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A New Ethics for the Total Person (Unconscious and Shadow Side as Well); not just the Ego over the Rational Self

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Erich Neumann’s New Ethics Informed by Depth Psychology[1]

and Correlated with Luther’s In-depth Theology

Erick Neumann developed a new ethics informed by in-depth analysis from Jungian psychology. He argued that we have to take responsibility also for our shadow side that we do not fall for a scapegoat psychology and, I would add, for conspiracy theories. Our shadow side may also fall on the consciousness of the masses, inducing a negative mentality and /or even a negative movement. For example, John McCain and Sarah Palin’s negative campaign against Barack Obama started to make a shadow fall and begin to activate the crowds in a violent and prejudiced direction. McCain had to check these reactions that their irresponsible statements produced.

Neumann argues that traditional ethics, in only operating in the conscious part of our minds, does not take responsibility for what happens because of negatives that we repress, displace, and deny and thus merely drive into our unconscious. There they then gain strength and raise havoc against our wills and behind our backs. In the fascist movements, however, in their reversion to tribalism, they can also lead to atrocities committed in “good conscience.” Neumann will explain.

We will introduce many correlations of Neumann’s thought with Luther’s theology in the progress of this study. But already the integration of the shadow side of the person into the conscious self reminds of Luther’s teaching about being sinners and saints at one and the same time. In a delusional self-righteousness, persons can project their sin onto others who are different from themselves. Self-righteousness prevents a person from owning up to also having such a sinful side.

Erich Neumann wrote his work in 1947 right after World War II, reacting to Nazism, Fascism, and other negative mass movements. He argued that these movements were our shadow side out of control.

After several readings of Neumann’s book, I had extensive notes, from which I could easily have launched a whole translation. It has, however, already been translated.[2]

Neumann does not argue that we openly relate with everyone out of our naked and deep self. Once I read Miss Lonelihearts by Nathaniel West. His book illustrated this impossibility. Now I realize that we need a public persona, the way Martin Luther also argued. It’s just like having a working relationship versus a relationship for its own sake. The sociological terms are still in German: relationships formed for Gesellschaft are working relationships versus those formed, for example, with family and friends, for their own sake, are for Gemeinschaft. We have to have a persona that is somewhat domesticated and socialized. We cannot always wear our hearts on our sleeve, nor always remain in our deep self coram deo, that is naked before God, to use another one of Luther’s concepts.[3]

Luther posits a Christ-person and world-person, but he safe-guards these roles from a compartmentalization or schizoid split of the person. Gerhard Ebeling explains that a tension always remains between these roles, which become necessary because of the two kingdom theory. The world-person, however, can never exclude love of neighbor, or allow for an autonomous law, or exclude our life from God’s sight. But some of our decisions and actions have to take place for the sake of our neighbors as world persons, while we cannot take them for our own self-interest as a Christ person,[4] e.g., a judge seated at the bench cannot follow the dictum of Jesus not to resist evil. But Neumann will make clear why Christ gives such a mandate and why it is necessary for the Christ person.

In Neumann’s psychoanalytic language, we can say that our surface self that is necessary for a working relationship, needs to be in touch with and anchored in the deep self of our unconscious. Thus we are here not at all describing a schizoid or split person. In addition, through empathy, the deep self can also participate in the extensive social self, where we either spread health and wholeness or infect others with our bigotry and prejudice. Erich Neumann provides us with far more insight into the psycho-social dynamics involved and why the old ethics cannot overcome the negative historical problems we face today. Neumann proposes a new ethic that is informed by the shadow side of our unconscious, making it much harder for us to be moved by scapegoat psychologies and conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy theories are closely involved with scapegoat psychology. A militia, for example, will project aggression on a target group that they despise, and meanwhile they themselves are preparing for aggression.

