Friday, October 28, 2011

C. G. Jung and the Nazis: notes on two specific allegations

1. Preliminaries
This blog post addresses two of the most commonly encountered accusations that have been made against Carl Jung:

(a) That Jung collaborated with the Nazis in his role as the President of the International Medical Society for Psychotherapy.

(b) That Jung's psychological theories are closely related to, and even helped to give rise to, Nazi ideas about "race" and "nation".

I am particularly interested in the way in which these two accusations are combined to form a key component of the essentialist canard against Jung that he (and his philosophy) had a natural attraction to the Nazis and vice versa. This mode of attacking Jung was also discussed by me recently in the previous post titled Carl Jung and the Cowardly Blood Sport of Nazi Baiting.

Before going any further, though, let's look at two high profile examples of specific instances in which these allegations are made, just to make it clear that what follows is not an exercise in precision bayonet practice.

First up is Richard Wolin who begins the second chapter of his The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism (that chapter has the very subtle title of "Prometheus Unhinged: C. G. Jung and the Temptations of Aryan Religion") like this:
For many years in the aftermath of World War II, Jung's doctrines had trouble catching on. Jung's willingness to assume a position of leadership among Nazi psychologists--shortly after the war there was even talk among Allies about prosecuting him as a war criminal--constituted an irremediable taint, as did his numerous public declarations in favor of German and Italian fascism. The approval Jung bestowed upon the Nazis confirmed the suspicions of many concerning the peculiarities of his 'analytical psychology'. Since his demonstrative break with Freud in 1914, Jung's approach increasingly flirted with the theosophical doctrines that had nourished the Nazi Weltanshauung in its early stages. Whereas Freud had always proudly asserted his Enlightenment patrimony, Jung's voluminous theoretical writings denounced the failings of Western civilization in a proto-Spenglerian idiom."
[p. 64]
Compared to the above extravagant litany of anathemas posthumously pronounced upon Carl Jung's head, the following denunciation, found in Goggin and Goggin's Death of a Jewish Science (comprising the second example), is a veritable monument to concision:
"The Göring Institute [explained further below] did not need to develop a separate theory of psychotherapy for Germany. Jung's own theory provided an almost perfect match for National Socialism."
[p. 76]
Many more examples can be given, some of which are found in the previous post in this blog on Carl Jung and the Cowardly Blood Sport of Nazi-Baiting.

A key aspect of both of these accusations is that they are presented in a way that singles out Jung among European intellectuals, and especially among leading thinkers in the interrelated and overlapping fields comprising the psychological sciences (psychoanalysis, psychiatry, psychotherapy, and psychology itself). To be more precise, the charge is that a natural affinity exists between Jung's thinking and National Socialism, and that this is a unique and fundamental characteristic of Jung's thought. Or, put another way: (1) this supposed affinity between Jung and Nazism is something unique to Jung and not shared by other schools of psychological thought at the time, and (2) this supposed affinity is an essential quality of Jung's own school of psychological thought.

2. Guilt By Association: The General Medical Society for Psychotherapy, the Berlin Institute for Psychoanalysis, and the Göring Institute
It is often claimed that in 1933, after the Nazis had come to power, Carl Jung was chosen to replace Ernst Kretschmer as president of the General Medical Society for Psychotherapy, and that this was done because of Jung's supposedly greater sympathy for National Socialism. This claim is wrong on two counts.

In the first place, Kretschmer was not replaced by Jung, but rather by Matthias Göring. Göring was a Nazi party member (although he had only recently joined) who had been trained in psychoanalysis by Leonhard Seif, who was part of the psychoanalytic school of Alfred Adler (who, as a matter of fact, was a Jewish Marxist). Simultaneously with the change in presidents from Kretschmer to Göring, the organization's name was changed to the German General Medical Society for Psychotherapy. It should be emphasized that the Society, which had been in existence for over six years by then, had always been primarily a German organization. Its founding members were all German citizens, and each of its six Congresses (going back to 1925) had been held in German cities. There was a direct continuity between the old "General" Society and the new "German General" one.

Carl Jung became the president of the newly formed International General Medical Society for Psychotherapy, which was distinguished from the "German" Society by, among other things, allowing Jews, who were now excluded from the "German" Society, as members (because German Jews had by that time been stripped of their German citizenship). The International Society also made of point of holding meetings outside of Germany, and of having non-Germans as officers.

