Daimon Publishers

Jung, My Mother and I
Jane Reid

Review in the Journal of Analytical Psychology

Jung studies have taken rather longer to blossom than one might have expected, but we seem now to be in a period of increasingly serious scholarly inquiries. At a time when the dominant ideology in psychotherapy, at least in Noth America, seems increasingly devoted to devising new forms of technologies, especially of a psychopharmacological nature, it is welcome to be reminded of all the characteristics that various earlier schools of thought shared in an era marked by a more humanistic concern with the fate of the human spirit.

The beauty of Jung, My Mother and I is that it contains a first-hand account in the form of diaries written by someone who was in treatment with Jung over a period of almost thirty years, marked by many interruptions. Catharine Rush Cabot had married the eldest son of Boston's famed Godfrey Lowell Cabot, but she preferred living in Europe (where she had spent most of her youth) to the States; widowed at an early age, Catharine managed on a relatively small inheritance to afford to continue a continental existence without undertaking any profession or career.

Catharine was in analysis with Jung and also with Toni Wolff, Emma Jung, as well as C.A.Meier. (Catharine took lessons with Marie-Louise von Franz and became a member of the Psychological Club in Zürich). It seems that Catharine kept notes during most of her clinical sessions, and subsequently wrote them out. Although she was by no means a great writer, the accounts of what her analysts said to her sound authentic to me. The central Jungian concepts get discussed in the course of the analyses so that one feels one has had a real encounter with Jung's special way of approaching life.

Catharine's daughter, Jane Cabot Reid, now a Jungian analyst in Zürich, has put together this book including her own family background material, as well as letters to her mother from Jung and others in that circle. The book also contains an interesting collection of photographs that get printed on the pages of the text itself. Jung, My Mother and I is a huge book, over 600 pages, requiring a lot of time to get through.

Yet, despite the trouble involved in studying such a long book, I think in the end that it does succeed in giving one a real feel for the world in which Jung lived. Jung, My Mother and I provides a fascinating glimpse of the circle around Jung in Zürich and Bollingen. Catharine was someone who came to analysis as a society lady who suffered from occasional panic attacks as well as claustrophobia; she also had depressions, and 'a permanent Cinderella complex'. In additions she had real life problems connected with her child and a few long-standing boyfriends. (In the end she did marry a genuine Italian Count.)

Readers with an interest in Freud will find relatively little about him here. Yet some of the identical characteristics that marked Freud and his followers were characteristics for Jung and his disciples too. In Catharine's case, Jung felt free to talk to her about Toni Wolff, about both her strengths as well as her deficiencies, and Jung would be chatty for example about the Americans Mary and Paul Mellon, as well as everybody who comes up in connection with the Psychological Club. Jung would even talk about dreams others of his patients had had. This was a remarkably close-knit group of people who inevitably knew a lot of intimate details about each other. (A reader looking for shocking indiscretions will however be, I think, disappointed.) By 1947, when the Institute in Zürich was founded, everything had got more professional, but by then Catharine was in relatively distant contact with Jung himself.

If there is rather less here than one might expect of inside news about Jung's relations with Freud, there is also nothing appalling about Jung's politics. He sounds down-to-earth about what had happened in Germany in the 1930s, and the reader will search in vain for anything bearing directly on what Jung did or did not do in associating himself with the early Nazi regime. No passages would support a case about Jung's flirtations with fascism. (During the period when the Swiss feared a German invasion Jung's name was on the Nazis' blacklist.) There are, however, some striking passages in which Jung makes some fascinating comments about different European nationalities; his remarks about America and its culture are rather more stereotypical for a gentleman of his era.

But it appears that like what had become the case among the Freudians, these patients of Jung's were also allowed to become rather appallingly self-involved. I was struck with coming across an anecdote told by Jung that I heard earlier from Helene Deutsch: 'The story of a toad who asked a centipede how he managed to know which foot to put first and where he put his feet? The centipede began to think and fell into a ditch!' The problem came up at various times, as among the Freudians, when analysis was allowed to become a surrogate for real life. Jung, My Mother and I can make for some hard slogging, precisely because Jane Cabot Reid is so extraordinarily conscientious in providing all the details connected with her family history. Although judicious editing could have cut out substantial portions of this large text, what we have however does give one a feeling of conviction in having understood some of the main personalities within Jung's world.

Paul Roazen
Cambridge, MA

From the Journal of Analytical Psychology, Oct. 2002 Nr. 47


Daimon Publishers

Email: info@daimon.ch