By Andrew Lerner
Carl Jung is remembered for many contributions to not just to academics, communities and individuals, or even to his country, but to the present, and future, as a man of astonishing intellect and contribution. Fusing theory, practice, and teaching, Jung undoubtedly wore, “many hats” throughout his lifetime (despite his alchemically combinatory pastime (and mind) Jung never did adopt the Mad Hatters particular mercury-poisoned hat.) his private lectures, which were said to be electrifying by first-hand participants, Jung wore a hat of animation and explanation that allowed him to operate at a higher level of thought and discussion then many traditional class lectures he led. One of these lectures dubbed the, “Vision Seminars,” was held from 1930-1934.
The topic under discussion at the Vision Seminars was the work of a woman by the name of Christiana Drummond Morgan (“CDM”). Christina lived from 1897 until 1967, during which she participated in the Vision Seminars and allowed the seminar members to analyze her drawings and dreams. She was a Harvard trained psychoanalyst herself, fascinated by depth psychology, and part of the Introvert/Extrovert Club during the 1920’s (held in New York City), whose central structures were built around Jung’s work on personality. She would also play a role in the creation of the Thematic Apperception Test, though she received a disproportionately small amount of public recognition compared to collaborators such as Henry Murray, which has been referred to as the most widely used and projective useful tests in psychology though this is debated.
At the Vision Seminars, CDM’s background made for conversations we pine to have been a part of; epoytymous with intellectual life in inter-war Zurich. CDM was herself an American woman, who had been a patient of Jung’s from June to October in 1926, was now in her early 30’s. An illustrative excerpted conversation between CDM and Jung himself is given below:
CDM: “I saw before me a narrow path descending between black rocks. I began the descent. I saw that the steps on which I must walk down were made by the backs of old men chained to the rock.”
Jung: “No matter how small an attempt, those old opinions, old convictions, are the stepping stones in the development of consciousness. And they are all contained, as it were, in the structure of the nervous system...These steps were once convictions or philosophies, a way of understanding nature, a way of consciousness, and if you try to descend into the unconscious you naturally have to go down by the way you originally came up; to go down into the original cave, you must go through the hole from which you once emerged.”
During the Vision Seminars, an exceptional large number of groundbreaking topics were discussed amongst the group. Jung would articulate his theory that the living, us human beings, inhabit a world full of ghosts-beings that have agency and tangibly influence human affairs. He showed concern that as CDM underwent individuation in search of the totality of her being, but was dualistically barred from the throngs and throes of the typical concrete jungle of New York City. Jung’s medical interaction with her produced a Seminar that has become prominent in the intellectual currents of psychoanalysis for its depth and breadth, as well as the intricate weaving together of this group of powerful minds.
You can read more about the Vision Seminars in my next two Blog Posts on the Vision Seminar: Jung and Goethe and Symbolism and the Qu’ran.
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