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.
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).
One of the reasons that Carl Gustav Jung developed his theory of Psychological Types was that he had fallen out with Sigmund Freud. He wanted to understand what had caused the conflict between two people who, on the face of it, had very similar interests.