I knew about the shadow side of a person that needed integration into one’s soul for wholeness before, but I never realized that the conscious person unconnected with his or her unconscious was so problematic. Such a façade person can also be called a shallow person, a two dimensional person, or a phony. In German Neumann calls such a person a Scheinpersönlichkeit. He explains that they easily identify with the social values of the culture, although to be honest, they would have to admit that they do not live up to them. They have limitations, concerns with their bodies, and real differences with these values, which they override [and ignore][5] (Neumann, page 27). (These page numbers refer to the German Edition.) Thus a false inflation of the ego takes place that represses, denies, and displaces the negative aspects of the self into the shadow side. The inflated ego, which is greater, stronger, and energy loaded, is dangerous, because locked into only the conscious, the ego is hindered from a real orientation with reality, meaning that large segments of reality are not taken in. In psychological terms, Neumann seems to have his finger on a similar thing that happens with ideologies, which also tend to deny large segments of reality.[6]

I do not believe that being in the Holy Spirit is an inauthentic inflation of the ego, i.e., from an understanding of the Holy Spirit according to the Lutheran standpoint. Martin Luther’s theology seems to have conceptual safe-guards for this inflation. Luther would call the easy identification with cultural values a “presumption of righteousness” and he calls “the presumption of righteousness, the dregs of all the evils and the sin of all the sins of the world.”[7] Luther had this inflation of the ego in mind when he states: “This brute, this monster is called the presumption of righteousness.”[8] A self-righteous person is worse than a sinner, according to Luther, because the sinner can be forgiven, while the self-righteous person is unconscious of his or her sin and need for forgiveness. This person is always busy judging and condemning others. For Luther ours is always an alien righteousness in Christ or in the Holy Spirit, for which righteousness we cannot take any credit. Luther prayed, “You are my righteousness, Oh Christ, I am your sin.”

“I am your sin!” I wonder, however, if that statement of Luther errs on the negative side? For a deflated ego, ethics makes no sense, because the deflated egos feel that they can do nothing but sin anyway. Luther calls having such an abject attitude the temptation on the left hand, while the self-righteous have the temptation on the right and consider themselves holier than others because of their inflated egos. He uses the image of standing on a log (think of a lumberjack) floating down the river. You can fall off into the deep water on the right or the left side.[9]

Neumann has in mind the NAZI’s, who believed in the supremacy and superiority of the White Aryan race, but who became thugs, brutes, and monsters in their delusion. In following Carl Gustav Jung, Neumann’s thought flows easily from the individual unconscious into the collective unconscious. His analysis is the psycho-social explanation of how a high civilization reverted to primitive tribalism.

From personal experience, I know that integrating one’s unconscious into oneself is a harrowing experience. Neumann says that whenever a person goes into his or her deep psychology, tracing back into the origination of one’s background and the underground of one’s personality, the ego along with one’s conscious world begins to quake (page 70). It is very tempting to avoid this dreadful experience, but we do so at the expense of the fullness of our humanity.

This harrowing experience can be related to the Christian baptism of suffering in general.[10] Listen to Luther on this score: “But God strips away all honor and consolation from our eyes and nothing but shame stares us in the face.”[11] And more: “That is also one of the tender virtues of sin: it renders people mute. It conceals itself; it is ashamed. It would like to remain beautiful like Adam and Eve when they covered their nakedness with an apron and refused to come to confession. Oh it hurts to uncover your own shame and to turn your glory into shame.”[12]

The late Robert J. Goeser, an interpreter of Luther, commenting on this place, explains: “The human fall includes playing the false saint….” and “sin is an arrogant presumption of goodness.” He continues:

This is more than an experience of shame, more than being caught guilty. It is the whole struggle in the appropriation of the truly moral or human, i.e., in the awful experience of owning one’s past, giving up the claims to innocence and the limitations of God’s grace, accepting the destruction of one’s arrogant and self-righteous identity, and the moving into a new self as gifted, graced, by God’s goodness. So awful is the experience or event….[13]

Sometimes a devil is dunked into the water and a devil comes back out. The foregoing, however, describes a baptism that “takes.”

