L. Szondi

Szondi Institut
New Developments
Szondi's Applications
Szondi Groups
Personality Developments
The Latin Section

I sin Der Berufsbilder-Test. Seine Anwendung in der Berufs- und Laufbahn-beratung-einde einführung (1987) ger achtnich en introduktion till en ganska osofisikerad användning av testet, som kan ge en hel del information i yrkes-valspreocessen. en mer avanc CHAPTER FOUR: EGO PSYCHOLOGY (Book pages 71 – 95)

CHAPTER FOUR: EGO PSYCHOLOGY (Book pages 71 – 95)      


I. Fate and Freedom

Szondi’s family studies have shown that the basic choices of human existence are not made by chance but are influenced by unconscious, pre-personal forces. To understand these forces we must uncover recurrent patterns in the trans-generational family. Analysis discloses the family to be a stage, on which members play roles in an epic drama. The dramatic vision of the family opens up the perspective of destiny.

By making destiny central Szondi enters into dialogue with classical

antiquity. Greek has several terms for destiny. One is moira, and it

means “lot,” “portion,” or “allotment.” In Homer’s Iliad nzoira refers

mainly to death as an allotment of a god, impersonal force, or mythic

figure. In the Odyssey it usually means portion in the sense of honor, conduct, or material acquisition as allotted in a stratified society (Dietrich 1967, 212-213, 231). Related terms are aisa, which means an “equal share” and potmos, which means “that which befalls.”

Szondi interprets moira as a mythic being, a goddess of destiny, who

sends both good and bad fate, disaster and death (1963a, 17). His view

reflects the combat setting of the Iliad, the pre-Homeric chthonic culture of the goddess, and the modern German Schicksal, which means “that which is sent.” It also conveys the image of destiny in Hungarian, the term for which is sors, meaning “falling Out” or “coming out” (Kerenyi 1963, 6).

Post-Homeric Greek literature features abstract, metaphysical concepts, such as the working of allotment (heirnarmene), chance (tyche), and necessity (ananke). The latter is used most frequently by Szondi, when describing metaphorically the influence of recessive genes. Szondi correctly

Chapter Four: Participatory Ego Psychology



translates necessity in both Greek and Latin (necessarius) as constraint of the will by outside forces and by blood relatives.

Informed by classical learning, Szondi understands destiny as an allotment of human existence, both as a finite life span and as a dynamic unfolding of meaningful behavior through major existential decisions. Frequently, the decisions befall us like shock events. For many the decisions are maladaptive, compulsive, or destructive and, therefore, described in causal terms and represented by the metaphor of fate. Fateful decisions are often tragic in the sense that they lead to destruction. Although not conceptualized as a category, the motif of tragedy is a pervasive motif in the analysis of destiny.

After his expulsion from Hungary, Szondi went beyond his early biological-medical approach to a dialectical-interactional model of destiny. In a pivotal essay he explains that destiny embraces both freedom and fate (Szondi 1954b). Compulsive choice is expressed in the German phrase Zwangs-Schicksal and free choice in Freiheits-Schicksal. These correspond to the English terms fate and freedom, respectively. Destiny is a unique human capacity, because only humans can make conscious the heritage of the ancestors and the possibilities of existence. Destiny correlates freedom and fate, future and past, culture and nature, consciousness and uncon sciousness. Destiny is dynamic, functional, and dialectical. It is neither totally determined nor totally free.

There is a common tendency, particularly among theologians, to equate destiny with death. This point of view has been inspired by Martin Heidegger’s classic phrase “being-toward-death.” Szondi objects to the linking of destiny with death as too dangerous, one-sided, and an absolutization of only one part of human existence (1963b, 117). He does not develop this insight, but he offers a clue when classi! Heidegger’s existentialism as a sublimation of autistic schizophrenia (1956, 364).

Szondi’s opinion is, in my view, a political judgment. A student of German culture has detected a profound continuity between Heidegger’s “being-toward-death” and Nazi ideology (Pachter 1976, 52). Both Heidegger and the Nazis used military terms to emphasize that life is a training for death. They elevated death to an ultimate level, where destiny is fulfilled in a glorious and inevitable catastrophe.

As Szondi learned in the First World War, death is an abstraction. The German soldiers who returned from the front as tragic heroes and


who comprised the nucleus of the Nazi Party sustained the abstraction as a necrophilia. They loved death by means of a denial Gf guilt and a projection of responsibility for the war upon others, specifically the Jews. Szondi returned from the front with a more realistic outlook. Working in the shadow of proto-Nazi Hungarian Fascism, he developed the theme of destiny as a vision of human dignity and responsibility.

LI. The Familial Unconscious

Szondi’s development of a new model of destiny by 1954 also represents a shift from genetics to depth psychology in his work. The task of depth psychology is to make the unconscious conscious, in so far as this can be done. The entire range of unconscious content cannot be known absolutely. One of Szondi’s original contributions to depth psychology is the concept of the familial unconscious (Das fanziliare Unbewusste). Although this idea grew out of many years of studying families, the 1937 paper on marriage choice may be regarded as the primary documentary source. Szondi was the first to synthesize heredity with personality development (Wurmser 1963, 315).

The term familial is a translation of the German farniliare, which refers both to blood relatives and to what is customary (Bischof 1985, 195). With the findings of Szondi’s family research we may classify the practice of marrying gene relatives under what is customary.

The familial unconscious is essentially the same as the genetic load but differs from it in two respects. First, the familial unconscious expresses content in the form of polarity. This pattern correlates with the pairing of genes and chromosomes. Polarity accounts for the fact that the same genetic group can produce both normal and abnormal traits, both sickness and sublimation. Second, the familial unconscious has a latent proportion. This accounts for genetic variability, strengths, weakness, and distribution of traits among families.

Originally, Szondi contended that latent recessive genes constitute the familial unconscious. This must be revised in light of the current evaluation of Szondi’s studies in genetics. A revised model would include not only recessives, but also dominant, sex-linked, and the intermediate range of threshold genes. Such a view would go beyond the classical notion of the genetic load as a heavy burden and include the balancing




and adaptive features of an evolving psyche. The actual working of the familial unconscious is disclosed through genotropism.

The concept of the familial unconscious was initially proposed in light of Freudian psychoanalysis and Jungian archetypal psychology. As is well-known, Freud explored the personal unconscious, which bears repressed and forgotten material since birth. Jung discovered the collective unconscious, which contains the hereditary archetypal forms and instinctual drives.

By combining these three dimensions, Szondi intended to lay a foundation for the unification of depth psychology (1956). He understood these domains functionally and neither spatially nor topographically. They are co-active and complementary with consciousness. The personal unconscious is manifest in symptoms, the collective in symbols, and the familial in existential decisions.

Szondi did not integrate these unconscious domains uncritically. He agreed with Jung that archetypes conform to psychic reality and that they inform religion and culture. Yet Jung failed to correlate archetypes precisely with instinctual drives, making it difficult to diagnose psychopath ology (Szondi 1952, 25). Similarly, Szondi believed that Freud’s theory mainly reflected the struggle between two partners in the familial unconscious. Otherwise, Szondi conceded a profound indebtedness to Freud, as one who changed fundamentally the vision of human existence. After Freud, existence must be conceived developmentally, and the life of the spirit must be understood in terms of the unconscious as well as the ambiguity of creation and destruction (Szondi 1963b, 96).

III. Concept of the Ego

• What makes the unconscious conscious is the ego. The emergence of the ego signifies the birth of the human being in relation to the animal kingdom. By means of the ego humankind surpasses the tyranny of the instincts in the hierarchy of nature. The ego creates uniquely human activities, such as religion, art, and culture. The ego also makes the existential choices which project unconscious familial content.

Szondi defines the ego with reference to the history of religion and philosophy (1947, 130). The original and governing source for the understanding of the ego is Hinduism, specifically the teachings of the



Upanishads in the eighth century B.C.E. Szondi quotes several passages in the Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad (1956, 114-115), using the translation of Paul Deussen.

One passage portrays the ego existing alone at creation as a primal

being (1.4.1):

In the beginning the atman alone in the form of a man was this universe. He gazed around; he saw nothing there but himself. Thereupon he cried out at the beginning:- “It is I.” Thence originated the name I. Therefore today, when anyone is summoned, he answers first “It is I;” and then only he names the other names which he bears (Deussen 1966, 265).

