"The Vienesse Sexologist"
The Unfolding Of The Soul
Model of the Psyche
THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN SIGMUND FREUD AND C.G. JUNG
Edited by William McGuire.
Translated by Ralph Manheim and R.F.C. Hull.
In 1906 Freud was 50 years old, by no means an anonymous figure in psychiatry but far from content with the acceptance that had so far been accorded his ideas. Jung was 31, already well- established in his profession, second in command at the widely-known psychiatric hospital at Zürich, the Burghölzli, whose chief was the redoubtable Eugen Bleuler. The relationship began with Jung's sending Freud a copy of a volume of studies he had supervised in which the importance of psychoanalysis was handsomely acknowledged. Freud received the gift with delight; actually, indeed, having heard how gratifying his name had figured in the book, he had already bought a copy. With his brief but fervent note of thanks the correspondence begins.
For a time the two men exerted a powerful enchantment over each other. Ernest Jones has told us of the special appeal that Jung had for Freud because he was, with the exception of Jones himself, the first non-Jewish disciple. Freud saw him as his heir-apparent, the champion and continuator of the new science; it was he who would bring to the understanding of the psychoses the psychoanalytic concepts that Freud had derived from his work with the neuroses.
But Jung's place in Freud's regard was not determined only by practical considerations. Freud, as we know, was exceptionally sensitive to the thought of growing old, and he delighted in this new coadjutor who had youth and to spare, being not only young in fact but young by his very name, and young (it seems clear) by virtue of his being Germanic and not Jewish. Jung, for his part, received from Freud the heady sense of having been chosen for a high destiny. A family legend had it that his grandfather, of the same name as himself, was an illegitimate son of Goethe, and it might be said that Freud licensed Jung's ambition to rival in fame this suppositious ancestor.
It isn't likely that the admirers of either man will be gratified by the part he plays in the correspondence. Freud and Jung were not good for one another; their connection made them susceptible to false attitudes and ambiguous tones. In the early stages of the association it is Freud who might most distress his partisans--they cannot but be uneasy as they watch him seeking to bind the new young colleague to his cause and to himself. Every wile of love and praise is used to assure that there will be no defection, the possibility of which is often referred to openly by both correspondents; for example, Jung has heard from Freud the story of the unhappy friendship with Wilhelm Fliess and he is at pains to write to Freud that he "may rest assured, not only now, but for the future, that nothing Fliess-like is going to happen."
Freud is never anything but specific about the advantages of the relationship he envisages. Jung, he says, is the Joshua to his Moses, fated to enter the Promised Land which he himself will not live to see. Again and again he speaks of Jung as his "heir," once as "my successor and crown prince," and even as "spirit of my spirit." He cannot be explicit enough in referring to the gratitude this precious new son deserves, to the uniqueness of the place he holds in his father's confidence. So that there will be no uncertainty of the specialness of his regard, he speaks condescendingly of colleagues with whom he is on close terms, Sandor Ferenczi especially and also Karl Abraham and Jones.
But if the admirers of Freud are troubled by discerning so much purpose in his relation to Jung, they are not likely to be reassured by those many passages in the letters which suggest that the courtship was not only professional and calculated but also personal and very deeply felt, much more so, indeed, than Freud permitted himself to know. No man is to be faulted for the love he gives or the love he seeks, yet moved as we may be by Freud's need for Jung's loyal affection, I think we have the right to ask of the father of psychoanalysis a little more consciousness of the nature and extent of the claims he makes on Jung than Freud here shows.
Through the greater part of the correspondence Jung's behavior is unexceptionable. He isn't-- perhaps could scarcely be--wholly comfortable in the role that has been assigned to him and he often speaks of his difficulties. Although at one moment he says that he wants to enjoy Freud's friendship "not as one between equals but as that of father and son," he also can say that it is hard to have to work alongside the "father creator" and that he lives "from the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table." Still, in a trying situation he handles himself in a composed and serious way.
But when the relationship goes into its last stage, something quite extreme takes place in this mannerly person. His poise leaves him; he is overcome by uncontrollable rage and to the man whom he often said he venerated, even "unconditionally," he now speaks in jeers. This behavior is the uglier because it alternates with efforts to maintain "correctness." Never, I think, has spite been so palpable on the page as in the underbred sarcasms of Jung's last letters. They are met by Freud with a hard, dry disdain. It should perhaps be added that although Jung was by no means inaccessible to anti-Jewish thoughts and feelings--this is made clear by Jones and by Jung's deplorably compromised relation to the Nazi ideology--there is no adumbration of anti-Semitism in the quarrel with Freud.
So far as the crack in the golden bowl of the friendship was intellectual, it appeared early, actually in Jung's first letter. No one will be surprised to hear that it was a difference of view about the place that sex should have in psychoanalytic thought. Beyond a certain point in the sexual etiology of the neurosis Jung could not go. Often his objection was frankly opportunistic- -more people, he believed, would be attracted to psychoanalysis if they were not scared away by sex, and again and again Freud had to insist to him that, as he once put it, there was no way to "sweeten the sour apple." Sometimes the objection was made on the ground of theory--did it not needlessly limit the psyche to make sex definitive of its nature and function? The resistance which Jung offered to Freud's sexual doctrine was strengthened by his increasing commitment to the occult, which Freud, despite his efforts to accommodate it (for Ferenczi's sake as much as Jung's), could not stomach.
The intellectual and professional differences between the two men, profound as these eventually became, would perhaps not of themselves have brought about a break so drastic as did take place had not their alienating tendency been reinforced by personal conflicts. It is scarcely possible to suppose that Freud was wholly without ambivalence in his response to Jung's rapid success--his famous fainting spell when he, Jung and Ferenczi were lunching in Bremen the day before they sailed for America to attend the Clark University celebration of 1909 is often explained by Jung's having been invited to take part in the occasion on equal terms with him.
