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Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist and man of letters whose cultural impact is second only, perhaps, to that of Sigmund Freud.
While Freud is cited in most scholarly textbooks and dictionaries about society and culture, Jung is only mentioned in some. That’s probably because Freud, with all his limitations, was the first to systematically conceptualize the so-called unconscious aspects of the psyche—at least, Freud was the first to do so on a grand scale.
Jung, on the other hand, was at one time Freud’s favored disciple. As such, his model of the unconscious, as useful as many may find it, builds on Freud’s work.
Another reason Freud might still be more popular than Jung is that Freud speaks to a level of awareness that most members of 21stC culture — or at least, visible culture — can appreciate. Freud still hits, as it were, because his theory reflects the status quo.
However, from the perspective of those who envision the spirit as something different from culture and nature, it appears that not a few people confuse the idea of grace with mere biochemical or sensory impulses. For example, if a long distance runner has only experienced endorphin rushes, or if a canoeist has only delighted at the aesthetics of nature, these people might not understand that grace is something entirely different from biochemically or naturally induced pleasures. So Freud makes sense to these people because, arguably, they haven’t experienced anything else that would demand a better and more complete explanation than Freud’s theory can afford.
From the spiritual person’s vantage point, on the other hand, Freud may have some valuable insights but he’s also terribly reductionist. Along these lines, Jungians will usually say that, as a visionary of sorts, Jung’s full impact is yet to be seen. Mankind just has to catch up with Jung’s forward looking insights. But until that time, Jung will always be number two to Freud. (The jury’s still out on this, of course).
In his early days, Jung distinguished himself with his work in developing a word-association technique, finalized in 1906, which apparently identified unconscious complexes.
In 1907, Jung visited Freud and quickly became part of Freud’s inner circle in the newly arising school of psychoanalysis. As Freud’s protégé, Jung began to formulate his own theories, especially in relation to the libido.
Fearing his professional differences with Freud would rupture their mentor-mentee relationship, Jung withheld his ideas until 1914, at which time he publicly split with Freud. After that, the two never spoke again.
From 1913-1919, Jung underwent what he envisioned as a creative illness. He minimized his activities and generally withdrew from society. During this period he explored the collective unconscious in a somewhat pioneering and (apparently) controlled flight into the psychological underworld.
Jung apparently maintained his mental balance with the help of family ties, dream representation, inventive play and by developing the psychotherapeutic technique of active imagination. After recovering from his creative illness and returning to daily life, Jung began to make significant and lasting contributions to psychiatry and, more generally, to the history of human thought.
In the 1930′s, some controversy arose mainly because Jung headed the International Psychiatric Association, an organization that was funded by the Nazis in Germany. In his memoirs, Jung recounts that he was compelled to make a difficult ethical choice, deciding it best, in the long run, to work at advancing the field of psychiatry within the existing totalitarian political conditions in which he found himself. Scholars and writers still debate the ethics of his choice, their secondhand opinions being formed in hindsight.
Regardless of one’s take on Jung’s level of involvement with the Nazi’s, his work on synchronicity and numinosity are nothing short of groundbreaking. And his innovative work on personality types directly influenced the Myers-Briggs model (and its many offshoots) which are still used today. Moreover, Jung later openly criticized Nazi Germany, likening its sinister powers to the activation of the Teutonic Wotan archetype.
According to Jungian legend, at the time of Jung’s death, his favorite tree at Kusnacht was struck by lightning. And around this time, Jung’s old friend Laurens van der Post dreamed that Jung appeared to him saying, “I’ll be seeing you.”
- Carl Jung: The Baby-Boomers’ Friend (themoderatevoice.com)
- Carl Jung, part 2: A troubled relationship with Freud – and the Nazis | Mark Vernon (guardian.co.uk)
- Carl Jung on reason’s limits. (lifeondoverbeach.wordpress.com)
- Brain game (bbc.co.uk)
- Carl Jung, part 1: Taking inner life seriously | Mark Vernon (guardian.co.uk)
- Carl Jung, part 7: The power of acceptance | Mark Vernon (guardian.co.uk)
- Keira Knightley Has Spanking Good Time in ‘A Dangerous Method’ Trailer (moviefone.com)
- Forever Jung (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Sony Pictures Classics Pick’s Up Cronenberg’s ‘A Dangerous Method’ (moviefone.com)
- Marxists: What exactly is wrong with Carl Jung? (ask.metafilter.com)
- Carl Jung, part 8: Religion and the search for meaning (guardian.co.uk)
Hieronymus Bosch (Originally Jerome van Aken, 1450-1516) was a Catholic Painter from the Netherlands born in Hertogenbosch. Later in life he was suspected of heresy, which is not surprising, considering the times and the nature of much of his work.