Szondi translates the Sanskrit term atnzan as ego with the understanding that human nature is identified with the divine. As the creator of the world, the ego was named Lord (Ishvara).

The other source from the same Upanishad identifies the ego as that which dwells in creation and yet is distinguished from it (3.7.3.): “He who dwelling on the earth is distinct from the earth, whom the earth knows not, which the earth is, who rules the earth from within, he is thy soul, the inner guide, the immortal” (Deussen 1966, 206-207). Hence, the ego is the immortal and inner guide of all persons.

Szondi documents the history of the concepts of the ego and concludes that the various definitions are actually projections of the nature of life (1956, 115-129). The projections mediate reality and the human being. The various definitions of the ego may be classified in terms of functional dependencies, which are paired dialectically: divine omnipotence and human powerlessness, spirit and nature, conscious and unconscious, subject and object, femininity and masculinity, soul and body, waking and dreaming, and immanence and transcendence. These characteristics also express the general antitheses of life. These polarities are embraced by the ego and, therefore, may be regarded as correlative aspects. Since these antitheses are aspects or functional dependencies, the essence of the ego is relational and cannot be fully located in space-time regions.

IV. Phases of Ego Development

At birth the ego rests in a non-differentiated oneness. With the

activation of the contact drive, through the rhythm of seeking and finding,



the organism separates from the mother and strives for an independent existence. The separating organism is threatened, however, with loneliness, beginning particularly in the second year of life. Thereafter, the possibility of loneliness is always present; and it is this threat with which everyone must contend in life.

After separation, ego development procedes through the following stages: (1) projection, (2) inflation, (3) introjection, and (4) negation. They are virtually ahistorical and contain general, non-specific content. The ego phases may appear sequentially, simultaneously, or in a variety of forms. The goal of each is to re-establish, amid the struggle for existence, a primal wholeness. The phases inform the physiology and pathology of the psyche, and they operate in the three personal, collective, and familial unconscious domains. The four ego functions with respect to the three realms of the unconscious are defined below, using illustrations from the history of religions:

(1) Projection is “the primal, primitive unconscious elemental striving of the ego to transfer the power and drive of the unconscious toward being onto an object of the external world” (Szondi 1956, 160-161). The primary function of projection is the drive for participation. Freud originally discovered projection as the psychic mechanism of paranoia. In a pathology like paranoia unconscious content is transferred onto distorted or delusional objects without obtaining a real relationship. Such a transfer without participation is called secondary projection.

Jung discovered a collective projection in the sense of an unconscious subject-object identity in archaic society. Collective projection establishes transpersonal forms of being and dissolves individual identities. Szondi would agree with Jung and emphasize that collective projection is experienced as a mystical participation in being. Both Jung and Szondi drew upon the work of the French scholar Lucien Lévy-Bruhi, who established the category of mystical participation (Lévy-Bruhl 1966a). Szondi defines this as “the mysterious participation of heterogeneous things in one another, which is realized through mystical powers, working in them” (1956, 166).

The development of relatedness through projection is called the law of participation. This law is exemplified by the fact that ancient languages are synthetic; each word has a variety of meanings. Further, concepts of chance, linear causality, objectivity, and verification are not fundamental in



reality but purely secondary. Because of the interrelatedness of all things, images are just as real as the objects they represent.

The law of participation also accounts for the fact that the invisible realm, which is disclosed in dream and vision, complements the visible, sensory world. The correlation of the two domains entails a bi perspectivism, according to which the universe is physical, from one perspective, and spiritual, from another. Consequently, the physical- sensory and spiritual-invisible worlds participate in each other, creating an interrelated whole.

Recent research has helped to clari! even further Ldvy-Bruhi’s concept of mystical participation. Not everything in the universe is actually animated by a non-differentiated mystical participation. Rather, participa tion is differentiated by powers (Riviere 1989, 233-234). In light of current scholarship we may acknowledge that the projective-participation operates in the individual, the family, tribe, and physical nature. Each domain is unique in itself and not reducible to a homogeneous soul. Thus, the critical revision of Lévy-Bruhl’s law of participation makes it even more applicable to the analysis of destiny, because Szondi emphasizes the co-related personal, collective, and familial dimensions.

Primary familial projection is the transfer of hereditary tendencies to the descendant, creating a oneness, likeness, and relatedness with the ancestor. Such projection presupposes the working of genotropism, as one unconsciously seeks and finds relationships, particularly those of love and vocation. When the relationship is made, continuity with the ancestral model is established. Familial projection involves both blood and gene relatives. In its secondary form familial projection entails a transfer of pathological hereditary traits, whereby one pursues mate and vocational choices compulsively and without creating real relationships.

The social context of familial projection would be small village cultures, which have face-to-face relationships and are organized around totems. In such societies the individual is identified by participation in the whole family. For example, in African tribal society when one person gets sick and is admitted to a hospital, the entire family goes in too. The family remains with the patient until discharged. This indicates that sickness and health are relative to the whole family. At death one enters the realm of the living-dead, who are the deceased family members of five generations (Mbiti 1969, 89). They dwell in this state as long as they are



reality but purely secondary. Because of the interrelatedness of all things, images are just as real as the objects they represent.

The law of participation also accounts for the fact that the invisible realm, which is disclosed in dream and vision, complements the visible, sensory world. The correlation of the two domains entails a bi perspectivism, according to which the universe is physical, from one perspective, and spiritual, from another. Consequently, the physical- sensory and spiritual-invisible worlds participate in each other, creating an interrelated whole.

Recent research has helped to clari! even further Ldvy-Bruhi’s concept of mystical participation. Not everything in the universe is actually animated by a non-differentiated mystical participation. Rather, participa tion is differentiated by powers (Riviere 1989, 233-234). In light of current scholarship we may acknowledge that the projective-participation operates in the individual, the family, tribe, and physical nature. Each domain is unique in itself and not reducible to a homogeneous soul. Thus, the critical revision of Lévy-Bruhl’s law of participation makes it even more applicable to the analysis of destiny, because Szondi emphasizes the co-related personal, collective, and familial dimensions.

Primary familial projection is the transfer of hereditary tendencies to the descendant, creating a oneness, likeness, and relatedness with the ancestor. Such projection presupposes the working of genotropism, as one unconsciously seeks and finds relationships, particularly those of love and vocation. When the relationship is made, continuity with the ancestral model is established. Familial projection involves both blood and gene relatives. In its secondary form familial projection entails a transfer of pathological hereditary traits, whereby one pursues mate and vocational choices compulsively and without creating real relationships.

The social context of familial projection would be small village cultures, which have face-to-face relationships and are organized around totems. In such societies the individual is identified by participation in the whole family. For example, in African tribal society when one person gets sick and is admitted to a hospital, the entire family goes in too. The family remains with the patient until discharged. This indicates that sickness and health are relative to the whole family. At death one enters the realm of the living-dead, who are the deceased family members of five generations (Mbiti 1969, 89). They dwell in this state as long as they are



In summary, both projective-participation and inflation constitute the expansive power of the ego, the so-called “p” factor, which participates in the spiritual realm of being. This expansive aspect of the ego is present in primal religion, so named because it participates directly in the fundamental interrelatedness of the universe. Primal religion comprises small communities, oral tradition, myth and symbol, dream and vision. Primal religion normally lacks a historical founder and is shamanistic and relatively changeless.

One example of primal religion is the Native American tradition, wherein the sacred pipe illustrates the expansive power of the ego, according to which

the pipe is the universe, it is also man, and the one who fills a pipe should identif himself with it, thus not only establishing the center of the universe, but also his own center; he so “expands” that the six directions of space are actually brought within himself. It is by this “expansion” that a man ceases to be a part, a fragment, and becomes whole or holy; he shatters the illusion of separateness (Brown 1972, 21).

On the other hand, the expansive power of the ego is balanced by an opposite function, one that contracts in order to deal with material reality. It is called the “k” factor, and it comprises the next two ego phases.

(3) Introjection is “the unconscious, original elemental striving of the ego for possession and incorporation of value-objects, value-represent ations, and all value-contents of the outer and inner world” (Szondi 1956, 193). Introjection is governed by the ideal of having all, shaping not only character but also woridview, personal and corporate ideals, vocational and ideational communities in its primary form. Secondary introjection is the psychic mechanism present in the formulation of pathological symptoms.

