The Depths of the Soul_ Psycho-Analytical Studies
OF THE SOUL
DR. WILLIAM STEKEL
DR. S. A. TANNENBAUM
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER & CO., LTD.
Broadway House, 68-74 Carter Lane, E.C.
An old proverb says that every parent lovesthe ugly duckling most. My book, The Depthsof the Soul, was, from its beginning, my favourite.It was written in the beautiful years in whichthe first rays of analytic psychognosis penetratedthe darkness of the human soul. The readermay find between the lines the exuberant joy ofa discoverer. First impressions are the strongest.It is an unfortunate fact that subsequent impressionslack the vividness, the intensity, thewarmth, and the colours of the first emotions.
The great success of this book in many foreignlanguages has given me incalculable pleasure,because it has served to confirm my own blindlove. No other book has brought me so manyfriends from far and near.
I am happy that my friend Dr. Tannenbaumhas devoted his knowledge of the art of translationto my favourite child, and I hope thatthis translation will bring me many new Englishfriends.
To poets it is a familiar world. The ordinarymortal wanders about in its wonderful gardensas if he were blind; he lives in it without knowingit. He does not know where the real worldstops and where the fantasy world begins. In thetreadmill of grey day the invisible boundariesbetween these two worlds escape him.
The second world! What would our lifebe without it? What a vale of tears wouldthis globe be were it not for this heaven onearth!
The reader probably guesses what I mean.All of us, the poorest and the richest, the smallestand biggest, rarely or never find contentmentin our daily routine. We need a second sphere,a richer life, in which we may dream of everythingthat is denied us in the first sphere.Ibsen called this “The Great Life-Lie.” Butis it always a lie? Did not Ibsen go too farwith this characterization? Who could doubtthat the lie is not one of those eternal truthsthat is so incorporeal that we cannot grasp it,so colourless that we cannot see it, so formlessthat we cannot describe it.
The child finds its second world in play.The little duties of everyday life are for it only[Pg 2]unnecessary interruptions in its play in thesecond world. Here the child’s fantasy hasample room. It is a soldier, king, and robber,cook, and princess; it rides through a wideworld on steaming express trains, it battlescourageously with dragons and giants, it snatchesthe treasures of the earth from their guardiandwarfs, and even the stars in the heavens arenot beyond its reach in its play. Then comes thepowerful dictum called education and snatchesthe child out of its beloved second world andcompels it to give heed to the first world and tolearn things necessary to it in its actual life.The child learns of obligations and submitsunwillingly to the dictates of its teachers. Thefirst world is made up of duties. The secondworld knows no duties; it knows only freedomand unrestrained freedom of thought. This isthe root of the subsequent great conflict betweenfeelings and duties. In our childhood we findduties a troublemaker who interferes with ourplaying; this childish hostility continues withus all through life. Our vocation, the sphereof our duties, can never wholly satisfy us. Itis our first world; and even though we seem toaccept it wholly, a little remnant of this hostilityremains and this constitutes a part of our secondworld.
Primitive people find their second world inreligion. From their primitive fears for thepreservation of their lives they flee to theirgods, whom they love and fear, punish and[Pg 3]reward. The same thing is true of all thosesimple souls whom culture has not robbed oftheir religious belief. To them religion is thesecond world which gives them rich consolationand solace for the pains of the first world.In his book “Seelenkunde,” Benedict attributesanarchism to an absence of consolatory life-lies.He says: “Our free-thinking times havestopped up this source and it is the duty ofsociety to create a consoling life-truth, otherwisethat psychic inner life which hoards upbitter hatred will not cease.”
The more highly developed a person’s mindis, the more complicated is his second world.People often express surprise at the fact that somany physicians devote themselves passionatelyto music or the other fine arts. To me it seemsvery simple. All day long they see life in itsmost disagreeable aspects. They see theinnocent sufferings, the frightful tortures whichthey cannot relieve. They look behind thecurtain of the “happy family”; they wadethrough all the repellant and disgusting filthinessof this petty world, and they would have tobecome dull and non-partisan animals did theynot have their second world.
There is first of all music, which is so dear toall of us because it is an all-embracing motherwhich absorbs all the emotions of hatred, anger,love, envy, fear, and despair, and fuses them allinto one great rhythm, into one great vibratingemotion of pleasure. On its trembling waves[Pg 4]the thoughts of the poor tortured human soulare borne out into the darkness of uncomprehendedeternity and the eternally incomprehensible.
Then there is literature. We open a bookand at once we are transported into the secondworld of another ego, a world which in a fewminutes becomes our own. Happy poets, whohave been endowed with the gift of sayingwhat they see, of giving form to what they dream,of freeing themselves from their energies, ofabreacting their secret sufferings and of makingothers happy by opening up to them a secondworld!
