JUNG ENCOUNTERS THE UNCONSCIOUS OR OTHER ENTITIES
So, after Jung had established that the UNCONSCIOUS does speak. It is time to consider HOW it spoke to him. In fact, was it MERELY the Unconscious that had communicated with Jung in various stages of his life or were OTHER ENTITIES breaking in on his consciousness?
I shall show that Jung experienced a number of phenomenal manifestations. These could either be the visitations of Ethereal Beings or Projections of the Unconscious. If the latter, then the Unconscious was a mighty force indeed. Anyway, we shall see what went on.
HAMLET AND HIS FATHER’S GHOST.
As you will see from the above picture the idea of GHOSTLY VISITATIONS had soaked into the Collective Unconscious. Shakespeare incorporated the GHOST OF HAMLET’S FATHER in his play, ‘Hamlet’. Charles Dickens who died just five years before Jung was born incorporated the visitations of GHOSTS in his story, ‘A Christmas Carol’.
THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT IN CHARLES DICKENS' 'A CHRISTMAS CAROL'
Throughout the world there is an ingrained belief that the dead are alive somewhere else. In short, whether such entities exist or not, the hunch that they might inhabit some sort of realm beyond the normal senses, had soaked itself well and truly into the Universal Psyche.
So let us turn to Jung’s encounter with the Unconscious.
Jung attended Spiritualist Seances from a very early age. Quite simply because his mother and her side of the family seemed addicted to Spiritualism.
Later, Jung wrote his Doctoral Thesis on the topic, ‘On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena’. This thesis reported a number of Seances, which Jung himself had arranged. But in this Dissertation he attempts to distance himself from the proceedings by writing his Medical Thesis as if it was a study of a woman, Helen Preiswerk. She was in fact his cousin. As far as I can deduce these arranged séances took place around the 1890s, although his Thesis makes out that they took place much later.
Jung had a motive in concealing his participation in the proceedings, and the fact that Helen Preiswerk was his cousin. He felt that to do so would reduce the scientific credibility of his Doctoral Thesis. It was only years later in his autobiography, ‘Memories, Dreams, and Reflections’ – published in 1963 after his death – did he admit his own involvement with the family séances.
The Medium performing these séances was the woman mentioned, the cousin of Jung. But what apparently could she do?
At the Seances Helen, like most mediums, entered the trance state and on one occasion fell to the floor breathing deeply. She then began to speak in the voice of a person whose voice she had never heard. The ‘entity’ described himself as, ‘Old Samuel Preiswerk.’ On another occasion she channelled a warning directed at one of her sisters who was pregnant. The sister was told that she would lose her child; in August the baby was born prematurely and was dead.
In other séances Helen produced further voices, one of which, strangely enough claimed to be a spirit named Ivenes. This ‘spirit’ also identified herself as the real Helen Preiswerk. This personality was apparently more mature, confident, and intelligent than Helen.
From the standpoint of my previous ‘Multiple Personality Posts' or considering the massive structure of the Unconscious it seemed to imply that buried beneath the immature and unremarkable teenager a more accomplished personality ‘lived’. Years later Helen did become a highly successful dressmaker in France. Unfortunately, she died when she was about thirty years old.
Whether to protect his scientific reputation or becase he actually doubted that Helen was being contacted by supernatural entities Jung declared that Helen’s ‘spirits’ were part of her Unconscious, that they were elements within her psyche, that would emerge as her later personality unfolded. Whatever the case, one can clearly discern the various INFLUENCES of the Victorian Consciousness; SPIRITUALISM was one such influence.
One could multiply examples of Jung’s contact with Spiritualism. However, it is time to examine what Jung actually pinned down as his contact with the UNCONSCIOUS. Even so we shall have to make an observation regarding events in his old age.
Whilst visiting Freud in Vienna in 1909, the conversation turned on the subject of the Paranormal and Parapsychology. Freud immediately dismissed the whole thing as absolute nonsense. But Freud was in for a shock.
Jung disagreed. Then, whilst sitting across from Freud, Jung felt a strange sensation in his diaphragm. Within seconds of this sensation a loud bang came from Freud’s bookcase. Jung immediately declared that it was a result of the Unconscious ‘exteriorising’ its energy. Freud dismissed the notion and declared it to be nothing more than the wood drying out. Jung at once declared that the bang would occur again. It did so. Freud was flabbergasted and it seems from that moment there was a deterioration in their friendship.
