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Journal of Analytical Psychology, 2013, 58, 286289

Reply to Franois Martin-Vallas

Christian Roesler, Freiburg, Germany

Frankly, I nd it very difcult to take Martin-Vallass critique seriously since it is based on a fundamental misreading of my article. I admit that the title is misleading and appears to open up an opposition between culture and biology, but by following my line of argumentation it should have become clear that I am rather tearing this opposition down. My original intention was to give the paper the title: Culture is part of Mans Nature, the comment with which the paper ends. Martin-Vallas accuses me of restricting the debate to an opposition between biology and culture, while himself entirely missing the main topic of my article: the question of how we can, taking the insights of modern sciences into account, give an explanation for how universal archetypes are transmitted from one generation to another so that we can count on their existence in every human beingwhich is the denition Jung gives and on which the actual practice of Jungian therapy is based. I also nd it difcult to understand the critique that I assume the above opposition to be Jungs only approach to the topic when, on pages 22729, I give a detailed description of four different conceptualizations of archetypes to be found in Jungs work. One part of my article is indeed restrictive in that I try to point out that the proposal that archetypes might be transmitted by genes has now to be dismissed. Since analytical psychology sees itself as a scientic theory it should be possible to confront it with the insights of modern sciences. So I highlighted this line of argumentation and tested it against recent scientic results. One may call this restrictive. There is no doubt that, in many places, Jung made claims for this way of transmission: there are numerous quotes where Jung calls the archetypes innate (e.g. Jung 1949, para. 1228; 1919, para. 270); in one place he even says explicitly that archetypes are probably transmitted by Mendels particles (a synonym of his time for what today we call genes); in the paragraphs Martin-Vallas quotes (which are actually three entries in CW9i/Jung 1934/54, para. 58; 1939, para. 512; 1940, para. 294) Jung explicitly writes that the anima and the animus, which are psychological entities and archetypes by denition, are transmitted by genes; Jung repeatedly alludes to the archetypes as being the same as instincts in animals.
0021-8774/2013/5802/286 2013, The Society of Analytical Psychology

Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA. DOI: 10.1111/1468-5922.12011

Reply to Franois Martin-Vallas


I am fully aware of the fact that the biological line of argumentation is not the only one to be found in Jungs work. If Martin-Vallas had made the effort to look into my previous work on the topic of archetypes (Roesler 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010a, 2010b, 2012) it would have become clear that my own approach to the investigation of archetypes is a more cultural one, making use of narratology and interpretative research. But, from my point of view, it is not helpful for the development of analytical psychology to try to protect Jung from the critique that he is sometimes contradictory and in some places clearly wrong by always explaining this away as evidence of the complexity of his thought. I feel capable of understanding complexity where I nd it and also of differentiating between complexity and contradiction. This way of trying to escape from serious criticism has a long tradition in Jungian thought starting with Jung himself who dismissed Adolf Portmann and attacked him personally when the biologist pointed out that Jungs concept of inheritance of experiences was not in accordance with the science of biology (see Shamdasani 2003 for a detailed discussion). I must even say that, to me, the transcendental conceptualization of archetypes appears to be the most coherent, since I believe that Jungian therapy is ultimately a religious practice. I am also aware that Jung as a thinker is characterized by his lifelong struggle to bring the scientic and the transcendental perspective back together which makes him so interesting. The conceptualization of the psychoid which Jung developed towards the end of his life out of the discussion with Wolfgang Pauli is an interesting product of that struggle. The concept was recently developed further in the sense of a generalized quantum theory at the Institute of Border Areas of Psychology in Freiburg/ Germany (Atmanspacher et al. 1995, 2002). I also do not agree with Martin-Vallass statement that my work rests mainly on that of Jean Knox. Apparently Martin-Vallas has missed the point that I strongly question aspects of her approach. Even though I see Knoxs work as the most sophisticated and detailed critique of the difculties in the theory of archetypes, in my view it does not solve the central problem: to explain how complex symbolical information nds its way into the brain of every human individual, i.e., the question of universality. Knox can explain the development of universal patterns only to the level of something as primitive as face recognition. As yet, this is as far as we can go; I am still waiting for a detailed description of the development of something as complex as the myth of the hero, a description which can explain how this pattern nds its way safely into the brain of every human being. To say that archetypes are a product of emergence is, by now, as self-evident as it is banal. Of course, today we can imagine archetypes only as the products of emergent processes in which biological and cultural inuences interact in a complex way. But that does not explain anything unless we are able to describe these processes in detail. (By the way when we are talking of emergence we are automatically talking of processes, so here we assume that archetypes are


