Erich Neumann: Depth Psychology and a New Ethic.

Erich Neumann (1905-1960) was born in Berlin. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in 1927 and then continued to study medicine at the University of Berlin. He met C.G. Jung first in 1933, at a seminar Jung was conducting in Berlin. Jung was fifty-seven years old and already famous for his own brand of psychotherapy. The two men started a correspondence that would continue until Neumann’s death in 1960. A lifelong Zionist, Neumann fled Nazi Germany with his family and settled in Tel Aviv in 1934, where he would become the founding father of analytical psychology in the future state of Israel. He regularly returned to Zürich, Switzerland to give lectures at the C. G. Jung Institute. He also lectured frequently in England, France, and the Netherlands, and was a member of the International Association for Analytical Psychology and president of the Israel Association of Analytical Psychologists. He practiced analytical psychology in Tel Aviv from 1934 until his death in 1960.

In his book “Depth Psychology and a new Ethic,” written in response to the Holocaust, Neumann argues that the “old ethic,” which pursued an illusory perfection by repressing the “shadow,” has lost its power to deal with contemporary problems. He argued that Judeo-Christian morality represses evil, leading to horrific phenomena such as Nazism. Every person has to accept the evil within him or her, not to cast it away and not to repress but to live with it, sometimes even to manifest it, and to pay the price of sorrow and guilt feelings. He was convinced that the deadliest danger now confronting humanity is the “scapegoat” psychology associated with the old ethic. We are in the grip of this psychology when we project our own dark shadow onto an individual or group identified as our “enemy,” failing to see it in ourselves. The only alternative to this shadow projection is its recognition, and integration into the totality of the self. The goal of the new ethic is wholeness, not perfection.

The acknowledgment of one’s own evil is “good”. To be too good – that is, to want to transcend the limits of the good, is evil. Evil done by anybody in a conscious way (and that always implies the awareness of her own responsibility) can be ethically ‘good’ if the person does not try to escape the responsibility. Repression of evil becomes itself “evil”. It is invariably accompanied by an inflationary overvaluation of oneself. in the sense of a “positive attitude” or a “good will.” (Neumann 1948 [1967] p. 114). He says that we must give the devil his due from time to time. As an example, a talisman is a minor form of evil intended to protect us from a worse evil. There is no sense in trying to be good all of the time – it will blow up eventually. He teaches us to “feed” the shadow so that the shadow side of the unconscious does not erupt catastrophically.

Here are some excerpts from the book (highlights by me):


The scope of what we describe as “the old ethic” is actually very wide. It comprises the most variegated human ideals and includes a whole gamut of degrees of perfection. But in every case, it involves an assertion of the absolute character of certain values which are represented by this old ethic as moral “oughts”. (p. 33)

In every case a good which can be known is represented as an absolute value. The “denial of the negative”, its forcible and systematic exclusion, is a basic feature of this ethic. However variable its dominant symbols may be, the moral formation of the personality is in every case only made possible by a conscious tendency to one‐sidedness and by insistence on the absolute character of the ethical value. This invariably excludes all those clusters of qualities which are incompatible with that value.

It is in suppression, that is to say, in the deliberate elimination by ego‐consciousness of all those characteristics and tendencies in the personality which are out of harmony with the ethical value, that “the denial of the negative” is most clearly exemplified as a leading principle of the old ethic. Discipline and asceticism are the best‐known forms assumed by this technique of suppression…

Suppression is a conscious achievement of the ego, and it is usually practiced and cultivated in a systematic way. It is important to notice that in suppression a sacrifice is made which leads to suffering. This suffering is accepted, and for that reason the rejected contents and components of the personality still retain their connection with the ego.

In contrast to suppression, repression may be regarded as the instrument most frequently used by the old ethic to secure the imposition of its values. In repression, the excluded contents and components of the personality which run counter to the dominant ethical value lose their connection with the conscious system and become unconscious or forgotten ‐ that is to say, the ego is entirely unaware of their existence. Repressed contents, unlike those suppressed, are withdrawn from the control of consciousness and function independently of it; in fact, as depth psychology has shown, they lead an active underground life of their own with disastrous results for both the individual and the collective. (p. 35)

Conscience is the representative of the collective norm, and changes as that norm changes its contents and demands. In the Middle Ages, this collective authority demanded total agreement with the Old Testament view of the world, and condemned and suppressed the scientific approach as “heretical”; in the nineteenth century, the same authority required total agreement with the scientific view of the world, and condemned and suppressed religious tendencies as “priestly frauds”. Whatever is opposed to the equilibrium of the collective is tabooed, and its development in the individual is forbidden.

Complete agreement with the collective values in force at any given time is in fact impossible. As the values of the old ethic are “absolute” (that is, not adjusted to the reality of the individual human being), adaptation to these values is one of the most difficult tasks in the life of any individual. The formation of the façade personality represents a considerable achievement on the part of conscience. Without its aid, morality and convention, the social life of the community and the ethical ordering of society would never have been possible in the first place. (p 37)

The revolutionary (whatever his type) always takes his stand on the side of the inner voice and against the conscience of his time, which is always an expression of the old dominant values; and the execution of these revolutionaries is always carried out for good and “ethical” reasons. (p. 39) The shadow is the other side. It is the expression of our own imperfection and earthliness, the negative which is incompatible with the absolute values; it is our inferior corporeality in contradistinction to the absoluteness and eternity of a soul which “does not belong to this world”.
But it can also appear in the opposite capacity as “spirit”, for instance when the conscious mind only recognizes the material values of this life. The shadow represents the uniqueness and transitoriness of our nature; it is our own state of limitation and subjection to the conditions of space and time. At the same time, however, it forms a part of the nuclear structure of our individuality.