Bosch’s depictions of demons and hell are horridly convincing, perhaps enough to compel some of the most hardened of sinners to repent and pray.
The contemporary treatment of Bosch’s work is illustrative. Prestigious art galleries display his frightening and gruesome representations without any public protest while fundamentalist and conservative religious persons point to the alleged debauchery and danger in rock and rap music videos, seeing these as indicative of a decline in cultural morality.
This arguably is a form of hypocrisy and, perhaps, racism against black rappers. In any case, it illustrates how societies, or certain aspects of a given society, can be arbitrary and selective when pointing the proverbial finger.
Many people don’t realize that representing evil doesn’t necessarily mean that an artist (or writer) advocates evil. In fact, C. G. Jung argued the opposite. Jung believed that evil left unrepresented or “swept under the rug” just reemerges in equally disgusting forms—a point that many religious persons and pillars of society sometimes overlook.¹
Among Bosch’s most popular works are The Garden of Earthly Delights (in the Prado) and the Temptation of St Anthony (at Lisbon). Bosch also had a noticeable impact on Surrealism.
Interestingly enough, there’s ongoing debate over how many of Bosch’s works were actually created by Bosch. He only signed seven works and art scholars agree on a mere 25 that they believe can be attributed to him. Many other works once thought to be Bosch’s are now thought to be those of his followers and imitators, his style being hugely influential.
¹ A similar dynamic occurred with satirical writings and dialogues of Erasmus (1466 – 1536). Martin Luther denounced Erasmus’ Ten Colloquies and vowed to tell his son not to read them. Even some of Erasmus’ friends and patrons didn’t like some of his work. Craig Thompson notes that, in his defense, Erasmus distinguished between (a) content appropriate for characters and dramatic situations and (b) an author’s actual opinions. See Erasmus, Ten Colloquies, trans. Craig R. Thompson 1986, MacMillan, pp. xxv – xxvii.
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- ArtSmart Roundtable – Hieronymus Bosch: Morality and Monsters (daydreamtourist.com)
- +Tree Man Larger by Hieronymus Bosch from Garden of Earthly Delights (largerhieronymusgardenearthlydelightsg1sale.wordpress.com)
- Imagine No Religion. Here’s What It Looks Like. (bigthink.com)
- Ben Moore’s ‘On Earth as it is in Heaven 2013′ And ‘Hell’ by Hieronymus Bosch (ukgovernmentwatch.wordpress.com)
- Hieronymus Bosch-Inspired Portrait of Joan Rivers (galleryoftheabsurd.com)
Christian apologists say that Job’s suffering points to the mysterious ways of God and highlights the need for faithful obedience in the absence of human understanding. Critics say that it depicts God as an immature, cruel tyrant. For instance, the Swiss psychiatrist C. G. Jung and some Jungians say that God “makes a bet” with Satan. In the story, Satan contends that Job will not remain faithful if God allows Satan to torment him.
In Jung’s Answer to Job, a short commentary about the Job’s plight, Jung says the Biblical story reveals a dark, non-integrated aspect of God. Why would a perfect God, Jung argues, allow a blameless servant to be persecuted by the devil? When Job challenges God, asking why he suffers, God answers not on Job’s terms but by completely overwhelming him. God asks if Job is able to create the stars, the oceans and a sea monster.
Jung sees this as indicating God’s immaturity. For Jung, God projects his own dark side onto Job. While this dynamic may occur in many people, to Jewish and Christian believers it’s misguided to suggest that God would behave this way (See Isaiah 55:8-9). As God implies to Job, could an allegedly immature consciousness create all of creation?
