Collected Papers on Analytical Psychology/Chapter 14
NEW PATHS IN PSYCHOLOGY
In common with other sciences, psychology had to go through its scholastic-philosophic stage, and to some extent this has lasted on into the present time. This philosophic psychology has incurred our condemnation in that it decides ex cathedra what is the nature of the soul, and whence and how it derives its attributes. The spirit of modern scientific investigation has summarily disposed of all these phantasies and in their place has established an exact empiric method. We owe to this our present-day experimental psychology or “psychophysiology,” as the French call it. This new direction originated with Fechner, that Janus-minded spirit, who in his remarkable Psychophysik (1860) embarked on the mighty enterprise of introducing the physical standpoint into the conception of psychical phenomena. The whole idea of this work—and not least its astonishing mistakes—proved most fruitful in results. For Wundt, Fechner’s young contemporary, carried on his work, and it is Wundt’s great erudition, enormous power of work and genius for elaborating methods of experimental research, which have given to modern psychology its prevailing direction.
Until quite recently experimental psychology remained essentially academic. The first notable attempt to utilise some few at any rate of its innumerable experimental methods in the service of practical psychology came from the psychiatrists of the former Heidelberg school (Kraepelin, Aschaffenburg, etc.); it is quite intelligible that the psychotherapists should be the first to feel the urgent need for more exact knowledge of psychic processes. Next came pedagogy, making its own demands upon psychology. Out of this has recently grown up an “experimental pedagogy,” and in this field Neumann in Germany and Binet in France have rendered signal services. The physician, the so-called “nerve-specialist,” has the most urgent need of psychological knowledge if he would really help his patients, for neurotic disturbances, such as hysteria, and all things classed as “nervousness,” are of psychic origin, and necessarily demand psychic treatment. Cold water, light, air, electricity, magnetism, etc., are only effective temporarily, and quite often are of no use at all. They are frequently introduced into treatment in a not very commendable fashion, simply because reliance is placed upon their suggestive effect. But it is in his soul that the patient is really sick; in those most complicated and lofty functions which we scarcely dare to include in the province of medicine. The doctor must needs, in such a case, be a psychologist, must needs understand the human soul. He cannot evade the urgent demand upon him. So he naturally turns for help to psychology, since his psychiatry text-books have nothing to offer him. But modern experimental psychology is very far from being able to afford him any connected insight into the most vital psychic processes, that is not its aim. As far as possible it tries to isolate those simple elementary phenomena which border on the physiological, and then study them in an isolated state. It quite ignores the infinite variation and movement of the mental life of the individual, and accordingly, its knowledge and its facts are so many isolated details, uninspired by any comprehensive idea capable of bringing them into co-ordination. Hence it comes about that the inquirer after the secrets of the human soul, learns rather less than nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to abandon exact science, take off his scholar’s gown, say farewell to his study, and then, strong in manly courage, set out to wander through the world; alike through the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, through dreary outlying taverns, through brothels and gambling-hells, into elegant drawing-rooms, the Stock Exchanges, socialist meetings, churches, revival gatherings of strange religious sects, experiencing in his own person love and hate and every kind of suffering. He would return laden with richer knowledge than his yard-long text-books could ever have given him, and thus equipped, he can indeed be a physician to his patients, for he understands the soul of man. He may be pardoned if his respect for the “corner-stones” of experimental psychology is no longer very considerable. There is a great gulf fixed between what science calls “psychology,” on the one hand, and what the practice of everyday life expects from psychology on the other.
This need became the starting-point of a new psychology whose inception we owe first and foremost to the genius of Sigmund Freud, of Vienna, to his researches into functional nervous disease. The new type of psychology might be described as “analytical psychology.” Professor Bleuler has coined the name “Deep Psychology,” to indicate that the Freudian psychology takes as its province the deeper regions, the “hinterland” of the soul, the “unconscious.” Freud names his method of investigation “psychoanalysis,” and it is under this designation that this new direction in psychology is now everywhere recognised.
Before we approach the matter more closely, we must first consider the relationship of the new psychology to the earlier science. Here we encounter a singular little farce which once again proves the truth of Anatole France’s apothegm: “Les savants ne sont pas curieux.”
The first important piece of work in this new field awakened only the faintest echo, in spite of the fact that it offered a new and fundamental conception of the neuroses. Certain writers expressed their approbation, and then, on the next page, proceeded to explain their cases of hysteria in the good old way. It was much as if a man should subscribe fully to the idea of the earth’s being spherical, and yet continue to represent it as flat. Freud’s next publications were practically unnoticed, although they contributed findings of immeasurable importance to the domain of psychiatry. When in 1900 he produced the first real psychological elucidation of the dream, (previously there had reigned over this territory a suitable nocturnal darkness), he was ridiculed; and when in the middle of the last decade he began to illumine the psychology of sexuality itself, and at the same time the “Zürich school” decided to range itself on his side, a storm of abuse, sometimes of the coarsest kind, burst upon him, nor has it yet ceased to rage. At the last South-west German Congress of alienists in Baden-Baden, the adherents of the new psychology had the pleasure of hearing Hoche, University Professor of Psychiatry at Freiburg in Breisgau, describe the movement in a long and much-applauded address, as an outbreak of mental aberration among doctors. The old proverb: “Medicus medicum non decimat” was here quite put to shame. How carefully the question had been studied was shewn by the naive remark of one of the most distinguished neurologists of Paris, which I myself heard at the International Congress in 1907: “It is true I have not read Freud’s works (he did not happen to know any German!), but as for his theories, they are nothing but a “mauvaise plaisanterie.” Freud, dignified, masterly, once said to me, “I first became clearly conscious of the value of my discoveries when they were met everywhere with resistance and anger; since that time I have judged the value of my work according to the degree of opposition provoked. It is against my sexual theory that the greatest indignation is felt, so it would seem therein lies my best work. Perhaps after all the real benefactors of mankind are its false teachers, for opposition to the false doctrine pushes men willy nilly into truth. Your truth-teller is a pernicious fellow, he drives men into error.”
