From the essay on the author:
"He maintains a strong commitment to the importance of honesty in the effectiveness of self-help methods and their free distribution to everyone who can benefit from them."
Elements of Jung's theories lie at the basis of much of contemporary "New Age" thinking; Noll reveals the extent to which Jung himself was an active participant in an earlier New Age that isn't much different than today's version.
RH: OK, imagine a sliding scale. At one end, you have William James and Sigmund Freud. At the other end, you've got L. Ron Hubbard and Jim Jones. Where do you want to put Jung?
RN: Well, I'd move Freud a little bit further away from James, but yeah, Jung's is much closer to L. Ron Hubbard than he is to Freud or James, no question about it, especially after 1916. Jung was a famous research scientist at the age of 31, more famous than Freud when the two of them met, and he just chucked all that for the idea of the collective unconscious. He claimed that you can get racial memories from your ancestors, and that you can enter into visionary states and talk to your ancestors. You can't really look at his psychology or his techniques without looking at occultism and spiritualism.
RH: Some of the stuff that comes up in this book is almost perversely fascinating, like Jung's belief that he was the manifestation of a lion-headed god.
RN: It's wild stuff. That's why I argue that, especially after his break with Freud, Jung was basically setting up his own religious movement. Analysis became an initiation into mysteries, teaching people to speak to the dead and to the gods. And if you look at Jungians today, what are they doing? It's a lot of the same stuff. Many people, including Jungian analysts, are attracted to Jung's thoughts because they want that spiritual big bang.
RH: The break with Freud is interesting in that you present evidence that suggests Jung created the situation himself, seeing Freud as a mentor on whom he had, in his own words, a 'religious crush' he would have to disavow, and that Freud recognized what Jung was doing and told him so.
RN: The relationship between Freud and Jung is one of the great love stories of the 20th century. If you read their letters to one another, there were times they were really obsessed with each other. They would meet someplace, then they'd part, and one of them would write, "Now when I walk the streets, everywhere I think I see you." These guys were aware of the dynamics. They were Freud and Jung, they'd better know what was going on, right? And we all know that true love is an impossible fantasy. It's doomed to fail, and that's what happened to them.
RH: Another thing that never crossed his mind is 'cryptomnesia,' or 'hidden memories.' He never seems to have considered the possibility that his visions of being a lion-headed Christ might have something to do with the books he'd read.
RN: And I know what he was reading then. For nine years, Jung built his career as an experimental psychologist on examining the human memory. He proved to himself in experiment time and again that we continually distort our memories, that we unconsciously plagiarize at times. He showed repeatedly that people could forget that they had been exposed to materials, then have elements of those materials appear in their consciousness or dreams and feel 'new.' It happens all the time, like when George Harrison didn't realize that the melody to "My Sweet Lord" was the same as "He's So Fine."
So Jung, who's read extensively in spiritualist and occultist texts, documents this memory process at length, and then in December 1913 he has an experience in which he becomes a lion-headed god. That was such a transformative experience for him that within months he's developed a theory about cosmic and archetypal forces that influence everyone. Then he surrounded himself with patients who had been steeped in spiritualism, Theosophy, and other forms of occultism. They're drawn to Jung because they know he's into occultism as well. And when they have dreams with occultist imagery in them, Jung thinks this is direct evidence of a collective unconscious outside the realm of their personal experiences. He was participating with these people in a shared delusion; it's such a massive error in his logic.
RH: It's amazing to me how little Jungians know or are willing to know about the origins of Jungian teachings, and how much of a personal affront they consider it when people like you so much as raise the issues.
RN: That's disturbing. I once thought that the whole Jungian, psychoanalytic thing was about consciousness, you know, facing up to stuff that might be disturbing. So when I bring stuff up, and Jungians respond by ignoring it, refusing to read it, or claiming that it's untrue, it's kind of sad to see that kind of irrational response, but it's also telling.
RH: And you're not even saying that polygamous occultism is necessarily a bad thing.
RN: No, I'm not, but that's what they're hearing.
I just want them to accept that that's the foundation of their beliefs. I'm open to all sorts of things as long as we're all clear about what those things are.
There is no scientific evidence to support the collective unconscious, yet analysts with medical degrees claim to help their patients to tap into it. As a society, do we want medical insurance to cover that sort of thing? Where's the line between religion and medicine?
Sometimes I feel like the Ralph Nader of the Jungian world, but I've seen so many people who have been harmed by this, people who need to have their screws tightened rather than loosened. And in Jungian circles, critical thinking is looked down upon.
It's devalued in favor of emotion or intuition.
RH: We've seen that attitude gain in popularity in the last decade or so, and I believe we can pin it down to a very specific moment: Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers on PBS.
