Jungian and Catholic?

Chapter 5: Jung's Forgotten Bridge


Jung's psychological types are another way in which he looked at the process of individuation, and they, too, can become a fitting object of reflection for the philosopher of nature. I have argued at length (Tracking the Elusive Human, Vol. 1, 1988, Vol. 11, 1990) that Jung's psychological typology could be integrated with the body and temperament types of William Sheldon, and this argument ultimately rests on observation, as does Jung's natural science of the psyche as a whole. In this chapter I want to briefly summarize this kind of approach to psychological types and then look at how the philosopher of nature addresses the same issues. This will allow us to see, I hope, that although the philosopher and the psychologist use very different methods, their results are strikingly convergent.

In 1921 two books appeared that were to become psychological classics: C.G. Jung's Psychological Types and E. Kretschmer's Physique and Character. Yet, despite their proximity in time and similarity in theme, they were destined to live separate lives.

Jung was aware of the possibility of connecting his own typological work with that of Kretschmer's. In 1929, in a paper entitled, "The Significance of Constitution and Heredity on Psychology", he wrote:

"I personally have the impression that some of Kretschmer's main types are not so far removed from certain of the basic psychological types I have enumerated. It is conceivable that at these points a bridge might be established between the physiological constitution and the psychological attitude. That this has not been done already may be due to the fact that the physiological findings are still very recent while, on the other hand investigation from the psychological side is very much more difficult and therefore less easy to understand." (Coll. Wks, 8, p. 108)

But he could not pause to pursue this task. Fully engaged in his exploration of the unconscious, he rarely found the time to take up his pen in the cause of explaining his own psychological types, still less to attempt to relate them to Kretschmer's.

Almost forty years later the situation from the Jungian side still had not changed. C.A. Meier, in a wide-ranging talk on psychological types and individuation, said, "...It is rather a shame that this most genial contribution to psychiatry (Kretschmer's book) has never been decently evaluated in respect to its relation to Jungian psychology." ("Psychological Types and Individuation" in J.B. Wheelwright (Ed.) The Analytic Process, Aims, Analysis and Training.)

This failure would have been of small moment if Jung's typology were simply an interesting footnote to his psychology. Then its relationship to Kretschmer's body types would simply have been a footnote to a footnote. However, much more is at stake here. Psychological typology is an integral part of analytical psychology and a highly distinctive and valuable way in which to view the whole process of individuation. Thus, the English translation of Jung's book bore the subtitle, "The Psychology of Individuation", and Meier could say, "Individuation begins and ends with typology." Nor do body types and temperamental traits simply constitute a footnote to psychological types. The study of somatotypes in their deepest sense transcends the level of simple physical measurement and classification and explores the biological constitution of the human body. A bridge between psychological types and somatotypes is a way for Jungian psychology to enter into a deeper relationship with recent discoveries in the biochemistry and genetics of the human personality.

The prospect for building this bridge that Jung envisaged is not quite as bleak as it appears. The work of William H. Sheldon (1898-1977) represents an important clarification and development of Kretschmer's type descriptions. Sheldon remains the most widely known American contributor to the classification of the human physique and the study of the relationship between somatotype and temperament. Born in Rhode Island, and reputedly a godson of William James, he devoted his entire career to these themes. His basic elements of physique, endomorphy, mesomorphy and ectomorphy gained wide-spread recognition, but he evoked considerable opposition by his sweeping assertions and acerbic style. What is less widely known about Sheldon is his relationship with Jung. In 1934 he made a psychological Grand Tour of Europe, meeting Freud, Kretschmer and Jung. At Kretschmer's clinic he conceived the possibility of reformulating Kretschmer's type descriptions in terms of basic components and of quantifying them. When he arrived in Zürich he had a golden opportunity to become deeply acquainted with Jung’s psychological types. Unfortunately, he was too preoccupied with the tantalizing possibilities of somatotype, and as a result, gained only a general idea of the scope of Jung's typology. This is illustrated by the fact that he takes Jung to task for describing only one kind of extraversion, while he was sure there was both an extraversion of action and one of affect. Clearly he never understood the role of the functions in delineating the various kinds of introversion and extraversion. This attitude is still shared by many psychologists outside Jungian circles who make use of the two basic attitudes but treat the functions as a terra incognita.

If Sheldon had begun to work on Jung's bridge, it is not likely that Jung would have been upset. In 1936 in an article on psychological typology, Jung wrote: "The whole make-up of the body, its constitution in the broadest sense, has in fact a very great deal to do with the psychological temperament ... Somewhere the psyche is living body, and the living body is animated matter." (Coll. Wks, 6, p. 543.)

