In Jung’s Collected Works (CW) volume 10 Civilization in Transition, Jung takes up his views on understanding evil and shadow as played out in Nazi Germany. His observations on the culture and diagnosis of Hitler are very interesting in view of our current dilemma. The quotes from CW Vol. 9.1 were written in the mid 1930s. The comments on Hitler were published after the war.

In reference to a case study and the situation of the individual’s process struggle concerning intellectual knowledge getting ahead of the fact of the need for a deeper understanding:

Vol. 9.1, Par 617: ..(re: what remains unconscious)… “These psychic evolutions do not as a rule keep pace with the tempo of intellectual developments. Indeed, their very first goal is to bring a consciousness that has hurried too far ahead into contact again with the unconscious background with which it should be connected….

It is a task that today faces not only individuals but whole civilizations. What else is the meaning of the frightful regressions of our time? The tempo of the development of consciousness through science and technology was too rapid and left the unconscious, which could no longer keep up with it, far behind, thereby forcing it into a defensive position which expresses itself in a universal will to destruction. The political and social isms of our day preach every conceivable ideal, but, under this mask they pursue the goal of lowering the level of our culture by restricting or altogether inhibiting the possibilities of individual development. They do this partly by creating a chaos controlled by terrorism, a primitive state of affairs that affords only the barest necessities of life and surpasses in horror the worst times of the so-called “Dark” Ages. It remains to be seen whether this experience of degradation and slavery will once more raise a cry for greater spiritual freedom.”

par: 618: “This problem cannot be solved collectively, because the masses are not changed unless the individual changes. At the same time even the best-looking solution cannot be forced upon him, since it is a good solution only when it is combined with a natural process of development. … The bettering of a general ill begins with the individual, and then only when he makes himself and not others responsible. This is naturally only possible in freedom, but not under a rule of force, whether this be exercised by a self-elected tyrant or by one thrown up by the mob.”

On the conditions which pulled for Hitler and PSEUDOLOGIA PHANTASTICA

CW Vol. 10, par: 453: “…the uprush of mass instincts was symptomatic of a compensatory move of the unconscious. Such a move was possible because the conscious state of the people had become estranged from the natural laws of human existence. Thanks to industrialization, large portions of the population were uprooted and were herded together in large centers. This new form of existence-with its mass psychology and social dependence on the fluctuation of markets and wages – produced an individual who was unstable, insecure, and suggestible. He was aware that his life depended on boards of directors and captains of industry, and he supposed, rightly or wrongly, that they were chiefly motivated by financial interests. He knew that, no matter how conscientiously he worked, he could still fall a victim at an moment to economic changes which were utterly beyond his control. And there was nothing else for him to rely on. Moreover, the system of moral and political education prevailing in Germany had already done its utmost to permeate everybody with a spirit of dull obedience, with the belief that every desirable thing must come from above, from those who by divine decree sat on top of the law-abiding citizen, whose feelings of personal responsibility were overruled by a rigid sense of duty. No wonder, therefore, that it was precisely Germany that fell a prey to mass psychology, though she is by no means the only nation threatened by this dangerous germ. The influence of mass psychology has spread far and wide.”

par. 454: (Hitler) “…he symbolized something in every individual. He was the most prodigious personification of all human inferiorities. He was an utterly incapable, unadapted, irresponsible, psychopathic personality, full of empty infantile fantasizes, but cursed with the keen intuition of a rat or a guttersnipe. He represented the shadow, the inferior part of everybody’s personality, in an overwhelming degree and this was another reason why they fell for him.”

par. 418: “All these pathological features -complete lack of insight into one’s own character, auto-erotic self-admiration and self-extenuation, denigration and terrorization of one’s fellow men (how contemptuously Hitler spoke of his own people!), projection of the shadow, lying, falsification of reality, determination to impress by fair means or foul, bluffing and double-crossing-all these were united in the man who was diagnosed clinically as an hysteric, and whom a strange fate chose to be the political, moral, and religious spokesman of Germany for twelve years. Is this pure chance?”

par. 419: “A more accurate diagnosis of Hitler’s condition would be pseudologia phantastica, that form of hysteria which is characterized by a peculiar talent for believing one’s own lies. For a short spell, such people usually meet with astounding success, and for that reason are socially dangerous. Nothing has such a convincing effect as a lie one invents and believes oneself, or an evil deed or intention whose righteousness one regards as self-evident. At any rate they carry far more conviction than the good man and the good deed, or even than the wicked man and his purely wicked deed. Hitler’s theatrical, obviously hysterical gestures struck all foreigners (with few exceptions) as purely ridiculous. …A sorry lack of education, conceit that bordered on madness, a very mediocre intelligence combined with the hysteric’s cunning and the power fantasies of an adolescent, were written all over this demagogue’s face. His gesticulations were all put on, devised by an hysterical mind intent only on making an impression. He behaved in public like a man living in his own biography, in this case as the somber, daemonic “man of iron” of popular fiction, the ideal of an infantile public whose knowledge of the world is derived from the deified heroes of trashy films…”

par. 420: “…the peculiar genius of pseudologia phantastica … introduces its plans in the most innocent way in the world, finding the most appropriate words and the most plausible arguments, and there is nothing to show that its intentions are bad from the start. They may even be good, genuinely good. … Where pseudologia is at work one can never be sure that the intention to deceive is the principle motive. Quite often the “great plan” plays the leading role, and it is only when it comes to the ticklish question of bringing this plan into reality that every opportunity is exploited and any means is good enough, on the principle that “the end justifies the means.” In other words, things only become dangerous when the pathological liar is taken seriously by a wider public. Like Faust, he is bound to make a pact with the devil and thus slips off the straight path. …”

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