The Psychological Foundations Of Belief In Spirits, by Jung

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The Psychological Foundations Of Belief In Spirits, by Jung

Postby admin » Wed Jun 12, 2019 12:07 am

The Psychological Foundations Of Belief In Spirits [1]
by Carl Gustav Jung
Read at a general meeting of the Society for Psychical Research (London) on July 4, 1919



If we look back into the past history of mankind, we find, among many other religious convictions, a universal belief in the existence of phantoms or ethereal beings who dwell in the neighbourhood of men and who exercise an invisible yet powerful influence upon them. These beings are generally supposed to be the spirits or souls of the dead. This belief is to be found among highly civilized peoples as well as among Australian aborigines, who are still living in the Stone Age. Among Western peoples, however, belief in spirits has been counteracted by the rationalism and scientific enlightenment of the last one hundred and fifty years, so that among the majority of educated people today it has been suppressed along with other metaphysical beliefs.

But just as these beliefs are still alive among the masses, so too is the belief in spirits. The "haunted house" has not yet become extinct even in the most enlightened and the most intellectual cities, nor has the peasant ceased to believe in the bewitching of his cattle. On the contrary, in this age of materialism —the inevitable consequence of rationalistic enlightenment —there has been a revival of the belief in spirits, but this time on a higher level. It is not a relapse into the darkness of superstition, but an intense scientific interest, a need to direct the searchlight of truth on to the chaos of dubious facts. The names of Crookes, Myers, Wallace, Zollner, and many other eminent men symbolize this rebirth and rehabilitation of the belief in spirits. Even if the real nature of their observations be disputed, even if they can be accused of errors and self-deception, these investigators have still earned for themselves the undying moral merit of having thrown the full weight of their authority and of their great scientific name into these endeavours to shed fresh light on the darkness, regardless of all personal fears and considerations. They shrank neither from academic prejudice nor from the derision of the public, and at the very time when the thinking of educated people was more than ever spellbound by materialistic dogmas, they drew attention to phenomena of psychic provenience that seemed to be in complete contradiction to the materialism of their age.

These men typify the reaction of the human mind against the materialistic view of the world. Looked at from the historical standpoint, it is not at all surprising that they used the belief in spirits as the most effective weapon against the mere truth of the senses, for belief in spirits has the same functional significance also for primitive man. His utter dependence on circumstances and environment, the manifold distresses and tribulations of his life, surrounded by hostile neighbours, dangerous beasts of prey, and often exposed to the pitiless forces of nature; his keen senses, his cupidity, his uncontrolled emotions —all these things bind him to the physical realities, so that he is in constant danger of adopting a purely materialistic attitude and becoming degenerate. His belief in spirits, or rather, his awareness of a spiritual world, pulls him again and again out of that bondage in which his senses would hold him; it forces on him the certainty of a spiritual reality whose laws he must observe as carefully and as guardedly as the laws of his physical environment. Primitive man, therefore, really lives in two worlds. Physical reality is at the same time spiritual reality. The physical world is undeniable, and for him the world of spirits has an equally real existence, not just because he thinks so, but because of his naive awareness of things spiritual. Wherever this naivete is lost through contact with civilization and its disastrous "enlightenment," he forfeits his dependence on spiritual law and accordingly degenerates. Even Christianity cannot save him from corruption, for a highly developed religion like Christianity demands a highly developed psyche if its beneficial effects are to be felt.

For the primitive, the phenomenon of spirits is direct evidence for the reality of a spiritual world. If we inquire what these spirit-phenomena mean to him, and in what they consist, we find that the most frequent phenomenon is the seeing of apparitions, or ghosts. It is generally assumed that the seeing of apparitions is far commoner among primitives than among civilized people, the inference being that this is nothing but superstition, because civilized people do not have such visions unless they are ill. It is quite certain that civilized man makes much less use of the hypothesis of spirits than the primitive, but in my view it is equally certain that psychic phenomena occur no less frequently with civilized people than they do with primitives. 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. I am convinced that if a European had to go through the same exercises and ceremonies which the medicine-man performs in order to make the spirits visible, he would have the same experiences. He would interpret them differently, of course, and devalue them, but this would not alter the facts as such. It is well known that Europeans have very curious psychic experiences if they have to live under primitive conditions for a long time, or if they find themselves in some other unusual psychological situation.

