Chapter 2: How to Become a Scientist
It was Jung's good fortune to be accepted by Eugen Bleuler, one of the foremost psychiatrists in Europe, as an assistant at the Burgholzli Mental Hospital in Zurich. Bleuler -- who is responsible for inventing the term schizophrenia -- had himself been the director of the Burgholzli for only two years when Jung arrived in December 1900. Before that he had been in charge of a lunatic asylum at Rheinau, full of old, demented patients who were regarded as incurable vegetables. Bleuler had accepted this as a challenge, and set out determinedly to get to know every one of them personally and to try and get to the root of their problems. Instead of treating their delusions as incomprehensible nonsense, he tried to understand precisely how they had come about. It might be said that Bleuler treated their delusions as a literary critic treats a novel -- as a creation that can be understood. And in an age that regarded mental illness as physical in origin -- a view known as organicism -- this was a tremendous step forward. He was brilliantly successful.
Jung described the Burgholzli as a kind of monastery. Bleuler expected from his staff the same fanatical devotion that he brought to his work. But he was no authoritarian -- his attitude was more like that of a kindly elder brother. Jung was embarrassed, when he arrived, that Bleuler insisted on carrying his case up to his room.
Alcohol was not permitted; food was plentiful but plain. Jung had to rise at 6.30 and make his rounds before a general staff meeting at 8.30. The hospital doors were closed at 10 p.m., and only senior residents were allowed keys.
But it was precisely what Jung needed. He had at last found something that could absorb his total enthusiasm. For him, the mental world of the patients was an endless series of fascinating puzzles. His dedication was so much greater than that of of most of his colleagues that he felt an understandable sense of superiority. After about a week he began spending most of his time alone, and within six months had read the fifty volumes of the Journal of Psychiatry (Allgemeine Zeitschrift fur Psychiatrie) from beginning to end. Being surrounded by mental illness seems to have aroused the kind of morbid enthusiasm that a child feels for violence. 'I wanted to know how the human mind reacted to the sight of its own destruction, for psychiatry seemed to me an articulate expression of that biological reaction which seizes upon the so-called healthy mind in the presence of mental illness.'
Writing about this period later, Jung showed a curious lack of generosity towards Bleuler. He states that what dominated his interest was the question: 'What actually takes place inside the mentally ill?', and then adds the incredible statement: 'nor had any of my colleagues concerned themselves with such problems'. Since this was the very essence of Bleuler's contribution, such a remark seems incomprehensible. Neither does Jung acknowledge his own indebtedness to Bleuler. The explanation is probably that Jung's fascination with the mysteries of mental illness was equal to Bleuler's own, and he did not need Bleuler's example to encourage it; so he regarded Bleuler with the unconscious jealousy of a man who feels that someone else has anticipated his own discovery. What seems clear is that Jung threw himself into the work of the hospital with a dedication equal to Bleuler's own.
Bleuler suspected that illnesses like schizophrenia (loss of contact with reality) may be due partly to some physical cause, such as hormone deficiency. (And the latest discoveries suggest that he may well be right.) But his real contribution was to recognize that illness is basically a question of the patient's own will, or lack of it. In that case, the main problem was to stimulate the patient into using his will, instead of remaining a leaden, passive weight. He might, for example, discharge a severely ill patient back into home life -- rather in the spirit of teaching someone to swim by throwing him into the swimming pool. He was also a pioneer of 'work therapy'.
Jung gives an example of the kind of case that fascinated him. One of his female patients was suffering from acute depression. By studying her dreams, and subjecting her to 'word association tests' -- one of Jung's major innovations at the Burgholzli -- he uncovered a story of guilt that explained her illness. She had been in love with the son of a wealthy industrialist; but since he seemed indifferent to her, she married another man. Five years later, an old friend told her that the man had been in love with her, and had been upset when she married. She began to feel depressed. One day, when bathing her children, she noticed that her baby daughter was sucking water from the sponge -- tainted river water; her depression made her indifferent. In fact, she also allowed her small son to drink river water. The girl died, but the son was unaffected. The girl was her favourite, and it was soon after this that her depression reached a point at which it looked like schizophrenia, and she was hospitalized.
Having discovered his patient's secret, Jung was confronted with the problem of what to do. He made the decision to tell her. It proved to be the right one. Knowing that someone shared her secret was like confession; within two weeks, she was well enough to be discharged, and was never again hospitalized.
