Believing the most absurd things, just as the possessed do

“FOR the first time since the dawn of history we have succeeded in swallowing the whole of primitive animism into ourselves, and with it the spirit that animated nature. Not only were the gods dragged down from their planetary spheres and transformed into chthonic demons, but, under the influence of scientific enlightenment, even this band of demons, which at the time of Paracelsus still frolicked happily in mountains and woods, in rivers and human dwelling-places, was reduced to a miserable remnant and finally vanished altogether. From time immemorial, nature was always filled with spirit. Now, for the first time, we are living in a lifeless nature bereft of gods. No one will deny the important role which the powers of the human psyche, personified as „gods“, played in the past. The mere act of enlightenment may have destroyed the spirits of nature, but not the psychic factors that correspond to them, such as suggestibility, lack of criticism, fearfulness, propensity to superstition and prejudice – in short, all those qualities which make possession possible. Even though nature is depsychized, the psychic conditions which breed demons are as actively at work as ever. The demons have not really disappeared but have merely taken on another form: they have become unconscious psychic forces. This process of reabsorption went hand in hand with an increasing inflation of the ego, which became more and more evident after the sixteenth century. Finally we even began to be aware of the psyche, and, as history shows, the discovery of the unconscious was a particularly painful episode. Just when people were congratulating themselves on having abolished all spooks, it turned out that instead of haunting the attic or old ruins the spooks were flitting about in the heads of apparently normal Europeans. Tyrannical, obsessive, intoxicating ideas and delusions were abroad everywhere, and people began to believe the most absurd things, just as the possessed do.” – Jung, C. G. (1964) Civilization in Transition, Collected Works, 10, p. 211

After the catastrophe. In: Jung, C., Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 10. 2nd ed., Princeton University Press, 1970. 609 p. (p. 194-217):

In an attempt to explain the psychological factors responsible for the horrors of Nazi Germany, it is argued that Europe produced Germany, that Germany was but the crystallizing point for social and spiritual upheavals permeating all of Europe, and that all of Europe shares Germany’s guilt. Certain social conditions, e.g. mass unemployment, urbanization, and dependence on the state, are seen to have exacerbated the German predisposition to feelings of inferiority. This inferiority complex was manifested in overcompensation and in a whole nexus of pathological features that were flagrantly displayed in the person of Adolf Hitler. Hitler is described as the incarnation of the average German. The German people saw in Hitler the reflected image of their collective hysteria. By hysteria is meant that the opposites, inherent in every psyche, are further apart than normal, resulting in a higher energic tension and a disposition towards inner disharmonies. Goethe’s Faust is cited as a perfect example of this side of the German nature. Germany’s pact with the devil is said to lie in her abandonment of the spiritual for the material. With Nietzsche’s proclamation that God is dead the projected psychic image of God returned to its origin and produced a feeling of “God almightiness” that led the German people to disaster. The moral problem facing Europe is defined as a need to discover new sanctions for goodness and justice now that they can no longer be found in the metaphysics of religion. It is concluded that Europe must understand and accept its collective guilt and learn to live with the dark shadow that has been uncovered in its collective psyche.

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