Sunday, July 6, 2014

Jung the Antichrist

I just finished an intriguing expository and critique of C. G. Jung by the eminent scientist-metaphysician Wolfgang Smith.  He doesn't say it straightforwardly, but implies vigorously that Jung is the Antichirst (or at least one of them).  He essentially shows how Jung set himself up as a messianic figure and how so many people -- even orthodoxly religious people, like Catholic priests, who ought to know better -- see the Swiss psychiatrist as the guru he claimed to be.

I think the one positive contribution which Jung made was his theory of personality. But even this was only preliminary sketches; e.g., he set up several of the categories of psychological "functions" which may be either introverted or extroverted, such as "introverted intuition" and "extroverted intuition," "introverted feeling" and "extroverted feeling." But the real credit in personality theory goes to Jung only as a pioneer, and the likes of Myers-Briggs and Keirsey as the true systematizers. Furthermore, personality theory goes back to the likes of Empedocles and Plato.  (For what I take to be a highly reliable presentation of personality theory, cf. the blog of A. J. Drenth, Personality Junkie.)

As for psychiatry, I think the point should be made that Freud and Jung have no scientific basis for their psychotherapies.  A lot of people balk at psychopharmacology, but the fact is that Prozac and Lexapro have claims to psychiatric legitimacy that Freud and Jung do not; the latter cannot prove their theories, and the former have proven their therapeutic value.  The one form of "talk" therapy, nonetheless, which can boast a remarkable scientific grounding is the Cognitive Therapy of Beck and Ellis.  Probably the optimal form of psychiatric care comes from a combination of psychopharmacology and cognitive therapy.

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