It was, of course, an extremely risky decision to take, and Bleuler, with his deep concern for the patient, might well not have taken it. In reading Jung's account of his cases, it is impossible not to be aware that his success was due partly to an element of ruthlessness; he was dominated by curiosity rather than compassion. This same ruthlessness can be seen in a later case, involving the governor of the Bank of England, Sir Montagu Norman, who began suffering from manic-depression which, in its manic phase, amounted to delusions of grandeur. Delusions of grandeur are sometimes associated with syphilis and general paralysis of the insane. Jung ordered a blood test, and informed Norman that he was syphilitic. Norman's brother Ronald heard the verdict from his shattered brother and rushed to see Jung, who firmly repeated his verdict, and stated that Norman would be dead within months. In fact, the blood test proved to be mistaken, and Norman was treated by another doctor for manic-depression and partly cured. Jung's own superabundant vitality seems to have blunted the fine edge of human sympathy that is necessary to be a good psychiatrist.
What was exciting Jung so much, in these early days, was his recognition that mental illness has its root in the unconscious mind, not in some deterioration in the brain or nervous system. It could therefore be reduced to a simple problem: how to 'get into' the unconscious and find out what is going on there. At that time, the most useful method was the word association test invented by Sir Francis Galton and refined by Wundt. When it was discovered that reaction time was longer when the word had unpleasant associations, the psychiatrist suddenly had a clue to the patient's repressions.
Now one of Bleuler's most important insights was that schizophrenia involved a loosening of the patient's mental associations. Consciousness, after all, is a matter of associations. If a cow looks at an umbrella, it means nothing to it because an umbrella has no associations for a cow; for a human being it has dozens. Our minds are a web of associations. When a person 'lets go', like the mother who let her child suck dirty water, it is the associations that are being let go of. So when Bleuler recognized that the word association test can provide a key to mental illness, he had taken a practical step to understanding the 'geography of consciousness'.
Jung had already invented his own mental stethoscope for sounding out the unconscious: dream analysis. Ever since he was a child, he had been fascinated by his own dreams, feeling instinctively that they were trying to 'tell' him something. Now, using dream analysis in conjunction with the word association test, he realized that he had the key to many mysteries of the mind. He had become, so to speak, a psychiatric Sherlock Holmes. Sometimes, even his own dreams helped him to solve a case. He was consulted by a pretty young Jewess with a severe anxiety neurosis. On the previous night, he had dreamed of a young girl whose problem was a father fixation. As the young Jewess talked to him, and he had to admit that he was unable to gain any insight into her problem, he suddenly thought: 'She is the girl of my dream.' He could detect no sign of a father complex, but when he asked her about her grandfather, she closed her eyes tor a moment, and Jung inferred that this was the root of the problem. Her grandfather had been a rabbi, a kind of saint who was also reputed to possess second sight. Her father turned his back on all this and abandoned the Jewish faith. Jung suddenly told the girl 'You have your neurosis because the fear of God has got into you.' Later, he dreamed that he was kneeling, and presenting the girl with an umbrella, as if she was a goddess. When he told her this dream, her neurosis quickly vanished.
A case like this makes the reader suspect that Jung was madder than his patient, and such a reaction is not entirely unwarranted. To begin with, Jung assumes that his first dream was telling him something about a patient he saw for the first time the next day. Next, he assumes that the grandfather is somehow the key to her neurosis. Finally, he concludes that the girl has the makings of a saint, but is somehow trapped in her own picture of herself as a pretty, superficial creature with nothing in her head but flirtations and clothes. What Jung is doing is to use his own completely irrational reactions to provide insight into a problem that defied his conscious intellect. It is conceivable that he may have been quite wrong about the cause of her neurosis, and his feeling that she had the making of a saint. But his instinct made him treat her as someone who deserved to be treated as a goddess, not as a silly little girl, and this had the effect of boosting her self-esteem and curing the problem. We must also take into account the analyst himself. Jung was a massively built, handsome young man with a commanding personality, and the sheer force of his presence -- and his implied admiration -- must have acted upon the girl's ego like a soothing balm. So whether or not Jung was correct about her, he had intuitively hit upon the right method of galvanizing her self-respect and her vital forces.
The case should also make us somewhat cautious about Jung's whole approach to psychiatry. He wanted to treat it as an exact science, which meant finding scientific justifications for the things he did instinctively. His paper 'On So-called Occult Phenomena', about his cousin Helly, is an example: Helly has to be rammed into a mould that fits -- in this case, multiple personality. But as we read the case, we become aware that her mediumship was far more complicated than the Walter Mitty fantasy to which Jung tries to reduce it, just as Sir Montagu Norman's case was more complicated than syphilis. In those early days, Jung was obsessed with sounding like a paid-up member of the scientific establishment, and the result is a kind of rigidity in his mental categories, a lack of perceptiveness.
