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Historical background

Before turning to a specific analysis of the succubus and her role in Freud and Jung’s shame, a little background on their relationship is necessary. Let me make a long story very short: Freud and Jung enjoyed a six-year partnership that decisively altered the course of twentieth-century thought. During this time Freud and Jung were both ambitious young men, tantalized by prospects of future greatness. Psychoanalysis was founded on Freud’s theories, but it was the medically established Jung and his mentor, Eugene Bleuler, who put Freud on the scientific map (Kerr, 1993: 8). Pines states that it was Freud’s shame over being Jewish that made him fight desperately to get the Christian Swiss involved so that psychoanalysis would not remain identified with Jewishness (1987: 18). Meanwhile, Jung was formulating a psychology that sought to articulate the problems of individuation and wholeness by building upon the foundation of Freudian theory, but when he began to make revisions to Freud’s theory of the resolution of the Oedipus Complex, he instigated the final and definitive collapse of their partnership.

Their main theoretical difference is upon the point where a boy must separate from his mother (there is a female version, but it will not be addressed due to my focus on masculine shame). Both Freud and Jung concur that for the sake of the development of masculine consciousness, matricide must be the first act of liberation. Past this point their similarities stop. Freud’s Oedipus Complex explains the myth (rather than the other way around), and he concludes that it is only by resisting the regressive pull of the mother that a boy succeeds in strengthening ego, developing a superego, and extricating himself from mother’s engulfing grip to eventually fully enter the world of knowledge and power. This is the key to the child’s process of individuation; should this not occur, the child remains, according to Freud, in a perpetual state of narcissism.

For Jung, the formation of consciousness and the ego involves not just one initial break from the world of the mother, but repeated breaks in the form of periodic returns to her underworld realm. This is for the purpose of letting go of rational consciousness long enough for renewal, revisioning and discovery. This process of return and separation builds the ego-Self axis, the connecting link between the center of consciousness and the center of the entire psyche (unconscious and conscious). In other words, Freud’s paternal law against incest is regularly broken on the symbolic level, and regression to the womb to conquer the mother is part of the hero’s journey to rebirth.

Jung turned to myths as purveyors of knowledge that could shed light on the formation of complexes. In Symbols of Transformation (1955), the book that precipitated his break with Freud, Jung advances Freud’s thinking by turning to antiquity and exploring the archetypal motif of the hero’s birth and rebirth in an attempt to link and transform sexuality into spirituality, the meaning, according to Jung, of the hero’s descent. By examining massive mythological material from around the world, Jung sought to establish a relationship between the presence of mother-son incest, the rebirth motif and the cyclical rhythms of nature. Freud took issue with using ancient myths to explain the formation of the complex, and thought the motif of self-sacrifice was a projection of a repression of the ego’s sacrifice of its vigorous drives - basically a part of the castration complex. Freud could see nothing in the book but engulfment in the mother and resistance to the father.

Freud became very distrustful towards Jung and felt that he had to take back command of psychoanalysis. Freud’s determination was reflected in “a look” which Jung speaks of in his memoirs:

Freud had a dream - I would not think it right to air the problem it involved. I interpreted it as best I could, but added that a great deal more could be said about it if he would supply me with some additional details from his private life. Freud’s response to these words was a curious look - a look of utmost suspicion. Then he said, “But I cannot risk my authority!” At that moment he lost it altogether. That sentence burned itself into my memory; and in it the end of our relationship was already foreshadowed. Freud was placing personal authority above truth.

(1965: 158)

After their split, however, Jung did indeed “air the problem it involved,” a situation which, if true, would certainly have risked Freud’s authority, hence the survival of psychoanalysis. But then, Jung had no room to talk; he also compromised its survival the very same way. Both were seduced by the succubus and fell into different enactments of Oedipal rivalry - but more on this later.

