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Monday, December 28, 2015

Carl Jung: In 1896 something happened to me that served as an impetus for my future life.




Lecture 1 23 March 1925

Dr. Jung:

No one seriously interested in analytical psychology can fail to have been struck with the astonishing width of the field embraced by it, and so I have thought it would be useful to all of us if, in the course of these lectures, we could obtain a view of that field.


At the beginning, I would like to give you a brief sketch of the development of my own conceptions from the time I first became
interested in problems of the unconscious.

As on previous occasions, you can assist me greatly if you contribute written questions, permitting me to select the ones suitable for discussion.

In 1896 something happened to me that served as an impetus for my future life.

A thing of this sort is always to be expected in a man’s life—that is to say, his family history alone is never the key to his creative achievements.

The thing that started me off in my interest in psychology was the case of the fifteen-and-a-half-year-old girl whose case I have described in the Collected Papers,1 as the first contribution to that series.

This girl was a somnambulist, and it was discovered by her sisters that they could obtain extraordinary answers to questions put to her when she was in the sleeping state: in other words, she was found to be a medium.

I was impressed with the fact that, notwithstanding appearances, there must be a hidden life of the mind manifesting itself only in trance or in sleep.

A little hypnosis would send this girl into a trance from which she would later awake as from sleep.

During the trance several personalities would manifest themselves; and, little by little, I found I could call up by suggestion one personality or another.

In short, I found I could have a formative influence on them.

Of course I became deeply interested in all these things and began to try to explain them, something I could not do as I was only twenty-one at the time, and quite ignorant along these lines.

I said to myself, however, that there must be some world behind the conscious world, and that it was this world with which the girl was in contact.

I began to study the literature of spiritism but could find no satisfaction there.

Then I turned to philosophy, always seeking for a possible clue to these strange phenomena.

I was a student of medicine at the time and deeply interested in it, but also deeply interested in philosophy.

Finally in my searching I came to Schopenhauer and Hartmann.

From Schopenhauer I got a very enlightening point of view.

His fundamental standpoint is that the will as a blind urge to existence is aimless; it simply “happened to the creative will to make the world.”

This is his position in The World as Will and Idea.

However, in Will in Nature he drifts into a teleological attitude, though this is in direct opposition to his original thesis, something, be it said, which not infrequently happens to a philosopher.

In this latter work he assumes that there is direction in the creating will, and this point of view I took as mine.

My first conception of the libido then was not that it was a formless stream so to speak, but that it was archetypal in character.

That is to say, libido never comes up from the unconscious in a formless state, but always in images. Using a figure of speech, the ore brought up from the mine of the unconscious is always crystallized.

Out of this reading of Schopenhauer, I got a tentative explanation of the possible psychology of the case I was studying; that is, I thought the personifications might be the result of this image-forming tendency of the libido.

If I suggested a given person to the girl during her unconscious states, she would act that person out, and her answers to questions would come in a manner characteristic of the person suggested.

From this I became convinced of the tendency of the unconscious material to flow into definite moulds.

This gave a clue, too, to the disintegration of personality.

In dementia praecox, for example, there is an independent working of the different parts of the psyche, but there is generally nothing vague about the different parts; the voices that are heard are the voices of definite individuals, of particular persons, and that is why they are so real.

In the same way a spiritualist will always claim a high degree of individuality and personal character for his “spirits.”

At this time I thought that after all there might be ghosts.

My ideas of the unconscious, then, first became enlightened through Schopenhauer and Hartmann.

Hartmann, having the advantage of living in a later period than Schopenhauer, formulates the latter’s ideas in a more modern way.

He assumes what he calls the Weltgrund to be the unconscious spirit or entity which has creative efficiency, and this he calls the unconscious, but adds to it mind.

He uses mind here in a different sense from that in which Schopenhauer uses it.

Schopenhauer opposes mind to the blind creating will.

By some unforeseen accident man came into possession of a conscious mirror of the universe, namely mind, and through this he knows the evilness of the world and deliberately withdraws therefrom, thus putting himself into opposition with the creating will.

In Schopenhauer’s conception mind belongs to man alone and is not connected with the Weltgrund or unbewusster Geist.

I held, following Hartmann, that our unconscious is not meaningless but contains a mind.

After I had taken this position I found much contradictory evidence, and so the pendulum swung back and forth.

At one time it seemed as though there must be some thread of purpose running through the unconscious, at another I was convinced there was none.

At this point the medium “ran out,” that is to say, she began to cheat and I gave up all connection with her.

I had observed her for a period of two years, and had given myself up to a study of the detailed phenomena she presented, striving to get them into harmony with natural science.

But I know now that I overlooked the most important feature of the situation, namely my connection with it.