It is tempting to regard his association with Pierre Janet in the winter of 1902-3 as another example of the lack of perceptiveness. Jung obtained leave of absence to spend the winter in Paris, studying under Janet, who was at the time fifty-three years old. Janet had caused a sensation in 1885 with a paper about a patient called Leonie, an exceptionally good hypnotic subject, and a remarkable case of multiple personality.  Janet could place Leonie in a state of hypnosis when she was on the other side of Le Havre, and summon her to come to his house. Such a discovery should have revolutionized psychology; but it was a little too startling to be absorbed, even by Jung.
In 1902, when Jung came to Paris, Janet had developed a simple and comprehensive theory of the cause of mental illness. Like Bleuler, Janet recognized that an illness like schizophrenia is a scattering of attention, a loss of concentration; we express it precisely when we say that someone is 'not all there'. All where? All there, where the mind should be focused. Focusing, concentration, is a mental act, and it is a function of the will just as breathing is a function of the lungs or digestion of the stomach. The definition of a healthy person is a person who is focusing and concentrating with a sense of vital purpose.
Janet described this act of focusing as 'psychological tension'. Psychological tension is the deliberate ordering of our 'psychological force' -- our energies.
If I face some prospect with a groan of boredom, it produces a feeling that could be translated: 'Oh no!', and a loss of 'psychological tension'; my energy seems to spread out, like a glass of water knocked over a table top. Conversely, the moment I become deeply interested in something, I increase my psychological tension, and the result is a sudden feeling of increased energy and vitality -- psychological force.
So in an important sense, I am in charge of my own vitality. I merely have to think to myself 'How fascinating', and concentrate, to experience an instant rise in my vital tension.
But if I can command my own vitality, then what causes neurosis? It is a simple mechanism. When I have allowed the loss of psychological tension to develop, out of laziness or boredom or a sense of defeat, molehills turn into mountains, and suddenly the real enemy is not the world 'out there', but my own negative forces -- mistrust, self-pity, self-doubt. I am like the Balinese dancer in the Danny Kaye film who manages to tie himself in knots. It is the vicious-circle effect.
What can rescue us from this vicious circle of defeat and weakness? Any sudden challenge or stimulus that touches our sense of reality. Neurosis is essentially a loss of contact with reality. We all possess a 'reality function' -- the ability to reach out and make contact with reality. It is obviously weaker in children than adults, because the child has had less experience of reality, and therefore finds it harder to evoke reality 'inside his own head', so to speak. For this is what is at issue: the ability to summon reality, like summoning the genie from the lamp, and to make it present itself inside one's own head. This explains why we all hunger for experience, and hate inactivity; we want to strengthen our 'reality function'.
So what Janet is saying is that we can strengthen our reality function, and pull ourselves out of that sticky swamp of subjectivity. When that happens, the process is reversed. Mountains turn into molehills as I realize that all problems can be solved provided I increase my psychological tension: a kind of optimistic determination. Neurosis could be compared to a sleeper who is tangled in the blankets and has a nightmare that he is in the grip of a boa constrictor. The moment he wakes up, he sighs with relief to realize that the situation was not nearly as serious as he thought. He only felt helpless because he was asleep. Now he is awake, his free will can operate. And as he summons psychological tension -- that sense of optimistic determination -- he realizes that he is also summoning the energy necessary to put his purposes into operation: psychological force.
In short, Janet's psychology is fundamentally optimistic and non-mechanistic. And since Jung himself was full of optimism and enthusiasm in that winter of 1902, it might seem reasonable to expect that he would recognize Janet as a kindred spirit. Why did he not do so? Perhaps because Janet's ideas are so sane and optimistic. Jung was only just emerging from the dark world of German romanticism, of Faust and Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and he was busy counterbalancing this aspect of his personality with precise experiment that deepened his own 'reality function'. Temperamentally speaking, he was out of sympathy with Janet's Gallic logic and clarity.
Besides, during that first Paris trip, Jung's head was filled with other things besides the psychology of neurosis. He was in love with an attractive girl who was seven years his junior, and who had just agreed to marry him. Jung says that he first saw Emma Rauschenbach, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, when he was twenty-one and she was fourteen; she was standing at the top of a flight of stairs in a Zurich hotel, and Jung turned to his companion and said: 'That girl will be my wife.' Jung's love letters are still unpublished, so we lack details of the progress of the romance; but we know he accompanied her on picnics, and took her for walks by the lake. The first time he proposed to her, she turned him down, which must have been a shock to his own healthily developed ego. But by the time he left for Paris, she had accepted him, and it was probably this that was partly responsible for the 'mild state of intoxication' that he experienced all winter. He does not seem to have been a particularly assiduous student -- Janet, in any case, only lectured once a week -- and spent a great deal of time wandering around and looking at the sights. Money was still short and he often dined off a bag of roast chestnuts.
