LIFE AND WORK OF MARIE-LOUISE VON FRANZ
Her life and work were shaped by her experience of what Jung called the ‘objective psyche’, or the ‘collective unconscious’, and by her critical analysis of this autonomous psyche that acts as a counterpoint to one’s conscious ego. Her analysis of the dreams of the Christian martyr Saint Perpetua (died 203) reveals how the evolution of Christianity, the transition from antiquity into Christiandom, was represented in the souls of certain people who were affected by it. Her most important works deal with the compensation of Christianity’s one-sidedness through the collective unconscious, as well as with the expansion of the Christian God-image, as reflected in the vessel symbolism of the legend of the Holy Grail and the figure of Merlin, in the visions of Niklaus von Flüe and in alchemy. Some of her work deals with problems of practical psychology. In a masterful “inner” biography, she places Jung’s life and work within the context of the problems threatening our age. In one of her ground-breaking papers based upon Jung’s concept of synchronicity, von Franz applies an archetypal approach to natural numbers in order to achieve a better understanding of the unified aspect of being (of the unus mundus) that is behind the manifestations of psyche and matter. In another of her works, she discusses the problem of projections and what is behind their psychic reality. Her research extends from the study of daimons in antiquity and in the Christian Middle Ages up to the reality of evil in our world today.
From 1938 to 1948, von Franz worked on the interpretations presented in the volumes of “Symbolik des Märchens” (Bern 1952-57). Her later works, that are grounded in reality and are oriented towards analytical practice, were, for the most part, revised editions of her lectures. Several works delve deeply into the problem of evil and the transformation that has taken place in our approach to the archetype of the feminine. Her numerous psychological interpretations of fairytales are important. These are based on Jung’s view that, as a spontaneous, naïve product of the soul, a fairytale is not able to express anything other than what the soul actually is. Her book ‘The Interpretation of Fairytales” provides a good insight into these theoretical considerations. In her view, fairytales are the purest and most simple expression of collective, unconscious processes of the psyche.