Presentation on theme: "C ARL J UNG Psychology and Religion in the Search for Personal Wholeness Johann Maree Summer School, UCT, Jan. 2012."— Presentation transcript:
C ARL J UNG Psychology and Religion in the Search for Personal Wholeness Johann Maree Summer School, UCT, Jan. 2012
I NTRODUCTION : A FORMIDABLE TASK It is not easy to provide a clear exposition of Jung’s analytical psychology because he changed his mind as he went along. In the foreword of Frieda Fordham’s book on Jung, he wrote: “As I cannot claim to have reached any definite theory my work consists of a series of different approaches, or one might call it, a circumambulation of unknown factors. This makes it rather difficult to give a clear-cut and simple account of my ideas.” It is even harder to do it in 45 minutes as Freud also needs to make a guest appearance. So, without any further delay, here goes.
B IOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Carl Jung was born in 1875 in Switzerland and brought up in or near the historic city of Basel. His father was a pastor in the Swiss Reformed Church. He was continually racked by doubts about his beliefs. His mother was a highly intuitive woman, possibly with psychic abilities and sensitivities. Jung’s childhood experiences and memories of religion were quite negative: crowds of dark- clothed men and weeping women; a hole in the ground into which a box was put; told Jesus had taken someone to himself.
D OCTOR J UNG AND D OCTOR F REUD Jung trained as a doctor and began working in the famous Burghoelzli psychiatric hospital linked to University of Zurich. Jung was Freud’s junior by 19 years and was one of first psychiatrists to support Freud’s controversial theories, but he was also one of the first to break away from Freud. To understand why Jung broke away from Freud it is necessary to review a few relevant concepts and theories of Freud first.
S IGMUND F REUD Freud went to a medical school in Vienna and initially did research for many years in neuropsychology. He then went to Paris to study with the great psychiatrist, Charcot. He returned to Vienna and set up a practice in neuropsychiatry with the help of his mentor and friend, Joseph Breuer. They treated young women suffering from hysterical symptoms. Freud was struck by how many of them were related to repressed traumatic sexual experiences in childhood.
T HE SEXUAL INSTINCT AND L IBIDO Freud claimed that there was a repression of the sexual instinct and from this he developed the idea that sexual instinct provided psychic energy for the psyche which, in its sublimated form, gave rise to human achievements. He called this psychic energy the libido. This energy was primarily derived from a sexual drive. Freud linked the libido closely with the id, one of the three components that make up the mind or psyche in Freud’s model.
T HE I D, E GO AND S UPEREGO The id is the primitive, animalistic, instinctual element, libidinous energy demanding immediate satisfaction. “I want it and I want it now!” The sole governing device here is the pleasure principle. The ego is a cluster of cognitive and perceptual processes including memory, reality-testing, problem-solving that are conscious and serve to mediate between the demands of the id and prohibitions of the superego. It serves like an executive to maintain psychic balance. The superego dictates ethical and moral conduct.
T HE U NCONSCIOUS One of Freud’s greatest contributions to psychology was his scientific study of the unconscious. According to Freud, the unconscious is a domain of the psyche encompassing the repressed id functions, the memories, images and wishes that are too anxiety-provoking to be accepted into consciousness. Freud found that there are powerful ideas in the unconscious, but they cannot become conscious due to a force that represses them and resists bringing them out into the open.
J UNG ’ S SEPARATION FROM F REUD Jung met Freud for the first time in Vienna in February 1907. They talked virtually non-stop for 13 hours and Jung vividly describes in Memories, Dreams, Reflections how the foundations were laid for their eventual separation. Jung subsequently proposes that sexuality is not the sole source of psychic energy, but that ‘libido’ is a general psychic energy which may flow in channels serving a range of instincts. For Jung the ego is the centre of consciousness and, as such, does not encompass or understand the whole person or self.
T HE C OLLECTIVE U NCONSCIOUS From treating psychotic patients at Burghoelzli and wide reading Jung came to the conclusion that the unconscious material that emerged could not have come from the subject’s personal learning or experience. He postulated that it came from a collective unconscious derived through aeons of repetition of human experience. Jung wrote: ‘there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. The collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited.’
A RCHETYPES In addition, Jung said that the collective unconscious is not just ‘a dead deposit, a sort of abandoned rubbish heap, but a living system of reactions and aptitudes that determine the individual’s life in invisible ways.’ It also consists of pre-existent forms that Jung called archetypes. He first called them primordial images in that he considered them to be archaic or primordial types of universal images that date back to humankind’s remotest beginnings. Everyday realities like mother, father, husband and wife create the mightiest archetypes.
