Open Letter on the Question of Jung’s Writings & Theories About ‘Africans’

The following letter which was co-signed by five AJA members was published in the British Journal of Psychotherapy 34, 4 (2018)

OPEN LETTER FROM A GROUP OF JUNGIANS ON THE QUESTION OF JUNG’S WRITINGS ON AND THEORIES ABOUT ‘AFRICANS’

Dear Editor,

Thirty years ago, the British Journal of Psychotherapy published a paper by Dr Farhad Dalal entitled ‘Jung: A racist’ (Dalal, 1988). Regrettably, no adequate acknowledgement or apology for what Jung wrote, and Dalal critiqued, has been forthcoming from the field of analytical psychology and Jungian analysis. (To contextualize what follows, the Abstract to Dalal’s paper has been placed in an Appendix to this letter.)

We write now as a group of individuals – Jungian analysts, clinicians, and academics utilizing concepts from analytical psychology – to end the silence. We felt further encouraged to write to the BJP in particular because of the Journal’s strapline making clear its interest in ‘Jungian practice today’.

Via detailed scholarship, Dalal sets out what Jung wrote about persons of African and South Asian Indian heritage, as well as other populations of colour, and Indigenous peoples. Before and since the paper, Jung’s views have caused considerable disquiet and often anger within the communities concerned. There has also been disquiet and anger about Jung’s views in clinical, academic and cultural circles generally. Analytical psychologists and other Jungians have known about the implications of Jung’s ideas for decades; there are signatories to this Letter who have campaigned for recognition of the problems. But there has been a failure to address them responsibly, seriously and in public.

We share the concern that Jung’s colonial and racist ideas – sometimes explicit and sometimes implied – have led to inner harm (for example, internalized inferiority and self-abnegation) and outer harm (such as interpersonal and social consequences) for the groups, communities and individuals mentioned in the previous paragraph. Moreover, in the opinion of the signatories to this letter, these ideas have also led to aspects of de facto institutional and structural racism being present in Jungian organizations.

The intellectual and cultural environment of late nineteenth and early twentieth century psychology promoted many colonial and racist attitudes. Jung’s largely uncritical embrace of these attitudes led him to conclude that he was justified in constructing a hierarchy in which people of African heritage were alleged to ‘lack a layer’ of ‘mind’ that white Europeans possessed, and thus were ‘primitive’ in their emotional and psychological functioning. In addition, he also failed to listen to warnings from within his circle that his views were problematic.

We doubt that any contemporary clinicians and academics in the Jungian and post-Jungian community would endorse these ideas now, but the absence of an open distancing from Jung on these questions has allowed for some implicit biases in Jung’s work to remain perpetuated: unexamined and unchallenged. For example, the use of skin colour as symbolic of both ‘race’ and certain psychological traits. Failure to acknowledge and apologize for these offensive attitudes, and their potential harm and confusion, is also not in keeping with the spirit and ethos of people who, like us, currently participate in Jungian and post-Jungian communities that support and value diversity, gender equality, social justice, political activism, and respect for differences in populations, cultures, religions, and sexual orientations. Some of the publications in these areas are listed at the end of the Letter.

We want, moreover, to recruit more students, clinicians and scholars of colour to study, train, conduct research, and contribute to analytical psychology, developing and actualizing a more refined attitude towards human differences than the one we have inherited, or may now have.

And so, our statements here are not so much to chastise Jung as to take responsibility ourselves for the harm that has ensued in these 30 years in which little has been done to rectify Jung’s errors.

We deeply regret our role in having taken so long to issue a statement like this. We realize that it has been extremely difficult for persons of African descent, and other populations that have been similarly maligned, to contemplate entering either Jungian training and treatment, or becoming a Jungian analyst. While it is true that people of colour are underrepresented in the psychotherapies generally, the social data suggest that, where comparisons can and have been made, the problem is even more marked within the Jungian clinical communities.

In light of this, we call on all involved in analytical psychology, including ourselves, to accept and insist on new obligations: to accept responsibility for correcting and changing theories that harm people of colour, to apologize for actual harm and discrimination, and to find new ways to keep analytical psychology engaged with communities and colleagues of colour. We call on all involved in Jungian training, treatment and scholarship, to increase attention in their programmes to in-depth study of clinical, social and cultural matters that relate to bias, prejudice, diversity, and transcultural or intercultural perspectives and knowledge.

We recognize that, collectively, to reach these goals will require engagement in dialogue, reflection, and change within our Jungian communities. We hope our colleagues, throughout the Jungian world recognize and welcome our good intentions. We also seek conversations with individuals and institutions who are prepared to assist us in our efforts to make the changes that are now necessary.

