Classic Essays

The Sense and Nonsense of Jung

Carl Gustav JungFrom racial consciousness to the “Indianization of the American psyche”

THE PRESENT-DAY disciples of the great Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) are understandably circumspect when it comes to the master’s hypothesis that each major race has its own collective unconscious. For as much as any factor, it appears to have been Jung’s belief in this hypothesis which caused him to regard elements of the Nazi movement as a beneficial emergence of racial élan from the Germanic unconscious and to view the early stages of Nazi Germany with something less than the de rigeur abhorrence demanded after the fact by the high courts of informed opinion. The issue of Jung’s attitudes toward the Third Reich is even today an unresolved one, and his words, deeds, and motives are still matters of contention. An advance reader of an as yet unavailable biography based on new research (C. G. Jung: The Haunted Prophet by Paul J. Stern) informs us that an entire “chapter is devoted to the flirtation with Nazism — neither, it seems, as innocent as Jung always insisted, or quite as bad as has been claimed” (Rosemary Dinnage, “Jung and God,” New York Review of Books, April 15, 1976). (ILLUSTRATION: Jung looking out over Lake Zurich)

The ongoing deliberation over Jung’s “guilt” makes a cautionary point which can hardly be lost on Jung’s professional disciples in America. They know their archetypal patterns. They can foresee all too clearly the penalties the liberal-minority mediacrats would mete out to any Jungian who dared to carry racial fire to the Majority. It is one thing to admire the mythic Prometheus, another to emulate him.

But it is not quite fair to impute intellectual cowardice to the Jungians. The master’s body of thought is a many-splendored grab bag offering a variety of plastic theories for every occasion, so it may be that a disciple is sincere when he shunts aside the hypothesis that got the master in trouble and embraces one that is more attuned to the spirit of the times. Whatever the motives of such a Jungian in this regard, his alternative formulations are extraordinary, as the following “case history” should demonstrate.

Racial Dialog

Not so long ago B, an Instauration booster, got in touch with C, an old acquaintance, a fellow Majority member, and a medically trained, highly qualified, and devout practitioner of Jungian analytical psychology. B has always had a weakness for Jung — ­not the reporter of prophetic dreams, the witness to poltergeists, or the explicator of mystic texts of East and West, but the Jung of the theories of the archetypes and collective unconscious, the Jung who could write in Psychological Reflections, p. 157:

It is true that an earlier and deeper level of psychic development can be tapped, where it is still impossible to distinguish between an Aryan, Semitic, Hamitic, or Mongolian mentality, since all human races have a common collective psyche. But with the beginning of racial differentiation, essential differences are developed in the collective psyche. For this reason, we cannot transplant the spirit of a foreign race in globo into our mentality without sensible injury.

B, naively perhaps, was halfway hopeful that a Majority disciple of Jung would have the mental set not only to recognize the racial sources of the current Majority malaise (the illness that dares not speak its name), but in addition be equipped to offer some therapeutically useful insights. So, feeling C out, B quoted the master on racial mentality, and presented in a neutral, I-have-a-friend-with-a-probelm fashion the proposition that the Majority is undergoing, to its detriment, a process analogous to the psychological transplantation of which Jung speaks.

B pointed out that as recently as two decades ago, Americans of Northern European descent like C and himself knew themselves to be, in their biological, political, and cultural heritage, and in their numerical and social dominance, the archetypal authentic and “real” Americans. Since then, the Balkanizing campaign applied to American life — with its elevation of minority psyches to the rank of representative, and often preeminent, “American” psyches ­has had the effect of reducing the Majority to a rabble of psychological orphans suffering deracination to an epidemic degree. Either we are no longer certain who we are, or worse, we have accepted in meek confusion such demeaning and inaccurate tags as WASP, Anglo or Goy. Having delivered this prolegomenon, B then asked C if he had encountered in his clinical work any forms of psychological dispossession that might come under the heading of Majority deracination.

