Why do we need the Psychology Club Zurich?


Dr. Andreas Schweizer, Zollikon

It was a special event. More and more people entered the lecture room, and we hardly knew where to place more chairs. People from Switzerland, Germany, the United States, Canada, China, Japan. They all gathered in order to honor the friendship of two outstanding men, the friendship between C.G. Jung and Richard Wilhelm. This is how the Club Night began, on which Bettina Wilhelm showed the film that she had made about her famous grandfather. Ninety minutes later it was completely silent in the lecture room. The film was presented at the very same place where C.G. Jung lectured for so many years and where he, as Marie-Louise von Franz recounted in her talk about the Psychology Club, attended every lecture whenever possible, “even though he was so overworked and sometimes swore terribly if he had to go to the Club.”

Richard Wilhelm (1873 – 1930)

Some weeks later. Again a film, and again someone talked about his grandfather. This time it was Dieter Baumann, who after seeing the film Face to Face with C.G. Jung shared his memories of his grandfather C.G. Jung with us. Actually, we had planned that he would interrupt the film and spontaneously comment on this or that. But nothing happened. After twenty minutes or so when he still had not interrupted the film, I went over to him and asked whether he didn’t want to say something about it. No, he said, the film says everything! Despite the fact that he must have seen this film countless times before, he was so moved by it that he didn’t make any comments. Then, however, he started to talk so lively about his grandfather that it seemed Jung himself was visiting the Club which he had once founded!

Both events illustrate the fascinating energy the rooms of the Psychology Club still have. It is a rare and precious privilege to host such events in the newly renovated Clubhouse. It is the place where Richard Wilhelm for the first time gave a talk in the West about the profound wisdom of the East – the place, too, where C.G. Jung presented his new works to the Club members for the first time, because he wanted to see how his ideas were received. I often get the impression that people from abroad have a better feeling for the genius loci of the Clubhouse than the Club members who can participate in all Club events throughout the year.

It is sometimes claimed that the Club members are the “classical Jungians”, which, of course, is not at all meant as a compliment, but rather as a mild criticism that they shut themselves off to the future renewal of Jungian psychology. However, these voices forget that only a serious reflection on the objective psyche can create that vivid spirit which creates the future. I, for myself, love Jung’s image of the rhizome that he mentions at the very beginning of his Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Life, he said, is “like a plant that lives on its rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away – an ephemeral apparition. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. Our life is short, it lasts seventy, eighty, maybe even ninety years. But then it necessarily returns to the eternal flux of growth and decay.” Lucky he who can say, as C.G. Jung did, “Yet I have never lost the sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.” May the Club events be connected with the true life that is hidden in the rhizome and serve the creative spirit of the unconscious!

«Face to Face»

BBC - Interview by John Freeman with C.G. Jung. Produced by Hugh Burnett UK 1959 (40 min)



Dr. Andreas Schweizer, Zollikon

In 2015 the Club lectures and seminars were held in honor of Marie-Louise von Franz who was a Club member for many years and would have celebrated her hundredth birthday in the respective year. The way how she met C.G. Jung is a quite particular story worth to be mentioned here. 

Marie-Louise von Franz

It was in 1933. The messenger of fate was a nephew of Toni Wolff who then was the president of the Psychology Club. This nephew shared the class with Marie-Louise von Franz at high school. It is no exaggeration to say that without this seemingly chance concurrence, Jungian Psychology as well as the Psychology Club would certainly not be the same as what they are today. At that time C.G. Jung was eager to learn more about the young generation, their reflections and thoughts. This is how it came that through the agency of Toni Wolff some young people were invited to the tower of Bollingen. Among them was Marie-Louise von Franz as the only girl. In the company of seven schoolmates from high school they took the train to Bollingen to visit the famous psychiatrist. Jung then was 58. To the young girl he appeared like a methuselah, the biblical archetypal father from immemorial times before the Deluge. The latter is said to have reached the biblical age of 969 years and thus is considered to be the oldest human being mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. It seems that the young people have spent the whole day with Jung until late in the evening. I really wonder how Jung was able to spend that much time with so many different people beside all his work.

For Marie-Louise von Franz this first encounter with Carl Gustav Jung was fated and made an enormous impression on her. That very day a deep love for Jung and his psychology was sown in the depths of her psyche and it remained for the rest of her life. Many decades later, in an interview with Françoise Selhofer she recalled: “Jung spoke so impressively about the reality of the soul that I, who at that time had a rather rationalistic mind, soon did not know anymore whether I’m coming or going.” In the discussion at lunch C.G. Jung among other things mentioned a patient, who asserted that she has been on the moon where she had to fight a demon. So vividly was he talking as though this woman had really been on the moon. Marie-Louise von Franz somehow irritated objected that this young woman might have dreamed or fantasized that she was on the moon. Hereupon Jung looked at her very seriously and replied: “No, she was on the moon!” The 18-year-old, now really confused, thought: “Either this man is crazy, or I am too stupid to understand what he means.” When she went to bed after this long day being a bit tipsy as Jung served his young guests a lot of Burgundy wine she thought that most probably it will take her at least ten years to digest what this man had told her today. Later reflecting on this incident all of a sudden she realized that what happens psychically, is the true reality.

