Thursday, October 8, 2015

Carl Jung: Classification (of “Types) did not interest me very much.

To Erich A. von Fange

Dear Mr. von Fange, 8 April 1960

I have read your letter with great interest and I congratulate you on your attempt at further investigation in the field of typology.

It is a line of thought which I have not pursued any further, since my original tendency was not the classification of normal or pathological individuals but rather the discovery of conceptual means deriving from experience, namely the ways and means by which I could express in a comprehensible way the peculiarities of an individual psyche and the functional interplay of its elements.

As I have been chiefly interested in psychotherapy I was always mostly concerned with individuals needing explanation of themselves and knowledge of their fellow-beings.

My entirely empirical concepts were meant to form a sort of language by which such explanations could be communicated.

In my book about types I have given a number of examples illustrating my modus operandi.

Classification did not interest me very much.

It is a side-issue with only indirect importance to the therapist.

My book, as a matter of fact, was written to demonstrate the structural and functional aspect of certain typical elements of the psyche.

That such a means of communication and explanation could be used also as a means of classification was an aspect which I was rather afraid of, since the intellectually detached classifying point of view is just the thing to be avoided by the therapist.

But the classifying application was-I almost regret to say-the first and almost exclusive way in which my book was understood, and everybody wondered why I had not put the description of the types right at the beginning of the book instead of relegating it to a later chapter.

Obviously the tendency of my book has been misunderstood, which is easily understandable if one takes into account that the number of those people who would be interested in its practical psychotherapeutic application is infinitely small in comparison with the number of academic students.

I admit that your statistical line of research is perfectly legitimate but it certainly does not coincide with the purpose of my book, which in my humble opinion aims at something far more vital than classification.

Though I have expressed my therapeutic views most emphatically only very few of my readers noticed them.

The possibility of classification seems to be far more attractive.

By this rather longwinded peroration I am trying to explain to you why I am more or less unable to give you any helpful suggestions in your specific enterprise, since my thoughts do not move on this line at all.

I am even sceptical in this respect.

I hold the conviction that for the purpose of any classification one should start with fundamental and indubitable principles and not with empirical notions, i.e., with almost colloquial terms based upon mere rules of thumb.

My concepts are merely meant to serve as a means of communication through colloquial language.

As principles however I should say that they are in themselves immensely Complicated structures which can hardly fulfil the role of scientific principles.

Much more important are the contents conveyed by language than their terms.

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 550-552

Carl Jung: The shadow is the block which separates us most effectively from the divine voice.

To Father Victor White

My dear Victor, 25 March 1960

Since you are very much in the situation of the suffering Job.

I shall not play the role of his friends, not even that of the wise Elihu.

I humbly submit the suggestion that you might apply your Personalistic point of view to your own person and to your own case instead of to the unknown person of the individual Job.

You can see then what it does to yourself as well as to myself-if I may introduce myself as an individual.

Job is very much the respectable Hebrew of his time.

He observes the law and-by force of the covenant-his God ought to do the same.

Now let us assume that Job is neurotic, as one can easily Make out from the textual allusions: he suffers from a regrettable lack of insight into his own dissociation.

He undergoes an analysis of a sort, f.i. by following Elihu's wise counsel; what he will hear and what he will be aware of are the discarded contents of his personal subconscious mind, of his shadow, but not the divine voice, as Elihu intends.

You faintly insinuate that I am committing Elihu's error too, in Appealing to archetypes first and omitting the shadow.

One cannot avoid the shadow unless one remains neurotic, and as long as one is neurotic one has omitted the shadow.

The shadow is the block which separates us most effectively from the divine voice.

Therefore Elihu in spite of his fundamental truth belongs to those foolish Jungians, who, as you suggest, avoid the shadow and make for the archetypes, i.e., the "divine equivalents," which by the way are nothing but escape camouflage according to the personalistic theory.

If Job succeeds in swallowing his shadow he will be deeply ashamed of the things which happened.

He will see that he has only to accuse himself, for it is his complacency, his righteousness, his literal-mindedness, etc. which have brought all the evil down upon him.

He has not seen his own shortcomings but has accused God.

He will certainly fall into an abyss of despair and inferiority-feeling, followed, if he survives, by profound repentance.

He will even doubt his mental sanity: that he, by his vanity, has
caused such an emotional turmoil, even a delusion of divine interference-obviously a case of megalomania.

After such an analysis he will be less inclined than ever before [to think) that he has heard the voice of God.

Or has Freud with all his experience ever reached such a conclusion?

If Job is to be considered as a neurotic and interpreted from the personalistic point of view, then he will end where psychoanalysis ends, viz. in disillusionment and resignation, where its creator most emphatically ended too.

Since I thought this outcome a bit unsatisfactory and also empirically not quite justifiable, I have suggested the hypothesis of archetypes as an answer to the problem raised by the shadow.

This apparently inordinate idea, also favoured but produced at the wrong moment by the wise Elihu, is a petra scandali of the worst kind.

In my naivete I had imagined it to be something better than sheer
despair and resignation, also something more true than mere rationalism and thoughtlessness.

Your aggressive critique has got me in the rear.

That's all.

Don't worry! I think of you in everlasting friendship.

“No man is obliged to do more than he can do.”

Thus I ask for your forgiveness, as is incumbent on one who has given cause for scandal and vexation.

It is difficult not to be crushed by the inexorable truth: "Truth in brute form is falser than falsity," or the mountain you have heaped up is your burial mound.

My best wishes in every respect!

Yours ever,



I had a light embolism in the heart, the consequences of which kept me in the house for 4 weeks.

I see from your letter that you have published a new book Soul and Psyche, but neither my secretary nor I myself have seen a copy.

I would be very interested indeed to learn your views about the intricacies of psychological terminology in this field disputed by empirism on the one hand and metaphysics on the other.

If you had seen Mr. X' s wife (as I have) you would know everything about him.

When Johannes Hus bound to the stake saw a little old woman adding her last bundle of sticks to the pile, he said:0 sancta simplicitas! ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 544-546