T HE ANIMA The three most important archetypes Jung called the anima, animus and shadow. The anima is the unconscious image of the feminine that every man has within himself. Jung wrote: ‘Every man carries with him the eternal image of woman. This image is fundamentally unconscious, an imprint of all the ancestral experiences of the female, a deposit of all the impressions ever made by woman.’ To explain the existence of the anima Jung invoked the persona by which he means ‘the formation of the mask behind which most people live.’
P ERSONA Jung maintained that ‘a compensatory relationship exists between persona and anima.’ He explained: ‘The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society, a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual.’ ‘Society expects every individual to play the part assigned to him, so that a man who is a parson must not only carry out his official functions, but at all times and in all circumstances play the role of parson in a flawless manner.’
T HE COMPENSATORY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PERSONA AND ANIMA Jung explained: ‘The persona, the ideal picture of a man as he should be, is inwardly compensated by feminine weakness, and as the individual outwardly plays the strong man, so he becomes inwardly a woman, i.e., the anima, for it is the anima that reacts to the persona.’ Jung considered the anima to be a personality which is easily projected upon a woman. This projection means that a man can transfer to his wife the protective role that his mother played in his early life. This places the marriage ‘permanently on the brink of explosion’.
A NIMUS Similar to a man, every woman carries within her the eternal image of a man. In the same way that man has an unconscious anima, woman has an unconscious animus which consists of “masculine” characteristics. The animus is also an active force on the woman who is unconscious of its presence. The way to remove the negativity of the animus and to live in harmony with him is for woman to differentiate between her ego and the animus instead of assuming them to be one as she unconsciously does. Similarly, the man has to differentiate between his ego and the anima. This is achieved by individuation dealt with later.
S HADOW The inferior being in ourselves is what Jung calls the shadow. It consists of all that we are ashamed of and that we do not want to know about ourselves. It constitutes part of our personal unconscious, but we also have an archetypal shadow in the realm of our collective unconscious. It represents an encounter with evil and facing it can be a shattering experience. The shadow of every person has to be firmly grasped and acknowledged for a person to achieve a state of wholeness.
I NDIVIDUATION AND THE S ELF The essence of achieving personal wholeness for Jung lies in the individuation process. The end result of the process in which wholeness is achieved is to bring an undivided Self into existence. Jung attached a special meaning to Self. For him the Self is both the centre and the totality of the psyche. It consists of both the conscious ego and the unconscious and is only constituted once there is awareness and acceptance of the unconscious and its shadowy contents by the ego.
T HE INDIVIDUATION PROCESS By individuation Jung means bringing antagonistic functions of the personality into harmony with each other. Jung wrote: ‘Individuation means becoming a single, homogeneous being. It also implies becoming one’s own self. We could therefore translate individuation as “coming to selfhood” or “self-realization.”’ Individuation entails a lifelong development of personality from conception to death. Jung divided a full lifespan into two stages, a first half of life and a second half.
T HREE STAGES OF INDIVIDUATION Erich Neumann has refined and expanded lifelong development into three stages: containment/nurturance, i.e. the maternal stage; adapting/adjusting, i.e. the paternal stage; centring/integrating, i.e. a wholeness stage. Neumann expands the concept of individuation to include the process of becoming the personality that one innately is potentially from the beginning of life. The containment/nurturance stage lasts a long time in modern societies, much longer than childhood because it is preparing the person fully for adulthood.
C ONTAINMENT / NURTURANCE ( C / N ) STAGE For the individuation process to develop to the full it is necessary for the person to go through primary and secondary school as well as some form of post-school training or education in order to acquire a profession. This period of dependence on parents may last as long as thirty years! The C/N stage is symbolically defined as maternal: Nurturance is delivered in the form of warm support and encouragement. The harsh realities of life are screened out. Nurturance is provided not only by mothers, but also by fathers, teachers, or institutions such as schools and churches.
T RANSITION FROM 1 ST TO 2 ND STAGE During the first stage a relative amount of autonomy, independence and self-control is introduced along the way so that by the end of this stage people are able to do for themselves what others have done for them earlier. In the second stage, the adapting/adjusting stage, the father occupies the symbolic centre in order to instil the rigour of functioning and performance demanded for adaptation to the world.
2 ND STAGE : ADAPTION / ADJUSTING The second stage is governed by the law of consequences for actions taken (the reality principle). The person is exposed to a world in which standards of performance are paramount and consequences for behaviour are forcefully and implacably drawn. Strict conditions are imposed upon the distribution of all rewards, including love and positive regard. This is not the world as ideal but the world as real.
3 RD STAGE : CENTRING / INTEGRATING The tasks in this stage of life are: to embark upon the journey of becoming a centred and whole individual; and to relate to the transcendent as well as the immediate concrete realities of human existence. The ego now begins to answer to an inner call from the psyche, rather than to an outer demand derived from society. Working to live and survive is no longer sufficient; one must now find something worth living for.
