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Jung's ETH lectures on 'Modern Psychology' 1933-44: Jung's contribution to the Social and Political Culture

532 Angela Graf-Nold
Jung’s ETH lectures on ‘Modern Psychology’,
1933- 41: Jung’s Contribution to the Social and
Political Culture
Angela Graf-Nold
Switzerland (SGAP)
It is well known that, in 1905, Jung earned the academic grade and
position of a lecturer (‘Privatdozent’) for psychiatry at the university
of Zürich, and in the same year he was appointed as ‘secondary
doctor’ (vice-director) of the Burghölzli, the psychiatric Clinic of the
University of Zürich. What seems to be less known is that the main,
most important and significant part of his academic teaching was as
a private psychiatrist, only nearly 30 years later, in 1933, not at the
university, but at the ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule
Zürich /Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), and not in the field of
psychiatry, but teaching ‘modern psychology’.
Barbara Hannah, Jung’s English co-worker and biographer, compiled
an English (unauthorized) abridged version of these lectures which
were circulated among the English-speaking audience. She published 8
of the 13 courses in three volumes as private prints in several editions
until 1964.1 A German edition was missing.
In 2004 Jung’s heirs under the presidency of U. Hoerni decided to
set up a ten-year project for a complete historical, critical German
edition of these lectures. I am obliged to the Institute for the history
of medicine of the University of Zürich under the direction of Prof. B.
Rüttimann for their generous institutional and professional support
as well to the Philemon Foundation under the then presidency of
Stephan Martin for generous financial support for my work on this
project until April 2010.
In this paper I would like to give you some general information
about the project, and especially a picture of the biographical, institu-
tional, social and cultural context of Jung’s teaching at the ETH, as a
precondition for an adequate understanding and evaluation of Jung’s
efforts and achievements as an active Swiss citizen, academic teacher
and scientist during the beginning of the Nazi regime in Germany to
the first years of World War II, from 1933-1941.
1 Hannah, B. (1934- 41, 19592, 196 43). Modern Psychology. Vol. 1: Modern Psychology I, II ;
Vol. 2: Process of individuation I, II; Vol. 3: Alchemy I, IIAlchemy I, II also as Facsimile:
Largs: Banton Press, 1990.
Jung’s Contribution to the Social and Political Culture 533
Quitting the Academic Career at the University
In his studies in word association which he had carried out with the
support of his boss Eugen Bleuler, Jung had found common ground
with Freud’s concept of ‘repression’, and did not hesitate to state this
publicly and repeatedly.
These experiments, especially the association experiments in
connection with the ‘psycho-physical galvanic reflex-phenomenon’,
attracted many students and volunteers from European countries and
especially from the USA; most Americans were sent by Adolf Meyer,
at that time Professor of Psychiatry at Cornell University. Meyer was
a former colleague of Eugen Bleuler and student of Bleuler’s colleague
Constantin von Monakow, with whom Bleuler and his staff had an
intense collaboration. Through some papers Jung published together
with two American colleagues, F. Peterson and Ch. Ricksher, and a first
translation of his book about ‘The psychology of dementia praecox’
(trans. F. Peterson & A.A. Brill), Jung and his decisive ‘Freudianism’
gained much interest and a wide reputation. So Jung was invited by
Stanley Hall, a friend of Adolf Meyer, the European-oriented founder
of American psychology, together with Freud and group of leading
scientists, to lecture at the 20th anniversary of Clark University; this
invitation was connected with the award of a honorary degree of law
for all invited guests.
The seven weeks’ trip with Freud and Ferenczi (a former Burghölzli
volunteer) meant as well a culmination, a turning point in Jung’s
relation with Freud and in his life’s career.
After his return from the States Jung moved from the Burghölzli
clinic to his new house in Küsnacht, near Zürich, and opened his
private practice as a psychiatrist, a decision which Freud deplored
deeply. Their intense proximity during the trip to the USA with
mutual dream-analyses had put their relationship under stress; Jung
felt Freud’s insurmountable limits of understanding, even mistrust, for
his deeper own feelings and ideas, and he realized Freud’s unsatisfi-
able expectations in him. Nevertheless he tried to cooperate with
Freud’s wishes; he acted as sub-editor of the Yearbook ( Jahrbuch für
psychoanalytische und psychopathologische Forschungen); he organized
the founding of the International Psychoanalytical Association and the
Psychoanalytical Congresses.
