Birth of the Divided Subject: Ego / Self
Few events have greater significance in the psychological life of a child than the acquisition of language. Between six and eighteen months the infant develops the capacity for psychic representation and the ability to separate from and recognize its own image as other. For example, the infant who has previously shown no sign of recognition when looking in a mirror suddenly begins to smile in seeing its reflected image. This event, perfectly normal in the life of an infant, signals the development of the capacity to recognize its own self-representation. The process of looking at and recognizing its own image as other, differentiates the psychic image of the child from its physical body. Prior to the mirror stage, the child lacks the capacity to distinguish the subjective from the objective, the representational from the biological. Desire and its object are indistinguishable. For example, if there is hunger, it is not the child's hunger for the infant is incapable of conceiving a "self" separate from its desire. But during the mirror stage, this unity of experience is split and the child develops the capacity to differentiate the psychic image from biological experience. The differentiation between the biological infant and the psychic image with which the infant identifies is only the anticipation of a far more profound differentiation of the psyche that will occur during language acquisition. The later process of acquiring language replaces the psychic image of the body with a linguistic image, the first person pronoun. The visual image is replaced by an acoustic image, e.g. "I" in English. With the acquisition of language comes an ontological rupture between word and body, between description and event. During the mirror stage the human subject becomes possible when neurological development allows the infant to distinguish objects, and the human subject becomes actual when the child develops the capacity for representation.
The development of the capacity to identify with a self-representation is the action upon which all subjectivity is based; it is the moment human reflexivity is born. The infant's discovery of and identification with its ‘own image’ differentiates the personality into unconscious and conscious, experience and image, literal and metaphorical. Viewing its own image as other results in the realization that the self-representation actually ‘belongs’ to the same child viewing and experiencing the psychic image as other. Octavio Paz describes the subject's experience of otherness this way:
"Otherness" is above all the simultaneous perception that we are others without ceasing to be what we are and that, without ceasing to be where we are, our true being is in another place." (Paz, 1975, p. 245)
As the infant views
its own image as other,
this very act of viewing simultaneously brings into being the
subjectivity of the infant doing the viewing.
Self-reflection is the visual experience of the psychic image and
the ‘real’ separated only by the amount of time it takes the
reflected light to return to the child's eye.
The act of reflection mixes up the two
heterogenous subjects, the image and the real, “I” and other,
the fictional and the autobiographical
in a single event. This infinitely fast oscillation between the image
and the ‘real’ constitutes the birth of the divided subject
(representational self / experiential self; ego / self) and its inherent
extraordinary economy of such a simple event, a child observing its own
reflection in the other, perfectly normal in its drama and staging,
spontaneously deconstructs the oppositional logic that lies in the
Western categorical distinction between the psychic image and
The ‘first act’ of
self-reflection produces the very drama it re-views. It is the play and
the re-play, the action and the re-action, the cognition and the
re-cognition in an infinitely fast oscillation contained within a single
event. The child's dramatic performance of the
mirror stage consists simply in producing it's self. It
is a reflection that creates the self of self-reflection by creating the
drama in the very act of re-viewing it.
The mirror stage is a paradigmatic metaphor for the birth of self-reflexive consciousness and the mutual dependence between the image and the real. There can be no reflection without the real child and there can be no consciousness of the real child without the child imago. The real and the imaginal are co-terminus: each co-implicates the other. The realization that human subjectivity is constructed through the reflexive creation of representations, leads to the awareness that we are in language and creating metaphors of ourselves, as well as of our understanding of ourselves, all the time. The human subject is something constructed through metaphorizing in every dimension of our psychic existence and does not come into being without the participation of an elaborate linguistic environment. Without the capacity for the self to represent itself, either as an image or as a word, and thereby look back at itself from another perspective, the construction of personality and its characteristic capacity for representation and self-reflection would be impossible.