Then there are the thousand and one forms ofplay; sports and in fact everything that tearsus away from our daily grind. What is thelottery ticket to the poor wage-earner but aninstalment on the pleasures of the secondworld, or the purchased right of joyous hope?
There is the devotion to clubs and fraternalassociations. The henpecked husband fleeswrathfully to his club where he can freely andfearlessly launch all those fine argumentativespeeches which he has to suppress at home.Here he can rule, here he can play the role ofthe independent master. For many thousandsthe club is nothing more than an opportunityto work off their energies, to get rid of unusedemotions and to play that role which life inthe first sphere has denied them.
And thus everyone has his second world.One who does not have it stands on the level of[Pg 5]animals, or is the happiest of the happy. Byhappiness I mean the employment of one’senergies in the first sphere. There is a widegulf between happiness and the consciousnessof happiness. The consciousness of happinessis such a fugitive moment that the poorestwage-slave in his second world can be happierthan the truly happy who does not happen tobe thinking of his happiness. Happiness islike the possession of a beautiful wife. If weare in danger of losing her we tremble. Beforewe have obtained her and in moments of jealousywe guard her possession as fortune’s greatestgift. But in the consciousness of undisturbedpossession can we be saying to ourselves everysecond: I possess her, I am happy? No! no!Happiness is the greatest of all life’s lies and onewho has had least of it may be the happiestin his second world.
Rose-coloured hope! Queen of all pleasurableemotions, our all-preserving and all-animatinggoddess! You are the sovereign of the secondworld and beckon graciously the unhappyweeping mortal who in the first world sees thelast traces of you disappear.——
Marital happiness depends very largely uponwhether the two spheres of the couple partlyoverlap or touch each other at a few points.In the first world they must live together.But woe if the second world keeps them asunder!If the two spheres touch each other even onlyin one point and have only one feeling tangent[Pg 6]between them, that will bring them closertogether than all the cares and the iron constraintof the first world. Women know this instinctively,especially during the period of courtship.They enthuse about everything over whichthe lover enthuses; they love and hate withhim and want to share everything with him.Beware, you married women, of destroyingyour husband’s second world! If after the day’stoil he soothes his tired nerves in the fatefulharmonies of Beethoven, do not disturb hispious mood; enthuse with him, do not carrythe petty cares and the vulgar commonplacesof life into the lofty second world. Do youunderstand me, or must I speak more plainly?Do not let him go alone on his excursions intothe second world! A book that he reads alone,understands alone, enjoys alone, may be moredangerous to you than the most ardent glancesof a wanton rival. Art must never become theman’s second world. No! It must become thechild of both the lovers if the beats of theirsouls are to be harmonious.
True friendship is so lofty, so exalting, becauseit is dependent upon a congruence of the secondspheres. Love is a linking of the first worldsand if it is to be permanent it must journeyforth into the second world. Genuine friendshipis born in the second world and affects thefirst world only retroactively.
The second world need not necessarily alwaysbe the better world even though to its possessor[Pg 7]it may appear to be the more beautiful and themore desirable. Rarely enough it is the supplementto the first world but frequently thecontrast and the complement to it. Piouschaste natures may often give their coarserinstincts undisturbed expression in the secondworld. Day-dreams are frequently the expressionof life in the second world. But oncareful analysis even the dreams of the nightprove to be an unrestricted wallowing in thewaters of the second world. Dreams areusually wish fulfillments, but in their lowestlevels we find the wishes of the second worldwhich are only rarely altered by unconsciousthought processes.
One who dreams during the day flies from thefirst world into the second. If he fails to findhis way back again into the first world hisdreams become delusions and we say that he isinsane. How delicate are the transitions fromsanity to insanity! Inasmuch as all of us livein a second world, all of us are insane at leasta few seconds every day. What distinguishesus from the insane is the fact that we hold inour hands the Ariadne thread which leads usout of the labyrinth of thoughts back into theworld of duties.
It is incredible how happy an insane personcan be. Proudly the paranoid hack writermarches up and down in his pitiful cell. Clothedin rags, he is king and commands empires.His cot is a heavenly couch of eiderdown;[Pg 8]his old dilapidated stool is a jewel-bedeckedthrone. The attendants and the physicians arehis servants. And thus in his delusion he iswhat he would like to be.
The world is only what we think it; the“thing itself” is only a convention of themajority. A cured maniac assured me that theperiod of his insanity had been the happiestin his life. He saw everything through rose-colouredglasses and the awful succession ofwild thoughts