The reader must now calmly accept the idea that in this psychology he is dealing with something quite unique, if not indeed with some altogether irrational, sectarian, or occult wisdom; for what else could possibly provoke all the scientific authorities to turn away on the very threshold and utterly refuse to cross it?
Accordingly, we must look more closely into this psychology. As long ago as Charcot’s time it was recognised that neurotic symptoms are “psychogenic,” that is, that they have their origin in the psyche. It was also known, thanks mainly to the work of the Nancy School, that every hysterical symptom can be exactly reproduced by means of suggestion. But how a hysterical system arises, and its relationship to psychic causes, were altogether unknown. In the beginning of the ’eighties Dr. Breuer, an old Viennese doctor, made a discovery which was really the true starting-point of the new psychology. He had a very intelligent young patient (a woman) suffering from hysteria, who exhibited the following symptoms among others: A spastic paralysis of the right arm, occasional disturbances of consciousness or twilight-states, and loss of the power of speech in so far as she no longer retained any knowledge of her mother-tongue, and could only express herself in English (so-called systematic aphasia). They sought at that time, and still seek, in such a case to establish some theory of anatomical disturbance, although there was just as little disturbance in the arm-centre in the brain as in that of any normal man who boxes another’s ears. The symptomatology of hysteria is full of anatomical impossibilities; such as the case of the lady who had lost her hearing completely through some hysterical malady. None the less she often used to sing, and once when she was singing her doctor sat down at the piano unnoticed by her and softly accompanied her. Passing from one strophe to another he suddenly altered the key, and she, quite unconscious of what she was doing, sang on in the altered key. Thus she heard—yet did not hear. The various forms of systematic blindness present similar phenomena. We have the case of a man suffering from complete hysterical blindness. In the course of the treatment he recovers his sight, but at first, and for some long time, only partially: he could see everything with one exception—people’s heads. He saw all the people around him without heads. Thus he saw—yet did not see. From a large number of like experiences it has long been concluded that it is only the patient’s consciousness which does not see, does not hear, but the sense-function has nothing at all the matter with it. This state of affairs is directly contradictory to the essence of an organic disturbance, which always, to some extent involves the function.
After this digression let us return to Breuer’s case. Since there was no organic cause for the disturbance, the case was clearly to be regarded as hysterical, that is, psychogenic. Dr. Breuer had noticed that if during her twilight-states (whether spontaneous or artificially induced) he let the patient freely express the reminiscences and phantasies that thronged in upon her, her condition was afterwards much improved for some hours. He made systematic use of this observation in her further treatment. The patient herself invented the appropriate name for it of “talking cure” or, in jest, “chimney sweeping.”
Her illness began whilst she was nursing her dying father. It is easy to understand that her phantasies busied themselves mainly with this disturbing time. In the twilight-states memories of this period reappeared with photographic fidelity, distinct in every detail: no waking recollection is ever so plastically and exactly reproduced. The term hypermnesia is applied to this heightening of the power of memory, which occurs without difficulty in certain states of contracted consciousness. Remarkable things now came to light. Out of the many things told, one ran somewhat as follows.
On a certain night she was in a state of great anxiety about her father’s high temperature. She sat by his bed, waiting for the surgeon who was coming from Vienna to perform an operation. Her mother had gone out of the room for a little while, and Anna (the patient) sat by the bed, with her right arm hanging over the back of her chair. She fell into a kind of waking-dream in which she saw a black snake come out from the wall and approach the sick man, prepared to bite. (It is very probable that some real snakes had been seen in the fields behind the house, and that she had been frightened by them; this would furnish the material for her hallucination.) She wanted to drive the creature away, but felt paralysed; her right arm, hanging over the chair, had “gone to sleep,” was anaesthetic and paretic, and as she looked her fingers turned into little snakes with death’s heads (the nails). Probably she tried to drive the snake away with her paralysed right hand, and thereby the anaesthesia and paralysis became associated with the snake-hallucination. Even after the snake had disappeared, her terror remained great. She tried to pray, but found she had no words in any language, until at length she managed to remember some English nursery rhymes, and then she could go on thinking and praying in that language.
This was the actual scene in which the paralysis and speech-disturbance arose; the describing it served to remove the speech-trouble, and in this same fashion the case was finally completely cured.
