Friday, October 24, 2008

Journeying with Jung 21

Cooking in the Rain: Chapter 20

I have already argued that Jung was essentially romantic in inclination.  There is much - in terms of sympathies, intuitions and sensibilities - I find in Jung that occurs in the writings of the great German and English Romantic writers like Heinrich Heine, G.W.F. Hegel, Schelling, Schlegel, Fichte on the German front and Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley and Coleridge on the English one.  Then there was the likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the world of Romantic France.  They were all believers, to use an anachronistic phrase, in the philosophy of 'back to nature.'  Jung was a big subscriber to this belief in the healing power of the natural elements.  He built his houses by the sides of lakes at Kusnacht and Bollingen.  He was an outdoors man who loved boats, sailing, camping, hiking and tramping in the woods and mountains, fishing in rivers and lakes, keeping a garden, building walls and even his very own retreat at Bollingen.  Hence the aptness of the title of this present chapter - "Cooking in the Rain."  The elements were to be enjoyed and borne stoically and "gone with" rather than fought against.

Throughout this chapter I was very much reminded of Rousseau's noble savage :- Rousseau, who among the major political philosophers of the Enlightenment is often cited as espousing the most sympathetic version of the noble savage myth when he states  that men in a state of nature do not know good and evil, but their independence, along with “the peacefulness of their passions, and their ignorance of vice”, keep them from doing ill (A Discourse..., 71-73).  See this link for an essay on this idea of the noble savage: Rousseau.  When Jung was comparing primitive and modern man, this is what he said:

The only difference is that where the primitive speaks of ghosts, the European speaks of dreams and fantasies and neurotic symptoms, and attributes less importance to them than the primitive does.  (Hayman, 222)

Jung with his deep belief in psychoanalysis - that is psychoanalysis as reworked and interpreted in his scheme of things - saw how important it was to be at home with one's Self, with one's personal unconscious; to be equally at home in the collective unconscious by exploring and accepting all the various archetypes and sub-personalities; to be accepting of all the shadows in the depths of the human psyche; to be alive to all the spiritual intuitions that humankind is heir to; to finding meaning and purpose in life, in short to find some level of integration of the Self or as he put it himself - individuation.

In line with this he pointed out that the general neurosis of the age, and remember he was speaking these words in 1918, was 'the senselessness and aimlessness of our lives.'  (Quoted Hayman, 217)  Exactly ninety years ago he wrote these words - we could just be hearing or reading them in the contemporary media.  Jung was 43 years old and very much a middle aged man as they would have put it the beginning of the twentieth century.  Jung preached and practised a new analysis or therapy, namely 'the integration of opposites' into a harmonious whole.  As Hayman so beautifully puts it:

He concentrated on what he called 'individuation - the process of fulfilling potential by integrating opposites into a harmonious whole.  He idea of mental health derived partly  from memories of the splitting in his mother's personality and his own, and partly from memories of sub-personalities in spiritualism and schizophrenia.  If madness divides the self, sanity is unity. (Ibid., 217)

Therefore, Jung's process or procedure or method was that which sought to reunite the scattered fragments of the individual into an integrated whole.  This gives, for me, a new and deep understanding of the phrase "getting oneself together."  These splintered and scattered parts of the self were shown up more obviously in psychosis and perhaps less obviously in the many kinds of neuroses humankind is heir to.  In this sense, then, we can readily understand Jung's often quoted comment "Thank God he or she became neurotic."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Journeying with Jung 20

Chapter 19:  The Importance of Going Astray

We have all had the experience of going astray and sometimes on that detour we discover things that we did not expect but which are important nonetheless.  Often, then, our going astray is worthwhile in that we learn a lot of new things and indeed gain insight into ourselves.

By 1916 Jung had discovered what he termed the 'transcendent function' which he maintained fused our inner and outer experience, or in other words brought together our conscious and unconscious thinking.  Hayman puts Jung's new insight into psychotherapy or depth psychology thus:

He rejects psychoanalysis and free association in favour of singling out strands of unconscious thinking by lending them voices and by listening to inner voices as if they were people.  (Hayman, 203)

Jung went on to explain his new therapeutic method thus: 'If you can isolate these unconscious phenomena by personifying them, that is a technique that works for stripping them of power.'  (Quoted ibid., 203)


