Rezension zu C.G. Jung - Zerrissen zwischen Mythos und Wirklichkeit

Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche, Spring 2011, Vol. 5. No. 2.

Rezension von Paul Bishop

Trouble at the Mill

Review of: Brigitte Spillmann and Robert Strubel, C.G. Jung: Zerrissen zwischen Mythos und Wirklichkeit: Über die Folgen persönlicher und kollektiver Spaltungen im tiefenpsychologischen Erbe1, Gießen: Psychosozial-Verlag, 2010.

The nonanalyst who picks up this book finds himself in the position of a visitor who, unannounced, has rung the doorbell only to discover that a massive family quarrel has just taken place. Realizing it is probably best to avoid taking sides, it is only when the nonanalyst has left the house or finished reading the book, that the full impact of what he has witnessed can be assessed. (For the family members, or the analysts involved, this book’s contents might still be too raw or painful.) This is the case not least because of Brigitte Spillmann’s and Robert Strubel’s audacious move in their study of C.G. Jung and the recent history of the Institute in Zürich that bears his name, specifically, the link stablished between the book’s two topics – the defensibility (or otherwise) of Jung’s relation to National Socialism and the disputes at the C.G. Jung-Institute Zürich that led to the founding of the International School of Analytical Psychology (ISAP) in 2004.
In Part 1, “C.G. Jung-Trapped in the Myth,” Brigitte Spillmann discusses some of Jung’s most controversial papers, including “The State of Psychotherapy Today” (1934a/1968) and “After the Catastrophe” (1945/1968), and interviews, including his broadcast on Radio Berlin with Adolf Weizsäcker in 1933 and “Diagnosing the Dictators” (McGuire and Hull 1977, 59-66, 115-135). This material, in which Juntg offers a commentary on the rise of National Socialism and the causes of the Second World War, is well-known, and the debate over Jung’s alleged anti-Semitism has been thoroughly covered in a collection of essays, Lingering Shadows (Maidenbaum and Martin 1991). After admitting in 1934 theat he had been “so incautious as to do the very thing most open to misunderstanding at the present moment” and to have “tabled the Jewish question” (Jung 1934b/1968, CW 10 §1024), Jung’s self-exculpatory attempts do little more than prove his maxim that “one carries one’s worst enemy within oneself” (cf. Jung 1952/1967, CW 5 §553). When, in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung in 1934, Jung confesses his „total inability to understand why it should be a crime to speak of ‚Jewish’ psychology“ (1934b/1968, §1027), one can only squirm. Aniela Jaffé placed her finger on the problem when she wrote that the fact Jung “dragged [the difference between Jewish and non-Jewish psychology] into the limelight at this particular moment, when being a Jew was enough to put one in danger of one’s life, […] must be regarded as a grave human error” (Jaffé 1972, 84-85). Now, Spillmann is certainly no apologist for Jung: indeed, she argues that, in the 1930s, Jung was so overwhelmed by his negative transference toward Freud that he unconsciously joined in the symbolic (and, in the case of the Holocaust, the literal) “death of the Father” desired and enacted by National Socialism (2010, 89). Furthermore, she detects in Memories, Dreams, Reflections (and particularly in its comments on the inscription above his “Tower” in Bollingen, Philemonis Sacrum-Fausti Poenitentia) a tendency to flee from reality and a splitting of the personality she diagnoses as pathological and as characteristic of a borderline patient (130). Despite the attempt by Jung’s relatives to “auntify” (tantifizieren, a neologism coined by Jung) and neutralize the text of Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Spillmann argues that, as a work, it is “for the most part authentic” (125). In Jung’s rresponse to challenging situations – “In my youth I was hot-tempered; but whenever the emotion had reached its climax, suddenly it swung around and there followed a cosmic stillness” (Jung and Jaffé 1963, 219) – she discovers a dynamic that explains his own apparent blindness toward his attitude during the 1930s, which has had, she believes, devastating consequences for (some of) his followers.
In Part 2, “From the Dyad to Triangulation,” Robert Strubel picks up this thread of psychoanalytical diagnosis applied to Jung and to the current generation of Jungians. According to Winnicott, the transitional object enables the transition from the limitations of the dyad to the multidimensionality of triangulation (2010, 193, 195; cf. Winnicott 1982/1971, 1-25), and Strubel shrewdly detects a conceptual parallel between the transitional object and Jung’s notion of the symbol of the Self (214). Yet, according to Strubel’s account of Jung’s own psychosocial development after his split with Freud, the loss of this friendship dealt a fatal blow to Jung’s narcissistic pride—which, in turn, exercised a malign influence on the community of analytical psychologists. Strubel follows Roman Lesmeister in voicing the suspicion that “the phantasy of (psychic) totality can imperceptibly merge into the reality of (political) totalitarianism” (220; see Lesmeister 1992), and he joins Erik Erikson in noting the subtle, yet crucial, difference between “totality” in the sense of completeness or Ganzheit, and “totality” in the sense of Totalität or absolute limitation (311; see Erikson 1974). More specifically, Strubel draws on the work of Michael Balint (1970), François Roustang(1982), and Otto F. Kernberg (2000) to argue that “shadows of destructive power in the younger generation” (321), even a “destructive narcissism” (327), are detectable in recent events at the Jung-Institute in Zürich and in the founding of the ISAP.