I must restrict myself to this one instance. In Breuer and Freud’s book there is a wealth of similar examples. It is easy to understand that scenes such as these make a very strong impression, and accordingly there is an inclination to attribute a causal significance to them in the genesis of the symptoms. The then current conception of hysteria, arising from the English “nervous shock” theory, which Charcot strongly supported, came in conveniently to elucidate Breuer’s discovery, hence arose the trauma-theory maintaining that the hysterical symptom and, in so far as the symptoms comprise the disease, hysteria itself, arises from some psyschic injury (or trauma), the effect of which is retained in the unconscious indefinitely. Freud, working as Breuer’s colleague, amply confirmed this discovery. It was fully demonstrated that not one out of the many hundred hysterical symptoms came down ready made from heaven; they had already been conditioned by past psychic experiences. To some extent, therefore, this new conception opened up a field of very important empirical work. But Freud’s tireless spirit of inquiry could not long rest content at this superficial layer, since already there obtruded deeper and more difficult problems. It is obvious enough that moments of great fear and anxiety, such as Breuer’s patient went through, would leave behind a lasting effect, but how is it that these happenings are themselves already deeply stamped with the mark of morbidity? Must we suppose that the trying sick-nursing in itself produce such a result? If so, such effects should occur much more frequently, for there are, unfortunately, many trying cases of sick-nursing, and the nurse’s nervous constitution is by no means always of the soundest. To this problem medicine gives its admirable answer; the “x” in the calculation is predisposition; there is a tendency to these things. But for Freud the problem was, what exactly constitutes this predisposition? This question led logically to an investigation of all that had preceded the psychic trauma. It is a matter of common observation that distressing scenes have markedly different effects upon the different participants, and that things which to some are quite indifferent or even pleasant, such as frogs, mice, snakes, cats, excite the greatest aversion in others. There are the cases of women who can calmly be present at a very bad operation, but who tremble all over with horror and nausea at the touch of a cat. By way of illustration let me give the case of a young lady suffering from severe hysteria following a sudden fright. She had been at a social gathering, and was on her way home at midnight accompanied by several acquaintances, when a carriage came up behind them at full speed. All the others moved out of the way, but she, beside herself with fright, ran down the middle of the road just in front of the horses. The coachman cracked his whip and cursed and swore in vain. She ran down the whole length of the street till a bridge was reached. There her strength failed her, and to escape the horses’ feet in her despair she would have jumped into the water had not passers-by prevented her. This same lady happened to be in Petrograd during that sanguinary Revolution of the 22nd of January, and saw a street cleared by the volleys of soldiers. All around her people were dropping down dead or wounded, but she retained her calmness and self-possession, and caught sight of a door which gave her escape into another street. These terrible moments agitated her neither at the time nor later on. She was quite well afterwards, indeed felt better than usual.
Essentially similar reactions can quite often be observed. Hence it follows that the intensity of the trauma is of small pathogenic importance; the peculiar circumstances determine its pathogenic effect. Here, then, we have the key which enables us to unlock at least one of the anterooms to an understanding of predisposition. We must now ask what were the unusual circumstances in this carriage scene? The terror and apprehension began as soon as the lady heard the trampling horses. For a moment she thought this portended some terrible fate, her death, or something equally frightful; the next, she lost all sense of what she was doing.
This powerful impression was evidently connected in some way with the horses. The predisposition of the patient to react in such an exaggerated fashion to a not very remarkable incident, might result from the fact that horses had some special significance for her. It might be suspected that she had experienced some dangerous accident with them; this actually turned out to be the case. When a child of about seven years old she was out for a drive with the coachman; the horses shied and galloped at full speed towards a steep river-bank. The coachman jumped down, and shouted to her to do the same, but in her extreme terror she could scarcely bring herself to obey. She did, however, just manage to jump out in the nick of time, whilst the horses and carriage were dashed to pieces below. No proof is needed that such an experience must leave a lasting impression behind it. But it does not offer any explanation for such an exaggerated reaction to an inadequate stimulus. So far we only know that this later symptom had its prologue in childhood, but its pathological aspect remains obscure. To penetrate into the heart of such a mystery it was necessary to accumulate further material. And the greater our experience the clearer does it become that in all cases with such traumatic experiences analysed up to the present, there co-exists a special kind of disturbance which can only be described as a derangement in the sphere of love. Not all of us give due credit to the anomalous nature of love, reaching high as heaven, sinking low as hell, uniting in itself all extremes of good and evil, of lofty and low.
As soon as Freud recognised this, a decisive change came about in his view. In his earlier researches, whilst more or less dominated by Charcot’s trauma-theory, he had sought for the origin of the neurosis in actual traumatic experiences; but now the centre of gravity shifted to a very different point. This is best demonstrated by reference to our case; we can understand that horses might easily play a significant part in the patient’s life, but it is not clear why there should be this later reaction, so exaggerated, so uncalled for. It is not her fear of horses which forms the morbid factor in this curious story; to get at the real truth we must remember our empirical conclusion, that, side by side with traumatic experiences, there is also invariably present some disturbance in the sphere of love. We must now go on to inquire whether perhaps there is anything unsatisfactory in this respect in the case under review.
