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Colman, W. (2002). A response to Barbara Stephens. J. Anal. Psychol., 47(3):492-494.

(2002). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 47(3):492-494

A response to Barbara Stephens Related Papers

Warren Colman

I read Barbara Stephens's articlewith great interest and I am grateful to her for drawing my attention to the Buber-Jung disputations. I gather from her concluding section that her interest is more in the form of the debate than its content, but I felt that the content of Buber's critique also drew attention to a very problematic aspect of Jung and his work that is at the heart of the difficulty of establishing dialogue. Philosophically speaking, Buber refers to this problematic aspect as ‘solipsism’. On p. 468 Stephens refers to Buber's charge that ‘every alleged colloquy with the divine was only a soliloquy, or rather a conversation between various strata of the self’. And on p. 479 she quotes Buber in 1957 describing Jung as a ‘mystic of a modern, psychological type of solipsism’. This psychological type of solipsism is, of course, narcissism. In psychological terms, the essence of Buber'scritique is the claim that Jung's psychology is not merely a psychology of narcissism but is itself essentially narcissistic. If that is the case, it is no wonder we have trouble dialoguing with each other.

I think there is strong evidence to support this claim. Jung's manner of response, to which Stephens draws attention, is typical of narcissistic patients - he is easily offended and reacts to this with sarcastic attacks; he ignores the actual substance of criticism and reacts to it only as a personal slight; feeling his omnipotence to be wounded, he has recourse to ‘authority’ to show how important he is and how he is not being taken sufficiently seriously by his critics.

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