In Jung’s last work on the theory of psychological types, published posthumously, he introduced the topic by writing:
“A sane and normal society is one in which people habitually disagree” (Jung 1964, p. 46).
Jung didn’t say (here) why individual disagreements are important to society, but the reasons are evident from many of his writings from 1914 onwards, when he started formulating his theories about “the process of becoming” (Jung 1914, p. 183).
Constructive disagreement is a vital part of Jung’s process of individual and cultural development and it reduces conflict in societal or international relations. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it is a natural corollary of Jung’s theories of individuation and collective compensation. I’ll start by explaining these aspects of Jung’s theories, and then conclude with some practical guidelines on what it means to disagree constructively.
The 2015 election results are in, and they are full of shocks:
- Three party leaders resigned before all the results had been announced.
- The Tories’ victory was contrary to the consistent message of all the pre-election polls.
- Labour suffered their most crushing defeat for 30 years.
- In Scotland there was a rout by the SNP.
- UKIP gained 12.6% of the votes but only 0.15% of the seats.
C.G. Jung’s analytical psychology can offer a useful perspective on these results, one that might help voters and parties alike in their preparations for the 2020 election.
David Cameron recalled parliament this week to seek approval for military intervention in Syria. His motion was rejected, which has sparked a range of reactions – e.g. from people feeling proud to feeling ashamed of being British. In a few days, Barack Obama is going to ask Congress to approve US military action.
Analytical psychology has a lot to offer this debate because it explains the conflict between the differing views and – more importantly – offers some hope for a constructive way ahead.
Press freedom vs regulation
There is perhaps little doubt that the issues Leveson attempted to address in his report, published in 2012,1 are extremely difficult. There are some fundamental clashes of values, e.g. between freedom of the press and individual human rights, which are compounded by other factors, such as the rising tides of the internet and alternative forms of publishing.
The issues are of fundamental importance to all of us, even those who are not involved in public life or journalism. As C.G. Jung once pointed out, “politicians and journalists [can] unwittingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world” (Jung 1929, p. 37). Although such power/responsibility is now more widely shared, through globalisation and social media, the manner in which Leveson’s findings are being pursued may ultimately have a big impact on our social and cultural well-being and cohesion. However, from the perspective of analytical psychology, things are not heading in a good direction.
Myers Briggs theory is based on four psychological functions – Sensing, iNtuition, Thinking, and Feeling. They are used to perceive facts or possibilities, and make decisions using objective logic or subjective values. (The other letters of the Myers Briggs code – E, I, J and P – describe how those functions are used.)
Isabel Briggs Myers derived her theory from Psychological Types by C.G. Jung (Briggs Myers 1980, p. xvii). However, Jung’s book describes five psychological functions. The fifth, which he called the “transcendent function” (Jung 1921, p. 480), was the most important (Jung 1935). He also produced a paper on the transcendent function five years before publishing Psychological Types (Jung 1916/1957).