Then, back in Zurich, a new life began. In February 1903 he married Emma. They went on honeymoon to Lake Como. A flat was provided for the couple in the Burgholzli, immediately above Bleuler's flat. Suddenly, life was delightful: meals in his own home, enough money to entertain friends, shopping expeditions with Emma. Everyone liked her and thought Jung had made an excellent choice; to Jung, accustomed to poverty, the marriage must have seemed a foretaste of success.
Jung was obsessed with work. There were more word association tests, and tests with a galvonometer attached to the skin, constituting a kind of lie detector; his papers on these subjects form a large volume of the Collected Works. But luck was also on his side. One day, a 58-year-old woman came on crutches to one of Jung's lectures; she was suffering from paralysis of the left leg. She began to talk about her symptoms, and Jung prepared to use her to demonstrate hypnosis to his students. To his astonishment, she went into a trance as soon as he said 'I am going to hypnotize you.' And as Jung stood there, feeling rather uncomfortable, she talked volubly about her dreams. After half an hour, he tried to wake her; he only succeeded after ten minutes. As she looked around in confusion, Jung said: 'I am the doctor and everything is all right!' 'But I am cured!' cried the woman, and threw away her crutches. Jung turned to his students and said triumphantly: 'Now you see what can be done with hypnosis!'
A charlatan (also called swindler or mountebank) is a person practicing quackery or some similar confidence trick in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception.
In usage, a subtle difference is drawn between the charlatan and other kinds of confidence people. The charlatan is usually a salesperson. He does not try to create a personal relationship with his marks, or set up an elaborate hoax using roleplaying. Rather, the person called a charlatan is being accused of resorting to quackery, pseudoscience, or some knowingly employed bogus means of impressing people in order to swindle his victims by selling them worthless nostrums and similar goods or services that will not deliver on the promises made for them. The word calls forth the image of an old-time medicine show operator, who has long since left town by the time the people who bought his "snake oil" or similarly named tonic realize that it does not perform as advertised.
In reported spiritual communications, a charlatan is a person who fakes evidence that a spirit is "making contact" with the medium and seekers. This has been challenged successfully by skeptics who wrote passwords and gave them to people of trust, containing a password that should be spoken by the person if he ever tried to make contact, to validate the truth of the claim. No such claim has been verified. Notable people who have successfully debunked the claims of purported supernatural mediums include Brazilian writer Monteiro Lobato and magician Houdini.
Synonyms for "charlatan" include "mountebank", "shyster", and "quack". "Mountebank" comes from the Italian montambanco or montimbanco based on the phrase monta in banco - literally referring to the action of a seller of dubious medicines getting up on a bench to address his audience of potential customers.
"Quack" is a reference to "quackery" or the practice of dubious medicine.
-- Charlatan, by Wikipedia
When his next course of lectures began the following summer, the woman reappeared, complaining of violent pains in her back. Questioning elicited the fact that the pains had started immediately after she read about Jung's lecture in a newspaper. The same story repeated itself; she fell into a trance spontaneously, and woke up cured.
The woman went around Zurich talking about Jung's 'miracle cure', and it was because of this that he began to receive his first private patients. Further investigation of the woman's life uncovered the reasons behind the miraculous cure. She had a feeble-minded son who had a minor job in Jung's department in the hospital. She had dreamed about the future success of her only child; his mental illness was a terrible blow. So, in effect, she had transferred her hopes and expectations to Jung; she saw him as her 'son'.
Jung decided to explain all this to the woman. 'She took it very well, and did not again suffer a relapse.' So by explaining the cause of her problem to her, he had solved the problem. By personal experience, Jung had confirmed one of the central ideas of his controversial Viennese colleague, Sigmund Freud: that the cure of neurosis consists in dragging it into the light of consciousness.
In fact, Jung had become increasingly interested in Freud since he re-read The Interpretation of Dreams soon after his marriage. He had read it for the first time in 1900, before he came to the Burgholzli, having always been deeply interested in dreams. At that time, he had found it unimpressive. Freud's dream analyses often seemed absurdly far-fetched. For example, one patient related to him a dream in which her husband had suggested that the piano ought to be tuned, and she had replied: 'It's not worth while', and referred to the piano as a 'disgusting box'. Further questioning revealed that the phrase 'It isn't worth while' had been used by the patient on the previous day, when she called on a woman friend who asked her to take off her coat; she had said: 'It isn't worth while -- I can only stay a moment.' Freud recalled that on the previous day, during analysis, the woman had taken hold of her coat where a button had come undone. He jumped to the conclusion that she was saying, in effect: 'Don't bother to look in -- it isn't worth while.' In her dream, her 'chest', revealed by the open coat, became a 'box'.
