THE Swiss psychiatrist, Karl Gustav Jung, who switched his name to Carl Jung grew up in troubled times when the Swiss Protestants were fighting against the Catholics. As a child, Jung, the son of a Protestant pastor engaged in a bitter struggle with the Catholics in Switzerland, recalled his trauma at seeing members of a famous religious order (whose name we charitably omit) and later on wrote: “They looked like women wearing long black robes!”
This background made him rather quarrelsome, explaining partly his lost friendship later in life with Sigmund Freud when Jung thought that Freud favored Jung’s rival psychiatrist, Ludwig Binswanger.
The intellectual conflict was not only in Freud’s psychoanalysis and emphasis on libido as opposed to Jung’s analytical psychology, but also in religion which Jung identified as an archetype, together with motherhood, fatherhood, heroism and idealism, of the collective unconscious. Jung’s idea caused his rift with the Church. Like many Protestants, he dismissed the figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary as an instance of the maternal archetype. Christianity, for Jung, is a myth similar to some pagan myths where a virgin gives birth to a “hero.”
Benedict XVI, in his book, Jesus of Nazareth, defended Catholic beliefs and, in particular, Christ’s reality and factuality. Myths, Benedict XVI asserts, have no historical grounding, whereas the figure of Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, is based on specific times and persons (during the reign of Emperor Tiberius, and the governorship of Pontius Pilate) and places, namely Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem.
During their heated debate at Princeton University, an agitated Freud collapsed on the stage. Jung, his former friend turned rival, gently picked up and seated Freud on a comfortable chair.
When Jung passed away in 1961, despite his faults, God must have forgiven him for his kindness to a literally fallen foe.