Soon after Marie-Louise von Franz attended the ETH-lectures of Jung for the first time. To her great surprise he remembered her and came straight towards her to greet her. Not much later she started analysis with him. Since she had no money she translated alchemical texts for Jung from Latin and later on also from Greek to German and thus “paying” her analyst.

1941 Marie-Louise von Franz was accepted to the Club as “Statutarischer Gast” (statutory guest) and three years later she became a member of it. For many years she has been the librarian of the Club. She was very happy about this unique opportunity to read the respectively newest psychological and mythological literature as, at that time, she could not afford to buy these books for herself. However, she often complained, that the Club members do not make use of the library enough; a problem that still exists in these days.

Later, as we know, Marie-Louise von Franz became one of the most important co-workers of C.G. Jung. When Jung first published his work on Aion in 1951 the treatise of Marie-Louise von Franz on The Passion of Perpetua: A Psychological Interpretation of Her Visions was included in the same volume. Moreover Jung wished to publish his major work Mysterium coniunctionis as a co-work of him and of Marie-Louise von Franz, which, however, the publishers of the German and of the English edition refused to do.

Ursa movet molem

More than eight decades later, in October 2015, some members of the Club visited the two towers of C.G. Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz at Bollingen, his round tower on the lakefront and her square tower farther up on the mountain ridge. We all listened to the stories of Jost Hoerni about his grandfather in the small garden in front of Jung’s tower. Years before Jung started to build the first tower in 1923, he hired an island on the Upper Lake Zurich for twenty francs a year. Together with his children and some students from the ETH Zurich he lived a wild and very “primitive” camp life on the island whenever time would allow him. Once, in 1921, sixteen members of the Psychology Club visited the island. This was, as we are told by the report of this excursion, the “Golden Age”, which probably does not so much refer to the Club, but rather to C.G. Jung’s exuberant and contagious joy of life in the midst of wild nature. 

 “Ursa movet molem” is chiseled on the exterior wall of the tower: “The female bear that is the constellation of the Great Bear moves the mass”. The Latin Moles means mass, power, also crowd. The Great Dipper seems to refer to humankind in general, if not to the whole cosmos as this constellation belongs to the circumpolar stars which seen from the Earth turn around the polar star. The latter is the star to which already the Pyramids of ancient Egypt were directed. In the old kingdom the soul of the Pharaoh was considered to ascent towards the polar star, the dwelling place of the gods, in order to become one among them. Thus, as I believe, the inscription on the wall of the tower expresses what Jung once called “the eternal connection through fate” referring to those seemingly accidental incidences which Jung called synchronicities. More intuitively than consciously Marie-Louise von Franz recognized the eternal connection through fate, which she experienced already at the age of 18.

When we later visited her tower we once again witnessed the truth of Jung’s inscription “ursa movet molem” in a very impressive way. There we sat in the increasing twilight – we, that is some twenty Club members – in a circle around the table in front of the chimney listening to Gotthilf Isler’s account of his experiences with Marie-Louise von Franz. It was a true testimony of the same vivid spirit that awakened in Marie-Louise von Franz long ago in 1933 when she first met C.G. Jung. We all realized the mastership and deep love with which she passed on that spirit to future generations.

This is the goal of the Psychology Club Zurich to pass on to future generations that vivid spirit of Analytical Psychology in our time too. Now this is not only the contribution of those who actively present their view of Jungian psychology in a lecture or seminar, rather it is the task of all members and visitors to turn this place into a vivid and creative place by focusing on the manifestations of the objective psyche and listening to the messages of their soul. To give an inspiring lecture is one thing, but in order to succeed auditors are needed who listen with a sympathetic ear and an open heart. People who, each in their own individual way, follow the inner path as much as they can or, to express it in a more poetical language, who do not cease to long for that star at the starry sky which determines their individual and unique fate. However difficult this path may be, it will save us from many inconveniences. For he who goes his own way is fully occupied with himself. He cannot bother anymore about the shadow of his neighbor.

Dr. Andreas Schweizer, Zollikon
In January 2017

1 Suzanne Wagner, Ein Gespräch mit Marie-Louise von Franz (A talk with Marie-Louise von Franz), in: Jungiana, Küsnacht: Verlag Stiftung für Jung’sche Psychologie, 2002, Reihe A, Bd. 11, S. 11 f. sowie Marie-Louise von Franz im Film von Françoise Selhofer, in: Jungiana, 1989, Reihe A, Bd. 2, S. 15-46. Translation from German by the author. Jung also mentioned this patient in Chapter IV, „Psychiatric Activities“, in: Aniela Jaffé (ed.), Memories, Dreams, Reflections by C.G. Jung, (London: Fontana Press, 1995).