RN: You're absolutely right. That did more to promote Jungian thought than anything during that period. Campbell was charismatic, he was great on TV, and what he was spouting was pure Jung.
RH: And Moyers has run with that ball ever since. In 1996, it was "Let's do a series about Genesis, and our need for origin myths!"
RN: I'd like to see somebody do a series on the need for critical thinking and skepticism. Carl Sagan nailed it pretty well in The Demon-Haunted World, and although he could be too smug at times, he addressed the issues straight on and his 'baloney detection kit,' a guide to critical thinking, is something I'm going to use in my classes when these issues come up. People forget that it's okay to think, to analyze situations, and they need to be reminded more often.
A. Jung, to his credit, really was able to see the positive aspects of
suffering. He tried to find the meaning in it, in a way Freud did not. Jung
realized there is no such thing as normal.
<The Wanderer> conducted a telephone interview with Dr. Noll from his home
Q. I suspect <The Jung Cult> has come as a very unwelcome intrusion to many
Jungians, who have probably never considered his historical and cultural
background. The Jung you present is a rather base product of his milieu,
who acquired a smattering of bad science bad theology, bad philosophy, bad
history, added a large share of occult mysticism, theosophy, and sexual
libertinism, and came up with modern psychotherapy.
Is this perception correct?
(Corboy notes-observe how The Wanderer seeks to load the question--Jung as 'a rather base product of his milieu' 'acquired a smattering of bad science, bad theology, bad philosophy, bad history, sexual liberinism...and (big generationalization!!!) came up with modern psychotherapy'. You can see how hard Noll has to work in response to this loaded question. But in so doing, Noll manages to tell the reader a great deal about the social world which produced Jung. And in the book, Noll is at pains to tell the reader that in the German speaking world, young men from literate families, such as Jung and Freud and others, all received top notch classical education, could read original sources and classics in Latin and Greek, memorised classics in German literature.
And at university and in medical school Jung was well trained in scientific method and made some early and good contributions to memory research. He started out well trained as a scientist--only when older did he decide to go a different route. This was not a case of 'bad science' but of a person who discarded what he knew of science because his later personal aspirations overrode his training as a scientist.
This is a higher level of education and literacy than many of us attain today. So the minds of these young men would have been richly fertilized by images from Greek, Roman and German mythology. The Wanderer wants to use Noll for its own narrow ideological uses--to discredit all of modern psychotherapy--but Noll to his credit tries in this interview to prevent it.)
A. I would eliminate the word "bad" in your list.
Jung's background must be seen in his German cultural context- a context
that frankly has been lost to history because of the gross obscenity of
Adolf Hitler. It has taken so many generations for us to assimilate
National Socialism that the world of pre-Hitler central Europe has largely
been forgotten. Historians have focused so much on National Socialism and
Hitler that they have neglected the period in the 1920s when he was
amassing his movement. There was a lot going on besides Adolf Hitler.
Q. As a psychologist, do you make a judgment call on the intellectual
"culture" of Germany in the early 20th century, preoccupied, as it was,
with notions of racism, anti-Semitism, philosophical idealism, the occult,
A. It may seem crazy, but this was their world. It made sense to them. When
you examine history and try to understand historical figures, the main task
is to try to figure out which category the actors were acting in. It's
almost as if you have to figure out which category the actors were acting
in. It's almost as if you have to time travel and leave your values at
home, and transmit yourself back to that world. There were all sorts of
unusual and kooky things going on.
Actually, the Nazis got their eugenics ideas from the United States. We
were the ones sterilizing people under sterilization laws which made it
mandatory for the insane, criminals, and other groups.
Q. You seem to make a great effort to distance Jung's anti-Semitism from
Hitler's anti-Semitism, and to exculpate Jung from the charge that he was
one of the intellectuals who prepared the way for Hitler.
Why do you do this when it seems, at least to this reader, that the two
matured under exactly the same intellectual and mystical influences-the
only difference being that the one obtained real political and military
A. As I tried to point out in the book, the world was a racist world. It
was accepted in bourgeois middle-class society. The society accepted the
belief that there were great biological differences between Jews and non-
Jews, that was what educated people thought.
Frankly, Jung wasn't big enough at all to influence Hitler's rise. Back in
the 1920s, everyone was talking about Count Hermann Keyserling, who did
have a very strong anti-Semitic influence and connections to people who
became some of the leading Nazis.
Jung was not a big player in Zurich. He was attracting mostly people from England and the United States. I can't lump him in with Hitler, despite his views on women, Jews, and other issues. Jung was never interested in a political movement. He wanted a