It is possible to see why Jung was not impressed by his first reading of The Interpretation of Dreams. But his clinical experience had convinced him that 'repression' plays an important part in mental illness, just as Freud had said. Janet had said that hysteria was due basically to a kind of enfeeblement of the will, which led to the 'splitting of consciousness'. Freud had contradicted Janet, arguing that hysteria was due to the repression of some unpleasant experience or idea -- as in the case of Jung's patient who had 'unconsciously' poisoned her daughter with polluted water. Moreover, Jung had had his own early experience of the effect of repression -- when, as a schoolboy, he had repressed the thought of a turd falling from God's throne on to the cathedral roof. So a second reading of The Interpretation of Dreams filled him with admiration for Freud's clinical insights.
His chief misgiving lay in Freud's insistence that all repressions are associated with sex. This was clearly untrue; the falling turd had nothing to do with sex -- it was a question of blasphemy -- and the woman's 'poisoning' of her daughter was a social rather than a sexual matter. 'From my practice, I was familiar with numerous cases of neurosis in which the question of sexuality played a subordinate part.' But this small area of disagreement seemed trivial compared to the increasingly large areas of agreement -- Jung was at the time unaware of how passionately Freud felt about his sexual theory of neurosis. Jung was now putting together his second major publication, The Psychology of Dementia Praecox (the first was his Studies in Word Association, which appeared in 1906), and Freudian notions were playing an increasingly important part in his outlook. Dementia praecox -- for which, in 1909, Bleuler invented the term schizophrenia -- meant dissociation from reality, as in catatonia, where the patient stares blankly into space; it was originally thought to be a purely organic disorder, due to brain deterioration. In any case, it tended to be dismissed simply as madness, in which the patient's delusions were arbitrary and unexplainable. Jung's word association tests convinced him that this was not so: that, like hysteria, schizophrenia was due to repressions. He reached another interesting conclusion: that in schizophrenia, the ego has split up into several sub-egos, or 'complexes'. Jung was responsible for introducing the term 'complex' in this sense.) In effect, the patient became several people -- an insight that Jung had originally developed in his paper on his cousin Helly.
It could be said that there was no genuine disagreement between Jung and Janet. Janet had said that schizophrenia is 'dissociation', a certain spreading apart of consciousness, like a raft whose ropes have begun to break, so it drifts apart. Jung himself accepted this view. But his own experience of fainting fits at the age of twelve had made him aware that there is more to it than this. The insight aided him in treating a female patient in 1906; the woman suffered from a constant feeling of exhaustion, and from hysterical hallucinations. Jung wrote: 'The twitching in the arm conveniently began, which then ultimately served the purpose of making it completely impossible to go to school. The patient now also admits that she could have suppressed the twitching then if she had tried. But it suited her to be ill.' So Jung had added an important insight to Janet's concept of mental illness -- an element that Janet himself (when Jung spoke to him about it in 1907) was inclined to underestimate.
So in 1906, Jung could have been said to be poised between Freudianism and 'Janet-ism'. He was cautious about being too open in his support of Freud, for Freud's insistence that all neurosis is sexual aroused a mixture of fury and derision among professional psychologists, and Jung had no desire to be tarred with the same brush. Besides, Jung felt -- quite rightly -- that he had discovered the repressive element in neurosis for himself -- through his word association tests -- without any help from Freud.
And at this point, Jung's Protestant morality intervened. In writing up his association experiments, he was tempted to leave out all mention of Freud. In the case of the patient with the twitching arm, it was clear to Jung at a fairly early stage that 'she is trying to gratify her desire for love by falling in love with the doctor' -- what Freud called the 'transference phenomenon'. He also concluded that her problem was basically due to sexual repression. But it was he, Jung, who had seen this, without help from Freud. 'Once, while I was in my laboratory and reflecting again upon these questions, the devil whispered to me that I would be justified in publishing the results of my experiments and my conclusions without mentioning Freud ... But then I heard the voice of my second personality: "If you do a thing like that ... it would be a piece of trickery. You cannot build your life upon a lie.'" And from then on, says Jung, 'I became an open partisan of Freud's, and fought for him.'