The girl had of course fallen deeply in love with me, andof this I was fairly ignorant and quite ignorant of the part it played in her psychology.

In her trances she had formulated for herself a very superior character, that of an older woman of great spiritual beauty.

She herself, in reality a very silly and superficial girl, could find no other way of expressing this unconscious urge within herself to be different save through the spiritualistic setting, and the acting out of the character she found there.

Her family, originally one of the old families of Basel, had gone into rather complete decay, both financially and culturally.

The girl herself could be described as a “midinette.”

When she met me she found me interested in all the sides of life she craved, but from which she had been cut off by fate.

Had I known then what I know now I could have understood the struggle she went through in order to express the best in her through this person of the trance, but as it was I could only see her as a silly little girl who began to do something very ugly, namely to cheat for the sake of impressing me and others.

I only saw her as a person who had ruined her reputation and spoiled her chances in life; but, as a matter of fact, through this very act of cheating she forced her way back into reality.

She gave up the mediumistic séances and all of that fantastic side of her gradually faded out of existence.

Later she went to Paris and entered the atelier of a famous dress-maker.

In a relatively short time she had an establishment of her own and was most successful, making extraordinarily beautiful and original clothes.

I saw her in Paris during this period, but practically all of the mediumistic experiences had faded from her mind.

Then she contracted tuberculosis, but would not admit that she really had the disease.

A few weeks before her death it was as though she were making a regression further and further back in her life, till finally she was about two years old, and then she died.

She is an example of the general psychological law that in order to advance to a higher stage of development, we often have to commit some mistake which apparently is so terrible as to threaten ruin to our lives.

The dishonesty of the girl had the ultimate result of breaking up the mediumistic séances, and then she was able to live out in reality the character she had developed for herself in the unconscious.

She first worked up in the spirit world what she wanted in reality, but then the spirit world had to decay before she could get rid of the transcendental elements.

Her life is an illustration of the principle of enantiodromia because starting with the thing that was most evil in her, namely her willingness to cheat and her general weakness and silliness, she passed by steady progression to the opposite pole where she was expressing the best that was in her.

After this period, which contains the origin of all my ideas,

I found Nietzsche.

I was twenty-four when I read Zarathustra. I could not understand it, but it made a profound impression upon me, and I felt an analogy between it and the girl in some peculiar way.

Later, of course, I found that Zarathustra was written from the unconscious and is a picture of what that man should be.

If Zarathustra [the protagonist] had come through as a reality for Nietzsche instead of remaining in his “spirit world,” the intellectual Nietzsche would have had to go.

But this feat of realization, Nietzsche could not accomplish.

It was more than his brain could master.

All of this time I was continuing as a student of medicine, but I was keeping up my reading in philosophy on the side.

When I was twenty-five, I passed my final examination in medicine.

It had been my intention to specialize in internal medicine.

I was deeply interested in physiological chemistry, and had the chance of becoming the assistant of a famous man.

Nothing was further from my mind then than psychiatry.

One reason for this was the fact that my father, as a minister, was connected with the cantonal insane asylum and very much interested in psychiatry.

Like all sons, I knew that whatever my father was interested in was wrong, and so I avoided it as carefully as I could.

I had never read even one book having to do with psychiatry, but when it came time for me to take my final examinations, I got a textbook and started in to investigate this idiotic subject.

The book was by Krafft-E bing.

I said to myself, “Anybody so foolish as to write a textbook on this subject is bound to explain himself in a preface,” so I turned to the preface. By the time I had finished the first page I was on edge with interest.

By the time I was halfway down the second page, I had such a beating of the heart I could hardly go on.

“By God,” I said, “that is what I will be, a psychiatrist.”

I passed first in my examinations, and great was the surprise of all my friends when I made the announcement that I would be a psychiatrist.

None of them knew that in that book of Krafft-E bing’s I had found the clue to the riddle I was seeking to solve.

Their comment was, “Well, we always thought you were crazy, and now we know it!”

I told nobody that I intended to work out the unconscious phenomena of the psychoses, but that was my determination.

I wanted to catch the intruders in the mind—the intruders that make people laugh when they should not laugh, and cry when they should not cry.

When I developed my association testsit was the defects that the tests brought out that held my interest.

I made careful note of the places where people could not achieve the experiments, and out of these observations I came to my theory of autonomous complexes as being the cause of the blockage in libido flow.

Freud at the same time was evolving his conception of the complex.

In 1900 I read Freud’s Dream Interpretation.

I put it aside as something whose significance I did not fully grasp.

Then I returned to it in 1903 and found in it the connection with my own theories. ~Carl Jung 1925 Seminar, Pages 3-8

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