Our patient has a young man friend, to whom she is thinking of becoming engaged, she loves him and expects to be happy with him. At first nothing more is discoverable; but the investigator must not let himself be deterred by a negative result in the beginning of this preliminary questioning. When the direct way does not lead to the desired end, an indirect way may be taken. We accordingly turn our attention back to that strange moment when she ran away in front of the horses. We inquire who were her companions and what kind of social gathering was it, and find it was a farewell-party to her best friend, on her departure to a foreign health-resort on account of a nervous break-down. We are told this friend is happily married and is the mother of one child. We may well doubt the assertion that she is happy. If she really were so, it is hardly to be supposed she would be “nervous” and in need of a cure. When I attacked the situation from a different vantage-ground, I learnt that our patient—after this episode—had been taken by her friends to the nearest safe place—her host’s house. In her exhausted state he took charge of her. When the patient came to this part of her story, she suddenly broke off, was embarrassed, fidgeted and tried to turn the subject. Evidently some disagreeable reminiscences had suddenly cropped up. After obstinate resistances had been overcome, she admitted something very strange had happened that night. Her host had made her a passionate declaration of love, thus occasioning a situation that, in the absence of his wife, might well be considered both painful and difficult. Ostensibly this declaration came upon her like a “bolt from the blue.” But a small dose of criticism applied to such an assertion soon apprises us that these things never do drop suddenly from the sky; they always have their previous history. It was a task of the following weeks to dig out piecemeal a long love-story. I will attempt to sketch in the picture as it appeared finally.
As a child the patient was a thorough tomboy, loved boys’ boisterous games, laughed at her own sex, and would have nothing to do with feminine ways or occupations. After puberty, just when the sex-issue should have meant much to her, she began to shun all society; she seemingly hated and despised everything which could remind her even remotely of the biological destiny of mankind, and lived in a world of phantasy which had nothing in common with rude reality. Thus, till her twenty-fourth year, she escaped all the little adventures, hopes and expectations which ordinarily move a girl at this age. But finally she got to know the two men who were destined to destroy the thorny hedge which had grown up around her. Mr. A. was her best friend’s husband; Mr. B. was their bachelor-friend. She liked both; but pretty soon found B. the more sympathetic, and an intimacy grew up between them which made an engagement seem likely. Through her friendship with him and with Mrs. A., she often met Mr. A. His presence excited her inexplicably, made her nervous. Just at this time she went to a big party. All her friends were there. She became lost in thought, and in a reverie was playing with her ring, when suddenly it slipped out of her hand and rolled under the table. Both men tried to find it and Mr. B. managed to get it. With a meaning smile he put the ring back on her finger, and said, “You know what that means!” Overcome by some strange, irresistible feeling, she tore the ring from her finger and flung it out of the open window. Naturally a painful moment for all ensued, and she soon went away, much depressed. A little while after, so-called chance brought her for her summer holidays to the health-resort where A. and his wife were staying. It was then that Mrs. A. began to suffer from nerve-trouble, and frequently felt too unwell to leave the house. So our patient could often go out for walks alone with A. One day they were out in a small boat. She was boisterously merry and fell overboard. Mr. A. saved her with difficulty as she could not swim, and he managed to lift her into the boat in a half-unconscious state. Then he kissed her. This romantic event wove fast the bonds between them. In self-defence she did her best to get herself engaged to B. and to persuade herself that she loved him. Of course this queer comedy could not escape the sharp eye of feminine jealousy. Mrs. A., her friend, guessed the secret, and was so much upset by it that her nervous condition grew bad enough to necessitate her trying a cure at a foreign health-resort. At the farewell-gathering the demon came to our patient and whispered: “To-night he will be alone, something must happen to you so that you can go to his house.” And so indeed it came about; her strange behaviour made her friends take her to his house, and thus she achieved her desire.
After this explanation the reader will probably be inclined to assume that only diabolical subtlety could think out and set in motion such a chain of circumstances. There is no doubt about the subtlety, but the moral evaluation is less certain. I desire to lay special emphasis upon the fact that the patient was in no sense conscious of the motives of this dramatic performance. The incident apparently just came about of itself without any conscious motive whatsoever. But the whole previous history makes it perfectly clear that everything was most ingeniously directed towards the other aim; whilst the conscious self was apparently working to bring about the engagement to Mr. B., the unconscious compulsion to take the other road was still stronger.
So once more we must return to our original question, whence comes the pathological, the peculiar and exaggerated reaction to the trauma? Relying on a conclusion obtained from other analogous experiences, we ventured the conjecture that in the present case we had to do with a disturbance in the love-life, in addition to the trauma. This supposition was thoroughly borne out; the trauma, which was apparently the cause of the illness, was merely the occasion for some factor, till then unconscious, to manifest itself. This was the significant erotic conflict. With this finding the trauma loses its pathogenic significance and is replaced by a much deeper and more comprehensive conception, which regards the erotic conflict as the pathogenic agent. This conception may be described as the sexual theory of the neurosis.
I am often asked why it is just the erotic conflict rather than any other which is the cause of the neurosis. There is but one answer to this. No one asserts that this ought necessarily to be the case, but as a simple matter of fact it is always found to be so, notwithstanding all the cousins and aunts, godparents, and teachers, who rage against it. Despite all the indignant assertions to the contrary, the problem and conflicts of love are of fundamental importance for humanity, and with increasingly careful study, it comes out ever more clearly that the love-life is of immensely greater importance than the individual suspects. As a consequence of the recognition that the true root of the neurosis is not the trauma, but the hidden erotic conflict, the trauma loses its pathogenic significance.