Christian Roesler

products of development. I doubt very much that Jung thought of archetypes as products of development; instead he stresses again and again that he sees them as a priori structures which would exclude any development.) In my view the same limitation would apply to Martin-Vallass detailed argumentation about complexity. Arguing that Jungs apparent contradictions have to be understood as just complex and thereby coherent does not take the debate any further. It may sound harsh but I am strongly convinced that in analytical psychology we do not need more theoretical speculation of that kind; instead we need empirical research to understand ways of transmission of archetypes and their inuence on psyche in more detail. This is what I have been trying to do for some years now: I developed a narratological methodology to investigate biographies concerning the archetypal patterns inherent in them (Roesler 2003, 2005, 2006). At the University of Basel where I teach analytical psychology we just conducted an experimental study using an adapted version of Rosens Archetypal Image Inventory (Rosen et al. 1991) which showed a highly signicant effect for the existence of archetypal structures in learning and memory and is soon to be published (Roesler & Sotirova-Kohli ). I have developed a systematic interpretative method to identify archetypal patterns in dream series and to connect them with diagnostic information about the dreamer, called Structural Dream Analysis (Roesler & Gtz 2012)a pilot study showed very interesting correlations between the psychopathology of the dreamer, psychotherapeutic process and dream symbolism (Roesler 2012); a German study supported by the research platform of the German Jung Association (DGAP) is about to be started. I hope that these efforts contribute to the debate on the archetype concept by giving it a better empirical grounding. If, as a result, we should have to reformulate the archetype concept or even get to the point that where we are forced to give up on it, I would accept that. Instead of worshipping Jung and the greatness and complexity of his thought I am more interested in nding out how things really are. But as I have pointed out in my article and also here in this response: there is quite a lot of evidence that supports the notion of archetypes (as does my own clinical experience). So I am not afraid that a sceptical stance could destroy the concept. Instead, I believe, more scepticism would be helpful for developing the concepts of analytical psychology. References
Atmanspacher, H., Primas, H., Wertenschlag-Birkhuser, E. (1995). Der Pauli-Jung-Dialog und seine Bedeutung fr die moderne Wissenschaft. Berlin: Springer. Atmanspacher, H., Rmer, H., Walach, H. (2002). Weak quantum theory. Complementarity and entanglement in physics and beyond. Foundations of Physics, 32, 379406. Jung, C. G. (1919): Instinct and the unconscious. British Journal of Psychology, 10, 1, 1526. Republished in CW 8. (1934/54). Archetypes of the collective unconscious. CW 9i. (1939). Conscious, unconscious and individuation. CW 9i.

Reply to Franois Martin-Vallas


(1940). The psychology of the child archetype. CW 9i. (1949). Foreword to Harding: Womans Mysteries. CW 18. Roesler, C. (2003). Archetypische Muster in Lebensgeschichten. In Lebensgeschichten Erzhlen, ed. H. G. Petzold. Paderborn: Junfermann. (2005). Narrative Biographieforschung und archetypische Geschichtenmuster. In Seele und Forschung. Ein Brckenschlag in der Psychotherapie, eds. I. Meier, G. Mattanza, M. Schlegel. Basel: Karger. (2006). A narratological methodology for identifying archetypal story patterns in autobiographical narratives. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 51, 4, 57496. (2008). The Self in cyberspace. Identity formation in postmodern societies and Jungs Self as an objective psyche. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 53, 42136. (2009). Archetypen - sozial, nicht biologisch. Eine Reformulierung der Archetypentheorie auf Grundlage neuer Erkenntnisse aus Neurowissenschaften, Humangenetik, Entwicklungs- und Kulturpsychologie. Analytische Psychologie, 40, 3, 276303. (2010a). Analytische Psychologie heute. Der aktuelle Forschungsstand zur Psychologie C.G. Jungs. Basel, Freiburg: Karger. (2010b). Archetypal patterns in postmodern identity constructiona cultural approach. In Identities in Transition, eds. R. Jones & M. Stein. London: Routledge. (2012). A revision of Jungs theory of archetypes in the light of contemporary research: neurosciences, genetics and cultural theorya reformulation. In Facing Multiplicity: Psyche, Nature, Culture. Proceedings of the XVIIIth Congress of the International Association for Analytical Psychology, Montreal 2010, ed. P. Bennett. Einsiedeln: Daimon. Roesler, C. & Gtz, N. (2012). Manual zur Strukturalen Traumanalyse. forum/ Roesler, C. & Sotirova-Kohli, M. (in preparation). Das psychische Erbe der Menschheit Forschungsstand und laufende empirische Studien zum Archetypenkonzept C.G. Jungs. Forum der Psychoanalyse. Rosen, D. H., Smith, S. M., Huston, H. L., Gonzalez, G. (1991). Empirical study of associations between symbols and their meanings: evidence of collective unconscious (archetypal) memory. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 36, 2, 21128. Shamdasani, S. (2003). Jung and the Making of Modern Psychology: The Dream of a Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.