Just Another Cuckoo from the Swiss?

Daily Mail (London), November 26, 1999 | Go to article overview

Just Another Cuckoo from the Swiss?


Byline: PETER LEWIS

A LIFE OF JUNG by Ronald Hayman (Bloomsbury, [pounds sterling]20)

AS ORSON WELLES, in the person of Harry Lime, famously remarked in the film The Third Man, in 500 years of democracy and peace the Swiss produced the cuckoo clock. Oh, and Carl Jung. Should he be added to the list?

This painstaking and complete biography of the analyst-philosopher, who was the twin pillar, with Freud, of the now somewhat discredited psychoanalytical movement, leaves one baffled by doubts. It poses very intelligently all the questions about Jung but abstains from putting a value on him and his work.

Were his amazing dreams meaningful or crazy? Was he an inspired seer or a crackpot? Was he a Nazi sympathiser or just a political fool?

Did he sleep with his women patients as a necessary part of their treatment or because he was a randy old goat?

Was he incapable of love - and was that a serious failing in a leader?

I would like to feel certain of the answers, but if this book clearly demonstrates one thing it is how often Jung contradicted himself.

Take the Nazis: in 1933 when Freud's books were being burned in Berlin, Jung tactfully described Hitler as 'a mouthpiece of the gods as of old', a sibyl, the Delphic oracle revealing German policy.

He even compared the SS to a 'caste of knights ruling 60 million natives'.

He made many statements critical of Jewish psychology (he had his enemy Freud in mind), yet some of the women closest to him were Jewish.

Later he confessed that 'I slipped up' about the Nazis. The verdict, as so often with Jung, is ambiguous.

There is the same ambiguity about his attitude to women. When he was 27, he married Emma, a rich girl who bore him five children, and within two years was involved in a long affair with a woman patient.

SHE WAS the first of several whom he converted from patients into lovers, then into fellow analysts. Emma had to accept this - she even shared their home with one, and the two women analysed each other.

Jung made no bones about it: 'The prerequisite for a good marriage is licence to be unfaithful.' But he also wrote: 'I despise any kind of togetherness.

' As a loner from childhood, he did not sustain relationships.

He set about building himself an isolated lakeside tower, without water or electricity, where he retreated for months at a time. There he used to talk to his cooking pots because 'in olden times, ancestral souls lived in the pots in the kitchen'.

The biographer discerns an erotic element in the explosive relationship between Jung and Freud. …

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