The Question of Psychological Types – book review

Beebe, J. & Falzeder (Eds.) The Question of Psychological Types London & Oxford, Princeton University Press, 2013. Pp. 184. Hb

This book is a record of the the correspondence between Jung and Hans Schmid-Guisan written between June 1915 and December 1916, some five years before the publications of Jung’s Psychological Types. Schmid-Guisan had met Jung at a psychiatric conference in Lausanne while the former was an assistant physician at the Manhaim Clinic in Cery. Schmid-Guisan went to study analytical psychology with Jung in Zurich and was also his analysand. Gradually their relationship broadened into a friendship and the problems that both men encountered in their practises would often bring them together for discussion. As Jung wrote of Schmid-Guisan in his obituary,


At the time we were especially interested in the question of the relativity of psychological judgements, or, in other words, the influence of temperament on the formation of psychological concepts. As it turned out, he developed instinctively an attitude type which was the direct opposite of my own. This difference led to a long and lively correspondence , thanks to which I was able to clear up a number of fundamental questions. The results are set forth in my book on types. (p.169)


This ‘lively correspondence’, then, it what is set out for the reader in this new publication and translation. The problem is set out in the first letter by Jung, a problem which he encountered both in the difficulties of his daily analytical work and in his experience with other people in his personal relationships. In their previous discussions Jung and Schmid-Guisan had identified the problem as the existence of two diametrically opposed types. In speaking of their earlier face-to-face discussions Jung says,


“For one thing we saw very clearly: the problem is not so much the intellectual difficulty of formulating the differences between the types in a logical way, but rather the acceptance of a viewpoint that is diametrically opposed to our own and which essentially forces the problem of the existence of two kinds of truth upon us. Thus we arrived at a critical point of the greatest order, because we had to ask ourselves, in all seriousness, whether the existence of two kinds of truth is conceivable at all.” (p.39-40)


The two kinds of truth Jung refers to are introversion and extraversion and the correspondence between the two men cast them in their natural positions as introvert (Jung) and extravert (Schmid-Guisan) to which the two men adhere throughout the entire correspondence. At this early stage of Jung’s working out of psychological types extraversion is equated with feeling (‘feeling-into’ the object) and introversion with thinking and these terms as they are used here are rather experimental, having not acquired the fully worked out technical meanings that were assigned to them in Psychological Types. Nevertheless, Jung’s psychic model at this time did include for the opposite type and function being present in the unconscious in an inferior and less developed form, and this is evident and consciously recognised in both men’s exchanges leading to exasperating and quite emotionally charged disagreements in counterpoint to their more attentive and patient agreed roles in their conscious standpoints.


By the ninth letter exchange Jung has had enough, although Schmid-Guisan continues with a further three more letters. This last letter from Jung’s pen, entitled the ‘The Last One’ sums up the experience for Jung in no uncertain terms.


Your last letter strengthens my conviction that reaching an agreement on the fundamental principles is impossible, because the point seems precisely that we do not agree. To this end the (unconscious) uses every means, and be it ever so hair-raisingly stupid. (p.131)


It was perhaps because of this ‘hair-raising stupidity’ that Michael Fordham, one of the editors of Jung’s Collected Works, found the letters ‘”unreadable” and “very dull and not particularly illuminating” and, noting that Jung thought the letters were essentially preparation, was “against their inclusion anywhere” (p. 5) , either in Volume Six of the Collected Works as an appendix, or as a projected stand alone volume.


I am inclined to agree with Fordham here, although I would not go as far as to say that the letters are unreadable, although they are indeed quite dull, and exceedingly repetitive as each man goes over and over their own misunderstandings and how the other man has misunderstood them. They are nevertheless very confusing for someone used to mature Jung since the theoretical premises of two fixed functions, thinking and feeling which are in turn are seen as inseparably paired to introversion and extraversion respectively, leave a lot of ground uncovered. Similarly there is no mention of intuition and sensation as independent functions as we know them today, although Jung does allude fleetingly to these missing functions in his ninth and final letter.


