Medicine: The Psychology of Witches

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In modern U.S. usage a witch is either a liberal's term for the quarry of a Congressman or a ladylike term for an untamed shrew; oldtime witches seem to have disappeared. Not so in the eyes of Jungian psychologists, to many of whom the whole world of demons, myth and fable is every bit as vivid as it is to poets and children. For Jungians believe that certain kinds of myths are repeated over and over again in all eras and societies, thus furnishing clues to the universal unconscious, just as an individual's dreams may give clues to his individual unconscious. Taking off from that theory, a London Jungian named Leopold Stein has started a major psychological witch hunt. Dr. Stein believes that witch types (he calls them "loathsome women") can be found just about anywhere in modern life.

In the first issue of the Journal of Analytical Psychology, published by British followers of famed old (81) Analyst Carl Jung, Dr. Stein set out to analyze loathsome women as a distinctive psychiatric category. He bases his observations on six young women patients, all of whom "were 'loathed' by everybody, including the analyst. What set them apart, according to Stein, is a "changeable, nebulous, ambiguous, enigmatic attitude [and an] alluring charm sharply contrasting with their sarcastic, cruel reasonableness . . ." They projected "a vivid image of the evil temptress, from whom it is no far cry to the 'witch' or 'hag.'"

Charming Yet Tortuous. Stein's half-dozen "witches in modern dress" were all youthfully slender, lively of expression, some of them bucktoothed and "prancing" of gait. Although they were married and active sexually, they secretly dreaded the sex act and remained "psychically virgins." They had a "miniminy mouth"; that is, they were " 'mim,' prim, reticent, shy, affected." They tended to be frigid, attract weak, boyish men, hated kissing on the mouth (a witch's kiss was believed to draw out the soul). Often they had affairs, mainly with married men. They hated and hurt men, yet believed they were of loving disposition; they were charming, and yet tortured men.

"Some of them are particularly ardent dancers and even become professional dancers, despite or perhaps owing to their frigidity. Others are sculptors, potters, nurses or thieves. If they are not doctors or dentists themselves, they 'happen' to attract their dentist, whose advances then fill them with horror. Some have an affair with a spy or have in some way been associated with espionage . . ."

Because the hag type successfully uses sex as a weapon, they are "loathed by other women, who attribute all sorts of bad qualities to them." Moreover, "men loathe them . . . because they squash any talent the male partner may have." Yet "if they present themselves [as] helpless 'little girls.' men fall for it . . ."

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