Toni Wolff

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Toni Wolff
Toni Wolff 1911 sitting.jpg
Toni Wolff, ca. 1911 (Age 23)
Born Antonia Anna Wolff
(1888-09-18)18 September 1888
Zürich, Switzerland
Died 21 March 1953(1953-03-21) (aged 64)
Zürich, Switzerland
Residence Switzerland
Citizenship Swiss
Fields Psychology, Psychotherapy, Analytical psychology
Institutions Burghölzli
Known for Analytical psychology
Influences Carl Jung

Antonia Anna "Toni" Wolff (18 September 1888 — 21 March 1953) was a Swiss Jungian analyst and a close associate of Carl Jung. During her analytic career Toni Wolff published relatively little under her own name, but she helped Jung identify, define, and name some of his best-known concepts including anima, animus, and persona.[1] Her best-known paper was an essay on four "types" or aspects of the feminine psyche: the Amazon, the Mother, the Hetaira (or Courtesan), and the Medial (or mediumistic) Woman.[2]


Wolff was born in 1888, the eldest of three daughters of a wealthy Zurich family. Encouraged by her parents to pursue creative interests, Wolff developed a passion for philosophy and mythology, as well as for astrology.[3]However, when she asked to be allowed a university education, her father denied her request, explaining that it was not appropriate for a young woman of her class to have an "official" education.[4] Wolff pursued her studies by enrolling in classes as a non-matriculating student.

In December 1909, when she was 21, Wolff's father died and she became acutely depressed. She began analysis with Jung, who was impressed by her intellect and treated her depression by stimulating and encouraging her to use it. Wolff became one of “a long line of women who gravitated to Jung because he allowed them to use their intellectual interests and abilities in the service of analytical psychology”.[5] She began to help him with research, and accompanied Carl and Emma Jung to a psychoanalytic conference in Weimar in 1911, Jung describing her as at that point as “a remarkable intellect with excellent feeling for religion and philosophy”.[6] A not unwarranted sense of jealousy on Emma Jung's part meant that her research work with Jung had to be broken off, however, at the end of the year.[7]

Wolff's relationship with Jung was pivotal in her development as an analyst and member of the early analytic psychology circle in Zurich. She became an analyst and honorary President of the Zurich Psychological Club. By age 60, she had a busy practice, but was in poor health, suffering from both severe arthritis and her years of heavy smoking.[citation needed] She died suddenly and unexpectedly on 21 March 1953, aged 64.

Relationship with Jung[edit]

Following Wolff's analysis with Jung, and her work as his assistant, she became his lover in 1913 when she was 25 years old. [Apparently Jung recorded in his diary that he decided to undertake the relationship with Wolff after an impressive dream that occurred at the end of 1912].[8] During the period of intense introspection from 1914-18 that followed Jung's break with Sigmund Freud - his "encounter with the unconscious" - Wolff became a pivotal figure for the maintenance of his sanity.[9] At that time she was a "constant presence in the [Jung] household. It was she who listened to all Jung's visions, dreams, and fantasies, serving his every need from sounding board to devil's advocate, and who was his unacknowledged personal analyst."[10]

The intensity of Jung's relationship with Toni initially caused tensions in his marriage, but by the 1920s an accord of acceptance had evidently reached between Jung, his wife Emma, and Wolff. Jung's wife Emma accepted to share Carl with her in a ménage à trois for that reason.[11] Jung had been looking for the "Anima woman," eventually coming to call Toni his "second wife." Wolff was a frequent visitor to the Jung house, occasionally working on projects for Jung at his home office in the late mornings until the family lunch (from which she was excluded), and then continuing in the afternoon. She usually joined the family for Sunday dinners. From around 1920 until the end of her life, Jung was commonly accompanied by both Wolff and his wife at public and private functions.[12] This arrangement satisfied what Jung had termed “my polygamous components”,[13] and fit into his lifelong habit of distributing his affections for safety among a number of his so-called Jungfrauen.[14] However, the arrangement has been claimed by some interpreters to have been destructive to the self-esteem of both women.[15]

When in the early 1930s, Jung began to pursue alchemy as a parallel to the process of individuation. Wolff became concerned that Jung would be marginalized by this arcane focus of study. She invited a group of university students to visit Jung, including the brilliant and socially awkward 18-year-old Marie-Louise von Franz. In her 2003 biography of Jung, Deirdre Bair quotes von Franz as saying she intellectually replaced Toni Wolff in Jung's life.[16] This can be confirmed from a documentary film in which von Franz said on camera:

"Her [Wolff's] big mistake was in not being enthusiastic about alchemy. It was unfortunate that she refused to follow him there, because otherwise he would not have thrown her over to collaborate with me. He would have used me just for translating, and he would have confided in her. But she wasn't interested. She was too much a slightly conventional Christian, and she refused to follow him."[17]