If the full impact of psychological types had escaped Sheldon, Jung had still made a deep impression on him. Sheldon spent part of 1935 in England writing his first book, Psychology and the Promethean Will, which shows clear traces of Jung's influence. It was here that Sheldon met Aldous Huxley, who later incorporated some basic ideas of somatotyping in his utopian novel, Island.

Over the next twenty years Sheldon produced four major volumes in what he called his 'Human Constitution Series'. After the publication of the last of these works, The Atlas of Men in 1954, he had substantially completed the task that he had taken upon himself in Kretschmer's clinic. Now he began to look with a certain nostalgia at the possibilities he had not been able to pursue. Humphrey Osmond, the noted pioneer in the orthomolecular treatment of schizophrenia, was going to visit Jung:

"Before I left for Zürich Bill Sheldon gave me a copy of his Atlas of Men, inscribed to Jung from his former pupil. He told me that he was apologizing to Jung for not having paid sufficient attention to Jung's teachings, but explained that he was preoccupied with what was to become somatotyping. When I reached Jung's villa in Kusnacht (the date was November, 1955) 1 carried the Atlas of Men. Jung was delighted and said, 'Why, we must always give the body its due - did not your Shakespeare say, "Let me have men about me that are fat; Sleek-headed men and such as steep o'nights; Yond' Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much; such men are dangerous."' So Jung certainly knew of Sheldon's work and expressed his explicit approval to me and told me to thank Sheldon and give him his congratulation and warm regards."

Jung's bridge still remains to be built, but the basic structural members in terms of psychological types and somatotypes have been carefully constructed. There is even a certain amount of agreement about the relationship between introversion and ectomorphy, and extraversion and mesomorphy. Further, if 'somewhere the psyche is living body', then somewhere a particular kind of psyche, that is, a particular psychological type, is probably a particular kind of living body.

What is at stake is not a minor bit of Jungian history but a potentially new way of looking at psychological types which could have important practical and theoretical ramifications. The basic structure of psychological types is left unaltered, but its range is greatly extended. The result is an integrated typology that would range from the psychological type to the physically conditioned temperament, to somatotypes, and finally, to biochemical types which would organize the material made available by the study of biochemical individuality. Such an integrated typology would stimulate the development of psychological types, as the following brief examples will, one hopes, illustrate.

In recent years there has been considerable interest in the typology of the coronary-prone personality, or Type-A personality. Less well-known is a parallel development based on the observations of cardiologists, as well as Sheldon-oriented anthropologists, that indicate a definite range of somatotypes for many heart-attack victims. Occasionally these neglected observations resurface. Not long ago James Mitchner, in an article in the New York Times Magazine, summed up the factors predictive of coronary risk which he had received from Paul Dudley White. Among his list of disposative indications, Dr. White had said:

"But if you classify a thousand deaths from heart failure, you find that very few strike ectomorphs, not too many hit endomorphs, but a heavy predominance knock down mesomorphs." ("Living with an Ailing Heart", Aug. 19, 1984, p. 108.)

Type-A behavior which, incidentally, has remarkable affinities with the temperamental traits that Sheldon associated with mesomorphy, can be viewed as a particular application of the general theory of psychological types. A Jungian typologist, examining this literature, would be drawn to the conclusion that these heart attack victims belong predominantly to a narrow spectrum of the whole range of psychological types, just as they belong to only a limited part of the somatotype spectrum. An integrated typology would go ahead and make the connection between the coronary-prone somatotypes and the coronary-prone psychological types, and would be in a position to see the full range of this coronary-prone person from the interior recesses of his psychological type through the more particular description of the Type-A personality to the somatotype, and finally, to the biochemical type; that is, the type of person who might have difficulty with his low-density lipo protein receptors, etc. On the practical level this would lead to better ways of treatment. For example, the emphasis on Type-A description will, no doubt, shift to the modification of Type-A personalities, yet, if we view the Type-A personality as a particular instance of a certain psychological type, then the whole range of analytic techniques could be brought to bear on the problem. Then the Type-A personality becomes a specific instance of the need for individuation.

