Carl Jung and Catholic Priest Victor White

St. Thomas Aquinas

Jung’s Betrayal of Father Victor White (Catholic Priest)
June 16, 2010 by Steven Buser

This week’s blog is the conclusion of Murray Stein’s lecture on Betrayal, given at Jungian Odyssey 2010. In it he looks at the intense friendship and later dramatic breakup of Carl Jung and Father Victor White.

If you watch the performance of The Jung-White Letters (now available on DVD), featuring Paul Brutsche in the role of C.G. Jung and John Hill as Victor White, O.P., you will witness the trajectory of a relationship begun in the summer of 1945 just after the end of WWII with high hopes and enthusiasm for collaboration between the psychologist on the one side and the Roman Catholic theologian on the other.

The arc of their collaboration and friendship rises with rapid acceleration to a zenith (around 1948), then begins to flounder when they enter into a more earnest exchange of views on the nature of God and on the Roman Catholic doctrine of evil as privatio boni (1949-1955), and finally lose its basis and falls into severe disarray and finally into a rupture around what Victor White perceived as a betrayal and Jung then responded to as an unwarrented attack from White on his integrity.

The causal agent of White’s sense of betrayal was Jung’s publication of Answer to Job. “I wonder what induced you to publish it; when you gave me the manuscript to read you were so emphatic that you would not!” (Lammers, p. 259), White writes bitterly after the book was published and translated into English.

Earlier he had found the work fascinating, but when he had to answer pointed questions about its contents from his priestly colleagues and his Catholic followers and analysands, he became extremely uncomfortable and felt that Jung had cut the ground out from under him with the publication of this heterodox work. (more)

3 Responses to Carl Jung and Catholic Priest Victor White

  1. I read the whole article. Excellent, and made this comment:

    Brilliant. I am so with Jung on this one. And fascinating that due to their relationship White was able to work through his own initiatory experience of ‘betrayal’ – live the ‘Christ’ journey and gain his own wisdom from it. Inevitable paradoxes….

  2. It is ashamed that people of faith attack Carl Jung because Carl Jung is no longer here to defend himself. Carl Jung’s work had an extraordinary impact in the 1930’s with the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous that helped alcoholics recover from a spiritual sickness. Many recovering alcoholics eventually made their way to mainstream churches because the things that they learned in AA are in total harmony with the Catholic Church. The problem today is that many lay people and so called “Jungians” are misinterpreting Carl Jung’s methods and using his name in vain to exploit weakeness in the church. This is a perversion of Carl Jung and I think that if Dr. Jung were alive today then he would tell you that his methods make a bad Catholic a better Catholic and a bad Methodist a better Methodist, etc. Also remember that Dr. Jung was a product of the Great Depression. People needed help to live day to day because they were coming off of the decadence of the 1920’s. The age that we live in today is an age of decadence but that is not Carl Jung’s fault. It is the fault of sick souls living in a materialist society that will eventually need a cure. If you don’t admit that you are sick then there is nothing that can cure you.

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