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What am I doing as an analyst?
Max Zeller's dream of the temple and the question of analysis role in social change
Max Zeller whose career included a law degree, a brief imprisonment in a Nazi Concentration Camp and studies at the Jung Institute in Zurich writes in The Dream: The Vision of the Night (edited by Janet Dallett, 1975) :
“When I was in Zurich in 1949, the first time after the war, I was terribly occupied with the question, “What am I doing as an analyst?”
With the overwhelming problems in the world, to see twenty or twenty-five patients, that’s nothing.
What are we doing, all of us?
I stayed in Zurich for about three months and saw Jung quite a number of times.
The night before leaving Zurich I had a dream.
Dear Dr. Jung, I forgot to tell you the dream of last night and I think it is very important.
…I went out for the very last time to Kusnacht. And this was my dream:
A temple of vast dimensions was in the process of being built. As far as I could see ahead, behind, right and left-the were incredible numbers o people building on gigantic pillars. I too was building on a pillar.
Jung said; “Ja, you know, that is the temple we all build on.
We don’t know the people because, believe me, they build in India and China and in Russia and all over the world. That is the new religion. Do you know how long it will take until it is built?
I said, “How should I know? Do you know?”
He said, “I know.”
I asked how long it will take.
He said, “About six hundred years.”
“Where do you know this from?” I asked.
He said, “From dreams. From other people’s dreams and from my own. This new religion will come together as far as we can see.”
And then I could say goodbye. There was the answer to the question of what we, as analysts are doing. There is not an analyst who doesn’t experience it. We work with a person, and there is a critical family situation, or difficulties here and there, and as this individual works, that he or she does spreads.
It has a much greater effect than we think. It is not as it looks from the outside, that we sit in a narrow cubbyhole, because the material we work with transforms. It transforms us and, we, being touched, touch other people without ever talking about it.“
Watch Murray Stein telling parts of the story on Psychology & The Cross.
More context to the story can be found here.