Thus the theory had to be shifted on to an entirely different basis, for the investigation now had to face the erotic conflict itself. Our example shows that this contains extremely abnormal elements and cannot, primâ facie, be compared with an ordinary love conflict. It is surprising, indeed hardly credible, that only the postulated affection should be conscious, whilst the real passion remained unknown to the patient. But in this case it is beyond dispute that the real erotic relation remained unillumined, whilst the field of consciousness was dominated by the assumption. If we try to formulate this fact, something like the following proposition results: in a neurosis, two erotic tendencies exist which stand in extreme opposition to one another, and one at least is unconscious. Against this formula the objection can be raised that it has obviously been derived from this one particular case, and is therefore lacking in general validity. The criticism will be the more readily urged because no one unpossessed of special reasons is willing to admit that the erotic conflict is of universal prevalence. On the contrary, it is assumed that this conflict belongs more properly to the sphere of novels, since it is generally depicted as something in the nature of such wild adventures as are described by Karin Michaelis in her “Aberrations of Marriage,” or by Forel in “The Sexual Question.” But indeed this is not the case; for we know the wildest and most moving dramas are not played on the stage, but every day in the hearts of ordinary men and women who pass by without exciting attention, and, who betray to the world save through the symbol of a nervous breakdown, nothing of the conflicts that rage within them. But what is so difficult for the layman to grasp is the fact that in most cases patients have no suspicion whatever of the internecine war raging in their unconscious. But remembering that there are many people who understand nothing at all about themselves, we shall be less surprised at the realisation that there are also people who are utterly unaware of their actual conflicts. If the reader is now inclined to admit the possible existence of pathogenic, and perhaps even of unconscious conflicts, he will certainly protest that they are not erotic conflicts. If this kind reader should happen himself to be somewhat nervous, the mere suggestion will arouse his indignation, for we are all inclined, as a result of our education in school and at home, to cross ourselves three times where we meet such words as “erotic” and “sexual”—and so we are conveniently able to think that nothing of that nature exists, or at least very seldom, and at a great distance from ourselves. But it is just this attitude which in the first instance brings about neurotic conflicts.
We recognise that the course of civilisation consists in the progressive mastering of the animal element in man; it is a process of domestication which cannot be carried through without rebellion on the part of the animal nature still thirsting for its liberty. Humanity forces itself to endure the restrictions of the civilising process; but from time to time there comes a frenzied bursting of all bonds. Antiquity had experience of it in that wave of Dionysian orgies, surging hither from the East, which became an essentially characteristic element of antique culture. Its spirit was partly instrumental in causing the numerous sects and philosophic schools of the last century before Christ, to develop the Stoic ideal into asceticism; and in producing from the polytheistic chaos of those times, the ascetic twin-religions of Mithras and of Christ. A second clearly marked wave of the Dionysian impulse towards freedom swept over the Western world during the Renaissance. It is difficult to judge of one’s own time, but we gain some insight if we note how the Arts are developing, what is the prevailing type of public taste, what men read and write, what societies they found, what “questions” are the order of the day, and against what the Philistines are fighting. We find in the long list of our present social problems that the sexual question occupies by no means the last place. It agitates men and women who would shake the foundations of sexual morality, and throw off the burden of moral shame which past centuries have heaped upon Eros. The existence of these aspirations and endeavours cannot be simply denied, or declared indefensible; they exist and therefore presumably not without justification. It is both more interesting and more useful to study carefully the basic causes of these movements than to chime in with the lamentations of the professional mourners over morals, who prophesy with unction the moral downfall of humanity. The moralist least of all trusts God, for he thinks that the beautiful tree of humanity can only thrive by dint of being pruned, bound, and trained on a trellis, whereas Father-Sun and Mother-Earth have combined to make it grow joyfully in accordance with its own laws, which are full of the deepest meaning.
Serious people are aware that a very real sexual problem does exist at the present time. The rapid development of the towns, coupled with methods of work brought about by the extraordinary division of labour, the increasing industrialisation of the country and the growing security of life, combine to deprive humanity of many opportunities of expending emotional energy. Think of the life of the peasant, whose work so rich and full of change, affords him unconscious satisfaction by means of its symbolic content; a like satisfaction the factory-hand and the clerk can never know. Think of a life with nature; of those wonderful moments when, as lord and fructifier, man drives the plough through the earth, and with kingly gesture scatters the seed of the future harvest; see his justifiable awe before the destructive power of the elements, his joy in the fruitfulness of his wife, who gives him daughters and sons, who mean to him increased working power and enhanced prosperity. Alas! from all this we town-dwellers, we modern machines, are far, far removed.
Must we not admit that we are already deprived of the most natural and most beautiful of all satisfactions, since we can no longer contemplate the arrival of our own seed, the “blessing” of children, with unmixed pleasure? Marriages where no artifices are resorted to are rare. Is this not an all-important departure from the joys which Mother Nature gave her first-born sons? Can such a state of affairs bring satisfaction? Note how men slink to their work, watch their faces at an early morning hour in the tram-cars. One of them makes his little wheels, and another writes trivial things which do not interest him; what wonder is it if such men belong to as many clubs as there are days in the week, and that among women little societies flourish, where they pour out on some particular hero or cause those unsatisfied desires which the man dulls at his restaurant or club, imbibing beer and playing at being important? To these sources of dissatisfaction is added a more serious factor. Nature has provided defenceless, weaponless man with a great amount of energy to enable him not merely to bear passively the grave dangers of existence, but also to conquer them. Mother Nature has equipped her son for tremendous hardships and has placed a costly premium on the overcoming of them, as Schopenhauer quite understood when he said that “happiness is really but the termination of unhappiness.” We are, for the most part, shielded from the immediately pressing dangers, and we are therefore daily tempted to excess, for in man the animal always becomes rampant when he is not constrained by fierce necessity. Are we then indeed unrestrained? In what orgiastic festivals do we dispose of the surplus of vital power? Our moral views do not permit us that outlet.