One of the most important sources of the primitive belief in spirits is dreams. People very often appear as the actors in dreams, and the primitive readily believes them to be spirits or ghosts. The dream has for him an incomparably higher value than it has for civilized man. Not only does he talk a great deal about his dreams, he also attributes an extraordinary importance to them, so that it often seems as though he were unable to distinguish between them and reality. To the civilized man dreams as a rule appear valueless, though there are some people who attach great significance to certain dreams on account of their weird and impressive character. This peculiarity lends plausibility to the view that dreams are inspirations. But inspiration implies something that inspires, a spirit or ghost, although this logical inference is not likely to appeal to the modern mind. A good instance of this is the fact that the dead sometimes appear in dreams; the primitive naively takes them for revenants.

Another source of the belief in spirits is psychogenic diseases, nervous disorders, especially those of an hysterical character, which are not rare among primitives. Since these illnesses stem from psychic conflicts, mostly unconscious, it seems to the primitive that they are caused by certain persons, living or dead, who are in some way connected with his subjective conflict. If the person is dead, it is naturally assumed that his spirit is having an injurious influence. As pathogenic conflicts usually go back to childhood and are connected with memories of the parents, we can understand why the primitive attaches special importance to the spirits of dead relatives. This accounts for the wide incidence of ancestor-worship, which is primarily a protection against the malice of the dead. Anyone who has had experience of nervous illnesses knows how great is the importance of parental influences on patients. Many patients feel persecuted by their parents long after they are dead. The psychological after-effects of the parents are so powerful that many cultures have developed a whole system of ancestor-worship to propitiate them. [2]

There can be no doubt that mental illnesses play a significant part in causing belief in spirits. Among primitive peoples these illnesses, so far as is known, are mostly of a delirious, hallucinatory or catatonic nature, belonging apparently to the broad domain of schizophrenia, an illness which covers the great majority of chronically insane patients. In all ages and all over the world, insane people have been regarded as possessed by evil spirits, and this belief is supported by the patient's own hallucinations. The patients are tormented less by visions than by auditory hallucinations: they hear "voices." Very often these voices are those of relatives or of persons in some way connected with the patient's conflicts. To the naive mind, the hallucinations naturally appear to be caused by spirits.

It is impossible to speak of belief in spirits without at the same time considering the belief in souls. Belief in souls is a correlate of belief in spirits. Since, according to primitive belief, a spirit is usually the ghost of one dead, it must once have been the soul of a living person. This is particularly the case wherever the belief is held that people have only one soul. But this assumption does not prevail everywhere; it is frequently supposed that people have two or more souls, one of which survives death and is immortal. In this case the spirit of the dead is only one of the several souls of the living. It is thus only a part of the total soul — a psychic fragment, so to speak.

Belief in souls is therefore a necessary premise for belief in spirits, at least so far as the spirits of the dead are concerned. However, primitives do not believe only in spirits of the dead. There are also elemental demons who are supposed never to have been human souls or soul-parts. This group of spirits must therefore have a different origin.

Before going into the psychological grounds for belief in souls I should like to take a quick glance back at the facts already mentioned. I have pointed out three main sources that put the belief in spirits on a solid foundation: the seeing of apparitions, dreams, and pathological disturbances of psychic life. The commonest and most normal of these phenomena is the dream, and its great significance for primitive psychology is now widely recognized. What, then, is a dream?

