The relationship between Analytical Psychology and Transcendence – The disturbing question inherited from the “Red Book” by Jung
by Antonio Grassi, Sandra Berivi
Analytical psychology ,in giving a pantheistic response to man’s religious question , while offering a great and futuristically actual theoretical construct on the psyche , does not respond to the archetypal need of Transcendence, hidden in the deepest part of the human soul. In this paper it is attempted to explain the reasons for such a lack, but also to indicate a further path that analytical psychology can open towards more radical answers to the religious need of man.
Key Words: Analytical Psychology, Science, Faith, Transcendence
At the center of psychic suffering Jung places the religious problem that grips the neurotic subject and is at the origin of his/her symptoms. As it has already been written in another work (Grassi, 2010b), he shares this basic assumption with Robert Langs (1988a) communicative psychotherapy creator, and with W. Bion (1970),a Kleinian psychoanalyst, and his great admirer and estimator.
At a first reading of ‘The Red Book’ it might seem to emerge a valid answer to the religious problem of all human beings , identified in the process of individuation as an ‘initiatory’ path that each person is called to follow to realize the sense of his/her earthly existence. In the Book at this analysis level indeed Jung identifies Analytical Psychology as a method and a fundamental reference theoretical construct : in fact ‘his’ individuation process meaning and deep objective will be the scientific development of the Analytical Psychology starting from its historical matrix: Alchemy and, even before, Gnosis. But examining in depth his inner research it is to be noticed that the author makes other essential clarifications: he firmly declares that his book is a kind of logbook on an individuation path that is his personal existential journey, with specific choices , which cannot be shared in terms of affiliation, or imitation, or mimicking. In this sense he declares that there can never be true Jungians; everyone has and goes his own way. Indeed Jung, through his imaginative ego and his ‘oniric’ dream-like ego, makes choices that will obviously have repercussions not only on the development of his psychic theory but also, and above all, on depth psychology ethics conception. Ethics is not casually mentioned. At the end of the Book he is faced by Elijah with the alternative between the choice of a ‘telluric mysticism’, represented by Salome, and the alternative of a ‘celestial mysticism’, represented by Elijah himself. He replies that he is a man and therefore he cannot follow Elijah’s way. Salome, in going away with Elijah, gives him a winking glance. It can be questioned why Jung chooses Salome, and then, in this way, gives the origin to a later Analytical Psychology orientation that led to ethical values relativism . As communicative oriented Psychologists Analysts , often in spite of ourselves, we are accustomed to researching the origins of intellectual theories, of human behavior relational models in deep unconscious motivations, often rather unpleasant for the conscience. It is to be said that for some time the development of Jung’s thought has been under the focus of our attention. We have been analyzing it in full respect of the fundamental truth, by the author himself expressed, according to which no analyst can ever lead his patient beyond his/her own limit of psychological development. We believe that highlighting his work values and grasping its limitations, where they appear in all their evidence, is, on our part, a dutiful testimony of esteem towards the author. This is precisely in order to further develop the riches hidden in his intuitions, in order to ‘throw away only the dirty water without losing the child’.
In this work it is proposed the hypothesis that the development of the new psychotherapeutic discipline named by Jung as Analytical Psychology is the author’s original and brilliant work, but, at the same time, it has its speculative limit on religious dimension exploration. It will be tried to demonstrate, through a thorough and detailed analysis of the Red Book, that the development of his religious thought remains at an ‘immanent’ level without crossing the transcendence threshold because of the unresolved personal conflict with the paternal dimension. The contributions on the Red Book interpret it as the expression of a synchronistic coincidence between European reality events and catastrophic changes contemporary to Jung and his personal vicissitudes. In complete sharing of the above mentioned interpretations, just to fill the gap represented by a weak and / or just nuanced analysis of the author’s personal dimension involved in such synchronistic events, it has been tried to explore how Jung’s ego has managed his personal conflicts that were part of those synchronistic events.
1.1.0 Communicative Oriented Analytical Psychology: an anthropological conception of the psyche rooted in the metaphysical-theological dimension
Analytical psychology as a science of the mind obviously belongs to the anthropological sphere, Hegel’s finished Spirit , together with art and religion, and stands as an extended cognitive spectrum between heaven and earth, that is between Nature and Absolute Spirit. This research is placed in this dimension.
