Last Updated on Sunday, 27 October 2013 20:37
Written by William Willeford, Ph.D.
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We cannot go back to singing and dancing in front of our huts or around a great tree. But Rousseau's myth implies that there is a form of self-validation prior to the envious perversion of desire that came to afflict his singers and dancers, and that this fundamental form of self-validation has been, or could be, the basis of a community of more authentic individuals than they became and that most people are now. The religious language that Chrysostom uses to say the same thing may be taken psychologically to refer to the self in the Jungian sense of a psychic totality that may be expressed in god-images. To validate oneself in the way that Rousseau and Chrysostom have in mind is to be supported by an inner authority that is not simply an internalized image of something once imposed from without, It is to be supported by the self in Jung's understanding of that term. The self under the aspect with which I am now concerned I have called the self that knows what is good for itself. I assume that only by means of the self that knows what is good for itself can we recognize anything else as good, even mistakenly. Despite the inwardness I would claim for it, this self is not isolated but open to mutuality and even finds its fulfillment in it. It was, we may recall, the sacrifice of mutuality to egocentric isolation that cost Freud his authority in Jung's eyes.
4. Science and Fantasy, Father and Mother, and the Self
Since this subtitle may appear a riddle, I want first to offer a succinct solution to it, upon which I will then comment. Science and fantasy are very different, as Jung's "Two Kinds of Thinking" in Collected Works, Vol. 5, might persuade usindeed are in many ways inimical. Yet fantasy and science blend in science fiction, and science partly originates in fantasy. Relations between the two become especially problematic in depth psychology, which tries to be science about fantasy. It is widely assumed that the authority of science is paternal. But this is from the outset an oversimplification, quite apart from questions of what "feminine" science is or might be. Consideration of authority must finally lead to the self which, however individuated the person, always implies the mother-infant relationship, the self being known in receptivity, which is grounded in our experience of Mother.
I will now elaborate on this answer to my seeming riddle. Is truth something personal that I find or establish using my own resources? Or is it something that I accept on the basis of my trust in a person or an institution? These questions by no means exclude one another. Thus the philosopher Michael Polanyi has remarked that in science opinion is "not held by any single human mind, but is held by a multitude of individuals, each of whom endorses the others' opinion at second hand, by relying on the consensual chains which link him to all the others through a sequence of overlapping neighborhoods." That is, scientists should in principle be able to replicate the results of one another's experiments, but as a matter of practical fact, a particular scientist may have to trust that scientists in another field are examining one another's work properly and that their consensus is reliable. Owing to such relativity, the issue of inner authority may assume forms in science that are very important and that bear on the integrity of the self In science, that is to say, wary ego control is unavoidably tempered by trust. One may trust and be vigilantand should. But trust entails the expectation that one's standards will be met. And this implies, further, that they are inner, one's own, in a way that cannot be made secondary to what others do and think. The self that knows what is good for itself may learn things at odds with its own original knowledge. But this is only to say that life is complicated and difficult, as science therefore also is.
The relationship between Freud and Jung entailed questions regarding the final basis of whatever truth value psychoanalysis had as science. Freud founded psychoanalysis to an important extent on the basis of his own fantasy experiences and his own interpretation of them (his "self-analysis"), and then elevated that interpretation to the status of an orthodoxy binding for all future interpretations of psychic life. Jung's own powerful fantasy experiences were so unlike Freud's that they did not for him support Freud's interpretive argument, and indeed Jung urgently felt that their content demanded a different conception of the nature of fantasy.
I want now to distinguish between two kinds of fantasy. Fantasy may be regressive in the sense of replaying old patterns apparently having little to do with transformation and the further development of psychic life. I think, for example, of an accomplished and successful engineer who occasionally, instead of going directly home from work to his wife and family, supplies himself with marijuana and a six-pack of beer, and then watches soft-porn movies in a drive-in movie theater. Doing this gives him a low-grade satisfaction of a diffuse erotic interest. The low-grade quality of the satisfaction is appropriate to the diffuseness of the interest; anything more "real"including movies more vividly pornographicwould provoke him to inner conflict and psychic work and thus deprive him of the satisfaction he seeks.
Fantasy, however, may mean something very different from this. For Jung, with other things in mind than the preoccupations of our moviegoer, fantasy was "the clearest activity of the psyche. It is, preeminently, the creative activity from which the answers to all answerable questions come; it is the mother of all possibilities, where, like all psychological opposites, the inner and outer worlds are joined together in living union. Fantasy it was and ever is which fashions the bridge between their reconcilable claims of subject and object."
Jung's statement strikingly makes fantasy basic to our experience in such a way that it is implicitly an expression of the self with its structuring and authenticating powers. (By "fantasy" Jung means what others would prefer to call "imagination," but what is meant by the two terms must remain relative, and so the distinction between them need not now concern us.) Jung's statement implies that the self has an authority, imaginatively expressed, that cannot legitimately be abrogated, whether by the will of one's own ego or by that of another person. The clash between Freud and Jung was one of egos, but Jung understandably felt that his self, his very being, was at stake.
Since fantasy and interpretation are linked in complicated ways, a body of theory such as that of psychoanalysis, which is about fantasy, mustif it is to be scientificbe allowed to develop in the way Polanyi describes as governed by "mutual authority." For Freud authority could not be made mutual. (There is room for questions about the degree to which it could for Jung, but surely he was the more open of the two.) Regarding the clash of egos in which Freud and Jung were caught, one could say that the self as supraordinate to the ego is more open to mutuality than the ego is, and that the authority of the self is inseparable from its openness. And so in this way, too, the clash of the two violated the self of each.
On two occasions Freud fainted in Jung's presence, thus symbolizing the death he thought Jung wished for him, since Freud was convinced he saw evidence of parricidal impulses in Jung's dreams. In refusing this interpretation and the authority seeking to impose it, Jung, in effect, appealed to the deeper, preoedipal authority of the self as manifested in the mother-infant bond. 1 say this because the mutuality of this bond is the basis of all other experiences of mutuality. And one of the transformations of the mother-infant relationship is the mutual authority Polanyi regards as necessary to empirical science.
Freud's opinion to the contrary notwithstanding, the authority of which I am speaking is not that of Father overwhelming and superseding the non-authority of Mother. Experiences of the self, which require receptivity, always have a maternal cast.
5. The Voice or Voices of the Self
In Psychology and Religion, Jung speaks of an authoritative voice that sometimes makes itself known in dreams. About it he comments: "It always utters an authoritative declaration or command, either of astonishing common sense or of profound philosophical import. It is nearly always a final statement, ... and it is, as a rule, so clear and convincing that the dreamer finds no argument against it. It has, indeed, so much the character of an indisputable truth that it can hardly be understood as anything except a final summing up of a long process of deliberation and weighing of arguments."