A dream is a psychic product originating in the sleeping state without conscious motivation. In a dream, consciousness is not completely extinguished; there is always a small remnant left. In most dreams, for instance, there is still some consciousness of the ego, although it is a very limited and curiously distorted ego known as the dream-ego. It is a mere fragment or shadow of the waking ego. Consciousness exists only when psychic contents are associated with the ego, and the ego is a psychic complex of a particularly solid kind. As sleep is seldom quite dreamless, we may assume that the activity of the ego-complex seldom ceases entirely; its activity is as a rule only restricted by sleep. The psychic contents associated with it in a dream confront the ego in much the same way as do the outward circumstances in real life, so that in dreams we generally find ourselves in situations such as we could not conceive when awake, but which are very like the situations we are confronted with in reality. As in our waking state, real people and things enter our field of vision, so the dream-images enter like another kind of reality into the field of consciousness of the dream-ego. We do not feel as if we were producing the dreams, it is rather as if the dreams came to us. They are not subject to our control but obey their own laws. They are obviously autonomous psychic complexes which form themselves out of their own material. We do not know the source of their motives, and we therefore say that dreams come from the unconscious. In saying this, we assume that there are independent psychic complexes which elude our conscious control and come and go according to their own laws. In our waking life, we imagine we make our own thoughts and can have them when we want them. We also think we know where they come from, and why and to what end we have them. Whenever a thought comes to us against our will, or suddenly vanishes against our will, we feel as if something exceptional or even morbid had happened. The difference between psychic activity in the waking and in the sleeping state seems, therefore, to be an important one. In the waking state the psyche is apparently under the control of the conscious will, but in the sleeping state it produces contents that are strange and incomprehensible, as though they came from another world.

The same is true of visions. They are like dreams, only they occur in the waking state. They enter consciousness along with conscious perceptions and are nothing other than the momentary irruption of an unconscious content. The same phenomenon also happens in mental disturbances. Quite out of the blue, apparently, against the background of noises in the environment and sound-waves coming from outside, the ear, excited from within, hears psychic contents that have nothing to do with the immediate concerns of the conscious mind. [3] Besides judgments formed by intellect and feeling from definite premises, opinions and convictions thrust themselves on the patient, apparently deriving from real perceptions but actually from unconscious factors within him. These are delusional ideas.

Common to all three types of phenomena is the fact that the psyche is not an indivisible unity but a divisible and more or less divided whole. Although the separate parts are connected with one another, they are relatively independent, so much so that certain parts of the psyche never become associated with the ego at all, or only very rarely. I have called these psychic fragments "autonomous complexes," and I based my theory of complexes on their existence. [4] According to this theory the ego-complex forms the centre characteristic of our psyche. But it is only one among several complexes. The others are more often than not associated with the ego-complex and in this way become conscious, but they can also exist for some time without being associated with it. An excellent and very well known example of this is the conversion of St. Paul. Although the actual moment of conversion often seems quite sudden and unexpected, we know from experience that such a fundamental upheaval always requires a long period of incubation. It is only when this preparation is complete, that is to say when the individual is ripe for conversion, that the new insight breaks through with violent emotion. Saul, as he was then called, had unconsciously been a Christian for a long time, and this would explain his fanatical hatred of the Christians, because fanaticism is always found in those who have to stifle a secret doubt. That is why converts are always the worst fanatics. The vision of Christ on the road to Damascus merely marks the moment when the unconscious Christ-complex associated itself with Paul's ego. The fact that Christ appeared to him objectively, in the form of a vision, is explained by the circumstance that Saul's Christianity was an unconscious complex which appeared to him in projection, as if it did not belong to him. He could not see himself as a Christian; therefore, from sheer resistance to Christ, he became blind and could only be healed again by a Christian. We know that psychogenic blindness is always an unconscious unwillingness to see, which in Saul's case corresponds with his fanatical resistance to Christianity. This resistance, as we know from the Epistles, was never entirely overcome, and occasionally it broke out in the form of fits which are erroneously explained as epileptic. The fits were a sudden return of the old Saul-complex which had been split off by his conversion just as the Christ-complex was before.

For reasons of intellectual morality, we should not explain Paul's conversion on metaphysical grounds, otherwise we should have to explain all similar cases that occur among our patients in the same metaphysical way. This would lead to quite absurd conclusions repugnant to reason and feeling alike.