At the Burgholzli Jung had helped those who suffered from schizophrenia by talking to the characters in their delusions.  He now helped himself by talking to characters in his own. Dr Anthony Storr, a fairly recent Jungian therapist and psychiatrist, argues that the concept of integration is central to Jung's thoughts and ideas.  Likewise disintegration or dissociation are psychiatric phenomena encountered in mentally disturbed patients.  The object for both doctor/analyst and patient is re-integration or proper association of sundered parts of the psyche.  Murray Stein, commenting on Jungian therapy, underlined the fact that in healing himself and others, the founder of Analytical Psychology arrived at re-integration or individuation by going through a three-phased process: (i) defending one's self from the persecutory inner object by use of paranoid thoughts and fantasies - the function of which is to place the object 'out there' - that is, a denial that the object is part of one's psyche, (ii) period of relief and restoration - quiet after denial and finally (iii) the attempt to integrate or re-integrate the good and bad sides of the self.  Jung used to paint mandalas when he arrived at this third phase in the process.  (See ibid., 204)

In schizophrenia, Jung argued, the unconscious usurps the reality function, substituting its own reality

Jung vs Freud on Interpreting Dreams:

Jung criticised heavily the 'reductive' analysis of Freud with respect to dreams.  The Freudian analyst, said Jung reduced say certain dream objects, say a sword to a phallus, and did not allow for that image to have a more specific personal association for the patient.  Jung would see the 'sword' in a far wider context than just the sexual - it was not alone part of her own heritage but of the heritage of the whole community.  Jung stressed that his analysis was far more 'constructive' insofar as it can release unconscious fantasies through personal and cultural associations.  As Hayman points out in this wonderfully rich book, the founder of Analytical Psychology argues 'in his theories of archetypes and the collective unconscious...that the psyche exists outside place and time.' (Ibid., 204)

Personal Unconscious and Collective Unconscious:

I'll quote Hayman in full here as he is crystal clear:

His differentiation between and collective unconscious in clearer in 'The Role of the Unconscious', an article he wrote in 1918 for the monthly review Schweizerland.  While the personal unconscious contains material that has been repressed and forgotten, the contents of the collective unconscious come from the inherited brain structure.  Though no ideas are inherited, the unconscious is 'above the world of the past, which is activated by the one-sidedness of the conscious attitude.'  When the conscious mind becomes unbalanced, the unconscious tries to reassert the needs that are being ignored.  (Ibid., 208)

All the gods are inside us:

The great writer Hermann Hesse, through Dr Josef Lang, an analyst who had trained under Jung, had been very much influenced by the thought and therapy of the founder of Analytical Psychology.  In Hesse's novel Demian we read the following which is pure Jungian thought:

What constitutes each one of us is the whole contents of the world, and just as our bodies carry in them all the stages of existence, back to the fish and still further, we have in our souls everything that ever lived in the human soul.  All the gods and devils there have ever been, whether for the Chinese or the Greeks or the Zulus, they are all inside us a possibilities, as desires, as outlets. (Quoted, ibid., 211)

The Mandala as Healing Whole and Circular Unity:

From, during, and for his life after his breakdown or breakthrough, Jung made many sketches in his many notebooks.  These sketches practically always took the form of circles and circular patterns.  He believed that they represented the restoration of inner peace and harmony of the self.  He called these circular patterns by their Sanskrit  word mandala (circle).  The circular form had always appealed to him, and he found it soothing and indeed healing to go on drawing these circles and stated that in them 'the seething confusion is protectively encircled.' (Quoted ibid., 212)

By 1918 there occurred the final and complete rift with both Freud and Sabina, who had recently been one of Freud's patients and had taken to practising psychoanalysis along Freudian lines, having dismissed Jung's methods as less effective.  In his last letter to Sabina, written in the third person, he admitted to her that 'occasionally one must go astray, simply in order to survive.'  His obsessive relationship was now finally buried, consigned to a straying away from his spiritual path.

Above I have uploaded a piece of art called Cavallo from a sequence of pieces of art called Archeologia dell' Anima by the wonderful contemporary artist Livia Alessandrini whose work may be viewed here at her own site: Livia Alessandrini

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Journeying with Jung 19

Chapter 18: Preaching to the Dead 

Once again Hayman is so apt with his chapter title.  That Jung was convinced of the actuality of the spiritual world is one central plank in the argument of this biography.  As a young man he experimented with séances with his cousins and did all of that on a regular basis with his mother's approval and even with her participation.  He would go on to write his doctoral thesis in psychiatry on his experiences of séances without divulging the fact that his subjects were his relatives on his mother's side, the Preiswerks.  In this chapter we have documentary evidence of how Jung's own children experienced ghostly creatures walking through their house; of their nightmares about demons and the devil and finally of hearing and seeing the doorbell move without anyone being at the door.  (See Hayman, 200)   This learned biographer also points out that the devil often featured - and not just metaphorically - in Jung's thinking. Indeed he maintains that the devil himself - according to this great psychiatrist - played a prominent part in his mental confusion during 1915.  (See ibid., 197) Hence our rather strange title.  All of this gives us an insight into Jung's complex personality.

