Rutte (lecture): The Jung - White Friendship: The Untold Story
For decades, Jung searched in vain for a theologian with whom he could deeply and openly converse about his new vision of Christianity. Only very late in his life did he find and form a deep friendship with Victor White, a Dominican theology professor, whose own psychic life was saved by Jung's teachings. Jung saw White as the first theologian he had met who truly understood Jungian psychology. Jung wanted to use White's expertise in Catholic theology, which had fascinated Jung from early childhood, in his pioneering attempts to use his psychology to transform Christianity into a living, breathing, vital faith in the Divine. For his part, White wanted to resuscitate Thomistic theology by infusing its dry, skeletal neo-Thomistic cerebral character with the emotional vitality of the original Thomas Aquinas by using White's newly discovered Jungian teachings combined with some of the original teachings of Aquinas. In the process of their work together, Jung and White became close, trusting friends. In fact, Jung's friendship with White was perhaps the closest and most trusting relationship with a man which Jung had during his lifetime.
In a tragic turn of events, after they had become friends, White was pushed beyond the limits of his psychological resources by political events within his order. In a scathing review of Answer to Job, White displaced his anger/rage onto Jung instead of onto the appropriate persons. This wounded their friendship deeply, and it was only towards the end of their lives that a partial reconciliation was possible.
I would like to tell the story of this unique friendship.
Joseph Rutte, Ph.D. is a psychologist and Jungian analyst presently practicing in Seattle. He has had a vital interest in the relationship between Fr. Victor White and C.G. Jung for fifteen years, as soon as he discovered their correspondence. His article, "Run Over by a Train", in Psychological Perspectives in 1998, was his first description of their relationship, and was followed by a more extensive article in the current issue of the same journal.
Dr. Rutte was a member of a Catholic religious order for fourteen years early in his life, and worked as a teacher and priest in that congregation. He has been a licensed and practicing psychologist for the past thirty years. Thus, he has both Victor White and Carl Jung in his psyche, which accounts for his intense professional interest in their friendship. He is currently an analyst in the North Pacific Institute of Analytical Psychology.
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