Finding a rat in the foundations
A new biography of Jung reveals him as a resentful teacher and an assembly-line seducer. Jung: A Biography by Frank McLynn Bantam Press, pounds 25
Saturday 22 June 1996
Reading Frank McLynn's perfectly superb biography of Jung, one begins to see just how Adlerian the great psychiatric conflict between 1910 and 1913 actually was. How Adlerian and how Soviet! There were the successive conferences at which a purified Freudian line was established, while opponents - Fliess, Stekel and Adler himself - were eliminated and anathematised. The question "Is he one of us?" was central . But as McLynn points out, compared with Carl Gustav Jung, Freud was an easy man to get along with.
Freud remained friendly with Karl Abraham, A.A. Brill, Max Eitigon and importantly, since race came (subconsciously) into the conflict, the Swiss gentiles, Pfister and Bleulec. "Jung, by contrast," says McLynn, "quarreled with all his important male friends and associates, so that his 'court' came to be composed solely of admiring females."
Jungians will likely respond to such a judgment like football supporters outraged by a referee awarding penalties against this Millwall of Psychiatry. In fact, McLynn's painfully accumulated evidence is handled scrupulously; Jung has the benefit of all doubts. Take the case of Johann Jakob Honegger, the outstanding protege whom Jung exalted to the royal line, calling him "son", as he called Freud "father", and then abruptly pushed into exile and an insulting minor post, a degradation which led Honegger to suicide.
McLynn calls upon all the supporters of Jung who argue, as he did, that Honegger killed himself to escape a foreseen psychosis. He acknowledges that Honegger's fine mind undoubtedly rested on a frail bough. He also quotes Freud, who valued Honegger highly and grieved for him, but attributed to Jung extenuating motives - he saw his own weaknesses in Honegger hence his harshness towards him.
McLynn also quotes the other side, Hans Walser's view that Jung would sooner have the young man dead than failed. That is charitable. One might stress his resentment at a brilliant and challenging pupil who had engaged Freud's affection, the financial meanness of a very rich man begrudging an assistant's salary and the little matter of Honegger's fiancee, Helene Widmer, who became Jung's secretary after the young man was banished to the sticks.
Papers are missing here (and Mr McLynn has had, overall, a ferocious time with the guardians of the flame over access and use). But at this time, Jung was running five mistresses. We know for sure of the cruel humiliation of a gifted competitor of known mental vulnerability.. The possibility exists that Jung coveted his neighbour's wife.
The distinction of Jung's intellect and the huge culture on which he would draw for his finest perceptions, as well as his later eccentricities, are not in doubt and McLynn pays full credit. But there is no escaping the man himself. Jung seems to have used human beings as tesselation for his royal road. He married Emma Rauschenbach, as he flatly said, for money.
Around that lifelong relationship, central to which were his infidelities and her unhappiness, he built a theory functioning as alibi. He was doomed to promiscuity because there must needs be conflict between a complex personality -"the container''- and a simple personality, "the contained". He was, said Jung about himself in a moment of jargonistic exaltation, a "many-faceted gem", Emma, "a simple cube". She was also the heiress to a thumping fortune and, not to be over-theoretical, he was a greedy, aggrandizing scoundrel.
Once married to Emma, the pinched son of a needy pastor could take a honeymoon in Madeira, build a handsome house and, in the austere Burghoelzi hospital, instal his personal chef. The pursuit of happiness would always be important to Jung. And yards of incantatory professional patter would justify every act of selfishness.
When Emma died, Jung wept, called her "a Queen", and had an inscription carved on a pillar: "She was the foundation of my house". She was such a foundation that though she had brought him a fortune, he could berate her for letting a cauliflower go bad. He had a senior mistress, Toni Wolf, whom he had imposed upon the foundation of his house as lover-in-residence. Toni and Emma, said Jung after Emma's death, had been "mystic sisters"!
Toni had been more than a mistress. An analyst herself, she had inspired vital shifts in his thinking in the key period 1913-16. But long afterwards, when Toni was older and had lost her looks, visits from her were unwelcome and Jung would read a book in her presence. To call Jung flawed is to speak of the Grand Canyon as a crack; he deserves the hell of a feminist conference in eternal session.
But the love affairs had their comic undercurrents. The chaste and fastidious Freud put the sexual impulse at the centre of the unconcious mind; Jung, the assembly-line seducer, reckoned that the old man overstated it.
Jung's politics were just as attractive - close collaboration with Professor Goering, the Marshal's cousin, persuading the International Society for Psychiatry to acquiesce in the expulsion of Jews from the German Society and the appearance, "through error, incompetence or design", of a Nazi manifesto in the society's Zentralblatt. Jung was not an honest Nazi, if he was ever an honest anything. He had the Jung model to push in Germany. Thomas Mann, despising him as a commonplace conformist courting power, made Humpty Dumpty's point; though Jung's anti-Semitism also counted. He would vest Nazism with the verbiage of his late mystical, occultist and flying saucer- fancying phase. The key late Jungian buzz-word is "archetype". So the Nazis were "Wotan archetypes" of the unconscious; the Jews, the imposers of a Jewish world view as a universal history.
Jung spent much of the Thirties talking like this. The best excuse is that this intestinal politician of theory made the Freudian slip of saying "Jew" when he meant "Freud".
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