Phonetic Image: A Presence Made of an Absence
The infant’s acquisition of language results in three significant effects. In the first place, by acquiring the ability to name an experience the child is able to symbolize by replacing lived experience with a text. Through the process of symbolic representation the child gains consciousness of and distance from the immediacy of an event. This phenomenon is made possible by the paradoxical status of a word, a presence made of an absence. Language allows us to evoke various experiences of an object or event in its very absence. This process establishes a realm of representations which mediates experience. Not only does this textual realm mediate the object world, but it also mediates self experiences by establishing a self-representation in language, the first person pronoun "I". Without this capacity for self-representation and self-consciousness a person could not re-cognize their own ego-imago in a lived dream and symbolize it in a dream text. The capacity for the ego to see “itself”, its representation, at a distance is the result of the originary alienation taking place during the mirror stage.
This originary alienation between biological infant and representation leads to a second consequence of language: the creation of an inner sense of Otherness. Through the capacity to re-present itself in a separate order of being, the personality is differentiated into an experiential self and a textual self. The textual self is a by-product of the capacity for symbolic representation. By assimilating and being assimilated by language, the speaker increasingly identifies with the textual self, the first person pronoun "I", which is only a representative, a stand-in, in the realm of language for the more primary self of experience which is excluded from the realm of representation.
This exclusion of the experiential self from the realm of representation, leads to a third effect of language acquisition -- the appearance of an unconscious order of experience. While mediation is necessary for consciousness and self-consciousness, the price paid for textual mediation is the creation of a certain unbridgeable distance between text and original lived experience. The realm of unmediated experience is the realm of the unconscious.
The significance of the infant’s entrance into a collectively determined linguistic matrix lies in the fact that it is a system of symbolic representations organized in advance of any individual ego. As the child learns the collectively assigned meanings in the linguistic matrix he becomes a meaningful entity within the psychological matrix of societal relations. Through the process of developing the capacity for representation, first on the level of psychic images and later on the level of language proper, a self becomes divided from itself and in the process acquires the capacity for self-reflection. A subject divided into a representational ego and experiential self is created and the infant acquires the capacity to speak to the world through a network of collectively determined symbols.
Burghölzli Psycholinguistic Research
Jung's interest in language and its relation to psychopathology and the formation of fantasies can be traced back to his early research with the word association experiment at the Burghölzli Klinik. At the beginning of the 20th century the Burghölzli Klinik was one of the major psychiatric centers in Europe. Eugene Bleuler, the medical director of the hospital, was a leading researcher in the field of psychotic disorders, coining the term schizophrenia. Under the supervision of Bleuler and in collaboration with Franz Riklin, Jung established a laboratory for experimental psychopathology and designed an experiment to investigate the connection between word association, disturbance of attention, dreams, and psychopathology. Through his experiments, Jung discovered that errors in association to particular stimulus words were of value in understanding the unconscious fantasies disturbing the patient. Through the word association experiments Jung was able to carefully document the way the symptom entered the patient’s conversation through disturbances in word association, memory and bodily function. At a precise moment in the process of word association, the subject might suddenly forget a word, erupt in intense affect, or experience changes in breathing, heart rate or in electro-galvanic skin resistance. These disturbances indicated that the stimulus word had activated some unknown psychic phenomenon that disturbed consciousness, word association and the body. Previous experiments in word association, especially by Kraepelin and Aschaffenburg in Heidelburg, had overlooked this disturbances. Jung and Riklin believed their word association experiments verified Freud's findings in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life and indicated the existence in the personality of unknown psychic factors, complexes, lying outside of consciousness and exerting significant influence on the formation of dreams, symptoms, and linguistic associations. The complex Jung describes as an autonomous group of associations connected by a common feeling-tone at the core of which is a psychic image.