Yet despite this 'failing', throughout her life Wolff remained the companion of Jung's inner work. Aniela Jaffé, Jung's secretary and biographer, described her as Jung's "helper in the intellectual penetration of the world of psychic images."[18] In A Memoir of Toni Wolff, Irene Champernowne describes her this way:

"I always felt as if I were even nearer to Jung’s inner wisdom when I was with her than when I was with him in the flesh. She was in some way the inner side of his or rather the inner companion of his journey through the unconscious. She had a remarkable insight and was articulate and confident."[19]

Jung acknowledged the importance of his relationship with Wolff. Even in later years of life, they frequently spent time together at Jung's Bollingen tower. Until his health deteriorated after a heart attack in 1944, Wolff and Jung usually spent Wednesday evenings together at the home of Wolff. When Wolff died in 1953, Jung was overcome with grief, and found himself physically and emotionally unable to attend her funeral, fearing a public collapse; Jung's wife attended for them both.[20] (Jung's absence at the funeral is often misrepresented as implying Jung's coldness toward Toni, while in fact it was the result of the depth of his feelings in old age.) Jung had a memorial stone carved for her that read in Chinese characters arranged vertically "Toni Wolff Lotus Nun Mysterious."[21]


  • Studien zu C. G. Jung's Psychologie (Zurich 1959)
  • Structural forms of the feminine psyche (Trans. P. Watzlawik). Zurich: CG Jung Institute 1956)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bair, Deirdre (2003). Jung. New York: Little, Brown, pg. 293; ISBN 0-316-07665-1
  2. ^ Wolff, Toni (1956). Structural Forms of the Feminine Psyche. ASIN: B0007KA7RO
  3. ^ John Kerr, A Dangerous Method (2012) p. 338-9
  4. ^ Bair, Deirdre (2003). Jung. New York: Little, Brown, pg. 198
  5. ^ Bair, Dierdre (2003). Jung. New York: Little, Brown, pg. 199
  6. ^ John Kerr, A Dangerous Method (2012) p. 344
  7. ^ John Kerr, A Dangerous Method (2012) p. 372-3
  8. ^ C.G. Jung, The Red Book: Liber Novus, ed. Sonu Shamdasani, Norton (2009), pg. 198
  9. ^ Anthony Stevens, On Jung (1990) p. 7; Peter Homans, Jung in Context (1979) p. 76
  10. ^ Bair, Dierdre (2003). Jung. New York: Little, Brown, pg. 293
  11. ^ John Kerr, A Dangerous Method (2012) p. 503
  12. ^ Barbara Hannah, Jung: His Life and Work, A Biographical Memoir (1976), pgs. 117-22
  13. ^ Quoted in John Kerr, A Dangerous Method (2012) p. 209
  14. ^ N. R. Goldenberg, Reinventing the Body (1993) p. 140
  15. ^ Claire Douglas, Translate this Darkness (1997) p. 134
  16. ^ Bair, Deirdre. (2003). Jung: A Biography. Little, Brown & Company.
  17. ^ Mark Whitney Carl Jung — Matter of Heart (1985), 1h45m documentary
  18. ^ Aniela Jaffe, Spring 1972 pp. 177-8
  19. ^ Irene Champernowne, A Memoir of Toni Wolff (1980), p. 5
  20. ^ Barbara Hannah, Jung: His Life and Work, A Biographical Memoir (1976), pgs. 312-3
  21. ^ Henderson, J.L. in Champernowne, A Memoir of Toni Wolff (1980), p. 4


  • Whitney, Mark (1985). Carl Jung — Matter of Heart, 1h45m documentary in which Toni Wolff is discussed and pictured.
  • Champernowne, Irene (1972). A Memoir of Toni Wolff. C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco.
  • Davis, D.A. (1997). Jung in the Psychoanalytic movement. In P. Young-Eisendrath & T. Dawson (Eds.). Cambridge *Companion to Jung. Cambridge University Press.


  • Wolff, Toni (1956). Structural forms of the feminine psyche. (Trans. P. Watzlawik). Zurich: C.G. Jung Institute.
  • Champernowne, Irene (1980). A Memoir of Toni Wolff. San Francisco Jung Institute (for free download see:
  • Jensen, Ferne (1983). C.G. Jung, Emma Jung and Toni Wolff: A Collection of Remembrances. Analytical Psychology Club.
  • Kirsch, Thomas B. (2003). Toni Wolff-James Kirsch correspondence. Journal of Analytical Psychology 48 (4), pgs. 499–506.
  • Neri,Nadia.(1995)."Oltre l'ombra.Donne intorno a Jung" Borla,Roma.

External links[edit]