But reckon up in how many directions we are met by unsatisfied longings; the denial of procreation and begetting, for which purpose nature has endowed us with great energy; the unending monotony of our highly developed modern methods of “division of labour,” which excludes any interest in the work itself; and above all our effortless security against war, lawlessness, robbery, epidemics, infant and woman mortality—all this gives a sum of surplus energy which must needs find an outlet. But how? A relatively few create quasi-natural dangers for themselves in reckless sport; many more, seeking to find some equivalent for their more primitive energy, take to alcoholic excess; others expend themselves in the rush of money-making, or in the morbid performance of duties, in perpetual over-work. By such means they try to escape a dangerous storing-up of energy which might force mad outlets for itself. It is for such reasons that we have to-day a sexual question. It is in this direction that men’s energy would like to expend itself as it has done from time immemorial in periods of security and abundance. Under such circumstances it is not only rabbits that multiply; men and women, too, become the sport of these accesses of nature: the sport, because their moral views have confined them in a narrow cage, the excessive narrowness of which was not felt so long as harsh external necessity pressed upon them with even greater constraint. But now the man of the cities finds the space too circumscribed. He is surrounded by alluring temptation, and like an invisible procureur there slinks through society the knowledge of preventive methods which evade all consequences. Why then moral restraint? Out of religious consideration for an angry God? Apart from the prevalence of wide-spread unbelief, even the believing man might quietly ask himself whether, if he himself were God, he would punish the youthful erotic uncontrol of John and Mary with twice twenty-four years of imprisonment and seething in boiling oil. Such ideas are no longer compatible with our decorous conception of God. The God of our time is necessarily much too tolerant to make a great fuss over it; (knavishness and hypocrisy are a thousand times worse). In this way the somewhat ascetic and hypocritical sexual morality of our time has had the ground cut from under its feet. Or is it the case that we are now protected from dissoluteness by superior wisdom, recognition of the nothingness of human happenings? Unfortunately we are very far from that; rather does the hypnotic power of tradition keep us in bonds, and through cowardice and thoughtlessness and habit the herd goes tramping on in this same path. But man possesses in the unconscious a fine scent for the spirit of his time; he has an inkling of his own possibilities and he feels in his innermost heart the instability of the foundations of present-day morality, no longer supported by living religious conviction. It is thus the greater number of the erotic conflicts of our time originate. Instinct thirsting for liberty thrusts itself up against the yielding barriers of morality: men are tempted, they desire and do not desire. And because they will not and cannot think out to its logical conclusion what it is they really desire, their erotic conflict is largely unconscious; whence comes neurosis. Neurosis then is most intimately bound up with the problem of our times and represents an unsuccessful attempt of the individual to solve the general problem in his own person. Neurosis is a tearing in two of the inner self. For most men the reason of this cleavage is the fact that their conscious self desires to hold to its moral ideal, whilst the unconscious strives after the amoral ideal, steadfastly rejected by the conscious self. People of this kind would like to appear more decent than they really are. But the conflict is often of an opposite kind. There are those who do not outwardly live a decent life at all and do not place the slightest constraint upon their sexuality, but in reality this is a sinful pose assumed for goodness knows what reasons, for down below they have a decorous soul which has somehow gone astray in their unconscious, just as has the real immoral nature in the case of apparently moral people. Extremes of conduct always arouse suspicions of the opposite tendencies in the unconscious.
It was necessary to make this general statement in order to elucidate the idea of the “erotic conflict” in analytical psychology, for it is the key to the conception of neurosis. We can now proceed to consider the psychoanalytic technique. Obviously the main problem is, how to arrive by the shortest and best path at a knowledge of the patient’s “unconscious.” The method first used was hypnotism, the patient being questioned, on the production of spontaneous phantasies observed while in a state of hypnotic concentration. This method is still occasionally used, but in comparison with the present technique is too primitive and therefore unsatisfactory. A second method, evolved by the Psychiatric Clinic, Zürich, was the so-called association method, which is chiefly of theoretic, experimental value. Its result is an extensive, though superficial orientation, concerning the unconscious conflict (“complex”). The more penetrating method is that of dream-analysis whose discovery belongs to Sigmund Freud.
Of the dream it can be said that “the stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner.” It is only in modern times that the dream (that fleeting and seemingly insignificant product of the soul), has met with such complete contempt. Formerly it was esteemed, as a harbinger of fate, a warning or a consolation, a messenger of the gods. Now we use it as a messenger of the unconscious; it must disclose to us the secrets which our unconscious self enviously hides from our consciousness, and it does so with astonishing completeness.
