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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Carl Jung on a young woman who suffered from incurable insomnia




The doctor of a small town in Canton Solothurn had sent me a young patient who suffered from incurable insomnia.

She was pining away from lack of sleep and narcotics.

He could think of no way to help her except hypnotism or this new psychoanalysis that they were beginning to talk about.

But she came to me.

She was a teacher, twenty-five years old, of a very simple family, who had successfully completed her studies, but who lived in constant fear of making a mistake, of not being worthy of her position.

She had gotten into an unbearable state of spasmodic tension.

Clearly, what she needed was psychic relaxation.

But we did not know much about all those ideas then.

There was no one in the locality where she lived who could handle her case, and she could not come to Zurich for treatment.

I had to do, as best I could, whatever was possible in an hour.

I tried to explain to her that relaxation was necessary, that I, for example, found relaxation by sailing on the lake, by letting
myself go with the wind; that this was good for one, necessary for everybody.

But I could see by her eyes that she didn't understand.

She got it intellectually, that's as far as it went, though.

Reason had no effect.

Then, as I talked of sailing and of the wind, I heard the voice of my mother singing a lullaby to my little sister as she used to do when I was eight or nine, a story of a little girl in a little boat, on the Rhine, with little fishes.

And I began, almost without doing it on purpose, to hum what I was telling her about the wind, the waves, the sailing,
and relaxation, to the tune of the little lullaby.

I hummed those sensations, and I could see that she was "enchanted."

But the hour came to an end, and I had to send her away brusquely.

I knew nothing more about her.

I had forgotten her name and that of her physician.

But it was a story that haunted me.

Years later, at a congress, a stranger introduced himself to me as the doctor from Solothurn and reminded me of the story of the young girl.

"Certainly I remember the case," I said. "I should have liked so much to know what became of her."

"But," he replied in surprise, "she came back cured, as you know, and I was the one who always wanted to know what you had done.

Because all she could tell me was some story about sailing and wind, and I never could get her to tell me what you really did.

I think she doesn't remember.

Of course, I know it's impossible that you only hummed her a story about a boat."

How was I to explain to him that I had simply listened to something within myself?

I had been quite at sea.

How was I to tell him that I had sung her a lullaby with my mother's voice?

Enchantment like that is the oldest form of medicine.

But it all happened outside of my reason: it was not until later that I thought about it rationally and tried to arrive at the laws behind it.

She was cured by the grace of God. ~Carl Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, Pages 410-423

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