Autonomous complexes appear most clearly in dreams, visions, pathological hallucinations, and delusional ideas. Because the ego is unconscious of them, they always appear first in projected form. In dreams they are represented by other people, in visions they are projected, as it were, into space, just like the voices in insanity when not ascribed to persons in the patient's environment. Ideas of persecution, as we know, are frequently associated with particular persons to whom the patient attributes the peculiarities of his own unconscious complex. He feels these persons as hostile because he is hostile to the unconscious complex, just as Saul resented the Christ-complex he could not acknowledge in himself and persecuted the Christians as its representatives. We see this constantly repeated in everyday life: people unhesitatingly project their own assumptions about others on to the persons concerned and hate or love them accordingly. Since reflection is so troublesome and difficult, they prefer to judge without restraint, not realizing that they are merely projecting and making themselves the victims of a stupid illusion. They take no account of the injustice and uncharitableness of such a procedure, and above all they never consider the serious loss of personality they suffer when, from sheer negligence, they allow themselves the luxury of foisting their own mistakes or merits onto others. It is exceedingly unwise to think that other people are as stupid and inferior as one is oneself, and one should also realize the damage one does by assigning one's own good qualities to moral highwaymen with an eye to the main chance.

Spirits, therefore, viewed from the psychological angle, are unconscious autonomous complexes which appear as projections because they have no direct association with the ego. [5]

I said earlier on that belief in souls is a necessary correlate of belief in spirits. Whilst spirits are felt to be strange and as not belonging to the ego, this is not true of the soul or souls. The primitive feels the proximity or the influence of a spirit as something uncanny or dangerous, and is greatly relieved when the spirit is banished. Conversely, he feels the loss of a soul as if it were a sickness; indeed, he often attributes serious physical diseases to loss of soul. There are innumerable rites for calling the "soul-bird" back into the sick person. Children may not be struck because their souls might feel insulted and depart. Thus, for the primitive, the soul is something that seems normally to belong to him, but spirits seem to be something that normally should not be near him. He avoids places haunted by spirits, or visits them only with fear, for religious or magical purposes.

The plurality of souls indicates a plurality of relatively autonomous complexes that can behave like spirits. The soul-complexes seem to belong to the ego and the loss of them appears pathological. The opposite is true of spirit-complexes: their association with the ego causes illness, and their dissociation from it brings recovery. Accordingly, primitive pathology recognizes two cause's of illness: loss of soul, and possession by a spirit. The two theories keep one another more or less balanced. We therefore have to postulate the existence of unconscious complexes that normally belong to the ego, and of those that normally should not become associated with it. The former are the soul-complexes, the latter the spirit-complexes.

This distinction, common to most primitive beliefs, corresponds exactly to my conception of the unconscious. According to my view, the unconscious falls into two parts which should be sharply distinguished from one another. One of them is the personal unconscious; it includes all those psychic contents which have been forgotten during the course of the individual's life. Traces of them are still preserved in the unconscious, even if all conscious memory of them has been lost. In addition, it contains all subliminal impressions or perceptions which have too little energy to reach consciousness. To these we must add unconscious combinations of ideas that are still too feeble and too indistinct to cross over the threshold. Finally, the personal unconscious contains all psychic contents that are incompatible with the conscious attitude. This comprises a whole group of contents, chiefly those which appear morally, aesthetically, or intellectually inadmissible and are repressed on account of their incompatibility. A man cannot always think and feel the good, the true, and the beautiful, and in trying to keep up an ideal attitude everything that does not fit in with it is automatically repressed. If, as is nearly always the case in a differentiated person, one function, for instance thinking, is especially developed and dominates consciousness, then feeling is thrust into the background and largely falls into the unconscious.

The other part of the unconscious is what I call the impersonal or collective unconscious. As the name indicates, its contents are not personal but collective; that is, they do not belong to one individual alone but to a whole group of individuals, and generally to a whole nation, or even to the whole of mankind. These contents are not acquired during the individual's lifetime but are products of innate forms and instincts. Although the child possesses no inborn ideas, it nevertheless has a highly developed brain which functions in a quite definite way. This brain is inherited from its ancestors; it is the deposit of the psychic functioning of the whole human race. The child therefore brings with it an organ ready to function in the same way as it has functioned throughout human history. In the brain the instincts are preformed, and so are the primordial images which have always been the basis of man's thinking —the whole treasure-house of mythological motifs. [6] It is, of course, not easy to prove the existence of the collective unconscious in a normal person, but occasionally mythological ideas are represented in his dreams. These contents can be seen most clearly in cases of mental derangement, especially in schizophrenia, where mythological images often pour out in astonishing variety. Insane people frequently produce combinations of ideas and symbols that could never be accounted for by experiences in their individual lives, but only by the history of the human mind. It is an instance of primitive, mythological thinking, which reproduces its own primordial images, and is not a reproduction of conscious experiences. [7]

