RH: OK, imagine a sliding scale. At one end, you have William
James and Sigmund Freud. At the other end, you've got L. Ron
Hubbard and Jim Jones. Where do you want to put Jung?
RN: Well, I'd move Freud a little bit further away from James,
but yeah, Jung's is much closer to L. Ron Hubbard than he is to Freud
or James, no question about it, especially after 1916. Jung was a
famous research scientist at the age of 31, more famous than Freud
when the two of them met, and he just chucked all that for the idea
of the collective unconscious. He claimed that you can get racial
memories from your ancestors, and that you can enter into visionary
states and talk to your ancestors. You can't really look at his
psychology or his techniques without looking at occultism and
RH: Some of the stuff that comes up in this book is almost
perversely fascinating, like Jung's belief that he was the
manifestation of a lion-headed god.
RN: It's wild stuff. That's why I argue that, especially after his
break with Freud, Jung was basically setting up his own religious
movement. Analysis became an initiation into mysteries, teaching
people to speak to the dead and to the gods. And if you look at
Jungians today, what are they doing? It's a lot of the same stuff.
Many people, including Jungian analysts, are attracted to Jung's
thoughts because they want that spiritual big bang.
RH: The break with Freud is interesting in that you present
evidence that suggests Jung created the situation himself, seeing
Freud as a mentor on whom he had, in his own words, a 'religious
crush' he would have to disavow, and that Freud recognized what
Jung was doing and told him so.
RN: The relationship between Freud and Jung is one of the
great love stories of the 20th century. If you read their letters to one
another, there were times they were really obsessed with each other.
They would meet someplace, then they'd part, and one of them
would write, "Now when I walk the streets, everywhere I think I see
you." These guys were aware of the dynamics. They were Freud and
Jung, they'd better know what was going on, right? And we all know
that true love is an impossible fantasy. It's doomed to fail, and that's
what happened to them.
RH: One of the key components of Jung's cult is the notion of
RN: That probably attracted a lot of men to the cult in the
early days, but to put it in context, there was a lot of
experimentation going on in that culture at that time. It was a sexual
revolution in which Jung participated and he was able to rationalize
his participation by his belief that Judeo-Christian civilization,
particularly monotheism, was repressive. It harmed the soul. One
way to get back into the instinctual, creative self of our ancestors
was to practice polygamy like they did. You find echoes of this today
in modern evolutionary psychology, actually, this idea that for the
majority of humanity's existence, we didn't live in cities with social
codes and laws, but in small polygamous bands. The argument
continues, and Jung argued back then, that we're biologically primed
for polygamy and that civilization is unnatural.
RH: Did anybody reach the explicit conclusion that it was the
Aryan's responsibility to practice polygamy in order to procreate as
often as possible?
RN: A lot of literature of that sort exists, written in German --
which is why many Jungians argue against me; they don't know
German, they're not scholars, so they claim I'm simply making these
documents up. But the Aryan mystical literature talks explicitly
about this stuff. The National Socialist took an existing Aryan
spiritualist movement and adopted its symbols to their political
movement. And look at what the SS did during the Nazi period; they
were creating breeding farms where Aryan women were expected to
go and be impregnated by as many Aryan men as possible.
RH: I want to get back to the Nazis, but let's stick with polygamy
for a second. Obviously, it's a facet of Jung's teachings that attracted
men to the cult, but Jung was highly competitive and didn't like
having other men around that much. Meanwhile, he cultivated
intimate relationships with his female devotees.
RN: His most prominent 'patients' tended to be wealthy
Americans. He attracted a lot of women from that crowd who were
lonely, who were either unhappy in their marriages or had never
been married. They were often frustrated sexually, intellectually,
and emotionally. And Jung was a physically striking man who gave
off a lot of charismatic energy. He was 'sensitive' with them, in that
he knew how to speak spiritual language to them in such a way that
it was sexually seductive. That got a lot of women fixated on him.
RH: I loved the way you phrased your description of Jung's
relationship to anti-Semitism, saying that some of his statements
"weren't entirely inconsistent" with anti-Semitic rhetoric.
RN: It's not a black and white issue. All you can do is gather
evidence and see what picture emerges. The best I can do is
document his statements. And the definition of "anti-Semitism" isn't
the same for everybody. To some people, it applies to anybody who
expresses a bigoted opinion about Jews. OK, Jung's on record several
times. But for some people, you also have to act on those opinions.