Personal introjection comes out of one’s own experience and does not derive from repression. One example is grief, in which the bereaved incorporates the deceased in a clinging relationship. Hanging on to a lost object promotes a depressive reaction, which is characterized by a love-hate ambivalence toward the deceased. This understanding is the product of psychoanalysis.

Szondi clarifies three other kinds of introjection. Hyper-introjection occurs when the lost object is remembered with great photographic clarity. Detail-introjection is the retention of the part of a lost object, such as a



fetish. An ad hoc-introjection is the imprinting of a psychic trauma, resulting in a fixation.

Collective introjection is the assimilation of objective content from outside one’s own sphere of influence. What Jung calls the persona, the socially acquired identity, is a collective introject. Modern capitalistic societies, which rely on high technology, encourage introjective ego states, as in a collective search for goods and wealth. In times of crisis collective introjection takes the form of magic in order to satis1 a need for control.

Familial introjection is the incorporation of properties, capabilities, and ideals belonging to one’s forebearers. Primary familial introjection is the assimilation of an ancestor, whom one has not experienced, into one’s character. This presupposes genotropism and often occurs unconsciously. For example, Jung’s #2 personality was probably an introjection of his paternal grandfather, also named C. G. Jung, who may have been an illegitimate son of Johann W. von Goethe (Wehr 1987, 14, 43-44). Because of Jung’s fascination for this eighteenth century ancestor and Goethe’s Faust, he may have confused the distinction between the familial and

collective realms of the unconscious (1961, 35-36, 234).

Secondary familial introjection is the acquisition of a hereditary illness or mode of death, which also presupposes genotropism. This kind of introjection may occur in mate and vocational selection.

(4) Negation is “the partly unconscious, partly conscious elemental striving of the ego for avoidance, denial, inhibition, alienation, and repression of particular claims, representations, and ideals” (Szondi 1956, 217). Primary negation adapts to social and moral reality. It compresses the ego for the sake of practical tasks and protects against any threatening or one-sided ego expansion. Primary negation involves reality testing, decision making, and assessing the value of projection or inflation. Secondary negation is a pathological destruction of values and reality that results in a compulsion, alienation, or catatonic negativism.

Negation is personal when it derives from repression. Whereas Freud makes repression primary and negation secondary, Szondi reverses the order of priority. Personal negation alternates between conscious adapta tion and unconscious rejection of projections, inflation, or character opposites (e.g., femininity). With a negativism (i.e., secondary negation) one suffers a latent need to be all and to have all but cannot satisfy this need.



Collective negation informs the commands, laws, or rules that com munities impose upon individuals for social control. Szondi makes the proper distinction between morality and ethics and defines them with both ego and instinctual drive content. “Morality is the external command against specific behaviors, which are tabooed by the community” (Szondi 1956, 224). Such a command is motivated by the paroxysmal-hysteriform need for value, both as a claim of self worth and as an inclination to hide one’s face. Thus, morality is a collective prohibition of certain shameful actions (e.g., incest) in order to protect the moral worth of the individual.

“Ethics is the internal command, the inner law against killing and against incest love” (Szondi 1956, 223). Ethical commands are motivated by the paroxysmal-epileptiform need for restitution, specifically, by the Abel tendency. Since ethical commands are internal, they have a sacred quality, as in the monotheistic injunction: “Thus saith the Lord.” In contrast, morality rests upon a cultural ethos rather than an experience of the sacred. Both are grounded in the paroxysmal pattern.

Familial negation is a consequence of genotropism. One opposes a compulsive hereditary pattern and substitutes a free choice. By means of negation one may deny, inhibit, or adapt to familial tendencies or become alienated from them. Since we often carry out familial patterns uncon sciously in mate and vocational selection, familial negation may not be too common.

Secondary familial negation is a pathological denial, repression, or inhibition of asocial psychopathic, criminal, or mentally ill figures in the family. Ironically, we often manifest the characteristics of the persons we deny the most. The relative most opposed is the relative most resembled. Such negation can become a fixation and lead to personal disintegration.

In summary, the ego alternates in a rhythm of expansion and contrac tion, imagination and will. Each ego phase tends to dominate particular periods of the life cycle. Projection is common to infancy, inflation to adolescence, introjection to youth and middle age, and negation to maturity. As phases of the life cycle, they presuppose a primitive psychic stratum which is found in primal religion. Projection reflects the mystical participation in spiritual being, inflation the exaltation of ecstatic and androgynous states, introjection character and worldview, and negation ethical and moral behavior.



When one or more of these phases becomes extreme and falls out of balance, one becomes fixed and suffers a compulsive, destructive, or disintegrated fate. In extreme cases disintegration brings out twilight states in individuals and anarchy in societies. Both are flooded with cruel instinctual forces of raw, primitive life. The task is to achieve wholeness, to integrate a free and personal ego and live within a just democratic society.

V. The Pontifical Ego

Szondi’s ego psychology largely took shape during the first decade after the Second World War. It represented a dialogue between the human and natural sciences, particularly between depth psychology and genetics. Szondi intended to create a bridge between these different fields. Szondi refers to the bridge as a metaphor of the “between” (Das Zwischen). He “seeks to reveal the mysterious ‘between’ of two living beings, about which Plato earlier in The Symposium and also currently Martin Buber have spoken. [ is] even the ‘between’ which drives two humans to one another and maintains a double-union, a mystical union” (Szondi 1978, 17-18).

Szondi approves of Plato’s argument that “what belongs to us by nature has been shown to be something we needs must befriend” (Lysis 222A, Loeb). In Szondi’s reading of Plato, we love one another because we share the same nature. Our common nature is defined as gene-relatedness (Szondi 1978, 259).

Similarly, in The Symposium Plato narrates mythically that human nature was originally three-fold, comprising man, woman, and a union of the two. The latter was primal humankind, the androgyne, a round being with one head, two faces, four hands, four feet, and so forth. This primal being was murdered by Zeus because of its rebellious spirit. Ever since, each half has been looking for the other. “Thus anciently is mutual love ingrained in mankind, reassembling our early estate and endeavoring to combine two in one and heal the human sore” (Symposium 191D, Loeb). Hence, love is a reunion of separated relatives, who are, as Szondi would say, gene-related.



Szondi cites Buber in many places, but a revealing discussion is found in the Ego Analysis. Describing faith as union, Szondi explains that

“participation also enables only the encounter, only the meeting, only the dialogical conversation with the spirit in the sense of Martin Buber” (1956, 519). When the human and divine meet in religious experience, they retain their integrity. The encounter has an otherness, in which one’s identity is not dissolved. Human and divine are inseparable but unique.

These references to Plato and Buber clarify Szondi’s understanding of human and religious experience. Unification of the ego realizes the essential power of being through participation and achieves transcendence. Integration, participation, and transcendence signify the highest develop ment of the ego, the union of psychic opposites. This exalted state of fulfillment is represented in the concept of the metaphysical or pontifical ego (Pontifex Ich). The term Pontifex derives from the Latin words for bridge (pons) and for making (facere). Thus, the pontifical ego is that of the whole person, the fully relational self, which in the fullness of its power, participates in the realm of spirit. This high state of being is represented in the metaphysical image of the bridge of opposites.

The concept of the pontifical ego provides a framework for a theory of personality development, a transpersonal psychology of being, and a mystical vision of religious experience (BUrgi-Meyer 1988). The central statement of the transpersonal ego psychology is as follows: “The ego transcends and moves itself as trans-real in a participation-projective world dimension of Being, which we will briefly name the ‘-dimension. This i ‘-dimension is the fourth dimension, in which the p5yche may extend itself-in opposition to the body” (Szondi 1956, 464). As attested by one of his students, Szondi had presented this idea in a lecture in ZUrich in 1947 (BUrgi-Meyer 1989, 43).

Szondi goes on to explain that the term dimension consists of an extension of the body in space, according to length, breadth, and height, and of the succession of time. Ordinary reality is shaped by the extensive continuum of space-time, wherein causality operates. The spatio-temporal, causal dimension comprises the bounded or subjective aspect of the ego. Let us call this the perspectival ego whose content is immanent consciousness.

In its pontifical aspect the ego transcends the ordinary space-time, causal dimension and participates in a space-less, time-less, and final state.



These qualities of finality lie as potentials in the unconscious. They are also found in contemporary physics, which conceives of fundamental reality without matter and subject-object forms. Fundamental reality is empty, radiant energy which enfolds all forms. To participate in this fundamental radiant being is not to be deluded pathologically but to be whole.