The result was that Jung wrote to Freud, sending him a copy of his Diagnostic Association Studies -- the word association book. He must have been flattered to receive, on 11 April 1906, a letter from Freud declaring that he had already hurried out and bought the book before he heard from Jung. The letter finished: 'I am confident that you will often be in a position to back me up, but I shall also gladly accept correction.' That sounded promising. It would be some time before Jung discovered that the one point on which Freud would never accept correction would be the one on which Jung most passionately disagreed with him.
Jung's letter was a great event in Freud's life. What Jung had probably not realized when he wrote to Freud was that Freud felt himself to be totally alone and without support. At the age of fifty, Freud still felt that he might succumb to ridicule and hostility, and vanish into obscurity. This support from a respectable 'academic' psychologist arrived like manna from heaven. And when Freud learned that Jung had persuaded Bleuler and other colleagues that Freud's views deserved serious consideration, he could probably hardly believe his luck. It looked like a sudden and complete breakthrough.
A few weeks later, at a conference at Baden-Baden, Jung had a chance to display his public adherence to Freudianism. A certain Professor Gustav Aschaffenburg attacked pschoanalysis as objectionable and immoral, and another professor described it as evil. And here Jung was made to recognize the central problem involved in his new allegiance. For the attacks were on Freud's insistence that neurosis springs entirely from sexual problems, and Jung agreed with them. In his reply, he referred to Aschaffenburg's 'very moderate and cautious criticism', and pointed out that Aschaffenburg had left most of Freud's theory -- on dreams, jokes and disturbances of everyday thinking -- untouched. Ernest Jones, Freud's biographer, felt that Jung's reply was ineffective; but it was probably as effective as Jung wanted it to be.
The correspondence between Freud and Jung grew warmer. Jung sent Freud his book on dementia praecox, with an apologetic letter for not giving him more generous acknowledgement. 'I understand perfectly that you cannot be anything but dissatisfied with my book since it treats your researches too ruthlessly.' But, he explains, he has to worry about the reactions of the great German public, which means that he has to preserve 'a certain reserve and the hint of an independent judgement regarding your researches'. There is a hint of Machiavellianism here in the suggestion that he does not, in fact, have any such reservations. The truth was that Jung was closer to Aschaffenburg's position than to Freud's.
But Freud was not disposed to quarrel. He wrote back a flattering letter about Jung's book. In March 1907, the two men finally met in Vienna. It was something like love at first sight. This is not too strong a description. Freud undoubtedly had a touch of homosexuality in his composition -- it shows in close relations with friends like Fliess -- and Jung's biographer Vincent Brome suggests that Jung was aware of a streak of homosexuality in his own makeup. With Emma present, Jung talked solidly for three hours, and Freud seems to have been content to listen. Then Freud took over the conversation, neatly grouped Jung's basic points under a number of headings, and proceeded to discuss these. They talked on, with short breaks, for thirteen hours.
Freud was determined that the meeting should be a success. Jung was his passport to academic respectability and acceptance. This massive, broad-shouldered man, with his blue eyes, close-cropped hair and military bearing (he was, like all Swiss, in the auxiliary army) was an overwhelming experience; Freud was swept away by his intelligence as well as by his wide knowledge. The Freud family was perhaps a little less impressed; they observed only that he ignored them as he talked in an endless flow. But for Freud and Jung, the meeting was an enormous success. Freud seems to have had no reservations; he began to think immediately about Jung as his closest associate and his successor. He wrote to Jung a few days after the meeting that he could 'hope for no one better than yourself ... to continue and complete my work'. His attitude was not unlike that of a man who has become engaged to be married.
It was Jung who, after the meeting, seems to have begun to wonder whether the marriage was really desirable. The basic fact remained that he simply could not agree with Freud that sex is the basis of all neurosis. And although their discussion had apparently been wide-ranging and completely free, without real disagreements, it struck him later that when the subject of sex came into the conversation, Freud ceased to sound detached and critical, and talked with the passion of a religious convert.
Why was Freud so obsessed with his sexual theory? The question is as difficult to answer now as it was then, in the days when most doctors regarded it as a form of mild insanity. After Freud's rise to world fame -- some twenty years after his meeting with Jung -- there was a general agreement that the answer to that question was: Because it is true. But in the years since Freud's death, there has been a slow swing back towards the original view: that Freud simply went too far in his emphasis on 'the sexual theory'. And the question of why Freud regarded it as a kind of religion remains as puzzling and insistent as ever.
