Medicine: The Old Wise Man

  • Share
  • Read Later

(6 of 10)

modern man seeks the comfort and security of religious symbols. That is why many try to import strange Eastern religions ; others turn to demagogues and isms (which Jung regards as volcanic eruptions of the unconscious), and still others go to the analyst. "Our heart glows, and secret unrest gnaws at the roots of our being . . . Dealing with the unconscious has become a question of life for us." Hence the man who cannot find religious symbols must be helped by the analyst to understand the symbols in his own unconscious. "I have treated many hundreds of patients . . . Among [those] in the second half of life — that is to say, over 35 — there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life . . ."

Dream of a Hayride. The practical differences between the methods of Freud and Jung show up clearly in the case of a successful businessman who went to a Jungian st for help. At 51 he had developed a phobia against train or air trips, expressed in uncontrollable anxiety and attacks of giddiness.

Despite the patient's age, the orthodox Freudian psychoanalyst would have set him on a couch and invited him to talk on in "free association," especially about his earliest childhood. Purpose: to find either a specific shock related to his giddiness, or some emotional repressed stress.

The Jungian analyst uses no couch, but has the patient seated in a chair and facing him. This setup represents a meeting of equals: unlike Freud, who wanted the analyst to keep in the background,*† Jung believes the doctor must fully share the emotional experience of analysis.

The Jungian analyst is concerned primarily with the present and the future. This businessman had carried too heavy a load of work for years. Now, from his unconscious, come symptoms which force him to cut down his activities. Unconsciously, he must want to slow down. To help the analyst find possible unconscious motives, the businessman is asked to talk about his work and travel (this is not free association, which, Jung argues, tends to lead away from the focus of interest).

After several sessions the businessman tells of a dream: "I am sitting on a large wagon, laden with hay, which I am driving back to the barn, but the load of hay is so high that the lintel of the door into the barn knocks me on the head, so that I fall off my seat and I wake up terrified in the act of falling." For the Freudian, the barn is a symbol of the female genitalia; the dream represents a tendency to return to the womb, but because this has undertones of incestuous desire, it would be followed by punishment (castration). An Adlerian would interpret the overloaded wagon as an exaggerated will to power, in compensation for an inferiority complex.

The Jungian analyst takes the dream more literally. After examining and reexamining it in the context of the patient's life (Jung distrusts all set dream theories), the analyst suggests this meaning: the patient has overloaded his wagon beyond its capacity; as a result, his conscious intentions receive a blow. The dream is an attempt by the unconscious to redress the balance of an exaggerated extraverted attitude which is becoming less and less appropriate as the businessman grows older.

This interpretation denies the patient the easy Freudian way out—a

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10