The extensive and scholarly introduction by John Beebe and Ernst Falzeder goes a long to way fill in the blanks in this historical evolution of Jung’s thought, caught as it is in the space of six months. They include both a pre-history of Jung’s thinking on types pre these letters and an ‘aftermath’ charting the way content from the letters found their way into various publications before the publication of Jung’s fully worked out theory in 1921. Beebe’s commentary on the letters helps clarify some of the points the reader may miss, not least the somewhat murky references to Schmid-Guisan’s analysis with Jung. The book is well referenced with many helpful notes and includes Jung’s own summary of the first three letters as an appendix, and also his obituary of Schmid-Guisan.


The overall impression one receives from these letters is of a failed experiment which ends somewhat acrimoniously, with a lot of mutual frustration along the way, although the two men continued their friendship until Schmid-Guisan’s untimely death. This publication would be of interest to those readers seriously interested in the history and formation of Jung’s ideas, but for those of us who are still struggling with his mature ideas, the standard texts will suffice.



C.G. Jung Dreams Ancient and Modern, Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford, 2014

This latest publication from the Philemon Foundation is a record of parts of the seminars Jung gave on children’s dreams and the historical literature on dream interpretation from 1936-1941 at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. The Children’s Dreams seminars were interspersed with material from wide ranging historical sources on the nature and meaning of dreams as an overview to how dreams were understood in different epochs. As in the Children’s Dreams material, each topic is a prepared presentation by a seminar member. I shall give a (very) brief summary of the flavour of each in turn.

The fist paper delivered in chapter one is on the Neoplatonist Macrobius who lived in Rome around AD 400. The paper summarises Macrobius’s commentary on Cicero’s Somnium Scipionis, a lost work which only survives in Macrobius’s commentary on the dreams of Cicero’s adopted grandson who live from 185 to 129 BC.

Macrobius presenting his work to his son Eustachius. From an 1100 copy of Macrobius' Dream of Scipio.
Macrobius presenting his work to his son Eustachius. From an 1100 copy of Macrobius’ Dream of Scipio.


Macrobius distinguishes and classifies five different types of dream. Two are discarded as uninteresting because they contain nothing divine. The worthy types of dream are oraculum (when an honourable figure gives advice as to action, or about future events), visio (looking into the future), and somnium (symbolic material that requires interpretation). This latter category is itself split into five subcategories. Essentially the paper highlights the similarities of the ancient mode of dream interpretation with Jung’s modern approach. Although the former mode of interpretation is less sophisticated, it is essential the same.

Chapter 2 focuses on a monograph of Monsieur Edmond Le Blant on Artemidorus’s Five Books on the Art of Dream Interpretation, of the 2nd century AD, which we learn was a primary source for the treatment of dreams and superstition in antiquity. We are transported by the paper into a time when the content of dreams were of primary of Gods, the circus and theatre, danger and death and other motifs of pivotal importance in the lives of Artemidoris’s contemporaries (he was said to have worked on around 3000 dreams). This cultural history is amplified in the hundreds of little motifs encountered in everyday life that appear in dreams, such as proverbs, customs, quoted verses, details of cults, etc. much the same as our modern dream life is also populated in the main by motifs and objects from our everyday existence. Much of the paper is devoted to the Gods and their appearance in dreams as the most important factor, carry varying forms a specialised interpretations, good and bad omens. Again the association method is used to interpret dreams, excepting that for Artemidorus the use of personal associations was unthinkable as the ‘personal problem’ was not in the ascendant at that time., although the personal concrete circumstance of the dreamer were taken into account in the interpretation. Jung sums up this attitude in one of his rare comments on the proceedings at this stage of the seminars:

“For ancient man the Gods had a completely direct influence. Fate, morality, and thinking depended upon them. There was no room, therefore, for personal psychology. This mentality prevailed until the 17th or 18th Centuries.” (p.19)


Chapter 3 deals with the Treatise on Dream Visions by Synesius of Cyrene who lived circa AD 370-AD 415. He concentrates on the prophetic nature of dreams, the dream’s relation to what will come to pass in reality. This prophesy possible because of the underlying unity in the cosmos where everything is interconnected and bears a close relation to everything else. Whoever understands this has wisdom.

