Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

A Life of Jung

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

A Life of Jung

Article excerpt

RONALD HAYMAN: ALife of Jung. W.W. Norton, New York, 1999, 522 pp., $35.00, ISBN: 0-393-01967-5.

Referring to Jung's own pseudo-autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, written in his last years, with the help (or hindrance) of Jung's faithful assistant, Aniela Jaffe, and heavily censored by friends and family, R. Noll (The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement, 1995, Princeton University Press) states that to get at the historical Jung one must find a way to reach the "pre-Jaffe biographical material, a task comparable to trying to discern the true pre-Pauline facts concerning Jesus of Nazareth" (p. 15). It is my impression that Ronald Hayman succeeds in this formidable challenge.

While Hayman uses Memories, Dreams, Reflections when indicated, he in no way relies on it. It was, after all, even in Jung's own eyes, "the myth of my life" (p. 434). Myths are precisely what Hayman seeks to avoid, given the superabundance of myths, mythology, and mysticism in his subject's theories.

The book is divided into five parts, thirty-seven chapters in all. The parts, but even more the chapters, have evocative titles. Chapter 3, Such a Wicked Thought, refers to Jung's (lifelong) ambivalent relationship to God, including a legendary dream the boy had at age twelve, of God shitting on, and shattering his own cathedral. Chapter 17, The Woman Inside Me, refers to Jung's formulation that every man inherits a collective image of women, his anima. Chapter 20, Cooking in the Rain, is the only chapter, or indeed only place, that refers to Jung's relationship to his children. Father and children spent time on his boat, he taught them carpentry, and took them camping in the winter, hence the title of the chapter. Chapter 21, There is Greatness in You, refers to a sentence expressing the increasing self-confidence Jung instilled in his disciples. Chapter 35, Jesus and Satan are Brothers, deals with Jung's view that even God has a shadow side. Chapter 36, She was a Queen, refers to a pronouncement he made at the funeral of his wife.

The book also offers us a detailed Chronology, summarizing the events discussed in each chapter, with occasional references to surrounding world events.

Except for opening with a brief glimpse of the vigorous, still charismatic 84-year-old Jung, in a BBC TV interview, presenting himself as "a paragon of honesty and openness" (p. 3, no doubt meant tongue in cheek) the book has a linear composition. It starts with Jung's remarkable ancestry on both sides. His paternal grandfather was a highly respected German physician and Dean at the University of Basel, his maternal grandfather was a bishop of Basel with a predilection for the occult and eight of his uncles were parsons. Jung had a very troubled mother and his father, a parson, was disappointed and irritable. The book then takes us from Jung's birth in 1875, in Kesswil, by Lake Constance, to his death in his own tower in Bollingen, in 1961.

Isolation, secret rituals, a sense of divided self, a conviction of being special, and possibly childhood schizophrenia characterize his childhood, strikingly predicting themes of his later life. He participated in seances over four and a half years, while in medical school, (mis)using his much younger girl cousin as a medium. He would return to seances later in life, and continue to use the I-Ching for difficult decisions.

Jung's first, soon-to-be-discarded mentor was Eugen Bleuler, a psychiatric reformer and humanistic director of Burgholzli, the foremost psychiatric institution in Switzerland. As in every institution he ever joined, he rapidly rose to a leading position at Burgholzli. While there, he married Emma Rauschenbach and her wealth "brought him professional independence" (p. 67). She was faithful to him throughout life, which is more than can be said of him, and their marriage endured over her lifetime. He inscribed on her tombstone praise for her devotion and obedience. …

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