Biblical scholars debate whether the story of Job refers to an actual person or if it’s just a folktale outlining the general human problem of why do bad things happen to good people? The author of the book is not mentioned. Some traditional rabbis and early Christian theologians believed the author was Moses. Today, some scholars believe that parts of Job were written by at least one additional author.
But to return to Jung, he seems to overlook the folktale aspect by treating Job as a real person. Jung’s writings about Job have also been criticized by Fr. Victor White. White says that Jung confuses a narrative image of God with the actual God. In Jungian terms, White says Jung confuses the God-image (archetypal image) with God (archetype).
Indeed, it seems that Jung analyzes God from the perspective of his own, man-made psychological theories. In reducing God to Jung’s all too human ideas, might Jung, himself, exhibit the psychological mechanism of projection? Theological critics of Jung would certainly say that his commentary on Job suffers from presumption—that is, intellectual arrogance.
Regarding the problem of evil, many theologians would maintain that God’s ways are usually way over our heads. Along these lines, we could hypothesize that God permits evil to torment Job for a greater good which, Job, Satan and Jung couldn’t hope to understand.
Jung’s (questionable) analysis aside, the story of Job has parallels in other cultures, most notably the ancient Egyptian Protests of the Eloquent Peasant.
- Lessons from Job. (katherineannesmith.wordpress.com)
- Jung-jung (knittedart.wordpress.com)
- “Why Do the Righteous Suffer?”: Wisdom From the Book of Job (thomaslovesjesus.wordpress.com)
- Putting Satan in his place (reassuringquotes.wordpress.com)
- Nuanced Media is Proud to Present the Southern Arizona Friends of Jung Website (prweb.com)
- Murray Stein and Brigitte Egger Discuss the Power of Water and the Vital Impact it has on Earth. The Asheville Jung Center will host “Elixir of Life” on April 4th (prweb.com)
- A Love Affair With Carl Jung (jeanraffa.wordpress.com)
- Do you relate to the greatest story of suffering yet, faith? His name was job…Read on (pastormikesays.wordpress.com)
- When I was back there in seminary school… (mclark.wordpress.com)
The Bhagavad-Gita [Sanskrit: The song of the Lord] is a central scripture holy to Hindus that belongs to book VI of the epic Mahabharata. Believed by many scholars to be a more recent insert within the Mahabharata, the Gita synthesizes different, previously existing forms of yoga.
The main plot line revolves around Krishna urging Arjuna to fulfil the dharma (sacred duty) appropriate to his warrior caste (kshatrya). Taken literally, in the Gita this means Arjuna must slay kith and kin in the battlefield.
Krishna outlines additional dharmas appropriate for other castes, but Arjuna’s sacred task is to kill. Krishna further instructs Arjuna that his relatives will not really perish because the soul (atman) is eternal.
A gentler, psychological interpretation of the Gita sees the ‘killing’ in terms of the destruction of bad karma accumulated over past lives. These attributes manifest as outward aspects of the personality in the present life, not unlike that which Carl Jung terms the persona. Thus the ‘killing’ could be seen as the elimination or, perhaps, redirection of superficial and negative personality components that obscure awareness of the immortal soul (atman)
Because God’s grace is said to be central in overcoming negative past karma, some scholars believe that the Gita was written as late as 2nd-century CE, influenced by the teachings of Jesus Christ. Regardless of the precise date, Arjuna’s dharma seems to lie somewhere between Old Testament ideas concerning the problem of social justice (“an eye for an eye”) and the New Testament emphasis on spiritual salvation (“turn the other cheek”).
While some Christians may argue that the Gita’s message is clearly inferior to the New Testament’s prescription to love one’s enemies, this claim is complicated by the additional teaching of the so-called “Just War,” a teaching which is explicit or, perhaps, implicit to many Christian belief systems.
Having said that, it seems that a valid distinction may be made between what Jesus of the New Testament says we ought to do vs. what will happen.
Jesus of the New Testament says his followers ought not to be violent, nor to even think violently, even though conflict and war will inevitably break out among some members of the population. By way of contrast, the Krishna of the Gita essentially says killing is okay in certain circumstances. And this is something that Christ never advocates in the New Testament.
