Thoughts Out of School: Thinking about Jungian Schools of Thought

The following article by Michael Vannoy Adams is a thought experiment conducted about what it means to be "schooled" in Jungian analysis in an unthinking, thoughtless style.

I am of the order whose purpose is not to teach the world a lesson but to explain that school is over.
— Henry Miller

Schools of Thought

What is one to think of schools of thought?

One might think that a school of thought might require one to think.

In Jung and the Post-Jungians, Andrew Samuels categorizes Jungian analysis into three schools: the classical school, the developmental school, and the archetypal school (1985: 15).

Now, in a new edition of The Cambridge Companion to Jung, Samuels re-categorizes Jungian analysis into four schools: the classical school, the developmental school, the fundamentalist school, and the psychoanalytic school. He says that the archetypal school "seems to me to have been integrated into the classical or even eliminated as a clinical perspective" (2008: 11). What is one to think - especially when one has contributed a chapter with the title "The Archetypal School" to that very book (Adams 2008)? What if one does not think that the archetypal school has been "integrated" or "eliminated?"

If one has said, "In contemporary discourse, 'post-' is the prefix of choice" (Adams 1996: 159), then what is one to think of other prefixes - for example, "neo-"?

Does one think that Samuels will include a "neo-classical school" in a new edition of Jung and the Post-Jungians? Does one think that the title of the new edition will be Jung and the Neo-Jungians?

Think about it.

Think about what James Hillman says: "To set up a school creates immediately a new orthodoxy. We certainly don't need more orthodoxies - if anything, we need more heterodoxies" (1983: 33).

Optic and Cycloptic

"Optic" means "eye."

When, however, is an optic a "cycloptic?"

The Cyclops is a one-eyed giant. He has only one eye, only one optic.

To have only one eye is to have no depth perception.

No depth perception, no depth psychology - only surface psychology.

No profundity, only superficiality.

It may be, as the adage says, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king" - but in the land of the one-eyed, the blind giant is no king.

Polyophthalmia and the Nature of the Unconscious as Multiple Consciousness

What is one to think when Jung says that the unconscious comprises not one eye but many eyes - not one optic but many optics? That is, what is one to think of "the motif of polyophthalmia," which, Jung says, indicates "the peculiar nature of the unconscious, which can be regarded as a 'multiple consciousness'" (1934/1950/1969: 346, par. 614).

Might one think that the unconscious - and, by extension, Jungian analysis - is not a unity but a multiplicity?

Might one criticize, as Hillman does, "one eye fixed on wholes and unities" (1975: 41) - and emphasize, as an alternative, many eyes looking at parts and multiplicities?

Might one propose "re-visioning psychology?"


Hillman says that there is "confusion of an authoritative voice with an authoritarian one" (1995: 163).

Let's not be authoritarian.

Let's be authoritative.

Let's appeal to authority.

Let's quote Jung as an authority on authority.

What is one to think when Jung says that individuals "are neurotic as long as they bow down before authority" (1914/ 1961: 284, par. 658)? What is one to think when Jung says that to analyze another individual psychologically, one must renounce "all authority" (1935/1966: 5, par. 2)?

What is one to think of authority in the separation of Jung from Freud?

What is one to think when Freud criticizes Jung as "a person who was incapable of tolerating authority, but who was still less capable of wielding it himself" (1914/1957: 43).

Jung quotes Freud, who exclaims: "But I cannot risk my authority!" Then Jung says: "At that moment he lost it altogether." What is one to think when Jung criticizes Freud for "placing personal authority above truth" (1963: 158)? What is the truth?

At Bottom: The One Single Thought of the Great Thinker

Jungians may or may not think, but Jung did think - or at least Wolfgang Giegerich thinks so. Giegerich entitles a chapter in The Soul's Logical Life "The Thinker." He thinks of Jung as a thinker in the sense that Heidegger thinks of the thinker.