During our consciousness going down to the depth, through dreams, associations, imaginative activity, etc., first an unconscious so-called ‘surface’ ego system (Langs, 1988a) is encountered. All the erotic and aggressive predatory drives described by Freud operate in it. This unconscious ego drive level is mechanically governed by the defense mechanisms described by classical Freudian psychoanalysis. The latter lead to the auto and hetero deceitful transfer phenomenon , to false theorizations and illusory and / or distorted interpretations of reality . Ego’s unconscious part essentially plays the function of desire hallucinatory satisfaction , which consists in appropriation drive satisfaction inherent in the omnipotent Oedipal fantasy, even at reality expense (Fornari, 1975). On the contrary, going even deeper, there is the unconscious archetypal dimension , where depth and super-conscious height paradoxically coincide.
Jung, Bion, and Langs recognize a perceptive-cognitive interpersonal attitude to this dimension, which goes beyond the ordinary sensory paths and communicates, through the symbolic or associative-metaphorical language, our and others’ relational and behavioral motivations authentic truths and meanings. However, this inner space goes so far as to open the mind to life basic rules and human existence ultimate spiritual meanings transpersonal awareness up to an opening to transcendence.
This premise allows a reader to understand the key used in ‘The Red Book’ careful examination. In this work the author recorded particularly critical and troubled inner path events. This trouble led him, in the period from 1913 to 1928, to let twentieth century scientific culture know Analytical Psychology psychic foundations and theoretical and clinical framework: in particular the archetype and the Objective Psyche conception, i.e. the ‘Reality of the Soul’. Archetypes constitute the Objective Psyche supporting structures.
Archetypes and Objective Psyche
1.1.1 The archetype.
By archetype Jung means an experience and knowledge a priori category, a pattern of behavior that is not only instinctual, like in Ethology , but also imaginal , that is specifically
1.1.2 The Objective Psyche or Reality of the Soul.
- The discovery of objective Psyche transcendence, not in the metaphysical sense,related to both conscious and unconscious ego, is, however, of fundamental importance. That is to say that the objective Psyche refers to the ego as a you and vice versa. The ‘objective Psyche’, otherwise also defined by Jung ‘Reality of the Soul’, has therefore its own autonomy and, related to the conscious ego, behaves like a second personality possessing a much wider, deeper and higher awareness. So it has its own independent faculty of evaluation, judgment and will. Following this new and revolutionary Psyche totality Jungian vision, it has been conceived the idea that the unconscious ego is, consequently, connected ,in a similar way , with the objective Psyche both external and internal worlds . The latter are both ‘Other’ with respect to the conscious-unconscious ego. In fact, it can be made the following hypothesis that, for example, a psychic defense mechanism, considered by Jung to be fundamental, the projection, can intervene on the part of the unconscious side of the ego towards not only outside world characters, but also inner world ones when they present themselves to the ego, for example during active imagination or a dream. These mechanisms is always the same: the omnipotent Oedipal, oral or phallic fantasy hallucinatory realization of unconscious ego ,at the reality expense , this time meaning by reality not only the external objective Psyche characters’ but also the inner ones . In ‘The Red Book’ Jung seems to presents himself as an emblematic case in which the unconscious ego uses this type of internal defense from the figures that emerge from his inner world and animate it. As evidence of this thesis, some seemingly distorted interpretations will be referred . They were given by Jung of his interlocutors and emerge from the depth, especially those significant in relation to his relationship with the Sacred and in particular with the Transcendence (Elijah and Philemon ). These distorted interpretations produce for Analytical Psychology great and disturbing questions raised by the contemporary reading of ‘The Red Book’ and of the memoirs written in’ Memories, Dreams and Reflections’:
– Was Jung’s negative relationship with his personal father decisive in causing his reluctance towards the metaphysical-theological transcendence?
– Was the conflict with Freud conditioned by his original personal negative relationship with his father, a Protestant pastor?
– Consequently, given this conflict and a hypothetical omnipotent solution , does the implantation of Analytical Psychology manage to stay within the anthropological Science of the Sacred limits or is it likely to go beyond them unknowingly attributing itself the significance of a pantheism – founded Sacred Science?
– In the last case ,does Jung’s pantheistic vision have strong repercussions on the clinical level, on the concept of man, the relationship between man and woman and ethics?