Synesius of Cyrene

In chapter 4 we jump more than a thousand years to the thinking of the 16th century professor and physician Caspar Peucer.Peucer draws on ancient dream theory, Macrobius in particular. He distinguishes dreams with two different causes; procatarctic causes are the physical, material causes of dreams which originate from sense impressions of the outer world. Prohegomenic causes are those immaterial causes not affected by the senses and their general direction is towards the future. In Peucer’s cosmology of dreams, in addition to these causes, there are two different types of dreams. Phantasmata are those dreams produced by material causes and hence do not have a metaphysical background in themselves. Visions and dream oracles which originate in God, demons and Satan are the second type. The ‘natural’ dreams are those sent by God whereas ‘incubation’ dreams are sent by Satan and their most likely function is to deceive. Peucer, after Macrobius, also has a classification of dreams into five categories depending on the dream object to be interpreted. The treatise under discussion is mostly devoted to somnia physica, physical dreams, and Peucer describes the anatomy of the brain/dream convergence at length.

We are now firmly in the territory of Enlightenment rationality. Chapter 5 is devoted to M. L’Abbe Richard’s Theorie des songes and his intention is one of “destroying the ancient belief in the preternatural and prophetic characteristics of dreams, and explaining them in terms of rational causes.” (p.45) Richard’s cosmology of dreams is embedded firmly in the physiology of Descartes, having their source in the sense impressions which filter through the body into the esprits animiaux, subtle blood corpuscles that are secreted through the blood and absorbed into the nervous system. Although this is a physiological dream theory, there is a place for soul, since “imagination is the place where the soul forms images.” (p.46) and the strength of the impressions that the esprits animaux receive depend on the vivifying effect of the soul..


Chapter 6 deals with Franz Splittgerber’s Schlaf und Tod from the latter half of the 19th Century. He classifies dreams into meaningful and meaningless varieties. The meaningful dreams represent the workings of the “eternally waking spirit” from the deep within the psyche, whereas the meaningless dreams contain only remnants of the day. He comes close to Jung’s formulation of the collective unconscious as he remarks that the symbolic form that images take in dreams can have the same characteristic in many different peoples from all over the world with constantly recurring motifs. Ethically he believes that dreams can improve the dreamer as they often characterise the dreamer in less favourable terms than the dreamer would expect. Which of course  Jung’s principle of compensation.

Franz Splittgerber








Chapter 7 deals with the biologist Yves Delage’s La Reve, wriiten in 1891 and published in 1920. In the main his approach to dreams is physiological. For Delage there are 3 methods of dream research, which he calls objective, experimental and introspective and he categorises dreams into 10 different forms of content. He is very much of the spirit of his time in his rational explanations of dream life.

Yves Delage


Chapter 8 is a discussion of Schlaf und Traum by Paul W. Radestock from the 1870’s and represents the height of scientific materialism in that all psychological processes are traced back to organic causes. He writes that there is “a continuous relation between physical and psychic changes” (p.72) and he draws on consciousness to explain the unconscious. However, there is here already the anticipatory idea of the dream function as compensatory and also that typical dream ideas can be found everywhere in ethnopsychology.


Chapter 9 is a discussion of the ideas around dreams coming out of German Romanticism via The Dream in German Romanticism by Philipp Lersche. There is a discussion of collective psychic life as contrasted to the collective unconscious and a discussion of the romantic attitude of intoxication towards mythology and folktales.


