Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Carl Jung's Personality Theory Contrasted with Christian Personality Theory

Unlike his mentor, Freud, who was an atheist, Carl Jung saw spirituality as the defining trait of personality and human nature, manifested as a mysterious presence found in all cultures. Jung held the conviction that God existed and that in all important matters a human being was alone with God.

Jung developed the idea of the collective unconscious as a repository of universal archetypes like the divine child, the old sage, and the primordial mother. These archetypes and the symbols they elicit in dreams and through intuition, he surmised, are meant to guide people through an individuation process, offering fulfillment through reconciling opposing forces within the psyche. Jung saw a person's destiny as the result of a collaboration between the conscious and the unconscious.

While agreeing that spirituality is indigenous to human nature, compass personality theory more explicitly affirms the Trinity as the ontological foundation of personhood, Jesus Christ as the God-human mediator, and the Holy Spirit as the source of wisdom within the spiritual core. Rather than cultural symbols to guide people toward individual fulfillment, compass theory emphasizes the Word of God as the objective revelation of the Trinity without equal in revealing what people are called to become. 

Without this framework, the Bible says, “there is a way that appears to be right to a person, but its end is the way to death” (Prov 14:12). In other words, symbolic interpretation of psychic and cultural processes is insufficient in itself to establish communion and communication with the Creator, for this requires conversion of the heart, regeneration of the spirit, and living in existential responsiveness to the Trinity

Of all Jung’s concepts, introversion and extroversion have gained the widest general acceptance. Introverts focus on their own thoughts and feelings, recharging their psychic batteries through interior reflection and recollection. Extroverts focus on social stimulation, recharging their psychic batteries through interaction with others. Introverts see the world in regard to how it affects them, whereas extroverts are more concerned with their impact upon the world. 

In compass personality theory, introverted personality patterns include the  Avoidant Worrier, Schizoid Loner, Dependent Pleaser, and Compulsive Controller. Extroverted patterns include the Histrionic Storyteller, Paranoid Arguer, Antisocial Rule-breaker, and Narcissistic Boaster.

Perhaps what characterizes Jung’s theory more than anything else is his emphasis on polarities within personality as the key to understanding individual differences and helping people make progress in individuation. To Jung, the self can have  no reality without polarity.

Both Jungian and compass personality theory see the development of personality and relationships as a goal-directed enterprise, marked by the balanced development of all parts of personality, utilizing a free flow of energy between conscious and unconscious processes. Thus, the differentiation of opposites needs consistent integration within the self-system throughout the lifespan.

For Jung this means venerating what is God-like in the self, but also respecting what is most base, one’s shadow side, and learning how to give equal place even to the seemingly contradictory aspects of human experience. 

Compass personality theory is anchored in God’s invitation to trust in the Trinity as an edifying presence for developing healthy personality and relationships. Personality health is achieved through growth in developing a Christlike Self Compass as a person learns to recognize and dismantle the manipulative trends arising from dependency, aggression, withdrawal, or control. 

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