In this work the preliminarily proposed thesis is that the Zurich master made, on the ego level, an inner exploration journey that would lead him to identify Analytical Psychology origins and pillars, while on the unconscious level he retraced all the stages of his Oedipal conflicting relationship with the paternal dimension , unfortunately not resolving the problem.
Besides another thesis is proposed ,that Jung, unconsciously, due to his unresolved conflict with the paternal, cuts the psyche totality out of a profound evidence inherent in the Objective Psyche he passed through: the existence of a Transcendence archetype (Elijah), i.e. an a priori predisposition to the experience and not intellectual knowledge of God. It is also believed that this amputation had a strong negative impact on his conception of the relationship between man and woman structure and of spirituality. These consequences are made evident by the meaning and the role that , in ‘The Red Book’ and in ‘Memories, Dreams and Reflections’, the female images play associated with the male figures object of Jung’s Oedipal conflict: Sabina Spilrein regarding Freud, Salome in reference to Elijah, Soul and Mary in relation to Philemon.
In the text the Zurich master very clearly exposed all his unconscious soul and his conscious and unconscious ego motions. In fact, the analysis, often also pitiless, that will be conducted on the author’s thoughts, feelings and behavior, as well as on unconscious motivations, is to be interpreted as a disenchanted gaze not only in Jung’s but also in everyone’s inner truth mirror. Jung can be everyone , and if the reflections and criticisms made here are to be thought as addressed to a Jung that symbolically represents all of us, even the hardest analysis on the author’s work concerns all of us personally.
2.0.0 The negative story with Freud: Jung’s interpersonal, cultural and value Oedipal Conflict
Jung asserted that his work was his personal life devoted to Analytical Psychology discovery and that ‘The Red Book’ itself derived from the detachment from Freud and the consequent period of his personal crisis. It seems appropriate, therefore, to make some considerations on how and why Jung, on a human level, and not only theoretically, separated from Freud. Separation is not mourning in order to underline an essential fact: physical separation, or even theoretical, between two people might not be equivalent to an effective reciprocal detachment and consequent mourning. Far from it! So what really happened in the deep unconscious between Freud and Jung?
In order to answer this question avoiding other authors’ misinterpretations of what really happened, the best choice is to rely on the words written on the subject by Jung himself in ‘Memories, Dreams and Reflections’ “(Jung, 1961: 174-196).
Jung himself tells the story of the inner process that led him to the separation from Freud, and makes it quite clear (to quite witty readers )that he experienced Oedipal ambivalence towards his father Freud: his dreams and also his associative communications in the personal relationship with him unequivocally demonstrate it. He intimately accused his master of elevating the eros to the rank of a dogma, of a religious numen (divine power), and on this subject his observations are extremely convincing. He got indignant , however, when Freud maintained that he (Jung) wanted to be considered as a prophet. In reality, in his psyche conception development , he himself will end up embodying the new discipline, Analytical Psychology, prophet-role . Manzoni, in his ‘Promessi Sposi’ (‘The Betrothed’), watching two people attribute to each other criticizable images, commented: ‘so they exchanged their business cards’.
Once Jung and Freud were at a dinner party and the first excitingly began to talk about his interest in the “marshes corpses” in some Northern Germany regions. The teacher fainted and, as soon as he recovered, he pointed out to the student that all his chattering of corpses at the table with him meant that the disciple had death wishes in his regard. Freud correctly perceived and interpreted his disciple’s unconscious intentions , communicated to him through the associative metaphors made up of his stories on the ‘ marshes corpses’ (ib.:190 et seq.).
On another occasion, during a discussion on Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, who had destroyed all the cartouches on his father’s stems in order to establish the monotheistic religion in place of his time widespread polytheism , Freud claimed that Amenhotep IV had acted because of a negative paternal complex, essentially a desire to kill the father; Jung instead defended Amenhotep IV stating that the pharaoh’s son only fought against the name of the god Ammon and not against his father; only for this he had erased that name from anywhere, so even in his father’s cartouches. Once again, the second, Freud fainted (ib.:184). Even in this case it could be objected to Jung: if Amenofi IV’s goal was to cancel only Ammon’s name, why did he destroy all his father’s cartouches and not only erase the god’s name ?
Through the discussion on Amenhotep IV the two protagonists, Freud and Jung, were unwittingly and reciprocally communicating . The first was perceiving the latter’s unconscious desire to take his place and the latter was communicating to the first that he was legitimate to do it, otherwise he could not replace him in the psychology of the unconscious realm.