DEIRDRE BAIR PhD. Independent scholar and writer. Author of Jung: A Biography (Gradiva Award for biography 2004). USA
JOHN BEEBE MD. C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. USA
FANNY BREWSTER PhD, MFA. Philadelphia Association of Jungian Analysts. Professor of Clinical Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute. USA
ROGER BROOKE PhD, ABPP. Professor of Psychology, Duquesne University. Affiliate Member, Inter-Regional Society for Jungian Analysts. Executive Committee International Association for Jungian Studies. USA/South Africa
STEFANO CARTA PhD. Associazione Italiana per lo Studio della Psicologia Analitica. Professor of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, University of Cagliari. Italy
MOIRA DUCKWORTH BA, BEd. Association of Jungian Analysts. UK
BETTY S. FLOWERS PhD. Professor Emeritus, University of Texas at Austin. USA
HEATHER FORMAINI PhD. Australian and New Zealand Society of Jungian Analysts. Italy/Australia
LYNN ALICIA FRANCO, MA, MSW, LCSW. C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. USA/Colombia
CHRISTINE HEJINIAN PhD. C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. USA
BIRGIT HEUER PhD. British Jungian Analytic Association. UK
GOTTFRIED M. HEUER PhD. Association of Jungian Analysts. International Association for Otto Gross Studies. Independent Scholar. UK
BARBARA HOLIFIELD MSW, MFT. C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. Adjunct Professor, California Institute of Integral Studies. USA
ANTONIO KARIM LANFRANCHI MD. Analytical Psychologist. Italy/Egypt
SAM KIMBLES PhD. C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. USA
MONICA LUCI PhD. Associazione Italiana di Psicologia Analitica. Italy
BEGUM MAITRA MBBS, DPM, MD (Psychiatry), MRCPsych. Retired Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. Association of Jungian Analysts. UK/India
JON MILLS PsyD, PhD, CPsych, ABPP. Professor of Psychology and Psychoanalysis, Adler Graduate Professional School, Toronto. Executive Committee International Association for Jungian Studies. Canada
HELEN MORGAN. British Jungian Analytic Association. UK
GORDON MURRAY MFT. C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. USA
KONOYU NAKAMURA PhD. Professor, Otemon Gakuin University. Executive Committee, International Association of Jungian Studies. Japan
EVA PATTIS PhD. Centro Italiano di Psicologica Analitica. Italy
DENISE G. RAMOS PhD. Brazilian Society for Analytical Psychology (SBrAP). Vice-President for Americas of the International Society of Sandplay Therapy. Full Professor at the Post Graduation Program in Clinical Psychology at Pontificia Universidade Católica de São Paulo. Brazil
SUSAN ROWLAND PhD. Professor of Jung and the Humanities, Pacifica Graduate Institute. USA/UK
ANDREW SAMUELS. Society of Analytical Psychology. Professor of Analytical Psychology, University of Essex. Past Chair, UK Council for Psychotherapy. UK
SULAGNA SENGUPTA MA. Former member, India Jung Centre. International Association for Jungian Studies. Author of Jung in India. India
THOMAS SINGER MD. C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. USA
KHENU SINGH MD. C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. Staff Psychiatrist, Adult Forensic Behavioral Health, Alameda County at Santa Rita Jail. USA
ANNA M. SPIELVOGEL MD, PhD. C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of San Francisco. USA
MARTIN STONE BSc. Association of Jungian Analysts. UK
TRISTAN TROUDART MD. Israel Institute for Jungian Psychology. Israel
ALAN G. VAUGHAN, PhD, JD. C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. Core Psychology Faculty, College of Social Sciences, Saybrook University. Association of Black Psychologists. USA
RUTH WILLIAMS MA. Association of Jungian Analysts. UK
POLLY YOUNG-EISENDRATH PhD. Jungian Psychoanalytic Association. Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Vermont. Past President Vermont Association for Psychoanalytic Studies, USA
LUIGI ZOJA PhD. Centro Italiano di Psicologica Analitica. Italy

APPENDIX: ABSTRACT OF DALAL (1988)

Dalal, F. (1988) Jung: A racist. British Journal of Psychotherapy 4(3): 263–79.
The paper examines Jung’s perception of the non-European. It is argued that his perception of black people is racist and that these same views permeate the entire fabric of Jung’s psychological theory. Further, that these views are woven into the theoretical foundations of two major Jungian concepts: the Collective Unconscious and Individuation. Finally, the paper examines the consequences of these theories as perceived by Jung, in terms of the possibilities or otherwise of people of different races living together.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF WORKS CONSULTED IN PREPARING THE OPEN LETTER

Adams, M.V. (1996) The Multicultural Imagination: ‘Race’, Color and the Unconscious. New York: Routledge.

Adams, M.V. (2010) The Sable Venus on the Middle Passage: Images of the transatlantic slave trade. In: Heuer, G. (ed.), Sacral Revolutions, Reflecting on the Work of Andrew Samuels: Cutting Edges in Psychoanalysis and Jungian Analysis, pp. 13–21. London and New York: Routledge.

Bennett, P. (ed.) (2010) Montreal 2010. Facing Multiplicity: Psyche, Nature, Culture. Proceedings of the XVIIIth Congress of the International Association for Analytical Psychology, pp. 51–67. Einsiedeln: Daimon.