An integrated typology would also give the theory of psychological types a much-needed outside point of reference. One result would be a keener awareness of what could be called intra-type variations. Until now the theory of psychological types has concentrated on the existence of the different types and the relationships between the functions of these different types. Thus an introverted intuitive type would have extraverted sensation as the fourth function, and each and every introverted intuitive type would have the same fourth function. But what of intra-type variations? Do the differences between one introverted intuitive type and another have to be left in the realm of incommunicable individuality? In an integrated typology two people of the same psychological type could vary significantly in body type, and body type could, thus, become a visible symbol of the intra-type variations. Though two individuals share the same order of the functions, the way the functions are structurally related could vary; that is, the distance between functions in terms of psychological accessibility could differ. Are some people further from their auxiliary function than others, or from their fourth function than other people of the same type? Sheldon observed that those endowed with a significant amount of each of the basic components of physique, what he called a mid-range physique, often exhibited behavioral difficulties resulting from the very abundance of their endowments. They could not make up their mind in which temperamental direction to go. To convert this observation into the idiom of psychological types, a mid-range introverted intuitive type would differ significantly in behavior from a highly ectomorphic introverted intuitive type, and the basis could be viewed in terms of intra-type variations. If these variations could become conscious, they would probably provide a theoretical answer to certain kinds of behavior that are already being observed in the analytic process.

Intra-type variations may also play a significant role in the difficulty in diagnosing psychological types. The problem of how to arrive at the sure estimation of someone's type has given rise to attempts to objectify the procedure by written testing and to reformulate typological theory in order to mitigate these diagnostic difficulties. An integrated typology presents a third perspective from which to view the question of diagnosis.

Many factors have been recognized as contributing to the difficulty of determining a person's type: the stage of personal development, parental and environmental overlays, the questions of neurosis and creativity. If we add to these intra-type variations, somatotypes and temperamental traits, a significant part of diagnostic difficulties can be placed in the very complexity of the subject matter. Another important cause resides in the fact that diagnosing types is as much an art to be learned as it is a theory to be understood. No one would expect a wine-taster or a stock-breeder to become proficient simply by mastering theory, still less a medical practitioner, yet, while we neglect the question of practical training in typology - which is not to be immediately identified with analytic training in general - we profess surprise that professional judgments differ so radically.

If typology represents a certain visibility of the process of individuation, then somatotypes would be the visibility of the psychological types themselves. Without minimizing the difficulties that surround the determination of somatotypes, they are certainly more visible and amenable to measurement and observation than are psychological types. Thus, they could inject a dimension of objectivity which would aid psychological type diagnosis if an integrated typology could be developed.

Finally, such an integrated typology would bring into focus the question of whether there is a genetic basis to psychological types. That there would be such a genetic foundation to somatotypes is an acceptable idea, yet there is mounting evidence for a genetic component for extraversion and introversion, as well. From the perspective of an integrated typology such a finding is not startling, and questions concerning the mode of genetic transmission or the biochemical foundations to introversion and extraversion become more askable.

If we speak in a biological language about types in terms of the possible embryological foundations to somatotypes or how the biological extraversion of the ectomorph is compensated by his or her psychological introversion, as Sheldon did, we can be immediately understood in terms of the perennial nature versus nurture conflict. Yet, even if there is a relationship between somatotype and psychological type and a genetic foundation to the psychological type, this does not diminish in the least the full range of development for each particular type. The last phrase, however, is an important qualifier. Each type builds on its own kind of foundation and moves through the process of individuation towards a fullness of growth that embraces all the functions and both attitudes. Nature and nurture demand each other. Jung could well have written a chapter in Psychological Types on the typological foundations of this conflict, with extroverts more keenly aware of the dramatic changes wrought by their interaction with the environment, and introverts concerned with inner continuity and finding precisely that.

Typology also has its own version of the even more intractable question of scientific method. It appears in its most vehement form in the differences between Eysenck and his factor analytic approach to extraversion and somatotypes, and the work of men like Sheldon and Jung. But even within the Jungian spectrum there is an unresolved tension between the proponents of type diagnosis by way of psychological testing and those who perceive by way of observation. This tension plays an important role in various attempts to reformulate type theory and has important ramifications for the future direction of analytical psychology as a whole.

But to return to the matter at hand, which is the development of an integrated typology, it is hard to imagine this taking place without interdisciplinary collaboration. What is needed for a definitive bridge building is the collaboration of typologists in the traditions both of Jung and Sheldon. These are the people who already have fluency in one typological language that has been gained by long exposure to the empirical material that underlies it. Thus, they are in the best position to learn the other typological language and explore their interrelationship. It will be an exciting event when Jungian typologists finally meet their Sheldonian counterparts, and both sides discover that their distinctive viewpoints can enrich each other. Then Jung's forgotten bridge will be forgotten no longer.

Jung's statement, "Somewhere the psyche is living body, and the living body is animated matter" appeals to the philosopher of nature as much as to the psychologist trying to build a bridge between psychological types and body types. What happens when we look at psychological types from the point of view of the philosophy of nature? First the philosopher would receive the results of the typologists, and then be inspired to ask distinctive kinds of questions which are not able to be addressed within the field of typology itself. For example, our philosopher of nature, reflecting on the commonly agreed upon facts of introversion and extraversion, would say: Why do these differences exist? And she or he would be forced to examine more closely the principles that govern this philosophical psychology.

