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Freud and Jung: A Failure of Eros [1]
John Ryan Haule

This article was published in Harvest: Journal of Analytical Psychology 39: pp. 147-58.

          As we know from our own experiences with romantic love, intimacy exposes our deepest wounds. That Freud and Jung were not immune to this truth of human personality, can be shown by a close attention to the role of eros in their association. After the breakup they both plunged deeply into desolation. Jung understood his experience as a kind of nekyia, the sun god's perilous undersea journey that skirts madness and destruction every night.

          Most of are familiar with the close connection between frustrated intimacy and psychic instability. We find ourselves attracted to individuals who have a capacity to understand us though they have lived important dimensions of life we have avoided. Our oppositeness attracts us initially and then -- with greater familiarity -- begins to show us its shadow side. We rub one another the wrong way and get into fights that stir up our deepest injuries and insecurities. It is as though there is a flaw in each one of us, as though our disparate instinctual parts have been gathered by Self into a flawed whole.

          On analogy with the earth itself, we might imagine our soul comprised of a number of tectonic plates, held together in a working unity by Self but inevitably involving one or more "rift valleys," where the plates have shifted. To facilitate our everyday lives, we hide our woundedness from ourselves by constructing a fiction of wellness, a kind of gloss over the rift in our soul. It is as though we have painted ourselves an attractive transparency to simplify and smooth out the rugged contours of our actual soulscape.

          Intimacy is at enmity with all coverings and disguises, all the subterfuges we use to hide our most devastating weaknesses from ourselves: be they clothing, defensive poses, or our most subtle transparencies. Sexual attraction may be intimacy's most powerful instance -- a delightfully inviting occasion to strip away the obstacles and plunge into one another. The lure of sexual adventure, though, may hide more dangers than we can guess. What is imagined as a chapter from a romance novel may turn out to be a deceptively painted transparency hiding the horrors of a jagged abyss.

          Sometimes we may be conscious that sexuality carries both the longed-for and the horrific at once. Such was the case for C. G. Jung in his association with Sigmund Freud. Very likely both men saw the origins of their correspondence as a purely professional but fortuitous development, for the publications of each were confirmatory and provocative for the other. As geniuses of self-reflection, however, they had to know as well that there was little that was matter-of-fact about their connection. Each man was far too much personally invested in his work to be detached from his conclusions or from what the other thought of them. Beyond that, both men were in search of a worthy confidant. Freud had already run through several and was unimpressed with the disciples gathered around him every Wednesday night in Vienna. He was delighted in Jung, an original and first-rate mind in an enthusiastic work-horse who was also a foreigner and a Christian to boot. He had the highest hopes that with Jung and his followers in Zurich, psychoanalysis would achieve international recognition.

          Meanwhile Jung had long been in search of a mentor and confidant without much luck. His parents had disappointed him; he had been pretty much a loner in his youth; and, although he communicated with a few senior figures in his field, he had not felt much rapport with them. Possibly he was too eager in the case of Freud, but he apparently got a response from the father of psychoanalysis that made him think he had found what he was looking for. It was only five months from the first real exchange of letters before Jung traveled to Vienna with his assistant, Ludwig Binswanger, and their wives to visit Freud. The two principals closeted themselves for thirteen hours during which Jung did nearly all the talking. The pressure behind Jung's need to confide and be understood suggests a dam had burst. But Freud, far from feeling himself overwhelmed, was there to catch the torrent -- somewhat bemusedly at times, perhaps, but surely with delight. Evidently a channel had opened between them, and they knew it. If formerly they had only intuited what their association promised, now their hearts were deeply engaged. Eros had entered the space between them.

          Evidently eros collaborated with ambition in Jung's heart during the first years of their correspondence, for his expressions of deference seem self-conscious and excessive. The opening letters were cautious, Jung providing five reasons for his hesitations about Freud's theories and asserting he was only describing things as he saw them and as he believed right (McGuire: 14f). A major disagreement over Freud's theory of sexuality that eventually led to the split between the two men was thus articulated right at the beginning. But only three months later, in his first letter after visiting Vienna, Jung writes in a totally different vein (March 31, 1907):

Up till now I had a strong resistance to writing because until recently the complexes aroused in Vienna were still in an uproar. Only now have things settled down a bit, so that I hope to be able to write you a more or less sensible letter.

