Jung’s Second Heart Attack: November 4, 1946


Image from Individual Dream Symbolism in Relation to Alchemy, Psychology and Alchemy
Figure 72

from Jung: His life and Work by Barbara Hannah:

“Altogether, Jung’s health seemed to be particularly good in the autumn of 1946…. It was, therefore, a completely unexpected shock to hear… that he had another heart attack and was again very ill. This time, refusing to go to the hospital, he had to have two nurses to look after him, day and night, in his own house.

The illness was even more unexpected, especially to Jung himself, than the one in 1944. He had the feeling then that “there was something wrong with my attitude,” and at first felt in some way responsible for having broken his leg. But this time it was a real bolt from the blue …

Jung remained ill for three months. About December 16 he sent me a message that he was still suspended over the abyss and warning me against optimism; he added that the real trouble was in the sympathicus. After his illness he told me that he was doubtful if he really had a heart infarct. At all events, it was mainly a disturbance of the vegetative nervous system that had the effect of giving him tachycardia (racing of the pulse). He again found himself confronted, like medicine men all over the world, with curing himself. The doctors insisted it was another heart infarct; and thus he was forced to find out for himself what was really the matter and how it should be met. One again he said that he had an illness because he was faced with the mysterious problem of the hieros gamos (the mysterium coniuntionis.) As late as October 15, 1957 (eleven years after this illness), he wrote in a letter:

As some alchemists had to admit, that the never succeeded in producing the gold or the Stone. I cannot confess to have solved the riddle of the coniunctio mystery. On the contrary, I am darkly aware of things lurking in the background of the problem –things too big for horizons.

It was his effort to write about these things “too big for horizons” and to solve their riddle that brought about Jung’s further illness.

These illnesses were really the direct result of what Jung always called “the only unbearable torture of not understanding,” but since the hieros gamos is so infinitely more incomprehensible that anything he was ever faced with in his life, it required at least two actual physical illnesses and the near neighborhood of death before he could understand it enough to on with his book.”
Pages 294-295

5 Responses to Jung’s Second Heart Attack: November 4, 1946

  1. Pushing too hard and fast for answers can land you in trouble. It’s a difficult balancing act, especially if you think you are running out of time. But some things are just too big for the rational mind and the feeble body to withstand. History is dotted with victims but in the end, that’s irrelevant too. The drive to evolve consciousness is unstoppable and the cost is only relative.

  2. Sometimes i have the feeling that when we were born we were closer to the truth than when we are going to die. At the beginning, everything was vague but simple, but as we grow older and learn we get the impression that we know more than before, and the more we know, the more we know that our knowledge is false. Finally we die with a with a more comlicated vagueness at best. That’s all the difference. It is like a dream, out of which you wake up at the end of your life knowing that it was all a game of building and rebuilding hollow concepts but how can you make anything new out of a closed system? Everything is already done. We’re doomed to know nothing more than we need in our everyday life.

  3. Hello, stumbled upon your blog … while looking for quotes on individuation. Glad I found it … I continually work with the idea of Hieros Gamos … and would like to confirm what book that Jung was writing that you refer. Thanks,

  4. I don’t have Barbara Hannah’s book with me that refers to this — she may have annotated it… it was after the second heart attack that he started writing about Alchemy, and didn’t care what other people thought…

    consider joining a discussion group on Jung..

  5. Thank you … I did a little digging … and believe it was “Symbols of Transformation” revised in 1952.

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