I saw the film A Dangerous Method over the weekend. It is an interesting subject & the film was well done. The script was by the playwright Christopher Hampton & was exemplary. It was based on his own stage play The Talking Cure which in fact I haven’t seen. And it seems that Snoo Wilson wrote a play about Sabine Spielrein (whatever happened to him.)
The film is to a great extent about the relationship between Sabine Spielrein & Jung because such are films. But the characters discussed ideas as well. The acting was excellent even if some of the incidents in the film did stretch credibility. I was not aware that Jung had affairs, especially with his patients. These days he would struck off for that & it would be impossible for him to practice after that.
Jung was a seminal figure. He is not dogged as is Freud, by accusations of his patients ending up committing suicide.
These days the talking therapies have somewhat gone out of fashion but Jung remains relevant because he was so eclectic. People do have need for the mystical. Most art, at least most great art, emanates from one altered state of consciousness or another. It was Jung who said – I think in his Face to Face interview with John Freeman, “I don’t believe in God, I know.” These days few people would concur with that statement but times change. Jung claimed & I don’t doubt it to be true, to have premonitions of the horrors of Great War, what has come to be known as World War 1 when the whole of Europe, the structures, the certainties, countries, the Austro Hungarian Empire itself fell apart amongst much spilling of blood & the dehumanisation of the human race.
Jung invented the phrase the collective unconscious. He wrote about other religions, especially he talked about synchronicity. Few of us cannot have experienced such events which can be put down to coincidence but which seem to be just too much of a coincidence to be mere coincidence. He wrote at some length about archetypes. The book Four Archetypes by Jung is well worth reading
Some of the details of the film didn’t seem accurate. For example he had the house by the lake built towards the end of his life. It was full of symbolism & from what I remember from Memories, Dreams, Reflections – which in fact was ghost written, he in fact built it himself or at least designed it himself. But the book Memories, Dreams, Reflections was accurate for all that I am sure. It was certainly more easy to read than much of his other writing much of which is quite turgid.
Some of the lines ascribed to Freud & the emphasis of early experiences being sexual belong more to myth than fact.
Myself & many others of my generation were much influenced by the writings of Jung & by the example of the man himself. Jung & R. D. Laing who in fact sold more books than Freud & Jung put together & had more written about him, both thought about the problems of society, mysticism & the mind in a different way. Jung did believe in much that can be considered paranormal (in his day the word paranormal wasn’t used) but Christopher Hampton used the word in the script. The drama was a work of imagination. It would have to be. After all, long conversations wouldn’t have been recorded verbatim. There is a record that Freud & Jung spoke to each other or at least I presume there is Jung dismissed the idea of spiritualism. He poured scorn on the idea of talking to the dead but believed in life after death. The fact that the others leaders in the psychoanalysis movement, most notably Freud & Adler were Jewish seems to have caused some problems. Hampton in his script hinted at this.
Jung was a humanitarian in the way that Freud wasn’t & the film A Dangerous Method is really good. The acting & direction are excellent but it is mainly Christopher Hampton’s script which makes it so worth seeing.