Re-envisioning Carl Jung from “The Red Book”

Neuroscience

Many modern-day therapists and psychologists – particularly those who work with dreams as a means of exploring a patient’s unconscious – owe a great debt to the Swiss analyst Carl Jung. While he lived, Jung significantly broadened the scope of psychoanalysis from the model established by Sigmund Freud. Whereas Freud largely viewed the Unconscious as a repository of unsavory memories and repressed impulses, Jung believed that it was in many ways aware and responsive, and an untapped reservoir of wisdom, knowledge, and even spiritual revelation. Read More →

Understanding Your Personality Type

Personality Types

Many schools of modern psychology have recognized four basic personality types, with various sub-groupings being comprised of mixtures of these basic traits. The main four are like the “primary colors” of the social palette. Although people can oftentimes find labels confining, an understanding of these basic personality types – and their distinctive approaches to life – may help you to understand how you see yourself and others, as well as your place in relation to the world.

The idea of personality types is not a modern concept. The ancient Greeks, for example, recognized that humanity’s approach to life and problem solving tended to fall within four key categories, and this idea may have originated even earlier. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung made an extensive study of personality types, and many of his deductions have survived into modern psychological practice.

While labels can oftentimes be restrictive – and fail to honor the uniqueness of each person – some understanding of the basic personality types can help you to interact with others and make decisions with a greater degree of self-awareness. While most of us will share in the qualities of each group to some degree, you may find yourself resonating strongly with one in particular as you read its description. You could think of this as your primary stance in life, the way in which you see yourself in relation to the world.

Choleric people are drivers and doers. This type is the prototypical extravert. People in this category tend to be driven, organized and disciplined in the pursuit of their goals. Decisiveness is the dominant fact of their nature, and they back this up with a strong will. The shadow aspect of their will can express itself as stubbornness, arrogance and lack of consideration for the perceptions and feelings of others.

Sanguine (also known as expressive) people are filled with spontaneous, creative energy. This type makes for a good entertainer as well as a fun and energetic friend. The shadow side of the sanguine can be very self-centered, caught up in its own world. This can express itself in an overall lack of organization, and the inability – or unwillingness – to reciprocate in personal relationships.

Phlegmatic (also known as amiable) people are peacekeepers. They dislike conflict and strive to promote harmony. They tend to be good listeners. Amiable people can be counted on; they consistently pull through even when the going gets tough. On the downside, they may have problems communicating or setting limits because they’re so averse to confrontation. They may avoid certain responsibilities – particularly those involving decision making – for this reason.

Analytical people are neat and organized. They live their lives according to high personal standards. Their approach to life’s various challenges is typically persistent and thorough, and it proceeds according to a well thought out plan. They are good problem solvers for this reason. On the downside, the analytical tendency towards high standards can become overly rigid and demanding. Such people can become pessimistic or easily hurt when the world doesn’t live up to their expectations. The original word for this personality type was melancholy, but this is not so often used nowadays because of people’s tendency to associate that word with despondency.     

Understanding which personality type you resonate with most strongly can help you to interpret your interactions with other people better. It helps you to perceive the various conflicts in life as less a matter of right or wrong and more a matter of people’s different values. This awareness can serve you well when making major life decisions – for example, those involving career choices or the pursuit of an intimate partnership.

Wanna find out what your personality type is? Take a free, confidential assessment here. Once you’re done, let me know if the results align with what you perceive as your personality. I’m especially interested in hearing about anything you might disagree with or results that you find surprising.

Witch Persecutions and the Perils of Shadow Projection

Image Credit: Hjoranna/Deviant Art

Image Credit: Hjoranna/Deviant Art

The history of our race is highlighted by many bright peaks and shadowy valleys. We have seen lofty heights and despairing lows. Occasionally there have been black gulfs almost too horrible to contemplate. The Holocaust in Nazi Germany is assured a permanent place on this list. Another black splotch upon the tapestry of human history is the rampant and mindless persecution of alleged witches, which cast its cruel shadow over many parts of Europe and the New World over a span of nearly three centuries (roughly 1450 to 1750). Oh, and let’s not forget 2013Read More →

The History and Basic Principles of Archetypal Psychology

Archetypal Psychology

The basic philosophy behind archetypal psychology was inspired by Carl Jung’s concept of the archetypes: Primordial symbols, appearing predominantly within our dreams, which are the common heritage of all mankind. The concept of archetypes implies that there are sources of health, healing, strength and wisdom within the psyche that are accessible to all of us. Archetypal psychology seeks to open up connections to this deeper source, believing that the true cures for a wide array of mental and emotional problems can be found there. Read More →

Carl Jung’s Archetypes

Carl Jung (1875–1961)

One of Carl Jung’s most compelling and unique contributions to the understanding of human psychology was his idea of the collective unconscious and the archetypes within it. It was through this insight that Jung made the ancient and archaic relevant to the world of today. The collective psychological experiences of humanity were suddenly seen as impacting and shaping the way every human being saw the world.