The personal unconscious, then, contains complexes that belong to the individual and form an intrinsic part of his psychic life. When any complex which ought to be associated with the ego becomes unconscious, either by being repressed or by sinking below the threshold, the individual experiences a sense of loss. Conversely, when a lost complex is made conscious again, for instance through psychotherapeutic treatment, he experiences an increase of power. [8] Many neuroses are cured in this way. But when, on the other hand, a complex of the collective unconscious becomes associated with the ego, i.e., becomes conscious, it is felt as strange, uncanny, and at the same time fascinating. At all events the conscious mind falls under its spell, either feeling it as something pathological, or else being alienated by it from normal life. The association of a collective content with the ego always produces a state of alienation, because something is added to the individual's consciousness which ought really to remain unconscious, that is, separated from the ego. If the content can be removed from consciousness again, the patient will feel relieved and more normal. The irruption of these alien contents is a characteristic symptom marking the onset of many mental illnesses. The patients are seized by weird and monstrous thoughts, the whole world seems changed, people have horrible, distorted faces, and so on. [9]

While the contents of the personal unconscious are felt as belonging to one's own psyche, the contents of the collective unconscious seem alien, as if they came from outside. The reintegration of a personal complex has the effect of release and often of healing, whereas the invasion of a complex from the collective unconscious is a very disagreeable and even dangerous phenomenon. The parallel with the primitive belief in souls and spirits is obvious: souls correspond to the autonomous complexes of the personal unconscious, and spirits to those of the collective unconscious. We, from the scientific standpoint, prosaically call the awful beings that dwell in the shadows of the primeval forests "psychic complexes." Yet if we consider the extraordinary role played by the belief in souls and spirits in the history of mankind, we cannot be content with merely establishing the existence of such complexes, but must go rather more deeply into their nature.

These complexes can easily be demonstrated by means of the association experiment. [10] The procedure is simple. The experimenter calls out a word to the test-person, and the test-person reacts as quickly as possible with the first word that comes into his mind. The reaction time is measured by a stopwatch. One would expect all simple words to be answered with roughly the same speed, and that only "difficult" words would be followed by a prolonged reaction time. But actually this is not so. There are unexpectedly prolonged reaction times after very simple words, whereas difficult words may be answered quite quickly. Closer investigation shows that prolonged reaction times generally occur when the stimulus-word hits a content with a strong feeling-tone. Besides the prolonged reaction-time there are other characteristic disturbances that cannot be discussed in detail here. The feeling-toned contents generally have to do with things which the test-person would like to keep secret —painful things which he has repressed, some of them being unknown even to the test-person himself. When a stimulus-word hits such a complex, no answer occurs to him at all, or else so many things crowd into his mind that he does not know what answer to give, or he mechanically repeats the stimulus-word, or he gives an answer and then immediately substitutes another, and so forth. When, after completing the experiment, the test-person is asked what answers he gave to the individual words, we find that ordinary reactions are remembered quite well, while words connected with a complex are usually forgotten.

These peculiarities plainly reveal the qualities of the autonomous complex. It creates a disturbance in the readiness to react, either inhibiting the answer or causing an undue delay, or it produces an unsuitable reaction, and afterwards often suppresses the memory of the answer. It interferes with the conscious will and disturbs its intentions. That is why we call it autonomous. If we subject a neurotic or insane person to this experiment, we find that the complexes which disturb the reactions are at the same time essential components of the psychic disturbance. They cause not only the disturbances of reaction but also the symptoms. I have seen cases where certain stimulus-words were followed by strange and apparently nonsensical answers, by words that came out of the test-person's mouth quite unexpectedly, as though a strange being had spoken through him. These words belonged to the autonomous complex. When excited by an external stimulus, complexes can produce sudden confusions, or violent affects, depressions, anxiety-states, etc., or they may express themselves in hallucinations. In short, they behave in such a way that the primitive theory of spirits strikes one as being an uncommonly apt formulation for them.