"According to HEIDEGGER," Giegerich says, "each great thinker has (or better 'thinks'), at bottom, only one single thought, and his entire work (that may be laid down in many volumes and may even include shifts of position) is the working out and unfolding of this one thought" (1999: 43).

At bottom!

Giegerich says that "this one thought is, according to HEIDEGGER, not 'thought up' by the thinker; it comes to him" (1999: 43). That is, the thinker does not so much think the thought as the thought thinks the thinker.

Giegerich does not deny that Jung had many thoughts (and shifted positions), but he contends that however many thoughts Jung had, that multiplicity is a unity: the one single thought of the great thinker.

These thoughts about the thinker are, according to Giegerich, "according to Heidegger."

Giegerich thinks of Heidegger as the authority on thinking.

What does Jung think of Heidegger?

According to Jung, not much.

Heidegger is one of those thinkers who, Jung says, "have an astonishing facility with words, which they endow with an almost magical efficacy." Jung notes that Heidegger has a school of thought. He commends a colleague who does not, "like the Heidegger school, merely play verbal tricks" (1973 1: 273). Jung says that "Heidegger's modus philosophandi is neurotic through and through" (1973 1: 331). He applies the prefix "neo-" to Heidegger. Jung mentions "the Heideggerian or neo-High German schizophrenic style" (1975: 2: 121).

Is there one Jung with one thought, or are there many "Jungs" (and many Jungians) with many thoughts?

The Prefix "Neo-"

The prefix "neo-" means "new." A "neophyte" is a proselyte, a novice, or a tyro. "Neophiliacs" love the new. "Neophobics" fear the new. There is also "neolalia," which a psychiatric dictionary defines as "frequent use of neologisms in a patient's speech." A "neologism" is "the patient's (coinage of) new words or phrases or bestowing new meanings upon words and phrases in common use" (Hinsie and Shatsky 1940: 364). The psychiatric dictionary says that neologisms "occur with great frequency among psychiatric patients, notably in schizophrenia" (Hinsie and Shatksy 1940: 364-5).

A Capsule as a Little Box

The word "capsule" derives from the diminutive of the Latin word capsa, which means "box." A capsule is a "little box."

What does one think of thinking inside the box? What does one think of thinking outside the box?

What does one think of one who thinks that "the ego-complex has encapsulated consciousness?"

Does a school of thought have an ego-complex?

Does the ego-complex of a school of thought encapsulate Jung - or Jungian analysis?

How big - or how little - a box is a school of thought?

Does a school of thought encapsulate one - that is, does a school of thought box one in?

Postmodernism and Postmodernity

Who thinks of Terry Eagleton as an authority on postmodernism and postmodernity?

Eagleton distinguishes between postmodernism as "a form of contemporary culture" and postmodernity as "a specific historical period" (1996: vii). Although Eagleton asserts that the distinction "seems to me useful," he acknowledges that "it is not one which I have particularly respected" (1996: viii).

What is one to think of one who thinks that a distinction is useful but does not respect it?

The "Primal Scene"

What is the epistemological and ontological status of the "primal scene?"

What is the method by which Freud purports to demonstrate "knowledge" of the "reality" of the primal scene? It is the fallacy of the petitio principii. That is, the "answer" begs the question. Freud assumes what he "proves."

What does Freud assume?

That as a child the Wolf-Man observed his parents in sexual intercourse; that the age of the Wolf-Man when he observed his parents was "about one and a half years" (1918[1914]/1955: 36) or "n + 1\0xBD years" (1918[1914]/1955: 37); that the time when the Wolf-Man observed his parents was "possibly at five o'clock" on a hot summer day (1918[1914]/1955: 37); that the Wolf-Man observed his parents in "coitus a tergo [from behind], three times" (1918[1914]/1955: 37); that the postures that the Wolf-Man observed his parents adopt in sexual intercourse were "the man upright, and the woman bent down like an animal" (1918[1914]/1955: 39); that the Wolf-Man observed his parents in "coitus more ferarum [in the fashion of animals]" (1918[1914]/1955: 41); that the Wolf-man not only observed but also "interrupted" his parents (1918[1914]/1955: 80).