If Freud did indeed regard Jung with ambivalence, his effort to resolve this doubleness of feeling might account for his having been excessive in his conciliation of the cherished son. This, we can't but see, was counter-productive. Jung could not maintain his equanimity under all that wooing. On one occasion he explained his discomfort by referring to an episode of his boyhood in which he was the victim of a sexual assault by an older man whom he had "worshipped."
Whatever developing recalcitrance Freud may have perceived in his filial colleague, his letters were but little disposed to confront it. We of course must remark that in 1911 he was writing "Totem and Taboo," which deals with the murder of the primal father by the sons, and that he told Jung that he "will feel almost obligated not to discuss" his findings with him. Still, such anxiety as he may have felt about the relationship does not envisage a crisis in it. But then the full extent of the estrangement is made plain when into the dialogue of the two men a third voice intrudes itself. It is a woman's voice, that of Jung's wife Emma. She speaks to Freud privately; her husband, she says, is not to know of their colloquy.
The four letters which Emma Jung wrote Freud in October and November of 1911 are unforgettable in their effort to bring the light of psychoanalytic reason to the troubled mind of Sigmund Freud. The occasion of the first letter was the visit Freud had recently paid the Jungs at their home in Küsnacht, during which, Emma says, he had treated Carl with marked reserve. After telling Freud of how much courage she needs to write to him, Emma goes on to speak of the strain that has developed between him and Carl, its cause being, she believes, his disapproval of the line Carl had taken in his important paper, "Transformations and Symbols of the Ego." Her tone to Freud is warmly affectionate and what she addresses herself to is his state of feeling. About this she says an astonishing thing: ". . .I cannot bear to see you so resigned. . ." She asks whether his resignation relates only to what he had told her about his "real children" or to his "spiritual sons" as well.
To this Freud replied with a "nice kind letter"--it has not survived, nor have any of his letters to Emma--and Emma writes again and ventures further. Why, she wants to know, should Freud have said that his "marriage had long ago been 'amortized,' [that] now there was nothing more to do except--die"? When they had last talked together, she had taxed him with not paying enough attention to his children's relations with him, necessarily more difficult because he was so distinguished a man, and he had replied that he hadn't time to analyze his children's dreams because he must earn money so that they could go on dreaming: did he think this was a right attitude to take?
For her part, she says, she prefers to "think that one should not dream at all, one should live." She rebukes him for being "resigned," for not confronting and enjoying his "well-earned fame and success," for thinking of himself as older than in fact he is. She concludes by urging him to give up his paternal relation to her husband, to think of Carl "not with a father's feeling: 'He will grow and I must dwindle,' but rather as one human being thinks of another, who like you has his own law to fulfill."
The advice was good, and, in the event, what was there for Freud to do save act on it? By the time Emma was writing her letters of 1911 Jung had time to feel that the fulfillment of his own law must proceed at an accelerated pace. In the autumn of 1912, on his return from America, where he had gone to lecture in New York, Chicago and Washington, he wrote Freud a letter charged with grievance and provocation. From this the situation might well have seemed hopeless, but a few days later the two men met at the conference of organizational matters that Freud had convened in Munich and there seemed reason to suppose that the basis for at least an accommodation had been established. Freud and Jung went for a long walk together; Freud was able to explain to Jung's satisfaction the incident which Jung had understood to be an intentional oversight. They returned to a vivacious lunch with their colleagues at which Freud had his second fainting spell in Jung's presence.
A few days later Jung wrote Freud, coolly but with amenity, even with the avowal of his wish to continue to continue in personal if no longer in intellectual closeness. Freud replied in kind; he commented on the fainting episode, about which Jung had enquired, and contended by saying, "A bit of neurosis that I ought really look into." The minimizing phrase seems to have put Jung into a state of hysterical rage. He insolently replies that "this 'bit' should, in my opinion, be taken very seriously indeed because it leads 'usque ad instar voluntariae mortist ('to the semblance of voluntary death']. I have suffered from this bit in my dealings with you. . ." and more to the same effect and in the same tone.
A few weeks later, after a further acerb exchange, he writes that he sees through Freud's "little trick," which is that Freud goes "around sniffing out" symptoms, "thus reducing everyone to the level of sons and daughters" while himself remaining "on top as the father, sitting pretty. . . .You see, my dear Professor, so long as you hand out this stuff I don't give a damn for my symptomatic actions; they shrink to nothing in comparison with the formidable beam in my brother Freud's eye."
With this burst of ressentiment, which transforms the judging father into the condemned brother, Jung stands on the verge of freedom. There are a few more letters exchanged, partly because business remained to be transacted, partly because the two men cannot quite give each other up even though there is only bitterness between them. Nothing now holds Jung back from going on to fulfill his own law. That he did so cannot be doubted, and there are many who are gratified by what his autonomy has yielded. There are also many, of whom the present reviewer is one, who see his effort of self-fulfillment as an elaborate act of intellectual supererogation, both as it issues in his cultural and general psychological concepts and in his clinical theory.
When Freud's son Ernst and Jung's son Franz met in the former's home in St. John's Wood, London, to exchange their fathers' letters and to agree that they should be published together, it was naturally understood that the letters were to be edited with entire impartiality. This task was put into the charge of William McGuire, the supervising editor of Jung's Collected Works, and he has carried it out in a way that is admirable in every respect. For anyone concerned with the history of the psychoanalytic movement through the years over which the correspondence extends, his editorial apparatus, at once elegant and compendious, is of the greatest value. Freud's letters have been translated by Ralph Manheim with his justly-admired skill; the equally successful translation of Jung's letters was made by R. F. C. Hull, the translator of the Collected Works.