Chapter 10 is a discussion of The Dream in Primitive Culture by Jackson Stewart Lincoln, whom Jung new personally. He rejects Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious, believing that the dreams in primitives share the same mythological ideas as our dreams because of tradition and the similarity of social conditions, rather than because of something innate in the psyche, as Jung does. He also takes Freud’s view that the dream is a wish fulfilment and he deduces cultural processes – religion, ethic, the arts – to the Oedipus Complex.




Chapter 11 is a discussion of The Soul of the White Ant, by Eugene Marais, which is a digression from dreams to a comparison of the life of termites and it’s relation to subjects of concern for analytical psychology. Analogies are drawn, for example, between the social structure of humans and termites; between termite communities and the sympathetic nervous system; the seeming androgeny of the queen termite is compared to deities seen historically always portrayed hermaphroditically, and ultimately the comparison is between the queen and the Self, as the centre.




Chapter 12 is a discussion of the visions of St. Perpetua, which is of course given by Marie-Louise von Franz, which shows the psychic transition from antiquity to Christianity. Von Franz’s famous paper is not included but the discussion between Jung, von Franz and the participants really adds a new slant to the published version of the book available as part of von Franz’s oeuvre.



Chapter 13 is a discussion of the dreams of the Renaissance scholar Girolamo Cardano and is by far the weightiest portion of the book covering almost 100 pages, over one 3rd of the book., and it is where Jung really moves into his element as seminar leader and university professor, coaxing his students into ever deeper explorations of the texts. Cardano’s dreams are extraordinary. The 15 dreams discussed cover a period of 23 years and yet Jung weaves them into a narrative as if they were a single cycle. And indeed it is a single series to Jung:


“This process – it seems (with some reservations) to be a genuine series – is what we can also find today in a dream series, in which motifs appear but disappear again, so that one gets the impression of a circular process that proceeds on its own, unless it gets interrupted a some point by the intrusion of consciousness.” (p.195)


Ultimately this is a failed process for Cardano as his entrenched one-sided views spell the end for the fundamental change that is trying to break through into consciousness but does not, and so Cardano “really went to the dogs” (p.194) This failure is due to Cardano’s inadequate interpretations of his own dreams and his tendency to treat the unconscious as if it were merely material for his own conscious thoughts, despite his belief in the prophetic nature of his own dreams. In this Cardano shows that he is a man of his time, the time of the reformation and the decline of the Christian myth, or the beginning of the “great hubris” of consciousness, as Jung aptly names it. In discussing Cardano, we are treated to vintage Jung at his very best, and he covers an enormous range of subjects in the process, which makes this chapter very useful.

Girolamo Cardano


The last chapter deals with Three Dreams of Dr. John Hubbard published in 1916. The three dreams are quite astounding in their scale and intricacy. Jung discusses these dreams from the collective point of view, not the personal, and thus finds in them a parity with modern events, or modern events that are to come, particularly the idea of social contrasts which cause an inner conflict in the individual.


The introduction by John Peck is very dense, a piece of work in its own right, which pays dividends to read again when you have read the seminar material. Peck draws out what he believes Jung leaves largely unstated and compares his approach to today’s emergence theory in physics, biology and psychology (which he does not explain), although the drift of it is that to understand the fabric in which dreams are embedded there needs to be less of a concentration on myth, complex and dreams being somewhat interchangeable terms but rather that “inner and outer lives alike, radiate from psychoid comings-into-being.”(p. XIII)


As regards the format of the book I do have a question: why weren’t the whole of the EFT seminars published in their chronological form, rather than being split up into the Children’s Dreams portion and the current volume under discussion? The answer that comes to mind is that publishing them in this way makes them more marketable to non-specialists.


I did very much enjoy reading this book, and I wondered what the next 2000 years of dream-as-cultural-history will bring. An intriguing thought. I was struck by how remarkably human Jung appears in these seminars. Of course he is brilliant, sage-like and erudite as one would expect, but he also has something of the ordinary professor about him, a man who has a job to do and one that he takes pride in.G

Copyright Leslie Laine 2015