Sound and Image in the Unconscious
Jung's research drew heavily on the results of earlier association experiments carried out by Kraepelin and Aschaffenburg. To test the effect of tiredness and muscular stimulation on associations, Aschaffenburg had earlier created a state of intense fatigue in his subjects and in the process administered a series of association tests. One quite remarkable phenomenon appeared in the subject's associations: with an increase in fatigue there was a marked decrease in the number of semantic associations with an increase in the phonetic variety. The more tired the subject became, the less his associations were influenced by the meaning of the stimulus word and the more the subject tended to associate words according to a similarity in sound. A semantic association to bloom, for example, would be flower, while a phonetic association to bloom would be bloomers or blood. Aschaffenburg had earlier theorized that the weakening of semantic associations with increased fatigue, and the greater tendency to sound associations, was the result of motor agitation and fatigue. In Zurich, however, Jung and Riklin's systematic research into the associations of normal subjects led to a different conclusion concerning the cause of phonetic associations. The Burghölzli research indicated that the tendency to shift the mode of association from semantic to phonetic consideration was not so much the result of being physically tired as a lack of attention. Jung writes:
When a longish series of associations, say two hundred is given to a subject, he will, without really being tired, soon find the process boring, and then he will not pay so much attention as at the beginning. For this reason we have separated the first hundred from the second in our classifications and have found that in all cases where the subject had become bored there is a clear decrease in the internal (semantic) associations and a proportionate increase in external sound associations. This observation made us think that the cause of sound associations is not so much muscular stimulation, which is absent in normal boredom, but a lack of attention. . . . Furthermore, we found an increase in the proportion of sound associations with subjects whose ability to concentrate had been weakened by a recent affect, [and] with psychotics. . . . It can therefore be said that the more the attention of the patient decreases, the more the external and sound associations increase. (Jung's italics)
The experiments with the word association test indicated that under normal conditions phonetic associations are inhibited. However, "with increasing distraction the reaction will be more and more influenced by sound, till finally only a sound will be associated" (my italics). In a further attempt to test Aschaffenburg's hypothesis that bodily fatigue and motor agitation causes the shift from semantic to phonetics associations, Jung administered a series of association experiments to a subject immediately upon awakening. In describing the experiment Jung writes:
This subject, after mental work at night, is very drowsy in the morning and it is difficult to arouse him fully. These reactions were carried out while he was in bed and had just partially awakened. He had been previously informed that the experiment was to come off. The two experiments were carried out on two different days, at an interval of about a week. . . . The clang (phonetic) reactions are extremely numerous, especially the rhymes. . . . In these experiments fatigue is quite excluded: it is only a question of a lowering of active attention, corresponding with the associative termination of the state of sleep. It is known that during sleep attention is completely obliterated. Were we to succeed in producing reactions in a sleeping person (not somnambulistic sleep) clang‑reactions would certainly be the exclusive results. (My italics)
Jung goes on to suggest that the "subconscious association
process takes place through similarities of image and sound" (Jung's italics).
In recognizing the significance of psychic images and sound associations
in the formation of dreams and unconscious fantasies, Jung provides us
with a remarkable insight into the relation between imagination and
phonetics: image and sound. The Burghölzli research with the word
association experiment resulted in two major contributions to
psycholinguistic theory: (1) a person's speech is dominated by
autonomous groups of feeling-toned associations at the core of which is
a psychic image, and (2) the unconscious process of association is
directed by phonetic consideration. Our psychic complexes structure not
only our dreams and symptoms but also our personal speech. The morning
process of writing down a dream involves the translation of a psychic
image into a verbal structure, a phonetic script. Through words our fantasies move from image to sound.
Can these findings pertaining to the speech habits of individuals be applied collectively to language as a whole? Does our language contain autonomous groups of associations connected phonetically and rooted in an archetypal image? To answer this question, let us turn to the role language plays in the formation of dreams.
In The Interpretation of Dreams Freud reports the following dream by a woman patient:
She was descending from a height over some strangely constructed palisades or fences. . . . She was holding a big branch in her hand; actually it was like a tree, covered with red blossoms, branching and spreading out. There was an idea of their being cherry blossoms; but they looked like double camellias. . . . When she got down, the lower blossoms were already a good deal faded. . . . A young man (a stranger) was standing in the garden; she went up to him to ask how branches of that kind could be transplanted into her own garden. He embraced her; whereupon she struggled and asked him what he was thinking of, whether he thought people could embrace her like that. He said it was allowed. (My italics)
The above dream is described by Freud as biographical and the red blossoms and faded flowers are interpreted as an allusion to sexual innocence and the fear of violation. Freud explains that the blossoming branch (cf. "des Mädchens Blüten,'' "the Maiden's Blossoms," in Goethe's poem "Der Mädchens Verrat") represents both sexual innocence and its contrary. The same dream which expresses her joy at having succeeded in passing through life maintaining her sexual innocence gives one glimpses at certain points (e. g., in the fading blossoms) of the contrary train of ideas — the fear of her awakening sexuality. The significance of the interpretation is in Freud's recognition of an unconscious association between violation and the red and faded flowers.
