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Samuels, A. (1988). Comments on Farhad Dalal's ‘Jung: A Racist’. Brit. J. Psychother., 4(3):280.

(1988). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 4(3):280

Comments on Farhad Dalal's ‘Jung: A Racist’ Related Papers

Andrew Samuels

This paper may cause a scandal when it is published, even though, in Jungian circles, Jung's odd attitudes to so-called ‘primitives’ have long been regarded with dismay (Samuels et al 1986, pp. 112-3). Nevertheless I welcome the paper and am happy to respond to the Editor's request for a few comments.

Dalal's thesis is that by muddling prehistoric man, white babies and black adults Jung is prejudiced against the latter group. What is more, his insistence that blacks lack a ‘layer’ of culture and are, in some way, fundamentally different from whites (and more primitive than them) is demeaning and insulting.

From the standpoint of the author, the ideas in the paper are well argued and presented with a good deal of passion. But there are some aspects of this subject that are not considered:

(1)  Jung's overall perspective was symbolic. That is, the African in question was supposed to be a symbol for the more ‘primitive’ side of a European man - less repressed and alienated, perhaps.

(2)  Jung went in search of his ‘primitives’ precisely because he felt that they had retained something of value which modern Western man has lost.

(3)  Jung's role in the re-estimation of Eastern culture and religion was that of a pioneer - long before Alan Watts.

One omission from the paper is Jung's equally problematic attitudes to Jews.

I would question that what Dalal claims to be recognised as the strengths of Jungian psychology are really so, and it would be helpful to recall that Jung was a child of his own historical time (born in Switzerland in 1875). But, on the whole, I am looking forward to the furore this is going to create.


Samuels, A., Shorter, B. & Plant, A. (1986). A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis (see entry on ‘primitives’). London & New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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