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FRITZ KUNKEL AND THE WE-PSYCHOLOGY

Dane Rudhyar

When the psychoanalytical movement began with Freud, the main preoccupation of its pioneers was clinical Freudian psychoanalysis started as a new approach to psychiatry, and an alternative to the "reduction" of neuroses by hypnosis. Psychiatry was then a very young science, hesitantly seeking its way by the side of neurology. It has developed greatly since 1900, but it deals essentially with the cure of diseased mentalities. It is properly bound to the study of disorders of the brain and the nervous systems. It concerns itself with definitely sick people, and with the removal of symptoms by specific treatments.

The abnormal stresses and the demands for sudden adjustments to unnatural conditions of living featured by modern civilization have, however, led to a state of affairs in which the borderland between acute mental sickness and relatively normal psychological health has become an extensive and thickly populated realm. Mentally or emotionally unbalanced people crowd our farmlands as well as our cities. They may not be really sick, in a patho-neurological sense; but they do not face life with a healthy or wholesome outlook. Their responses to experience are vitiated, deviated, or thwarted by mental-emotional pressures which blind them, or so weary them that they lack the power to adjust themselves vigorously and wholly to new situations. They meet life and people in a fragmentary, uncertain, frustrated, and meaningless or compulsive manner. We may call these persons "neurotics." It might be far better to consider them as individuals who have lost faith in themselves, in human beings, and in life; persons who have lost the power to give meaning to their experience; for they have lost their sense of security and the feeling that the universe is ordered, rich in values, and ensouled by divine intelligence and love.

 

Psychiatry usually has nothing constructive to offer to these people no more than the modern type of clinical medicine can offer the millions of tired individuals who are neither diseased nor healthy. The medical profession today is primarily interested in curing diseases, not in giving people the power to live fuller, richer lives. Freud was typically a medical man; his method a reductive, analytical method a surgical method. Whatever philosophy he had was a pessimistic one, which certainly could not stimulate faith in life, a sense of wonder, or a wholesome feeling of creative joy.

Adler's reaction against Freud's clinical, pessimistic attitude led him a superficial optimism, and a straining of ego and will, somewhat less obviously paralleling the glorious "affirmations" of Coue and American New Thought. Success-psychology aims at the development of big, strong, positive egos with glowing "spiritual muscles." Social adjustments may be successfully made, but in most cases there is no possibility of real integration on an individual basis. The "success" obtained by such individuals leads, in the end, to a breakdown of the collectivity, because shadows and frustrations of the "successful," artificially positive individuals may have to be absorbed by others, or by the community (and nation) as a whole.

Carl Jung understood this problem and sought a solution for it in the collective depths of the human psyche. The individual who, for some reason, cannot adjust in a wholesome manner to the challenge of human nature and social conventions becomes overly involved and lost in his difference from others in the peculiar ways in which he feels separated from the norm. His salvation is possible only by his reorientation and adjustment to the norm. But this norm is not only as Adler seems to have thought a social norm, a matter of behavior and success. It is a growing power. It is the profound source of the common humanity of all men and women. Jung interpreted this common foundation as a group of Primordial Images deep in every person's collective unconscious. The integration of the personality results essentially from the progressive "assimilation" of these collective-generic, bio-cultural images, which are presented by Jung as syntheses of ancestral experiences, the dynamic concentrates of mankind's past. The process of integration is pictured also as the "great work" of the individual person, not in isolation from society, but nevertheless as an essentially individual achievement. Jung, heir to the Swiss philosopher-alchemist tradition, was an individualist and a mystic. He met the universe and humanity within his own collective depths. 

This approach is not possible for many persons. They would become lost on the way. They have neither the individual heroism nor the depth of determination required for this integration of the self by the self even with the necessarily limited help of a psychologist-guide. They need something other than primordial images as centers of integration. They need not only an image of the "Self," or of divinity; they need a God who is real, who draws them, who is with them as well as in them, They need to consider, a "common root" of humanity, not only as a common foundation or source of power and substance, but as the creation of a universal Being who is in His infinite Mind an "ideal" of them, and who, by His grace, is helping them to become like this ideal. The Jungian psychologist is called upon to be a modernized Hindu guru, with a lesser sense of responsibility and of psychic identification with his client-disciple. But most people today are not ready for a guru. They need a "religious teacher" who will not only "talk" religion, but practice psychology. Fritz Kunkel built his psychological approach in answer to this need.