Repression of the shadow and identification with the positive values are two sides of one and the same process. It is the identification of the ego with the façade personality which makes this repression possible, and the repression in its turn is the basis of the ego’s identification with the collective values by means of the persona.

Ego‐inflation invariably implies a condition in which the ego is overwhelmed by a content which is greater, stronger and more highly charged with energy than consciousness, and which therefore causes a kind of state of possession in the conscious mind. The inflation of the ego is brought about by its identification with the collective values. What makes this inflation so disastrous, however, is not some intrinsic danger to be found in the nature of the values themselves; it is rather that, by identifying his personal ego with the transpersonal in the shape of the collective values, the limited individual loses contact with his own limitations and becomes inhuman.

The uniqueness and individuality of man is realized precisely by the self‐differentiation of the creaturely and limited from the unlimited power of the Creator. (p. 43)

The aim of the old ethic is expressed in the injunction “Man should be noble, helpful and good” or in variations on the following ethical predicates: devout, believing, brave, efficient, dedicated and sensible. As we have already repeatedly emphasized, the methods used to achieve this aim are the repression or suppression of all “negative” components. This implies that the old ethic is, basically, dualistic. It envisages a contrasted world of light and darkness, divides existence into two hemispheres of pure and impure, good and evil, God and the devil, and assigns man his proper task in the context of this dualistically riven universe.

The old ethic is based on the principle of opposites in conflict. The fight between good and evil, light and darkness is its basic problem. The battle of the opposites is eternal. It corresponds to the basic Iranian concept of the battle between light and darkness, since the repressed, suppressed and conquered darkness invariably rises again; the heads cut from the Hydra are invariably replaced.

From the point of view of the average man, the old ethic was based on ego‐inflation and  repression; the pseudo‐solution it provided involved an identification of the ego with the values of the collective. For the moral élite, on the other hand, the position was more complicated. In their case, we find the opposite constellation ‐ that is to say, a deflation of the ego. This deflation (an identification with the negative value, with evil) took the form of an overwhelming sense of sin, and found its classic formulation in the actual doctrine of original sin, “Evil is man from his youth up” (Böse-Sein des Menschen von Kind an).

The main stress is laid on the suffering caused by one’s own evil side (which has to be suppressed), and “life in this world” ‐ as understood, for example, by Puritanism and Pharisaism becomes austere, gloomy and anti‐vital in character. (p. 47)

By contrast with repression, in which all contact with the dark contents which cause suffering is destroyed by the splitting‐off of the unconscious components, suffering permits the suppressor to live a comparatively normal life. He is not, like the repressor, attacked and overwhelmed by the dark forces of the unconscious.

In repression, on the other hand, even the partial assimilatory processes, the equivalents and the safety‐valves which are to be found in suppression are lacking. Forces and contents which are completely repressed and have no means of access to consciousness do not remain unaltered in the unconscious or retain their original character: they change. The repressed contents become “regressive” and subject to negative reinforcement. (p. 48)

In quite general terms, it can be stated that forces excluded from the conscious mind accumulate and build up a tension in the unconscious and that this tension is quite definitely destructive. Where there is suppression, conscience shows its strength in the shape of a conscious feeling of guilt; where there is repression, this feeling will be unconscious.

The way in which the old ethic provides for the elimination of these feelings of guilt and the discharge of the excluded negative forces is in fact one of the gravest perils confronting mankind. What we have in mind here is that classic psychological expedient ‐ the institution of a scapegoat.
The unconscious psychic conflicts of groups and masses find their most spectacular outlets in epidemic eruptions such as wars and revolutions, in which the unconscious forces which have accumulated in the collective get the upper hand and “make history”. The scapegoat psychology is in fact an example of an early, though still inadequate, attempt to deal with these unconscious conflicts.

At this stage evil can only be made conscious by being solemnly paraded before the eyes of the populace and then ceremonially destroyed. The effect of purification is achieved precisely by the process of making evil conscious through making it visible and by liberating the unconscious from this content through projection. (p.51)

For primitive man ‐ and the mass man in every nation reacts, as we know, like a primitive man ‐ evil cannot be acknowledged as “his own evil” at all, since consciousness is still too weakly developed to be able to deal with the resulting conflict. It is for this reason that evil is invariably experienced by mass man as something alien, and the victims of shadow projection are therefore, always and everywhere, the aliens.

In the economy of the psyche, the outcast role of the alien is immensely important as an object for the projection of the shadow. The shadow ‐ that part of our personality which is “alien” to the ego, our own unconscious counter‐position which is subversive of our conscious attitude and security – can be exteriorized and subsequently destroyed. The fight against heretics, political opponents and national enemies is actually the fight against our own religious doubts, the insecurity of our own political position, and the one‐sidedness of our own national viewpoint. (p. 52)

The second class of people who play the part of victims in the scapegoat psychology are the “ethically inferior” ‐ that is to say those persons who fail to live up to the absolute values of the collective and who are also incapable of achieving ethical adaptation by the formation of a “façade personality”.

