Fear of Jung: The Complex Doctrine and Emotional Science

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The current neuroscientific research in the field of emotion studies highlights a paradigm of scientific research that must be categorized as functional science. As functional science, the neuroscientific theory of the "neuron doctrine" combined with a Jungian theory of the "complex doctrine" hold significant potential for a natural human science and a psychological study of affectivity. Though researchers utilize psychological constructs similar to those proposed by Carl Jung, there appears to be a "fear of Jung," that is, a professional fear of invoking Jung's name or his psychological research. One familiar with Jung's works notice similar terminology, ideas, and even conclusions. The marginalization and neglect of Jung's psychological insights from a serious "empirical-scientific" approach to psychology is due to many factors. Jung did not reduce psychological experience to the body or brain; a reductive science does not consider seriously the reality of the psyche. This work is an initial contribution to a psychological and neurological study of personal emotional experience. The complex is a personal reality that exists as a confluence of body and psyche, and is present to the psyche as an image. Affective science must consider the functional role of the complexes as well as the neurological functions in the human experience of emotions.

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CHAPTER ONE. Introduction

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“A science which finds itself in the situation of being unable to advance without going back and revamping its principles is a science which lives at every moment. It is living science, and not simply an office, that is, it is science with spirit. And when a science lives, i.e. has spirit, the scientist and the philosopher meet in it .. . because philosophy is nothing but intellectual spirit and life”

(Zubiri, 1981, p. 269)

Scientific understandings with the imperative of hypothesis formation based upon empirical research have given modern humanity great insights into our world. It moves forward, some argue, by verification or falsification of hypotheses. Thoughts and ideas held by earlier generations of scientists have been set aside, rethought, revisioned, and replaced with new insights and models. The older theories do not cease; they are merely preserved as historical facts or built upon. Perhaps the authors’ findings are superseded, ignored, discounted, or consigned to the periphery. They may become central ideas that spawn successive and fertile discoveries and become firmly held conclusions. Often, earlier scientific thoughts exist in functional relationship to later ones; the successors strive to support, improve, or undermine earlier theories. Some lie in obscurity to be later dredged up and re-presented for consideration. Sometimes the concepts used to understand a phenomenon undergo fundamental shifts with the development of new methods and technologies. Surely, some manners of conceiving phenomena need to be laid quietly to rest, others to be vociferously quelled.

 

CHAPTER TWO. Philosophy first, not first philosophy

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Psyche, soul, or mind

In order to orientate our thinking regarding psychology, as a logos of psyche, it is imperative that we embark upon a consideration that is philosophically grounded upon an expanded empiricism, rather than a metaphysical theory of psyche as a spiritual entity called soul, or of psyche as mind. Aristotle’s discussion of the psyche in his work De Anima set the psyche upon a foundation that later was used for metaphysical and religious purposes and subsequently conceptually demolished: this foundation was “first philosophy”, that is, metaphysics. Subsequent thinkers maintained this otherworldly foundation of the human psyche, translated as anima into Latin, thence as soul into English. Psyche is conceived to be a non-material reality that connected humanity to the spiritual realms. In Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and philosophies inspired by the same, psyche was discussed more as an entity that existed “between” spirit and body. The physical-biological dimension was considered only in that it was this dimension that was to be overcome—to be transcended by the spirit’s influence within the psyche.

 

CHAPTER THREE. Ruminations on the psyche

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I. The intellective human psyche

Ifind a means to approach Jung’s complex doctrine that is based upon embodiment and sentience in the works of the late Spanish philosopher, Xavier Zubiri. Zubiri received his first PhD in theology at the age of twenty-two, his second doctorate in philosophy at twenty-three. Educated in Madrid under Ortega y Gasset, he went to other cities to study “philosophy with Husserl and Heidegger; theoretical physics with De Broglie and Schrö-dinger; biology with von Geluchten, Spemann, and Goldschmidt; mathematics with Rey-Pastor, La Vallée-Poussin, and Zermelo” (Fowler, 1998a). He taught in Madrid, Rome, Paris, and Barcelona. While in Paris, he studied oriental languages at the Sorbonne. The breadth of his studies and the keenness of his analysis are reflected in the radicality and inclusiveness of his philosophy. Indeed, he attempted to rethink western philosophy in light of modern scientific thought. His originality is at times daunting to comprehend, though refreshing to understand. The individuals whom he studied under all achieved remarkable success in their fields and influenced Zubiri, though at points he differs fundamentally from his mentors.

 

CHAPTER FOUR. Jungian complexes in perspective

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“Every psychologist should first and foremost be convinced that his point of view is primarily his own subjective prejudice. This prejudice is however as good as another, and can very probably serve as a basic assumption for many other people. But under no circumstances should we indulge in the unscientific illusion that a subjective prejudice can represent a universal basic psychic truth”

(Jung, in Jacobi, 1961, p. 164)

The neurological revolution and its impact within psychological domains cannot be overlooked in our attempt to explore a psychology with psyche. Demos (2001) argues that psychoanalysis stands to benefit from a serious reconsideration and perhaps a reformulation of its neurobiological bases. Jungian psychology stands to benefit as well from a more profound discussion of the neurobiological and physiological underpinnings of complexes. This seems imperative in order to present a feasible scientific psychology that incorporates the reality that Jung held to: body and psyche are two sides of a unified reality, living in indissoluble union.