But he had been right in his expectations that his next work, his first
more theoretical work on the subject of the structure of the uncon-
scious and the nature of psychic energy ‘Wandlungen und Symbole
der Libido’ (Transformations and Symbols of the Unconscious) (1911/12)
would raise Freud’s anger through the ‘betrayal’ of his sexual theory.
Freud organized slandering reviews in his Journals, and he began
to disavow Jung as president of the International Psychoanalytical
534 Angela Graf-Nold
Association by founding a ‘secret committee’. In September 1913,
just after being elected for the second time as president for the
following two years, Jung resigned as president of the International
Psychoanalytical Association and as sub-editor of the Yearbook.
Some months later he also resigned as a lecturer (Privatdozent) at
the University of Zürich. ‘I had an exposed position at the university,
and I felt that I first had to find a new and quite different orientation,
and it would be unfair in a mental state of nothing but doubt to teach
young students’, Jung commented in his memoirs.1
To the dean of the medical faculty of the University he wrote more
prosaicaly: ‘Since I have to dedicate myself to a scientific task, which
needs all my available time, I have decided to abandon my teaching
activity at the university. 2
As we know this scientific task was his personal confrontation with
the unconscious, the work recently published as The Red Book (2009).
‘All that I did in my later life is contained in it, if only in the form of
emotions and pictures’, he states in his memories.
The first bigger publication after 1914 was Psychological Types(1921).
Jung’s name on the first page of this book had the note: ‘Dr. med et
Dr. iur., vormals Dozent der Psychiatrie at the University of Zürich’.
‘Dr. iur.’ was the honorary degree from Clark University Worcester
in 1909; ‘vormals Dozent’ (previously lecturer) meant he no longer
occupied this position. It was only 15 years later that the note after
his name in a publication was decisively different: Jung’s Terry Lec-
tures, published in 1938 under the title Psychology and Religion, gave
the author’s ‘C.G. Jung, professor for analytic psychology at the
école polytechnique fédérale in Zürich’ (Swiss Federal Institute of
Jung’s Application to the ETH
In May 1933, two months after the Nazis came to power in Ger-
many, Jung wrote an informal letter to the president of the ETH,
Arthur Rohn: According to friend(s) he suggested that he took up
again his public academic lectures which he had given up in 1913. But
since he would like to lecture about common subjects of modern
psychology this could not be within the medical faculty, so he turned
to the ETH with the request to acknowledge his qualification as a
lecturer, which he had practised for 8 years. He attached a CV and a
list of his publications.
Rohn referred Jung’s application to the conference of the members
1 C.G. Jung/Aniela Jaffé (1962/19886). Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 197 (own
2 Jung, C.G. (1914). Letter to the Dean of the Medical Faculty, 14. 4. 1914, Archive of
the University of Zurich.
Jung’s Contribution to the Social and Political Culture 535
of the General Department (Abteilung für Freifächer), the depart-
ment for the selection of compulsory courses for all disciplines and
the specialized technical curricula of the students.
At the following meeting of the Council (‘Schulrat’) of the ETH,
in June, two professors, the German philosopher Fritz Medicus and
the Swiss economist Eugen Böhler recommended Jung highly, and so
immediately it was decided to grant Jung’s request.
Jung was informed that he was assigned to the General Department
of the ETH to hold lectures about psychology; he had to give an
inaugural lecture for his introduction to colleagues and students.
The shift from university to the ETH was a small one by concrete
distance: the two buildings lay just side by side; on the left side was the
new modern building of the university (1911) with a great tower, on
the right side the very representative older building of the ETH with
an impressive cupola. The differences in structure and organization
however were quite big and crucial: the university was a young institu-
tion of the government of the Canton (area) of Zürich and structured
according the old universities with their laboured functions. The
ETH, however, was founded in 1855 and was one of the first projects
of the Swiss Federal State (Bundesstaat) newly constituted in 1848;
it was connected with the high ambitions to turn Switzerland from
an agrarian country to a country of modern technology and science.