The ethically inferior (who include psychopaths and other pathological and atavistic persons, and in effect all those who belong psychologically to an earlier period in the evolution of mankind) are branded, punished and executed by the law and its officers. This class, too, is treated as alien and exterminated as a foreign body, since that is the most spectacular way of bringing home to the collective its own otherness and difference from evil. (p. 53)

There is yet a third class of persons who are singled out to be victims by the scapegoat psychology ‐ though they stand in the sharpest possible contrast to the class of the morally inferior which we have just described. This third class of victims consists of personalities who are actually superior ‐ for example leaders and men of genius. Many social customs provide illustrations of the primitive tendency to make a ritual, vicarious sacrifice of the best and most outstanding personality and to exploit him as a scapegoat for the expiation of the sins of one’s own collective.

Normally, the history of the so‐called civilized nations is also characterized by the sacrifice of certain outstanding individuals, though these are in fact the concentrated fulcra of power by whose action history itself is carried forwards. Socrates, Jesus and Galileo were alike members of this unending series.

We must distinguish here between two classes of persons ‐ the suppressors of the shadow side, who combine an ascetic and heroic attitude to life with a conscious feeling of guilt and with suffering, and the repressors, in whom both the feelings of guilt and the suffering caused by them remain unconscious.

The difference between them is simply this: in the ascetic class, the sadism is nearer to consciousness and assumes a rationalized and systematic form, whereas in the repressive class, the masses, it is of the wildest emotionality and overwhelms consciousness. Puritanism and the Inquisition, the legalistic Judaism of the Pharisees and the parade‐ground discipline of the Prussian mentality are all subject to the same psychological law. The severity of the ascetic attitude is compensated by an aggressive sadism which finds its outlet in the institutions controlled by the leading ascetics. Within the collective, this type of self‐righteousness found expression in traditional methods of education and penal justice. Here too we meet the compromise of the scapegoat psychology, which under the pretext of ethical conduct allows its own shadow to have its fling by inflicting punishment, torture or deterrence. Appalling scope for the operations of the archetypal shadow is in fact provided (in varying degrees) by such institutional expressions of the ethical collective as executions, sentences of hard labor, prisons and penal establishments of every kind, probation ‐ and even school and family life. All law which is based on punishment, that is to say, not on the knowledge that the collective itself is a party to the guilt of every evil‐doer, is nothing but lynch law, under another name.

No war can be waged unless the enemy can be converted into the carrier of a shadow projection; and the lust and joy of warlike conflict, without which no human being can be induced actually to fight in a war, is derived from the satisfaction of the unconscious shadow side. Wars are the correlative of the old ethic, and warfare is the visible expression of the breakthrough of the unconscious shadow side of the collective. (p. 58)


The basic constituents of a given ethic are derived from the “Voice” which speaks to certain favored individuals. Their unique spiritual gift consists precisely in the fact that it is they who hear the Voice. Whether the Voice belongs to a god or a beast, a dream or a hallucination, the reality of this Voice is absolute and binding so far as the Founder Individual is concerned. It derives either “from God” or else from a symbol which represents God, and it is later taken up by an élite which the Founder personality gathers around himself and is subsequently imposed by them as a collective standard on the whole tribe. (p. 62)

The old ethic liberated man from his primary condition of unconsciousness and made the individual the bearer of the drive towards consciousness; so long as it did this, it remained constructive. Even when it takes the primitive form of a fixed collective canon of morals, the ethical imperative “Thou shalt” may actually assist the development of consciousness; it may, in fact, provide a general framework of orientation which will act as a breakwater against the emotionality of man’s unconscious, with all its elemental, incalculable power.

On the primitive level of magic, for example in the ritual of the scapegoat sacrifice, the mystery drama in which evil is paraded before the eyes of the worshippers is an initial phase in the process of making them conscious. Here everything is acted out externally, on the objective level, which is the screen for the projection of the inner drama.

The development of the ego and of consciousness is subject to the potent formative influence of the collective. In its initial phase, ego development does not involve the development of a creative ego but of an ego that is capable of carrying out and applying the demands of the collective, on itself as well as others, independently and under its own motive power ‐ and this involves fulfilling the commandments and prohibitions of the collective ethic with the aid of its own individual conscience.

Before the appearance of the old ethic, the ego had remained to a large extent a victim of the unconscious forces which had now come to be forbidden. It was subject to and dominated by these forces and instincts, which took possession of it in the form of sexuality, lust for power, cruelty, hunger, fear and superstition.

At this stage, the old ethic demands the recognition of these contents and their suppression. Even when the ego morally fails, sins, and is overwhelmed by the content which it was supposed to suppress, it no longer enjoys the primitive condition of undifferentiated unity which was characteristic of the pre‐moral state of “being driven”; it knows very well that ‐ and what ‐ it ought to have suppressed. It has eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The moral stance of consciousness remains intact even when the ego fails. (p. 66)

The élite creates a human ideal which the collective recognizes as its highest value and attempts to realize in practice. But the collective, which is made up of average people, possesses a far more primitive psychic structure…
It is at this stage that we witness the onset of the process described above ‐ identification with the ethical values, formation of a façade personality and repression into the shadow side of all personality components inconsistent with those values. (p. 68)

Psychologically speaking, the old ethic is a partial ethic. It is an ethic of the conscious attitude, and it fails to take into consideration or to evaluate the tendencies and effects of the unconscious. It is typified by the text from St. Augustine in which the saint thanks God that he is not responsible to him for his dreams. (p. 74)


The conflict or disease which compels a modem man to embark upon a course of depth psychology is very seldom of such a kind that a simple correction of the conscious attitude, a mere rearrangement of the given material along the lines of a new structural pattern, is sufficient to bring about a solution. In most cases it proves necessary to open up, and make available to consciousness, levels of the personality which had previously been beyond the range and span of its experience and were for that very reason termed “unconscious”.