In 1914 Freud added a short section to chapter six of The Interpretation of Dreams entitled "The Question of Symbolism in Dreams of Normal Persons." There he analyzes the following dream fragment, which further illustrates the unconscious tendency to associate the loss of virginity with images of flowers. The dream was presented by a rather reserved woman who was engaged to be married but had indefinitely postponed the wedding ceremony.
I arrange the center of the table with flowers for a birthday.
Freud asked what flowers they had been, her reply was: "expensive
flowers; one has to pay for them. . . . Lilies of the valley, violets
and pinks or carnations."
The woman was then encouraged to give her associations to violets. Much to Freud's surprise the dreamer gave as her
association the word violate. "The
dream had made use of the great chance similarity between the words
'violet' and 'violate' . . . in order to express 'in the language of
flowers' the dreamer's thoughts on the violence of defloration. . . . A
pretty instance of the 'verbal bridges' crossed by the paths leading to
Freud recognizes, not only the dreamer's association of the fear
of violation with images of flowers, but also the tendency
of the unconscious to construct images according to phonetic
While Freud acknowledges the association of the meanings "violation" and "flowers" in the unconscious, he considers the similarity between the phonetic patterns violate and violet in language to be chance, i.e., arbitrary. Freud reiterated his view that the relation between sound‑associated words is arbitrary in Totem and Taboo, noting that children "are never ready to accept a similarity between two words as having no meaning; they consistently assume that if two things are called by similar‑sounding names this must imply the existence of some deep-lying point of agreement between them." Freud’s assumption that phonetic similarity between words carries no meaning and has no "deep‑lying point of agreement" other than to function as a "switch‑word" or "nodal point" will be called into question as our analysis of the relation between psychic images and phonetic patterns progresses.
The Role of Phonetics in Dream Formation
The Burghölzli research with the word association experiments demonstrated the essential process played by phonetics in the creation of symptoms and dreams. The role of phonetics in dream formation is particularly striking in the following dream of a female student reported by Theodore Thass‑Thienemann:
She went with her boyfriend to the junior prom. The boyfriend brought her a carnation. She was very pleased and in high spirits. She wore a beautiful white evening dress. They entered the ballroom exuberantly. They went in together. They attracted everyone's attention but to her great embarrassment she first perceived some blood dripping from her carnation. The flowers were bleeding. She left the ballroom in great embarrassment. She awoke with palpitations. (My italics)
In the dream the woman's penetration anxiety and self‑conscious virginity ("beautiful white evening dress") is again expressed through the image of flowers. Freud's assumption that the image of flowers has acquired the symbolic meaning of violation may sound strange at first, but upon closer inspection of related verbal forms one will find that the association is familiar to us, for instance, in calling the loss of virginity "defloration" or "de‑flowering"; the Latin deflorationem means, in fact, "plucking of flowers." Neither is it odd for Shakespeare to write: "the pale and maiden blossom became bleeding." It could be objected that this is just figurative speech, but that is exactly the point. Language is always both literal and figurative. While "flowers" and "female genitals" have quite different significances on the level of object realities about which we are conscious, if one looks into the archetypal implications of both ideas, one will discover a hidden association between "flowers" and the "violation" of "female genitals" in the evidence of language. In doing so we shall find first of all that one meaning, "violation," is related to another meaning, "flower," through an archetypal image which connects both meanings on the phonetic level. For this reason the sound pattern denoting "flower" does not stand alone; it is not an isolated phenomenon, but is connected by phonetic associations with other words. It belongs to a complex of associations which all phonetically refer to the same fantasy image. The language of the unconscious as demonstrated through experiments with the word association test is a system of manifold cross‑references: one word represents only a small part of the complicated association‑complex; therefore it can never properly be understood in itself, but only in the context of the affiliated words making up the linguistic complex as a whole.