C ENTRING / INTEGRATING AND THE S ELF Jung speaks of the Self integrating the shadow and relating in a new conscious way to the anima and animus. The aim of the third stage is thus a degree of integration of the inner opposites inherent in the Self. The Self is the goal towards which the process of individuation strives. It represents psychic wholeness and the process by which self-division may be healed.
J UNG ’ S CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCE OF G OD Jung’s impression of institutional religion as a child was quite negative. He realised that his father, a Swiss Reformed Church pastor, had lost his faith. As a child he wanted to help his father, but did not know how. Later in his life he did. At the age of 11 Jung allowed a visionary revelation to come over him as an act of obedience to God. It revealed to him that God shared his view of the institutional church. He found the vision completely emancipatory: he experienced an ‘unutterable bliss’ he had never known before.
J UNG ’ S REFLECTION ON HIS EXPERIENCE Years later Jung wrote: “That was what my father had not understood, I thought; he had failed to experience the will of God. He did not know the immediate living God who stands, omnipotent and free, above His Bible and His Church, who calls upon man to partake of His freedom.” “It was obedience which brought me grace, and after that experience I knew what God’s grace was. One must be utterly abandoned to God; nothing matters but fulfilling His will.”
G OD AS AN ARCHETYPE Jung arrived at the view that ‘the soul possesses by nature a religious function.’ Because of this natural religious function of the soul Jung maintained that there is a God archetype in the collective unconscious of all human beings. However, Jung made a distinction between the God-image archetype and God himself. In the collective unconscious there is only a God-image. Jung’s main concern was with the ways in which the God-archetype had manifested itself in actual experiences.
G OD ONE OF THE SOUL ’ S DEEPEST AND CLOSEST INTIMACIES Jung adopted the concept ‘numinous’ from Rudolf Otto to designate the particular emotional quality of archetypal experiences of God. Otto describes the experience as the mysterium tremendum at fascinens (terrifying and fascinating mystery). It implies an emotional apprehension of God as wholly other, awesome, overpowering, urgent and fascinating. For Jung, it is ‘psychologically quite unthinkable’ for God to be ‘wholly other’. This is because ‘a wholly other could never be one of the soul’s deepest and closest intimacies – which is precisely what God is.’
J UNG ’ S TREATMENT OF CHRISTIANITY Murray Stein has argued that Jung’s stance towards Christianity was basically that of therapist. Frieda Fordham sees this as Jung’s childhood mission to restore his father’s faith by integrating his psychological insights into existing Christian dogma. People who found salvation in Christ, said Jung, had assimilated the historical Jesus into the archetype of the self. ‘This archetypal idea is a reflection of the individual’s wholeness, i.e. of the self, which is present in him as an unconscious image.’
P ERFECTION BUT NOT WHOLENESS IN G OD But this Christ-figure ‘lacks the darkness of spirit, and is also without sin. Without the integration of evil there is not totality.’ According to Jung, the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, represents perfection, but not wholeness. This is because Christianity has recognised the need to face the question of human and cosmic evil, but has excluded and repressed evil from the presence of the Trinity.
J UNG SUGGESTS A QUATERNITARIAN G OD Jung suggested that evil be included within the doctrine of God: that Satan be the fourth figure in the Godhead. The Devil, he argued, represents God the Father’s eternal adversary and should be placed back in the realm from which it originated. In this way, said Jung, ‘the act of love embodied in the Son is counterbalanced by Lucifer’s denial.’ The quaternitarian pattern implies completeness in distinction from perfection which is implied by the Trinitarian pattern. Evil is the element of reality that Trinitarian thought excludes.
E VALUATION OF J UNG Appreciative Jung made advances on Freud by broadening the concept of libido to general psychic energy and introducing the concept collective unconscious. Individuation as a process of ‘the dialectical discussion between the conscious mind and the unconscious’ in order to attain wholeness in the Self is one of Jung’s great contributions to humanity. Individuation encompasses the integration and reconciliation of the unconscious dark side of our human nature into the conscious ego thereby helping us become whole people.
S HORTCOMINGS AND CRITICISMS Jung constructed a very complex structure of the human psyche that is not easy to understand fully and clearly. He also changed his mind from time to time which shows how tenuous some of his concepts and theories were. On the other hand, Jung was very dogmatic about some of his theories. Renos Papadopoulos writes that Jung stuck to theories he invented and propagated them ‘with the fervour of a zealot’. It was a mistake of Jung to restrict religion to numinous experiences as many devout believers pursue their religion without such experiences.
M OVING BEYOND J UNG Although there is much in Jungian analytical psychology that is of value, we should not hesitate to move beyond it to other schools of thought in psychology and psychotherapy. Not one of them has a monopoly on truth and insights into the human psyche. Rather, they each bring different insights into knowing ourselves better and dealing with challenges we face. We can strive to reach that of God in us by different means, not only numinous experiences. Praying, listening and meditating are some of the routes we can take.