Whether a man approaches the work of depth psychology in the light of an experience which has already taught him that his view of the world, his moral code and his manner of life are unequal to the impact of the problems which beset him, or whether the inadequacy of his previous orientation is only revealed in the course of the analysis, the fact remains that a severe disturbance in his world of values is almost always to be expected at the outset of the journey of depth psychology.

The disillusioning effect of the encounter with one’s own shadow, the unconscious negative part of the personality, is always to be found in cases where the ego has lived in identification with the persona and the collective values of the period. That is why this encounter is, as a rule, particularly severe and difficult for the extravert, since by nature he has less insight into his subjectivity than the introvert. The naive self‐illusion of the ego, which has more or less identified itself with everything good and fine, receives a severe shock, and the undermining of this position forms the essential content of the first phase of the analysis.

In earlier periods, sickness or failure was experienced in terms of the categories of sin, guilt and punishment; this moral reaction, however, is generally alien to the consciousness (not the unconscious) of modern man. Nowadays the situation is thought of largely in terms of exposure to outside influences ‐ other people, circumstances, the environment or heredity – in relation to which the personality is a “victim”.

The encounter with the “other side”, the negative component, is marked by an abundance of dreams in which this “other” confronts the ego in such guises as the beggar or cripple, the outcast or bad man, the fool or never‐do‐well, the despised or the insulted, the robber, the sick man, etc. But what shakes the individual to his foundations is the inescapable necessity of recognizing that the other side, in spite of its undoubted character of hostility and alienness to the ego, is a part of his own personality. The great and terrible doctrine of “That art thou”, which runs like a leitmotif throughout depth psychology, first appears, on a painful and most discordant note, in the discovery of the shadow.

In the end, the individual is brought face to face with the necessity for “accepting” his own evil. To begin with, this statement may appear unintelligible; it is certainly true that its full significance can by no means be realized at the first glance. The act of the acceptance of evil should not be minimized or disguised by any attempt at Add to dictionary which may try to reassure us by pretending that this evil which has to be accepted is not so bad, after all; and the situation is not made any easier by the fact that evil no longer appears in the form of a collectively recognised phenomenon.

“My” evil may not be an evil at all in my neighbor’s eyes, and vice versa; it is precisely this that constitutes the moral difficulty of the situation. Group valuation and group responsibility cease at the point where no approval by the generally accepted standard can take away the ego’s insight that it has acted in an evil manner, and where, on the other hand, no condemnation by the collective has either the power or the right any more to replace the ego’s own orientation.

The differentiation of “my” evil from the general evil is an essential item of self‐knowledge from which no‐one who undertakes the journey of individuation is allowed to escape. But as the process of individuation unfolds, the ego’s former drive towards perfection simultaneously disintegrates.

The inflationary exaltation of the ego has to be sacrificed, and it becomes necessary for the ego to enter into some kind of gentleman’s agreement with the shadow ‐ a development which is diametrically opposed to the old ethic’s ideal of absolutism and perfection. (p. 80)

It is a natural temptation to reject this kind of “acceptance of the negative” as a senseless, unnecessary or even dangerous process, and to maintain in the first place that the lowering of the ego’s status brought about by the acknowledgement of the shadow is only permissible or necessary in exceptional “pathological” cases. Yet in fact, this lowering of the ego’s status is neither an arbitrary matter nor an isolated incident but an expression in individual terms of the collective situation of our culture. In contrast, say, to the Christian man of the Middle Ages or to ancient, Asian or primitive man, Western man is at present in a position where there is an actual collective lowering in the status of his ego which has to be accepted and assimilated. The breakthrough of the dark side into Western consciousness is, in fact, an irreversible process. (p.81)

The breakthrough of the dark side corresponds to a basic shift of the psychological center of gravity in a downward direction, towards the earth, on such a scale as has never previously been experienced by the Christian world of the West. The discovery of the “ugliest man”, of the unhappy, the evil and the primitive occupies a far larger part of the ground in the cultural life of our time than we normally realize.

Darwin’s “proof’ of man’s kinship with the apes, Biblical criticism and the thesis which interprets spirit as an epiphenomenon of the economic process, Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, and Freud’s Future of an Illusion ‐ all these have contributed to the destruction of the old values. Secularisation, materialism, empiricism and relativism are the key concepts which exemplify this shift in the centre of gravity – particularly as contrasted with the Christian man of the Middle Ages and his orientation to the world.

In conformity with this general trend, ugliness, dissonance and evil are now forcing their way into art. The road which leads from Mozart via Beethoven to atonality in music and the corresponding processes of disintegration and transformation in literature and painting are expressions of the decline of the old order of life and values in the realm of aesthetics.

The tyranny of the collective and the experience that his personal constitution is conditioned at every point undermines the position of the individual, and a mass psychology which denies the significance of individual personality in principle deprives the ego of its last vestige of support and self‐confidence.