Szondi’s reference to physics means relativistic-quantum theory. The universe is an inseparable whole, a dynamic process, in which all opposites unite, as in the wave-particle aspects of matter, for example. The wholeness of reality is knowable only through participation, and conceptual descriptions are products of projection. The pontifical ego is a primal wholeness, which is empty of particularate space-time causal forms. It includes the possibility of pure experience, universal relativity of all space-time regions, and translocal and transcausal relationships. Thus, ful fillment of the pontifical ego manifests a co-participation of self and fundamental reality.

VI. Sources of the Ego Psychology

As stated above, Szondi’s ego psychology was heavily influenced by Hinduism. His first literary reference to Hinduism appeared in a 1943 Hungarian manuscript (BUrgi-Meyer 1988, 13). He compares the expansive power of the ego, the “p” function, to the ahamkara, a striving for power that can come under the spell of illusion. Szondi also compares the con tractive power of the ego, the “k” function, to the mahanatman, which incorporates the gross, material world.

The next reference to Hinduism appeared in his pivotal essay “Human kind and Destiny” (1954b) wherein he shifts to depth psychology. He proposes that the concept of the pontifical ego is the answer to the old question of the Upanishads: “What is your ego?” Szondi describes the pontifical ego as the distributor of power, organizer, administrator, socializer, sublimator, individualizer, and humanizer. Szondi goes on to describe the ego as a union of opposites; for example...”the ego is neither spirit nor nature; it is the bridge between spirit and drive-nature” (1954, 22) and so forth. The antitheses are repeated and expanded in the Ego Analysis (1956, 156-157).



function. The Gita also accounts for the pathology of projection: “But he who is deluded by egoism (ahamkara) thinks: ‘I am the doer.” (3.27).

Szondi’s appeal to Buber’s ideas is also more consistent with post Vedanta Hinduism. Both Szondi and Buber qualify the pure mystical experience with a sense of otherness. Early in his career Buber was attracted to Vedanta, but he went beyond its monism to his mature I-Thou teaching, which reflected Jewish Hasidism (Friedman 1976, 413-414). According to Buber, the immediate experience of relatedness discloses the nature of fundamental reality.

Like the Bhagavad Gita Hasidism also recognizes a gap between the divine and the human, and it bridges the gap by withdrawing from the sensory realm and uniting with God in a mysticism of prayer. The Hasidic master Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav teaches: “The entire world is a very narrow bridge; the main thing is to have no fear” (Witztum, et.al., 1990, 125). Historically, Hasidism depended upon Platonic metaphysics, wherein the worlds of light and darkness are distinct but share a dynamic unity (Scholem 1987, 102-103, 316).

In the Platonic tradition the ultimate and sensory realms, those of light and darkness, unite in the intermediate world (Rep. X, 614C; Statesm. 309C; Tim. 90A) The intermediate world is the “between”, which is known in seizure states, expressed in twilight images, and defined only by negation (Conze 1974). Significantly, the setting of the Upanishads is the way of the forest. The forest is secret, dark, and mysterious, and it symbolizes a twilight state, a lowered threshold of consciousness, as experienced through a shock event.

Therefore, the concept of the pontifical ego is a new version of the Platonic intermediate world. The union of the ultimate and sensory realms resonates with the metaphysics of Hinduism and Hasidism. However, the ego phase of projective-participation refutes both monistic and dualistic conceptions and faithfully represents the relational vision of historic Judaism. Consequently, the image of atnzan as “bridge” informs the concept of the pontifical ego metaphorically rather than categorically.

VII. Forms of Pathological Participation

As a union of psychic antitheses, the pontifical ego displaces the space-time-causal realm and participates in an “other” domain of spirit.


Positing this kind of ego psychology inevitably raises the following question: What is the difference between normal and abnormal concep tions of reality?

When the primal drive for participation is not fulfilled, delusion obtains. Delusion (Wahn) is a misappropriated power of being (Szondi 1956, 412). It substitutes for real relatedness and takes such common forms as addiction, neurosis, psychosis, and magical speculation. These substitutes mean that one lacks personal integration and suffers powerless ness. The kinds of delusion correspond to the four basic ego phases. These delusions can occur individually or collectively, simultaneously or sequentially. Here Szondi goes beyond Freud who confines delusion to projection.

(1) Projection-delusion is “the product of an ego function which is characterized by a pathological power distribution and an unreal mode of participation” (Szondi 1956, 425). One externalizes one’s own power onto someone or something else, making the object omnipotent. A mutual hate relation arises between subject and object. When the transfer is total without any relatedness, paranoia results. The projection could be mixed with the Cain homicidal intent and be directed toward others or towards oneself depressively or compulsively.

Underlying projection-delusion is the inability to be alone. Some popular cultural forms of this delusion are astrology, superstitition, and non-scientific parapsychology. This type accounts for 32.2% of all delusions (Szondi 1956, 458). To achieve genuine relatedness, one must go beyond self-interest. Szondi believes that real transcendence is the only cure for pathological narcissism.

In this context Szondi refers to a psychological study conducted in Lambarene, Africa, by Emmerich Percy, a physician working with Albert Schweitzer (1956, 170). Percy found that among native Africans the dominant ego phase was total projection. This could be interpreted as a mystical, archaic, or autistic ego, on the one hand, or an undiagnosed schizophrenia, on the other. However, schizophrenic symptoms do not appear in these people, because their society satisfies the need for participation, the “p” function. Participation is achieved by identi1 with plants, animals, and ancestors. Hence, a person with an autistic ego would be normal in tribal society and primal religion but abnormal in modern civilization.




(2) Inflation-delusion doubles one’s power by expressing unconsciously and separately the psychic antitheses of the ego (Szondi 1956, 436). The frequency is 10.5%. Some common forms are megalomania, erotomania, and transvestitism. Mythologies of androgyny, as in the primal being who is both male and female, are examples. Szondi cites a case of a hebe phrenic schizophrenic, for whom the left arm was the wife and the right the husband (1956, 481). With the inflation-delusion the patient could be both and love both.

(3) Introjection-delusion is the desire to possess everything, a narcissism of having (Szondi 1956, 440). Behind the introjection lies a strong sense of guilt. One example is the fetish, which gives one a magical omnipotence or narcissistic sexual identity. Introjection-delusion often appears at the beginning and end of a psychosis as a cosmic grandeur, feeling of persecution, sexual powers, or pedantic orderliness. The frequency is 2.2%. Such delusion informs materialism, rationalism, positivism, and any other worldview that denies transcendence.

(4) Negation-delusion is the total devaluation of the powers of being and having (Szondi 1956, 443). Total devaluation creates a negativism and tends to be destructive. The clinical symptoms are feelings of worthless ness, illusory hypochondria, addiction, and suicidal and homicidal mania. The frequency is 22.7%. Thus, the negation-delusion is nearly as common as the projective. Yet, each is unique. With projection-delusion one has no ideals, but with negation-delusion no more ideals.

VIII. Participation Theory of Dreams

Delusion is related to dreaming in the sense that both go beyond the limits of ordinary, space-time, causal reality. The climax of the dream comes when the dreamer, for a brief moment, experiences a wholeness. Szondi calls this momentary oneness “autogenic participation”. Every dream is a nightly search for wholeness, for participation in the side of the personality that is not manifest in waking consciousness. The dormant half is the background self (Hinterganger). Though separated by waking consciousness, the background self is essentially related to the foreground self (Vorderganger), with which it unites in the dream. In the totality of the dream time is relativized. Dreams may reflect past or future or be causal or final.



In the human life cycle a splitting of the foreground and background selves usually occurs about ages three or four. After that period, stronger drive impulses become repressed and are reduced to the background self. The mechanism of repression is the waking consciousness in the perspec tival ego. The background and foreground selves assume a contrary role, creating a sharp polarity. For example, with an inhibited foreground self the background is autistic, and with a sexually feminine foreground, the background is sadistically aggressive.

One of Szondi’s patients illustrates such polarity. In Case #1 a 55 year old businessman appears to be a “Don Juan” type (1956, 233-234, 473-474). He has a brother, a passive homosexual, who died prematurely. The patient represses his femininity, so as not to repeat the sad fate of his homosexual brother. Yet he has a constantly recurring dream, in which he is a wife in bed with a Don Juan. In the dream the wife represents the background, Don Juan the foreground. The purpose of the repression is familial negation, to avoid the brother’s pattern of behavior. The male- female images mean that the dream work takes an inflative form.