In the second place, far from being some kind of principled and stalwart opponent of National Socialism who needed to be gotten out of the way, Ernst Kretschmer was a signatory to the November, 1933 Bekenntnis der Professoren an den deutschen Universitäten und Hochschulen zu Adolf Hitler und dem nationalsozialistischen Staat ("Vow of allegiance of the professors of the German universities and high-schools of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist State"). Kretschmer continued to work as a psychiatrist in Nazi Germany throughout the war without any sign of conflict with the National Socialist State, to which he had pledged his allegiance. At best, Kretschmer, like other "good Germans", cooperated with the Nazis simply in order to survive. Whether or not he went further than that is not clear from the historical record. There are accusations that (like many others in his profession) Kretschmer cooperated with Nazi eugenics policies (that is, in mass sterilizations and mass killings). It is also claimed that he authored a paper in 1934 advocating the sterilization of Schwachsinniger ("mental defectives"), and that he served in the so-called "Hereditary Health Courts" which enforced "racial hygiene" policies, and even that he may have been in the SS.

What then, if anything, are we to make of the fact that Jung became president of the newly minted International General Medical Society for Psychotherapy in 1933? Often one is given the impression that this by itself was tantamount to being a Nazi collaborator. But what about the Vice President of the Society, Hugh Crichton-Miller? Crichton-Miller was a British psychiatrist who had applied Freudian theories to the treatment of "shell-shocked" soldiers during and after WWI. He founded Tavistock Clinic in London in 1920, where to this day a large statue of Sigmund Freud sits in front of the main clinic building. There has never been any suggestion that Crichton-Miller had Nazi sympathies, despite his role in the Society during the same time that Jung was president.

And then there is the case of John Rittmeister, who left Switzerland in 1937 and moved to Berlin to work directly under the Nazi Matthias Göring. Rittmeister took the high profile job of head of the outpatient clinic of the Berlin Psychiatric Institute (which by then was subsumed under the "Deutsches Institut für psychologische Forschung und Psychotherapie e.v.", more commonly referred to simply as the Göring Institute). While working for Göring, Rittmeister underwent training analysis with the Freudian Werner Kemper (under whom Göring's wife was also undergoing analysis). Being a known Marxist didn't prevent Rittmeister from holding an important position at the Göring Institute and giving public lectures in Berlin. But when it was discovered in 1942 that he was also a member of the "Red Orchestra", an underground resistance group working with the Soviet Union, he was executed.

Rittmeister and Crichton-Miller should always be kept in mind as counter-examples to the lazy and facile guilt-by-association argument that is often employed (very selectively) against Carl Jung because of his serving as an officer in the International General Medical Society for Psychotherapy.

This seems like a good place to bring up the fact that Rittmeister wasn't the only one working secretly for the Allies. A certain Carl Gustav Jung was recruited by the OSS (the forerunner of the CIA) in 1942, and he worked directly with Allen Dulles, who would later be the first head of the CIA. Jung's cooperation with the OSS against the Nazis is discussed in at least three separate books about Allen Dulles: Allen Dulles by James Srodes (1999), Gentleman spy by Peter Grose (1996), and From Hitler’s doorstep by Neal Petersen (1998). The subject is also gone over in Dierdre Bair's biography of Jung, and in the autobiography of Mary Bancroft (The Autobiography of a Spy), who was simultaneously Dulles' lover and Jung's patient at the time (and she was responsible for introducing Dulles to Jung in the first place).

There were actual Nazis in the General Medical Society for Psychotherapy, including the most famous Nazi psychotherapist of them all, Matthias Göring (whose cousin was the famous Field Marshall). Göring worked closely with a number of prominent Freudians throughout this period, including Werner Kemper, with whom Göring's wife, Erna, underwent psychoanalysis, and Carl Müller-Braunschweig, who trained Göring's son Ernst in analysis. Müller-Braunschweig, along with fellow Freudian Felix Boehm, headed the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute during the same period that Jung was president of the International General Medical Society for Psychotherapy.

Felix Boehm and Carl Muller-Braunschweig (both Freudians) cooperated fully in the Aryanization and Nazification of the BPI, and Boehm even managed to receive, at least in part, the blessings of Freud himself for some of this. See, for example, Felix Boehm's entry in the online International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis:

In addition both Leonhard Seif, under whom Göring trained in psychoanalysis, and also Fritz Künkel, are frequently referred to as Nazis, but it is not clear that this is justified. Göring, Seif, and Künkel were all Adlerians. In fact, very few of the prominent psychotherapists, psychiatrists and psychologists in Germany who can definitely be linked with National Socialism were Jungians.

Also see Göring's entry (by Geoffrey Cocks) in the online International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis:

[Some day I will put some more references in this section, but good old google will lead you to the same sources I found!]

