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Ronnie Landau: Unpacking Allegations, Was Jung Antisemitic?

Mar 21, 2024

VIDEO

Art Credit: Jano Tantongco, jano.tantongco@gmail.com

AUDIO

How do we interpret and evaluate C.G. Jung’s complex legacy in light of his interactions with Jewish individuals and the allegations of antisemitism, considering the nuanced historical context in which he lived and worked?”

Assessing Jung’s possible antisemitism is complex and requires a nuanced understanding of his historical context and personal relationships. His involvement in psychoanalytic societies during the Nazi era has led to accusations of antisemitism, yet his actions and writings suggest an intimate, dynamic, and protective relationship with Jewish colleagues and theories. Jung tried to shield Jewish analysts by leveraging his position, indicating his efforts to mitigate the impacts of Nazi policies on his Jewish colleagues. His correspondence and professional interactions with Jewish individuals, including Freud, show admiration, critique, and misunderstanding, reflecting the complicated dynamics of early psychoanalytic circles. Critics and supporters of Jung need to consider the evolution of his views over time, acknowledging both problematic aspects of his work and his contributions to psychoanalytic thought that transcended racial and ethnic boundaries.

Prepare to discover…who Carl Jung was, his relationships with Jewish individuals and communities, and the controversy surrounding allegations of antisemitism in his work and personal beliefs; when Jung’s significant interactions with the Nazi party lead others to question his allegiances; how Jung’s theories, were influenced by and, in turn, influenced Jewish scholars, demonstrating a complex interplay between Jungian psychology and Jewish thought; what specific allegations of antisemitism have been made against Jung, the evidence for and against these claims, and the broader implications of his work within the context of 20th-century antisemitic movements; where Jung stood in relation to the Nazi regime and antisemitism, including his professional and personal actions that have been scrutinized for either complicity or opposition to antisemitic policies; whether Jung’s interactions and theoretical disagreements with Sigmund Freud, as well as his comments on Jewish psychology, can be considered antisemitic or reflective of the era’s complex cultural and scientific dialogues; which aspects of Jewish mysticism and philosophical thought, particularly Kabbalah and Hasidism; why the narrative surrounding Jung’s work, his alleged antisemitism, and his relationship with Jewish intellectuals remains a subject of intense debate, reflecting the challenges of disentangling a historical figure’s legacy from the socio-political context of their time…and so much more.

HERE’S THE DREAM WE ANALYZE:

I’m working on a production filming at a large mansion, but I’m not working in front of the camera this time. I’m working behind the camera on the crew as a production assistant. The scene is shot inside, right at the entrance of the mansion. I’m in a pleased, enthusiastic mood. I stand there watching the filming—directly behind me are two French doors. Suddenly, I needed to use the restroom, but the restrooms for the crew were the porta-johns outside, and I couldn’t get out the door because they were filming right in front of the entrance. Then I remembered something: I knew the owner of this mansion, and he entrusted me with a skeleton key. I think, “Well, I’ve been given a key to go into any room in the house; surely it’s fine for me to use one of the restrooms.” I turn around and use the skeleton key for the first time. The key is gold and looks just like a big old-fashioned key. I open the French doors and close them behind me. Now I’m in a large Study. It’s beautiful and luxurious. It looks like old money, nothing too modern. There’s a fireplace and comfy chairs, a large elegant sofa with many pillows, and a desk and many books. The room is lit only by sunlight. I slowly walked across the Study toward the bathroom at the end of the room. I take my time, taking it all in. I feel unique being in here alone. When I get to the restroom, the door is locked. I use the skeleton key for a second time. Now, I’m in a small restroom that looks remarkably like the restroom in my parent’s bedroom. I stand and look at myself in the mirror, and then I notice a wooden medicine cabinet on the wall to the left of me. I’m curious about what’s inside. I’m drawn to it. I try opening it, but it’s locked. Could the skeleton key even open this small cabinet? I used the skeleton key for the third time, and it worked! I’m shocked to discover that there is only a small burning fire inside the cabinet. It looks just like a small miniature campfire. I’m stunned. “Why is this fire here? What is the meaning of it? How does the fire burn even when the cabinet is locked up? Why does the fire not consume the entire wood cabinet?” I’m just awe-struck. Then I realize, “Oh my gosh, I’ve left the key in the lock, and that lock must be burning hot from being so close to a fire for so long.” I pull the key out of the lock, and the key is warped. It began to melt. Now I’m slightly panicked. I run the key under cold water, but it’s useless. The key is warped from the fire. “Now the mansion’s owner will know I’ve been snooping and found his little burning fire.” I try to figure out what to do and finally decide. I better just come clean; he will know exactly what I did when he sees the key.

UNLOCK THE SECRETS OF YOUR DREAMS:

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2 Comments

  1. Natalie N Kirby

    This topic was recently brought up to me from a friend who is working on their Masters in Psychology. I had made a post acknowledging the impact Jung has made upon my constitution, and they messaged me asking me if I knew Jung was antisemitic, and how I could be okay with that.

    My response was that I was aware of the role Jung played during that time, especially in the early days of Germanic Nationalism/Nazi Party- and I did not excuse it or try to justify it. As was mentioned in the podcast, ego, naïveté, and most likely group shadow all played a part in his choices and perceptions. As a human being, Jung was just as vulnerable of Shadow as the next person. Furthermore, as the environment evolved and became more dangerous, he clearly had to make adjustments to those perceptions.

    The point is, we have all been part of the wrong side of things before, and it isn’t helpful to dismiss or excuse it because doing so will only make it more challenging to address. It would also negate the purpose of Individuation, especially the Nigredo/Albedo process- it’s ugly and smelly, but it is still part of us, and it shouldn’t be dismissed, invalidated, or villanized, but understood and absorbed so that it can go through a dissolution- to be harmonized.

    It’s important not to project our idealization of Jung too. I love, love, love CG Jung, but he was so fully human and complext with the same potential mishaps and pitfalls as the rest of us, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. It gives me hope that anyone, even those who have made very grave choices in life, have the potential to grow and be reconciled with their shadow.

    Reply
    • Alice Purdie

      After listening to this episode and reading the text, I liken Jung’s role to the many people who stood up to Trump’s campaign that the election was stolen: the governors, zags, state officials. They upheld truth and fairness against an authoritarian. Jung did the same thing along with this bashing and severe criticism, even now. Count your blessings if you have never been put in these positions.

      Reply

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