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Thomson, J. (1993). But Where Do You Really Come From?. J. Anal. Psychol., 38(1):65-76.

(1993). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 38(1):65-76

But Where Do You Really Come From?

Jean Thomson

We have plunged down a cataract of progress which sweeps us on into the future with ever wilder violence, the further it takes us from our roots. (Jung 1963)

When he began to build the Tower at Bollingen in 1922, Jung was concretely making for himself an image of a deep desire to regain his roots. At first the house was to squat on the ground, a stone hut with a fire in the middle. The ‘maternal hearth’ was thus represented. Later he built a tower with a room to which he could retreat for reflection and solitude. Later still, he wanted to have a space outside, ‘a piece of fenced-in land’. He says: ‘From the beginning, I felt The Tower as … a place of maturation - a maternal womb or a maternal figure in which I could become what I was, what I am and will be … [it was] a symbol of psychic wholeness’ (Jung 1963). He had begun it just after the death of his wife in 1955. He was 81 and the building had taken him over thirty years.

Jung talks of clinging to the facts of family and home as reassurance that he could retain a grip on reality. The quote above refers to an anxiety about losing touch. In the Tower chapter of Memories, Dreams, Reflections he seems to have the confidence to let go and place himself in infinities. His discussions of psychotic phenomena are given a personal dimension which acknowledges the constructed nature of the boundaries which inform our usual everyday understanding. He needed a fixed point in time and space as an image with which to locate his Self and, particularly, a block of stone which was originally delivered by ‘mistake’ became a transitional self-object. He is not, I think, denying development or the drive to range from roots, since he also talks of taking up where the ancestors have had to leave off because they die.

He began this return to the fundaments of his life, ‘the maternal hearth’, some years after the break with Freud and his grief about that and the stress trigger which set him off was, he implies, the death of his mother, with whom he had also had a very ambivalent relationship.

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