Neumann states that “every inflation, every identification of the ego with a super-personal content – and that is the meaning of hubris, in which the person deludes him or herself to be like the gods, leads to a downfall” (page 30). Thus Luther says, “Let God be God.” Let us be human beings. The Self-emptying emphasis of Christ in the second chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (verses 5 and following) (called kenosis in Greek) also wards off this self delusion and militates against this source of evil. Nietzsche stated blatantly, “There cannot be a God because if there were one, I could not believe that I was not He.” This attitude is the height of presumptuousness and wanting to be God is a source of evil. “Let God be God!” And to continue quoting Luther: “Those who think to control and direct things through their anxiety and care, in spite of their false humility, compete with God to run the world. But we should be human beings and not God.”[14]

Even if Nietzsche had no love for anti-Semitism and it was his sister, who made him seem like a champion of German race and nationalism, his philosophy, from my point of view, is too easily used for the purposes of the supremacy of some over others. His theory of the Űbermensch, which was admittedly used against his conception of it, by the NAZIS, can no longer be translated “superman” because of the comics. I would submit that the translation should be, “superperson,” however, rather than the watered down “overman.” I believe it is the will to power, wanting to be more than human, (like a baseball player on steroids), along with the aesthetic of violence for the acquisition of that power, that can all be singled out here as a diagnosis for the inflation of the ego.[15]

Neumann finds the negation of a negation very problematic psychologically. In philosophy and logic it becomes a positive, e.g., not, not p is equivalent to p. -the negation of the negation defines the positive. Neumann argues that in psychological ethics the negation of the negation really denies, represses, and displaces personal issues, driving them into the unconscious, where they can do very much more harm. [Hiding a poisonous snake does not make it less dangerous but more so.] In the same way “repressed impulses grow stronger” (page 36). Ethics operating exclusively on the conscious level, although they represent a historical step beyond collective, tribal consciousness, usually function in this denying, repressing, and displacing way. At some point, in consequence [of repressing the negatives into the unconscious] the higher consciousness that has brought ethics to consciousness, dissolves, and in its place the earlier, primitive reaction sets in (page 37). In a similar way, while working the inner-city, we discovered that the “ethics of the street” was really no ethics at all.

If I understand Neumann rightly, he works through the mechanics of scapegoat psychology always refining the way it functions through the individual conscious level into the unconscious and collective unconscious levels. In terms of the non-integrated shadow, it becomes projected upon those who are different from us, whom we do not know, and upon whom we inflict our prejudice. “The shadow that stands in contradiction to a person’s values, cannot be accepted as a negative part of one’s own self-structure” (Neumann might as well be providing an analysis of Luther’s concept of self-righteousness) “and becomes projected, i.e., it becomes outwardly displaced and with that becomes experienced as something outward. Then it is fought, punished, and purged as a ‘strange external’ instead of being [worked through] as one’s ‘own internal’”(page 38). In such a way a scapegoat is put in place. Note well, however, like that hidden snake, in the unconscious the shadow is still virile and active.[16]

In this way a foreigner can become an outcast. Immigrants, persons of different ethnic, racial, and sexual orientations, as well as other religions groups are [sometimes] exterminated in a futile attempt to rid oneself of one’s own internal shadow side (page 41-42). The unlucky victims of our scapegoat psychology are either on a higher or lower ethical level from that of the collective. Think of Socrates on the one hand and poor, hungry, desperate refugees on the other. Both experience the wrath of the collective. In antiquity the sacrifice of the scapegoat was a conscious ritual. Now that it occurs on an unconscious level is very questionable improvement (page 44). The unlucky victims have challenged, perhaps too greatly, the mainstream culture. “But the unconscious shadow element, from which the collective wishes to free itself with the help of scapegoat psychology, asserts itself in the brutal sacrifice of the scapegoat, without the collective becoming aware of this connection. The consciousness believing itself to be faithful to the basic principles of scapegoat psychology, identifies with the higher values and carries out the most abysmal atrocities with the ‘best of consciences’” (page 44). That is the way the shadow side breaks through into a person’s or society’s actions (page 44).

