Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli – Two Giants

In 1931, Pauli, a physics professor at a university in Zurich, consulted Jung about his psychological issues and alcohol use; his mother had committed suicide and his marriage, less than a year old, had broken up.On the work front, shortly after his divorce he announced (correctly) the possible existence of a new particle, the neutrino. Instead of analyzing Pauli’s dreams himself, Jung sent Pauli to a student colleague, thinking it would be better if he did not conduct the sessions in person. He immediately recognized the archetypal richness of this material and did not want to influence it. The analysis was short. But from 1932 till 1958, the two corresponded about Pauli’s never-ending stream of dreams and the lively surmises they stimulated. Jung wrote about them, keeping Pauli anonymous. And he drew heavily on Pauli’s ideas in formulating his theory of synchronicity. Atom and Archetype: The Pauli/Jung Letters 1928-1952 was published in English translation only in 2001. And thanks to that, the fascinating correspondence of these two giants figures figures in Keep This Quiet! III.

Taking place in large part in the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, where I enrolled in 1984, I found myself, like many who go there, changed forever. In my case, by an initiation called Confrontation with the Self. The Jung-Pauli letters are a beautiful companion to my look-back at those days. Their ideas are never old, raising questions we still have not officially answered and perhaps never will. In spite of (or because of) his frequent encounters with dreams, Jung was all the more impressed with Pauli’s. And Pauli, for his part, did not let on to his colleagues he even dreamed. This man known for a caustic tongue, who was strongly intellectual, was fascinated with learning about his feelings, that deep-within territory ruled over by his anima. Jung said: right on. And off they went.