We may carry this parallel further. Certain complexes arise on account of painful or distressing experiences in a person's life, experiences of an emotional nature which leave lasting psychic wounds behind them. A bad experience of this sort often crushes valuable qualities in an individual. All these produce unconscious complexes of a personal nature. A primitive would rightly speak of a loss of soul, because certain portions of the psyche have indeed disappeared. A great many autonomous complexes arise in this way. But there are others that come from quite a different source. While the first source is easily understood, since it concerns the outward life everyone can see, this other source is obscure and difficult to understand because it has to do with perceptions or impressions of the collective unconscious. Usually the individual tries to rationalize these inner perceptions in terms of external causes, but that does not get at the root of the matter. At bottom they are irrational contents of which the individual had never been conscious before, and which he therefore vainly seeks to discover somewhere outside him. The primitive expresses this very aptly when he says that some spirit is interfering with him. So far as I can judge, these experiences occur either when something so devastating happens to the individual that his whole previous attitude to life breaks down, or when for some reason the contents of the collective unconscious accumulate so much energy that they start influencing the conscious mind. In my view this happens when the life of a large social group or of a nation undergoes a profound change of a political, social, or religious nature. Such a change always involves an alteration of the psychological attitude. Incisive changes in history are generally attributed exclusively to external causes. It seems to me, however, that external circumstances often serve merely as occasions for a new attitude to life and the world, long prepared in the unconscious, to become manifest. Social, political, and religious conditions affect the collective unconscious in the sense that all those factors which are suppressed by the prevailing views or attitudes in the life of a society gradually accumulate in the collective unconscious and activate its contents. Certain individuals gifted with particularly strong intuition then become aware of the changes going on in it and translate these changes into communicable ideas. The new ideas spread rapidly because parallel changes have been taking place in the unconscious of other people. There is a general readiness to accept the new ideas, although on the other hand they often meet with violent resistance. New ideas are not just the enemies of the old; they also appear as a rule in an extremely unacceptable form.

Whenever contents of the collective unconscious become activated, they have a disturbing effect on the conscious mind, and confusion ensues. If the activation is due to the collapse of the individual's hopes and expectations, there is a danger that the collective unconscious may take the place of reality. This state would be pathological. If, on the other hand, the activation is the result of psychological processes in the unconscious of the people, the individual may feel threatened or at any rate disoriented, but the resultant state is not pathological, at least so far as the individual is concerned. Nevertheless, the mental state of the people as a whole might well be compared to a psychosis. If the translation of the unconscious into a communicable language proves successful, it has a redeeming effect. The driving forces locked up in the unconscious are canalized into consciousness and form a new source of power, which may, however, unleash a dangerous enthusiasm. [11]

Spirits are not under all circumstances dangerous and harmful. They can, when translated into ideas, also have beneficial effects. A well-known example of this transformation of a content of the collective unconscious into communicable language is the miracle of Pentecost. From the point of view of the onlookers, the apostles were in a state of ecstatic intoxication ("These men are full of new wine": Acts 2:13). But it was just when they were in this state that they communicated the new teaching which gave expression to the unconscious expectations of the people and spread with astonishing rapidity through the whole Roman Empire.

Spirits are complexes of the collective unconscious which appear when the individual loses his adaptation to reality, or which seek to replace the inadequate attitude of a whole people by a new one. They are therefore either pathological fantasies or new but as yet unknown ideas.

