- Paperback: 136 pages
- Publisher: Routledge (March 11, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415186145
- ISBN-13: 978-0415186148
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,521,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cult Fictions: C. G. Jung and the Founding of Analytical Psychology
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"[Shamdasani] deploys his unrivaled mastery of Jungian sources....A tour de force of research."
-"Religious Studies Review
About the Author
Sonu Shamdasani is an historian of psychology, and currently a research fellow at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London. He is the editor of several books, including Jung's seminar The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga.
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Sonu Shamdasani's "Cult Fictions" is an attempt to defend Jung against the charges. The author is a historian of psychology and pro-Jungian scholar. His book is rather short, only about 100 pages. Shamdasani believes that Noll's voluminous works simply rehash old accusations of occultism and cultishness against Jung and that they wouldn't even be worth responding to, had it not been for Noll's claim to have unearthed evidence for the cult claims. The smoking gun evidence is a previously misidentified text which Noll believes was Jung's inaugural address at the founding of his cult, otherwise known as the Psychological Club in Zürich. The year was 1916.
Shamdasani argues, rather persuasively, that the club wasn't a secret cult, that the secret speech was written by Maria Moltzer, and that it's dated later than 1916. I admit I was surprised by the ease by which Shamdasani exposes this document - when I read "The Jung Cult" I rather stupidly assumed that Richard Noll was The Man.
Still, there seems to be a reticence in Shamdasani's work to admit that Jung, while not perhaps a cultist, was nevertheless an occultist. At one point, the author admits: "However, it is one thing to suggest that analytical psychology, as Jung conceived it, contained important esoteric dimensions. It is another to identify correctly what these were". Well, what are they, then? Shamdasani is at pains to paint Jung as a Christian, rejecting Noll's idea that Christianity was simply a cover for Jung's paganism. Well, many Gnostics have also claimed to be Christians, yet the "esoteric dimensions of their work" were similar to "paganism". There is no contradiction between *claiming* to be a Christian and having a message very different from the one espoused by main-line Christian churches. The author actually quotes a statement by Jung in which he positions himself at the "extreme left" of the Protestant spectrum. Thus, Jung sometimes indicated that his Christianity wasn't of the regular sort.
The author also claims that the tradition of French psychology was more important to Jung than the völkisch context. But surely there was more to it than that? Shamdasani doesn't deny that Jung analyzed the Gnostic-Theosophical tradition. The similarities make it difficult to believe that he was completely uninfluenced by this particular stream...
I've skimmed another work by this author, "Jung and the making of modern psychology". Apart from various French psychologists, Jung is said to have been influenced by Schelling, Schopenhauer, Hartmann and Bergson. Nothing dramatic? Perhaps Shamdasani has the same problem as Jung himself, being torn between a religious-spiritual perspective and an empirical-scientific perspective, somehow not knowing how to unite them.
But Sonu, what's so wacky about being a neo-pagan sun-worshipper anyway? ;-)
1) For a scholarly `historian of thought', and Noll insists on being a scholar, it is certainly odd that he omitts in his own work the one work of a prior scholar who was certainly one of the first to show Jung in a critical light. I refer to Paul J. Stern, C.G. Jung: The Haunted Prophet, George Braziller:New York, 1976. Such unkind and unscholarly practice may be due to Noll's own unchartered career in a science which must be new to him. For if one checks Noll's amazing 'scholarly' development and publishing record, he has morphed himself from an erstwhile clinical psychologist into an unpedigreed `historian of science'. During this process, unfortunately, he seems never to have heard of a science of hermeneutics nor the epistemological uncertainty. The result is not more `Verstehen' but mere caricature of historical figures and movements.
2) Let's look at some details: To show with what broad brush Noll paints: In his Aryan Christ, page 71, he says in reference to Otto Gross: "To Jung he (Otto Gross) was so much more, but neither Jung nor his followers have acknowledged his importance. As he (Jung) revised his published works over the course of his life, Jung carefully removed references to colleagues, who fell prey to scandal or suicide. Otto Gross was certainly one of them. Nevertheless, Jung's cataclysmic encounter with Gross is a critical episode in the secret history of his life." Now, isn't it strange that when taking in hand the General Index to Jungs Collected Works, looking up Gross, Otto, there are entries to Otto Gross and his works in Jung's Collected Works, volumes 2, 3, 4, 6, some two dozens page references in all. Yet, Noll would like his readers to believe that Jung banned Otto Gross from his scholarly works. It is simply not true. What smoke screens is Noll trying out here?
In the above reference, Noll mentions Jung's colleagues `who fell prey...to suicide'. Obviously, this remarks refers to J. Honegger, an early associate of Jung's, while at the Burghoelzli mental hospital in Zuerich. Now, it is true, that in the Collected Works, Jung took out the reference to Honegger when he rewrote his seminal work 'Symbols of Transformation' in 1950. Rewriting a book is any author's prerogative, and Jung has, in a lengthy foreword to the rewritten work, stated clearly why he felt he had to rewrite that work. On the other hand, the original German "Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido" was republished in 1991, (in its exact 1911/1912 text), and of course, there, the two references to Honegger are in place, just as they were in the original text. Again, here, it is clear that Noll is guilty of cryptomnesia, or plain lying, or whatever one wants to call his ingeniously devious method. The critical reader is taken aback noticing how Noll charges Jung with just the kind of obfuscation that Noll himself is practicing on nearly every page. There are several other dubious scholarly things Noll does, but let this suffice for the time being.
3) Coming back to Jung and Noll's interest in him, Noll has certainly moved from Paul back to Saul. Between 1992 and 1994, Noll had no problem publishing his informative and gushing adulations as well as his renegade und puerile views of Jung in mainstream Jungian journals, notably the Journal of Analytical Psychology (JAP) and SPRING (A Journal of Archetype and Culture). But at that time, Noll's methodical madness had not truly come into the open. Now, after two books by Noll on Jung it is patently clear: To anyone having even an inkling of the scholarship on Jung and Freud as well as the scholarship on literary and artistic developments in Germany, Austria and Switzerland at the turn of the century, Noll is practicing a method last known to have been practiced by Senator McCarthy during the anti-communist Witch Hunt in the USA. Noll's misuse of the term 'volkish' and 'aryan' in reference to Jung - geared specifically to an American audience - is blatantly racist in its own terms - but it will sell books.
Sonu Shamdasani outlines in a point-by-point account his particular answers to Noll as regards his imagined existance of 'cults' and 'secret lives', none of which ever existed when viewed in the clear light of reason while practicing a responsible 'history of science'. Sonu Shamdasani is to be congratulated for his excellent scholarship into Jung and the early years of analytical psycholgoy. We can only hope for others to continue.
I recommend Ellenberger's "Discovery of the Unconscious" and Stevens' "Intelligent Person's Guide to Psychotherapy". Stevens refers to this book and puts an end to the anti-Jung myth properly, while Ellenberger shows how Freud stole most of his ideas from other people and unscruplously ruined the lives of many patients and colleagues, while forming a Freudian cult circle, while Jung not only was far more modest than he needed to be (attributing to Freud and to many pre-20th Century thinkers like Nietzsche and so on far more credit than they even deserved), but also was immensely more original and brilliant.