Essays on Jungian Psychology and Christian Thought

By the Reverend Bruce A. Hedman, Ph.D.

Abington Congregational Church and the University of Connecticut

 

1.  Typology Chart

This chart attempts to summarize the strengths and weaknesses of the two attitudes (introversion and extraversion) and the four functions (sensing, intuiting, thinking, feeling).  The SUPERIOR attitude and function is written in CAPITALS, while the inferior is written in lower case italics.   The strengths are indicated with a “+” and the weaknesses with a “-.”   A box with dark borders represents one person’s typology.  For example, the first box in the upper left-hand corner represents an INTROVERT whose superior function is SENSATION.  In the first column are summarized some strengths “+  of an introverted sensate with some weaknesses “-“ below.  This person’s inferior function is an extraverted intuition, whose strengths and weaknesses are summarized in the second column.

 

 

SENSATION

intuition

INTUITION

sensation

THINKING

feeling

FEELING

thinking

INTROVERT        +

Absorbs detail internally; takes in  nuance of atmosphere and personalities; artistic impressionism

 

Prophet, seerer, artist; foresees archetypal changes &  tells society; focus on unconscious images

 

Builds up ideas; philosophical bent;  back to the basics of science, ponder meaning of art; theoreticians

 

Well-defined values, morals, ethics, but not expressed outwardly; ethical backbone; exerts unconscious  ethical influence

 

INTROVERT        -  -

Shows no outward reaction; stares, looks stupid unless auxiliary function cuts in

 

Misunderstood by contemporaries; day dreamers; don’t communicate well; get lost easily; aloof; oblivious to others

 

Black and white judgments, yes/no, love/hate; get lost in fantasy ; don’t care about others opinions; absent-minded

 

Will appear  cold and unmoved; very hard to understand; inclined to melancholy

 

Extravert                 +

 

Grasps  symbolic meanings;  occasionally uncanny predictions

 

Fascinated by parapsychology but factually unreliable;  one outward sensation can spark religious experience

 

Strong, warm, loyal feeling flowing outwards,  very good or  very bad tastes; whimsical but with affect

 

Interested in immense number of facts; but needs to drill deeper

Extravert                  -

 

Fears dark social trends, negative prophetic fantasies,  outward events trigger forebodings about future; sordid

 

Immoderate easting; ignores body, vague about facts; oblivious to detail; bungling at sex, yet prurient, worried re  money; neurotic OCD

 

“I love you, and I will make it your business”; black/white; easily poisoned by the collective; sticky, dog-like attachment

 

Monomania; one thought to explain all facts; negative tendency to become tyrannical, stiff, unyielding

EXTRAVERT         +

Observes detail, smell, texture; concrete, practical, factually accurate, refined sensuality; artistic realizm

 

Recognizes future possibilities; “smells” opportunities, spots and facilitates creative artists; socially make “right” connections

 

Organizer, clarity in language, interested in the object, not the idea;

 

Makes friends easily; enables social life; reasonable, helps out, good taste, insight into character of others, spreads agreeable atmosphere

 

EXTRAVERT          -

Soulless, skips theory for details, finds hunches or guesses unpleasant

 

Sows but lacks patience to reap; off to new opportunities, unpunctual; can’t wait

 

No subjective ideas; unconscious of personal motive, outwardly shows no feeling; rigid rules

 

Can become worn out; in neurosis becomes mechanical and calculating

 

Introvert                  +

 

Eerie ghost stories, primitive mysticism and occult

 

Sensitive to subliminal; not influenced by others

 

Mystical attachment to ideals but naieve; unconscious values impact others

 

Weakness can spark quest for meaning of life, but then can get swallowed by task

Introvert                   -

 

Suspicious of dark motives, ideas of persecution, melancholy, hypochondria, self-deprecatory, jealous fantasies; project anxiety

 

Neglect bodily needs; unmoved by nature’s beauty; neurotic phobias; sensation hinders clear perception; lack judgment

 

