• Cat Ward

CARL JUNG AND THE UNEXPLAINED- PART 2


Here we go again..more Jung..I hope you don't mind- and I do think it's warranted! he is quite fascinating, after all!

Throughout his life, Carl Jung experienced numerous strange or unexplained occurrences. in my previous piece on this topic, I recounted a couple of those- and there are quite a few more!

In fact, I'm hoping this piece won't turn out to be part 2 of 3..however he did have quite a few experiences, so it may well be!

When we look at the earlier experiences of his, we can perhaps see a couple of things that show where he stood at that point in time regarding his beliefs. He seemed to innately possess a shrewd and analytical mind, as can be seen in his noted reactions to those earlier experiences.

As those occurred before he truly stepped into psychology, and subsequently psychoanalysis (he was still only a medical student in his early 20's at that point, after all), perhaps he had not yet truly begun to take on board the mindset , and thus had not considered that as a "filter" through which to pass those experiences.

By the time the next of the documented unusual experiences occurred in his life, Jung had indeed added that psychological filter to his repertoire.

The next experience is actually the one I first read briefly about at age 10- but decades later, thanks to a wonderful transcript of Jung's collected works I found during my research, I was finally able to read Jung's own wonderfully detailed account of the experience- and also his subsequent analysis of it -from a contribution he wrote for a book published in 1950 by German author Fanny Moser, titled "Spuk". (Here's an interesting little piece of trivia about Fanny Moser, too- she was once a patient of Sigmund Freud, Jung's original mentor!)

I'll "hand the microphone" to Jung here:

"In the summer of 1920 I went to London, at the invitation of Dr. X, to give some lectures. My colleague told me that, in expectation of my visit, he had found a suitable weekend place for the summer. This, he said, had not been so easy, because every thing had already been let for the summer holidays, or else was so exorbitantly expensive or unattractive that he had almost given up hope. But finally, by a lucky change, he had found a charming cottage that was just right for us, and at a ridiculously low price.

In actual fact it turned out to be a most attractive old farmhouse in Buckinghamshire, as we saw when we went there at the end of our first week of work, on a Friday evening. Dr. X had engaged a girl from the neighbouring village to cook for us, and a friend of hers would come in the afternoons as a voluntary help.

The house was roomy, two-storeyed, and built in the shape of a right angle. One of these wings was quite sufficient for us. On the ground floor there was a conservatory leading into the garden; then a kitchen, dining-room, and drawing-room. On the top floor a corridor ran from the conservatory steps through the middle of the house to a large bedroom, which took up the whole front of the wing. This was my room. It had windows facing east and west, and a fireplace in the front wall (north). To the left of the door stood a bed, opposite the fireplace a big old-fashioned chest of drawers, and to the right a wardrobe and a table. This, together with a few chairs, was all the furniture. On either side of the corridor was a row of bedrooms, which were used by Dr. X and occasional guests.

The first night, tired from the strenuous work of the week, I slept well. We spent the next day walking and talking. That evening, feeling rather tired, I went to bed at 11 o’clock, but did not get beyond the point of drowsing. I only fell into a kind of torpor, which was unpleasant because I felt I was unable to move. Also it seemed to me that the air had become stuffy, and that there was an indefinable, nasty smell in the room. I thought I had forgotten to open the windows.

Finally, in spite of my torpor, I was driven to light a candle: both windows were open, and a night wind blew softly through the room, filling it with the flowery scents of high summer. There was no trace of the bad smell. I remained half awake in my peculiar condition, until I glimpsed the first pale light of dawn through the east window. At this moment the torpor dropped away from me like magic, and I fell into a deep sleep from which I awoke only towards nine o’clock.

On Sunday evening I mentioned in passing to Dr. X that I had slept remarkably badly the night before. He recommended me to drink a bottle of beer, which I did. But when I went to bed the same thing happened: I could not get beyond the point of drowsing. Both windows were open. The air was fresh to begin with, but after about half an hour it seemed to turn bad; it became stale and fuggy, and finally somehow repulsive. It was hard to identify the smell, despite my efforts to establish its nature. The only thing that came into my head was that there was something sickly about it.