Neumann analyzes the way a society can become challenged by a representative of a higher ethic, [like Jesus would be my example]. He differentiates the voice of this representative of the higher ethic with the conscience of the collective living according to its level of ethics. When the prevalent level of ethics of the collective is not accommodated, but the higher ethic of the voice is inflicted upon them, violence usually results. Again it transpires under the directives of scapegoat psychology. The atrocity against the scapegoat is carried out with a “good conscience.” (page 44) I submit that in the murder that occurred, a split has opened up, because as self-righteous as the people were, they were not righteous, to use Luther language.

I believe that the gap between the values the people identify with and their actual values, [which they transgress] points not only to scapegoat psychology but also to the source of conspiracy theories. “Knowing oneself” means understanding the conscious self: think of the tip of the iceberg, as well as the unconscious self, that much more ragged, mountainous, and shadowy mass of the iceberg below the surface of the ocean. Thus those who have conspiracy theories about others, attempt to repress their own aggression and shadow side. [A militia, as mentioned, or a talk-show host, for example], then projects their unconscious conspiracy and aggression onto a scapegoat group (page 46).

Neumann argues that public executions were exercises in scapegoat justice. When society does not accept responsibility for a share of the guilt in a committed crime, then it practices lynch-mob justice when punishing the criminal (page 46). In any war, he continues, the enemy becomes the symbol of a society’s shadow side. In a war the shadow side of the collectivity has broken through. A conscious ethics helplessly represses the shadow side and the split occurs in individuals and in the society. (How this split occurs will later be more fully explained.)

To hark back to the externalization of the shadow side: when the Bush and Cheney administration designated an axis of evil in terms of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. An artist from Iceland painted a mural on a foyer wall of a building in Dallas, Texas consisting of the words: “The U.K., U.S.A., and Israel are the axis of evil. Sharon is the top terrorist. Bush is an idiot. Iceland is a banana republic.” The outrage of the people in the building and the people in Dallas made the artist have to recant and repaint the wall hurriedly: “North Korea, Iran, and Iraq are the axis of evil. Bin Laden is the top terrorist. Bush is very intelligent. Iceland is a banana republic.” he wrote. The amount of evil that was unconsciously done in the battle to purge external evil, has left 100,000 Iraqis, over 4,000 of our soldiers dead; over 10,000 of our soldiers wounded, and many more who have become psychological casualties. Last month more soldiers committed suicide than were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Add to that our wars have left our country economically and morally bankrupt, which will hopefully be overcome in the new administration. A self-righteous purge of evil outwardly lets our shadow side break loose and our wars with all their concomitant evils have resulted.

Stages of ethical Development

Neumann argues that when the conscious stage of ethics dissolves, the society reverts to group identity ethics, in which any and every member of a group represents the whole group (page 50). Thus in the novel, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, the little boy can be sacrificed for the murder of a woman by someone in his tribe. Then Osama Bin Laden legitimates the killing of anyone who is American or Israeli and even the soldier-civilian distinction, not to mention the elderly, women, and children distinctions, falls away.

I believe Neumann described the manna personality as one who challenges every area of society to attain a new level of ethics with his or her voice. I think of Buddha, Socrates, and Luther for example. I place Jesus in a very special place of course, although in his earthly ministry, he becomes the manna personality par excellence, i.e., as the bread of life, manna from heaven. Neumann introduces the need to accommodate the general population, because the manna personality can “load the society with another ethical burden” (page 53).

An understanding of the Gospel of Luther can address Neumann’s concern for accommodation in face of such overburdening.[17] Neumann’s concern can be illustrated from the Bible: when Christ updated the Ten Commandments with the Sermon on the Mount, he added a much more stringent set of ethics on top of the difficulty people already had with the Ten Commandments. Luther’s rediscovery of the Gospel addresses the very real issue Neumann is concerned with. Accordingly, the medieval unreformed church held that the common folk could only be expected to adhere to the Ten Commandments, while religious professionals, i.e., the clergy, the bishops, monks, and priests also had to adhere to the counsels of perfection found in the Sermon on the Mount.

