Steiner Comments on Jungian (and Freudian) Psychoanalysis

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Steiner Comments on Jungian (and Freudian) Psychoanalysis

Post by AshvinP »

Cleric wrote:Now imagine what it would be if the animal-man was fully convinced that pleasure is the true grounds of reality and meditated day and night on it, never allowing the inner organism to develop the finer structures able to reflect more manifold knowing and ultimately the "I am"? This is the dangerous situation we find ourselves in today. The big difference is that in the past Nature took care to develop the finer structures capable of reflecting concepts and thus it led us to the experience of thinking and the "I am". Today we can no longer depend on Nature. The simple reason is because we already have the "I". If we expect some external force to create its reflecting organs in us, that would mean that we'll become possessed by some higher being. But this is not evolution. This would be the reversal of evolution. Instead, we ourselves, through our own effort, must begin the work on developing the reflecting concepts and forces in which the higher "I" can get a glimpse of its existence. Our ordinary "I" is only a mute, dream-like expression of the higher "I". Similarly, the blind urges of the animal-man towards pleasure and away from pain, are only mute and dream-like expressions of the intellectual "I".

In relation to the above, and also Jungian psychology, I looked up Steiner's lectures on psychoanalysis and found some really interesting remarks. I am posting selected excerpts below:


"But on the other hand, since analytical psychology is carrying on a research with inadequate tools, this is the point at which the greatest danger begins. The matter is dangerous first, because this longing for knowledge is so extremely tempting, tempting because of present circumstances, and because it may always be proved that the sex connection is more or less present. Yet the psychoanalyst Jung, who wrote Die Psychologie der unbewussten Prozesse (see the above quotations that are translations of passages from C. G. Jung's Die Psychologie der unbewussten Prozesse. Ein Ueberblick über die moderne Theorie und Methode der analytischen Psychologie, Zürich, 1917.), Professor Jung of Zürich does not share the opinion that Freud's sexual “neurosis theory” covers these cases. He has instead another theory.

Jung noted that Freud has his opponents. Among them is a certain Adler. This Adler takes a quite different viewpoint. Just as Freud tested large numbers of cases, and settled upon sex as the original cause (you can read it all in Jung's book), so Adler approached the problem from another side, and decided that this side is more important than the one that Freud has placed in the foreground.

Adler — I will only generalize — found that there was another urge that played quite as important a role in the human being as the sexual impulse emphasized by Freud. This was the desire for power, power over one's environment, the desire for power in general. The “will to power” is even regarded by Nietzsche as a philosophical principle, and as many cases may be found to support the power-impulse theory as Freud found for his sexual theory.
Jung however goes so far as to assert that the gods, to whom man is unconsciously related, become angry and revenge themselves, this revenge showing itself as hysteria. Very well, it amounts then to this: such a present-day man who is mistreated by a demon in his subconscious mind, does not know that there are demons, and cannot achieve any conscious relation with them because — that is superstition! What does the poor modern man do then, if he becomes ill from this cause? He projects it outwardly, that is to say he looks up some friend whom he had liked quite well, and says: This is the one who is persecuting and abusing me! He feels this to be true, which means that he has a demon which torments him, and so projects it into another man.
But the present psychoanalyst is faced by all these phenomena. And so much confronts him that he says to himself: It may be quite disastrous for a man to be connected with the superpersonal unconscious; but for God's sake (the psychoanalyst does not say ‘for God's sake,’ but perhaps ‘for science's sake’) do not let us take the spiritual world seriously! It does not enter their minds to consider the spiritual world seriously. Thus something very peculiar happens. Very few notice what strange phenomena appear under the influence of these things. I will call to your attention something in Jung's book Die Psychologie der unbewussten Prozesse, [see the above quotations that are translations of passages from C. G. Jung's Die Psychologie der unbewussten Prozesse. Ein Ueberblick über die moderne Theorie und Methode der analytischen Psychologie, Zürich, 1917.] recently published, which will show you where the psychoanalyst lands today. I shall have to read you a passage.

“According to this example” (these are examples showing that a man has within him, not only the contents of his present personal life, but far-back connections with all sorts of demonic, divine, or spiritual forces, etc.) — “According to this example of the genesis of new ideas from the store of the primeval pictures” — (here he does not call them ‘gods’ but ‘primeval pictures’) — “we will take up the further description of the transference processes. We saw that the libido, in those apparently preposterous and curious fantasies, had seized upon its new object, namely the contents of the absolute unconscious.” (The absolute unconscious is the superpersonal unconscious, not the personal.) “As I have already said, the uncomprehended projection of the primeval pictures upon the physician involves a danger for the further treatment that must not be under-estimated.” (The patient transfers his demons to the doctor. That is one danger.) “The pictures contain not only the best and greatest of all that mankind has thought and felt, but also every infamous and devilish deed of which men have been capable.”

Just think! Jung has come so far as to perceive that a man has subconsciously within him all the most fiendish crimes, as well as the most beautiful of all that mankind has been able to think and feel.
Thus you see, the psychoanalyst is driven to say: The human soul is so made that it needs gods, that gods are necessary to it, for it becomes ill without them. Therefore it has always had them. Men need gods. The psychoanalyst ridicules men, saying that when they lack other gods they make gods of themselves, but “rationalistic pocket size gods with thick skulls and cold hearts. The idea of God” (he says further), “is simply a necessary psychological function of an irrational nature. ...”

