Is Jung's View of God a 'Non-Realist' one?

Essay by JazzbanditUniversity, Bachelor's May 2004

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In Jung's Analysis Psychology the relationship between psychology and theology is explored in a considerable more positive light then Freud's previous reductionist work. This essay will outline Jung's main ideas, demonstrate that at first glance these resemble a 'non-realist' theology, highlight the limitations of this view showing that there is a distinction between the claims of psychological reality of Jung's model and the conditions required for a theological reality, and finally compare this with the view of God within other psychological models.

Like Freud, Jung started his work in psychology dealing with the mentally ill. Jung's early career was spent in experimental research at the University of Basel and Burgholzi hospital. Whilst working with disturbed patients he began to look for meaning in seemingly meaningless vocal outpourings. His studies led him to conclude that we can understand the symbols within such speech by placing the expressions within the context of the patients own life, thus we find coherence and may begin helping the patient to settle their psychological imbalance.

Jung's means of gaining this understanding was through 'word association'. This approach leads the psychiatrist to view the world from the patient's perspective; it is a subjective psychological model. Despite this significant beak-through, Jung began to reject experimental psychology, declaring twenty years later;

...whosoever wishes to know about the human mind will learn nothing, or almost nothing, from experimental psychology.

Hence, Jung followed Freud into the field of psychoanalysis. Like Freud, Jung believed that to treat neuroses one first had to look into a person's unconscious, that area of the mind which the patient has no real control and which only reveals itself in non-rational thought such as dreams or slips of speech. However, Jung disagreed with Freud's emphasis on sexual development and argued that psychotic states such as schizophrenia cannot...