Szondi’s theory also accounts for ancestral dreams, visions, and hallucinations. Case #9 concerns a 29 year old, female organist, who is a psychiatric patient. She has hallucinations in which her grandmother appears, and, behind her, the ancestors are standing. From this group a voice speaks: “Be brave, as I was brave, and the ancestors were brave”

(1956, 482).

Case #10 is about a 55 year old, female mathematician, who has a series of five long visions in which her ancestors appear. She describes the first one as follows:

I had the image that a deep stream of blood wandered through the streets with me. I wandered in this stream which was as high as a man. Suddenly, I became ill with high fever and rhinitis, because this ancestral blood stream was in me, and I suffocated in it. The only thing I knew is Lthat] the ancestral blood had saved me. I believe I was previously dead (1956, 482).

The patient hated her mother but loved her father. The mother suffered depression and had to be hospitalized for paranoid ideation. The more sick the mother became, the more she was repressed in the mind of the daughter. Thus, the mother represented the background self of the patient, as disclosed in the second vision: “I found her in a dark cave,



whose walls were bordered with dark breasts out of which milk dripped.” Her mother appeared to be in a death-like condition. The patient continued: “I sat still...on the bed, while out of the depths of the cave came a procession of ancestors” (1956, 483).

The patient repressed this imagery for twelve years, during which time the visions changed form. The mother and father grew younger, becoming bride and groom again. In the third vision the mother brings four candles, sets them in a cross-shaped holder, while their flames dance. Then in the fourth vision the mother holds a two and one half year old child, who is the patient as an infant. The mother speaks to the girl: “Now even you must drink, because you are also my child, just as I am your mother and child.’ I too drink from her breast and feel a stream of new life in me. I think: This at last is the means of healing. I need nothing more.” In the same vision the patient realizes that the union with the mother is a ritual of renewal, which is symbolized by the drinking of the breast milk and the dancing of the candle flames. The patient knows she is whole, as symbol ized by the four candles which are an archetypal quaternity, representing wholeness.

Finally, in the fifth vision the patient understands that her original repression of the hated mother was caused by familial anxiety. It was the anxiety that she would suffer the same ill fate that plagued her mother; so she denied her maternal heredity: “Anxiety in the face of destiny, which was carried by the blood of the ancestors and was pre-existent. Up to my 48th year I had defended against this fate by negation of the blood” (1956, 485).

The few brief excerpts from these visions demonstrate that the personal, collective, and familial realms of the unconscious co-act. The personal informs the mother-child conflict, the collective is in the healing images and archetypal quaternity, and the familial is in the flow of the ancestral blood. The achievement of wholeness in the patient indicates that the visions facilitate autogenic participation. They are a form of participation therapy.

To explain the dynamics of dream work Szondi employs metaphors from the theatre. The dream is the stage, the waking ego the stage director. The background self is expressed through personal, collective, and/or familial content. The waking consciousness, embodied in the foreground self, chooses the content and directs the play.



Falling asleep is the same as the curtain rising. The opening scenes present the existential possibilities in the destiny of the dreamer. As sleep moves through its cycles, the ego crosses a threshold, proceeding from the ordinary space-time world to the dream world. The waking ego recedes, becomes passive, and watches the stage. Personal, collective, and familial figures step out of the background as actors. They are symbols whose identities are normally hidden and barred from appearing in public. The play comes to a climax, uniting the psyche in a participation mystique. The drama ends, as the ego awakens to the light of day.

IX. Participation Theory of Faith

Szondi’s ego psychology culminates in a theory of faith. As a thera pist, Szondi learned that humankind has a fundamental religious need which, if not fulfilled, deteriorates into mental illness. The human need for faith is just as basic as that for contact or sexuality. In a revealing lecture, published posthumously, Szondi describes faith as the “royal road” to humanization (1954a, 1989, 53).

In the Ego Analysis Szondi poses the issue of faith in terms of illusion, in as much as Freud and Eugen Bleuler had already identified the two. Freud had proclaimed faith to be an illusion, and similarly Bleuler had regarded illusion as the physiological equivalent of faith. We note that neo-Freudian psychology of religion continues to speak of illusion, but defines it as a creative reality much like that of art (Rizzuto 1979).

Szondi treats the issue philosophically by arguing that the relationship between faith and illusion depends upon a prior woridview. In his view, Freud and Bleuler were both monists and their approach to life was essentially materialistic. They were religious, but the “god” whom they revered was natural science. They were great monotheists of natural science. Szondi contends that physical nature does not exhaust reality but is a half-world; likewise, spirit alone is also a half-world. Neither nature nor spirit constitute reality. Rather both nature and spirit comprise reality. Thus, the theory of reality, or metaphysics, can be neither monist nor dualist but relational. Only in the relation of nature and spirit may reality be conceived, and this conception is achieved by real participation.



Faith is a state of integrated wholeness, a participation in the full nature of being. In contrast, illusion is an extension of the perspectival ego or an object onto a boundless plane in the sense of a totalism. There is no genuine encounter, no otherness. What appears to be other is purely negative, evil, or unreal. Under illusion the ego suffers powerless ness. It splits and disintegrates.

The German term for faith (Glaube) may be translated as faith or belief. Szondi would prefer faith, and he illustrates its quality etymolog ically. The Indo-Germanic root of Glauben is “leubh,” which means “to praise;” the praise is directed toward the future (Szondi 1956, 514). Faith as praise is positive, mystical, and continuous, and this quality is not determined by reason. Faith belongs to the realm of spirit.

As a spiritual function, faith has two psychological aspects. On the one hand, faith involves a transfer of one’s own power onto God, thereby achieving a centered self. In this relationship the power of being becomes stronger than the power of having. On the other hand, the law of participation is fulfilled at the highest level of reality. This spiritual maturity is a fulfillment of the primal wholeness, which is latent in the original mother-child, dual-union.

The model of faith is the pontifical ego. In this state one is trans parent to the divine as well as fully human and fully personal. It is a mystical or pure experience, bridging this world and the other world. The pontifical ego activates the constitutive ego phases, other than the projective, in three basic aspects of religious experience: (1) symbolization through myth, dream, and vision (primaly inflation); (2) development of woridview, character, and sacramental object (primary introjection); and (3) adaptation by means of morality and ethics (primary negation). These three functions of religious experience are distinctive modes of participa tion in the realm of spirit.

Finally, faith is destiny. God or the realm of spirit is both “subject” and “object” of existential choice. When the choice of the object is compulsive, environmentally-conditioned, or purely rational, faith dimin ishes, as does one’s own personal humanity. One becomes dehumanized and may suffer a variety of mental disorders, such as total delusion, an autistic-undisciplined ego possessed by occult forces, hypochondria, or the obsessive superstition of religious orthodoxy. These conditions betray a dread of death, and they are inadequate defenses against basic anxiety.



In summary, fate consists of (1) heredity, (2) instinctual drives, (3) social conditioning, and (4) the influential ideas of the prevailing culture. Taken together, they are a half-world and a one-dimensional force. They encourage compulsive, genotropic choices and inhibit the spiritual drive for participation. In contrast, freedom emerges in (1) the perspectival ego and (2) the pontifical ego. The perspectival ego makes free choices, and the pontifical ego exalts the “p” function, the projective-participatory power of being, and gains wholeness. Since we can never escape the animal brain, freedom always occurs in nature, amid genes and ancestors. Therefore, freedom is destiny. In the complementary wholeness of freedom and destiny we face the world directly, confronting tragedy and ambiguity. In the realm of destiny death befalls us not as a threat but as a personal choice.


Chapter Five: Struggle Against the Ancestor

I. Ground of the Psyche

The last major work in Szondi’s system appeared in 1963, and it dealt with therapy. He formulated his method of therapy in dialogue with those of other psychologists. For example, the Freudian conception of the psyche is microscopic, anatomical, topographical, and mechanistic. The Jungian comprises levels of consciousness and unconsciousness, in which the psychic totality is partly identical to the physical continuum of the universe.