- Shrimad Bhagavad Gita in Hindi (full) (manishkamat.wordpress.com)
- #Review# : Bhagavad Gita (physicaln3dj6.wordpress.com)
- #Buy# : Jnaneshwari: Bhavartha – Dipika Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita (physicaln3dj6.wordpress.com)
- Everyday Bhagavad-Gita. ~ Vrindavan Rao (elephantjournal.com)
- Bhagavad Gita Post #1 – The background (pflead73.wordpress.com)
- #Buy# : The Bhagavad Gita or The Message of the Master (physicaln3dj6.wordpress.com)
- Mahabharata for a Yogi (artoflivingsblog.com)
- Rahul invokes the Gita, Buddha at CII meet (news.in.msn.com)
- Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 7 – Knowledge of Ultimate Truth (Gyan Vigyaan Yoga) (bhuwanchand.wordpress.com)
- Ahimsa: The Way of Nonviolence (thelastteahouse.wordpress.com)
Beowulf is the hero and title of an Anglo-Saxon epic poem (1000 CE) of 3,000 lines, surviving on a single cotton manuscript and originating from an Old English folk tale (700 CE).
Beowulf is a Swedish leader who travels to the court of Heorot, which is presided over by his kinsman, the Dane King Hrothgar. Beowulf plans to help Hrothgar out by fighting a fierce monster, Grendel, which has been devouring the Dane King’s warriors by night.
The court is relieved to receive Beowulf’s help but, due to Grendel’s ferocity, doubt he’ll succeed in defeating the monster.
As night falls, Grendel appears. Beowulf grips him tightly. The monster manages to escape but at the high price of losing one of his arms, which Beowulf seizes with an iron grip. The loss of the arm eventually kills the monster. But the Danes’ merrymaking is short-lived, for that very night Grendel’s mother, a water-troll, appears to revenge her creepy son’s death.
After Grendel’s mother kills one of Hrothgar’s warriors, Beowulf follows her to an underwater cavern where he discovers a magic sword that he wields to destroy her. He returns with Grendel’s head to a delighted court. Beowulf then travels home to southern Sweden and reigns as king of the Geats for 50 years.
Christianized commentaries of the Beowulf myth suggest Grendel and his family are heirs of the Old Testament Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, who slayed his brother Abel.
Beowulf’s third and final conquest involves a dragon that awakes from centuries of unconsciousness when a simple slave enters its lair and steals its favorite cup. The enraged dragon wreaks havoc throughout the land, so Beowulf arrives to slay it. All of his supporters desert him in the attempt but one, the noble Wiglaf. In the fierce battle Beowulf strikes the beast’s scales too vigorously, breaking his sword, which then gets caught in the dragon’s jaws. Wiglaf takes the opportunity to pierce the dragon’s throat with his sword. Beowulf, suspecting his own death is near, tells Wiglaf to seize the dragon’s gold.
They manage to kill the beast, but Beowulf later dies from exposure to its poisonous breath. He lives just long enough to see that his actions have saved the people, and Wiglaf then becomes heir to the throne.
Belonging to the tradition of dragon-slayer myths, Beowulf from a Jungian perspective represents the psychological dangers involved if the hero takes on archetypal forces greater than him or herself. Wiglaf, the noble helper, represents a new psychological attitude that hopefully arises after of the death of the noble but slightly overconfident hero.
The Beowulf story was also made into a feature film in 2007.
- The role of women in Beowulf (literaturessays.wordpress.com)
- Beowulf: A Thousand Years Of Baggage – review | Alex Needham (guardian.co.uk)
- Content Marketing Lessons from Beowulf – Yes, Beowulf (contently.com)
- Beowulf’s Last Battle (simplethingscan.wordpress.com)
- The Beowulf Poet and His Real Monsters Introduction (tedmorrissey.wordpress.com)
- The Death of Beowulf (simplethingscan.wordpress.com)
- Beowulf Makes His Bed (gagedmoments.wordpress.com)
- bonnie’s #CBR5 Review #14: Grendel by John Gardner (cannonballread5.wordpress.com)
- Wealtheow (2012introductiontowritingandenglishstudies.wordpress.com)
- Beowulf (2012introductiontowritingandenglishstudies.wordpress.com)
The Beatles were a British pop group founded in Liverpool in 1960. The original members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Pete Best, replaced by Ringo Starr in 1962 (originally Richard Starkey).