Luther distinguished the law from the Gospel. The Sermon on the Mount really represented the positive essence of the Ten Commandments, and these were no burden laid on top of the law, but they were the Gospel, the good news that God provided that righteousness to believers as a gift. The Gospel does not require a higher ethics, but graciously provides the where-with-all that makes it so that we cannot help living by the higher ethic. The Gospel is not a law and a burden, but carries our burden for us, by our receiving the attributes of God as a gift, rather than their being required of us by dint of our efforts or works. Thus Luther declares the priesthood of all believers because a lower tier of Christian lay folk do not need accommodation while higher demands can be placed on a class of priests. Luther refused to see Christ as a law-giver like Moses and thus the Gospel addresses Neumann’s concerns for the backlash of the collective. The Gospel does not overburden the common people with a new and higher ethic that they are incapable of living and exercising.

For Neumann conscious ethics, which were an improvement, representing a second historical step, are now the old ethics. In them the ego was victimized for the most part by the forces of the unconscious which it had forbidden. But that way the strength of the drives of sexuality, hunger, fear, and superstition were merely repressed, but not worked through and integrated for the wholeness of the person (page 56).

The New Ethic

Neumann theorizes three ethical stages: the primitive collective one, the conscious individual one, where an individual takes responsibility, and the holistic one in which the unconscious shadow side is also integrated into the ethic. Here the ego is no longer exclusively operating ethically in the conscious, but the self of the whole person has also integrated the unconscious and taken responsibility for the shadow side personally and collectively as well; the latter in being cognizant of how one’s words and actions affect the collective.

In the second stage, sexuality, will to power, capacity for cruelty, fear and superstition, by which one had been possessed in the first stage, were grasped, thrown down, ruled and mastered. In the first stage, the ego was an instrument and did not know about its possession, because such a collective group conscience lived without being able to distance itself from the forces, which had it in the power of their grasp (page 57).

“[Second stage] ethics requires recognition of these contents [sexuality, will to power, etc.] and their repression. This repression is one of the typical acts of self-differentiation, self-distancing, which gives consciousness a basis. The psychical part, which had dominated and which had ‘driven’ the ego, now becomes partially a content of consciousness and becomes an object of opposition / separation / differentiation and conflict, in which the ego as subject stands opposite this psychical part as an object.” (page 57) Even if the ego gives in, it now knows what it should have consciously repressed but did not. It has eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (page 57).

The collective ethic develops further in two directions, which are the classical form of the further development of individual responsibility of the conscience (57). The individualization of the ethic leads to a downfall of the collective ethic by what we mythologize as a hero (page 58). In the collective ethic, Neumann places the voice of the new responsible individual against that conscience (page 58).

The manna personality, the creative individual, having received ethical revelation, moves out ahead of the society (page 59). (Neumann makes me think of Joseph in the Genesis, where he is sent out ahead of Israel with a very much greater integrity than his brothers had. [Genesis 45:5,7]) But an unhealthy split from between the advanced ethic of such a person and the collective ethic takes place (page 59). Because “the ethical level of the creative person rises far above the collective ethic of the society and the society has not yet grown to become capable of carrying it out, the unhealthy split [in the person and society occurs] (59). The collective has a primitive soul-structure, not yet having achieved ethical step 2.  A great deal of effort, even force is required to bring the society in line with the higher ethical level.[18] In this split, identification with the higher level produces the façade personalities, who act as if, but have not yet achieved the higher level. Repression and denial set in where the ethical content of the values that the collective has not yet incorporated are displaced into the shadow side. Now the individual as group person stands opposite the leading motifs of the collective values. The new level of ethics is valid and recognized, but it has been imposed by the legal acts of the group even though they do not represent the nature of the collective (page 60).[19]

Neumann continues that a splitting process, a schizoid process takes place in the group and as a result, the old ethic issues into a scapegoat psychology and violent epidemics of the repressed negative contents break through in the masses (page 61).