The most difficult item, your broadened conception of sexuality, has now been assimilated up to a point and tried out in a number of actual cases. In general I see that you are right. Autoerotism as the essence of Dementia praecox [an early term for schizophrenia] strikes me more and more as a momentous deepening of our knowledge -- where indeed will it end? (Ibid.: 25).

          Eleven days later, he writes even more emphatically:

I only fear that you overestimate me and my powers. With your help I have come to see pretty deeply into things, but I am still far from seeing them clearly. Nevertheless I have the feeling of having made considerable inner progress since I got to know you personally; it seems to me that one can never quite understand your science until one knows you in the flesh. Where so much still remains dark to us outsiders only faith can help; but the best and most effective faith is knowledge of your personality. Hence my visit to Vienna was a genuine confirmation (30).

          As he writes later on, Jung seems to have developed a "religious crush" on Freud. The eros in these letters reminds me of the sentiments of the first troubadour, William of Poitiers and Aquitaine, who wrote songs to his erotic, mystical queen, "The Unknown Lady." Obedience to her coincided with perfect fidelity to himself: "Through her alone shall I be saved" (Haule, 1990: 2). In Jung's case, "being saved" seems to have had two components. He sought to be loved and valued by a mentor who had met his mind and understood him; and he wanted support for his ambition to become a major influence in the field of psychology.

          In the months immediately following their first meeting in Vienna, it seemed as if these two possibilities had been married. On both sides, the letters' stiff expressions of fondness and high regard accompany toned-down reassertions of theoretical positions. There seems to be a hope on Jung's part that affection and growing trust will lead to equality and harmony, while Freud expects Jung will be won over completely to the doctrine of sexuality. Jung is keen to prove his devotion and protests eagerness to learn, while Freud is ready to name Jung his "Crown Prince" only a month after Vienna (McGuire: 27) and shows a growing jealousy: first that Jung does not respond soon enough to his letters and then that Jung may develop a stronger alliance with the Paris philosopher, physician, and hypnotist, Pierre Janet: "I wish you an interesting Paris complex, but I should not like to see it repress your Vienna complex" (McGuire: 65).

          Freud's jealousy is not ungrounded on either point. He typically answers Jung's letters within a day or two while Jung usually waits about a month. And he knows from reading the book Jung published shortly after the beginning of their correspondence, The Psychology of Dementia Praecox (1907), that the younger man's thinking resembles Janet's in its structure and Freud's only in its detail. [2] Furthermore, the appearance of this book generates a discussion of Jung's ambition, inspired by a dream of his own that Jung includes as an illustration in the text.

          The dream opens with the image of a horse falling from a hoist and racing through town dragging a log behind. This dangerous career through the streets is slowed to a safe pace when a horse and rider and then a buggy with children appear in front of the run-away, moving more slowly (Jung, 1907: pars. 123-33). Freud's intuition singles out this dream to ask whether Jung's interpretation had been "complete." Jung admits that it was deliberately left incomplete and that he himself is the dreamer. He denies, however, that the dream requires a sexual interpretation, saying (speciously [3] that his sex life is fine. (Ibid., 14f). It is rather his ambition that is illustrated. He would like to run away to America to further his career but his chief at the Burghoelzli mental hospital (the horse and rider) as well as his wife and children (the buggy) represent unavoidable moderating influences.

          In this interchange, Freud was rightly warned that he might be the next "chief" Jung would be tempted to trample. Realistic suspicions, therefore, lay behind the two occasions when Freud fainted over symbolic indications that Jung wish to "kill the father" and the incident on shipboard on the way to America when the two men worked at interpreting one another's dreams while lying to one another (Jung, 1961: 156ff). Eros and ambition, love and power, kept them linked but distrustful.

          Jung finally did ride rough-shod over Freud and the doctrine of sexuality when he wrote Symbols of Transformation (1911/52). That he did so at the cost of great inner conflict is suggested by his wife, Emma's, letters to Freud (McGuire: 452-63). She says she has "been tormented by the idea that your relation with my husband is not altogether as it should be" (452), that if Freud does not approve of Jung's work, the issue requires "a thorough discussion." She had never seen Jung brought to a halt in his work before. But what had seemed to be a fear of Freud's opinion, Jung himself came to see as "only a pretext for not going on with the self-analysis which this work in fact means" (462). The fault lay primarily not with Freud but in his own neurotic issues.