On analytical investigation it becomes plain that the dream, as we remember it, is only a façade which conceals the contents within the house. But if, observing certain technical rules, we get the dreamer to talk about the details of his dream, it soon appears that his free associations group themselves in certain directions and round certain topics. These appear to be of personal significance, and have a meaning which at first sight would not be suspected. Careful comparison shows that they are in close and subtle symbolic connection with the dream-façade. This particular complex of ideas in which all the threads of the dream unite, is the conflict for which we are seeking; is its particular form at the moment, conditioned by the immediate circumstances. What is painful and incompatible is in this way so covered up or split that we can call it a wish-fulfilment; but we must immediately add that the wishes fulfilled in the dream do not seem at first sight to be our wishes, but rather the very opposite. For instance, a daughter loves her mother tenderly, but she dreams that her mother is dead; this causes her great grief. Such dreams, where apparently there is no trace of any wish-fulfilment are innumerable, and are a constant stumbling-block to our learned critics, for—incredible dictu—they still cannot grasp the simple distinction between the manifest and the latent content of the dream. We must guard against such an error; the conflict dealt with in the dream is an unconscious one, and equally so also is the manner of its solution. Our dreamer has, as a matter of fact, the wish to get away from her mother—expressed in the language of the unconscious, she wants her mother to die. Now we know that a certain section of the unconscious contains all our lost memories, and also all those infantile impulses that cannot find any application in adult life—a series, that is, of ruthless childish desires. We may say that for the most part the unconscious bears an infantile stamp; like the child’s simple wish: “Daddy, when Mummie is dead, will you marry me?” In a dream that infantile expression of a wish is the substitute for a recent wish to marry, which is painful to the dreamer for reasons still undiscovered. This thought, or rather the seriousness of its corresponding intention, is said to be “repressed into the unconscious” and must there necessarily express itself in an infantile way, for the material which is at the disposal of the unconscious consists chiefly of infantile memories. As the latest researches of the Zürich school have shown, these are not only infantile memories but also “racial” memories, extending far beyond the limits of individual existence.
Important desires which have not been sufficiently gratified, or have been “repressed,” during the day find their symbolic substitution in dreams. Because moral tendencies usually predominate in waking hours, these ungratified desires which strive to realise themselves symbolically in the dream are, as a rule, erotic ones. It is, therefore, somewhat rash to tell dreams before one who understands, for the symbolism is often extremely transparent to him who knows the rules! The clearest in this respect are “anxiety-dreams” which are so common, and which invariably symbolise a strong erotic desire.
Often the dream apparently deals with quite irrelevant details, thereby making a ridiculous impression; or else it is so unintelligible that we are simply amazed at it, and accordingly have to overcome considerable resistance in ourselves before we can set to work seriously to unravel its symbolic weaving by patient work. But when at last we penetrate into its real meaning we find ourselves at a bound in the very heart of the dreamer’s secrets, and find to our astonishment that an apparently senseless dream is quite full of sense, and deals with extraordinarily important and serious problems of the soul. Having acquired this knowledge we cannot refrain from giving rather more credit to the old superstitions concerning the meaning of dreams for which our rationalising tendencies, until lately, had no use.
As Freud says: “Dream-analysis is the via regia to the unconscious.” Dream-analysis leads us into the deepest personal secrets, and it is therefore an invaluable instrument in the hand of the psychotherapist and educator. The objections of the opponents of this method are based, as might be expected, upon argument, which (setting aside undercurrents of personal feeling) show the bias of present-day Scholasticism. It so happens that it is just the analysis of dreams which mercilessly uncovers the deceptive morals and hypocritical affectations of man, and shows him the under side of his character; can we wonder if many feel that their toes have been rather painfully trodden upon? In connection with the dream-analysis I am always reminded of the striking statue of Carnal Pleasure in Bâle Cathedral, which shows in front the sweet smile of archaic sculpture, but behind is covered with toads and serpents. Dream- analysis reverses the figure and for once shows the other side. The ethical value of this reality-correction (Wirklichkeitscorrectur) cannot be disputed. It is a painful but extremely useful operation, which makes great demands on both physician and patient. Psychoanalysis, in so far as we are considering it as a therapeutic technique, consists mainly of the analysis of many dreams; the dreams in the course of the treatment bring up the dirt of the unconscious in order that it may be subjected to the disinfecting power of daylight, and in this process many a valuable thing believed to have been lost is found again. It is a catharsis of a peculiar kind which is remotely comparable to Socrates’ Maieutic, to “midwifery.” It is not surprising that for those persons who have themselves now come to believe in their own poses, psychoanalysis is at times a real torture, since in accordance with the old mystic saying, “Give all thou hast, then only shalt thou receive,” there is first the necessity to get rid of almost all the dearly cherished illusions, to permit the advent of something deeper, finer, and greater, for only through the mystery of self-sacrifice is it possible to be “born again.” It is indeed ancient wisdom which again sees the daylight in psychoanalytic treatment, and it is a very curious thing that this particular kind of psychic re-education proves to be necessary at the height of our modern culture; this education which in more than one respect can be compared to the technique of Socrates, even though psychoanalysis penetrates to much greater depths.