The organizational structure with a school council (‘Schulrat’) and a
president with wider decisive authority let it function more like a big
company, which had a direct line to the government. More than once
the minister of Internal Affairs (Bundesrat Philipp Etter) was present
at a School Council meeting.
For Jung it was also significant that his integration in the general
department gave him a position as a teacher of psychology without the
rivalry of other colleagues in the field, but rather with the prospect
of of an interdisciplinary collaboration. In fact Jung had still friendly
personal relations and connections with ETH professors: the friend to
whom he alluded in his application letter was Markus Fierz, professor
of chemistry and husband of his patient and co-worker Linda Fierz-
David, whom Jung had travelled with through the Near East some
time earlier. Arthur Rohn, president of the ETH, was the father of
Liliane Frey-Rohn, at that time a young student of psychology, later a
close collaborator of Jung. Jung had also personal connections with the
chemist Thaddäus Reichstein, with the art historian Rudolf Bernoulli,
with whom he shared his interest in alchemy and parapsychology, and
last but not least with the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who challenged
his understanding for the relation of the new findings of physics about
the structure of the matter with the new findings about the structure
of the unconscious.
536 Angela Graf-Nold
Beginnings: The First Semester and Funds for Analytical Psychology
Jung announced a course in ‘Modern psychology’ for the winter
semester 1933/34 and held his first lecture in October 20th. There
was an enormous audience: 567 students had officially registered and
the lecture had to be moved to the greatest lecture hall ‘Auditorium
maximum’ which had 450 seats. The audience consisted of regular
students of the ETH, students of the university, students of the
teachers’ seminars, students of therapeutic pedagogy, students of
psychotechnics, patients, friends, members of the Psychological Club,
also later ‘Jungians’ of the first generation, colleagues of the ETH
as F. Medicus, Eugen Böhler, Wolfgang Pauli, Rudolf Bernoulli, and
interested Zürich citizens.
Barbara Hannah, the meticulous chronologist of the lectures, states
in her later biography of Jung that Jung felt quite uncomfortable with
this mass of people he was not used to.1
In his introduction to the audience Jung referred to his lectureship at
the university, which he would have carried out with ‘mixed fortunes’,
until he finally realized, that ‘lecturing about psychology presupposes
an understanding of the subject’. ‘I travelled the world’, he said, ‘since
our cultural sphere evidently lacks the Archimedic point that could
provide something to hold on’ (trans. M. Kyburz). He apologized for
his missing experiences in the last 20 years in speaking to the younger
generation and his fear therefore that he should be off the mark at
times; so he encouraged the audience to send him their questions by
post, but questions, he specifies, ‘within the scope of the lectures,
not about the future of the European currencies, for instance, or
the prospect of National Socialism’. As for his chosen approach to
the subject of ’modern psychology’‚ he explains, ‘I have chosen such
a general title because the matters at hand are of a general nature.
Instead of engaging with specific doctrines my aim is to draw a picture
based on immediate experience in order to depict the development
of modern psychological ideas’ (trans. M. Kyburz). Then Jung turned
to an account of a prehistory of ‘modern psychology’; beginning with
Descartes, he spoke about Leibniz, Kant, Hegel and others, drawing
in the medical doctors who were interested in the personalities
of their patients (P. Janet, William James), i.e., until the immediate
present to which he himself belongs. Jung exemplified this ‘psycho-
logical anthropology’ with two historic case studies, Justinus Kerner’s
‘Seeress of Prevorst’ (1829) and Théodore Flournoy’s ‘Hélène Smith’
(From India to the Planet Mars, 1900). Finally he explains the different
extreme relations of the two women to the inner and outer reality
with a diagram where he also draws the ‘consciousness-curves’ of the
‘normal’ man, of Freud, Goethe, Nietzsche, the old Rockefeller and
1 Hannah, B. (1976). Jung, his Life and Work, a Biographical Memoir, p. xx.
Jung’s Contribution to the Social and Political Culture 537
the Swiss National Saint Niklaus von der Flühe. He ends up with the
‘transcendent function’ which enables everybody to make specific
changes in consciousness.