          Publishing his work (Symbols) precipitated the break with Freud that introduced Jung to his own woundedness in the form of a psychotic-like process that lasted through most of the second decade of this century. In drawing this chapter of his life to a close, Jung wrote a book on the universal woundedness of the human soul, Psychological Types (1921), the central image of which is what he calls the "Amfortas wound." [4] He refers to the legend of the Holy Grail depicted in Wagner's opera, Parsifal. Amfortas, king and high-priest of the Grail, suffers an ever-bleeding, never healing wound. Having been distracted in battle with his arch-enemy, Klingsor, by the seductive wild-woman, Kundry, Amfortas lets go his hold on the Holy Spear. Klingsor grabs this weapon that had pierced the side of Christ and stabs Amfortas, causing the ever-bleeding wound. These three figures, Amfortas, Klingsor, and Kundry, personify the conflicting elements in Jung's soul during and after his breakup with Freud.

          The conflict that brought his work on Symbols to a standstill is represented by the enmity between Amfortas and Klingsor. On the one side was the idealized persona, the holiest king in Christendom, exuding a glorious scent of truth and solidarity with angelic knights. This would be Jung's desire to serve the cause of psychoanalysis, to be a valiant warrior slaying the critics, and to bask in the admiration of Freud. On the other side was the shadowy Klingsor: ambition, the unscrupulous grab for power, the drive to secure his own reputation, even at the price of self-castration or murder. [5] Certainly in Freud's eyes Jung's revision of the doctrines of sexuality and incest constituted an attempt to castrate the field of psychoanalysis and to murder its father.

          Symbols of Transformation gives us Jung's reading of his struggle with ambition and eros. The book is an analysis of the published dreams and fantasies [6] of a Miss Frank Miller, a young American traveller whom Jung never met. While his conclusions about her may not be wholly wrong, the image he paints of her in Symbols does not agree with recently published historical evidence (cf. Shamdasani, 1990). Thus we may conclude that he projected his own struggles into her material; and, indeed, he does use his own favorite literary works and mythology to adumbrate the issues he identifies as hers. He saw her as clinging childishly to a presexual world by withdrawing more and more from the challenges her life was setting her. Because she seemed to transpose the sexual longings that might have led her out of her infantile refuge into grandiose religiosity, Jung saw her as pre-schizophrenic and recommended vigorous action to get her involved in real life. She was infatuated with a chantey-singing Italian sailor on the vessel where she dreamed the "Song of Creation" and the prayer of "The Moth to the Sun." He argued she would be better off allowing her sexual impulses to carry her into life rather than sublimating them into a religiously tinged retreat, where she would have to wait "10,000 moons" for the one who would truly understand her.

          If Jung thought he had found in Freud the one who understood him, his Amfortas position as "Crown Prince" must have felt as remote, impersonal, and lifeless as Miss Miller's holy refuge. The central myth of Symbols certainly suggests this: that of the "Night Sea Journey" in which the tired sun undergoes death and transformation from the time it sets in the Western Sea through its submarine journey to the East, whence it is reborn every morning. The various sun-associated human heroes (Osiris, Marduk, Jonah, Christ) follow the same pattern, as they enter the belly of the Terrible Mother and are transformed when they fight their way free.

          By this reading, Symbols amounts to a rejection of Amfortas and a reinterpretation of Klingsor's aggressive alternative. The languishing Amfortas lets go the Spear of self-assertion and thereby fails to escape his holy prison. Only the shadowy Klingsor has the grit to oppose the tender trap of doctrinal orthodoxy. Jung believed his father had withered and died prematurely rather than dare to allow his thoughts to stray beyond the creed he preached from his pulpit on Sundays. Consequently Jung was horrified by dogma.