If unconscious associations tend to be influenced by similarities in image and sound, how do we account for the interconnection between the semantic aspects of the phonetically associated words? Linguistics has traditionally attempted to understand this phenomenon through causal explanations, for example, blending of two words, or historical reconstructions based on etymologies. We are working, instead, to develop a phenomenological understanding the relation between the different meanings associated in language through a parity in phonetic values. Grappling with the thorny linguistic question of the polysemic aspect of a phonetic pattern, Thass-Thienemann concludes: "There is always one central idea reflected in all and each meaning. If there are five different meanings . . . they mirror, in five varieties, the one common center which is mostly an emotionally loaded concept." Through the word association experiments Jung and Riklin arrived at a similar conclusion concerning the nuclear element responsible for the formation of an unconscious autonomous group of associations. The test revealed that the complex of associations is held together by a particular emotional tone, a feeling‑toned group of associations at the core of which is an archetypal image.
The Burghölzli research indicated that the unconscious associative process takes place through similarities of image and sound. Is it possible that when different aspects of the same archetypal image are realized in language they tend to seek similar sound patterns and form a complex of phonetically affiliated words? If so, on the phonetic level there exists a psychological relation between certain sound associated words; however, the connection is not via the literal lexical meaning, nor syntactic relations, nor common origin, but through the underlying archetypal image.
Keeping in mind this network of unconscious associations, we shall try to unveil the archetypal image at the core of this linguistic complex. In the dream presented above by Thass‑Thienemann, the dream sequence moved from carnation to blood? This curious complex of associations becomes less mysterious if we take into consideration the other English words related phonetically to carnation. Such words are carnal, reincarnation, and carnage. But how can all these words be brought into a consistent unity? As object realities they have little in common, except that they use the same phonemic pattern; but if they are translated into their underlying archetypal image, we shall understand the inter-relatedness of their meanings as well. A carnation is a flower; reincarnation means a rebirth of the soul; carnage implies bloodshed; and carnal is an adjective meaning "in or of the flesh, sexual." The semantic aspects of this phonetic complex of associations circle around an image of rebirth connected with flowers, sexuality, defloration, and bloodshed.
The idea of defloration is often conceived in connection with fantasies of violence. The intrinsic connection between violence and the loss of virginity becomes even more apparent through an amplification of the words associated phonetically with violence. Such words are violent, violate, and violet (ref. second dream). The phonetic association among these words is again in accordance with the archetypal image connecting their semantic aspects. Violate means "to rape"; violent implies a show of physical or emotional force; violet is a bluish‑purple flower. It is significant that we have again developed the same complex of associations centering on a fantasy of defloration, flowers, and rape from an entirely different root.
This preliminary amplification of the linguistic complex will take a more concrete shape as the German, French, and Hungarian counterparts are brought into the picture. In German Blut is a singular meaning "blood"; the grammatically plural form is Blüten, "blossom"; and the verb Blüten means "to bleed." In French viol means "rape"; violette is a bluish‑purple flower, a violet; and violer means "to violate." The same complex of associations also exists in non‑Indo‑European languages. In Hungarian, for example, vér means "blood," véres is "bloody," and vérag denotes "bloom, flower."
The obvious coherence of the phonetic patterns in each of the above linguistic complexes does not imply that the words in each complex necessarily must have a common origin. The connection between the German Blut and Blüten or the English blood and bloom is not etymological. The Oxford English Dictionary notes: "'blood' is doubtfully referred to the verbal root blo, 'blow, bloom' which suits the form but is less certain as to the meaning." Their coherence may have evolved in a secondary way through convergent development. However, their common origin, their etymology, is not the important point, but rather their belonging to a linguistic complex of phonetically associated words.
The various meaning‑concepts associated through sound in the above German, French, Hungarian, and English phonetic word‑complexes constitute the basic elements of an unconscious chain of signification which is discovered only when the associative process shifts from semantic to phonetic consideration. Under normal conditions a person associates words according to a consideration of meaning‑concept. However, the more unconscious a person becomes, the greater the tendency to associate words phonetically. And it is precisely this shift in the linguistic mode that opens the personality to the archetypal meaning‑patterns poetically collated in language through a parity in phonetic values.