With a few heroic exceptions, however, individual man in the West never became personally conscious of this breakthrough of the dark side until the advent of depth psychology. On the contrary, the Western inflation of the ego ‐ that trend which has been so vehemently pursued by European civilization since the time of the Renaissance ‐ still colors the individual’s philosophy of life. This means that the feeling or obscure intuition of an existential peril and insecurity coexists with the “certainty” of an ego which believes that it can do, know and organize everything and which rejoices in the motto, “Where there’s a will there’s away”. The polarization of these opposite positions ‐ the self‐assurance of the ego on the one hand and the ever‐increasing pressure of the dark side on the other ‐ leads finally to a split in the personality of both the individual and his group. (p. 85)

The first response to the disintegration of the old value system is nihilistic and negativistic; it includes a variety of different ways in which human self‐respect can be defeated. The ideal of the blond beast, the principle that “consciousness is a disaster”, and the ideology of blood and soil are variants of this fatal reaction. Common to them all is the “knowledge” that the value‐system of consciousness is bogus and the hostility to consciousness which is the reaction to this “insight”. If the value‐system of consciousness is an illusion, it follows that renewal through consciousness is impossible and that the attempt to achieve it must be abandoned. The result is an identification of the ego with collective anti‐values which contrasts with the ego‐identification with collective values that was typical of the old ethic.

‘This nihilistic reaction is a radical form of the tendency to materialism, which is yet another symptom of the breakthrough of the dark side in the Western world. The various forms of materialism in philosophy also result in a reduction and deflation of human self‐respect, since consciousness and spirit and the realm of values are construed as epiphenomena of a sub‐structure belonging to a different order. Just as, in sociology, values are regarded as mere ideologies and superstructures of “unreal” basic conditions, so, in psycho‐analysis, cultural phenomena are interpreted as mere “unreal” compromise products of a psychic structure which is basically unconscious.

The other, inflationary mode of reaction is also monistic ‐ but in this case the value‐sign is reversed. It could be described as pleromatic mysticism. It is a view of the world which has attracted a great deal of attention in our own time. It involves an attempt to disregard reality in its character of existent governess. It is “pleromatic” in the sense that the pleroma, the fullness of the divine nature as it was before the world began, when the Godhead had not yet entered into the world, is regarded as the “reaI” state of the world. It is mystical because relationship or relatedness with the pleroma can only be achieved in a mystical or illusory manner.

The ego attempts to evade the problem of the darkness and the shadow side of the world and of man in an illusory way by means of a mystical, inflationary expansion of the individual, who equates himself with the pleroma, the primal spirit, the Godhead, etc., soars into the realm of the infinite and the absolute and loses his identity in the process. (p. 87)

Both the nihilistic and the pleromatic reactions tend towards a monism in which the attempt is made to abolish the principle of the opposites that constellates the moral problem and to exalt one of the two poles to the status of an absolute. In the nihilistic reaction, the spiritual side is reduced to an epiphenomenon of matter; the pleromatic outlook, on the other hand, considers spirit to be the sole real existent and the material world to be its epiphenomenon, which can in fact be disregarded at will.

Finally, there is one more form of reaction to the insistent demands of the shadow problem which should perhaps be mentioned. This is the attempt to remain free of all moral values and to conceive of life in terms of behaviourism or libertinism or utilitarianism. It is an attempt to shut out the world of darkness once again, and, by so doing, to evade the inescapable crisis of consciousness which is involved in any real effort to take the problem of evil seriously.

The only person who is morally acceptable in the eyes of the new ethic is the person who has accepted his shadow problem ‐ the person, that is to say, who has become conscious of his own negative side. The danger which constantly threatens the human race and which has dominated history up to the present time arises out of the “untestedness” of leaders who may actually be men of integrity as understood by the old ethic, but whose unconscious and unheeded counter‐reactions have generally made more “history” than their conscious attitudes. It is precisely because we realise today that the unconscious is often, if not always a more powerful determinant in the life of a man than his conscious attitude, his will and his intentions, that we can no longer pretend to be satisfied with a so‐called “positive outlook” which is no more than a symptom of the conscious mind.

The new ethic rejects the hegemony of a partial structure of the personality, and postulates the total personality as the basis of ethical conduct. An ethic which is based on the shadow is just as one-sided as one that is guided solely by ego‐values. It leads to suppression, blockage and the breakthrough of compensatory positive forces; but the instability of man’s psychic structure is just as marked in an ethic of this kind as it was in the case of the old ethic. A negative, terroristic ethic of dictatorship, force and an opportunism which denies the dignity of the human individual is just as much a partial ethic as was its Judaeo‐Christian predecessor. The result is the same in either case, the only difference being that the part of the scapegoat has now to be played by what the old ethic regarded as positive values.

The new ethic is “total” in the sense that it is orientated towards wholeness ‐ and towards two aspects of wholeness in particular. In the first place, it is no longer individualistic; it does not merely take into account the ethical situation of the individual, but also considers the effect which the individual’s attitude will have upon the collective. In the second place, it is no longer a partial ethic of consciousness, but also includes within its reckoning the effect of the conscious attitude upon the unconscious. In fact, responsibility now has to be carried by the totality of the personality, not simply by the ego as the center of consciousness. (p. 93)

The new ethic was born under the ruling star of the fuller insight, deeper truth and clearer‐sighted awareness of human nature as a whole which is the real achievement of depth psychology. From this point of view, the moral problem of the individual is constellated in the first place by the coexistence of ego and shadow I and the responsibility of the personality is extended so as to include the unconscious or at any rate the personal component of the unconscious, that part of it which contains the figure of the shadow.