I can still recall vividly how Freud said to me, "My dear Jung, promise me never to abandon the sexual theory. That is the most essential thing of all. You see we must make a dogma of it, an unshakable bulwark." He said that to me with great emotion, in the tone of a father saying, "And promise me this one thing, my dear son: that you will go to church every Sunday." In some astonishment I asked him, "A bulwark -- against what?" To which he replied, "Against the black tide of mud" -- and here he hesitated for a moment, then added -- "of occultism." First of all, it was the words "bulwark" and "dogma" that alarmed me; for a dogma, that is to say, an indisputable confession of faith, is set up only when the aim is to suppress doubts once and for all. But that no longer has anything to do with scientific judgment; only with a personal power drive. This was the thing that struck at the heart of our friendship (Jung, 1961: 150).

          But ambition was not the only element in the split. Injured eros also played a large role in what Jung called Freud's "Kreuzlingen gesture." At the end of May, 1912, when tensions between the two men were fairly high, Freud made a trip to Kreuzlingen (only a short distance from Zurich) to visit Binswanger who was undergoing surgery for cancer. Jung did not know of the illness, but understood the trip as a pointed signal that Freud was shunning him, over "displeasure at my development of the libido theory" (McGuire: 509). The exchange of letters drops off immediately. After five months of silence from Freud, Jung writes, "Your Kreuzlingen gesture has dealt me a lasting wound. I prefer direct confrontation" (Ibid: 515).

          In actual fact, Jung had been avoiding confrontation no less shamelessly than his mentor. He had refused to show Freud or discuss with him in advance of publication any of his work on Symbols. The damaging "Part II" of the book appeared four months after the "Kreuzlingen gesture," while Jung was far away, furthering his career in America, undermining the sexual dogma at Fordham University.

          As far as they go, The Freud/Jung Letters constitute one of the world's most complete documentations of wounded hearts' descent into the soul's abyss. The letters make for fascinating but painful reading. Two men with extraordinary potential for understanding one another enter an eros-charged and ambition-furthering association only to find themselves overwhelmed by the forces that had originally drawn them together. The promise of integrating Amfortas and Klingsor has dissolved before open warfare.

          They find themselves on a ledge perhaps half-way down the cliff-face of the rift valley and stay there for months, communicating tentatively in letters smoldering with hurt and rage, until the split becomes undeniable at the Munich Congress, September, 1913. Still they try to stay, separately, on that narrow precipice, unable to return to more secure footing and terrified of falling. Freud travels to Rome and stands before Michaelangelo's Moses every day for three weeks, trying to master his own wrath, pain, and contempt [7] for the sake of psychoanalysis just as Moses had placed the divine project of the Exodus above his own personal feelings (Freud, 1914). The very grandiosity of the comparison raises the suspicion of an "incomplete" and self-serving analysis. But it does seem to have enabled Freud to slam shut the door on his rage and to keep his footing on the narrow ledge. Shortly thereafter his disciples gathered around him, under the leadership of Ernest Jones, to form a "Committee" of ring-wearing initiates to insure the orthodoxy of psychoanalysis. Freud seems to have identified with Amfortas.

          The aftermath of the split was not so easy for Jung. He found himself hanging from the ledge by his fingertips. He spent the month after the Munich Congress playing "Indians and Englishmen" with his son and nephews on his mother-in-law's estate. As "sheriff" of the "Englishmen," clad in cowboy boots and a Canadian Mounty's hat he had acquired in his trips to America, he taught the boys to surprise one another by tunneling under one another's encampments and to set fire to their tents (Donn, 1988: 173). In October, he was frightened and nauseated by a vision, repeated twice in two weeks, of a sea of blood covering all of Europe north of the Alps (Jung, 1961: 175). In December he finally let go his finger-hold on the ledge of safety:

It was during Advent of the year 1913 -- December 12, to be exact -- that I resolved upon the decisive step. I was sitting at my desk once more, thinking over my fears. Then I let myself drop. Suddenly it was as though the ground literally gave way beneath my feet, and I plunged down into dark depths (Jung, 1961: 179).

          Above the ledge there is pain and inner conflict, but without serious loss of orientation or identity. It is not uncommon for painful interchanges at this level to be marked by polarization, whereby one party arrogates to himself the virtues of an Amfortas while the other assumes an aggressive standpoint, scorning his partner for a holier-than-thou pose hiding weakness. In his struggle with Freud, Jung surely grabbed first for the spear; but he knew, as well, that both subpersonalities struggled for dominance in his own breast: the high-minded knight in shining armor and the "realistic" go-getter who refuses to flinch from the most unpleasant decisions. Each is a stance toward the world opposed by the other as by an inner dissident. Neither is a complete personality.