To describe the necessity of the God-concept in these terms is as far as one can go by the methods of natural science! Man must have a God; he needs him. The psychoanalyst knows that. But let us read to the end of the sentence:

“The idea of God is simply a necessary psychological function of an irrational nature, which has nothing to do with the question of the actual existence of God.”

When you read the complete sentence you run upon the great dilemma of the present day. The psychoanalyst proves to you that man becomes ill and useless without his God, but says that this need has nothing to do with the existence or non-existence of God. And he continues:

“For this latter question” (namely, of the existence of God,) “belongs to the most stupid questions that can be framed. Man knows well enough that he cannot conceive a God, much less imagine that he really exists, or that there can be any occurrence not conditioned by natural causes.”

Now I beg of you, here you find — here you are standing at the point where you may catch at things. The things are there, knocking upon the doors of knowledge. Seekers are also there. They admit an absolute necessity, but when that necessity is stated as a serious question they consider it one of the stupidest that can be suggested.

You see, you have there one of the points in the cultural life of today from which you may note exactly what is always avoided. I can assure you that, in their examination and knowledge of the soul, these psychoanalysts are far ahead of what is offered in current psychiatry by the universities. They are not only far beyond ordinary university psychiatry and psychology, but in a certain sense they are right to look down upon this dreadful so-called science. But one may catch them in any such passage, showing as it does what mankind is actually facing in the attitude of contemporary science.
This psychoanalysis has at least pointed out that the reality of the soul is to be accepted as such. They do that. But the devil is everywhere at their heels; I mean that they are neither able nor willing to approach spiritual reality.
Jung considers this a fact: that Nietzsche found a demon, and projected it without upon Wagner. Oh well — projections, potentials, introverted or extraverted human types — all words for abstractions, but nothing about realities! These things are truly important. This is not agitation for an anthroposophical world-conception for which we are prejudiced. On the contrary, everything outside of anthroposophy shows how necessary this conception is for present-day humanity!
In such a case we are reminded of what Nietzsche, who surmised many of these things, called the great reason in contrast with the small reason, the all-inclusive reason that does not come into consciousness, that acts below the threshold of consciousness, leading men to do many things which they do not consciously confess to themselves. Through his ordinary outer consciousness the human being is in connection first with the world of the senses, but also with the whole physical world, and with all that lives within it. To the physical world belong all the concepts of propriety, of bourgeois morality, and so forth, with which man is equipped.

In his subconsciousness man is connected with an entirely different world, of which Jung says: the soul has need of it because it is related to it, but he also says that it is foolish to inquire about its real existence. Well, it is this way: as soon as the threshold of consciousness is crossed, man and his soul are no longer in merely material surroundings or relations, but in a realm where thoughts rule, thoughts which may be very artful.

Now Jung's view is quite correct when he says that modern man, the so-called man of culture, needs particularly to be mindful of these things. For present culture has this peculiarity, that it forces down numerous impulses into the subconsciousness, which then assert themselves in such a way that irrational acts — as they are called — and irrational general conduct result. When the “power-urge” or the “love urge” are mentioned, it is because in the moment that man and his soul enter the subconscious regions they come nearer to the realm where these instincts rule; not that they are in themselves causes, but that man with his subconscious intelligence plunges into regions where these impulses are effective.
Let us assume that a sanatorium was equipped for giving psychiatric treatment especially to people who had become nervous or hysterical from playing the stock market. Then the existence of other things in the subconscious mind could be established with as much reason as the love-urge, introduced by Freud. Then it would be seen with what detailed cunning, and artful subconscious processes, the man acts who plays the stock market. Then, through the usual methods of elimination, sexual love would be seen to play a very small part, yet the subtleties of subconscious acuteness, of subconscious slyness, could be studied at their height. Even the lust for power could not always be designated as being the primary impulse, but altogether different instincts would be found ruling those regions, in which man submerges himself with his soul. And if in addition a sanatorium could be equipped for learned men who had become hysterical — forgive me! — it would be found that their subconscious actions seldom lead back to the love-motive. For those with any thorough knowledge of facts in this field realize that, under present conditions, scholars are seldom driven to their chosen science by “love,” but by quite different forces which would show themselves if brought to the surface by psychoanalysis. The all-inclusive fact is that the soul is led from the conscious down into the subconscious regions where man's unconquered instincts rule. He can master these only by becoming aware of them, and spiritual research alone can lift them into consciousness.
A man like Dr. Freud is obliged to stretch the sexual domain over the entire human being in order to make it account for every soul phenomenon. I have said to various people with psychoanalytic tendencies, whom I have met: A theory, a world-concept must be able to hold its own when you turn it upon itself, otherwise it crumbles into nothingness. The simple fallacy, if you extend it far enough, is an example. A Cretan says: All Cretans are liars. If it is said by a Cretan, and it is true, then it would be a lie, which causes the saying to annul itself. It will not do for a Cretan to say “All Cretans are liars,” expecting the sentence to pass unchallenged. That is only a sample of absolutizing. But a theory should not crumble when turned upon itself. Just as the statement that all Cretans are liars would be a lie if made by a Cretan, so does the theory of universal sexuality crumble if you test it out by applying it to the subject itself. And it is the same with other things. You can understand such a principle for a long time without applying it vigorously, in accordance with reality. But it will be one of the particular achievements of anthroposophically oriented spiritual science, that it cannot be turned in this manner against itself."
"To think what is true, to sense what is beautiful and to want what is good, hereby the spirit finds purpose of a life in reason.”