The psychogenesis of the spirits of the dead seems to me to be more or less as follows. When a person dies, the feelings and emotions that bound his relatives to him lose their application to reality and sink into the unconscious, where they activate a collective content that has a deleterious effect on consciousness. The Bataks and many other primitives therefore say that when a man dies his character deteriorates, so that he is always trying to harm the living in some way. This view is obviously based on the experience that a persistent attachment to the dead makes life seem less worth living, and may even be the cause of psychic illnesses. The harmful effect shows itself in the form of loss of libido, depression, and physical debility. There are also universal reports of these post-mortem phenomena in the form of ghosts and hauntings. They are based in the main on psychic facts which cannot be dismissed out of hand. Very often the fear of superstition —which, strangely enough, is the concomitant of universal enlightenment —is responsible for the hasty suppression of extremely interesting factual reports which are thus lost to science. I have not only found many reports of this kind among my patients, but have also observed a few things myself. But my material is too slender for me to base any verifiable hypothesis on it. Nevertheless, I myself am convinced that ghosts and suchlike have to do with psychic facts of which our academic wisdom refuses to take cognizance, although they appear clearly enough in our dreams.

In this essay I have sketched out a psychological interpretation of the problem of spirits from the standpoint of our present knowledge of unconscious processes. I have confined myself wholly to the psychological side of the problem, and purposely avoided the question of whether spirits exist in themselves and can give evidence of their existence through material effects. I avoid this question not because I regard it as futile from the start, but because I am not in a position to adduce experiences that would prove it one way or the other. I think the reader will be as conscious as I am that it is extraordinarily difficult to find reliable evidence for the independent existence of spirits, since the usual spiritualistic communications are as a rule nothing but very ordinary products of the personal unconscious. [12] There are, nevertheless, a few exceptions worth mentioning. I would like to call attention to a remarkable case Stewart E. White has described in a number of books. Here the communications have a much profounder content than usual. For instance, a great many archetypal ideas were produced, among them the archetype of the self, so that one might almost think there had been borrowings from my writings. If we discount the possibility of conscious plagiarism, I should say that cryptomnesic reproduction is very unlikely. It appears to be a case of genuine, spontaneous production of a collective archetype. This is not in itself anything extraordinary, since the archetype of the self is met with everywhere in mythology as well as in the products of individual fantasy. The spontaneous irruption of collective contents whose existence in the unconscious has long been known to psychology is part of the general tendency of mediumistic communications to filter the contents of the unconscious through to consciousness. I have studied a wide range of spiritualistic literature precisely for these tendencies and have come to the conclusion that in spiritualism we have a spontaneous attempt of the unconscious to become conscious in a collective form. The psychotherapeutic endeavours of the so-called spirits are aimed at the living either directly, or indirectly through the deceased person, in order to make them more conscious. Spiritualism as a collective phenomenon thus pursues the same goals as medical psychology, and in so doing produces, as in this case, the same basic ideas and images —styling themselves the "teachings of the spirits" — which are characteristic of the nature of the collective unconscious. Such things, however baffling they may be, prove nothing either for or against the hypothesis of spirits. But it is a very different matter when we come to proven cases of identity. I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud. There are probably very few proofs of this kind which could stand up to the test of cryptomnesia and, above all, of extra-sensory perception. Science cannot afford the luxury of naivete in these matters. Nevertheless, I would recommend anyone who is interested in the psychology of the unconscious to read the books of Stewart White. [13] The most interesting to my mind is The Unobstructed Universe (1940). The Road I Know (1942) is also remarkable in that it serves as an admirable introduction to the method of "active imagination" which I have been using for more than thirty years in the treatment of neurosis, as a means to bringing unconscious contents to consciousness." In all these books you still find the primitive equation: spirit-land = dreamland (the unconscious). [14]

These parapsychic phenomena seem to be connected as a rule with the presence of a medium. They are, so far as my experience goes, the exteriorized effects of unconscious complexes. I for one am certainly convinced that they are exteriorizations. I have repeatedly observed the telepathic effects of unconscious complexes, and also a number of parapsychic phenomena. But in all this I see no proof whatever of the existence of real spirits, and until such proof is forthcoming I must regard this whole territory as an appendix of psychology. [15] I think science has to impose this restriction on itself. Yet one should never forget that science is simply a matter of intellect, and that the intellect is only one among several fundamental psychic functions and therefore does not suffice to give a complete picture of the world. For this another function —feeling —is needed too. Feeling often arrives at convictions that are different from those of the intellect, and we cannot always prove that the convictions of feeling are necessarily inferior. We also have subliminal perceptions of the unconscious which are not at the disposal of the intellect and are therefore missing in a purely intellectual picture of the world. So we have every reason to grant our intellect only a limited validity. But when we work with the intellect, we must proceed scientifically and adhere to empirical principles until irrefutable evidence against their validity is forthcoming.