          The first portion of the journey to the bottom of our woundedness, then, involves meeting this inner dissident, taking him or her seriously, and assuming the risk of being overwhelmed. Below the ledge, however, nothing is dependable; chaos and terror rule. If Amfortas and Klingsor are half-men clinging to the ledge, Kundry is a handful of disconnected fragments strewn about on the canyon floor. To fall from the ledge is to encounter the Kundry in our soul.

          She is variously described in Wagner's libretto as a wild woman, a shy and restless maid, a witch, a woman under a curse, and expiating a debt from a previous life. Some of the knights believe she hates the Order of the Grail, while others see her as an inconstant servant. All three acts of the drama begin with her asleep and in rags. Clearly her torment follows her even into sleep; for when Klingsor rouses her in Act II, she groans and croaks horribly, intoning harsh and penetrating notes that grip the heart. This is the kind of psychic pain we find in our severest patients. Having no natural or habitual sense of security, Kundry appears to be afraid to be alone with herself, tries to escape the anguish of consciousness in sleep, but finds her slumber prowling with nightmares that jolt her, bug-eyed, into panicked wakefulness. She keeps going by cultivating a toughness she only half believes but which looks to the casual observer like strength.

          She is a walking disaster, not only for Amfortas whom she seduced but especially for herself. She clings to Amfortas, searching for honor and hoping that some of his spirituality will rub off on her. But the security, goodness, and peace of conscience she looks for in him are tainted by his sentimentality, softness, and hidebound allegiance to conventionality. In disappointment she turns to Klingsor, tolerating his ruthlessness in hopes of benefiting from his strength. Eventually his brutality and spiritual poverty disgust her, and she lurches back to the shining one. Thus she vacillates between them, like Jung trying to write Symbols while crouching on the ledge.

          Left to herself she is a woman without a soul, tumbling across the canyon floor like last autumn's leaves, transparent and skeletal with rot. This is how Jung feels, crumpled in a heap at the bottom of his soul's rocky gorge. Without the bold pretensions of Amfortas' nobility or Klingsor's cruel realism, he has lost all sense of who he is and has to repeat over and over his name, address, and responsibilities lest he become no more than "a blank page whirling about in the winds of the spirit, like Nietzsche" (Jung, 1961: 189). Nietzsche, who had tried to live strictly in the world of his thoughts, had fallen irretrievably into madness, "exaggeration and irreality," which Jung found to be "the quintessence of horror." Thus Jung deliberately stirs up memories of his former life, and his home on the "gold coast" of Lake Zurich. He begins to sleep with a loaded gun beside his bed, resolved to end his life if it cannot be saved. Judging from his son's testimony some seventy years later, the whole household was living in terror.

"Think of my mother," Franz said into the silence. "Think of her. Can you imagine living with a man who slept with a gun by his bed and painted pictures of circles all day?" (Donn, 1988: 174).

          He began to see that his work in Symbols, while not necessarily wrong, was undependable, having come from "an uncertain cloud of theoretical possibilities which I was beginning to regard with increasing distrust" (1950: xxv). To counteract the intellectualizing tendencies that threatened to turn him into a leaf blowing in the winds of the spirit, he began to spend several hours a day immersing himself in memories and images. He collected stones from the lake shore and began building a miniature village in order to encourage reminiscences and fantasies with which he painted and dialogued. In this way he bypassed his defenses and reentered the uncertainties of his early childhood, where everything pertaining to the heart's attachments was experienced as treacherous. For example, his mother mysteriously disappeared for a period of some months when he was about three years old.

From then on, I always felt mistrustful when the word "love" was spoken. The feeling I associated with "woman" was for a long time that of innate unreliability. "Father," on the other hand, meant reliability and -- powerlessness. (Jung 1961: 8).

          Probably more unsettling than his mother's disappearance, however, were her sudden changes in personality. She was the original demon Kundry in his life. One moment a fat, dull, good-humored, and conventional peasant, the next she was making uncanny, seemingly infallible pronouncements (Ibid.: 49). She drew him into her confidence, giving him his father's place, dazzling him with her mad magic, and confusing him with her inaccurate slant on the world. His father, on the other hand, was fatally insecure, hypochondriacal, unable to believe what his pastorate required him to preach, and probably suffering from a "nervous breakdown" (Stern, 1976: 23). Starting from an environment like this, it is no wonder if he came to distrust everyone. His childhood friend, Albert Oeri, remembers him as "an inhuman monster," capable of shutting others completely out of his world (Oeri, 1935).