Dr. Kunkel was born near Berlin on September 6, 1889; and when he shifted his attention from psychiatry proper to psychoanalysis, he was drawn at first to Adler. He eventually became President of the German branch of the International Society for Individual Psychology. Perhaps the determining factor in his attraction to Adler's viewpoint was the fact that during the first World War he was wounded at the firing line and lost his left arm. Adler's psychology gave much attention to the psychological results of organic disability, because, as we saw previously, it is a psychology of conscious overcoming. At the age of 28, the young Dr. Kunkel found himself facing a crucial readjustment. Twenty-eight is the time of the theoretical "second birth" i.e., conscious emergence into individual selfhood. For Kunkel, this time of emergence was accompanied by a dire shock and his birth-chart reveals the complex workings of some compulsion of destiny at the time. In his natal chart, Mars and Saturn are conjunct in Leo in the 6th house (illness, army service, discipleship, etc.). When he was wounded (August 20, 1917), the Sun was passing over his natal Saturn, Neptune and Saturn over natal Venus (also in the 6th house and in exact opposition to the natal Moon), while the progressed Moon in the 12th house was coming to oppose the natal Mars. Thus, as Saturn completed its first transit cycle around his birth-chart, Fritz Kunkel was facing a new life.

 

 

A year later, he married as Saturn crossed his 7th house cusp and Uranus crossed his Ascendant. It was not too happy a marriage, but children came, and, out of the experience of their growth, Dr. Kunkel undoubtedly gained the keen insight into the relationship of children to parents which not only brought him fame as a child-psychologist, but also developed into a foundation for his original contribution to psychology: the principle of the "We-experience."

I believe that Fritz Kunkel's life can be accurately divided into three periods, and that he was thus a very significant example of that three-fold rhythm of personality-growth which I discussed in my books, The Astrology of Personality and New Mansions for New Men. The first 28 years constitute the period of family and race expression. Kunkel was raised on large estates in Prussia; he attended universities in Berlin and Munich. He experienced the fullness of the upper-class intellectual German tradition. He was drawn into the war maelstrom, and freed from it and potentially from much more, by "fate." The second period of Kunkel's life, between 28 and 42, divides itself into two halves; it involved the progressive arousal of his individual spirit under stress and strain. Kunkel won over fate by the power of his own creativity and faith. The result was the "We-psychology."

How can a growing person emerge harmoniously and happily from the matrix of the "primal We" as a child, as an adolescent, later as a mature individual? How can psychology and education help to make this emergence successful? How can the ubiquitous crises of growth be met? How can the individual overcome the power of a collective past and any handicap of destiny? What faculties are needed? What psychological methods must be developed? These are the basic lietmotifs to be found in all of Kunkel's books.

During the first half of the second 28-year cycle, Kunkel had to seek answers, as it were, against society by overcoming resistances and pressures, unhappiness and the personal-emotional karma represented by his Venus, Mars, and Saturn in Leo (an intercepted sign in the 6th house) in opposition to the Moon in the 12th house. During the second half of the 28-year period (age 42-56) after his second marriage in the winter of 1931-32 Kunkel was able to give fuller form to his previous experiences, to demonstrate his wisdom and his dominant capacity as an educator and teacher. His books became famous and were published in America. He first came to America in the summer, 1936; then permanently in 1939. He settled in Los Angeles, where he died in 1955. He wrote, lectured, held seminars, and engaged in a private practice which he nevertheless limited in order to pursue his literary and creative work.(1)  

 

The last phase of Kunkel's life really began when he landed in America (June 23, 1936). Neptune was then crossing his natal Sun, and Pluto his Part of Fortune; Uranus, entering his 2nd house, was in square to the one basic opposition (Moon-Venus) of his birth-chart. Saturn, in the first sector of the birth-chart since the preceding year, indicated a period of ego-reorientation. But Jupiter was nearing the zenith opposed by a conjunction of Mars and Venus in the 4th house. The demand of his potential public destiny was opposing the rootedness of his personal life in the ancestral home. The stage was set for a third level of overcoming.

 

Kunkel's Jupiter holds the basic key to his destiny, just as the transits of Neptune mark the most significant turning-points in his life. This dominant Jupiter in Sagittarius, "lord" of the 9th and 10th houses (religion-philosophy and public professional life), is undoubtedly the "ruler" of the entire chart. It is the key to Kunkel's psychological doctrines to the educational-religious emphasis in his teaching. Indeed the twin principles of self-education and religious awareness are the foundations of his thought.

 

At first, he stressed the passage from the primordial "We-experience" to the state of individual differentiation and isolation he knew well the problems this passage produces as, crisis after crisis, the individual seeks to reach his "true center," not only in the surface egohood born of social overcoming (Adler) but in the depths of unconscious ancestral roots (Jung). Having experienced this "unconscious of the past" in the depth of his being, Kunkel then attempted to become aware of its polar counterpart in the heights of consciousness, the "unconscious of the future." He realized that it is the "presence of God" that draws man futureward and is enthroned at the zenith of the psyche.