In Szondi’s view both Freud and Jung are monists. The struggle between the Freudian and Jungian schools illustrates the splitting of the psyche into subjective and objective domains. The historic splitting has led to attempts by various psychologies to recover the wholeness of the psyche. Szondi’s analysis of destiny is one of the most comprehensive formulations of wholeness.

Szondi has established a therapeutic model based upon functional dependencies. Some examples are the concepts of the familial unconscious and the pontifical ego. These units are relational in the sense that they represent experiences of wholeness and dialectical in that they comprise paired contents. Instead of reducing the psyche to a single energy source, the libido, as Freud does, Szondi shows that the hereditary drives have their own energies. Thus, the psyche in its conscious and unconscious domains is a plenitude of diverse energies.

Freud also conceived of the conscious and unconscious as psychic qualities, which are known only through signs or symptoms. Szondi argues that such qualities could only be classified as vegetative or reflective but not as psychic. He contends that “the essence of the psychic is the impulse of the life function toward freedom” (Szondi 1963a, 33). Conscious and unconscious are stations on the road to freedom. The achievement of



freedom involves a genuine wholeness, a real humanization, and not simply an adjustment to physical reality.

To account for the dynamics of freedom Szondi uses a well-known term from German idealism. Friedrich Wilhelm von Schelling conceived of absolute freedom as the Ungrund. This German term designates the absolute or basic ground of being. The Ungrund is the realm of absolute non being. It is addressed only by way of negation or by the negative theology.

Szondi translates grund as “depth” and “end;” so the Ungyund means “the deepest place.” Hence, the absolute provides the dimension of depth for psychology and grounds all distinctions and dualities. More precisely, the Ungrund is the unconscious. Szondi makes this claim in light of Freud’s belief that the unconscious knows no contradiction, negation, doubt, or opposites but that these are present in consciousness. Such characteristics presuppose an absolute depth or ground. The unconscious knows no contradiction because the freedom of the Ungrund is itself unconscious.

Throughout this discussion Szondi employs two terms, the Ungrund and the Urgrund, as though they were interchangeable (1963a, 34-35). This usage raises a problem in the original German tradition. Alexandre Koyre has shown that Schelling confused Ungrund Urgrund, and Abgrund and unnecessarily imputed darkness to each (1968, 281). The term Ungrund was introduced by Jacob Boehme and understood simply as the “Divine Nothingness” or absolute without determination or distinction.

These German philosophers used the notion of Ungrund to explain the origin of being. This presupposes that the explanatory principle of being be preceded by its opposite, such as a notion of nonbeing or nothingness. Such an approach is common to the NeoplatOflic tradition and to the circles of medieval Judaism that produced the Kabbalah. In the Kabbalab the source of all being is the ultimate nothingness, the primordial will toward being, which is the same as Boehme’S Ungrund (Scholem 1987, 459). Thus, Szondi’S understanding of the unconscious reflects the joint influences of the Platonic, Jewish, and German philosophical traditions.

Szondi finds in the unconscious or Ungrund a drive toward transcen dence, toward a conscious wholeness. The Ungrund is nothing explicit, but it projects the wholeness of being as a plenitude of energy that pervades the apparent emptiness of the universe (Bohm 1983, 210). The most

compelling manifestations toward being (“p” factor) a former expands the self thr self through the will. TI pontifical ego, in which im psychic unity. One experiei nature of the universe as an are dissolved in an ultimat

II. Tb

The fundamental movefl is illustrated concretely in in dialogue with Freud ar Enlightenment. It seeks t deliver him or her from in

Psychoanalysis deals objectivity of inner and ou subjective psychological ma reality as defined by social physical world. Therapy o repression as an empirical of the patient. The proc model of the psyche.

Szondi’s judgment of t further reinforced by the hi and thanatos, cannot be liii the eighteenth century hava forces of nature requiring d In the Enlightenment age r containing instinctual force

Szondi doubts that repri ology. Just to remove neu early childhood trauma, da concentrating on symptoms a whole person who bears in the familial unconscic



compelling manifestations of freedom in human existence are the drive toward being (“p” factor) and the drive toward having (“k” factor). The former expands the self through the imagination, the latter compresses the self through the will. The attainment of freedom culminates in the pontifical ego, in which imagination and will are elevated to the highest psychic unity. One experiences a transcendent integration and knows the nature of the universe as an inseparable wholeness, wherein all distinctions are dissolved in an ultimate nothingness.

II. Therapeutic Principles

The fundamental movement toward freedom, which informs psychic life, is illustrated concretely in therapy. Szondi explains his method of therapy in dialogue with Freud and says that psychoanalysis descends from the Enlightenment. It seeks to cultivate a pure insight in the patient and to deliver him or her from infantile dependence and the need for guilt.

Psychoanalysis deals with empirical reality, which comprises the objectivity of inner and outer perceptions. The Freudian analyst collects subjective psychological materials and evaluates them in terms of objective reality as defined by social consensus. Objective reality is the external, physical world. Therapy consists of a search for early childhood needs, repression as an empirical fact, and the fate of the repression in the life of the patient. The procedure rests upon a linear, logical, and causal model of the psyche.

Szondi’s judgment of the Enlightenment origins of psychoanalysis is further reinforced by the historical fact that the life and death drives, eros and t/zanatos, cannot be linked before the eighteenth century. Only since the eighteenth century have sex and death been viewed together as primal forces of nature requiring defenses and sublimation (Aries 1981, 392-394). In the Enlightenment age nature was discovered as an independent order, containing instinctual forces that challenged human mastery.

Szondi doubts that repression is a uniform causal factor in psychopath ology. Just to remove neurotic symptoms, caused by the repression of an early childhood trauma, does not guarantee genuine healing. Instead of concentrating on symptoms as psychic objects, Szondi views the patient as a whole person who bears several existential possibilities, which are latent in the familial unconscious. The key to healing is the personal



relationship between patient and therapist. The task of the therapist is to maintain moral integrity and to treat the patient as a responsible being, as an end in himself or herself.

Szondi lays down a series of fundamental therapeutic principles (1963a, 56-96). Stating these helps to clari1 further his view of the family and the experience of freedom. The first principle is that psychoanalysis grasps only a part of human destiny and not the whole. For Freud destiny is determined mainly by an obsessional neurosis, traumatically acquired from an unresolved Oedipus complex. As Szondi’s many case studies show, fatefully disordered lives are due to the complex interaction of heredity, biological drives, and the social and intellectual conditioning and not simply to neurosis.

The second and third principles together entail a distinction between pathogenesis and etiology. As stated in chapter one, this distinction has been confirmed by contemporary genetics. Pathogenesis means the manifestation of a disorder and etiology its cause. The psychoanalytic preoccupation with early childhood virtually confuses the two. Although early childhood may be the time of the onset of an illness, it may not necessarily be the cause. The clinical reason is that childhood traumas do not lead to neuroses or psychoses in all persons. A trauma is pathogenic only if the victim carries a specific tendency toward a disorder. The cause derives from the genes, and early childhood simply manifests the hereditary pattern.

The fourth principle involves a distinction between instinctual drive dreams and ancestral dreams. The former display content from the personal unconscious, which is usually sexual and shaped by repression. The Freudian analyst interprets dreams as though they were forms of literature portraying hidden sexual themes, The latter express hereditary tendencies as carried by figures in the familial unconscious, such as epileptic or schizophrenic ancestors.

The fifth principle states that ancestral claims originating in family heredity and appearing in dreams are acted out by the patient. One does not remember them but simply enacts them. Consequently, the Freudian method of recollection, repetition, and working through repressed content does not apply to ancestral claims, Confrontation with enacted but unremembered impulses requires a unique approach to therapy, which will be discussed in the next section.



The sixth principle mandates two tasks. One is that psychoanalytically the therapist concentrates on the defense and sublimation of the threaten ing unconscious impulse. Szondi observes this practice, when it fits the situation, which is usually at the beginning of a therapeutic course. The other is that in the familial phase, when hereditary pathologies are uncovered, vocational therapy may be indicated. Vocational choices may be recommended as means of sublimation of hereditary disturbances. However, vocational therapy is more easily done with younger patients or with those who suffer relatively mild disorders rather than with pre psychotics or psychotics. The familial or vocational stage of therapy is followed by the ego phase, when the therapist helps the patient achieve the faith function. The appeal to faith is based upon one’s experience and not theology.