          When we lose our grip on the ledge, we plummet, torn and bleeding, into the very anxiety we have been fleeing every moment of our lives. Indeed, the ledge itself may be constituted of little more than the tricks we play on ourselves to forget the dizzying depths of our woundedness. Those who dare to look with clear eyes into the abysmal insecurity and total dependency of infancy will begin to see that it lurks, barely altered, like a deep shadow, alongside every moment of our lives. Perhaps it is our death, but in the horrifying guise of "life without end." We rarely catch more than flashes of this dark reality, and then only through the chinks in our defenses. No wonder we do what we can to ignore and deny it. Jung sometimes caught himself in the act:

[S]omething happened that I had already observed in myself several times before: there was a sudden inner silence, as though a soundproof door had been closed on a noisy room. It was as if a mood of cool curiosity came over me, and I asked myself, "What is really going on here? All right you are excited. . . . You distrust yourself and others, and that is why you side with those who are naive, simple, and easily seen through. One gets excited when one doesn't understand things." (Ibid.: 65f).

          Clearly, the relationship with Freud brought Jung to a brink he had frequently seen. Because Freud had both personal power and an unparalleled gift for handling confidences, he must have been a mother/father figure of godly proportions for Jung. Furthermore, judging by the pain of the relationship's aftermath, the attraction between the two men was mutual: Freud, too, felt attached "narcissistically" -- i.e., involving needs from below the ledge. When these dark and terrifying needs shadow our relationship with another, intimations of mutuality are probably unsurpassable in their seductive power. When we meet someone whose woundedness is transparent to us in this way, we find ourselves standing at intimacy's crossroads, where the promise of (finally) being understood by a potential soul's companion is threatened by desperate entanglements rooted in dread.

          Freud plainly inspired in Jung an overpowering longing to merge as well as an equally strong panic to flee and destroy. The mixture of sexuality and holiness terrified him, as he revealed in a letter written to his mentor, October 28, 1907:

[M]y veneration for you has something of the character of a "religious" crush. Though it does not really bother me, I still feel it is disgusting and ridiculous because of its undeniable erotic undertone. This abominable feeling comes from the fact that as a boy I was the victim of a sexual assault by a man I once worshiped. Even [when my wife and I visited you] in Vienna the remarks of the ladies ("enfin seuls," etc.) sickened me, although the reason for it was not clear to me at the time. (McGuire, 1974: 95).

          Decades later Jung refused to treat a homosexual man who had dreamt of swimming in Lake Zurich with him, again telling the story of the childhood abuse, and going on to say, "That's also the reason why I was afraid of Freud's approaches." (Donn, 1988: 151). The man who assaulted Jung had been an important father-figure and confidant during the boy's late teen years (Ibid.: 49) -- very likely Freud's only predecessor in filling this need. Freud recognized the neurotic element, accusing Jung of having "conjured up the intimacy" only to break it off abruptly -- what he does with all his male friends (Ibid.: 151).

          Sexuality and mentorship, soothing and treachery, love and hate, were mixed in a confusing intoxication for Jung. The blatant incestuousness of the connection is of cardinal importance, for nothing draws us like incest. Incest promises the dark foetal sufficiency of dissolution into a larger whole electrified with eros. Sex is the crossover point where spirit and body flow into one another, where the soul's magnetic interest becomes somatic tumescence and the body's reddening bursts into theological flame. Sexuality energizes our impulses and "glamorizes" in the original sense of the word: it lends an uncanny aura of power to whatever it touches.

          But incest also opens us like nothing else to the flaw in the Self's gathering of our disparate parts. Jung on his sojourn in the rift valley and the Kundry figure in Parsifal find themselves in a fragmented landscape, where psychic forces threaten to pull them apart. Needs from infancy that are universal human necessities untamed by a supportive and meaning-giving context assert themselves as absolute demands. In the region of a deep incestuous wound everything is sexualized; everything promises melting relief from isolation; and everything threatens catastrophe. The most dreaded fate is unremitting exile, against which the sexualizing tendency struggles in vain to establish a meaningful connection with another.