Following an analytical evaluation, even only of these two short episodes, Analytical Psychology communicative orientation allows to say that Freud and Jung, in these disputes, mutually felt the unconscious meanings of their relationship through ‘derivatives’, that is, narrative metaphors. Jung analyzes the same story in a hard but truthful way, therefore ,according to this decoding key of unconscious communications between the two, even from Jungians’ side, it must be admitted that Freud was right. Both the Viennese master’s fainting episodes ,which can also be inscribed in the category of conversion symptoms mimicking the goal of Jung’s unconscious desire to kill his father, and the impermeability shown by Jung to the master’s arguments, testify how much the author’s negative paternal complex was excessively egosyntonic and therefore completely inaccessible to critical self-reflection. Jung’s unconscious parricide motivation against Freud is witnessed by his crisis with the Viennese master turning dream . In the first part it represents Freud as an old Austrian customs officer ghost , wearing a uniform, who, walking curved, passed him without paying attention to him (Jung, 1961: 174-196). There cannot be a better symbolic Oedipal complex expression of the student towards the teacher! It was precisely Oedipus who, in the myth, not bearing his father passing into a narrow area ‘without paying attention to him’, killed him.
In the dream, however, a female voice says to Jung: ‘He is one of those who could not really die’(ib.:174-196). Why was the relationship with Freud not really able to die at least until then? Why did Jung keep alive a relationship that had already been dead for years? Perhaps Jung himself says it , in an unconscious way, through his associations: “Customs = Border. At the borders the suitcases are opened and they are examined if they contain smuggled goods “(ib: 174-196). In fact, in a merciless, but perhaps truthful, analysis the dream seems to warn Jung that when he said that he had to bow to Freud’s intellectual authority, he really tried to smuggle, even to himself, for an attitude of devotion and loyalty to the teacher, an interior attitude that connoted the desire to take his place. Being appreciated as his young and brilliant heir, did he hope perhaps in his analytical professionalism clearing? On the conscious level, Jung said: ‘In my eyes Freud had already lost […] his authority […] could it be the death wish that Freud suspected? No, I absolutely wanted to work with him ‘(ib: 174-196). However, he smuggled to himself the persuasion that he wanted to work with the Viennese master, which was instead contextually denied by his hidden low opinion and contempt that revealed his unconscious wish for Freud’s death .
Jung manages to fulfill his wish to be recognized as an innovator of Depth Psychology in the second part of the dream, when he represents himself as a twelfth century Knight , completely armed, invisible to everybody but to himself. A knight full of life, belonging to the birth of alchemy and the Holy Grail search century. A story that brings him back to the reading he did when he was 15. The young adolescence knight succeeds to the old customs officer father. It is analytical culture acquired heritage that during adolescence the young’s death drive towards the father and the desire to be the promising new hero embodying the mother’s unconscious omnipotent narcissism are at play. A representation of himself as a twelfth century knight, at the time of the birth of alchemy which was considered by Jung the mother of Analytical Psychology. A new world, a kingdom in which the old father is dispossessed by the young son, who renews life and culture.
The detachment from Freud becomes definitive when Jung formulates his conception of incest, with which he replaces Freud’s one . For Freud incest is an almost biological fact, certainly concrete. The child really wants to own the mother’s body. Only the taboo can be opposed to it so that society can survive. Jung does not deny the reality of incest, but substitutes Freud’s conception with his, thus realizing a form of Oedipus acted among different theoretical conceptions: incest concerns unconscious inner images ,the taboo is not to be opposed because the incest has a strongly religious content, for this reason it is present in all cosmogonies and in many myths. Jung writes ‘Freud adhered to a literal interpretation and could not grasp the spiritual significance of incest as a symbol” (ib: 174-196). As he himself states, the complex of incest would have a positive function on the symbolic level. This operation leads Jung to elaborate a matriarchal conception of the unconscious: the Great Mother is, in fact, the archetype founding the unconscious. The Incest does not concern the real mother, but the archetypal mother, and allows the hero to break down the collective consciousness fossilized values, that are the Father, replacing them with a new world and reality vision . The incest complex continues, therefore, to orientate both authors, Freud concretely as danger and Jung symbolically as desired destination. In both cases the Father, however, must be killed: in Freud as the representative of the real father’s internal punitive-judging- superegoic image, in Jung as collective consciousness values and norms embodiment, which must be destroyed to be able to go along the path of individuation.