In those events, both Strubel (as a member of the Institute and a chairman of various working parties) and Spillmann (as President of the Curatorium from 1997 to 2007) were themselves major players, and in Part 3, “On the Consequences of an Unanswered Past,” Spillmann offers, from their perspective, an account of the Institute’s recent history. Now, knowing little of that history, this reviewer must judge the book’s argument on its intellectual credentials, rather than in terms of its empirical validity: their account may (or may not) provide an accurate record of the actual management decisions taken, and its occasionally self-congratulatory tone and choice of rhetorical register may (or may not) reflect the imposition of a top-down managerial culture. Even though the pathologization of one’s opponents has, sadly, a long pedigree in the history of psychoanalysis, Spillmann’s and Strubel’s central thesis—that Jung’s blindness vis-à-vis his conduct in the 1930s was the source for the split in the Jung Institute half a century or so later—nevertheless comes perilously close to identifying those who disputed the Curatorium’s decisions with the totalitarian spirit of National Socialism (2010, 312, 399, 425, 483). And one might question the legal wisdom of characterizing the Institute’s critics as borderline personalities and regressive narcissists (395, 483).
For the lay reader, potentially familiar with the background of intolerance and exclusion (not to mention harassment and mobbing) associated with institutional change in other professional spheres (including, and arguably especially, the education sector), it is interesting—if slightly dismaying—to discover a similar dynamic of claim and counterclaim at work in the analytic sphere. Obviously, all parties involved would concede there was, as the Glaswegians say, a wee stooshie at the Institute. The fact that people disagree, sometimes violently, in all areas of life might, however, give one reason to pause before concluding that Jungians are uniquely caught up in a mythical constellation, particularly one prompted by the question: “Are you related to something infinite or not?” (Jung 1963, 356). Or, in other words, given that (a) Jungians disagree, and that (b) other people also disagree, why argue that (c) disagreement among Jungians is due to their particular “enchantment” through myth? (Here, the rhetorical dimension of Jung’s question—its echo of Spinoza’s invitation [Ethics, part 5, prop. 30; Spinoza 1955, 262] to regard the world sub specie aeternitatis, or “under the form of eternity”—goes unremarked.) Moreover, the reader should remember that Jung was by no means alone in his (mis)diagnosis of dictators; after all, Freud dedicated a copy of his dialogue with Albert Einstein, Why War?, to Mussolini, as Michel Onfray has recently reminded us in his scorching critique of psychoanalysis (2010, 519-533).
Spillmann is evidently proud to have transformed the Institute from a “family enterprise” into an “institution” with clear structures” (2010, 348, 462) or a “business” that does “not waste its resources” (354), and she teases previous members of its management committee for their consultation of dreams, horoscopes, or the I Ching (354). Yarrow sticks, one assumes, are now banned from board meetings, but is the business model the only valid one in the twenty-first century? If not in the Jung-Institute, then where can one consult the I Ching? The transformation, under financial pressures, of “colleagues” into “competitors” has, in UK universities, had equally devastating consequences to those acknowledged to have occurred at the Jung-Institute (362). It is beyond the scope of a book review to provide a solution, but even after the collapse of New Labour in Britain, one wonders whether a “third way” is not possible—a way between, to put it bluntly, the “cloud-cuckoo-land” approach that avoids hard questions and the purely economic approach of brutal efficiency? For in an age when, as Alexander Mitscherlich observed some thirty-five years ago, analytical psychology is “one of the scarce alternatives to a positivism which has long since acquired in the world all the qualities of a one-party-system” (1974, 406), it would be a dangerous distraction if the Jungian community were to become entirely absorbed with its own problems. So, leaving aside the querelle des anciens et des modernes at the Institute in Zürich, this book poses a ticklish question: namely, whether, as members of society in general or of a specific professional association in particular, we need more analysis—or less.