 

CHAPTER FIVE. Discussion of Jung’s emotional complex doctrine Intermezzo: the complex brain nuclei

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Since I have laid bare both the developmental and theoretical elements of Jung’s complex doctrine, it is imperative that I discuss it more. Moreover, we have reached the point in this work where a consideration of Jung’s perspectives on emotions needs to be presented more fully. Does Jung present a theory of emotions that fills the criteria as adduced by Strongman, and delineated in the Introduction? I answer in the affirmative and explain this below. In the next chapter, I compare his approach to the complexity of emotions and emotional complexes with other theorists who focused upon representations. The prospective function of the psyche, as experienced by Jung, contributed greatly to his personal healing of traumatic events in his life. While I do examine briefly the psychological aspect that contributed to some of his personal inability to see his own complexes and their influences upon his psychology, I do so not to stigmatize or pathologize him. My intent is simple: the historical-personal dimension of Jung’s complex doctrine, to my knowledge, has not been much discussed. The historical component is personal history; the prospective or constructive dimension is creative psychic potential. Jung’s own failures must be acknowledged, though we must not thereby denigrate his contributions. If his complex doctrine has validity, if it has scientific feasibility, and if he presented psychic and physiological characteristics of emotions, then we should find empirical support for it in current scientific literature. This phase of my exploration comes in the next chapter also.

 

CHAPTER SIX. A complex consideration

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Throughout the course of this work, I have asserted a proposition: if Jung’s doctrine of the emotional complexes is a valid scientific hypothesis, then we should find empirical support for it in current scientific literature. While one can surely pick and choose scientific data to support almost any contention, it falls on experimental procedures to later falsify or verify such hypotheses. In Chapter Two, mention was made of Pierce’s scientific concept of abduction. There I asserted that abduction is widely used, though seldom discussed in scientific literature. I stated, “Abduction is a process that looks for a pattern in a phenomenon and suggests a hypothesis that is worth pursuing; though there are myriad hypotheses that can explain every phenomenon, abduction allows the investigator intuitively to have a sense of which ones are valuable and practical.”

It is this method that I have followed in my investigations of Jung’s complex doctrine. As a hypothesis, this complex doctrine must have explanatory power for the phenomena of emotion in general and traumatic experience in particular; moreover, it needs to have practical value for therapy and daily life. It must also, it seems, answer the following question as suggested by Magnani (1998): does the complex doctrine best explain the psychological experience of emotions? Is it a plausible theory upon this basis, and a more expansive empiricism?

 

CHAPTER SEVEN. The complex and post traumatic stress disorder

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As indicated earlier in this work, the literature in the arena of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) provides ample supportive evidence for Jung’s complex doctrine. It is time to consider further this contention and provide some resources that bear on this theme. As mentioned previously, the concepts adopted in PTSD literature find resonance with that used by Jung. Additionally, in as much as some of Jung’s work was with clients who had been traumatized at a young age, we find similar episte-mological views being adopted. Finally, the factual data adduced in PTSD literature differs from Jung’s only in as much as it focuses upon the neurobiological level that Jung omitted. Many traumas occurring at young ages do not develop into PTSD symptoms until later life stages in as much as they are not overtly debilitating but are insidious.

If Jung’s complex doctrine has merit, the complex and the dynamic path of its action within the psyche must be considered in as much as post traumatic stress need not develop into PTSD. In either situation, complexes within the body-psyche reveal their effects in behaviours, patterns of relating, attitudes (self and other-directed), life styles, as well as dreams. The psychic intensity and physiology of the complex itself as well as the interference from the complex in normal daily life differ. In healthier persons, the complex arises less frequently while in PTSD it appears to dominate and subvert more aspects of psychological functioning and adaptability. The data in the arena of PTSD documents these facts cogently.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT. A complex integration: rethinking Jung’s complex doctrine

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“An emotion is not a private mental state, nor a set of static qualities abstracted from such a state, nor a hypothalamic response with intense autonomic discharge, nor a pattern of behavior viewed in purely objective terms, nor a particular stimulus-situation.

“… different investigators or theorists or practitioners with special vested interests will be disposed to select and emphasize different components in this total referent. An intro-spectionist may talk mostly of sensations, images, and feelings; a psychoanalyst will stress the role of unconscious processes … a physiologist … will probably be trying to locate neural ‘centers’ … behaviorists are inclined to ignore on methodological grounds, all of these several kinds of ‘intervening variables’; whereas, finally specialists in interpersonal dynamics, with their flied theories, tend to think of emotion as a ‘social category.’ …

“Now some combination of these points of view is probably what is required for an adequate over-all theory of emotion”

 

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