Freud’s reaction to Jung, and Jung’s reaction to Freud, clearly indicates a place of deep psychic conflict. Yet it is also true that the powers of the succubus run very deeply through the whole of Western culture; she derives her very existence and power from the repression of the mother and the feminine, and she resides at the collision point of the sexual and aggressive instincts. When Freud and Jung began exploring the two drives that make human communal life difficult (to the point that now our very survival is threatened), it was inevitable that they would encounter their internal succubi, and a place where their image of mother is scarcely distinguishable. Yet during their conflict both chose dissociation in the face of her, and both would pursue power even more determinedly. With their shame catalyzed yet repressed, they both forfeit “truth” and activate the underlying structure of beliefs about males and females. Under Freud and Jung’s scrutiny, mother continues to be seen as an object of condemnation. With this dynamic in mind, the end of their relationship was just a matter of time. The pursuit of ambition and power inevitably results in less tolerance and more dogma. Freud and Jung’s last act of collaboration was “to accept the fact that they were stalemated” (Kerr, 1993: 10). This occurred at the Fourth International Psychoanalytic Congress, September 7-8, 1913, when they spoke not one word to each other: “so it was in silence that one of the most vexed partnerships in the history of ideas ended” (p. 3).

To look only at Freud and Jung’s psyches for the source of the problem does not explain why they protect themselves, or that their thinking can span five generations of analysts who have perpetuated the split. Freud and Jung’s theories were very much determined by the society in which they lived - hence, plagued with too much of the masculine drive to dominate, degrade and destroy. It is in this impasse that the succubus takes hold and continues to be a driving, splitting force in the field of depth psychology today. At the more manageable level of the personal unconscious, she maintains her hold in the as yet unexplored absolute shame of Freud and Jung. There she takes two forms. Freud conceives of Medusa as the penisless vagina of the mother and proof of her castrating powers that force the resolution of the Oedipal conflict once and for all. Freud also coined the term penis envy, a related concept which captures the image of a mother that wants nothing less than her son’s own genitals, and would relish the opportunity to cut off his penis - clearly a place of infantile castration anxiety and primitive shame for Freud.

A blind Salome whose vision is eventually restored visits Jung in two visions during his “confrontation with the unconscious,” a process that immediately followed his break with Freud. In this confrontation, we see Jung driven to probe the depths of his own psyche and undergo the death and rebirth experience of the most valued hero that he wrote about extensively in Symbols (1955). It appears that the ultimate split from Freud - the loss of the father and a descent into the mother - was so painful that Jung teetered on the edge of insanity for several years. Upon return from his descent, Jung attempted to put as much distance as possible between the split from Freud and his personal memories.

In the pages to come, the images of these succubi will be amplified in order to expose and begin to metabolize Freud and Jung’s core shame - an aspect of their scientific genius that has not, as far as I know, been the subject of much in-depth attention. To put it most simply, Freud and Jung personally enacted around the image of the succubus the same two historical male reactions to shame and its projection onto women - oppress and eliminate or dominate and conquer - and in this place the succubus sucked the soul out of psychology. Freud required repudiation of the maternal feminine and acceptance of the universal Oedipus

Complex, while Jung identified with heroic conquering to encounter the feminine in a process of self-transformation. But their projection of shame also led to the destruction of their relationship, the near death of psychoanalysis at the time, and the continuing lack of theoretical integration despite the fact that their theories are simply on opposite sides of the spectrum of human life and death - animal, instinctual sexuality and transcendent spirituality, both dimensions of the maternal feminine as manifest in Lilith, Queen of the Succubi.

In his shame, Freud is threatened with being turned to stone in the face of Medusa, and so, like the hero Perseus who is guided by the hand of the sexless goddess Athena, he eliminates the mother by cutting off her head in a single act of matricide. Jung can return to the underworld and face the incestuous mother because he is identified with Siegfried, the omnipotent hero who conquers - not a cowardly, vulnerable man who dissociates and represses Salome.

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