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Newham, P. (1992). Jung and Alfred Wolfsohn: Analytical psychology and the singing voice. J. Anal. Psychol., 37(3):323-336.

(1992). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 37(3):323-336

Jung and Alfred Wolfsohn: Analytical psychology and the singing voice

Paul Newham

In 1904 Jung and his colleague Franz Riklin conducted some experiments with words which led to the discovery of the complex. Jung took a group of healthy adults and read to each one in turn a list of 400 words. After hearing each word the subject was asked to respond with the first word which came into his or her head; the response and the time it took were recorded. The first 200 stimulus words were uttered with no impinging circumstances. The third series was conducted under the condition of internal distraction, whereby the subject focused his or her attention on the perception of acoustic stimulus. The fourth series was conducted under external distraction, brought about by engaging the subject in making one-centimetre pencil marks on a piece of paper in time with the beat of a metronome (Jung 1906, pars 1-498).

In assessing and grouping the results of the association experiment Jung and Riklin noticed, as had Aschaffenburg in previous experiments, that when the subject became fatigued or distracted, an increasing number of ‘sound reactions’ occurred, i.e., the subject would respond with a word which was related to the stimulus word only by way of it having a similar sound, such as hat-cat, mouse-house.

The discovery that with ‘increasing distraction the reaction will be more and more influenced by sound, till finally only a sound is associated’ (Jung 1906, par. 450) led Jung to postulate a direct relationship between diminished attention and frequency of sound reaction. Jung further extended this postulate to hypothesize that: ‘As far as we know, attention is completely extinguished in sleep. If one succeeded in obtaining a reaction from a sleeping (but not somnambulant) subject, sound reactions would be the only result’ (Jung 1906, par. 165).


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