There are many reasons to read The Jung-Kirsch Letters : The Correspondence of C.G. Jung and James Kirsch edited by Dr. Ann Lammers and to attend the conference from the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco on April 28 2012. The book is a trove of historical documents that evoke a sense of how Dr. Carl Jung founder of an entirely new approach to psychology and psychotherapy, fulfilled his role. The body of letters spans more than thirty-two years and ranges from banal to psychologically penetrating and dissect certain aspects of James Kirsch’s psyche as cleanly as if Jung were wielding a scalpel. The Jung-Kirsch Letters documents some of the history of Analytical Psychology on the West Coast. Above all, they testify to a close relationship between the two men.
The book chronicles James Kirsch’s journey from pre-war Germany to Tel Aviv to London and finally to Los Angeles where he and Hilde Kirsch arrived with their young son, Thomas, to blaze a trail for Analytical Psychology in America. The Kirsch family would leave an indelible stamp upon Jungian psychology.
There are certain intimate details revealed in the letters that evoke a sense of voyeurism. The fact that Dr. Thomas Kirsch was so instrumental in the publication of these letters assuages any discomfort. Dr. Thomas Kirsch will present a conference through the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco on Saturday, April 28, 2012 (the Asheville Jung Center has the privilege of broadcasting this seminar and registration is still open).
These letters deal with a vast array of topics. There are exchanges between Jung and Kirsch that demonstrate Jung’s genuine interest Judiasm and Kirsch’s unique appreciation for a “Jewish consciousness”. In the midst of Nazi Germany’s rise, Kirsch must have been one of countless Jewish pioneers who had a relationship with Jung, and his first letter from Los Angeles dated 19 November 1940 resonates with the portents of the many Jews who would not survive the Holocaust.
In a 1945 exchange of letters that began with Kirsch on 25 November 1944 and is followed eight months later 3 August 1945 with Jung’s reply, we can appreciate how tenuous mail delivery must have been during the last months of WW II (Victory in Europe Day was 8 May 1945). Kirsch mentions a woman who reports she underwent a Freudian psychoanalysis with Jung in 1916 and Jung confirms that she must have been correct. It indicates that in 1916 Jung was still practicing Freudian psychoanalysis though he had penned the famous closing lines from Hamlet in a letter to Freud, “The rest is silence” in 1913. Though the war impeded the spread of Jung’s ideas, those two letters serve as a reminder that following Jung’s break with Freud the movement that coalesced as Analytical Psychology evolved slowly at first.
A letter dated 18 November 1945 roundly disputes the allegations being made about Jung that he was a Nazi. Kirsch and others defended Jung from these charges that even appeared in the The American Journal of Psychiatry, the official organ of the American Psychiatric Association. Toward the end of the 1940s Kirsch was calling upon Jung to assist him in addressing an issue involving someone who was touting himself as a Jungian analyst (and a training analyst) who did not appear to merit the distinction. This exchange coincides with the formation of the C. G. Jung-Institut Zürich in 1949.
The book is organized thematically with each theme also being demarcated by a range of years. The appendix adds several letters between Hilde Kirsch and Jung along with selected writings of James Kirsch and a brief history of the AAGP/IAAGP.
I have failed to mention one of the richest parts of this book, the footnotes. If the letters provide a sort of melodic structure to the book, the footnotes are like ornamentations the intricate trills and slides one might hear in a beautiful Baroque piece of music. In the footnotes are details and amplifications that anchor the letters as something more than a personal exchange between two men. The footnotes are an apéritif and a cordial. On Saturday, April 28, 2012 Dr. Thomas Kirsch will present a conference through the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco titled “Layers of Relationship: the C.G.Jung/James Kirsch Correspondence“.
Here is the unedited text from the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco‘s website describing the conference.
In this workshop, Dr. Thomas Kirsch will discuss the nature and course of his father’s correspondence with C.G. Jung. The Jung-Kirsch Letters: The Correspondence of C.G. Jung and James Kirsch, edited by Ann Conrad Lammers was published in 2011. James Kirsch was one of the first generation analysts who had his primary analysis with Jung. As a young man in his 20s he began a psychoanalysis which did not satisfy him and so he entered a Jungian analysis in Berlin. In 1928 he wrote to Jung asking if he could begin analysis, and in 1929 James Kirsch spent two months in Zürich in analysis with both Jung and Toni Wolff. This began a multilevel relationship which spanned four decades and great distances.
The contents of the letters cover important subjects such as the relationship between Jews and Christians, Nazi-ism, anti-Semitism, clinical issues in psychotherapy, synchronicity, organizational issues in building up Jungian organizations, difficult personalities, and the nature of clinical work. This workshop will address the clinical, cultural so societal themes throughout the Jung/Kirsch correspondence—both in Jung’s time and in ours.
The Asheville Jung Center is honored to serve as the Internet host for this conference and to be able to preserve this vital link in the history that extends through an analytical and biological generations. If you are near the San Francisco area, you will want to attend in person ( https://jungkirsch.eventbrite.com/?nomo=1 ), and if distance precludes your attending in person, you can still participate over the Internet. Register online (for those outside the San Francisco area) at http://ashevillejungcenter.org/webinars/layers-of-relationship/layers-of-relationship-registration/ .