Psychic Images into Phonetic Complexes
We have seen that the different meanings (e.g.,
"flower," "sexual," "rebirth," and
"bloodshed") which belong to the same sound pattern (carn)
are related through the underlying archetypal structure, not
lexically, syntactically, nor even in many cases etymologically. On
an unconscious level the meaning relation between the complex of
phonetically associated words is via the archetypal image. This
complex of meanings connected through
a parity in phonetic value makes up the core elements in a mytheme found
in many different cultures around the world. Perhaps its
most well known form is the Greek
myth of Demeter and Persephone. In the
"Hymn to Demeter" we find the
complex of associations we have been examining subtly woven into
the defloration fantasy of the "Rape of Persephone."
Demeter's daughter, Persephone, has wandered off to the remote Nysian
plain, where she is busy playing and picking roses, violets, and other
flowers with the daughters of Okeanos. Gaia lures Persephone on in her
search for flowers by presenting a strange and wonderful flower, never
before seen. Astonished by the flower's beauty, she stretches out both
hands to pick the narcissus
when suddenly the earth violently opens and Hades drives his horses out
of the gaping earth, lifts the young maden into his chariot, and takes
his bride back to his subterranean realm to consummate their marriage.
In Symbols of Transformation, Jung presents several extensive etymological analyses of various archetypal themes and concludes that "In considering the etymology . . . we have to take into account not only the migration of the root words, but the autochthonous revival of certain primordial images." Jung observed the tendency in language for words whose meanings are related to the same archetypal image to use similar phonetic patterns, even though etymologically distinct.
The phonetic connection between G. "Mar," F. "mére," and the various words for "sea" (Lat. "mare," G. "meer," F. "mer") is certainly remarkable, though etymologically accidental. May it perhaps point back to the great primordial image of the mother who was once our only world and later became the symbol of the whole world?
In a further amplification of the terms closely associated with Prometheus, Jung concludes that the diachronic connection between the phonetic patterns “pranantha” and “Prometheus” is not based on linguistic transmission, but “an archetypal parallel”:
The line from "pramantha" to Prometheus does not go via the word, but more probably through the idea or image, so that Prometheus may in the end have the same meaning as "pramantha." Only, it would be an archetypal parallel and not a case of linguistic transmission.
Addressing the question as to why so many different meanings become attached to one phonetic pattern is central to understanding the symbolic dimension of language. Some linguists have argued that sound patterns are phonetically descriptive of their respective semantic aspects: the sound depicts the meaning. This is true in the case of onomatopoeia and some linguists in the past have gone so far as to develop a linguistic theory based on this phenomenon, i.e. the bow‑wow theory. Our focus, however, is on a very different linguistic phenomenon. We are attempting to psychologically understand the significance of invariant complexes of meanings which remain unchanged over transformations of their phonetic vehicle. It is the invariant relationship of the semantic aspects that remains constant in each phonetic complex and is perceived tacitly in the waking state. However, the more the attention of the speaker decreases, the more the sound associations increase and the more explicit becomes the archetypal cluster of meanings. The deeper inner meanings are immediately given in the surface external sound associations. To discover the archetypal significances in the depth of our language, we need to shift our attention from a focus on the semantic aspect to the invariance in the phonetic pattern. Perhaps the reason dreamers, poets, and madmen display such an uncanny sense of the depths of the imagination is that their linguistic sensibility is more attuned to the invariant archetypal structures of sound and image.
Lacan, Jacques, Ecrits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan, New
York : W. W. Norton, 1977; Kugler, Paul, "Jacques Lacan:
Postmodern Depth Psychology and the Birth of the Self-Reflexive
Subject", The Book of the Self, ed. Polly Young-Eisendrath and James Hall, New
York: New York University Press, 1987.
Paz, Octavio, The Bow and the Lyre, trans. R. Simms, New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1975, p. 245.
Derrida, J. A Derrida Reader: Between the Blinds,
“Psyche: Inventions of the Other,” Ed. Peggy Kamuf,
Columbia Univ. Press, 1991.
Kugler, Paul (1993), “The ‘Subject’ of Dreams,”
Journal of the Association for the Study of Dreams, Volume 3,
number 2, June 1993.