3. National Socialist Psychology: Erich Jaensch, u.s.w.
The field of psychology itself (as opposed to psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, and/or psychiatry) also underwent Nazification. Erich Jaensch is universally recognized as the most important German psychologist to explicitly and enthusiastically embrace National Socialism. In fact Jaensch himself claimed (retroactively) that his work going back to the 20s had always had the aim of developing a psychological theory based on National Socialism, and Nazi racial ideas in particular. Jaensch was appointed Editor of the Zeitschrift für Psychologie in 1933, and in that year he delivered a major paper on psychological types at the October Congress of German Psychologial Association, in which Jaensch contrasted the superiority of the German psychological type with that of "the enemy" (the "counter-type"). It is important to note that Jaensch's psychological theories had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Jung. In fact, Jaensch's mentor as a young up-and-coming academic had been Hermann Cohen, who, according to his entry in the biography at the Jewish Virtual Library, was "probably the most important Jewish philosopher of the nineteenth century." Also see Hermann Cohen's entry in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Others who presented major papers at that meeting included Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss, who gave a talk on "The Germanic Soul", and Karl Wilhelm von Isenburg, who delivered an address on "Racial Purity". The meeting was also addressed by Jaensch as mentioned above. [see especially A History of Modern Experimental Psychology: From James and Wundt to Cognitive Science by George Mandler, p. 128; and The Professionalization of Psychology in Nazi Germany by Ulfried Geuter and Richard Holmes, p. 171]

For more on Erich Jaensch, see: The Professionalization of Psychology in Nazi Germany By Ulfried Geuter, Richard Holmes, pp. xvii, 44-45, 62-66; Psychology in Twentieth-Century Thought and Society by Mitchell G. Ash, William R. Woodward, pp. 171-174; The Search for the Silver Lining: The American Academic Establishment and the "Aryanization" of German Scholarship by Karen J. Greenberg (link goes to the full article hosted online by the Simon Wiesenthal Center); and The Norton history of the human sciences by Roger Smith, p. 604.

4. Alfred Hoche, "Life Unworthy of Life", and Aktion T4
No one in the psychological sciences had a more profound impact on the Third Reich than Alfred Hoche. Hoche was a German psychiatrist who was a bitter critic of both Jung and Freud, whose psychoanalysis he attacked as a "new religious sect". Hoche's criticism came at a time when Jung and Freud were close allies. He delivered his famous speech condemning psychoanalysis as "A Psychic Epidemic Among Physicians" in Baden-Baden on May 8, 1910. A contemporary account of that speech reads, in part:
"Freud's followers, he [Hoche] said, did not belong to a 'School' in the scientific sense but a kind of sect, that does not bring forth verifiable facts but articles of faith. Psychoanalysis shows all the features of a sect: the fanatical conviction of being superior to others, its jargon, the sharp intolerance of and tendency to vilify those of another belief, its high veneration fo the Master, its tendency to proselytize, its readiness to accept the most monstrous improbabilities, and the fantastic overevaluation of what has already been accomplished and can be accomplished by adherents of the sect ... Hoche concluded that the Freudian movement was the 'return in a modernized form of a magical medicine, a kind of secret teaching ....'" [quoted in The Discovery of the Unconscious by Henri F. Ellenberber, p. 806]
Ten years after Hoche's "Psychic Epidemic" speech, he published Die Freigabe der Vernichtung lebensunwerten Lebens ("Allowing the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life"). 19 years after Hoche's book appeared, the Nazi government put Hoche's ideas into practice by way of a program called Aktion T4, in which at least 200,000 people were killed after being "judged incurably sick, by critical medical examination" (as per the edict issued by Adolf Hitler on September 1, 1939).

Hoche himself was not in any way directly involved with the actual T4 program, which was headed up by Philipp Bouhler, with much of the actual work delegated to Bouhler's deputy, Victor Brack. Neither Bouhler nor Brack appear to have had backgrounds in medicine or psychology. Bouhler was a career Nazi, having been in the party since 1920, whereas Brack became Bouhler's chauffeur sometime in the late 20s. No one has ever suggested that either men had any connection with Jung.

There were many formally trained psychiatrists involved with the T4 program, and the most important of these was Max de Crinis. He was not the most famous student of Theodor Meynert, Director of the Psychiatric Institute at the University of Vienna, for that honor goes to Sigmund Freud, but Max de Crinis is undoubtedly the most infamous of Meynert's students, for he went on to be the most fanatic Nazi in the psychiatric profession in Germany during the Third Reich. And de Crinis' fanaticism wasn't mere talk, for he played a central role in the T4 program of mass killings of those deemed "Unworthy of Life".

One could fill a small library with books that have been published about "Nazi Doctors". All of these books have three things in common: (1) they all point out the role of the psychiatrist Alfred Hoche in providing the ideological arguments justifying mass sterilization and mass killings directed against "Life Unworthy of Life", (2) they all emphasize the role of physicians and especially psychiatrists in implementing the Nazi programs of mass sterilization and mass killings, (3) none of them have anything whatsoever to say about the physician and psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung and his psychological theories, because he and his ideas had absolutely nothing to do with any of this.