          The nature of this rift-valley desolation was brought home to me several years ago when I received a late-night call from a very difficult and fragmented patient. I was immediately arrested by an uncanny note of distance in her voice that almost seemed to disembowel me. "Where are you?" I asked, trying not to telegraph my concern. -- "In my kitchen," returned the unnaturally still voice. -- "No, I mean, where are you, psychologically?" -- "This is `the Black'! she said calmly into a ghastly ringing silence that left me a dry husk. Her desolation engulfed me, filled me, swept me away. Suddenly I was in the frigid darkness of outerspace, isolated and unreachable. I was plummeting through a bottomless blackness. There would never again be ground beneath my feet. I was eternally alone in an atmosphere of blank horror.

          So this was what she had meant by "the Black." Before this moment, I had heard her speak of it as a wave of depression and hopelessness. She had failed to tell me that it was cold, lifeless, and impenetrable as a stone; that it reverberated with eternal damnation; that it exiled absolutely. Evidently she had found the terror and desolation too profound for words. Indeed, in the blackness we now inhabited together, neither of us could think of anything to say. On the telephone line connecting her mouth with my ear, only the sound of her breath disturbed the silence -- deepening, if possible, the bleak frigidity of my isolation, and hers. A river, miles and miles of two and three-storey houses with lights in their windows, sky-scrapers, endless criss-crossing lines of traffic lay between our telephones. But that world had ceased to exist for us. We were alone together at the bottom of the soul's deepest chasm.

          The winds of the spirit are howling and cold down there. No wonder Jung feared the whirling blank page of a Nietzschean fate. This is what it feels like to have lost one's soul. For Jung to have let go his hold on Freud was to have opened himself to more than abandonment and repudiation. It was not just an "other" that he lost, but the very sense of being capable of joining. All grappling lines of connection seemed severed. Weeks of diversion playing at "Englishmen and Indians" only disguised his desolation. Tunnels of communication ended in incendiary aggression, as tepees and command posts were reduced to ash. Proof the diversion had failed appeared in his repeated image of Europe under a sea of blood, Jung isolated and vomiting from his vantage on a rocky ledge in the Swiss alps.

          Letting go of the ledge, as unavoidable as it may have seemed to him at the time, posed a greater risk and required a greater act of courage than letting go of his mentor. He might have held on to his rationalizations and firmed up his "uncertain cloud of theoretical possibilities" with appeals to higher authorities and philosophical arguments. In letting himself drop, he faced up to the likelihood that in the vicinity of his wound, Self might no longer be able to gather the tectonic plates of his soul. Indeed, he found the universe to be fragmented and swirling like so many dried up leaves and feared he might be one of them.

          About ten years later he wrote that, if we are conscious about our relationships, we have to relinquish our hope to have our fragmentation and anguish contained by a partner. He recommends tolerating our "self-division for the time being," and even allowing ourselves a "more complete disintegration." It would be futile to boldly assert a self-unity we do not feel or to compensate its absence by seeking one partner after another to contain our multiplicity. Such tactics only deny the earthquakes that shiver the soul along fault lines that run all the way down to a liquid core. Only by letting the worst happen will we discover "the possibility of an inner integration, which before [we] had always sought outside [ourselves]" (Jung, 1925: 334).

          Psychoanalysts have rightly praised Freud for the courage it took to interpret his own dreams and thereby rigorously to establish a kind of science of the psyche. Insofar, however, as interpretation amounts to attributing meanings to our experience, it runs the risk of building a ledge along the wall of the soul's rift valley to save us from encountering the depths of our fragmentation. Jung's fall -- albeit possibly unavoidable -- required greater courage, and particularly his refusal to apply a system of meaning-giving to the swirling chaos of his desolation. His later writing suggests that the way out of the soul's chasm has something to do with not resisting the way down. But let us not assume that this closes the chasm one and for all. If the notion of "healing" means halting the movement of our soul's tectonic plates, it is illusory and to be found only on painted transparencies: not in the soul's landscape itself.

