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Emma Rauschenbach, a very wealthy Swiss heiress, was only 17 when Carl Jung, a far from well-off doctor of the insane from a peasant background, first proposed to her. Emma's father was suffering hideously from the syphilis which would eventually kill him, and her mother, ashamed of this dark family secret, encouraged her in the match. Their truly labyrinthine marriage lasted 52 years and weathered Carl's many affairs as well as a 30-year menage-a-trois with the overbearing Toni Wolff who was required by Jung as his 'anima' and suffered by Emma for his sake. Emma bore five children and then retired to another bedroom dreading yet another 'little blessing'; pursued her own research on The Holy Grail in particular; maintained her friendship with Sigmund Freud after he and Jung fell out, and eventually became a highly respected psychoanalyst in her own right. That's some achievement!
Carl Jung was not the easiest of men, apart from his need for other women and his habit of going off on long travels on his own leaving Emma alone with her new-borns. Jung was two personalities. There was the kind, tender Carl whom Emma had grown to love, and there was 'personality number 2' who was rude, neurotic and callous. Personality 1 could tell delightful funny stories to his children; personality 2 could flip in a moment into a destructive and hurtful rage. In truth, Jung was no less disturbed than his patients, but this enabled him to pursue the psychoanalysis.
The strength of Catrine Clay's book is that she explores Emma and Carl as individual private people as well as the main tenets of Jung's theories on the interpretation of dreams, the subconscious and the animus and so on - all those elements which formed the bed rock of the new science of psychoanalysis. The whole is full of detail written with admirable clarity and apparent simplicity. The relationship between the two in all its complexities is fascinating, and Jung's despair at her death deeply moving.
The narrator has a very pleasant voice and the depths of Emma's feelings are conveyed with sensitivity. I gave her 4 instead of 5 only because when she quotes from letters or lectures of men, she adopts a 'male' voice which can sound merely like a woman trying to sound like a man. It would be better not to try!
This is a fascinating study and makes a very interesting companion to Jung's 'Memories, Dreams and Reflections' which I reviewed in June of this year.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
A great book that is abundant in information about the great relationships going on in the Jungian world at this time.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
So, out the outset let me say that I strongly recomend this book; with some reseverations.
My opinion is that, in line with "Jungian" theory, what has been written is simply based on interpretation of the reflections of others, so, in reality it is third hand. What is also interesting is that nothing much has changed since the days of Emma and Carl. The collective has bell curve of "normalcy" and what is acceptable human behaviour. What is not really brought out is that Emma and Carl were actually containers for each others shadows projections. They were opposites in their superior functions. Once Emma died, Carl would have had to come to know and perhaps "make conscious" the "Emma" in his psyche, and I suspect that this would also apply with the death of Toni Wolff.
I must confess too that, as dream work and CG's writings have been incredibly important to me, life saving in fact, that I resisted this "humanising" of the deity of Jung. But I feel that this book has perhaps "grounded" the characters at the center of the most important psychological development in recent history.
For those who are suffering and found no help from what passes for "therapy" nowadays ... mostly, in the mainstream, (the Freudians have "won" at great cost to the anima mundi), the work by these early pioneers of the soul is an invaluable guide to wholeness. Jung is still spoken of disparagingly as "a mystic" but as Carl himself said, "My work will be carried on by those who are in pain" ... one can only begin to imagine the pain the Emma, Toni and CG went through this extraordinary opus. CG said that it was crises that brought about psychological change and awakening. Yep!
What appeals to me is that Jung himself was a living example of living ALL aspects of his soul. He seemed to be exactly who he was at any given time, like it or lump it. Neuroses arise when we repress some part that we have been shamed for expressing ... He was able to do this because of his "encounter with the unconscious" after his split with Freud. He stopped trying to get other's approval for his psychology (which of course was his very self).
Emma and Carl are presented as walking advertisements for "Jungian" psychology and individuation I don't feel the author did Toni Wolff justice in this regard. The idea of Carl and Emma being these kind of "shiny, individuated numinosum" (this is how I read the description of them not long before Emma's death) is simply a judgement based on what an "individuated" person looks like, acts like, etc. ... It is an archetypal projection of "wise old woman/old man" is it not? Ah well, what an amazing thing fate is. It seems that it is Toni's fate to be judged poorly. Laurens Van der Post is one of the few authors who acknowledges her huge contribution to Jung's work, not to mention his sanity, it would seem.
I apologise for the wordiness and somewhat disorganised thoughts of this review. I have been affected deeply by the story ... I struggled with the opulence of the Jung's lifestyle ... made me think that analysis is only for the rich, even though I know that this isn't the case. ... is it? The author doesn't suggest anywhere that Jung or Emma worked with any folks other than rich and successful ones, in fact it suggests that Jung shamelessly chased after rich clients. (My socialism is showing here, I know!). Mm, I feel I could almost write a book analysing the author of this book.
But enough of this rambling of ideas. Fate/psyche brought Emma and Carl together and I am grateful. I would not be here today but for "their" psychology and it really is a joint effort on their part, with a MAJOR contribution by Toni Wolff.
I thoroughly recommend it.
P.S. Has the author done Jungian analysis? I guess I will be told to mind my own business and rightly so!
One can imagine Emma quoting "The Life of Brian" re her hubby. "He's not the messiah! He's just a very naughty boy!"
1 of 1 people found this review helpful