The Impact of Jung on Switzerland

Celebrating Jung’s Life in Zurich on the 50th Anniversay of his Death

by Murray Stein, Ph.D. (ISAPZurich)

Murray Stein (ISAPZurich)The impact of Jung’s life and work on Switzerland is in some respects without doubt the greatest among all the nations in the world. Presently there are nearly 300 Jungian analysts working psychotherapeutically and otherwise active in this small country, which has a population of only some 8 million people, a population smaller than that of many cities of the world. There are three active Jungian training programs in Switzerland today, and at least a half dozen foundations dedicated to promoting the work of Jung. Imagine the numbers if similar proportions prevailed in large countries: Brazil (9,000 analysts), The United States (10,000 analysts), India (40,000 analysts), China (50,000 analysts)!

Moreover, Jung is generally recognized as the most famous Swiss physician since Paracelsus, the most famous Swiss psychiatrist of all time, and arguably stands tall among the ten most famous Swiss citizens in history, suprassed only and perhaps only marginally by William Tell.

And yet, despite all of this, Jung is oddly invisible in his own country today. There are no public statues of him in Zurich or elsewhere in Switzerland, no streets or public plazas are named after him, no airports, no hospitals. Nothing! The station-master at the train station in Kusnacht is known often to have scratched his head when asked where the house of C.G. Jung was located and was once heard wondering aloud: “Who was this man anyway? A famous artist or a writer?” He didn’t know his own townsman.

This is a paradox. Maybe an international movement should be founded to put pressure on Swiss officials to recognize their most illustrious son in a more public way. On the other hand, Jung might not appreciate such recognition and object from beyond the grave.

The 50th anniversary of his death was publically celebrated on June 6, 2011 at the Kunsthaus in Zurich. Most of the Jungian organizations in Switzerland joined together to organize and sponsor this special occasion, along with other organizations and institutions from abroad such as the IAAP, Pacifica Graduate Institute and the Philemon Foundation. The theme of the Memorial Day was forward-looking: “C.G. Jung’s Works in the 21st Century.” During the afternoon, professional lectures were delivered by Jungian analysts Prof. Verena Kast (“What Would be Missing in Psychotherapy Without Jung?”) and Prof. Alan Guggenbuehl (“C.G. Jung, or the Risk of Thinking Psychology”). Both speakers focused on the continuing relevance of Jungian perspectives for psychotherapy in the 21st Century. Also, the recently published book, The Jung-Kirsch Letters, was launched with talks by James Kirsch’s son and former IAAP President, Dr. Thomas Kirsch, and the book’s editor, Dr. Ann Lammers. In the evening, Dr. Joe Cambray, President of the IAAP, brought greetings from the international Jungian community and shared reflections concerning the convergence of Jung’s work and themes in contemporary science. The mayor of Zurich, Ms. Corrine Mauch, gave an address honoring Jung (“C.G. Jung’s Meaning for the City of Zurich”) in which she revealed the humorous behind-the-scenes discussions in the Zurich city council in 1932 when Jung received the first ever literary prize given by the city. Prof. Daniel Hell, most recently the chief psychiatrist at the Burgholzli Klinik where Jung was in residence from 1900 to 1908, gave the evening’s keynote address (“Individualism or Individuation? C.G. Jung and Contemporary Psychotherapy”) in which he discussed the lasting value of Jung’s emphasis on individuation and wholeness for psychotherapy. An audience of some 300 people attended the ceremonies. The day concluded with a showing of the filmed interview hosted by John Freeman, “Face to Face,” which was introduced by the President of The Psychological Club, Dr. Andreas Schweizer.

In Switzerland, as elsewhere today, Jungian analysts are pressed to prove their value as effective psychotherapists. Insurance companies and government agencies ask for efficient and scientifically validated treatment plans, quick results, and low costs. Longterm analysis aimed at individuation is not considered an urgent need from a public policy perspective. Many trained Jungian analysts are forced to work in non-analytic modes and settings in order to make a decent living. This situation is no different here in Switzerland than it is other parts of the world. However, the spirit of Jung is still alive and well in this place. The genius loci here in Switzerland somehow seems to continue supporting the work of individuation. People who come to study at ISAP in Zurich, for instance, feel inspired and find a welcome home here for their souls, for its own timing and pace, and for depth in their psychological explorations. The spirit that Jung’s life and work embodied and gave expression to continues to inspire the work of individuation. It is for this that we give thanks every day as we go about our analytic endeavors. We are so grateful that the spirit that enlivened and animated Jung continues to live among us.

Murray Stein, Ph.D., President ISAPZurich
June 21, 2011