With this first ‘crash course’ of his psychological programme Jung
was obviously ‘off the mark’ for the normal students, and two groups
of them wrote him letters. The first group of 13 students complained
about the breadth of Jung’s presentations, which did not put forward
enough of a deep understanding of his theories. Another group of
four complained about the difficulties in getting the interpretation of
the historic case studies, a fact that they would deplore deeply since
they would be interested and could not afford to attend his seminars
at the Psychological Club because of their exclusivity and high costs.
Jung’s answer was quite defensive: ‘I am not prepared for that, and
it would be quite immodest to put my own opinion in the foreground;
I cannot say that I am identical with the “modern psychology”.’ But
besides these pleas he accepted the complaints: In the next semester,
during the summer of 1934 he began to teach about ‘basic terms and
methods’, now for only 203 registered auditors, half of the previous
audience and in a smaller lecture hall.
The students obviously had hit a critical point: was it his ‘modesty’
that swayed him about speaking ‘generally’ about modern psychology?
Or did his insecurity shape his view? In fact his view of psychology in
the first semester had been far from a ‘general’ view, he had gone a
long way through the history of psychology, which could hardly be
found elsewhere.
And obviously it was also clear for him, as well for some persons of
his environment, that it could be a good thing to secure his position in
his approach to psychology at the ETH more definitely and distinctly.
In the early summer of 1934 he offered a very generous donation
to the ETH; at the meeting of the School Council in July the ETH-
President Rohn presented the detailed deed of the donation: Out of
the amount which came ‘from several sides, mainly from Mr. Harold F.
Mc Cormick’, he donates to the ETH an asset of 200 000 SFR (today
about 2 million $) as ‘Funds to support analytical psychology and
related areas’ (psychology funds).
The interests of the funds should be used for that mission, to
contribute to the establishment of a lectureship or by the appoint-
ment of free lecturers for general psychology, with the condition ‘that
the character of the psychology should be defined by the principle of
universality, i.e., it should not be presented as a special theory or a
special discipline; psychology should rather be taught in its biological,
ethnic, medical, philosophical, cultural historical and religious aspects’.
The mission should be ‘to free the doctrine of the human soul from the
oppression of the discipline and to give the student who is oppressed
by his specialized study outlines and summaries for an orientation
538 Angela Graf-Nold
in areas of the life which their specialized studies don’t give’ (trans.
The minister for Internal Affairs (Bundesrat Etter) who was present
at that meeting of the School Council, especially, had some legal
objections to some points of the donation contract, which the Swiss
government had to sign. But this was cleared at the next meeting, and
the contract was signed in September 1934. So Jung had established
for the ETH as for himself the mission and the scope of the ‘general
psychology’ which he would like to present and to stand for.
Three months later, in December, the School Council had another
agenda item concerning Jung: the president of the conference of the
general department proposed to grant Jung the title of professor
in respect of his great scientific achievements and the fact ‘that he
contributed by his lectureship not for higher reputation for himself but
for the ETH, in adding his name to the staff of the ETH. His achieve-
ments were discussed controversially, of course – as is always the way
with great scientists. None of the pioneers of modern psychology
would meet in such remarkable measure the personal prerequisites
of a comprehensive scientific culture as Dr. Jung.
There were no objections from the colleagues so the request was
forwarded to the Swiss parliament for approval. And on January 26th,
1935 Jung received a letter from the ETH-President Rohn stating that
they were overjoyed (Es gereicht uns zum Vergnügen’) that the Swiss
parliament had decided to grant him the title of Professor.1
Obviously also Jung himself was overjoyed, and it appears that the
title of Professor encouraged him immensely to identify professionally
with ‘analytical psychology’ as a psychology which should provide
orientation in all aspects of science, life and culture.
In any case in the following lectures Jung appeared much more
lively, spontaneous and related to real life. How he maintained and
managed this course until summer 1941, and how actual and seminal
his approach is still today, hopefully the forthcoming edition of these
lectures will show.
The citations from the unpublished texts of Jung’s lectures are by
courtesy of the Foundation of the Works of C.G. Jung.
1 Protocol of the Meeting, Dec. 22, 1934, ETH Schulrats-Archive.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.