The site CelebrityTypes has recently published an interview with historian of psychiatry Richard Noll, focusing on the work and legacy of Carl Jung. In the 1990s, Noll published two books on Jung: The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement (Princeton University Press, 1994) and The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung (Random House, 1997). His critical assessments of Jung and his followers drew praise from some circles, but also the ire of some proponents of Jung’s ideas.
Noll, however, never really addressed his critics. Here in this interview, he explains why and shares his thoughts on Jung, the response his books received, and the status of Jungian scholarship today.
When your books on Jung came out, you were savaged by certain pro-Jungian authors, yet (joining Nozick and Hume) you never answered your critics. Indeed you simply moved on to other fields altogether. Why did you decide to let the critics have the last word?
Once a book or article appears, it follows its own fate and speaks for itself. I feel it no longer belongs to me but instead must undergo its own ordeal in the arena – that is, if anyone reads and comments on it at all (most publications are totally ignored, by the way). I place great faith in the mechanisms of scholarship as a multigenerational project in which we all interpret and correct each other’s texts. In other words, we wash each other’s diapers because that’s our job – indeed, perversely, it’s our passion. All scholarship, including mine, has a short shelf-life. So that’s one reason.