Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Carl Gustav Jung Takes on the Faith-Based

It has been quite some time since I have submitted a post that is basically a commonplace book entry. However, this morning I happened to be reading Jung's Psychological Types in my doctor's waiting room and one paragraph jumped out of me for what it said about the relationship between Christianity (and other systems of institutionalized religion) and the very nature of our consciousness. I therefore felt it important to "share with the group" this particular paragraph:

The relation of the individual to his fantasy is very largely conditioned by his relation to the unconscious in general, and this in turn is conditioned in particular by the spirit of the age. According to the degree of rationalism that prevails, the individual will be more disposed or less to have dealings with the unconscious and its products. Christianity, like every closed system of religion, has an undoubted tendency to suppress the unconscious in the individual as much as possible, thus paralyzing his fantasy activity. Instead, religion offers stereotyped symbolic concepts that are meant to take the place of his unconscious once and for all. The symbolic concepts of all religions are recreations of unconscious processes in a typical, universally binding form. Religious teaching supplies, as it were, the final information about the "last things" and the world beyond human consciousness. Wherever we can observe a religion being born, we see how the doctrinal figures flow into the founder himself as revelations, in other words as concretizations of his unconscious fantasy. The forms welling up from his unconscious are declared to be universally valid and thus replace the individual fantasies of others. The evangelist Matthew has preserved for us a fragment of this process from the life of Christ: in the story of the temptation we see how the idea of kingship rises out of the founder's unconscious in the visionary form of the devil, who offer shim power over all the kingdoms of the earth. Had Christ misunderstood the fantasy and taken it concretely, there would have been one madman the more in the world. But he rejected the concretism of his fantasy and entered the world as a king to whom the kingdoms of heaven are subject. He was therefore no paranoiac, as the result also proved. The views advanced from time to time from the psychiatric side concerning the morbidity of Christ's psychology are nothing but ludicrous rationalistic twaddle, with no comprehension whatever of the meaning of such processes in the history of mankind.

We now live in an age of a President who, for all his professions of faith, seems to have been subjected to the same temptation that the devil offered to Jesus in the wilderness. Unfortunately, to invoke Jung's terminology, our President has embraced "the concretism of his fantasy," providing us with "one madman the more in the world;" and, as I have observed elsewhere, there is little you can do with a psychotic other than medicate him into a state of oblivion. Sadly, that may be the only way to perform damage control on a fantasy-made-concrete that has gotten out of hand.

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