HOW TO HANDLE `MR.
By HUG H KAY
" JUNG was a deeply religious man. though not member of an organised
religion. It has been said that this was providential — that God was able to use him better from a position outside the Church.
"What is certainly true is that he brought many an agnostic or atheist to a realisation of spiritual values, led many to Christianity, helped lapsed Catholics back to the faith and frequently sent them to their priests."
This tribute to the life and work of Dr. C. G. Jung, who died last week, came from the Catholic psychiatrist Dr. F. B. Elkisch, as he talked to me about the religious implications of Jung's psychological system, and urged that theologians, trained also in psychology, should integrate into the Church's teaching whatever is of permanent value in Jung's discoveries.
"Jung had much in common with Fr. Teilhard de Chardin", Dr. Elkisch told me.
"Teilhard's emphasis on the psychic side of the atom and on 'spiritual matter' echoes Jung's insistence that psychic life is not just imagination, but a reality deeply embedded in man's nature, anatomically linked, perhaps, with the vegetative nervous system just as our thinking processes are connected with the brain.
"In this context, Jung had especially in mind the collective, archetypal side of psychic life, which is its deepest layer — the psychic equivalent of what the theologian understands by man's animal nature.
"Jung's concept is consistent with Teilhard's implication that the psyche is not an entity separate from the soul. It belongs to it, and might be called the extension of the soul into man's biological nature, manifesting itself in his emotional and instinctive life.
"It is this concept of the psyche which makes it clear that analytical work cannot he performed efficiently unless the analyst has a right scale of values."
Teilhard and Jung alike, said Dr. Elkisch, knew that the spiritual is one thing and the material another. But they also understood, as few other men have done, how human life expresses itself in an interpenetration of the two. Their thought is epitomised in the "union of opposites". Here is the reconciliation of spirit and matter, mind and body, religion and science, abstract thought and empirical disciplines.
"In stressing the importance of 'symbolic life'," Dr. Elkisch continued, "Jung has added new values to existence, which, in our materialistic age, has become dulled by over-emphasis on the success and pleasure principles.
"He believed that a new era is slowly emerging which will be filled with a sense of spiritual value and purpose. Jung was always an optimist, and ideas like this made him suspect. He was often accused of 'mysticism' and of trying to found a new religion.
"The truth is that he only claimed to be filling a gap in an age in which Christianity has re ceded to the fringe of society, leaving so many people without guidance. Particularly among his middle-aged patients he found that unsolved religious problems were the usual causes of neurosis. He knew the power of ceremony and ritual, and complained that the psyche of the masses has become unresponsive to their intrinsic value.
"This, he felt, was because Christianity, in many quarters,
Turning to Jung's approach to the emotional problem, Dr Elkisch pointed out that for centuries Christian thinkers treated the emotions as something to be repressed and regarded as inferior, or even evil. The modern age rose up in rebellion, and we now see in all spheres of life an unhindered upnsing of emotional and archetypal forces.
"Structurally, there is hardly any difference between the sexual promiscuity of our day and the current political strife in Africa. The dark side, Jung's shadow, is in open revolt — in the individual's undeveloped psyche and in the communities of the underdeveloped countries."
Jung was a doctor, and as such his main concern was man. He remained aloof from politics. He was convinced that any improvement in the world must start with the improvement of the individual, working on his own integration.
"Freud explained man wholly in terms of the Oedipus complex, Adler in terms of the power complex, but Jung was satisfied only when the patient understood himself in the totality of his being, from which the spiritual element could never be excluded."
His aim, said Dr. Elkisch, was not merely to release pent-up emotions, but to direct them towards their true object, namely God. The attitude of a Catholic Jungian is that, if "Mr. Hyde" has been repressed and has now become aggressive, he must be faced, accepted, and changed. "The Christianisation of the individual down to his depth must precede the Christianisation of the world."
Clinical psychology legitimately relieves depression and tension by drugs and shock treatment, but for Jung the relief of suffering, noble though it be, was not to be achieved at any cost. "He recognised the sacrificial aspect of life and led his patients to understand that the willing acceptance of suffering is something meaningful and strangely rewarding."
There are, of course, risks in Jung's system. Dr. Elkisch recalled the "Face to Face" interview with John Freeman on television in which Jung was asked whether he believed in God. "I do not need to believe", said Jung, "I know."
The danger here is that some people might be led to discount faith, or The Faith, as irrelevant; to attempt to encounter God without reference to His Church or His Incarnation; to become wrapped up solely in experiences in which they enjoy themselves — in the closed circle of their selfcentred world — without enjoying God.
"For when they think they are encountering God, they may merely be encountering archetypal images. The difficulty recalls St. Ignatius's Rules for the Discernment of Spirits."
Moreover, Dr. Elkisch pointed out that if Jungian psychology, without Jung to direct it, is operated entirely on the archetypal level, it will lose its impetus as one of the world's cultural catalysts. and may peter out into one of the countless gnostic cults which rely on religious "experiences".
Jung was always dead against such a development. "He had a strong sense of reality and knew the importance of dogma as the structural pattern in which alone religious experiences are safe and valuable."
Dr. Elkisch concluded with a plea that the true values of Jungianism might be saved for the service of Catholicism.