On the contrary, according to a compensatory modality, the unconscious tries to correct this vision of Jung’s paternal by a dream on 12th December , 1913. The author dreams of descending into a cavity-cavern and of discovering a young blond man ‘s head wounded corpse floating in a deep watercourse . First a gigantic black beetle emerges from the deep water , and then, from a further depth, a just born red sun. Dazzled by its light, Jung tries to replace the stone on the cavity opening, but it spills out blood rivers (ib: 206-207). The Zurich psychoanalyst brings this dream back to the drama of death and renewal that characterizes the hero and the sun myth . He will attribute the blood rivers , already dreamed of before, to a precognition of the First World War imminent outbreak . This interpretation of archetypal-synchronic nature, even in its precognitive implications, should not be questioned. However the Swiss author does avoid any reference to his personal inner story. Instead the same dream can be analyzed on the basis of the underlying assumption of the Jungian concept of synchronicity which implies a correspondence between inner events and external events. According to this interpretation the wound that the young corpse has on his head could also symbolize the sense of castration experienced by Jung in his relationship with Freud. The dream also seems to propose that, going deep, and so not keeping to the surface of the castration experience, he could first meet the enormous black scarab, a primitive repetitive archetypal paternal image, then an infinite state of light, of unconscious awareness: the ‘midnight’ red sun, which is rising. The sun is a paternal symbol. So it can be understood that Jung ‘s deep unconscious indicated an interior journey towards the solar paternal archetypal value rediscovery in his emotions deep water . The author, frightened of being dazzled by so much light, immediately tries to put ‘a stone on it’, even if at the price of being overwhelmed by an enormous hemorrhage of forces in this conflict. After blocking the light of the solar paternal awareness , however, Jung will also ‘put a stone on’ that indicates the relationship with the Anima -woman with whom he is involved in an overwhelming passion at that time of his life, that is Sabina Spielrein .
In fact, in the dream of December 18th , 1913, made a few days later, he, together with others, must kill Siegfried, who, on a cart made of dead bones, descends at a crazy speed down a steep slope. Jung really kills Siegfried. Devoured by remorse and guilt, overwhelmed by the fear that the crime can be discovered, he runs away. A shower of rain sweeps away every trace of the corpse. ‘A voice says to him:’ If you do not understand the dream, you must shoot yourself ‘. (Ibid: 206-208). In his memoirs, Jung specifies that in the bedside table drawer he had a loaded revolver, and in that circumstance he began to frighten. The author interprets Siegfried’s figure as the ego’s unconscious ideal underlying his conscious attitude, he attributes the responsibility of it to a female figure and draws the conclusion that this ideal had to be killed because it no longer suited him. In this way, Jung reveals, completely unintentionally, one of the most serious dangers inherent in the use of analytical interpretive tools, either Active Imagination dreams or characters. That is to say dealing with images as inner world autonomous personifications , but totally detached from any relationship with concrete life concomitant context. One of the fundamental elements of symbolic reading is thus scotomized (eliminated) : reality. The risk is ending up in self-deceptive explanations which, leaving the inner characters prey to their only concrete and not functional definition, produce a sort of psychological materialism. Another danger is inherent in the self-interpretation of dreams, which may be untrue, but determined by the unconscious ego needs of each of us. In fact, it is to be considered that Jung absolutely scotomizes some details of his life when he interprets this legendary figure. He does not speak clearly of his very intense contemporary relationship with Sabina Spielrein. He does not mention the following facts. Siegfried’s father’s name was Sigmund (like Freud). Sabina’s greatest desire was to have a child from him and to give him the name Siegfried. This child, in Spielrein’s aspirations, would fill the gap between her Jewish nature and his Arian one. Finally, in Spielrein’s mind, Siegfried could also be ‘one of their symbolic creatures originating from the union of his teachings [of Jung] with those of Freud’ (Carotenuto, 1980: 16 -17). This last event, however, would have subverted Jung’s Oedipal relationship balance as it would have meant no longer supplanting his father, but becoming himself a father in ‘sitting on his right’. Forgive the somewhat daring analogy!