In order to understand archetypes we must understand the nature and function of the collective unconscious. According to Jung, the collective unconscious is not like the personal unconscious as first introduced by psychoanalysis. It is detached from the personal unconscious because it belongs to the human species as a whole. It is inherited, just as physical aspects of our bodies are inherited. Because of this, a human being does not enter the world as a blank slate but rather with the innate and inherited tendencies of the collective unconscious. These tendencies are what Jung termed “archetypes.”

The word “archetype” can be defined as a model, a prototype, something which serves as a pattern for other things. Jung’s usage of the term meant much the same thing. He envisioned archetypes as enduring patterns and models within the collective unconscious which act as a matrix through which the world is experienced. It is helpful to liken archetypes to instincts. Instincts result in the “fight or flight” reaction in response to startling stimuli just as archetypes of the feminine and masculine help us to organize and divide the world. Both of these processes happen at an unconscious level, the difference being that Jung saw instincts as physical and archetypes as psychological/psychical.

There are many archetypes, perhaps even in infinite number of them. However, there are a few that seem to stand out for encompassing much of our experience and for their presence in almost all cultures throughout the world. Two of these are the already mentioned masculine and feminine images. The archetype of the hero is also one that is common to almost all people. Though everyone might have slightly different image of what makes a hero, it is generally embodied in the person who struggles, fights, and wins against adversity.

The most important archetype in Jung’s psychology was what he termed “the self.” The self is the ideal form of a person. It is the whole and complete personality, the integration of a person’s conscious and unconscious life. Jung thought that most people could not properly relate to the self because their weak and fragmented egos could not handle it. For this reason, the archetype of the self is usually seen as something other than oneself. It is projected into the world in the forms of gods and saviors. These god and savior figures represent the whole, complete, and perfect image of the self.

There are many forms which archetypes can take. Close friends, warriors, politicians, or brilliant scientists can all be images of the hero to different people. The self is not necessarily only projected onto gods and saviors, but onto anyone who is perceived to be a whole and integrated person, such as a strong leader. Though the images of archetypes may vary in the real world, what they have in common is that they are all influenced, shaped, and filtered by the dynamic, archetypal patterns found in the collective unconscious of humanity.

The Relationship Between Freud and Jung

Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were colleagues and leading figures in the field of psychiatry in their day. This naturally led to a strong relationship filled with many meetings and numerous correspondences. In total they sent over 350 letters to each other. However, the story of their relationship is more the story of a relationship gone awry. Their close friendship only flourished for a few years before they decided to go their separate ways.

The first known correspondence between Freud and Jung took place in the year 1906, when Jung sent Freud a copy of his book, “Studies in Word Association.” When the two were finally able to meet in 1907 in Vienna, they sat and talked for thirteen hours straight. It seemed that they got along wonderfully. From that day until 1909, their letters were filled with father-son references. Freud took an obviously paternal role to Jung, writing in one letter, “I formally adopt you as eldest son and anoint you . . . as my successor and crown prince.”

Freud, because of the part of his Oedipal theory that said all sons harbored a death wish onto their father, was under the impression that Jung had an unconscious death wish towards him. He blamed Jung’s eventual dissent on this unresolved oedipal problem. On a few occasions this thought seemed to have worried Freud so much that it caused him to faint.

Another source of tension between the two was that Jung viewed Freud’s psychoanalysis as sexually repressive, and wanted to advocate for greater sexual freedom. This was in direct confrontation to Freud, who wanted Jung to promise never to abandon the sexual theory. In fact, he insisted that Jung make it unquestionable dogma. Jung was of the opinion that Freud was no longer using scientific judgement, and wondered why he placed such an importance on sexuality.

Jung was also heading in a direction that Freud did not like with his research as he began looking at mysticism and occultism. He became interested in gods, archetypes, the collective unconscious, and the shadow side of man. He wanted Freud to join in to the crusade to conquer occultism. Freud, though he said that he did not wish to hold Jung back, also wanted nothing to do with it. By May of 1912, Freud had begun to distance himself from Jung’s ideas. Finally on January 3, 1913 he wrote, “I propose we abandon our personal relations entirely.”

Though intense as the relationship between Freud and Jung initially was, it only managed to last roughly six years due to diverting interests and oedipal worries. However, those six years contributed greatly to the future work of both men and left an undeniably important mark in their psychoanalytic field. The ideas and theories that they worked on both together and apart are still discussed by psychologists, psychiatrists, philosophers, and various scholars today.