Responsibility for the group presupposes a personality which has become conscious of its shadow problem,  and which has come to grips with this problem with all the forces at its disposal. The indiviual must work through his own basic moral problem before he is in a position to play a responsible part in the collective. The realization of one’s own imperfection which is involved in the acceptance of the shadow is a hard task in which the individual is required to free himself from the absolutism of his pleromatic fixation as well as from his identification with collective values.

The sacrifice of the absolute ideal of perfection which was taught by the old partial ethic most certainly does not lead to any kind of diminution in the value of humanity. The elimination of the negative effects of the splitting processes would in itself represent such an enormous gain in terms of actual human living that the new ethical demand for the acceptance of the negative would be justified by this alone.

It is for this reason that the accusation that the new ethic is derived from “the urge to make one’s own life easier” falIs to the ground; equally false is the charge of opportunism and love of comfort, as contrasted with the radicalism and rigor of told ethic. This ethical rigorousness never in fact extended beyond a partial ethic of consciousness; the very idea of an attempt to apply it to the total personality was unheard of. The dangers of rigorist, on the other hand, are enormous. Again and again in the course of history, we find that the disastrous influence of criminal personalities is matched by that of only one other class of people ‐ the radical idealists, dogmatists and absolutists. Nero and Cesare Borgia are in fact only rivaled by Torquemada and Robespierre. The new ethic is based on an attempt to become conscious of both the positive and the negative forces in the human organism and to relate these forces consciously to the life of the individual and the community. The shadow who demands acceptance is the outcast of life. He is the individual form which the dark side of humanity takes on in me and for me, as a component of my own personality.

In the psychology of the scapegoat, the denial of the negative (and with it, that self‐justification which is such a characteristic feature) leads directly to a denial of the love of one’s neighbor. In contrast to the primitive Christian ethic of Jesus of Nazareth himself, the Christian ethic as we know it has never been successful in transcending this dichotomy; on principle. it has always held fast to a Gnostic dualistic conception of an upper and a lower man, a duality between this and the other world, both in man himself and in the universe.

It is only when I have experienced myself as dark (not as a sinner) that I shall be successful in accepting the dark ego in my neighbor; I realize my solidarity with him precisely because “I too am dark”, not simply because “I too am light”. (p. 95)

We have in fact first to assimilate the primitive side of our own nature before we can arrive at a stable feeling of human solidarity and co‐responsibility with the collective. Since the total ethic includes the shadow within the sphere of moral responsibility, it follows that the projection of this component will cease, and together with it the psychology of the scapegoat and the campaign of annihilation waged under the pretext of morality against evil in the person of one’s neighbor; its place will be taken by a new approach no longer conditioned by the dubious penal and expiatory attitude of the old ethic.


The ultimate aspiration of the old ethic was partition, differentiation and dichotomy, as formulated in the mythological projection of the Last Judgement under the image of the separation of the sheep from the goats, the good from the evil; the ideal of the new ethic, on the other hand, is the combination of the opposites in a unitary structure. Out of the multitude of conflicting forces, the plurality of the opposites, a structure has conflicting forces, the plurality of the opposites, a structure has to be built which will combine these opposing forces, and in which the manifold diversity of the pairs of the opposites will be held together in the firm embrace of a supra‐ordinated unity. The value of the structure which is finally achieved will be proportionate to the strength of the tension between the combined opposites and the number of the polar forces which enter into the new combination.

The principal requirement of the new ethic is not that the individual should be “good”, but that he should be psychologically autonomous ‐ that is to say, healthy and productive, and yet at the same time not psychologically infectious. And the autonomy of the ethical personality means essentially that the assimilation and use of the negative forces to be found in every psychic system takes place as far as possible consciously, within the process of self‐realisation. When evil works unconsciously and emits its radio‐activity underground, it possesses the deadly efficiency of an epidemic; on the other hand, evil done consciously by the ego and accepted as its own personal responsibility does not infect the environment, but is encountered by the ego as its own problem and as a content to be incorporated into life and the integration of the personality like any other psychic content. “Dealing with” a content is the popular expression for what we know as integration. Accepting, dealing with, digesting, working through, growing beyond ‐ all these are formulations for this process of assimilation. They describe various stages in the effort made by the personality to make itself master of a new content ‐ alien and often hostile to the ego though this may be ‐ without, however, defending itself, as the old ethic did, by the use of suppression and repression.

One of the basic conflicts in the life of the hero and, therefore, in the development of every personality arises out of the doing of evil. “Separation of the world parents” and “murder of the primal parents” ‐ these are the great symbols that describe the deed and crime of the hero, which is, however, at the same time the essential act for the liberation of the ego. So, too, in. the normal life of the individual, the symbolic murder of the parents or its equivalent is a phase of development which cannot be omitted with impunity; often enough, as a large number of cases of retarded development have taught us, the advantage of being a “good child”, who shrinks from the “murder” of his parents, is purchased at the perilous cost of the sacrifice of one’s independence in later life.

