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Carl Jung on Word Association Test in solving Crimes i.e. Murder, Theft, etc.

Lecture IX 11 June 1934

There are two questions.

The first is about the stage which the woman in the asylum, after being told that she had murdered her child, passed through before
her discharge.

I cannot say any more about this, both because it belongs to professional secrecy and because it is too specialised a field for the general public.

Someone else asks if I could not say more about the types, extraversion and introversion, and also about the Anima and Animus.

It is quite true that the question of extraversion and introversion could have been handled with the functions, but both this question and that of the
Anima and Animus are exceedingly complicated concepts which I prefer to handle only after that of the libido.

Psychological typology cannot be clearly defined, it is not just easy labels, but rather a critical apparatus to be used for the discovery of empirical facts.

We should not speak here of concepts hanging in the air, but of facts grown from the earth.

These definitions have grown out of my experience and in order to understand them a certain grasp of the structure of the unconscious is indispensable.

You must excuse me if I am somewhat miserly in the use of concepts.

I have had quite enough of such reproaches as “demonology” being thrown at my head, and I do not intend to use words without bringing experience
to substantiate them.

We have seen the emotional results of Association experiments.

If we can find complexes by such methods we should be able to reverse the procedure and with a knowledge of the complex be able to place guilt. It
should be possible, for instance, to use the association test successfully to discover a murderer.

The police sometimes avail themselves of this method of investigating a crime.

I once undertook an experiment with Professor Zurcher.

We staged a mock crime, so to speak, in order to see if I could discover the culprit.

I cut a photograph out of an illustrated weekly of an artist painting a picture with a cow and some human beings watching him.

Two students were picked out, one was shown the picture, and the other was not, and they were both sent to me in order that I should
discover which was the guilty one, i. e . the one who had seen the picture.

The innocent one came first. All the test words left him unmoved.

Obviously he had not seen it.

The Professor had chosen the best actor in the college to see the picture in the hope that he could outwit me, but he reacted in spite of himself to
the words: cow, painter, picture, etc., which I had mixed with a lot of irrelevant words and so was at once detected.

The cause of a real crime was a different matter, but I have used this method successfully on such cases.

There was a robbery once at the Burgholzli, in a room where three wardresses slept.

The contents of a cupboard had disappeared, money, underclothing, a fur, a silver chain, a purse, a receipt from the shoemakers
Dosenbach, etc.

When the fact was reported to me I investigated first of all the number of likely culprits.

The room was not locked so at least five other wardresses could have been in it, but I decided to start with the most likely, i. e. those
known to have been in the room, and try the word association test on them.

These were four: A, B, C and D.

“B” was the department wardress; “A” was another wardress, a friend of hers; “C” was a cleaner who had been in the room but did
not sleep there, and “D” was the Wardress who had been robbed and was consequently cleared of suspicion.

On the critical day “A” had had a half holiday and had stayed in bed till 12.

“A” and “C” did not know the contents of the cupboard, “B” and “D” did.

It is important that “B” did.

The test words included many from the known facts, such as: cupboard, open, yesterday, money, fur, Dosenbach, etc., and a few scarecrow
words were mixed in, such as: police, shame, arrest.

These last were juicy allusions to arouse emotion.

After the tests “A” and “C” were quite quiet with normal pulses, but “B” was very agitated with a pulse of 120.

Innocent people also get excited, so this is only a suspicious circumstance.

Diagrams “I” and “Ia” refer to the difference in reaction time between indifferent, critical and post critical words.

It will be noticed that in spite of “B’s” fast pulse, “A” has considerably the largest difference between normal and critical.

Chart II refers to other symptoms of complexes evidenced during the experiment.

It will be seen that ” A’s” chart is again suspicious.

Chart III refers to uncertainties, mimicking, insufficient reproductions, holes in memory, etc.

These last often persevere after the shock and can even affect the time before.

After a fall on the head, for instance, one may forget not only the shock and the time that one was unconscious, but the time before, even as
much as thirty hours before.

This happens also in a small way with a complex; touching every complex is a shock, all traumas have an amnesic effect.

The results of these tests are all rather high, especially in the case of “A” and “B”.

They are: “A” 64.7%; B” 55.5%; “C” 30%.

This was enough for me to be able to s ay to the Wardress “A” “You are the thief, now please tell me all about it.”

Thereupon she confessed without more ado.

A friend of mine once asked me to hypnotize his ward, whom he suspected of having taken his shooting prize, a medal.

I declined to hypnotize but tried to make the boy confess by word association which was immediately successful.

He sweated with fear and came out with the whole story.

In all these cases there was substantial evidence to work with.

This method could certainly be used in detective work, but it is a sensitive experiment and by no means fool p roof.

It is far better to let it alone than to be stupid over it, but the same could be said of photography!

So far we have only spoken of the word association method in its complex hunting role, but it can be used otherwise.

If you observe the patients closely you can, to some extent, place their type by watching their reactions.

Some people, for instance, always react with a judgment, others logically, or literally, and so on, observing the quality of their associations reveals a great deal.

This is a very useful method for exploring Family psychology which is a very important field, for everyone originated in a family, every human being once lay quite unconsciously in the lap of the family.

In very early childhood we are in a completely primitive state, and inasmuch as we remain one with our family this state of unconsciousness persists.

This has very strange consequences for until we know what we are made of, what our essential quality is, we are in Participation Mystique with our surroundings: unless I know what I am I cannot tell the difference between myself and the table.

Distinguishing differences is the essential quality of consciousness, discrimination is the essence of consciousness.

Just amazing things can happen in what Levy Bruhl calls “participation mystique”.

Participants in this condition do not understand anything, they personify a want of understanding.

Inasmuch as we are in common or mutual unconsciousness we are in this participation mystique.

The most striking proof of this is that we believe other people to be exactly as we are.

The truth is that we do not understand each other at all, there is always a tendency to project ourselves into other people, and that leads to using force and to quarrelling.

It is not any proof of culture to see everyone as exactly alike, on the contrary it is the sign of an exceedingly primitive state.

To think that what is good for us is also so good for other people is simply barbarous.

It is our moral task to see these differences.

We spring from the family, we are originally in participation mystique with the house, the garden, the maids , the dogs, the cats, for we came out of all these.

Just as long as we are unaware of this they all follow us.

Every object from which we originated is still in our unconscious in its original form, and can be discerned behind the individual.

We have become aware of these things there is a possibility of their changing; you can see them, know them, and ‘they can develop, but things in the unconscious are merely preserved from decay, they remain exactly the same.

So it is exceedingly important to find the “spiritus familiaris” and it is possible to dis cover it by subjecting a family to these tests.

Words describing fifteen different qualities are chosen with several referring to the emotions.

These are then applied to all the members of the family and an arithmetical average of the results is taken and you arrive at an average, family type.

It is noticeable that usually the more highly strung members approach most closely to the family type.
Diagram IV is the chart of such a test applied to a husband and wife.

[The black line is the husband and the broken line the wife.)

It will be observed how very closely the lines follow each other, this is because the two are in participation mystique with each other.

They have both been very much bound up in their families and carried over this attitude, even calling each other “Papa” and “Mamma”.

Probably both families had had this attitude in an unbroken line since the 14th century. ~ Carl Jung, Lecture IX 11June1934, Pages 122-125.

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Carl Jung on Word Association Test in solving Crimes i.e. Murder, Theft, etc.


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