When alone becomes melancholy; hides feelings of love; “I love you, but it is none of your business”; defend values ruthlessly

 

Avoids abstract ideas; negative, critical, coarse jusgments; cynical, dark, negative outlook on life; if alone doubts self-worth

 

Sources:  Von Franz, Marie-Louise (1971) Lectures on Jung’s Typology, Zurich, Spring Publications

Sharp, Daryl (1987) Personality Types: Jung’s Model of Typology, Toronto, Inner City Books

 

2.  Doppelganger and “The Student of Prague

I love the old silent films, and recently I saw a 1913 German silent film entitled “The Student of Prague.”  The Student was famous for being the finest swordsman in the country, but he was very poor.  The Devil struck a bargain with the Student that he would pay him one hundred thousand gold coins for “something” in his apartment.  The Student knew he had no possessions that valuable, so he agreed.   By a “special effect,” cutting edge for 1913, the Devil produced a bag which spewed out gold coins disproportionate to its size.  Then the Devil looked around the humble dwelling, and peeled off the Student’s reflection in a floor-length mirror, and took that in exchange.

                Later the Student fell in love with the beautiful daughter of a rich Baron, and she with him.  But the Baron had betrothed his daughter to her cousin, the Baron’s only male heir, to continue the title within the family.  The heir was enraged that the Student courted the Baron’s daughter, and foolishly challenged him to a duel.   Knowing his daughter loved the Student, the Baron bargained with the Student that he could marry his daughter, if only he would throw the duel and let his heir live to inherit the title.  The Student agreed, and on the morning of the duel went to the dueling field intent to let the heir live.  But on his way the Student met the exact Image of himself coming from the dueling field wiping blood off his sword.  His Image had taken the Student’s place, and had slain the heir.

                Enraged that he now could not marry the Baron’s daughter, the Student fenced with his Image, but both were equally skilled swordsmen.  Finally, the Student drew a pistol and shot the Image through the heart.  But both the Image and the Student fell down dead.

                The Germans have a word for this Image, “Doppelganger,” your double who can go around in your place.  At the sight of a Doppelganger you are terrified with a cold chill to the bone.  Scottish lore calls this the “Second Sight,” which often portends death.  Last Sunday we read that, when Jesus came to his disciples’ boat walking on the sea, “they cried out in fear, saying, ‘It is a ghost.’”  The word “ghost” is not quite accurate.  The word is phantasma, meaning an “apparition,” a “wraith,” perhaps a “Doppelganger.”  But no apparition would dare take on the likeness of Jesus, and he replies, “Take heart; it is I; do not be afraid.”  Jesus is Lord of the Spirits, as well as the Lord of Nature.

                Psychologically, the idea of our “double” comes from our Shadow, that part of our personalities where lurk the bad attitudes and habits that we are ashamed of and do not own up to.  Because we deny these in ourselves, we become very sensitive of them in other people.  Psychologically, we “project” these onto other people, and despise in others what we ourselves really are guilty of.  Jesus said, “Judge not lest you be judged, for by the judgment you pronounce you will be judged. … How can you take the splinter out of your neighbor’s eye and not see the log that is in your own.”  In Christ we are to grow into deeper awareness of our own faults and failings, into a deeper knowledge of ourselves, so that in Christ we grow less terrified of our Doppelganger whom we see every day in the mirror.

---------Bruce

 

3.  “Mirror” as an Archetype of Consciousness

You know that we are very proud of our two-year old granddaughter Mia.  She loves mirrors.  When she was one year old, she would kiss the “baby” she saw in our full length mirror.  At two she stands in front of Sandy’s tri-fold mirror, looking into all three, and slowly closes it around herself, laughing.  So we tried the “yellow sticky-note” experiment on her.  Without her knowing it, we put a sticky-note into her hair.  When she looked into the mirror, as a two-year old, she should have reached into the mirror for the sticky-note as being in the “baby’s” hair.  But no, she immediately reached up to her own hair, recognizing that it was her reflection, something a four-year old would do. 

