Recently I was asked for autobiographical information, and for the course of answering some questions I discovered hidden in my memories certain objective problems which seem to call for closer examination. I have therefore weighed the matter and come to the conclusion that I shall fend off other obligations long enough to take up the very first beginnings of my life and consider them in an objective fashion. This task has proved so difficult and singular that in order to go ahead with it, I have had to promise myself that the results would not be published in my lifetime. Such a promise seemed to me essential in order to assure for myself the necessary detachment and calm. It became clear that all the memories which have remained vivid to had to do with emotional experiences that arouse uneasiness and passion in mind - scarcely the best condition for an objective account!
Your letter 'naturally' came' at the very moment when I had virtually resolved to take the plunge. "Fate will have it - and this has always been the case with me- that all the 'outer' aspects of my life should be accidental. Only what is interior has proved to have substance and a determining value. As a result, all memory of outer events has faded, and perhaps these 'outer' experiences were never so very essential anyhow, or were so only in that they coincided with phases of my inner development. An enormous part of these 'outer' manifestations of my life has vanished from my memory - for the reason, so it has seemed to me, that I participated in them with all my energies. Yet theses are the very things that make up a sensible biography: persons one has met, travels, adventures, entanglements, blows of destiny, and so on.
But with few exceptions all these things have become for me phantasms which I barley recollect and which my mind has no desire to reconstruct, for they no longer stir my imagination. "On the other hand my recollection of 'inner experiences has grown all the more vivid and colourful. This poses a problem of description which I scarcely feel able to cope with, at least for the present. Unfortunately, I cannot, for these reasons, fulfill your request, greatly as I regret my inability to do so...." This letter characterizes Jung's attitude. Although he had already "resolved to take the plunge," the letter ends with a refusal. To the day of his death the conflict between affirmation and rejection was never entirely settled. There always remained a residue of skepticism, a shying away from his future readers.
He did not regard these memories as a scientific work, nor even as a book by himself. Rather, he always spoke and wrote of it as "Aniela Jaffe's project," to which he had made contributions. At his specific request it is not to be included in his Collected Works. Jung has been particularly reticent in speaking of his encounters with people, both public figures and close friends and relatives. " I have spoken with many famous men of my time, the great ones in science and politics, with explorers, artists and writers, princes and financial magnates; but if I am to be honest I must say that only a few such encounters have been significant experiences for me. Our meetings were like those of ships on the high seas, when they dip their flags to one another. Usually, too, these persons had something to ask of me which I an not at liberty to divulge.