Boechat, W. & Pantoja Boechat, P. (2009) Race, racism and inter-racialism in Brazil: Clinical and cultural perspectives. In: Bennet, P. (ed.), Cape Town 2007: Journeys, Encounters: Clinical, Communal, Cultural, pp. 100–14. Einsiedeln: Daimon.

Brewster, F. (2011) The Dreams of African American Women: A Heuristic Study of DreamImagery. Ann Arbor, MI: Pro Quest UMI Dissertation Publishing.

Brewster, F. (2013) Wheel of fire: The African American dreamer and cultural consciousness. Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche 7(1): 70–87.

Brewster, F. (2016) African Americans and Jungian Psychology: Leaving the Shadows. London and New York: Routledge.

Dalal, F. (2002) Race, Colour and the Process of Racialization: New Perspectives from Group Analysis, Psychoanalysis and Sociology. London and New York: Routledge.

Gaillard, C. (1997) Les voyages de Jung en Afrique et leurs effets sur sa conception de la psychologie analytique. In: Dahoui, H. (ed.), Ombres et Lumiéres. Le rêve tunisien de Carl Gustav Jung. Hammanet: Centre Culturel International.

Gaillard, C. (2000) Otherness in the present. Harvest: Journal for Jungian Studies 46(2).

Hillman, J. (1986) Notes on white supremacy: Essaying an archetypal account of historical events. Spring 46: 29–56.

Heyer, G. (2016) Race religion and a cat in the clinical hour. Journal of Analytical Psychology 61(4): 434–49.

Kaplinsky, C. & Singer, T. (2010) The cultural complex. In: Stein, M. (ed.), Jungian Psychoanalysis: Working in the Spirit of Carl Jung. London and New York: Routledge.

Kimbles, S.L. (2009) ‘Panacea and poison’, presentation within panel on ‘Poisons and panaceas in analytical training’. In: Mattoon, M.A. (ed.), Florence 98: Destruction and Creation – Personal and Cultural Transformation: Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Congress for Analytical Psychology, pp. 440–5. Einsiedeln: Daimon.

Kimbles, S.L. (2014) Phantom Narratives: The Unseen Contributions of Culture to Psyche. London: Rowman & Littlefield.

Morgan, H. (2002) Exploring racism. Journal of Analytical Psychology 47(4): 567–81.

Morgan, H. (2008) Issues of ‘race’ in psychoanalytic psychotherapy: Whose problem is it anyway? British Journal of Psychotherapy 24(1): 34–49.

Morgan, H. (2014) Between fear and blindness: The white therapist and the black patient. In: Lowe, F. (ed.), Thinking Space. Promoting Thinking About Race, Culture and Diversity in Psychotherapy and Beyond, pp. 56–74. Tavistock Clinic Series. London: Karnac. Originally published in Journal of the British Association of Psychotherapists 34(3): 34–61, 1998.

Morgan, H. & Berg, A. (2003) ‘Exploring racism’, Cambridge 2001. Proceedings of The Fifteenth International Congress for Analytical Psychology, pp. 417–32. Einsiedeln: Daimon.

Ortiz Hill, M. (1997) C.G. Jung – in the heart of darkness. Spring 61.

Papadopoulos, R. (1991) Letter in Newsletter of the International Association for Analytical Psychology.

Ramos, D. (2012) Cultural complex and the elaboration of trauma from slavery. In: Bennett, P. (ed.) (2010), Montreal 2010. Facing Multiplicity: Psyche, Nature, Culture. Proceedings of the XVIIIth Congress of the International Association for Analytical Psychology, pp. 51–67. Einsiedeln: Daimon.

Samuels, A. (1993) The Political Psyche. London and New York: Routledge.

Samuels, A. (2014) Political and clinical developments in analytical psychology, 1972–2014: Subjectivity, equality and diversity – inside and outside the consulting room. Journal of Analytical Psychology 59(5): 641–60.

Samuels, A. (2018) Jung and ‘Africans’: A critical and contemporary review of some of the issues. International Journal of Jungian Studies 10(4): 23–34.

Sengupta, S. (2013) Jung in India. New Orleans: Spring Journal Books.

Singer, T. (2010) Playing the race card: A cultural complex in action. In: Heuer, G. (ed.), Sacral Revolutions: Reflecting on the Work of Andrew Samuels – Cutting Edges in Psychoanalysis and Jungian Analysis, pp. 252–60. London and New York: Routledge.

Singer, T. (2016) Snapshots of the Obamacare cultural complex. In: Kiehl, E., Saban, M. & Samuels, A. (eds), Analysis and Activism: Social and Political Contributions of Jungian Psychology, pp. 147–56. London and New York: Routledge.

Singh, K. (2017) Can we have a conversation? Against totalization and toward a dialogical hermeneutics. Jung Journal 11(2): 20–34.

Vaughan, A.G. (2018) A conversation between Like Minded Colleagues and Friends: Alan Vaughan and Andrew Samuels. Questing for New Jungian Paradigms on Ethnicity, Racism, and Culture within the Individuation of Analytical Psychology. Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche 12(2): 118–37.

Young-Eisendrath, P. (1987) The absence of black Americans as Jungian analysts. Quadrant 20(2): 40–53.

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