There is, of course, no difficulty in understanding the steps that led Freud to the sexual theory. The first had been the famous case of 'Anna O-', in fact a Jewish girl named Bertha Pappenheim. Bertha had gone into depression after witnessing the death -- after a long and painful illness -- of her father. She would fall into trance-like states, in which she muttered strange phrases and did irrational things. She was being treated by Freud's close colleague and mentor, Josef Breuer, and seems to have fallen in love with him. One day, she fell into a state of hysteria and Breuer was called to see her. He was shocked to observe her lying on the bed and jerking her hips up and down as if having sexual intercourse. Breuer left Vienna hastily with his wife the following day. Freud was greatly struck by the case.
Four years later, in 1885, Freud went to Paris to study under the famous Professor Charcot at the Salpetriere hospital, and overheard a doctor saying that what a certain hysterical woman needed was 'repeated doses of a normal penis'. Again, he pondered. The period with Charcot brought another insight. Charcot used to give public demonstrations of hypnosis, often with spectacular effects -- such as making the patient bark like a dog or flap his arms like a bird. Freud observed such baffling phenomena as hysterical pregnancy, in which a woman's stomach swelled up as if she was really pregnant, and hysterical paralysis, in which a patient might lose the use of arms or legs. He also took to heart Charcot's remark that hypnosis and hysteria are closely related -- in fact, the hypnosis is a form of hysteria. A patient under hypnosis could be told that he would be paralysed when he woke up, and he would be paralysed; he could be told that the hypnotist had touched him with a red hot iron -- when it was merely a finger -- and a blister would develop. Clearly, there is a part of the mind that is far more powerful than the conscious ego, and which can cause these astonishing effects. Freud was the first doctor to grasp the immense power of the unconscious, and it is his chief title to fame. Before Freud, the 'unconscious' had merely meant instinct, or mechanical reactions. It was Freud who created a new picture of the mind as a kind of sea, with a few feet of sunlit upper waters -- called consciousness -- and vast black depths, full of strange monsters. This vision transformed psychology, virtually creating a new science, to be known as 'depth psychology' .
Soon after his return from Paris, Freud was slightly shaken when a female patient flung her arms around his neck -- they were interrupted by the entry of a servant. To Freud, the episode was revelatory; it revealed to him that the cure of a patient might depend on her falling in love with the doctor -- the phenomenon he labelled 'transference'. He began to question other patients about their sex lives, which led some of them to turn their backs on him. But a surprisingly large number of women admitted that they had been assaulted or seduced by their fathers. For a while, Freud actually held the astonishing view that the majority of neuroses are caused by childhood seductions -- an indication of his increasing obsession with sexual problems. It took him about ten years to recognize that most of these accounts of childhood rapes were fantasies, produced by the patient in response to Freud's own obvious promptings. Yet this did not convince him that his sexual theory was mistaken. On the contrary, it seemed to him to reveal that the women really had a secret wish to be seduced by their fathers -- otherwise, why should they lie about it? He developed the theory of the Oedipus complex: that the son has a desire to sleep with his mother, and therefore to kill his father -- his chief rival, who in turn would secretly wish to kill the son, or at least castrate him. It was at this point that Josef Breuer, Freud's closest colleague, felt that it was time to protest: surely this was going a little too far? Angrily, Freud broke with Breuer.
The Oedipus complex theory undoubtedly had some personal basis. When Freud was born, in 1856, his mother was a pretty vivacious girl of twenty-one; his father was forty-one. A picture of Freud, aged sixteen, with his mother still shows her as attractive and desirable. His father was by then fifty-seven. It seems perfectly conceivable that Freud desired his mother sexually and indulged in erotic fantasies about her. If this seems unlikely for a well-brought-up Jewish boy in the the Victorian era, it is worth recalling that one of his chief disciples, Wilhelm Reich, entertained similar feelings about his own mother. When Reich was thirteen, he realized that his mother was having a sexual affair with his tutor. A recent biography of Reich (by Myron Sharaf) reveals that Reich's first reaction was to wonder if he could use his knowledge to blackmail his mother into having sex with him. (In fact, he informed his father, and his mother committed suicide.)
If Freud entertained similar fantasies about his own mother, it would certainly explain his peculiar, obsessive attitude towards the sexual theory. Vienna in the 1870s was as full of morbid sexual repressions as Victorian London; the very idea of incest would have been shockingly unmentionable. But Bertha Pappenheim's romantic interest in Josef Breuer, a man old enough to be her father, carried a suggestion of incest; so did a dream that she had when sitting by her dying father's bedside -- of a black snake wriggling on to the bed. (Freud, of course, saw the snake as a penis symbol.) Freud was obviously both shocked and fascinated by the confessions of his female patients that they had been seduced by their fathers -- so much so that he leapt to the preposterous conclusion that this was a common cause of neurosis. This suggests a man in whom the incest theme touched very deep emotional springs; and it is hard to see why this should be so unless he himself had fantasized -- actively and for a long period -- about having sexual intercourse with his mother.