Human beings have always been fascinated with mirrors.  The oldest metal mirror found in an Egyptian pyramid dates to 1500 B.C.  But before that, prehistoric man contemplated his reflection in still pond water.  Mirrors are symbols of our knowing ourselves, archetypes of consciousness, if you will.  Man is the only animal who not only senses the world around him, but is aware that he senses the world around him, who is both subject and object.  Mirrors symbolize that we are aware of ourselves, because they “reflect” our own self-knowledge.

But, of course, our knowledge of ourselves can be twisted, and the mirror becomes distorted.  In fairy tales the evil queen asks, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all,” expecting a self-satisfying answer.  In Greek mythology the youth Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection, as we can become inflated with our own self-knowledge.  In Bram Stoker’s Dracula the vampire has no reflection in a mirror, because he is a predatory complex without self-awareness.

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates said, “Know thyself.”  There is a connection between knowing ourselves and knowing God.  As Christians, we have all experienced a deeper awareness of our faults as we grow in grace.  After the miracle of the draught of fish, Peter said to Jesus, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  After the bright light of the Damascus Road, the scales fell from Paul’s eyes, and he saw himself as never before.  St. Augustine called this paradox felix cupla, “happy guilt,” as a deepening awareness of our faults shows our drawing closer to God.  That is, knowledge of our shadow comes from knowing the Self.

Yet, in this life our knowledge is only incomplete.  Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Now we see in a mirror dimly, then we shall see face to face.”  Yes, we do now know something of ourselves, we see in the mirror dimly, and can learn more.  Individuation is a process which grows deeper in this life, but is never completed in the here and now.  So we look forward to a life beyond this world when we shall see Jesus face to face, for “now we know in part; then we shall understand fully, even as we have been fully understood.”

-------Bruce

bahedman@earthlink.net

4.  The “Unlived Life”

In a distant parish a long, long time ago, I knew a woman, we will call her Susan, who inflicted on her children what the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung called “the unlived life.”

She grew up in central Massachusetts during the Great Depression.  Her father lost his job, and the entire family had to do odd jobs to make ends meet.  After the Second World War Susan went to college in Boston, where in four years she dated seriatim five boys who were sons of Boston’s “Brahmin families” on Beacon Hill; but, she received no marriage proposals.  After college she obtained a professional position in Boston’s Back Bay near Beacon Hill, and married a salesman, with whom she had a son and a daughter.  Over the years she repeatedly turned down opportunities for professional advancement which would have taken her outside of Boston.  When her husband’s promotion enabled them to buy a much finer house, she adamantly refused, because it was several miles west of the Back Bay. 

Susan’s daughter married a man whose profession moved them to a different city far away.  Yet, even after many years, she never could feel “at home” there; the stores, the markets, the restaurants, the houses were never as good as the Back Bay’s.

Susan’s son became a successful physician, who in time bought a nice residence on Beacon Hill. But he struggled with its mortgage, as it was somewhat beyond his means.  This angered Susan, who told him that he had no business putting on airs, getting above his station, and struggling with a mortgage he couldn’t afford.

In her own mind Susan was not conscious of her long-held desire to become part of one of the families of Boston’s “Blue Bloods.”  This was the life she unconsciously wished to lead, yet it shaped the life she actually led.  She never consciously asked herself why she would not move out of the Back Bay.  Her children unconsciously absorbed her “unlived life.”  Her daughter never pondered why nowhere else could feel like home.  Her son in part realized Susan’s “unlived life,” but this only angered her, because it stirred up unfulfilled desires in the shadow of her own mind.  And her son was unconscious of why he took the risk and “bit off more than he could chew,” just to live in that neighborhood.