C. G. Jung, Collected Works,
Vol. 2, Experimental
Researches, trans. L. Stein (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University
Press, 1973), C. G. Jung and F. Riklin, "The Associations of
Normal Subjects," pp. 3‑196. Hereafter cited as CW
Ibid., "Association, Dream, and Hysterical Symptom," pars.
Ibid., "Psychopathological Significance of the Experiment,"
G. Aschaffenburg, "Experimentelle Studien über Associationen,"
in Kraepelin, Psychol. Arb. 1 (1896): 209‑99; 2 (1899): 1‑83; 4 (1904):
Jung, Experimental Researches, Jung and Riklin, "Associations of
Normal Subjects." pp. 3‑196.
Ibid., "Psychopathological Significance of the Experiment,"
Ibid., "Associations of Normal Subjects," p. 171.
Jung, Studies in Word Association, trans. M. D. Eder (London: Routledge
and Kegan Paul, 1919), p. 66.
Jung, Experimental Researches, p. 176.
Sigmund Freud, Interpretation of
Dreams, trans. J. Strachey (New York: Avon Books, 1972), pp.
383‑84. The original German dream text reads: "Sie steigt
von hoch herab über eigentümliche Geländer oder Zäune. . . . Dabei
trägt sie einen grassen Ast in der Hand; eigentlich wie einen Baum,
der dick mit roten Blüten besetzt ist, verzweigt und ausgebreitet.
Dabei ist die Idee KirschBlüten, sie sehen aber auch aus wie gefüllte
Kamelien. . . . Wie sie unten anlangt, sind die unteren, Blüten schon
ziemlich abgefallen. . . . Im Garten steht ein junger Mann (von ihr
bekannter Persönlichkeit, ein Fremder), auf den sie zugeht, urn ihn
zu fragen, wie man solche Aste in ihren eigenen Garten umsetzen könne.
Er umfingt sie, worauf sie sich sträubt und ihn treat, was ihm einfällt,
ob man sie den so umfangen darf. Er sagt, das ist kein Unrecht, das
ist erlaubt." Die Traumdeutung, über den
Traum (London: Imago Publishing
Co., 1942), pp. 353‑54.
Freud, Interpretation of Dreams, p. 354.
Ibid., p. 409. This dream and the associations appear in English in
the original German text. (See Die
Traumdeutung, über den
Traum, p. 379.)
Ibid., p. 410.
Freud, The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund
Freud, vol. 13
(1913‑1914), trans. and gen. ed., James Strachey (London:
Hogarth Press, 1958), p. 56.
Theodore Thass‑Thienemann, The
Interpretation of Language, Vol.
1 (New York: Jason Aronson, 1973). p. 179.
Ibid., p. 179.
of Language, 1:83.
Jung, Experimental Researches, p. 418.
Both Freud and Thass‑Thienemann question the curious images
connecting sexuality, carnation, and flowers. Freud suggests that the
latent dream wish of sexual intercourse is partially repressed by the
super‑ego and transformed through the dream work into the image
of flowers. An alternative explanation is presented by Thass‑Thienemann,
who suggests that the link between flowers, blood, and sexuality,
"was once a natural association in an age which knew nothing
about the categorical separation of man, animals, and plants but
perceived all organic life, in whatever form it may appear, as
essentially one. The flowers are the procreative organs of the plant,
they are bleeding like the women" (Interpretation
of Language, 1: 180‑81).
Both theories are causally reductive and commit the naturalistic
fallacy of reducing the imagination to the natural world. Freud
casually reduces the flower elements of the linguistic complex
according to the laws of sublimation and displacement to their
underlying sexual components. The reduction of the associations back
to an age prior to the categorical separation of man and nature is
equally unsatisfactory. Neither explanation does justice to the living
imaginal quality of the linguistic complex today. The
image‑complex is a total structure, not reducible to one or
another of its elements found in nature.
Ibid., p. 182.
Ibid., p. 181.