C responded that he was not familiar with the concept of deracination. He found B’s ideas “very interesting,” but thought them focused on “too superficial a layer of the psyche to be as disturbing as you are postulating.” After B had conceded that his thesis was in some respects amateurish and superficial, C magnanimously observed that there is indeed value in searching out “our deeper cultural roots to get in touch with our own identity.” He then said that the identity problem for the American — as Jung had explained it to a leading American disciple — was that he “never really got very far until he touched that Indian aspect of his psyche….”

B said little else during the session, for he found a certain poetic justice at work. He had used scripture on C, who in turn had trumped him, as it were, with a different chapter and verse. Moreover, it was a scriptural theme B recognized all too well, and he felt a little dense for not having anticipated its employment. He had only recently read one of Jung’s wilder variations on this theme: “The secret of the earth is not a joke and not a paradox. We need only see how in America the skull and hip measurements of all European races become Indianized in the second generation. That is the secret of the American soil” (Psychological Reflections, p. 156 — the page, incidentally, facing the master’s hypothesis on psychic differentiation between races).

B decided to take a second look at the flaws in Jung’s mystical pseudo-anthropology. The most obvious is Jung’s use of the term Indianized, as if he visualized all North American Indians in the manner of James Fenimore Cooper, seeing only the stereotyped “Apollo in the young Mohawk;” and as if there were not just as much physical diversity among them as in most other races. Further, it follows that Jung assumes that the American soil had, at some earlier stage, transformed Mongolian immigrants into Indians, whereas the study of North American paleo-Indian skulls of 10 to 25 millennia ago indicates that the fairly homogeneous Indian population has undergone remarkable little change on this continent.

As for the Indianization of European skull and hip measurements, one need only use his own anthropological eye for an easy refutation. B took the first comparison at hand. The Indian living nearest to him is an almost full-blooded Cherokee who is a short, cephalic squat endomorphic type with a brachy-cephalic skull. B’s people have been in North America for many generations, all of them gorging on the produce of the soil, yet he has an ectomorphic physique and a dolichocephalic skull, both of which he judges to be unadulterated Northern European in design. The only Indianizing of which he is aware is that accomplished by genetic transmission — and this, of course, is a two-way street which has made for the “Europeanization” of some Indian bloodlines.

Noble Savages

Unfortunately, Jung, the Swiss bourgeois who could see his own Germanic peoples with a reasonably clear and discerning eye, turned into a Rousseau-ish worshipper of the Noble Savage whenever he looked beyond Europe. Of his handful of visits to America, his only extended stay was in 1924-25­ when he spent a considerable period with the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and came under the spell of an anti-white Taos Red Man. (How Jung would have relished the “teachings” of Don Juan, the Yaqui Indian guru “sorcerer” who is the hero of Carlos Castaneda’s series of bestselling books.) From this atypical and subjective experience, and on the basis, evidently, of some questionable anthropological findings, Jung seems to have concluded that the Northern Europeans in America have undergone both a physical and psychic Indianization.

Another European mystic who was visiting New Mexico at about the same time as Jung seems more or less in accord with the latter on two points. D. H. Lawrence, in his Studies in Classic American Literature, writes of the mysterious properties of different soils and of the presence of “the unappeased ghosts of the dead Indians … within the unconscious or under-conscious of the white American….” Lawrence’s idea of psychic resolution for both races is a merging of red and white spirits in a “new great area of consciousness.” In the same book, however, Lawrence mounts prolonged and devastating assaults on the sentimental Noble Savage view of the Indian and the idea that whites are, or can become, in any profound psychological sense Indianized.

As Lawrence and many other critics have noted, the relation of white to nonwhite is a pervasive and often obsessive theme of our national literature, running from our earliest writers through Cooper, Melville, Twain and Faulkner down to the racial mea culpas of contemporary American literature. But this is a long way from proving the Indianization of the American body and soul. In fact, we find that the Indian has been, for over a century, an increasingly marginal figure in the national consciousness. This is particularly clear when we compare the Red Man’s literary importance to that of the Negro. In his numbers, his proximity to us, his cultural interchange with us and above all in his having been so often a source of internecine conflict between segments of the Majority, the Negro has proved to be the one substantial and lengthening shadow on our literary landscape.