Carl Jung wrote about how children will unconsciously absorb their parents’ “unlived lives,” which will mysteriously guide their own life choices.  The prophet Jeremiah quotes the proverb, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth have been set on edge.” (Jer 31:29)  Yet, Jeremiah continues, that this proverb will be overturned in the new covenant, “when I put my law within them, and write it upon their hearts” (Jer 31:33).  As we bring our hearts and minds before God, he will make us aware through the spirit within us as to why we want what we want.  This consciousness of the “unlived life” can weaken its grasp on us.  “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8: 32)

Bruce – bahedman@earthlink.net

 

5.  Jesus and the Unconscious

 

Last April I was watching the game show “Jeopardy,” and the category was “UN----.”  Alex Trebek gave as the answer, “Carl Gustav Jung said this ‘is not just evil by nature, it is also the source of the highest good.’”  None of the contestants guessed the correct question, “What is the UNCONSCIOUS?”

The unconscious is that part of our minds which keeps all the old memories that we have forgotten, even the old childhood experiences which, though formative, are now beyond our conscious recall.  The unconscious also stores the values and goals we inherited from our parents, whether we blindly follow them or violently rebel against them.  Many of our likes and dislikes, our “gut reactions,” arise within us, not by rational choice, but from out of our unconscious.

C.G. Jung was the first psychologist in modern times to make a systematic study of the unconscious.  Sigmund Freud had explored the influence of a person’s “subconscious” and “id,” but Jung generalized Freud’s ideas.  But I want to suggest that the first specialist of the unconscious, the first “doctor of the soul,” was Jesus of Nazareth.  The gospels repeatedly testify that Jesus “himself knew what was in a man.”

Jung defined the “shadow” as that part of your unconscious which contains all the foibles, bad habits, and character flaws which you deny having.  We all have bad traits that even in the quiet of our own minds we do not own up to.  Robert Burns wrote, “Wad some power the gift tae gie us, ta see ourselves as ithers see us.”  There is an old German proverb, “A man may be an angel at work and a devil at home.”  Jung said that we “project” our shadow unto others, that is, we are most intolerant of those traits in others which we ourselves hide in our shadow.

Two thousand years ago Jesus taught people to bring into consciousness those faults they hid in their shadows and projected onto others.  When the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery, they asked him whether they should stone her, as the law required.  Jesus bent down and wrote in the sand, and said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.”  Some say Jesus wrote in the sand the sins of the Pharisees.  Perhaps he wrote the names of their mistresses.  Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  He said, “Judge not, lest you be judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged.”

Jung defined the “persona” as that part of your unconscious which you want others to believe that you are.  We are all tremendously sensitive to what others think of us, and we want “to put our best foot forward” and be respected.  We forget that there is a gap between who we really are and the face, the “persona,” we show the world.  Jung described as “inflated” someone who identifies himself with his visible career or social status.

Two thousand years ago Jesus taught people to bring into consciousness that gap between who they really were and who they wanted to be seen as.  Jesus railed against religious hypocrisy.  “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them…You must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray on the street corners, that they may be seen by men.”  The Pharisees were the religious professionals of his day, who identified themselves with their piety.  Jesus spoke his harshest words against their inflation, as a last-ditch effort to shake them into reality.  He preached the “Seven Woes.”  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!   first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean.”

Jesus calls us as his followers to a soul-searching self-examination of our unconscious, our “gut reactions” and “snap judgments,” that we may better reflect his love and truth to a world struggling to find meaning in its existence.

Bruce – bahedman@earthlink.net

6.  “Salt” as a Split Archetype

Because all human beings need a certain amount of salt in their diet, salt has become a universal symbol in all cultures.  It has become what C.G. Jung dubbed an “archetype.”

But, as Eric Neumann observed, whenever an archetype enters our consciousness, it “splits” into its two opposites.  When a baby is only months old, he/she experiences the “Great Mother” archetype.  But around a year, when the baby becomes conscious of mother, there appear both the “Good Mother” archetype, the Nurturer and Caregiver, and the “Terrible Mother” archetype, the Disciplinarian and emotional Devourer. 

