For some time now I’ve been fascinated by Carl Jung and groundbreaking work in the field of psychology and psychoanalysis. Although for me, Jung was far more – he was a mystic and a very unconventional ‘holy man’ who gave us a profound insight into human nature and its interaction with the Divine.
I was interested therefore to read an excerpt from a letter he wrote to Jolande Jacobi on the 24th June 1935 (Carl Jung, Letters Volume 1, Page 191) and reproduced on the Carl Jung Depth Psychology website (http://carljungdepthpsychology.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/carl-jung-when-i-treat-catholics-who.html). In this letter Jung was outlining how he treated Catholics suffering from a ‘neurosis’; he wrote the following:
… When I treat Catholics who arc suffering from neurosis I consider it my duty to lead them back to the bosom of the Church where they belong.
The ultimate decisions rest with the authority of the Church for anyone who is of the Catholic faith.
Psychology in this context therefore means only the removal of all those factors which hinder final submission to the authority of the Church.
Anyone who puts another “factor” above the authority of the Church is no longer a Catholic. .
In many aspects Jung is to be admired in the stance he took – he understood the primacy of faith and tradition in the life of a believer, as well as the role of religion in providing meaning (ultimate and proximate), as well as direction and focus in life. Although he was himself raised in the Swiss Reformed Church (where his father was a Minister), Jung quickly outgrew the confines of narrow denominational Christianity. Crucially, he did not allow his own beliefs, which rapidly become very eclectic and non-conventional in nature, to cloud his therapeutic worldview; that he had the humility and wisdom to accept that wholeness can only be achieved with reference to a persons spiritual ‘home’, is shown very powerfully in this letter to Jolande Jacobi. Jung was indeed ahead of his time in this respect.