I pursued this clue through all the memories of smells that a man can collect in eight years of work at a psychiatric clinic. Suddenly I hit on the memory of an old woman who was suffering from an open carcinoma. This was quite unmistakably the same sickly smell I had so often noticed in her room.

As a psychologist, I wondered what might be the cause of this peculiar olfactory hallucination. But I was unable to discover any convincing connection between it and my present state of consciousness. I only felt very uncomfortable because my torpor seemed to paralyze me. In the end I could not think any more, and fell into a torpid doze. Suddenly I heard the noise of water dripping. “Didn’t I turn off the tap properly?” I thought. “But of course, there’s no running water in the room—so it’s obviously raining—yet today was so fine.” Meanwhile the dripping went on regularly, one drop every two seconds. I imagined a little pool of water to the left of my bed. Near the chest of drawers.

“Then the roof must leak.” I thought. Finally, with a heroic effort, so it seemed to me, I lit the candle and went over to the chest of drawers. There was no water on the floor, and no damp spot on the plaster ceiling. Only then did I look out of the window: it was a clear, starry night. The dripping still continued. I could make out a place on the floor, about eighteen inches from the chest of drawers, where the sound came from. I could have touched it with my hand. All at once the dripping stopped and did not come back. Towards three o’clock, at the first light of dawn. I fell into a deep sleep. No—I have heard death-watch beetles. The ticking noise they make is sharper. This was a duller sound, exactly what would be made by drops of water falling from the ceiling.

I was annoyed with myself, and not exactly refreshed by this weekend. But I said nothing to Dr. X. The next weekend, after a busy and eventful week. I did not think at all about my previous experience. Yet hardly had I been in bed for half an hour than everything was there as before: the torpor, the repulsive smell, the dripping. And this time there was something else: something brushed along the walls, the furniture creaked now here and now there, there were rustlings in the corners. A strange restlessness was in the air.

I thought it was the wind, lit the candle and went to shut the windows. But the night was still, there was no breath of wind. So long as the light was on, the air was fresh and no noise could be heard. But the moment I blew out the candle, the torpor slowly returned, the air became fuggy, and the creakings and rustlings began again. I thought I must have noises in my ear, but at three o’clock in the morning they stopped as promptly as before.

The next evening I tried my luck again with a bottle of beer. I had always slept well in London and could not imagine what could give me insomnia in this quiet and peaceful spot. During the night the same phenomena were repeated, but in intensified form. The thought now occurred to me that they must be parapsychological. I knew that problems of which people are unconscious can give rise to exteriorization phenomena, because constellated unconscious contents often have a tendency to manifest themselves outwardly somehow or other. But I knew the problems of the present occupants of the house very well, and could discover nothing that would account for the exteriorizations. The next day I asked the others how they had slept. They all said they had slept wonderfully.

The third night it was even worse. There were loud knocking noises, and I had the impression that an animal, about the size of a dog, was rushing round the room in a panic. As usual, the hubbub stopped abruptly with the first streak of light in the east.

The phenomena grew still more intense during the following weekend. The rustling became a fearful racket, like the roaring of a storm. Sounds of knocking came also from outside in the form of dull blows, as though somebody were banging on the brick walls with a muffled hammer. Several times I had to assure myself that there was no storm, and that nobody was banging on the walls from outside.

The next weekend, the fourth, I cautiously suggested to my host that the house might be haunted, and that this would explain the surprisingly low rent. Naturally he laughed at me, although he was as much at a loss as I about my insomnia. It had also struck me how quickly the two girls cleared away after dinner every evening, and always left the house long before sundown. By eight o’clock there was no girl to be seen. I jokingly remarked to the girl who did the cooking that she must be afraid of us if she had herself fetched every evening by her friend and was then in such a hurry to get home.

