Carl Jung Dreaded Math Class and Gym

carl Jung 1910‘Mathematics class became sheer terror and torture to me. Other subjects I found easy; and as, thanks to my good visual memory, I contrived for a long while to swindle my way through mathematics, I usually had good marks. But my fear of failure and my sense of smallness in face of the vast world around me created in me not only a dislike but a kind of silent despair which completely ruined school for me. In addition, I was exempted from drawing classes on the grounds of utter incapacity… I could draw only what stirred my imagination. But I was forced to copy prints of Greek gods with sightless eyes, and when that wouldn’t go properly the teacher obviously thought I needed something more naturalistic and set before me the picture of a goat’s head. This assignment I failed completely, and that was the end of my drawing classes.

To my defeats in mathematics and drawing there was now added a third: from the very first I hated gymnastics. I could not endure having others tell me how to move. I was going to school in order to learn something, not to practice useless and senseless acrobatics. Moreover, as a result of my earlier accidents, I had  certain physical timidity which I was not able to overcome until much later on. This timidity was in turn linked with a distrust of the world and its potentialities. To be sure, the world seemed to me beautiful and desirable, but it was also filled with vague and incomprehensible perils. Therefore I always wanted to know at the start to what and to whom I was entrusting myself. Was this perhaps connected with my mother, who had abandoned me for several months? When, as I shall describe later, my neurotic fainting spells began, the doctor forbade me to engage in gymnastics, much to my satisfaction. I was rid of that burden– and had swallowed another defeat.

The time thus gained was not spent solely on play. It permitted me to indulge somewhat more freely in the absolute craving I had developed to read every scrap of printed matter that fell into my hands.’

Memoirs, Dreams, Reflections, by C.G. Jung, Recorded and edited by Aniela Jaffé, Translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston, 1961

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