Kunkel became interested in religious mysticism, in the Quaker outlook, and in the living spirit of the Gospel. His book, Creation Continues, deals with St. Matthew's Gospel. At his 56th birthday, he began his last life-cycle under a near conjunction of Jupiter and Neptune on his natal Mercury, and with his progressed Moon about to cross his natal Pisces Ascendant (if the birth-time he himself gave is correct). The emphasis is indeed Neptunian-Jupiterian through a Piscean "focus of attention" (progressed Moon). Saturn is climbing the rising arc of the birth-chart; Uranus is close to entering the 4th house; Pluto, on the mid-point between Venus and Mars. A new period was beginning for the founder of the We-psychology, which was increasingly becoming a God-psychology.

We-Psychology (as our trend in psychology is usually called) proceeds from the fact that every human being can only attain to self-experience insofar as he stands in relation to a group of persons. Even though he may actually live in complete isolation, he will yet be bound to some group (either in his thoughts or imagination) through desire or hatred, criticism or hope.

 

The We-experience is never absent from the inner life of any single person. It is the factor which compels everyone of us to share inwardly in the life of others and to intervene by protestation or criticism, by advocation or contribution, or by the assumption of authority in the destiny of groups, families, nations and civilizations. (Character, Growth, Education Introduction)

 

The more a person finds himself, the more he discovers that his personal interest is replaced by his responsibility for the whole. He is really himself only as far as he is a member of his group; and his group is alive only as it is related to mankind. The real Self therefore is not "I"; it is "We." Moreover, the human Self is not only human love and brotherhood; it is at the same time the creativity of the Creator, working through human individuals. He who really finds himself finds God. And he may say, as Saint Paul did, "It is no longer I who live; Christ lives in me" in this sense our true Self is the final goal of our religious development. At first it is "I"; then it becomes "We"; and at last it will be "He." (In Search of Maturity. p. 76)

 

We have to distinguish between the "unconscious of the past," our racial memory and inheritance, and the "unconscious of the future," containing the infinite pyramid of values, possibilities, and tasks, which, as it were, are lying ahead of us. Exactly spoken of, these values are timeless, but they must be lived in the future. (Ibid, p. 42)

 

The power which moves us to love, to strive, to create, is not working through the past. It is not a blind force, pushing us from behind, as the exploding gasoline pushes the piston of a motor. It is the creative power of the ultimate end, the value ahead of us in the infinite future, drawing us like a magnet, training us, transforming us like a breeder who transforms flowers into more beautiful flowers. (Ibid, p. 49)

Kunkel's psychological approach stems directly from that of the Christian mystics; but he gave to this mystic approach a new formulation in terms of depth-psychology, and with reference to the profoundly changed background of society. Yet, however modified the method of spiritual development Kunkel advocates, it finds as its central core the basic process of interior metamorphosis which the mystics have described in terms of Christian imagery. Reduced to its simplest form this central event is a "crisis." Kunkel stresses this need for "crisis" if there is to be real personal maturity. With the dramatic intensity symbolized by his Leo planets, he wrote:

The crisis then is the transition from an eccentric, less conscious and less powerful life pivoting around the Ego-image or an idolized image to a well-centered, more conscious and more powerful life pivoting around the real Self. This Self proves to be the center both of the individual and of the group, and therefore transforms the individual into a servant of the group that is love; and proves to be also our relation to God, and therefore transforms individuals and groups into servants of God that is faith. The crisis, if it is complete, means conversion. (In Search of Maturity, pp. 221-222)

People are "forced into their crisis by the consequences of their deviations," and they usually, with great skill, "try to escape," postponing the inevitable. But there is no true spiritual development without a crisis; the purpose of "religious philosophy" is to find the better, smoother, more effective, less tragic and wasteful way of meeting the crisis.

In his teachings and practice, Kunkel greatly emphasized the value of crisis even of nightmares! He was fond of saying to people he met in the evening with a glint in his eyes "May you have a good nightmare!" The reason for this attitude may be seen in his birth-chart. On the whole, one may consider it a smooth and easy chart with a basic grand trine and powerful sextiles, also a vibrant quintile (aspect of creativeness) of Venus to Uranus a very different chart from the cruciform pattern of Jung's natal planets. The only square pattern is a very broad one, in which Neptune and Pluto square the mid-point between Saturn and the Sun about nine degrees distant from either. However, Kunkel's natal Sun is in Virgo, and, as indicated in my book The Pulse of Life, Virgo is a symbol of crisis. It represents the personal crisis; Pisces, social-collective crises.