The Personality of C.G. Jung:

I have already referred to the fact that Jung reported all through his life that from early on in childhood and for a considerable time thereafter he was convinced that he had two characters within him viz., personality Number 1 and personality Number 2.  Then he was convinced strongly of the reality of spirits and of being able to contact those who were now dead.  I am also conscious of the fact that he realised early enough in his career - in his thirties I believe - that it was likely that he had been suffering from schizophrenic episodesHayman is informative on these matters in this chapter:

If Jung had consulted Bleuler - who had, after all, written a book on schizophrenia - he might have been told his dreams and visions were symptomatic, even if Bleuler had not heard the rumours that the family described in Jung's thesis was the Preiswerks.  On the other hand, if his experience 'coincided with that of mankind in general', he could think of himself as a leader.  Leaders, as he said, are often schizophrenic or paranoiac.  (Hayman, 195) 

That Jung was a complex and difficult man there is no doubt at all.  A woman called Tina Keller reported that he 'could be vulgar' and that he could also make fun of people 'in an unfeeling way.'  He used even heckle at lectures and talk to others when the speaker was in full flow.  In all of this, Jung the 'narcissist',  liked to draw attention to himself.  (See ibid., 201)

It is also interesting, though not surprising, that according to Alphonse Maeder, Jung had the same fault that he criticised in Freud: 'he couldn't bear his collaborators to be independent.'  (Ibid., 202)

New Movement Formed:

In April 1914 Jung resigned as president of the International Psychoanalytic Association and a few months later resigned completely from it.  Now he started work on building himself an independent career.  Luckily he was well known and well respected internationally and had little trouble in doing so.  On 10 July 1914 the Zurich association of psychoanalysis seceded from the International Psychoanalytic Association.  Four months later they gave themselves a new name, viz., the Association for Analytical Psychology.  Needless to say, Jung was not slow in accepting the presidency.

Jungian Analysis:

Jung had by now developed his own methods of analysis and I should like to describe them here.  I have always quite liked his take on the sub-personalities that live within our unconscious and that the aim of analysis is to isolate them, acknowledge them and in so doing integrate them all into a wholeness or unity of personality which is essentially us.  As Hayman puts it:

Teaching his patients to isolate subpersonalities and enter into dialogue with them, Jung was letting them dialogue with what Helly had done during seances and what he had done during his breakdown, but at the same time he was developing what he had learned in 1914 after reading a book by Herbert Silberer, a Viennese Freudian who committed suicide nine years later.  (Ibid/. 192)

In his method of analysis Jung encouraged his patients to make drawings or paintings of figures who appeared in fantasies and to interrogate them.  In this way they would learn to acknowledge them, accept them and thereby integrate them into their personality, or to put it another way, to love them as being part of one's very soul.


Before Jung and his followers had coined the term 'Analytical Psychology', he had used a lovely term 'prospective psychology' in one of his lectures.  I'm thinking here in an imaginal way, and quite fancy that the psychiatrist or analyst is a prospector for the gold of the personality or indeed, I imagine that the patient is a self-prospector as it were.

The analyst as prospector of the soul (my coining) sought to guide patients towards a sort of spiritual rebirth and a new integration of things spiritual and essential to the soul's well-being.  He was clearly following his own experience of acknowledging and accepting the Spirit of the Depths, Philemon, Ka and Anima. He sought, then, to guide his patients towards this spiritual rebirth by leading them through the realm of primordial images.  It is interesting to note that this last term was the one he originally used for what he would later term archetypes.

Archetypes, Love and Therapy:

I find the following quotation from one of Jung's patients illuminating as it throws light on transference as well as 'having a crush on some one' or 'love at first sight' or 'falling in love.'  The patient is Tina Keller (later a doctor and analyst) and she writes:

Dr Jung spoke of transference but obliged me to face the fact that I was in love with some quality or archetype which he represented, and had touched in my psyche.  If and in the measure that I would be able to realise this unknown element in myself, then I would be free from him as a person...He said that what I brought was such an openness that he owed me dome spiritual value that would fertilise my psyche and my individuation would be a spiritual child.  (Quoted ibid., 194)

According to the first of Jung's Seven Sermons, the essence of the created being is dissimilarity - that is, the principle of individuation, and this latter was the very goal of all analysis.

Above I have uploaded a copy of the painting La Barca from a series of pieces of art called Archeologia dell'Anima by the wonderful artist Livia Alessandrini whose work can be viewed here at her own site Livia Alessandrini