The legend tells that Sigmund, Siegfried’s father, dying, told his wife that they would have a son, and he would leave him the fragments of his sword. In the legend Siegfried had inherited them and with them, forging them again, he had built the only new sword able to face and defeat the dragon. Like Siegfried, Jung could inherit Freud’s analytical tool , the sword cut into pieces, and, forging it again , could develop the new sword, Analytical Psychology, to face the dragon of the unconscious, but integrating and not denying the Freudian contribution . This was his lover Sabina Spielrein’s wish. Freudian elaborations contribution and the consequent rigorous analytical setting are to be considered precious for the analysis of the unconscious. More or less flexible rules are generally signs of interpersonal boundaries lability and of psychic promiscuity consequent risk , as it sometimes happens in the Jungian field, and not only. Another Jungian Analytical Psychology weak point is the analysis of the Freudian drive, which operates continuously under daily life surface : the predation towards people and things belonging to others. The Jungian risk is therefore to take refuge, as sometimes see even Jung does in ‘The Red Book’, in archetypal interpretations to escape, even in analysis, to daily ‘ugliness’ unpleasant awareness. Therefore it can be legitimately assumed that Jung ‘transferred’ even the real Oedipal conflict with Freud to the inner, mythical images, removing it from his consciousness, . Perhaps here comes Jung’s idea of the symbolic incest with inner images: it, deprived of its relationship with reality, risks to hide the actual incest once again.
At this point a necessary debate can be opened on the meaning of the word ‘Symbol’ and the term ‘Father’ for Jung. Should the unconscious be designated as a Great Mother whose incestuous seduction must be yielded to be reborn in the role of heroes? And the Father, where is he? Is the Paternal role and value really and exclusively so negative and marginal as to be relegated to a collective consciousness role to be eliminated as soon as possible in order to exorcise its inauspicious effects? One might ask: but then God, or, for the unbelievers, Nature, for what reason would have given life to the Father’s figure? It would seem that the Deep Unconscious from the perspective of Jung’s unconscious ego , though not explicitly, does not provide the paternal figure. It seems that today’s society is doing just that. It is recovered by Jung only in the Old Sage’s archetypal image, a figure however quite indefinite and contaminated by the Selbst concept, which instead coincides with the realization of the Anthropos, i.e. the spiritualized Hero-son.
3.0.0 Jung’s Oedipal Conflict Relationship with the heavenly messengers: Elijah and Philemon
It is now illustrated how the fundamental archetypal figures that animate the fantasies described in ‘The Red Book’ indicate the existence of Jung’s strong conflict towards the paternal and, consequently, the Transcendence. In the course of his active imagination (Red Book) and related dreams, he describes his relationship with two fundamental male and three female archetypal figures: Elijah and Philemon on one side, Salome, Soul, and Mary on the other side
3.1.0 Elijah and Salome
The author, during an active phase of Imagination, descends into the dead ’s land along a crater slope and meets an old man with a white beard with a beautiful young girl: they are Elijah and Salome. One might ask immediately: why is Jung forced to meet Elijah in the land of the dead and not in another less disturbing place? A hypothesis could be that, being Elijah a paternal archetypal image , and having the author already several times killed his father inside himself, only among the dead he could meet him again. Salome is blind. A black snake is with them, which shows, says Jung, ‘an unequivocal sympathy for me’ (Jung, 1961: 209). Salome is the seductiveness symbol of the unconscious drive motions that blind the soul. Since eternity she has been with Elijah, which Jung defines as the archetype of thought. This definition of Elijah is, clearly , a distorted interpretation of the prophet and the meaning of his figure. In fact it has seemingly a strong defensive connotation. With the snake perhaps Jung’s unconscious could depict his ‘serpentine’ attracted by the Oedipal seductions. It is well known that a father or a paternal symbolic figure of teacher, guide, leader is often forced to say, towards a son, a beloved pupil or a subordinate from which he is undermined: ‘I fed a snake in my bosom’. In Jung’s case , it seems legitimate to suppose that his unconscious ego pushed him to cultivate a great image of himself, as a genius hero in the eyes of a woman seen as a seductive maternal equivalent. This image appears intimately connected to his blindness by erotic passions, which he will suffer very frequently during his life. In his fantasy he clings to Elijah, to defend himself from Salome and gives himself this interpretation: Elijah is the old sage’s personification , which depicts the cognitive element.