Finally, the seventh principle clarifies the goal of therapy. The aim is to liberate and to humanize the patient. The end is not a static state but an on-going process. Humanization is not measured by the absence of symptoms; for even neurotics are capable of fulfillment. Humanization includes the capacity to make free choices, regardless of one’s early childhood or neurotic symptoms.

Szondi’s book on therapy was concluded with a reference to Martin Luther (1963a, 527). More precisely, Szondi’s clinical distinction between acting and remembering parallels exactly Luther’s dilemma as a young Augustinian monk. He had trouble receiving the sacrament of penance, because he could not remember his sins (Bainton 1950, 55-56). If he could not remember, he could not confess; and if he could not confess, he could not be forgiven. He acted as though he were a sinner, as though he were possessed by the wrath of God. Luther’s superior counseled him simply to love God, but he wondered how he could love a God of wrath. Luther suffered a paroxysmal splitting, which was resolved in the justifica tion by faith. Thus, the struggles of the young Luther serve as a prototype of psychoshock therapy.



III. Psychoshock Therapy

The aforementioned principles indicate two levels of therapeutic activity. Psychoanalysis is a direct type, utilizing free association and recollection to uncover unconscious resistance and to bring repressed content into consciousness. Some of the psychoanalytic factors of resistance are repression, transference, secondary gains of illness, repeti tion-compulsion, and guilt and the need for punishment.

The other, Szondi’s psychoshock therapy, is the indirect kind. He recognizes the fact that sometimes patients go through psychoanalytic treatment but do not improve. Their symptoms may return after a period

remission or they may not be able to make sound existential decisions. Despite completing a therapeutic program, they remain fatefully disordered. The reason is that genotropism causes the unconscious resistance. Hereditary patterns in the familial unconscious are repressed, and yet they influence one’s life.

The task of the therapist is to detect the resistance, including perversions, hallucinations, and delusions, and trace them to familial figures. The resistances could be called “ancestral reminiscences.” However, these familial patterns may not be uncovered easily, so the therapist must wait patiently for them to appear, often for years. Metaphorically speaking, the therapist awaits the return of the ancestor. Discernment of the familial patterns may be aided by psychological testing and by construction of a genealogy.

Getting at hereditary patterns requires the psychoshock technique. The term illustrates the fact that therapy is a shock event. This method grew Out of Szondi’s experimental work in 1945, following his liberation from Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. He admits that he and other psychiatrists had unpleasant feelings when treating patients with electro shock therapy. He wondered if a vigorous psychiatric confrontation on the couch might have the same dramatic impact as electricity.

Originally, he experimented on psychopathic addicts and paranoid and catatonic schizophrenics. Over a span of ten years he received encouraging results from his work. He found the technique mainly appropriate to prepsychotics and early schizophrenics in institutional settings but not so much to other patients. To do the psychoshock technique the therapist



must accept his or her own family background and forms of sublimation. One must come to terms with one’s own ancestors.

One illustration of psychoshock therapy is provided in the following case (Szondi, Moser, and Webb 1959, 271-292; Szondi 1963a, 171-187). It deals with a 45 year old bank official who has excellent financial ability. Until age 37 he had no relationships with women. However, his first love affair was with a paranoid-hysteriform woman who was 60 years old or 23 years older than he. The relationship lasted two years, and it gave him considerable pleasure. He wanted to marry this woman, but her son intervened and dissuaded him from doing so. The son explained that such a marriage would not be normal and that he should enter therapy with a Jungian analyst.

The man agreed. The Jungian analyst, a female, helped him to realize that the woman served as a mother figure and that he should separate from her. When the man dissolved the relationship, therapy came to an end. Following therapy, however, the man had another affair with a woman who was even older than the first one. Meanwhile, he was completely impotent toward younger women. The Jungian analyst advised him to enter therapy with a male psychiatrist, who would be a father figure and help build up his masculinity. He joined Szondi in a therapeutic course, which involved 101 two hour sessions over a span of 15 months, including analysis of 152 dreams.

Szondi conducted the psychoanalytic phase in accord with the Freudian method. The patient lay on the couch and spoke, while the therapist listened passively. During this phase, the patient became aware of the following symptoms.

First, he has a strong incestuous bond with his mother and sister. The patient is the youngest of four siblings, having one sister and two older brothers. The incestuous aspect appears in dream #11: “An older woman had said to me in a dream, I should not tell her husband. Yet I thought ‘But I have still loved my mother.” (1963a, .172) Dream #6 recalls a situation from the time he was six years old: “My father comes home from military service. I lay on my mother and sought her breast. The sister, who is six years older, lay in another bed and laughed at me with mother.” In dream #18 he desires to sleep with his sister but is prevented from doing so by the mother. The father appears as a “steer-man” and makes demands upon his daughter.



Second, many dreams evoke childhood anxiety, featuring, for example, the threatening appearance of his father as a red steer. Third, pre-genital impulses, such as anality, exhibitionism, and anal-sadism are brought out. Fourth, several dreams indicate repressed homosexuality, including erotic experiences with the brother and attachment to the father.

At the end of the first series of psychoanalytic dreams, the patient summarizes his own conclusions as follows. He realizes his attachment to his mother, resulting in various degrees of homosexual or bisexual feelings. The homosexuality is represented by the brother, which creates anxiety. The patient has many fantasies as a Don Juan type, yet he knows that he would fail in this role. He fears encounters with women, intercourse, and pregnancy. He wishes to be more masculine toward women than he actually is.

In his dreams the figure of the mother pushes him toward a career and toward relationships with specific women. The father, both as a human and as a red steer, represents his own instinctual drive nature. The mother has given religion to the father as a means of control for the drives and for his instability. The patient feels anxiety about his mas culinity and has discovered a masochistic side of himself. When faced with problems, he has a tendency to become ill. He also realizes that the analyst is a substitute for the father. Hence, transference occurs.

The second series of dreams, while still in the psychoanalytic phase, concerns the man’s first love, the 60 year old woman. The patient explains that he has experienced an intense, ecstatic love with her: “An unheard-of stimulation, I was in another world, I felt as if something were flowing into me from God.... I experienced it not as sexual, but as something numinous” (1963a, 73). However, he learns of the incestuous quality of this love, when in a dream the beloved takes on the features of his mother.

He writes about this discovery on October 9, 1953: “I was impressed- and still am-by the clear presentation of the incestuous and homosexual stages of development, through which every man has to go instinctually, with the underpinning of the primitive cultures” (1963a, 174). He understands that his homosexual tendency and impotence toward younger women are consequences of his mother fixation.

Within two months of the beginning of his analysis with Szondi his impotence disappeared completely. He renounced his incestuous desires and developed a normal relationship with a woman who was about 30



years old. He sustained the relationship for more than one year, until traveling to a foreign country where he became the head of a branch bank. Although the psychoanalysis had ended, Szondi knew that the analysis had not. The patient reported disturbing symptoms through both dreams and free association. These symptoms derived from familial figures.

Szondi resumed analysis with the patient in a second phase, the familial. Szondi believes that the hereditary roots of character and behavior are so strong that the patient should not be confronted with them in the early stages of therapy. The familial phase consists of a direct encounter of the ancestors, constructing a genealogy, and taking psycholog ical tests.

In the first part of the familial therapy the patient experiences parox ysmal-epileptoid relatives. For example, a stutterer appears in dream #19:

“Your brother M. had a brother, who stutters. I am astonished and ask, what is his name? ‘Hans’ was the answer” (1963a, 175). Indeed, the family has a member, who had stuttered earlier in his life.

In a session on the couch the patient feels the onset of an epileptic aura. This occurs after he explains that a cousin of his father, the son of a railway employee, had killed a friend in college during a prank. The patient becomes distracted by reference to the murder. Szondi explains that epileptoid states may come out, when associations with violent weapons, knives, swords, or daggers, are made.

The patient also has dreams about other people who suffer epileptic seizures. He cites dream #30 as an example: “Now visualize a young man with black hair lying on the floor. He then added: He reminds me of an epileptic schoolmate B. He says to me (in the dream) he has just had a choking attack.” In the preceding dream, #29, he sees his maternal aunt K., lying dead as a result of an epileptic seizure. His brother is present. The patient explains that this aunt had always excited him sexually and that his brother was a rival for her affection.