The able to overcome the conflicts involved in this process. The not only to adopt the values of the collective but often also to secure the fulfillment of those needs of the individual which run counter to collective values ‐ and this entails doing evil. In periods of violent change, on the other hand – periods marked by the decline of a cultural canon ‐ the individual falls out of this condition of containedness, and into the hands of the primeval powers and gods, whether for life or for death […] For example, this problem may appear in the form of a conflict in relationship, in which conventional morality is confronted by the onset of a passionate love. Anyone who fails to take this problem seriously will find himself in a situation of the greatest peril. It is no longer possible for the individual to retain his balance simply by clinging to the traditional law; the result of this may be disturbances and distortions in development which ancient man ‐ and in fact any mythological view of the world which knows the transpersonal powers as gods -would have interpreted as “Aphrodite’s revenge”.

The peril of a divine invasion is the peril of a living experience of the deep layer in the psyche whose numinous power and suprapersonal claims cannot be shut out ‐ unless indeed we are to shut out vitality, depth and the supra personal dimension at the same time ‐ to our own ruin. It is at this point that the conflict arises: we have to do what is “evil” from the point of view of the cultural canon ‐ not indeed in any irresponsible spirit, by allowing ourselves unconsciously to be carried away, but by consciously enduring the conflict involved in the “acceptance of evil’ which the “intervention of the Godhead” demands in this case.
Responsibility for the totality of the personality, which is demanded by the total ethic, is not confined to external reality but also covers the inner reality of dreams, fantasies, thoughts, etc.

This reality of the psyche obliges us to recognize that a fantasy can have effects just as serious as those of an act […].Individuals and groups ‐ and nations, too, and movements in history ‐ are conditioned by the power of inner psychic realities which often enough appear in the first place as fantasies in the mind of an individual. This influence of the inner world is to be found at work in such diverse spheres as politics and religion, technology and art. War and destruction are repeatedly let loose to devastate the world at the behest of men driven by fantasies of power; at the same time, the inner images of creative artists become the cultural possession of the whole human race. (Ich aber sage Euch, wer auch nur…) (p. 107)

This in itself makes it perfectly clear that the way of the new ethic is anything rather than a “way of making one’s own life easier”. Quite the contrary. To surrender the moral certainty about good and evil provided by the old ethic, stamped as it was with the approval of the collective, and to accept the ambiguity of the inner experience is always a difficult undertaking for the individual, since in every case it involves a venture into the unknown, with all the danger which the acceptance of evil brings with it for every responsible ego. Those who exploit the acceptance of evil as a means of making life easy for themselves are invariably people of a primitive type who have yet to experience the values of the old ethic. It is not necessary for such people to acquire the technique of repression, but they do need to cultivate the capacity for suppression and sacrifice, discipline and asceticism, since without this they will never achieve the go‐stability required by civilized man in the first place.

The acknowledgement of one’s own evil is “good”. To be too good ‐ that is, to want to transcend the limits of the good which is actually available and possible‐is “evil”. Evil done by anybody in a conscious way (and that always also implies full awareness of his own responsibility), evil, in fact, from which the agent does not try to escape ‐ is ethically “good”. The repression of evil, accompanied, as it invariably is, by an inflationary overvaluation of oneself, is “evil”, even when it is the result of a “positive attitude” or a “good will”. Pharisee parable The old ethical position of “absolute obligation” has, as its necessary corollary, the doctrine of “original sin” ‐ which represents the impossibility of fulfilling the absolute obligation. The logical consequence of this situation was the rejection of “life in this world”, the rejection of earth and the earthly, and, not least, the rejection of man himself. Life, earth and man were denied, as the carriers of evil and of the negative. In all the various manifestations of the flight from life ‐ in the ego-devaluation of an overwhelming sense of sin just as much as in the ego‐inflation of self‐sanctification -man was really escaping from this “under” side of the world, away into heaven as the symbol of the positive and good. (p. 116)

Conscience, as the representative of the collective super‐ego, is a heteronomous influence which comes from outside, quite irrespective of whether this influence encourages the development of consciousness or not. The external authority of the super‐ego, which possesses the character of given-ness, stability, fixity and unbending tradition, is opposed by the “Voice”, in its capacity as an ordaining and determining factor, the expression of an inner revelation of a new and progressively unfolding development ‐ of that which is to come, in fact.

Always and inevitably, the Voice possesses the character of a “son” vis‐a‐vis the “father” character of the law; and the murder of the father by the son will always remain an eternal primordial image of the inner history of mankind and of individual man. This relationship is by no means peculiar to the son‐religion of Christianity and the father‐religion of Judaism. The same archetype governs the murder of the Pope‐Father (this, of course) is what the Pope really is) by Luther the heretic and in Judaism (looking at it from the opposite point of view), the son‐revolution of Hasidism against the typical paternal position of Rabbinism.

The role of the super‐ego as the representative of a heteronomous ethic deriving from outside and super‐ordinate to the infantile ego is now taken over by the Self, which appears as the inner centre of the personality. Adult ego‐consciousness, which has become independent and lost its infantile character in the course of the process of individualization in the West, now orientates itself by “itself”, or by the Self as the center of the totality of the psyche.
This installation of the Self to fill the place of the heteronomous super‐ego is an expression of the newly‐won ethical autonomy of the personality. The term “installation” is used here of the Self in the same sense in which the phenomenon of the “installation” and proclamation of a god is known to us from the history of religion. In this ritual, the divinity is consciously appointed and recognized by the ego as an authoritative control center.