3.1.1 Jung’s unconscious ego interpretative distortions about Elijah’s figure
According to the author, the intellectual that Christ meets in the New Testament would be John the Baptist. Jung explains his fear of Salome: ‘… she claims the head of the intellectual (the Baptist), especially if he is a saint” (Jung, 2009: 248-249).
According to the following interpretation, this appears as another self-deceptive theorizing of Zurich analyst psychologist’s unconscious ego: to pass Elijah for a pre-intellectual, John the Baptist for an intellectual and thus formulate a disavowal of such figures’ meaning. The purpose of this distorting interpretation by the author’s unconscious ego is to give himself a rational explanation that legitimizes his choice to yield to erotic instincts. It is not possible to not be overly and unilaterally intellectual and, moreover, holy, because the driving forces of man’s animal nature, that is, Salome, make you ‘lose your head’. To escape the rigidity of his intellectualism, Jung finds the solution in the return to maternal pre- thinking . He writes : ‘To renew you will have to return to the maternal pre-thinking. But pre-thinking leads to Salome … because I was a thinker “(ib: 248). At last, but only incidentally, he declares: “Because I was a thinker” (ib: 248). The falsification lies in the fact that Elijah and John the Baptist can be interpreted in many ways, but only as intellectuals. Jung gives them his intellectual defense.
In order to understand these figures, confused by Jung because of his negative paternal complex, the images have to be analyzed according to two interpretive perspectives: one pertaining to Jung’s unconscious ego , side of his intellectual personal shadow , the second on the Objective Psyche archetypal side.
La Prospettiva interpretativa dell’Io inconscio di Jung
According to the first perspective, he projects on Elijah his intellectual function, ‘the pre-thought’, (ib.:Appendix B). In fact, he writes about Elijah and Salome: ‘One could say that the two characters are personification of the logos and the eros’ (ibid.: 201). Logos and eros have always been animating the world (ibid .: 249 and ff.).By Jung the logos is not the Christian Logos, but belongs to the Greek mythology and means human intellect. Jung’s unconscious ego , in a semi-conscious way, is reiterating to itself , by derivatives, that intellectualism and unbridled sensuality have always been together , ‘ab aeterno’(since eternity). Indeed, the author here grasps a great truth: intellectualism and unbridled erotic instinct are two sides of the same coin. Intellectuals, par excellence, often lose their mind , blinded by their lower passions. Jung’s self-deceptive Elijah and Salome interpretation analysis , conducted with the key of communicative reading previously briefly described, allows to consider confirmed, in this case, the hypothesis of the possibility of the author’s personal complexes projections (belonging to the unconscious part of the ego) also on inner figures originating instead from the deep unconscious. These projections lead to the distortion of the messages that the unconscious offers us on ourselves and on others. In Jung’s specific case , an Elijah considered as Greek rationality representative would reproduce precisely the projection on the prophet of his (Jung’s) being an intellectual. If he had used the amplification objective interpretive instrument , which he himself considered to be fundamental, he might have confronted with the projective subjectivity of his Elijah and Salome ‘s misinterpreting.
La Prospettiva della Psiche oggettiva
In fact, in the second perspective, on a universal communicative level, the message that Elijah, as an archetype of the Deep Unconscious, wants to convey to Jung is far superior, almost original: materiality in itself is blind, but it is a God’s daughter , and the human character who represents her in his blind instinct , Salome, can only be Elijah’s daughter, as he is the representative of God on earth and so his Word’s speaker. It must be remembered that God, according to the Judeo-Christian tradition to which Elijah belongs, created the world through the Word and that the prophet speaks in the name of God (the etymological root of the word prophet is the Greek ‘pro-femì’, which means precisely ‘speaking in the name of’). Even John the Baptist uses the word to invite men to their own sins inner purification in the waters of purifying emotions. Salome then, in the Bible , makes John the Baptist beheaded not as the intellectual, but as the man of faith purifying emotions , which opens the soul doors to the inner advent of the Transcendence (Christ) inner advent.
For what regards Elijah’s figure, as narrated in the Old Testament, which Jung knew very well, the Prophet performed the following miracles (First and Second Books of Kings-The Jerusalem Bible, 2004):
– by divine will he made the flour in a jar offered to him by a hosting widow , and the oil, in another jar, never run out although initially of extremely limited quantities, until the Lord sent rain to the earth after a prolonged period of drought;
– the resurrection of the widow’s son, who had fallen ill and died;
– he faced King Ahab and suffered his persecution, after having defended the One Transcendent God, Jahweh, against the idolatry god, Baal, and killing all the followers of the latter.