This may explain why salt as a symbol always seems to have contradictory meanings.  On the one hand, as a flavoring salt enhances food, but on the other, salt can make food bitter.  On the one hand, salt preserves food, as when it kills the bacteria on fish packed in salt, but on the other, salt inhibits crops, as the Romans plowed salt into the fields around Carthage.  On the one hand, salt is medicinal, as physicians still will recommend a saltwater gargle, but on the other, salt can inflict pain, as when one “rubs salt into a wound.”  On the one hand, salt may refer to the morally upright, as “the salt of the earth,” but on the other, salt may refer to smut, as when a sailor tells a “salty tale.”

This observation may help us to understand why Jesus in the Gospels seems to use salt as a symbol in contradictory ways.  On the one hand Jesus warns us “if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored,” and “everyone will be salted with fire.”  On the other hand Jesus comforts us, saying, “You are the salt of the earth.”  On the one hand Jesus warns us that life will bring trials and temptations, and we need the courage of our convictions to enter by the narrow gate and to take up our cross and follow him.  On the other Jesus comforts us that we are not without positive influence on our neighbors and in the end will be gathered together with him in glory.

 

7.  Phobias – A Path into the Unconscious

Most of us have some kind of phobia, perhaps to heights, spiders, snakes, confined spaces, or public speaking.  Our response to our phobias far exceeds the actual threat.  Why do we have such an over-reaction?  I want to suggest that these are opportunities to learn something about ourselves.  A phobia is a reaction sent up from our unconscious to our conscious which describes an actual condition in our unconscious.  If I may use the term, a phobia is a conscious compensation.  Let me illustrate with an example from my own life.

I have a terrible phobia over heights.  Although I grew up in Seattle, I never went up into the Space Needle out of fear of its height.  I have difficulty climbing a ladder more than five feet high.  But as I have grown older, I have become aware of a particular fault.  I have a terribly inflated ego.  My grandmother always told me that she wished that she could buy me for what I’m worth and sell me for what I think I am worth.  Unconsciously I equate who I am with what I have done, or, as Jung would say, I identify my ego with my persona.  By giving my conscious a fear of heights, my unconscious is warning me that I put myself on a pedestal.

Now I am not saying that this interpretation of acrophobia is true for every sufferer, only of me.  There are many reasons why one might be afraid of heights.   My point is that our phobias are opportunities to ask hard questions about ourselves. 

Perhaps a Biblical example of a phobia is Saul at the end of 1st Samuel.  Saul had banned the practice of divination and witchcraft in Israel.  Yet, he was having the kingdom taking from him because of his lack of piety before God.  Did he ban witches, not out of piety but out of a phobia of occult practices, a “wiccaphobia?”  Could this wiccaphobia have stemmed from Saul’s conscious refusal to delve into the inner recesses of his own unconscious?  Yet, when his conscious efforts to understand what was happening to his kingdom eluded him, he turned to the Witch of Endor to summon up the soul of Samuel.  Is this an enantiodromia, a turning-of-direction out of an unconscious constellation?

Self-examination is a Christian virtue, because God in Christ has given us the assurance that we are forgiven in Christ, and so can take that hard look at ourselves of which others may be afraid.  As the Psalmist prayed, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.” (Ps 51:6)  Augustine coined the term “felix culpa,” “happy guilt,” because the ability to take this hard look at ourselves can be an indicator that we have this assurance before God.

 

8.  River – An Archetypal Symbol

I am sitting in my study preparing our Lenten sermons, and pondering Jesus’ words, “He who believes in me, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”  “River” is a profound archetypal symbol used in both the Old and New Testaments, and in all cultures, with three primary meanings.

 

First, “river” is a symbol of life.  How often do we speak of the streams of time, the river of life, the flow of events.  I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where more than one stream bore the Indian name “Skookumchuck,” Chinook for “great waters,” as on the banks of a river theses First Peoples found a wealth of food, water, and transportation.  Spawning salmon were easily caught at its waterfall, the “tumtumchuck,” literally, the river’s heart.  Through the Garden of Eden, the birthplace of life, the Lord God made flow a great river which fed the Tigris and Euphrates.