The ultimate root of these differences cannot be found in the form or spiritual soul as if one person had a different nature than another. This type of approach would lay the groundwork for the worse sort of repression and prejudice in which we deny a fully human soul to this group of people or that. All human beings have the same kind of soul. We are all members of one human race. But if these undeniable human differences are not rooted in different kinds of souls, could they find their origin in different kinds of bodies? For St. Thomas the soul is not contained in the body, but rather the body is contained in the soul. This means that the soul is the very principle by which the body exists, rather the body being a preexisting receptacle for the soul. If we make matter the root of human differences then we end up imagining that the different psyches that exist are the result of the same psyche being received by matter in various ways. Then we arrive at a conception in which the soul is limited by matter, in fact, almost imprisoned by it and waiting for its liberation.

But if the answer does not lie in either the specific kind of soul or in the soul being limited or received by matter, just where does it reside? For St. Thomas, the human soul is the lowest and weakest of spiritual forms. Our intellect is not always in act but rather is a being in potency. The soul is united to the body precisely in order that it can know. The body does not imprison the soul but liberates it in the sense of providing it with the means by which it can realize itself. This "weakness" of human soul is not a lack of something that should be there, but only a way of expressing the ontological intensity of being the human psyche possesses by its very nature. According to St. Thomas, if it were fully self-actuated from its creation it would fully fill its own rung in the ladder of being. It would be one of a kind, and there could only be one human being. The low intensity of the ontological nature of the human soul is what demands many expressions of it. We are all partial realizations of what it means to be human. The expression of human nature cannot take place all at once in one being, but happens in a rainbow of human beings, each of which displays a certain facet of the human psyche. The very nature of the human psyche prevents its total and immediate self-expression in the form of some sort of archetypal and complete human being. Instead, the human psyche demands expression in a community of individuals and finds its realization there. From a typological point of view we are conscious of one aspect of the psyche; we are a specific type. For Jung, each of us has both introversion and extraversion and all four functions, but they are arranged in such a way that there is a primary function and attitude rooted in consciousness and a much less developed function and attitude strongly connected to the unconscious, which he called the inferior function. For the philosopher of nature, this pattern of the distribution of the attitudes and functions can be taken as a phenomenological parallel to the soul's limited capacity of self-expression. But the psyche is dynamic, as well. Jung's process of individuation has a typological expression in which the less conscious functions become developed and this, too, finds a parallel in the philosopher of nature seeing the soul actualize itself through the uses of the senses, imagination, intellect and will. Yet the inferior function never becomes fully conscious, for we are never without the unconscious, just as we never reach a direct spiritual seeing coming from the soul's auto-intellection.

Without pressing the point too strongly, it is also possible to find parallels between the elements of Jung's psychological types and the philosophy of nature. The inward and outward flows of energy and attention that make up introversion and extraversion can be related to the two fundamental aspects of human nature. We are outward-looking in virtue of our bodiliness and are integral parts of the world around us, and we are inward-looking by the very fact of possessing a spiritual soul. Even Jung's four functions of sensation, intuition, thinking and feeling find counterparts in St. Thomas' description of the soul. Jung's sensation is close to St. Thomas' use of the senses, and in both the use of thinking or reasoning is similar, as well. Jung's intuition finds its closest partner in Thomas' intellectus or intuition which he strongly contrasted with reasoning as the insight or intellectual seeing that is at the start and finish of any process of reasoning. Jung's feeling comes closest to what St. Thomas called knowledge though connaturality. This is a knowledge that he contrasted strongly with knowledge through reasoning, for it does not come through ideas but is a knowledge that comes through the will, and it is based on the conformity of the will with the good.

From the point of view of the philosopher of nature, there is no cause for surprise if the typologist tries to find a close relationship between psychological types and body types. While he will maintain a distinction between body and spirit, he shies away from any separation or dualism. There is no human body which is not animated matter and no human psyche in this life that does not express itself by means of a living body. We are rational animals, according to Aristotle, and the differences among us psychologically are expressed by psychological types, while our physical differences find expression in body types, but they both are complementary expressions of one living human organism.

If each of us is a partial reflection in psyche and body of what it means to be human, this does not mean that we are permanently locked in this fragmentary condition. The human psyche is dynamic. It strives to realize itself as fully as possible. It has a certain capacity and urge to be whole. And this wholeness comes about by us living in a loving community whose gifts complement our own and by going on the journey of individuation in which we discover that. we have in some fashion all the different types within ourselves.



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