Incest

Incestuous images or situations, which appear to confirm Freud’s view, do in fact sometimes appear in dreams.  But Jung has explained in Symbols of Transformation that the “longing for the mother” can also be understood in another way.  He sees it not only as an infantile neurotic-regressive craving but points to the abundance of symbolic material which indicates a concealed urge to rebirth and transformation of the personality.  TGL 41

 

I said earlier that the contents which enter into the transference were as a rule originally projected upon the parents or other members of the family.  Owing to the fact that these contents seldom or never lack an erotic aspect or are genuinely sexual in substance (apart from the other factors already mentioned), an incestuous character does undoubtedly attach to them, and this has given rise to the Freudian theory of incest. 

Their exogamous transference to the doctor does not alter the situation.  He is merely drawn into the peculiar atmosphere of family incest through the projection.  This necessarily leads to an unreal intimacy which is highly distressing to both doctor and patient and arouses resistance and doubt on both sides. 

The violent repudiation of Freud’s original discoveries gets us nowhere, for we are dealing with an empirically demonstrable fact which meets with such universal confirmation that only the ignorant still try to oppose it. 

The view which probably causes most offence is that incest is a genuine instinct. 

I have long adopted the standpoint that the occasional occurrence of incest is no proof of a universal tendency to incest, any more than the fact of murder proves the existence of a universal homicidal mania productive of conflict.  I would not go so far as to say that the germs of every kind of criminality are not present in each of us.  But there is a world of difference between the presence of such a germ and an actual conflict with its resulting cleavage of the personality, such as exists in a neurosis.  2EoAP 24

Incestuous images or situations, which appear to confirm Freud’s view, do in fact sometimes appear in dreams.  But Jung has explained in Symbols of Transformation that the “longing for the mother” can also be understood in another way.  He sees it not only as an infantile neurotic-regressive craving but points to the abundance of symbolic material which indicates a concealed urge to rebirth and transformation of the personality.  TGL 41

   This leads us to a consideration of the transpersonal significance of mother.  From this angle she is not so much a particular person as she is the absolutely universal giver and preserver of life, and as such she may be compared to the unconscious which is the source and origin of all psychic life.  TGL 41

   Like the personal, the transpersonal mother-image also has a negative aspect which expresses a desire to hold the child back.  In myths and fairy-tales this is often depicted as the killing or devouring of the child.  Jung therefore speaks of the “terrible or devouring mother”.  In mythology this figure is portrayed as a gruesome and destructive goddess, the Indian Kali for instance, and in fairy-tales as the cruel stepmother or the witch, expressing the death-aspect of mother nature who kills her offspring from tie to time and takes them back into herself.  The unconscious exerts a corresponding influence in that it sets up a definite opposition to the development of consciousness or else it threatens to dim or even to extinguish the painfully achieved consciousness.  TGL 41

   The yearning for the mother can therefore also be understood, in non-mythological language, as the attraction exerted by the unconscious, a constant occurrence that is comparable to the effect of the law of gravity.  The development and preservation of ego consciousness is, for that very reason, often represented by the hero myth, for it is an achievement that can be compared to a fight with an overwhelming monster and which calls for almost superhuman strength.  TGL 43

Joseph Campbell   From Freud the course moves to Jung.  Personally I find Jung as an interpreter of myths far more impressive than Freud.  Freud projects a Viennese family romance of Papa, Mamma, and their boy-child into every mythology on earth, regarding myths not as symbolic of adult insight, but as symptomatic of an infantile pathology; not as revelatory, but as concealing; not as progressive, leading to maturity, but as regressive, pointing back to childhood.  Jung’s view, on the other hand, is that the figurations of myth are to be read as the metaphors of a necessary, almost pedagogical discipline, through which the powers of the psyche are led forward to mature relationships, first to the responsibilities of adulthood and then to the wisdom of age.  TMD 8

As Jung has explained in “Psychology of the Transference,” incest is probably based on a genuine fundamental instinct which could be described as kinship or endogamous libido; i.e. it arises out of an authentic urge in the individual which aims at holding the family together and protecting it from the disruptive influences of the outer world.  Opposing this instinct there is, however, a contrary gradient of exogamous psychic energy which actually causes strange and distant things to appear alluring, thus counteracting inbreeding and the psychic stagnation connected with it.  TGL 178

 The word “incest” has a definite meaning, and designates a definite thing, and as a general rule can only be applied to an adult who is psychologically incapable of linking his sexuality to its proper object.  TDoP

   It is no less unjustifiable to give the so-called Oedipus complex the status of a prime cause.  The Oedipus complex is a symptom.  Just as any strong attachment to a person or a thing may be described as a “marriage,” and just as the primitive mind can express almost anything by using a sexual metaphor, so the regressive tendency of a child may be described in sexual terms as an “incestuous longing for the mother.”  But it is no more than a figurative way of speaking.  The word “incest” has a definite meaning, and designates a definite thing, and as a general rule can only be applied to an adult who is psychologically incapable of linking his sexuality to its proper object.  To apply the same term to the difficulties in the development of a child’s consciousness is highly misleading.  TDoP 75

Procreation through incest is a royal or divine prerogative whose advantages the ordinary man is forbidden to enjoy.  TPofT  102 

Unconscious Incest

If a man has no real relations with his wife, then obviously he seeks another outlet.  And if he is not conscious of what he is seeking, or if he represses fantasies of that kind, his interest will regress on the one side to the memory-image of his mother, and on the other side it invariably fastens on his daughter, if there is one.  This is what might be called unconscious incest.  You can hardly hold a man responsible for his unconsciousness, but the fact remains that in this matter nature knows neither patience nor pity, and takes her revenge directly or indirectly through illness and unlucky accidents of all kinds.  Unfortunately, it is almost a collective ideal for men and women to be as unconscious as possible in the ticklish affairs of love.  But behind the mask of respectability and faithfulness the full fury of neglected love falls upon the children.  TDoP 125

It is of course not possible for parents to have no complexes at all.  That would be superhuman.  But they should at least come to terms with them consciously; they should make it a duty to work out their inner difficulties for the sake of the children. They should not take the easy road of repressing them in order to avoid painful discussions.  The love problem is part of mankind’s heavy toll of suffering, and nobody should be ashamed of having to pay his tribute.  It is a thousand times better in every respect for parents frankly to discuss their problems, instead of leaving their complexes to fester in the unconscious.  TDoP 126