“Love Me Do” was their first UK hit. This was followed by a string of hits, creating the international phenomenon of Beatlemania in 1964.
Most of the Beatles’ repertoire was officially penned by Lennon and McCartney, although their respective influence on individual songs varied considerably.
The band stopped giving public performances in 1966, turning its energy to the studio–specifically to the rock and roll classic, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Their producer at the time, George Martin, says he had a significant impact on the outcome of this record.
The group split, bitterly, around 1970. Their last studio album, Abbey Road, was recorded with separate sessions being held for each member of the band. This was unprecedented and, to fans, seemed to indicate growing tensions among band members. George Harrison once said that McCartney told him how to play his guitar, which the guitarist resented. And issues over the growing presence of Yoko Ono were splashed over the tabloids and rock media, as was Lennon and McCartney’s growing acrimony.
The Beatles were no doubt fantastic musicians. But was there more to their success? The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung developed a psychological classification system based on four main types. For Jung, the whole and healthy mind strove to integrate the four types of thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition. Could part of the Beatles’ unparalleled popularity be a result their collectively representing Jung’s four archetypal types? Following this idea, Lennon would be the thinking type, Paul McCartney the feeling type, George Harrison the intuition type and Ringo Starr the sensation type.
The Beatles’ contribution to music will be forever etched in the history of mankind. The so-called Fab Four combined Rock and Roll, simple blues and complex jazz, as well as ‘lounge lizard,’ orchestral and international music forms. Even begrudging or, perhaps, sarcastically tinged respect is implied, for instance, in “Afraid” from David Bowie’s record Heathen (2002):
I believe in Beatles
I believe my little soul has grown
And I’m still so afraid…
After the Beatles’ breakup, Lennon released several records while residing in New York with his wife Yoko Ono. He continued to enjoy commercial success with songs like “Imagine,” “Mind Games,” “Whatever Gets you Through the Night,” “Give Peace a Chance,” “So this is Christmas,” and “Just Like Starting Over.” But Lennon became more than a mere rock star; he became an icon representing worldwide harmony and peace.
McCartney released a critically acclaimed solo album (where he played all the instruments) and formed the highly successful band Wings, continuing to be a prominent musical force in the 1970′s.
Harrison released the commercially successful All Things Must Pass in 1970 (including “My Sweet Lord” and “Isn’t it a Pity”) followed by several other albums. “Isn’t it a Pity” epitomizes the sense of loss over Beatles’ breakup and laments the end of an era. Sadly, pity turned into acrimony, as witnessed in Harrison’s 1973 tune, “Sue Me, Sue You Blues.” Starr has been in films and recorded singles and albums. His 1974 cover of the Sherman Brothers’ “You’re Sixteen” hit number one in the charts.
In 1995 the single “Free as a Bird” was released. This song was written and hastily recorded by Lennon in 1977. After Lennon’s passing McCartney asked Ono if the remaining Beatles could collectively add to any of Lennon’s unreleased material. Ono gave permission for this single but it arguably isn’t a true Beatles song because Lennon, himself, didn’t agree to its release.
More recently, many Beatles songs have been remixed and re-released, with debatable results. Myself, I prefer the original analog mixes sent to CD (AAD), although others might prefer the digital remixes (ADD).
- The break-up of The Beatles: An event that called a halt to an epoch (woodstockremains.wordpress.com)
- Interview: Historian says there was no Brando link to naming of the Beatles (examiner.com)
- Ringo Starr To Finally Get That Museum Exhibit We’ve All Been Waiting For (beatcrave.com)
- 12 Questions Google Assumes You Have About The Beatles (wxrt.cbslocal.com)
- John Lennon (chasepage.net)
- 12 Questions Google Assumes You Have About The Beatles (wzlx.cbslocal.com)
- Songs by John Lennon and Yoko Ono go Downtown to new publisher (examiner.com)
- 12 Questions Google Assumes You Have About The Beatles (wcbsfm.cbslocal.com)
- Life of Beatle becomes subject of comic (bigpondnews.com)
- Former Beatles Frontman Dies At 72 (huffingtonpost.com)
Cupid ((Latin Cupido, “desire”) comes under many guises. As the Roman god of Love, he’s the son of Venus.
