man's earlier relationship with his mother and the woman's with her father are the determining factors in the relationship between husband and wife.  He also believed that the basic nature of the male sex was polygamous, saying that a man needed a "hetaira" outside of his wife or partner - this other would allow him to feel he was reborn spiritually.  He later called such a woman a "femme inspiratrice."  In this biography I learned that Jung had at least two other lovers in his life while a married man.  Being true to himself, he never really sought to cover these facts up and stated his belief in polygamy (for the man at least.) 

Above I have uploaded a picture of one of the mandala's drawn by Jung. Essentially a mandala is a holistic representation of the 'integration' or 'wholeness' of the 'individuated' person.

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. 

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Journeying with Jung 6

Chapter 5: Magnetic Passes:

More Séances:

As I've already pointed out Jung, given his unorthodox upbringing - with an orthodox father who had "lost" his belief and a mother who was probably "hysterical" in the classical sense of the word and in contact with the "other side" or the spiritual world - was open to the influence of the para-psychological or the  occult world.  Hence the séances continued with him as the facilitator.  His young cousin Helly was still besotted with her older and good-looking cousin.  Hayman recounts how Jung had given his impressionable cousin the book by Kerner - The Visionary of Prevorst on her fifteenth birthday.  Needless to say she read this tome since it was given her by her hero and used many of the insights into the "other world" gained therefrom.  As our learned author says succinctly: "The séances still had a sexual undertone - the precocious Helly found new ways of competing with Luggy for Jung's attention - and they now had strong religious overtones." (Op. cit., 40)

It is beyond the scope of this post to say much about these séances, but suffice it to say the young Helly devised intricate plots which went on like a serial television programme or soap opera.  Needless to say the young fifteen year old was exhausted at the end of each session.

All of this might appear odd and melodramatic to a twenty-first-century mind, but as Helly continued with her performance she began to believe in the world conjured up by her own imagination:  "No less than an actress, a medium can imagine her way into almost total identification with the character.  As he said later, describing the seances in his doctoral thesis, the unconscious personality that builds itself up 'owes its existence simply to the suggestive questions that strike an answering chord in the medium's own disposition.' "  (Ibid., 41)

Magnetic Passes:

Magnetism here refers to the power used in hypnotism.  It may have been as the result of their both reading Kerner's The Visionary of Prevorst that Jung decided that hypnotizing Helly would help her as a medium during the seances. Jung's total unorthodoxy, I believe lies in  trying to reconcile science with spiritualism  even when he had by now rejected orthodox Christianity and materialism which was the direct product both of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. The paradox lies in a so-called "scientific" doctor or "empirical" psychiatrist/psychologist trying to reconcile the opposites of spiritualism and the scientific method.  In this hard task the work of philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)  came to his rescue.  Let us allow Hayman to explain:

...Jung read Schopenhauer's comments on spiritualism. 'Anyone who nowadays doubts the facts of animal magnetism and the clairvoyance it confers must be regarded not as sceptical but as ignorant.'  Schopenhauer believed in a 'dream organ' that functioned during both sleep and consciousness, introducing into the world of phenomena impressions rooted in noumena.' 'The dream organ of two people can be involved in the same activity, wherein a ghost...takes on the appearance of a body.'  This organ would be at work during trances, and to induce them by hypnotism would be to invite intimacy between the dream organs of the hypnotist and the medium.  (Ibid., 44)

Spiritualism, Metaphysics and a little Theology:

As a young medical student of 22 years, lecturing to a student audience at the University of Basel (a student group called the Zofingia Society), Jung underscored his belief in the world of the spirits by quoting an essay by Kant - almost totally out of context as it happens - and the books of Schopenhauer to support his contentions.  He argued that 'We must fight crass sensualism with the weapons of transcendental truth...Religions are created by men who have given practical demonstrations of the reality of mystery and the "extrasensory sphere." '  Defining soul, in a definition I quite like - remember he was only 22 - as "an intelligence independent of space and time," Jung argued that he was here providing "empirical evidence substantiating our definition of the soul." (Ibid., 45)   In other words he took it as a given, then, that one could research scientifically into the spiritual world and hence into metaphysics.

Anyway, it may be quite surprising that our learned psychiatrist encouraged his young fifteen year old cousin Helly to believe that the dead were actually speaking through her.  Hayman goes on to list those other scientists and early psychologists who believed that the spiritual world could be accessed by us left behind in the world, viz., William James in the USA and Sir William Crookes in London.  It is interesting to note also that Jung condemned those theologians who tried to explain away all the mysteries of religion and to deny the possibility of intimate communication with God.  Indeed, I well remember my lectures in orthodox catholic theology from the late 1970s which stated that although "Self-consciousness was the locus of revelation, that revelation could only be accessed through and authenticated by the living community of believers, which essentially equated with the Roman Catholic Church."  This is as I recall it, not verbatim, but in substance having studied theology to postgraduate level - i.e., S.T.L. level.  Hence the "privileged access to the truth" is ruled out on the part of any believer.  I am now at one with Carl Gustave Jung - if God exists, or any spiritual power or energy that equates to such a being, then it is simply ridiculous to deny the possibility of intimate communication with this Source.  Indeed, I am also firmly convinced that for the Church, indeed any Church, knowledge is power and correct orthodox knowledge is power wielded to keep the faithful loyal and unswerving believers in its promulgated tenets.

Return to Experience:

Essentially a Romantic at heart and an empiricist by self-profession Jung believed that nothing that could not be validated by one's personal experiences was allowable in scientific discourse about the mind: At sixty this is what he had to say on this matter:

My chief curiosity was always the question:  What does the human mind, inasmuch as it is a natural involuntary functioning, produce if left to itself?... Whatever my statements are, they are always based upon experiences, and whatever I say is never intended to contradict or to defend an existing truth.  Its sole purpose is to express what I believe I have seen.  (Quoted ibid., 46)

Indeed, it is somewhat paradoxical for us twenty-first-century-moulded beings to square Jung's constant self-profession of empiricism with his very arcane, if not primitive spiritualism.  However, the fact that spiritualism may be both these contentions in no way invalidates its existence.  I am merely here pointing up obvious paradoxes and seeming contradictions.

Choosing Psychiatry:

Jung graduated as a Doctor from Basel University at the age of 25.  Even though psychiatry was looked upon as an inferior branch of medicine, he chose it, because having read the standard contemporary textbook on the subject by Richard von Krafft-Ebing - Lehrbuch der Psychiatrie - which describes neuroses as "diseases of the personality" - he was convinced that his only possible route was that of psychiatry:

'Here was the field of experience common to biological and spiritual facts, which I had sought everywhere and had not found.  Here finally, was the place where nature would collide with spirit.' (Ibid., 50)

Also, it has been suggested that what really motivated his decision to study the subject was uncertainty about hereditary mental illness in his family.

Above an aged Jung with his ubiquitous pipe.