We always find in a patient some conflict, which at a particular point, is connected with the great problems of society; so that when the analysis has arrived at this point the apparently individual conflict is revealed as a universal conflict of the environment and the epoch. Neurosis is thus, strictly speaking, nothing but an individual attempt, however unsuccessful, at a solution of the general problem; it must be so, for a general problem, a “question,” is not an end in itself; it only exists in the hearts of individual men and women. The “question” which troubles the patient is—whether you like it or not—the “sexual” question, or more precisely, the problem of present-day sexual morality. His increased demands upon life and the joy of life, upon glowing reality, can stand the necessary limitations which reality sets, but not the arbitrary, ill-supported prohibitions of present-day morals, which would curb too much the creative spirit rising up from the depths of the darkness of the beasts that perish. For the neurotic has in him the soul of a child that can but ill-endure arbitrary limitations of which it does not see the meaning; it tries to adopt the moral standard, but thereby only falls into deeper disunion and distress within itself. On the one hand it tries to suppress itself, and on the other to free itself—this is the struggle that is called Neurosis. If this conflict were altogether clear to consciousness it would of course never give rise to neurotic symptoms; these only arise when we cannot see the other side of our character, and the urgency of the problems of that other side. In these circumstances symptoms arise which partially express what is unrecognised in the soul. The symptom is, therefore, an indirect expression of unrecognised desires, which, were they conscious, would be in violent opposition to the sufferer’s moral views. As we have already said, this dark side of the soul does not come within the purview of consciousness, and therefore the patient cannot deal with it, correct it, resign himself to it, or renounce it, for he cannot be said to possess the unconscious impulses; rather have they been repressed from the hierarchy of the conscious soul, have become autonomous complexes which can be brought again under control by analysis of the unconscious, though not without great resistance. There are a great many patients whose great boast it is that the erotic conflict does not exist for them; they are sure that the sexual question is nonsense, they have no sexuality. These people do not see that other things of unknown origin cumber their path, such as hysterical whims, underhand tricks, from which they make themselves, or those nearest them, suffer; nervous stomach-catarrh, pain here and there, irritability without reason, and a whole host of nervous symptoms. All which things show what is wrong with them, for relatively, only a few specially favoured by fate, avoid the great conflict.
Analytical psychology has already been reproached with setting at liberty the animal instincts of men, hitherto happily repressed, and causing thereby untold harm. This childish apprehension clearly proves how little trust is put in the efficacy of present-day moral principles. It is pretended that only morals can restrain men from dissoluteness; a much more efficient regulator, however, is necessity, which sets much more real and convincing bounds than any moral principles. It is true that analysis liberates animal instincts, but not, as some have said, just in order to let them loose, but rather to make them available for higher application, in so far as this is possible to the particular individual, and in so far as such “sublimated” application is required. Under all circumstances it is an advantage to be in full possession of one’s own personality, for otherwise the repressed desires will get in the way in a most serious manner, and overthrow us just in that place where we are most vulnerable; this maggot always destroys the kernel. It is surely better that a man learn to tolerate himself, and instead of making war on himself convert his inner difficulties into real experiences, rather than uselessly repeat them again and again in phantasy. Then at least he lives, and does not merely consume himself in fruitless struggles. But when men are educated to recognise the baser side of their own natures, it may be hoped they will learn to understand and love their fellow-men better too. A decrease of hypocrisy and an increase of tolerance towards oneself, can have only good results in tolerance towards one’s neighbours, for men are only too easily disposed to extend to others the unfairness and violence which they do to their own natures.
The bringing of the individual conflict into relationship with the general moral problem, raises psychoanalysis far beyond the limits of mere medical therapeutics; it provides the patient with a philosophy of life founded upon insight and experience, and this, coupled with his deepened knowledge of his own personality, enables him to adapt himself to reality. It would be almost impossible to construct an adequate picture of analysis from the existing literature, as hitherto very little of the material requisite for the technique of a searching analysis has been published. Very great problems in this domain are still awaiting their final solution. Unfortunately the number of scientific workers in this field is still rather small; prejudice still prevents the majority of scientific persons from co-operating in this important work. Many, especially in Germany, are kept back by fear of ruining their careers should they venture into this region. All the unusual and wonderful phenomena which group themselves round psychoanalysis give us reason to suspect—quite in accordance with psychoanalytic principles—that something of great importance is taking place here, since the learned sections of society, as is usual at first, meet it with violent resistances. But magna est vis veritatis et prævalebit.
- Bleuler, “Die Psychoanalyse Freuds.” Jahrbuch für psychoanalytische Forschungen, vol. II., 1910.
- Breuer and Freud, “Selected Papers on Hysteria and other Psychoneuroses.” “Nervous and Mental Disease,” Monograph series, No. 4.
- Freud, “Sammlung kleiner Schriften zur Neurosenlehre.” Deuticke: Wien.
- Freud, “The Interpretation of Dreams.” George Allen.
- Freud, “Three Contributions to the Sexual Theory.” Monograph Series.
- Cp. Breuer and Freud, “Selected Papers on Hysteria.”
- Breuer and Freud, “Selected Papers on Hysteria and other Psychoneuroses.”
- For further particulars of this case see Jung, “The Theory of Psychoanalysis.”
- We may still apply to love the saying: “The heaven above, the heaven below, The sky above, the sky below, All things above, all things below, Succeed and prosper” (Old Mystic). Mephistopheles expresses the idea when he describes himself as “Part of that power which still produceth good, whilst ever scheming ill.”
- “Love” is used in that larger sense of the word, which indeed belongs to it by right; it does not mean “mere sexuality.”
- Compare Jung, “Diagnostiche Associationsstudien.” Leipzig: J. A. Barth. 2 volumes.
- The theory of “Complexes” is set out in “Psychology of Dementia praecox,” Jung.
- Freud, “The Interpretation of Dreams.” James Allen.
- The rules of dream-analysis, the laws of the structure of the dream and its symbolism, form almost a science; this is one of the most important chapters of the psychology of the unconscious whose comprehension requires very arduous study.
- Compare Jung, “The Psychology of the Unconscious.”