The Shadow Knows

The shadow figure is used here purposely. Those familiar with Jung’s theories will recognize shadow as his term for a deeply internalized sexual archetype which represents man’s most basic animal and instinctual nature. Thus, a Jungian might say that the shadow of a nonwhite Noble Savage crouches deep within the psyche of each Majority member, a sort of hybrid of our experience on this continent and a submerged remnant of the collective psyche we shared with all humanity before the differentiation of racial mentality.

Little in our serious literature supports such a concept. Our most honest and uncompromising writers portray the nonwhite shadow as an external phenomenon and tell us that white and nonwhite face one another across a virtually unbridgeable psychic gulf. Note, for example, the essential psychological differences separating Huck Finn and Nigger Jim, Ishmael and Queequeg, whites and nonwhites in Hemingway’s stories. Eloquent testimony on these differences can also be found in the work of minority writers. Two of the best American Negro writers, James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison, provide in their work many graphic illustrations of the basic incompatibility of different racial mentalities, often when their ostensible subject is the need for ending “white racism” and achieving integration. Our individual and collective experience bears out their conclusion that American society consists, at the psychological level, of major racial enclaves which touch but never interpenetrate, despite the most strenuous efforts of minority members from their side and Majority members from ours. All the evidence says that one’s shadow bears a racial imprint.

Such appears to have been the case with Jung himself. According to one of his disciples and apologists, it was Jung’s shadow that caused him, during the rise of the Third Reich “at the very moment when the Jews’ existence was threatened,” to stress “the difference between Jewish and non-Jewish psychology …. In the words of Jungian psychology one could say that the shadow became manifest….” (Aniela Jaffe, quoted by Gerhard Wehr in Portrait of Jung, 1971, pp. 141-42. In this context, p. 141, Wehr repeats one characterization of Jung as a “psychoanalyst foaming with fascism.”)

Return Engagement

B is of two minds about having another session with C on the subject of racial psyches. On the one hand, he feels correct in his diagnosis that C has an immovable block against hypotheses that flirt in foaming fashion with verboten ideology. On the other hand, B loves theoretical Jungianism and he does feel obligated at least to try to put C in touch with that Majority aspect of his psyche. So he will talk with C again.

First, B will question the analogy, quoted by C, which Jung made for his disciple: it is necessary for an American to get in touch with “that Indian aspect of his ‘psyche” in the same way it is necessary for “the European to touch that Teutonic aspect.” B will note that the Teutonic connection has genetic roots stretching back a millennium or more while the Indian connection is neither a genetic one nor of any comparable antiquity.

B will also note that American minorities are in a frenzy of activity these days searching for, and attempting to preserve the roots of their racial psyches, so that we find Indians on the warpath in defense of their heritage; Armenians returning on pilgrimages to Soviet Armenia (Michael J. Arlen in his book, Passage to Ararat); multitudes of Jews going to Israel (for very brief visits in which they stare at the Sabras, ask “Where are all the Jews?”, see the memorials to victims of “the Holocaust,” and scurry back to the “safety” of New York City); and at least one Negro (Alex Haley in his forthcoming book Roots) laboriously tracing his unrecorded genealogy back some 200 years to the banks of the Gambia River from which his African ancestor was kidnapped into slavery. B will ask if C would advise a minority patient concerned with his identity to get in touch with the Majority aspect of his psyche.

B expects that C will have all kinds of ingenious responses to the effect that B has taken too literal, narrow, and superficial a view of Jung’s ideas. B will cheerfully admit that this may be true and thank C for the donation of his valuable expertise — no small thing since it is worth, at the going rate, upwards of $50 an hour.

* * *

Source: Instauration magazine, September 1976

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