 

To “cross a river” is a symbol of a change in life, as often we cross from the known side to the unknown, from the conscious to the unconscious.  When Caesar crossed the Rubicon, he said, “The die is cast,” as his fate hung in the balance.  Every Zen garden has an ornamental Japanese bridge, a Buddhist symbol of transformation.  In ancient Rome the chief priest was the “Pontifex Maximus,” the “Great Bridge Builder,” he who bridged the gap from the people to God, a title still borne by the Pope.

 

Secondly, “river” is a symbol of death.  Archetypal symbols are so rich in meaning as to contain opposites.  The ancient Greeks placed two coins over the eyes of the dead to pay the fee of the boatman Charon to ferry their loved ones over the River Styx to the land of the dead.  Vikings launched burning longboats down river to carry their dead chieftains to Valhalla.  Among the plagues of Egypt the Lord God turned the River Nile to blood.  And a well-know Negro spiritual sings, “Jordan’s river is deep and wide, hallelujah; meet my mother on the other side, hallelujah.”

 

Thirdly, “river” is a symbol of meeting God.  Just as the Red Sea parted to let Moses and the people of Israel pass over to the Wilderness, so did the Jordan River part to let Joshua and the people pass into the Promised Land.  John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan before the Holy Spirit as a dove came upon Jesus.  According to Revelation 22, we shall drink from the river of the waters of life flowing from the throne of God, and eat on either bank of the tree of life.  An old gospel song invites us, “Shall we gather at the river that flows from the throne of God.”  As we prepare again this year to celebrate the miracle of Easter, Jesus invites us to experience his presence as “out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.  This he said of the Spirit which those who believe in him were to receive.”  (John 7: 38)

 

9.  Jung on Humor

Will there be humor in heaven?

 

Mark Twain thought not.

 

In September when I presented Nate Cutler with his religion badge during their Scout meeting, I asked him to explain to the rest of the troop what we did in church.   He replied, “We sing and pray, and the minister reads, preaches, and tells jokes.”  They laughed, but humor is important.  I told the scouts that among the Eskimos their medicine men cannot heal unless they can make people laugh.

 

But Mark Twain believed that humor was rooted not in joy, but in sorrow, so there would be no need of humor in heaven.  For example, Twain said, “A banker is a person who loans you an umbrella when it is sunny, but at the first drop of rain demands it back.”

 

Plato believed that humor was rooted in derision, as Don Rickles would agree.  To a heckler Rickles famously said, “Do I come to where you work, and criticize the French fries?”

 

Freud believed that humor was an outlet for our suppressed desires.  Freud’s favorite joke told of a king who met a peasant that was his double, his look-alike.  The king asked, “Did your mother work in the palace?”  To which the peasant replied, “No, but my father did.”

 

The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung believed that humor was a necessary tool to our psychic maturity, our individuation.  The highest form of humor is poking fun at oneself.  Twain quipped, “When I was 18 I thought my father to be the dumbest in the world.  But by the age of 21 I was amazed at how much the old man had learned in three years.”  We all have a public image that we want others to believe is really ourselves.  This Jung called our Persona.  But we are tempted to be “inflated,” to believe our own image, that we really are our Persona.  The role of humor is to poke holes in our inflation.  In myths this is the role of the Trickster, to play “tricks” on people to get them to see themselves as they really are, not as they want others to think them to be.  It is the court jester who alone can speak truth to the king.

 

Jesus used humor to shake up religious hypocrisy.  Some of his puns simply don’t translate, as when he likened a rich man entering heaven to a camel (“gml”) passing though the eye (“glm”) of a needle.  Often he used hyperbole, like those who strain at a gnat but swallow a camel, or who would take the speck out of another’s eye while a beam was in their own.  We invest his words with such solemnity that we often read over the humor he intended.  When the Pharisees brought to him a woman caught in adultery and asked if they should stone her, Jesus bent down and wrote in the sand.  Erudite commentators explain that Jesus was writing a list of sins.  I think he was writing out the names of the Pharisees’ girlfriends.  When you point a finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at you.

 

Will there be humor in heaven?  I don’t know, but at least we won’t need it.