“People forget that even doctors have moral scruples, and that certain patient’s confessions are hard even for a doctor to swallow. Yet the patient does not feel himself accepted unless the very worst in him is accepted too.
No one can bring this about by mere words; it comes only through reflection and through the doctor’s attitude towards himself and his own dark side. If the doctor wants to guide another, or even accompany him a step of the way, he must feel with that person’s psyche. He never feels it when he passes judgment. Whether he puts his judgments into words or keeps them to himself makes not the slightest difference.
To take the opposite position and to agree with the patient offhand is also of no use but estranges him as much as condemnation. Feeling comes only through unprejudiced objectivity. This sounds almost like a scientific precept, and it could be confused with a purely intellectual, abstract attitude of mind. But what I mean is something quite different.
It is a human quality, a kind of deep respect for the facts, for the man who suffers from them, and for the riddle of such a man’s life. The truly religious person has this attitude. He knows that God has brought all sorts of strange and inconceivable things to pass and seeks in the most curious ways to enter a man’s heart. He therefore senses in everything the unseen presence of the divine will.
This is what I mean by ‘unprejudiced objectivity.’ It is a moral achievement on the part of the doctor, who ought not to let himself be repelled by sickness and corruption. We cannot change anything unless we accept it.
Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses. I am the oppressor of the person I condemn, not his friend and fellow-sufferer. I do not in the least mean to say that we must never pass judgment when we desire to help and improve. But if the doctor wishes to help a human being he must be able to accept him as he is. And he can do this in reality only when he has already seen and accepted himself as he is.
Perhaps this sounds very simple, but simple things are always the most difficult. In actual life it requires the greatest art to be simple, and so acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the acid test of one’s whole outlook on life.
That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ, all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least o’ my brethren, that I do unto Christ.
But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most impudent of all offenders, yeah, the very fiend himself, that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved. What then?
Then, as a rule, the whole truth of Christianity is reversed: there is then no more talk of love and long-suffering; we say to the brother within us ‘Raca,’ and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide him from the world, we deny ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves, and had it been God himself who drew near to us in this despicable form, we should have denied him a thousand times before a single cock had crowed.
Anyone who uses modern psychology to look behind the scene not only of his patients’ lives, but more especially of his own life—and the modern psychotherapist must do this if he is not to be merely an unconscious fraud—will admit that to accept himself in all his wretchedness is the hardest of tasks, and one which it is almost impossible to fulfill.
The very thought can make us sweat with fear. We are therefore only too delighted to choose, without a moment’s hesitation, the complicated course of remaining in ignorance about ourselves while busying ourselves with other people and their troubles and sins. This activity lends us a perceptible air of virtue, by means of which we benevolently deceive ourselves and others. God be praised, we have escaped from ourselves at last!
There are countless people who can do this with impunity, but not everyone can, and these few break down on the road to their Damascus and succumb to a neurosis. How can I help these people if I myself am a fugitive, and perhaps also suffer from the morbus sacer of a neurosis? Only he who has fully accepted himself has ‘unprejudiced objectivity.'”
— Carl Jung in a lecture delivered to Swiss clergymen