From now on, the ego can no longer perform its duty to the Self by the simple method of orientating itself in the light of the established values; a process of continuous self‐questioning and self‐control is now required. Admittedly, this is carried out by the ego; we have emphasized the fact that this ethical duty is taken over by the conscious mind. Its aim, however, is not a questioning of conscience in the sense of an examination of the motives and contents of the conscious mind; the scope of the inquiry is now much more the total structure of the personality ‐ and this includes the unconscious.

The basic phenomenon on which the ego is able to rely for this purpose is psychic compensation. This implies that there is a relationship between the unconscious and the conscious mind of such a nature that contents missing from the conscious system and required for totality or wholeness will appear in an accentuated form in the unconscious. The effect of this law of compensation is that, for example, a wrong attitude of the conscious mind will be corrected in a dream by night, or that a principle suppressed in conscious living but vitally important for life as a whole ‐ an instinct or some other content ‐ will demand its share of attention by appearing in the form of a fantasy, a dream, a slip or a disturbance of some kind.

Compensation is a direct expression of wholeness and, therefore, of the Self. It does not concern itself with partial structures such as the conscious mind or the unconscious, in anyone‐sided way; on the contrary, it is precisely the wholeness of the psyche which is asserting its primacy in this context over the arbitrary deviations of the partial systems. (p. 124)

We arrive, then, at the following formulation of values in the new ethic: whatever leads to wholeness is “good”; whatever leads to splitting is “evil”. Integration is good, disintegration is evil. Our estimate of ethical values is no longer concerned with contents, qualities or actions considered as “entities”; it is related functionally to the whole. Whatever helps that wholeness which is centered on the Self towards integration is “good”, irrespective of the nature of this helping factor. And, vice versa, whatever leads to disintegration is “evil” ‐ even if it is “good will”, “collectively sanctioned values” or anything else “intrinsically good”.

On the other hand, the personality which has found its center and achieved its ethical autonomy, as understood by the total ethic, constitutes, with its stabilized structure and enlarged awareness, a rallying point and a bulwark for the collective. It is a focus of stillness amid the flux of phenomena, and the waves of collectivism and of the mass psyche will break against it in vain, whether they attack it from the outside or from within. Those waves in fact only sweep away personalities which have developed along the lines of a partial ethic, since the roots of such personalities are not grounded in the unconscious. They are overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the mass happenings around them and within, which appear in the guise of an alien tyranny, as we can observe on every aide in the contemporary scene.

The consolidated psychic structure of the man of the total ethic is not so gravely exposed to danger, for the simple reason that he has assimilated and incorporated a great many elements from the mass psyche, the collective unconscious, which overpower other men with horror, amazement, admiration or compulsive attraction. A personality of this kind is better acquainted with both the heights and the depths and chasms of human nature, since it has experienced and lived them within itself. In the catastrophes of psychic inundation which characterize periods of violent collective upheaval, such a personality forms a breakwater against mass epidemics and the flood of events by which they are accompanied, and acts as a guardian and a purifier of the collective.

It is precisely when the dark side of life is accepted that possibilities of new experience begin to open up ‐ not only in ethics but also in religion. These possibilities run counter, it is true, to the old ethic and the old type of religion associated with it; they have the advantage, however, that they are in a position to combine the vitality of our new image of man with the new and transformed image of God which is emerging.

In classical Judaism, the man of God was by no means necessarily distinguished by the high level of his ethical conduct. The relationship between the divine and the world in which man was actually incorporated was originally brought about by listening to the inner Voice of the divine in man, not by the performance of prescribed ethical duties. Abraham, who deserted his father, Moses the man-slaughterer and David the adulterer were by no means crowned with the halo of the victorious subduer of the dragon of darkness ‐ though traits of this kind were also to be found in their nature.

In fact, their personalities cast a long shadow, but it was precisely for this reason that the center of their being remained in contact with the Godhead, in whose image they had been created. For this Godhead was itself not simply all‐good and all‐wise, but righteousness and grace met wrath and jealousy, the intelligible coexisted with the incomprehensible, and light and darkness were at work together in its unfathomable depths at the self‐same time.

The emergence of the new ethic, and of the new ethical demand that man should take responsibility for himself as a total unit, carries the implication that the time has now come for the principle of perfection to be sacrificed on the altar of wholeness. The total ethic corresponds to an actual state of imperfection which embraces man, the world and the Godhead, since the Godhead itself is also imperfect because, and in so far as, it contains within itself the principle of the opposites.

But just as this solidarity of our species accounts for the inner history of mankind, so the unity of the planet earth will determine the history of the future. It is as though mankind, gripped as it is by the icy cold of empty, lifeless, cosmic space, which stares at it horribly from every side, sans God, sans soul and sans humanity, has no other option than to huddle closer together, if it is to hold its own against this tyrant power. Slowly but surely, the human race is withdrawing the psychological projections by means of which it had peopled the emptiness of the world with hierarchies of gods and spirits, heavens and hells; and now, with amazement, for the first time, it is experiencing the creative fullness of its own primal psychic Ground. And yet, out of the midst of this circle of humanity, which is beginning to take shape from the coming‐together of every part of the human species ‐ nations and races, continents and cultures ‐ the same creative Godhead, unformed and manifold, is emerging within the human mind, who previously filled the heavens and spheres of the universe around us.