Jung's research indicated that with increasing unconsciousness the
associations will be "more and more influenced by sound, till
finally only a sound is associated." On an unconscious level the
associations are according to phonetic similarities in the living
language (synchronic), not historical similarities as reflected in
etymology. Adolf Eberschweller, at Jung's request, conducted an
experiment into the linguistic components of associations, "which
disclosed the remarkable fact that during an association experiment
the intrapsychic association is influenced by phonetic
consideration." The experiments demonstrated that "the
tendency to form a meaningful (semantic) association, which derives
from the stimulus word, inhibits sound association." (Jung,
Symbols of Transformation, New
York: Pantheon Books, 1956, p. 15n)
unconsciousness, however, "the reaction will be more and more
influenced by sound, till finally only a sound is associated."
Adolf Eberschweller, "Untersuchungen fiber die sprachliche
Komponente der Association," Allgemeine Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie (Berlin) 65 (1908):
Charles Stein, in his doctoral dissertation at the University of
Connecticut ("The Secret of the Black Chrysanthemum: Charles
Olson's Use of the Writings of C. G. Jung," 1979),
discusses Olson's proposal for a poetic mode of composition based
upon the treatment of words as
objects situated within the field of language, a field constituted
by the totality of their phonetic interrelations. "Two words
which resemble each other in sound would occupy contiguous positions
in an array of the phonetic elements which make up a language. They
would also exhibit coincidence and contiguity in the sense that the
mouth must go through similar
or identical operations in order to produce them. . . . Further, a pun
is an 'accidental' relationship between two words which have the same
or similar sounds. But if accidental relationships are not conceived
to be in opposition to necessary relationships, but both are thought
of as presenting possibilities within creative process, the accidental
proximity in sound between two words, when noticed by the poet, may
become the occasion for noticing or establishing an intuitive
connection between them. . . . But Olson does not use puns to
facilitate the spontaneous emergence of contents from his personal
unconscious, resorting to verbal subterfuge to overcome a censoring
mechanism; rather, he notices archetypal resonances which emergent
puns carry, and uses them to point to archetypal processes operant in
language" (pp. 186‑87).
It is important to note that not all
phonetic associations are archetypal, any more than all fantasies
are archetypal. In fact, as Stein notes, it is precisely the
possibility of "accidental" phonetic associations that
allows for the creative process.
See Charles Boer's marvelous translation of "The Homeric Hymn to
Demeter," in The Homeric Hymns (Chicago: Swallow Press, 1970). For an extensive archetypal analysis of the mythological rape
of the bride, cf. Kerényi, "Kore," in Jung and Kerényi, Science
of Mythology, pp. 170 ff.; and Patricia Berry, "The Rape of
Demeter/ Persephone and Neurosis," Spring
1975, pp. 186‑98.
Jung, Symbols of Transformation, pp. 147 and 251.
Ibid., p. 147.
Ibid., p. 251.
Ibid., p. 147.
For a cogent discussion of the process of transformation see Jung's Symbols
of Transformation, "The Transformation of the Libido,"
pp. 142‑70, and The
Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, "On Psychic
Energy," pp 2‑66, where
Jung begins to develop a structuralist theory of archetypal invariance
based upon "pure relations" and their transformations. See
also: J. J. Gibson, "On the Concept of 'Formless Invariants' in
Visual Perception," Leonardo,
6 (1973):43‑45; idem,
"New Reasons for Realism," Syntheses
17 (1967):162‑72; and
idem, "The Theory of Affordances," in R. E. Shaw, and J.
Bransford, eds., Perceiving,
Acting and Knowing: Toward an Ecological Psychology (Hillsdale,
N.J.: Erlbaum, 1977). 
Charles Boer and Peter Kugler define invariance as the
"information which remains unchanged in a structure over
transformations of space time."
Working from J. J. Gibson's theory of perception based upon the
human organism's evolved capacity to perceive invariants in the
environment, Boer and Kugler emphasize the fundamental connection
between archetype and invariant: “An archetype is an invariant relationship. These invariants or
archetypes carry with them what Gibson calls affordances. . . . The
property of these invariants becomes formalized in language as a
myth.” Charles Boer and Peter Kugler, "Archetypal Psychology Is
Mythical Realism," Spring
1977, p. 134.
*Reprint permission granted to DreamGate by Paul
Kugler and Daimon Verlag
*Reprint permission granted to DreamGate by Paul
Kugler and Daimon Verlag