The patient goes on to reveal dream #149: “I lay on the couch and asked my mother, who stood nearby, whether she had ever had an epileptic seizure. She answered: ‘When I was 18, I had had one, and perhaps there is still another one.’ And after a pause she continued: ‘also the female chocolate stormer.’ ‘Chocolate stormer?’ I looked at her questioningly. Then I asked further: And do you know, mother, what breaks through in



an epileptic seizure?’ And I answered myself: a murderer! - She looked at me shocked. Yes, a killer, I repeated” (1963a, 176).

The patient acknowledges that his mother is either mildly or manifestly epileptic. In fact, both she and her brother had had periods of religious ecstasy with momentary absences. In dream #149 there is the unconscious knowledge that the patient’s first love, the 60 year old woman, is an epileptic carrier and that she is symbolized as the “chocolate stormer.” When the genealogy was compiled, the patient learned that this woman was the daughter of an epileptic pharmacist. The family tree even contains a male relative, the father’s cousin noted above, who was a murderer. Another relative, a theologian, had told the patient some time before that a distant ancestor had been beheaded for poisoning his wife shortly after their marriage.

Szondi discloses to the patient, at this point in the therapy, the hidden presence of epileptics and affect killers in the familial unconscious. Szondi explains the latent struggle between the Cain and Abel tendencies in human nature. In this case, the latent Cain impulse had existed in a repressed form, even before the beginning of the familial phase of therapy. For example, the patient had written a paper on November 12, 1953 listing eight situations in which he had expressed a violent intent. These had taken place between September 7, 1948 and May 11, 1951. In that period he felt a desire to kill a man, kick a pregnant woman, push his first love into a stream, hurt her with scissors, or drive nails into the head of a little girl. Previously, the patient had suffered enuresis almost until the time of puberty.

Related experiences had also taken place in the patient’s family. Once the father threatened to kill his daughter in a state of rage. Both maternal and paternal families have members who had undergone delusory religious ecstasy. Szondi points out to the patient that the disposition toward religious illusions presupposes a combination of epileptiform and schizoform heredities.

Thus, in addition to the epileptiform background the familial therapy uncovers a tendency toward inflative-paranoid schizophrenia. Schizoform content emerges in a second group of ancestral dreams. In one dream his mother says that he, the patient, had come into the world by “impregnation of the Holy Spirit.” Hence, the mother is Mary, and the patient is Jesus. The mother believes in the Second Coming of Jesus and that she must



prepare the way for it. The patient fears that if Jesus should arrive, he

might not be prepared.

The mother has a brother who has had religious ecstasie3 and who has not had relationships with women. He is called “the Holy One” in the family. The uncle appears in several dreams of the patient, in both psychoanalytic and familial stages.

In dream #6 the patient says that “I hold the will of my uncle ‘D’ in my hands, i.e., a photocopy of it (black negative), in which it is stated explicitly in strong words that the descendants are excluded. I look on the empty bed of uncle ‘D’ and find lying there his bright metal revolver; he has shot himself with the revolver. I unload it.... I am actually able to keep this revolver for myself.” In another room he discovers his mother in deep sorrow, and she says to him: “It is significant that the inheritance of Uncle ‘D’ (her brother) remains intact.”

With this dream series the patient realizes that he is a carrier of his uncle’s tendencies. He loves the uncle more than the other siblings, and he is the one who most looks like the uncle. The patient had been celibate until the age of 37, as had his uncle. The mother had insisted that both her son and brother remain identified with her. She would not allow them to relate to any other women. Moreover, the patient’s incestuous love with the 60 year old woman has repeated the same kind of relationship between his mother and uncle. The fatal shooting, in dream #6, means that the patient has broken this pattern and has become liberated from the incestuous bonding. That is why the mother is sad in the dream.

The patient also learns that he has been predisposed toward religious delusions, even though he has repressed them. He had recently been informed that, before he was born, his father had to be hospitalized for religious delusions for one and one half years. As he approaches the end of analysis, the patient does manifest schizophrenia. It comes out in the form of strange and powerful neologisms. He talks out or dreams these neologisms in response to a rapid fire assault of stimulus words by the therapist.

These neologisms are produced in colloquial German and difficult for me to translate. Some of the neologisms convey such images as a primeval forest, incest, defloration, and Martin Luther throwing an ink well at the devil mirrored on the wall. These images are followed by those of beating



a victim with a club, sexual intercourse, carnal lust, vampire acts, and other forms of sadism.

The discharge of these strange neologisms indicates that Szondi has allowed the patient to be temporarily psychotic. Thereafter, he confronts the patient with his schizoform heredity, explaining that it had broken into his consciousness. The schizoform carriers are the patient’s father and uncle. Szondi helps the patient realize that the familial schizophrenia threatens him through incestuous desires, sadism, and lust murder. The neologisms are defenses against these repressed sexual impulses. The patient also learns that these desires are infantile and that he can renounce them. Having made these discoveries, the patient writes a paper describing the religious ecstasies he had experienced between 1947 and 1950. All of these ecstatic states involve him inflated as a messianic figure and receiving mandates from God.

The next step of familial therapy is the preparation of a genealogy. Other than what has already been stated, some of the significant geno tropic data follow. The patient’s father descends from a family of farmers, many of whom had died by accidents. Some hold aggressive, paroxysmal jobs, such as locomotive engineering and farming. The father is a railway employee. Both he and his parents suffer fits of rage.

The mother descends from an Anabaptist family, in which several members are bakers and confectioners. One brother of the mother is a stutterer and the other, uncle “D” described above, is a victim of per secutory delusions. Uncle “D” had been fired from his job. Several sectarian clergy are frequent visitors in the mother’s home.

The genealogy also incorporates data from the family of the patient’s first love, the 60 year old woman. She claims occult powers and had terrorized her husband and, after he died, her lover. Her father is an epileptic who dies in a falling accident. A maternal aunt is hospitalized for paranoid schizophrenia and commits suicide with poison. Similarly, an uncle, a pharmacist, poisons himself. Another uncle is a minister and the administrator of an institution for epileptics. The woman’s grandfather is a church organist and her paternal uncle a rabbi. Her husband had been a Jew who converted to Christianity.

The 30 year old girl, whom the patient had dated after his psychoanaly sis, descends from a family of alcoholics. She has paranoid schizophrenic and depressive episodes, for which she has received electroshock. She has



made one suicide attempt, and, after the patient leaves the country to work in a foreign branch bank, she has suicide ideation.

The familial stage of therapy concludes with psychological testing. In this case the Szondi Test profiles indicate three unconscious dangers: (1) paranoid schizophrenia; (2) pathological attachment to a mother figure; and (3) masochistic feeling in love and religion. These threats could come out by way of the Cain tendency, by killing, or by way of the Abel, by studying religion seriously. Through the shock of therapy the patient encounters his epileptic and schizophrenic ancestors. As long as he represses these impulses, he will suffer a tragic fate. Giving in to the ancestors makes him ill and powerless.

Finally, the third and last stage of therapy deals with the ego analysis. This involves building up the power of being. Szondi persuades the patient to transfer his power of being to the realm of spirit. Taking clues from the ancestry, Szondi recommends studying psychology and religion. This would be done privately; meanwhile, the patient would remain employed at the bank. His personal study of religion would be a useful source of a healing sublimation and freedom.

The patient acts upon Szondi’s suggestion and comes to the following conclusion: “A man has not only bright, but also dark sides. This goes for everyone without exception. Everyone bears the Cain within, even though the strengths and realities may vary. Against this Cain also stands Abel, to the Devil an angel. The Abel is the light, the Cain the shadow”

(1963a, 186).

In dream #117 the patient sees a gravestone and cemetery, fire and forge and analyzes these:

It has become clear to me, that I have finally buried my uncle D in this dream. The streams, which flowed from this religiously disturbed uncle in me from the familial unconscious, have been conquered. Also the paternal epileptiform heredity (killer, hell, fire) and even the castration anxiety have become powerless. Earlier I had produced neologisms, to defend myself against my psychotic uncle and father. So I tried to hide them both.

Both are now buried.

He goes on to explain that he has become free from his religious obsessions, that he wants to marry, and that he wishes to cultivate his new spiritual qualities with his wife. In dream #142 he sees the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and says: “Now come problems of integration,



problems of humanization, and I am overjoyed. I will become a more sensitive man, who unites thought with feelings.” Thus, the patient has drawn closer to the pontifical ego at the level of faith.



c 1996-2000 Leo Berlips, JP Berlips & Jens Berlips, Slavick Shibayev