She laughed and said that she wasn’t at all afraid of the gentlemen, but that nothing would induce her to stay a moment in this house alone, and certainly not after sunset. “What’s the matter with it?” I asked. “Why, it’s haunted, didn’t you know? That’s the reason why it was going so cheap. Nobody’s ever stuck it here.” It had been like that as long as she could remember. But I could get nothing out of her about the origin of the rumour. Her friend emphatically confirmed everything she had said.

As I was a guest, I naturally couldn’t make further inquiries in the village. My host was sceptical, but he was willing to give the house a thorough looking over. We found nothing remarkable until we came to the attic. There, between the two wings of the house, we discovered a dividing wall, and in it a comparatively new door, about half an inch thick, with a heavy lock and two huge bolts, that shut off our wing from the unoccupied part. The girls did not know of the existence of this door. It presented something of a puzzle because the two wings communicated with one another both on the ground floor and on the first floor. There were no rooms in the attic to be shut off, and no signs of use. The purpose of the door seemed inexplicable.

The fifth weekend was so unbearable that I asked my host to give me another room. This is what had happened: it was a beautiful moonlight night, with no wind; in the room there were rustlings, creakings, and hangings; from outside, blows rained on the walls. I had the feeling there was something near me, and opened my eyes. There, beside me on the pillow, I saw the head of an old woman, and the right eye, wide open, glared at me. The left half of the face was missing below the eye. The sight of it was so sudden and unexpected that I leapt out of bed with one bound, lit the candle, and spent the rest of the night in an armchair. The next day I moved into the adjoining room, where I slept splendidly and was no longer disturbed during this or the following weekend.

I told my host that I was convinced the house was haunted, but he dismissed this explanation with smiling scepticism. His attitude, understandable though it was, annoyed me somewhat, for I had to admit that my health had suffered under these experiences. I felt unnaturally fatigued, as I had never felt before. I therefore challenged Dr. X to try sleeping in the haunted room himself. He agreed to this, and gave me his word that he would send me an honest report of his observations. He would go to the house alone and spend the weekend there so as to give me a “fair chance.”

Next morning I left. Ten days later I had a letter from Dr. X. He had spent the weekend alone in the cottage. In the evening it was very quiet, and he thought it was not absolutely necessary to go up to the first floor. The ghost, after all, could manifest itself anywhere in the house, if there was one. So he set up his camp bed in the conservatory, and as the cottage really was rather lonely, he took a loaded shotgun to bed with him.

Everything was deathly still. He did not feel altogether at ease, but nevertheless almost succeeded in falling asleep after a time. Suddenly it seemed to him that he heard footsteps in the corridor. He immediately struck a light and flung open the door, but there was nothing to be seen. He went back grumpily to bed, thinking I had been a fool. But it was not long before he again heard footsteps, and to his discomfiture he discovered that the door lacked a key. He rammed a chair against the door, with its back under the lock, and returned to bed.

Soon afterwards he again heard footsteps, which stopped just in front of the door; the chair creaked, as though somebody was pushing against the door from the other side. He then set up his bed in the garden, and there he slept very well.

The next night he again put his bed in the garden, but at one o’clock it started to rain, so he shoved the head of the bed under the eaves of the conservatory and covered the foot with a waterproof blanket. In this way he slept peacefully. But nothing in the world would induce him to sleep again in the conservatory. He had now given up the cottage.

A little later I heard from Dr. X that the owner had had the cottage pulled down, since it was unsaleable and scared away all tenants. Unfortunately I no longer have the original report, but its contents are stamped indelibly on my mind. It gave me considerable satisfaction after my colleague had laughed so loudly at my fear of ghosts.

I would like to make the following remarks by way of summing up. I can find no explanation of the dripping noise. I was fully awake and examined the floor carefully. I consider it out of the question that it was a delusion of the senses.

As to the rustling and creaking, I think they were probably not objective noises, but noises in the ear which seemed to me to be occurring objectively in the room. In my peculiar hypnoid state they appeared exaggeratedly loud. I am not at all sure that the knocking noises, either, were objective. They could just as well have been heartbeats that seemed to me to come from outside.