– he was abducted to heaven on a fire chariot drawn by fire horses and Elisha, his disciple, who had been with him until then , while he was climbing in the whirlwind towards the sky, looked at him and shouted ‘My father, my father, chariot of Israel and its steeds! ‘.
Elijah is therefore the prophet who proclaims the Transcendence of the One God, he is the one who defends it from the temporal power of idolatrous, human, too human beliefs. For what he does, he is Christ’s precursor . In fact, he performs miracles, in the name of Jahweh, which, by type, will then be the prerogative of Jesus.
A fundamental passage of Jung’s memoirs on the encounter with Elijah is this: ‘With Elijah I had a long conversation, of which I could not grasp the meaning’ (Jung, 1961: 209-210) This passage is scotomized by Jung himself in its profound and cardinal meaning: What does Jung unconsciously tell us about his relationship with the Transcendence, represented and defended by Elijah? He tells us that he cannot understand its meaning, despite this prophetic figure, constellated in the deep unconscious, and tries , in a long conversation, to convey it to him. Elijah can be said to present himself as one of the figures of a hypothetical Transcendence archetype , a genetic predisposition to Faith, which in man would open the psyche gaze on the Absolute. Bion writes (1970) that Faith is a state of mind, (1970), which opens up like a window on infinity. It is a mind disposition in which the sense of Transcendence is realized in the interiority not through self-cognition or cognitive self-reflection, which are only preliminary stages, but through the mystical experience, in which thought and feeling are united in the intuition of Being.
In ‘Memories, Dreams and Reflections’ Jung attributes Elijah’s teaching to Philemon: “[The thoughts in your mind] are either like animals in the forest [n. : aggressive strategies, predatory thoughts that occupy the mind in the jungle of life] or as birds of the air [ author’s note: abstract concepts, pure reason, culture, merely human spirituality] (Jung, 1961: 210 and ff.). Why this confusion of Jung? If it was a slip, it is clear that he, on the level of his unconscious ego, has the impulse to deny the value of transcendence once again, although he is eighty years old: it is better to attribute to a psychagogue (Philemon) what is instead God’s prophet’s patrimony . If it was not a slip of the tongue, it might be thought that he did not write ( in’ The Red Book’ )everything that had happened to him during his inner experience and that both Elijah and Philemon actually had sent him the same Transcend message. Philemon, for example, in the’ Septem Sermones ad Mortuos’ (‘Seven Speeches to The Dead’)does shows them the need for Christ’s figure recovery . Therefore, Elijah and Philemon are substantially the deepest and highest spiritual value figures, because they are both conveying metaphysical significance. This is a fundamental point. Today’s ‘pantheistic’ construction of Analytical Psychology psychic-spiritual order is perhaps founded on this misunderstanding of the sense of Transcendence .In this circumstance, Jung behaves, on a personal level, as an emblematic example of how a personal conflict can condition and prevent the soul opening to the metaphysical dimension. In the conflict between Faith and Reason, today always of great relevance, Jung chooses the scientific Reason, amputating the Faith from himself. This misunderstanding causes that first Elijah, an old wise white-bearded man , and then Philemon, a transcendence psychagogue himself , are later supplanted by Ka, a god born from the bowels of the earth, who has religiousness’ in his hand’. (ibid .: 212). Ka seems to possess all superman’s attributes , he is the god who knows and is immanent.
In this succinct analysis of crucial steps in Jung’s ‘ Red Book’ it has been attempted to verify and validate the hypothesis of an immanentist religiosity conception in Jung, but also to consider that the latter was, on one side, fundamental to Analytical Psychology very original construction and innovative theory , but, at the same time, it has marked its limits confining it to the mere anthropological dimension. This produced a relativistic drift of the concepts of truth, ethics and spirituality of which today’s society is suffering a lot.
The arguments here outlined are to be resumed In a subsequent under construction book, which will deal with the rediscovering of the psychological path that can lead man to the longed-for and neglected goal of Transcendence. What would happen in our psychological and spiritual development if we chose to follow Elijah?
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