1 The book is not (yet) available in English, but the title translates as C.G. Jung: Torn Between Myth and Reality: On the Consequences of Personal and Collective Splitting in the Legacy of Depth Psychology.

References to The Collected Works of C.G. Jung are cited in the text as CW, volume number, and paragraph number. The Collected Works are published in English by Routledge (UK) and Princeton University Press (USA).

Balint, Michael. 1970. Regression: Therapeutische Aspekte und die Theorie der Grundstörung. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.
Erikson, Erik H. 1974. Jugend und Krise: Die Psychodynamik im sozialen Wandel. Stuttgart: Klett.
Jaffé, Aniela. 1972. From the life and work of C.G. Jung. Trans. R.F.C. Hull. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Jung, C.G. 1952/1967. Symbols of transformation. CW 5.
– – –. 1945/1968. After the catastrophe. Civilization in transition. CW 10.
– – –. 1934a/1968. The state of psychotherapy today. Civilization in transition. CW 10.
– – –. 1934b/1968 A rejoinder to Dr. Bally. Civilization in transition. CW 10.
Jung, C.G., and Aniela Jaffé. 1963. Memories, dreams, reflections. Trans. Richard and Clara Winston. London: Collins/Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Kernberg, Otto F. 2000. Ideologie, Konflikt und Führung: Psychoanalyse von Gruppenprozessen und Persönlichkeitsstruktur. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.
Lesmeister, Roman. 1992. Der zerrissene Gott: Eine tiefenpsychologische Kritik am Ganzheitsideal. Zürich: Schweizer Spiegel Verlag.
Maidenbaum, Aryeh and Stephen A. Martin, eds. 1991. Lingering shadows: Jungians, Freudians and anti-Semitism. Boston and London: Shambhala.
McGuire, William, and R.F.C. Hull, eds. 1977. C.G. Jung speaking: Interviews and encounters. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Mitscherlich, Alexander. 1974. „Auch ein bürgerliches Trauerspiel: Der Briefwechsel Sigmund Freuds mit C.G. Jung aus den Jahren 1906–1913. [published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 25 May 1974]. In Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. 7. 400–406. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1974.
Onfray, Michel. 2010. Le crépuscule d’un idole: L’affabulation freudienne. Paris : Grasset.
Roustang, François. 1982. Dire Mastery: Discipleship from Freud to Lacan. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.
Spillmann, Brigitte, and Robert Strubel. 2010. C.G. Jung: Zerrissen zwischen Mythos und Wirklichkeit: Über die Folgen persönlicher und kollektiver Spaltungen im tiefenpsychologischen Erbe. Gießen: Psychosozial-Verlag.
Spinoza, Benedict de. 1955. On the improvement of the understanding; The ethics; Correspondence. Trans. R. H. M. Elwes. New York: Dover.
Winnicott, D. W. 1982/1971. Paying and reality. New York: Routledge.

PAUL BISHOP is Professor of German at the University of Glasgow and the author of various articles and monographs about Jung’s relation to German intellectual and cultural history (including, most recently, Analytical Psychology and German Classical Aesthetics, 2007-2008). Correspondence: SMLC (German), Hetherington Building, Room 211B, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G128RS. Great Britain.

This review discusses C.G. Jung: Zerrissen zwischen Mythos und Wirklichkeit: Über die Folgen persönlicher und kollektiver Spaltungen im tiefenpsychologischen Erbe, a book that links Jung’s political attitudes during the 1930x ith developments at the Jung-Institute, Zürich, over approximately the last ten years. It raises questions about the kind of institutional model appropriate for analytical psychology and about the role of analysis in professional organizations.

anti-Semitism, C.G. Jung-Institut Zürich, Freud, International School for Analytical Psychology (ISAP), C.G. Jung, National Socialism

Published as »Trouble at the Mill«, by Paul Bishop, Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche, Spring 2011, Vol. 5. No. 2. © 2011 by Virginia Allen Detloff Library, C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco.
Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by the Regents of the University of California/on behalf of the Virginia Allen Detloff Library, C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on JSTOR ( or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center,

zurück zum Titel