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Carl Jung

Carl Jung

Home Literary Critics Carl Jung Word Association

Carl Jung’s Files

Dig into the personal files of your favorite critic.

The secret free association sessions between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud have finally come to light. From their personal papers, we found the following notes. (By "we," we mean the Shmoop Secret Service.)

Each performed this (in)famous word test on the other and recorded his notes next to the response given for each word. Below are excerpts from those tests.

Word Association Test given to Sigmund Freud, by Carl Jung
Billiards Hall, America, 1908

First word given was cigar. Response was pleasure. No surprise there. This guy smokes like an old coal plant.

Second word was buffalo. Response was father. Get stepped on by Dad as a child maybe? Accident with a horse?

Indian. Response was sorrow. Delayed. I think this is his reaction to the collective unconscious. An Indian chief or warrior or maybe a princess archetype pushing through. Siggie's got some aboriginal secrets.

Train. Response was tunnel. Again, no surprise there. When doesn't this guy think more about sex?

Gold. Response was teeth. A-ha! Dream image for an old man. He's scared to death of death.

Sister. Response was trap. Whoa! Damned if you talk about her, damned if you don't. I'm going to leave this one alone.

Milk. No response. Sig got mad and accused me of manipulating the test to coax an Oedipal, troubled mother response out of him. (He's right, of course.)

Grave. Response was lips. Delayed. I'm surprised he didn't same the name of some woman. This sex-equals-death thing really has a hold on him. It's got him by the you-know-whats.

Corn. Response was upright. Freud would tell me this is the ego stretching up to meet the authority of the super-ego, the sky. I think this is a persistent Indian archetype, a primordial birth image. Or maybe it's just a phallic symbol. But maybe also a magic, fortune-telling phallic symbol. A magic phallus growing symbolic corn cobs that are mini-phallic symbols that have eyes instead of kernels of corn. Okay I think I'm projecting here and my hallucination is overtaking his response. Where's my sketchbook?

Word Association Test given to Carl Jung, by Sigmund Freud.
Arctic Expedition, 1912.

I've decided to offer the exact same word prompts in the precise order given to me a number of years ago by Carl. Because I am just that smart.

Cigar. In delayed response, totem. Definite suppression of sexual identification. What man doesn't smoke or think about long extendable things? I do have a cigar in my mouth a lot, but that's a whole other story.

Buffalo. In response, cat. Impossible. I chide him for not taking this seriously. Buffalo should surely elicit a more traumatic response. Cat? Please.

Indian. In response, father. Doubtful. Carl would have me say it's a primordial archetype communicating from beyond the grave. Some native sorcerer casting spells on his psyche. I'm convinced this is Carl's hostility toward his father, just as American white men are hostile toward their Indians. I frown at him.

Train. In response, speed. Yup! His thoughts are always racing away from him. He's undisciplined and lets whatever crazy idea he gets plow right into his brain without exercising any control over them. The imagination is a run-away train, my friend. Finally, we're getting somewhere.

Gold. In response, alchemy. Hocus pocus, al-akazam, put two elemental personalities together and magically there comes a new psychic substance. Problem. No one has yet to make gold from salt, Carl. He's simply scared of being poor.

Sister. In response, shame. Total shame. I mean sham. (Wow, I just Freudian slipped myself.) He thinks that I'll think that he's reflecting my projected, sexual thoughts about my sister-in-law… that may (or may not) even be there to begin with. He insists I'm suppressing them. I threaten to quit the test because I'm feeling all mixed up now.

Milk. In response, starvation. He's convinced this trip is going to end badly. He says his dreams have been disturbing. We have plenty of food. Obviously this response means he was not breastfed by his mother.

Grave. In response, door. Here we go! More of the universal soul, collective unconscious mumbo jumbo. Don't buy it. He can't accept death so he turns it into magic.

Corn. In response, life. Okay. I get this. The American Indian has this same thought. It makes sense. But then any plant is life as well. He says, "there is no corn in the Arctic." Okay, now he's freaking me out.

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