Coitus a tergo and coitus more ferarum and coitus interruptus!

Whitney Davis says that in the primal scene "the parents become animals" (or, as Freud describes it, the mother becomes an animal). The sexual intercourse is animalistic - an example, as Davis says, of "pseudo-bestiality" (1995: 152).

History or Fiction, Reality or Fantasy

In a conversation with Karin Obholzer, the Wolf-Man says that the primal scene is "no more than a construct" (1980/1982: 36). The case presentation is not a case history but a case fiction - or a case fantasy.

"The whole thing is improbable," the Wolf-Man says. He concedes that the primal scene could have occurred as Freud describes it. "It's possible, of course," he says - "how do I know?" The Wolf-Man might have observed his parents in intercourse at the age of about one and a half years at five o'clock on a hot summer day, but he has no memory of it. "I have never been able," he says, "to remember anything of that sort." The Wolf-Man says of Freud: "He maintains that I saw it, but who will guarantee that it is so? That it is not a fantasy of his?" (1980/1982: 36).

Freud does entertain the possibility that the primal scene is not a reality but a fantasy. For example, he mentions a theory that Jung proposes - the theory that "endeavours to explain the primal scenes found in neuroses as retrospective phantasies of a later date" (1918[1914]/1955: 59). That is, the Wolf-Man, who does not remember the primal scene, may not have observed it but may only have retrospectively fantasized it. Freud never, however, entertains the possibility that the primal scene is not a fantasy of the Wolf-Man's but (as the Wolf-Man says) a fantasy of Freud's.

Behind the Behind, "Wolfy-Style"

Coitus a tergo as fantasy a posteriori!

Freud presents a case for posterity.

To the Wolf-Man, Freud says, the most attractive aspect of a woman was the posterior: "large and conspicuous buttocks." Freud says of the Wolf-Man that any sexual intercourse "except from behind gave him scarcely any enjoyment" (1918[1914]/1955: 41).

Obholzer asks the Wolf-Man whether this is so - whether he prefers "a certain position" in sexual intercourse, "the one from behind." The Wolf-Man replies: "Well, that was no absolute, you know." Obholzer mentions that Freud says that the Wolf-Man "enjoyed it less in other positions." The Wolf-Man answers: "But that also depends on the woman, how she is built" (1980/1982: 133). With some women, he says, sexual intercourse is possible from behind, but with other women "it is only possible from the front." The Wolf-Man says that it all "depends on whether the vagina is more toward the front or toward the rear" (1982: 134).

Patrick J. Mahony says that the primal scene is an ordeal of "incredulity." The Wolf-Man is a Russian - Serge Pankejeff (or Sergei Pankeiev). As Freud describes the primal scene of the Wolf-Man, Mahony says, his father, in sexual intercourse with his mother, is "a husky Rusky outscoring the mythic heroes of Playboy" and "ejaculating three times in half an hour" - and, at the age of about one and a half years, the Wolf-Man ostensibly has the capacity to observe the primal scene for the duration of "that bottom time limit of half an hour" (1984: 51).

That bottom time limit!

What is one to think of a school of thought that thinks of the primal scene as a postmodernist evasion?

What is one to think of a school of thought that thinks, as Freud says the Wolf-Man thinks, "a tergo [from behind]" and "more ferarum [in the fashion of animals]?"

What is one to think of a school of thought that thinks voyeuristically, behind the behind, "wolfy-style?"

The Multiplicities of the Unconscious versus the One

What is one to think of Freud and the Wolf-Man? Think about what Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari think:

Freud himself recognizes the multiplicity of libidinal "currents" that coexist in the Wolf-Man. That makes it all the more surprising that he treats the multiplicities of the unconscious the way he does. For him, there will always be a reduction to the One. (1980/1987: 31)

What is one to think of the multiplicities of the unconscious versus the One?