But this is not the only instance of Jung’s contact with his Unconscious and its incredible level of power. On another occasion whilst asleep in a hotel room, Jung awoke in the middle of the night with a strange pain in his head. It was later reported to him that a patient of his, had shot himself in the head at the precise time that Jung awoke and in the same area of the head where Jung had felt the pain.
Even earlier than this, when Jung had begun to study at home for his Medical Degree, he was reading in another room when he heard a loud noise, like pistol shots, coming from the dining room. He discovered that a family heirloom, an old walnut table, had split down the middle. Apparently the fracture had nothing to do with the weather. For it was a hot, humid day rather than a cold winter’s day when such things tend to happen.
The idea that somehow the Unconscious – either of Jung or someone else – had been at work in connection with this incident, was apparently confirmed a few weeks later. Jung arrived home and discovered the whole family in distress.
Apparently a similar incident had occurred. However, this incident made it obvious that the weather and the ageing of the wooden furniture were not responsible.
On this occasion a noise was emitted from a solid nineteenth century cupboard. Because the women were too frightened to investigate the cause, Jung looked for it himself. He discovered in one of the cupboards a bread knife with the blade neatly broken in a number of places. Jung took the knife to a cutler who declared that the knife MUST have been broken deliberately. No one in the house was guilty of damaging either the furniture or the knife.
But there is more. Some of which seemed to fall between two stools, whether they were projections of the Unconscious or from some other ‘Supernatural Source’. From time to time Jung hinted that his house was haunted. Apparently, his elder daughter reported seeing a white ethereal figure passing through the room. Quite independent of her sister’s observation, his second daughter told Jung that twice the same night, the blanket from her bed had been thrown to the floor.
The strange occurrences carried on. In fact, that same afternoon the front doorbell rang continuously. When the matter was checked there was no one in sight. However, the bell could be seen moving in and out. No explanation of any sort was ever given. It seems that the incident frightened Jung and the others in the house so much that he called out , "For God's sake, what madness is this?" Apparently a number of voices responded, ,"We have come back from Jerusalem where we found not what we sought."
I make one final comment regarding Jung’s strange encounters.
THE TOWER JUNG BUILT AT BOLLINGEN, THE SCENE OF HIS ENCOUNTERS WITH THE UNCONSCIOUS OR PERHAPS ‘OTHER WORLDLY ENTITIES’.
Jung began in 1922 to build a Tower, in Bollingen on the shore of Lake Zurich. It was built in stages over thirty years and was somehow Jung’s attempt to explore the construction of the psyche. Here for the remaining years of his life he did much of his writing.
But the point I wish to draw out is the examples of strange phenomena he encountered whilst engaged on this project. For instance, he records in his book, ‘Memories, Dreams and Reflections’ his numerous paranormal experiences. One such took place in the winter of 1924. At this time Jung spent long periods alone in the Tower. He states that he felt ghostly presences, heard an orchestra playing music, saw a group of young peasants dancing around the Tower. None of these experiences were grounded in normal reality.
So, I think enough has been said.
In this series of Postings I have tried to:
1. Saturate the reader in the Victorian Consciousness to generate a feeling for my later exploration of the Victorian Novel.
2. Tried to bring out that the Victorian Consciousness was a definite way of looking at the world.
3. Tried to show that the Victorians were grappling with the ideas of whether some sort of ethereal or Spiritual dimension exits which ‘breaks into’ the normal dimension of reality from time to time.
4. Attempted to bring out that whilst many Victorians were preoccupied with toying with or attempting to contact the ‘other reality’ the work of Freud and Jung was filling in the missing gap. That is they turned to the Nature of the Human mind itself in an attempt to explain the manifestations of this ‘other reality.
I Hope You have enjoyed the series of Blogs. For a while in future Postings I shall turn to an exploration of the Victorian Novels and start with Bulwer Lytton’s ‘A Strange Story’ . This can be downloaded free from ‘The Guttenburg Project’. If it seems too tedious to read such a long novel, simply follow my Posting and you will get the idea.
Picture Credits Wikimedia Commons