          Although Jung returned from his rift valley, he carried his wound with him. At the end of his autobiography, he speaks of his loneliness and "sensitivity to companionship" because he knows things that others do not want to know (Jung, 1961: 356). Furthermore, it appears that he did not hide his loneliness from the people around him. For example, Jane Wheelwright, an American student of Jung's who came to know him long after his brush with psychosis, describes an insistent passion in him that seduced everyone, leaving the women fighting one another to get close to him and the men grumbling over "imagined neglect":

Observing him in Zurich, surrounded by people, it was nevertheless clear he was going it alone. He contained the others who crowded around him, but there was no one to contain him. He must have been on the lookout for people to share his loneliness because, when he contacted you he made you feel you just might be that one. So towering a personality seeking an equivalent personality made it a heady business. It was an unforgettable experience to have someone of such force come at you like that. And how you wished you could provide what he seemed to seek. There you were with all the doors opened to you and sooner or later, instead, you would be another transference casualty. You, because of your inadequacy, forced him, once more, into the role of container (Jensen, 1982: 98).


  1. This article is an adaptation of a chapter from a book I am writing under the working title, Interchanges: Meetings with Wounded Hearts.

  2. I have demonstrated this claim through a close reading of The Psychology of Dementia Praecox (Haule, 1984).

  3. Jung is enough of a psychoanalyst to know that the dreamer's manifest ignorance of a sexual motive is not persuasive in the face of the "latent content" of the dream.

  4. This claim is better substantiated in Haule, 1992.

  5. Jung's oversensitivity in the matter of the Amfortas/Klingsor split was apparently a life-long issue for him. He writes in 1916 about "my student days when, right or wrong, I often defended my thesis tenaciously, obstinately, self-righteously, in order at least to win for myself the appearance of superiority by fighting for it" (1916/48: par 513).

  6. Published by Jung's "fatherly friend," (Jung, 1911/52: xxviii) Theodore Flournoy, of Geneva. Flournoy belonged to the "French School," within which Pierre Janet was the foremost spokesman. Thus Jung's writings at the beginning and the end of his association with Freud are heavily influenced by his "Paris complex."

  7. These are the attributes Freud explicitly attributes to Moses, when he encounters the Israelites worshiping the golden calf.



Donn, L. Freud and Jung: Years of Friendship, Years of Loss. (1988). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Freud, S. "The Moses of Michaelangelo." (1914). SE 13. London: Hogarth Press, 1978: 211-236.

Haule, J. R. "From Somnambulism to the Archetypes: The French Roots of Jung's Split with Freud." Psychoanalytic Review, 71(4) (1984): 635-659.

Haule, J. R. Divine Madness: Archetypes of Romantic Love. (1990). Boston: Shambhala. Paperback title: Pilgrimage of the Heart: The Path of Romantic Love.

Haule, J. R. "Jung's `Amfortas Wound': Psychological Types Revisited." (1992). Spring 53: A Journal of Archetype and Culture, pp. 95-112.

Jensen, F. (Ed.) C. G. Jung, Emma Jung and Toni Wolff: A Collection of Remembrances. (1982). San Francisco: The Analytical Club of San Francisco.

Jung, C. G. The Psychology of Dementia Praecox. (1907). CW : 1-152.

Jung, C. G. Symbols of Transformation: An Analysis of the Prelude to a Case of Schizophrenia. (1912/52). CW 5.

Jung, C. G. "General Aspects of Dream Psychology." (1916/48). CW 8. Princeton University Press, 1960: 237-280.

Jung, C. G. Psychological Types. (1921). CW 6. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971.

Jung, C. G. "Marriage as a Psychological Relationship." (1925). CW 17. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964: 189-201.

Jung, C. G. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. (1961). Recorded and edited by A. Jaffe. Translated by R. & C. Winston. New York: Pantheon.

McGuire, W. J. (Ed.). The Freud/Jung Letters: The Correspondence Between Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung. (1974). Translated by R. Manheim and R. F. C. Hull. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Oeri, A. "Ein Paar Jugenderinnerungen." (1935). Die kulturelle Bedeutung der komplexen Psychologie. Berlin: Springer.

Shamdasani, S. "A Woman Called Frank." (1990). Spring 50: A Journal of Archetype and Culture. Dallas: Spring Publications: 26-56.

Stern, P. J. C. G. Jung: The Haunted Prophet. (1976). New York: Braziller.

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