My torpor was associated with an inner excitation probably corresponding to fear. Of this fear I was unconscious until the moment of the vision—only then did it break through into consciousness. The vision had the character of a hypnagogic hallucination and was probably a reconstruction of the memory of the old woman with carcinoma.

Coming now to the olfactory hallucination, I had the impression that my presence in the room gradually activated something that was somehow connected with the walls. It seemed to me that the dog rushing round in a panic represented my intuition. Common speech links intuition with the nose: I had “smelt” something.

If the olfactory organ in man were not so hopelessly degenerate, but as highly developed as a dog’s, I would have undoubtedly have had a clearer idea of the persons who had lived in the room earlier. Primitive medicine-men can not only smell out a thief, they also “smell” spirits and ghosts.

The hypnoid catalepsy that each time was associated with these phenomena was the equivalent of intense concentration, the object of which was a subliminal and therefore “fascinating” olfactory perception. The two things together bear some resemblance to the physical and psychic state of a pointer that has picked up the scent. The source of the fascination, however, seems to me to have been of a peculiar nature, which is not sufficiently explained by any substance emitting a smell.

The smell may have “embodied” a psychic situation of an excitatory nature and carried it across to the percipient. This is by no means impossible when we consider the extraordinary importance of the sense of smell in animals. It is also conceivable that intuition in man has taken the place of the world of smells that were lost to him with the degeneration of the olfactory organ.

The effect of intuition on man is indeed very similar to the instant fascination which smells have for animals. I myself have had a number of experiences in which “psychic smells,” or olfactory hallucinations, turned out to be subliminal intuitions which I was able to verify afterwards.

This hypothesis naturally does not pretend to explain all ghost phenomena, but at most a certain category of them. I have heard and read a great many ghost stories, and among them are a few that could very well be explained in this way. For instance, there are all those stories of ghosts haunting rooms where a murder was committed. In one case, bloodstains were still visible under the carpet. A dog would surely have smelt the blood and perhaps recognized it as human, and if he possessed a human imagination he would also have been able to reconstruct the essential features of the crime.

Our unconscious, which possesses very much more subtle powers of perception and reconstruction than our conscious minds, could do the same thing and project a visionary picture of the psychic situation that excited it. For example, a relative once told me that, when stopping at a hotel on a journey abroad, he had a fearful nightmare of a woman being murdered in his room. The next morning he discovered that on the night before his arrival a woman had in fact been murdered there.

These remarks are only meant to show that parapsychology would do well to take account of the modern psychology of the unconscious."


I must admit that while I was fascinated by Jung's account of his experiences at the cottage, I was more so fascinated by his afterward analysis of it- he considers quite a few possibilities that are relevant to many recorded cases in this field. All, of course, are to do with the workings of the mind, which of course is a very relevant area of exploration..

Sure- ghosts, spirits, and apparitions may be due to post-mortem personality survival..or perhaps that's not always the case..and Jung definitely considered such "perhaps not" situations too.

To use a previous analogy and apply it to belief, it seems to come down to what sticks in our "filters", and thus in our minds.

Jung's "psychology/psychoanalysis filter" was well and truly in place at this stage, as seems evident in his relation of what occurred after the event..At this point in time, he had not yet fully developed the mindset, nor experienced all it would take for him to formulate his most famous theories- Archetypes, Ancestral memory, and of course Synchronicity..but given his previous unexplained occurrences, you can perhaps see them from there!

I fear there may be a part 3 to this, as I still haven't gotten to recounting some other interesting occurrences in Jung's life to you yet..but I'm sure that regarding what you've read thus far, we can at the very least agree that he definitely had a very interesting life!

i really should continue this little series so I can at least tell you about another pivotal experience..one that affected not only Jung, but also made an impression on his mentor, Sigmund Freud, too!

For now though, I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of Jung's experiences..what was going on there?

Share your thoughts in comments, friends!

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