1 Originally translated by H. G. Baynes from a German manuscript and published in Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (London), XXXI (1920), having been read at a general meeting of the Society on July 4, 1919. This translation was republished in Contributions to Analytical Psychology (London and New York, 1928). The German original was first published as "Die psychologischen Grundlagen des Geisterglaubens," in Uber die Energetik der Seele (Psychologische Abhandlungen, II; Zurich, 1928), and was revised and expanded in Uber psychische Energetik und das Wesen der Traume (Zurich, 1948). The latter version is here translated, but the Baynes translation has also been consulted. —EDITORS.

2 When I was on an expedition to Mount Elgon (East Africa) in 1925-26, one of our water-bearers, a young woman who lived in a neighbouring kraal, fell ill with what looked like a septic abortion with high fever. We were unable to treat her from our meagre medical supplies, so her relatives immediately sent for a ngang -- a medicine-man. When he arrived, the medicine-man walked round and round the hut in ever-widening circles, snuffing the air. Suddenly he came to a halt on a track that led down from the mountain, and explained that the sick girl was the only daughter of parents who had died young and were now up there in the bamboo forest. Every night they came down to make their daughter ill so that she should die and keep them company. On the instructions of the medicine-man a "ghost-trap" was then built on the mountain path, in the form of a little hut, and a clay figure of the sick girl was placed inside it together with some food. During the night the ghosts went in there, thinking to be with their daughter. To our boundless astonishment the girl recovered within two days. Was our diagnosis wrong? The puzzle remained unsolved.

3 There are even cases where the voices repeat the patient's thoughts aloud. But these are rather rare.

4 Cf. "A Review of the Complex Theory," in C.W 8.

5 This should not be misconstrued as a metaphysical statement The question of whether spirits exist in themselves is far from having been settled. Psychology is not concerned with things as they are "in themselves," but only with what people think about them.

6. By this I do not mean the existing form of the motif but its preconscious, invisible "ground plan." This might be compared to the crystal lattice which is preformed in the crystalline solution. It should not be confused with the variously structured axial system of the individual crystal.

7 Cf. my Symbols of Transformation; also Spielrein, "fiber den psychologischen Inhalt eines Falles von Schizophrenic"; Nelken, "Analytische Beobachtungen über Phantasien eines Schizophrenen"; C. A. Meier, "Spontanmanifestationen des kollektiven Unbewussten."

8 This is not always a pleasant feeling, for the patient was quite content to lose the complex so long as he did not feel the disagreeable consequences of the loss.

9 Those who are familiar with this material will object that my description is one-sided, because they know that the archetype, the autonomous collective content, does not have only the negative aspect described here. I have merely restricted myself to the common symptomatology that can be found in every text-book of psychiatry, and to the equally common defensive attitude towards anything extraordinary. Naturally the archetype also has a positive numinosity which I have repeatedly mentioned elsewhere.

10 Cf. my Studies in Wind Association.

11 This account of the genesis of a collective psyche was written in the spring of 1919. Events since 1933 have amply confirmed it.

12 [The rest of this paragraph was added in the 1948 Swiss edition.—EDITORS.]

13 I am indebted to Dr. Fritz Kiinkel, of Los Angeles, for drawing my attention to this author.

14 Cf. C.W 8, "The Transcendent Function," pars. 166ff., and Two Essays pars. 343ff. [Also Mysterium Coniunctionis, pars. 706, 752ff.]

15 After collecting psychological experiences from many people and many countries for fifty years, I no longer feel as certain as I did in 1919, when I wrote this sentence. To put it bluntly, I doubt whether an exclusively psychological approach can do justice to the phenomena in question. Not only the findings of parapsychology, but my own theoretical reflections, outlined in "On the Nature of the Psyche," have led me to certain postulates which touch on the realm of nuclear physics and the conception of the space-time continuum. This opens up the whole question of the transpsychic reality immediately underlying the psyche.
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