When Jung raises Freud's sexual obsession in his autobiography, he carefully steers clear of this notion. 'Freud never asked himself why he was compelled to talk continually of sex, why this idea had taken such possession of him. He remained unaware that his "monotony of interpretation" expressed a flight from himself, or from that other side of him that might perhaps be called mystical ... ' Which is, of course, begging the question: for the problem is why Freud should want to flee from himself. But where Freud's father is concerned, Jung is willing to be more open. He describes how, when he and Freud were on their way to America in 1909, Freud suddenly fainted as Jung talked about the peat bog corpses found in Northern Germany. Afterwards, Freud accused Jung of talking about corpses because he had death wishes towards him. Jung says that he was alarmed by the intensity of Freud's fantasies. Again in 1912, when Jung was discussing the Pharaoh Ikhnaton at a congress, and contradicting the notion that Ikhnaton had removed his father's name from inscriptions because he hated him, Freud slid off his chair in a faint. Jung points out that 'the fantasy of father-murder was common to both cases'. But why should Freud have fainted when Jung denied that Ikhnaton hated his father? Jung's comment about the strength of Freud's fantasies provides the answer. Jung clearly suspected that Freud had fantasized about murdering his father and seducing his mother, and that Jung's denial of Ikhnaton's patricidal tendencies aroused in Freud an intense feeling of guilt, the kind of feeling that may make a teenager blush when someone discusses masturbation.
Jung prefers to gloss over the obvious truth that the real difference between himself and Freud is that his own mother was fat and ugly, so there was no temptation to dream of seducing her, and that his father was pathetic and unsuccessful, so there was no temptation to fantasize about killing him.
Jung was in a difficult position. Freud was an extremely powerful personality, who knew all there was to know about inspiring loyalty, trust, affection, even pity. Jung could say later: 'I see him as a tragic figure; for he was a great man, and what is more, a man in the grip of his daimon.' But in 1908, Jung was also in the grip of Freud's daimon, his tremendous charisma. Freud's aim was to bend Jung to his will, to cajole and persuade and seduce him into dropping his reservations, and to become the leading exponent of the sexual theory, Freud's spiritual heir. Jung's letters to Freud all begin 'Dear Professor Freud'. Freud's to Jung begin 'Dear Friend'. Freud was offering his own affection and loyalty in exchange for Jung's. But there could be no final argument about the sexual theory: that was not negotiable.
What Freud failed to realize was that Jung found the sexual theory, in the last analysis, slightly repellent. Freud was taken in by Jung's air of efficiency, the steel-rimmed spectacles, the enthusiasm for experiment. But Jung was not fundamentally a scientist; he was a romantic, a man whose deepest feelings had been aroused in the past by Goethe and Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, not by Galton and Wundt and Krafft-Ebing. Jung had turned to science to strengthen his 'reality function', to create a personality capable of meeting the world on its own terms. But there was still a part of him that longed for the 'horns of elfland'. Freud's sexual obsession was an affront to the poet in him. His real feelings emerged in two dreams. In one he saw a sour-looking old customs official who was, in fact, a ghost. It was a customs official's job to examine suitcases for contraband -- contraband ideas as well as goods. 'I could not refuse to see the analogy with Freud.' In the other dream he was in a modern city when he saw a knight in full armour, wearing a white tunic with a red cross -- a crusader; no one else seemed to notice him. Jung associated the knight with his own quest for the 'grail', for some deeper meaning in existence; it was a symbol of his own essential self.
It was therefore impossible that Jung should finally capitulate to the sexual theory; it would have been spiritual suicide. As it was, he was profoundly repelled by Freud's dogmatic materialism. 'Whenever, in a person or in a work of art, an expression of spirituality (in the intellectual, not the supernatural sense) came to light, he suspected it, and insinuated that it was repressed sexuality. Anything that could not be interpreted as sexuality he referred to as "psychosexuality". I protested that this hypothesis, carried to its logical conclusion, would lead to an annihilating judgement upon culture. Culture would then appear as a mere farce, the morbid consequence of repressed sexuality. "Yes", he assented, "so it is, and that is just a curse of fate against which we are powerless to contend". I was by no means disposed to agree ... but I still did not feel competent to argue it out with him.'
But he argued it out with himself. The result was the slow emergence of his own alternative to the sexual theory.
1. See my Mysteries, p. 209.