The 2nd century Latin writer Apuleus portrays him in The Golden Ass as the lover of Psyche. But the timeless tale of Cupid and Pscyhe goes back at least to the 4th century BCE, where its depicted in Greek art.
Depth psychologists have much to say about the relationship between Cupid and Psyche. In Jungian archetypal psychology Psyche is taken as the cold, somewhat icy soul in need of a “shattering” or “melting” from the warm, sensitive Cupid. Cupid, on the other hand, risks utter destruction unless Psyche’s gaze is tempered with love.
In the language of symbols, the successful union of Cupid and Psyche represents a fruitful togetherness, not unlike the Yin and the Yang, love and knowledge or affection and wisdom.
In art Cupid is usually depicted naked. He’s often winged with bow and arrow, wearing a boyish or cherub-like countenance.
In folklore, Cupid, like the Indian kama, afflicts human beings with a proverbial “dart to the heart.” His marks invariably fall in love or become filled with desire for another person. His chief mythic parallel is the Greek god Eros.
- Cupid and Psyche in Clay (janestreetclayworks.com)
- Cute carbon Cupid is this year’s tiniest valentine (mnn.com)
- Flower Delivery Express Provides Cupid The Right Arrow On Valentine’s Day (prnewswire.com)
- Love Symbols of the Regency (regencyredingote.wordpress.com)
- February 2013 Writing Contest Finalists (mistressofthedarkpath.wordpress.com)
- Digital Cupid Reveals Your True Valentine (adrants.com)
- Photos: Cupid’s Undie Run (photos.denverpost.com)
- Cupid’s Corner at Longview (longviewcurrent.org)
- Cupids Undie Run (fox2now.com)
Controlled dreaming (also called conscious or lucid dreaming)¹ is a controversial technique based on shamanic traditions in which one allegedly creates or has a conscious effect on the content of a dream.
This apparently requires a degree of consciousness not readily available to most. Some say they control their dreams simply as a pleasurable or novel activity. Others believe they enter into a Jungian-style collective unconscious in a systematic manner, hoping to influence conditions in the everyday, observable world with which the collective unconscious, they argue, is intimately connected.²
There is some debate as to whether controlled dreaming is just another term for the alleged phenomenon of astral projection. Richard Craze suggest that the two differ, not just conceptually but physiologically.
The evidence, fragmentary as it is, from EEG readings seems to indicate that the two experiences are different. Lucid dreaming is usually accompanied by REM, delta waves and slowed heart beat and respiratory rates identical with normal paradoxical sleep. OOBEs [out of body experiences] are usually accompanied by NREM, an absence of delta waves indicating that the subject is not asleep, an increase in beta waves indicating that the subject is awake, increased pulse and respiratory rates indicating arousal of some sort, and bodily activity. Physiologically the two effects are quite different.³
¹ Lucid dreaming minimally means you are simply aware that you are dreaming. It may or may not involve some degree of control over the dream content.
² Adam DreamHealer claims there’s scientific evidence that “sending healing intentions changes the physiology of someone at a distance.” Although he is not talking about healing others while dreaming, per se, he does postulate the same kind of interconnectedness that would be required for healing at a distance. http://www.dreamhealer.com
³ Richard Craze, Astral Projection, London: Headway – Hodder & Stoughton, 1996, p. 26.
- Meaning of Dreams (legendofanomad.com)
- Did You Know?! 7 Cool Facts About Dreams (jtm71.wordpress.com)
- Take a Trip Outside of Yourself with Astral Projection (jtm71.wordpress.com)
- I Had A Dream… (Omniverse Part 2) (rjnielsen.wordpress.com)
- DVD Ultimate Secrets of Astral Travel (paneandov2012.com)
- Lucid Dreaming and Mental Illness (realitysandwich.com)
- Lucid Dreaming: The Barrier (thesoloist1.wordpress.com)
- Modifying an EEG headset for lucid dreaming (hackaday.com)
- Lucid Dreams (picturesinlivingcolor.wordpress.com)
Compensation is a psychological term that was first introduced by Alfred Adler in Study of Organ Inferiority and Its Physical Compensation (1907).