Kunkel had Pisces rising. His individual destiny and his original life-purpose (Ascendant) were stamped by the social crisis of his era; and, as a German, he was particularly receptive to these values of crisis. But while his birth-land met the crisis of this era in a regressive (because neo-tribal) manner, he was able to integrate himself out of it through his inner revitalization of the Christ-Image. Thus, destiny led him to America just in time to make it impossible for him to be caught in the disintegration of World War ll. He was thus, in a sense, an "archetype" of what his people should have done. He too had been maimed as his nation had been in 1918. But he met his crisis and won. He can therefore be considered an Exemplar for the collectivity from which he emerged as a creative individual, as a Teacher. This was his spiritual destiny; but he had to win it, as everyone must. He won with the power of his elevated 10th-house Jupiter. He was a man with a "mission." He showed to modern humanity (and especially to Europeans) a way of crisis-overcoming. This way is the Christed Way the way made more successful and glorious by the incorporation of the Christ-spirit through the crisis.

The center of crisis in Kunkel's chart is the conjunction of Mars and Saturn in Leo with Saturn close to the "Christ-star" Regulus. Regulus, the "Heart of the Lion," is the Christ-star because it refers to the spiritual transformation of the center of the emotional personality into a Christ-center, the Heart of Man. When the "red lion" (of the Alchemists) becomes the "white Christ," Man is born within and through the individual human being. The "red lion" in the Germanic myth is Frederick Barbarossa (the Red Beard), whose caricatural and degenerate expression was Hitler, with the little mustache. Germans were taught to expect the reappearance of their great Emperor. But the Emperor can only reappear in spiritual value as the Christ whose "kingdom is not of this world."

The proud Mars-Saturn power must be broken, in the realm of the heart (left side of the body), before the heart can be purified and is able to welcome the "presence of God." This is the crisis, common to many especially to all potential leaders, including religious leaders!

This crisis is further centered in Kunkel's chart at the Descendant, the cusp of the house of marriage and partnership, which falls between the Leo Saturn and the Virgo Sun. The Sun is also the mid-point of the arc between Venus and Uranus a quintile aspect. The "partner" is then the center of crisis, receiving the full blow of the squaring Neptune and Pluto. These two planets stand alone, north of the exact line of opposition of Moon to Venus which links the 12th and 6th houses; thus they act as a focal point of stress, in the 3rd house and Gemini. Saturn is the karma; the Sun is the overcoming, in creativity; the Descendant is the field of overcoming. The challenger is the Neptune-Pluto conjunction that is, the collective destiny and mentality of modern man. Jupiter is the message and the Messiah within. It is the Light of Creative Meaning. Jupiter is also in near-quintile to Uranus and semi-quintile to Venus. Thus a creative chain of approximate quintiles and semi-quintiles relate the planets above the Venus-Moon line which tends to be a line of deviated, or "karmic," consciousness.

Later on, I shall discuss the educative possibilities which astrological practice affords, along with the concept of religious self-education, one of the latest developments in Dr. Kunkel's psychological approach. But let me now point out that our present period constitutes a collective, global crisis made particularly acute by the possibility of a nuclear catastrophy. Every responsive individual not tightly insulated by the structures of his ego is necessarily a participant in this crisis. The teaching of a method to solve the crisis whether in its generalized social aspect, or as focalized through an individual is thus the most important need of this day and age. The problem affects many more men and women that those who are ready for psychiatric care. It cannot be solved by an Adlerian glorification of the conscious "I," and the path of Jungian depth-psychology makes too many demands on both the psychologist and the client to be practical for the average individual.

Something more is obviously needed. What Freud took out of psychology must be reinstated, but in a new way. We may call it "the Soul," or "God," or "Faith," or "the Master." One thing seems certain: either human beings will very soon have to use some revitalized or new psychological method enabling them to transform themselves as creative persons, meeting and solving their crises freely and on an individual basis or else, humanity will have to be swept by the compulsive fervor of a new world-religion oriented toward solving crises on a collective basis.

Perhaps both solutions can be integrated; but we must recall that in Christendom the individual salvation of the mystic was very much subservient to the collective salvation of the mass of the faithful. Even today, the value of an individualized solution to today's crisis must be powerfully stressed with utmost convincingness if it is to be made acceptable to the many.  


1. His translated books are: Let's Be Normal (1929); God Helps Those (1931); What it Means to Grow Up (1936); Conquer Yourself (1936); Character, Growth, Education (1938); How Character Develops and In Search of Maturity (1943) were written in English the last book is particularly remarkable.

 

 

Astrology and the Modern Psyche

 

 

Mindfire