"Jung is in any event," Deleuze and Guattari say, "profounder than Freud" (1980/1987: 241).

Jungian Mathematics

Jung says that in school he "felt a downright fear of the mathematics class" and "didn't even know what numbers really were" (1963: 27).

How high can Jung count? Can he count higher than Freud, who can count to one?

Jung can count to two, as in "personality no. 1" and "personality no. 2" - not a unity but a duality: 1 + 1 = 2.

(Jung can also count to four, which, however, he says axiomatically reduces to one - a quaternity that reduces to a unity: 1 + 1 = 2, 2 + 1 = 3, 3 + 1 = 4 = 1. What is one to think of the mathematics of Jungian analysis and the "Axiom of Maria," by which one counts from one to two to three to four and then back to one?)

Why can Jung (and Jungians) not count higher than two (or four, which reduces to one)?

Except in Jungian mathematics, the number after four is not one but five.

Think of Jacques Lacan, who says of Jung:

Despite Mr. Jung's best efforts to convince us of the contrary, history, observation, and ethnography show us that at a certain level of the signifier in a given culture, community, or tribe of people, it's an accomplishment to get access to the number five, for instance. One can clearly distinguish on the banks of the Orinoco between a tribe that has learned to signify the number four and not beyond, and one for which the number five opens up surprising possibilities. (1993: 185)

The culture, community, or tribe of Jungians has not learned to signify beyond the number four. Jungians have yet to get access to the number five.

Think of the surprising possibilities!

Think of Marcel Duchamp, who counts from one to two to three (but not to four and back to one) and who thinks of three as all the rest of the numbers.

Duchamp says: "For me the number three is important, but simply from the numerical, not the esoteric, point of view: one is unity, two is double, duality, and three is the rest" (Cabanne: 47).

Or, as Duchamp also says: "1 a unit / 2 opposition / 3 a series" (Naumann: 30).

In Duchampian mathematics, think of one as unity, two as duality, and three as multiplicity (all the rest of the numbers, an infinite series of numbers, an innumerable number of numbers).

Personality: A Unity or a Multiplicity?

Morton Prince, the authority on multiple personality, says: "The personality is not a unity" (1925/1975: 211).

Hillman also criticizes "a notion of our personality as ultimately a unity" (1975: 41).

For Jung, the personality is not a unity - it is (at least) a duality: a "personality no. 1" (the ego-complex) and a "personality no. 2" (the unconscious).

If there is a "personality no. 1" and a "personality no. 2," why is there not also a "personality no. 3," a "personality no. 4," a "personality no. 5," ad infinitum?

In fact, in the fantasies that, for Jung, constitute the confrontation with the unconscious, there are five personalities (or personifications). The ego-complex comprises the personality "Jung." The unconscious comprises the personalities "Elijah," "Salome," the "black snake," and "Philemon." The ego-complex may be a unity ("Jung"), but the unconscious is a multiplicity ("Elijah, "Salome," the "black snake," and "Philemon"). In other fantasies, there are other personalities, more personalities - many more personalities than one (or two).

In the mathematics of Jungian analysis, there is an indefinite (if not an infinite) number of personalities in the psyche: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... n.

The psyche is not a single personality or a double personality (or a quadruple personality that reduces to a single personality) but a multiple personality.

"Recognition of the multiple persons of the psyche," Hillman says, "is akin to the experience of multiple personality" (1975: 35).

Multiple personality is not (necessarily) a "disorder."

For example, Stephen E. Braude considers "the possibility that some types of multiple personality are not forms of psychopathology - hence that they should not be classified as types of multiple personality disorder" (1991/1995: 37).

As Hillman says, "Multiple personality is humanity in its natural condition" (2004: 62).

School's over!


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