Adler understood compensation in terms of underlying feelings of inferiority. In order to cope with the pain of feeling inferior, the psyche develops beliefs at the opposite end of the psychological spectrum. That is, it ‘compensates’ by feeling superior to other people. Hence the now familiar idea of the inferiority-superiority complex.
In 1907 Carl Gustav Jung notes the pathogenic complex posses a quantum of libido which grants it a degree of autonomy that is opposed to conscious will. Though this dynamic has a pathological cast, it conveys the essence of what Jung termed compensation; namely, the capacity of the unconscious to influence consciousness.¹
However, Jung wouldn’t name compensation as such until 1914.
In “The Importance of the Unconscious in Psychopathology” (1914), he introduced the idea, saying, “the principal function of the unconscious is to effect a compensation and to produce a balance. All extreme conscious tendencies are softened and toned down through a counter-impulse in the unconscious.”²
We can see that Jung’s view of compensation, as compared to Adler’s, is geared more toward the idea that the psyche strives to achieve balance and integration.
In fact, Jung believed the psyche has a natural tendency toward balance and integration. If a particular attitude becomes extreme, Jung believed that therapy and close attention to dreams could help to amplify repressed or underdeveloped psychological contents.
On several occasions Jung says that his own particular brand of therapy is essential to this process. And he believed that he had successfully analyzed himself in this regard. But, at the same time, Jung didn’t try to sell potential clients on his views. If an ardent churchgoer, for example, was satisfied with what Jung may have taken as a skewed perspective, Jung would let the person be. Apparently Jung only intervened when clients’ old systems and attitudes lead to neurosis (or psychosis) and help was requested.
This latter claim might, however, be a bit exaggerated, in keeping with the tendency of some Jungians to elevate Jung as some kind of new prophet for modern times. There are also accounts where Jung was quite brash and bold, surprising and even shocking his clients. Perhaps they had asked for his help. But whether or not he was, at times, playing the the ‘wise guru’ and on a bit of a power trip remains open to debate.³
³ Although married to Emma Jung, it seems Carl had sex with at least two of his clients, Sabina Spielrein and Toni Wolff, which certainly wouldn’t wash in psychiatry today. See » http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Jung#Marriage
Comparative Religion is the academic study of world religions to determine differences, similarities and points of equivalence.
Most scholars cite Max Müller (1823-1900), Sir E. B. Tylor (1832-1917) and Sir J. G. Frazer (1854-1941) as the most important figures in the birth of comparative religion. And some will also mention Joseph-Francois Lafitau (1681- 1746).
But this can be misleading because as far back as Xenophanes (6th century BCE) we find writers comparing different religions. Plato and Aristotle also discuss diverse worldviews. And, as S. G. F. Brandon points out, several lesser known ancient Greek and Latin writers realized the importance of discerning similarities among different religious beliefs.¹
In the 19th century scholars of comparative religion tended to believe that their work was objective. They also assumed that mankind evolved from primitive to advanced states of being. Moreover, Christian biases were often present. Ruldolf Otto (1869-1937) is often criticized in this regard.
More recently, far more subtle Christian biases can be found in the works of Mircea Eliade and C. G. Jung. Before the second Vatican Council Catholic theology studied other religions mostly to demonstrate their allegedly misguided or, worse, demonic status.
The notion of objectivity was challenged by poststructuralism in the 1960′s to 1990′s—that is, the very idea of scientific and (most forms of) absolute truth were questioned.² But this kind of thinking isn’t terribly new. It’s been present for centuries with figures like Friedrich Nietszche and Pontius Pilate.
Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” (John 18: 37-38).
Today the poststructural perspective has permeated religious studies. And a recent branch of ‘postmodern theology’ offers compelling arguments for the deconstruction of Biblical and related religious assumptions.
Meanwhile, comparative religion usually involves theory and methodology courses to grapple with issues of subjectivity and interpretation vs. objectivity and truth. And also, a sociologist might argue, to try to legitimize itself as a “scientific” enterprise, which usually increases eligibility for grants, funding, and the like.
¹ S. G. F. Brandon ed., Dictionary of Comparative Religion (1970: 202).
² Ironically, some second-rate historians still talk about historical records as if they “prove” (rather than suggest) this or that point of view.