The only evidence I can find that Jung did so is that for years he
kept Jews out of his inner circle, and when he finally did admit them
in the late 1920s, they were not observant. Also, in 1989, it was
revealed that a secret Jewish quota existed in his pyschological
society in Zurich. That certainly doesn't look good. And when Jews
were leaving Germany for England and other locations, Jung advised
his followers in England to keep up their "negative feelings" about
Jews and resist allowing Jews into their groups.
You could argue that he was simply psychologizing the situation and
warning his followers to beware of their 'shadow selves.' Jung would
psychologize everything, including political situations, and one of the
ways he viewed the rise of the Nazis is that "after the darkness
comes the light." He felt that things needed to be shaken up before
rebirth could occur. Well, that's great for some people, but not for
others. Apparently that never crossed his mind.
RH: Another thing that never crossed his mind is 'cryptomnesia,'
or 'hidden memories.' He never seems to have considered the
possibility that his visions of being a lion-headed Christ might have
something to do with the books he'd read.
RN: And I know what he was reading then. For nine years,
Jung built his career as an experimental psychologist on examining
the human memory. He proved to himself in experiment time and
again that we continually distort our memories, that we
unconsciously plagiarize at times. He showed repeatedly that people
could forget that they had been exposed to materials, then have
elements of those materials appear in their consciousness or dreams
and feel 'new.' It happens all the time, like when George Harrison
didn't realize that the melody to "My Sweet Lord" was the same as
"He's So Fine."
So Jung, who's read extensively in spiritualist and occultist texts,
documents this memory process at length, and then in December
1913 he has an experience in which he becomes a lion-headed god.
That was such a transformative experience for him that within
months he's developed a theory about cosmic and archetypal forces
that influence everyone. Then he surrounded himself with
patients who had been steeped in spiritualism, Theosophy, and other
forms of occultism. They're drawn to Jung because they know he's
into occultism as well. And when they have dreams with occultist
imagery in them, Jung thinks this is direct evidence of a collective
unconscious outside the realm of their personal experiences. He was
participating with these people in a shared delusion; it's such a
massive error in his logic.
RH: It's amazing to me how little Jungians know or are willing to
know about the origins of Jungian teachings, and how much of a
personal affront they consider it when people like you so much as
raise the issues.
RN: That's disturbing. I once thought that the whole Jungian,
psychoanalytic thing was about consciousness, you know, facing up to
stuff that might be disturbing. So when I bring stuff up, and Jungians
respond by ignoring it, refusing to read it, or claiming that it's
untrue, it's kind of sad to see that kind of irrational response, but it's
RH: And you're not even saying that polygamous occultism is
necessarily a bad thing.
RN: No, I'm not, but that's what they're hearing. I just want
them to accept that that's the foundation of their beliefs. I'm open to
all sorts of things as long as we're all clear about what those things
are. There is no scientific evidence to support the collective
unconscious, yet analysts with medical degrees claim to help their
patients to tap into it. As a society, do we want medical insurance to
cover that sort of thing? Where's the line between religion and
medicine? Sometimes I feel like the Ralph Nader of the Jungian
world, but I've seen so many people who have been harmed by this,
people who need to have their screws tightened rather than
loosened. And in Jungian circles, critical thinking is looked down
upon. It's devalued in favor of emotion or intuition. That bothers me,
as does the idea that myth and the emotional response to myth is
more important to historical facts. To Jung, it didn't matter whether
or not a story was true. What mattered was the effect on the listener,
how it makes him or her feel.
RH: We've seen that attitude gain in popularity in the last decade
or so, and I believe we can pin it down to a very specific moment:
Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers on PBS.
RN: You're absolutely right. That did more to promote Jungian
thought than anything during that period. Campbell was charismatic,
he was great on TV, and what he was spouting was pure Jung.
RH: And Moyers has run with that ball ever since. In 1996, it was
"Let's do a series about Genesis, and our need for origin
RN: I'd like to see somebody do a series on the need for
critical thinking and skepticism. Carl Sagan nailed it pretty well in
The Demon-Haunted World, and although he could be too smug
at times, he addressed the issues straight on and his 'baloney
detection kit,' a guide to critical thinking, is something I'm going to
use in my classes when these issues come up. People forget that it's
okay to think, to analyze situations, and they need to be reminded