Such is the heart of Neumann’s mechanics about how the creative individual and the scapegoat psychology of the masses are related.

The village fool, village idiot, the invalid, the insane person were all safe when a strong group consciousness and identity were in place. That was possible in small groups but not in the societies of the masses of our day (page 61), where accountability to groups has dissolved. Opposite the elites, the masses of people have come into existence, whose conscience is atavistic and regressive, because they have not grown to the new standard of culture and are violated by the new ethical postulate (page 62). With that the new individual ethic becomes reversed (page 63). “We stand at the beginning of the insight, that the in-depth nature of the human identity is rooted in the collective unconscious.” (page 64) But opposite the equality of the depth structure, a pronounced inequality exists in conscious structure (page 64). I think Neumann is saying – to use some picture language, that the tops of icebergs have various heights and then, some tops are not very high above the water. ( The iceberg understood as a metaphor for the conscious person, whose unconscious looms below the surface of the water.)

“The displacement of the shadow side in the unconscious is a highly actual and new kind of ethical problem.” (page 65)  Thus the individual ethic needs a wider scope in that it also needs to take responsibility for how its ethic impacts the collective in the unconsciousness (page 65).[20] To translate Neumann here in an important technical passage: “His concern is for the emergence of an ethic, in which the ethical stance and the decision of the individual are no longer considered in isolation and it is not only the conscious situation of the individual that becomes evaluated. The impact on the collective because of a judgment also needs to be considered and the position of the unconscious in this ethical evaluation needs to be included as well.” (page 65) “We mean… that an advancing ethical development of the individual needs to include the consideration of what an affect it will have on the collective.” (page 66) The split has to be avoided because it is a cause of the outbreak of the shadow side among the masses in epidemic proportions (page 66).

The old ethics, which we called the second stage, is a partial ethic. It is a conscious ethics that has not taken the unconscious into account and evaluated it. Neumann notes that Augustine thanked God for not making him responsible for his dreams. But because they come out of the unconscious, Neumann insists that he has to take account of them and work through their issues (page 67). It has become necessary to also take responsibility for our unconscious processes (page 68).

We very seldom find that our whole existence is threatened or placed into question, but that is what happens when we face and own our shadow side (page 70). This is the harrowing experience that I have mentioned before. Neumann goes on explaining how the beginning of the way of depth psychology is always accompanied by an earthquake and the shaking of the foundations in one’s world of values (page 70). A revolution, he explains, takes place in the assimilation of the “shadow,” the working through of the “persona” (page 71). The way of working through the façade personality leads through the hierarchy of the regions of the soul, which are experienced in every in-depth development. Enthralled by itself the naïve ego, which has more or less identified with the good and the beautiful, gets such a blow that the foundations of a person are shaken, which always happens in the first phase of analysis (page 71). Neumann tends to return to further explicate themes again and again.

The old idealized concept of one’s ego goes under and one rises up to the dangerous recognition of the ambiguity, that is, two or more interpretations of one’s existence (Dasein) (page 73). Thus the inflation of the ego becomes dissolved. It is a bitter form of self-confrontation. In the depth, one discovers one’s identity with the enemy (page 73). (That reminds me of a Pogo cartoon, where Pogo says, “We’ve met the enemy and they are us!”)

A few other perspectives and an illustration to consider at this point: Karen Horney a Freudian psychoanalyst speaks about having an idealized self image in her book, Our Inner Conflicts.[21] Such a neurotic idealized self image is maintained at a very high cost to the person, because it prevents acceptance of his or her real self and one’s inevitable imperfections, preventing any real growth of the person. As one patient that she mentions said, “If it were not for reality, I would be quite all right.”[22]

Perhaps a neurosis could be expanded to a psychosocial level, if Alfred Adler’s superiority complex can be used to interpret the bigotry of some Caucasians against African Americans and other targets of their prejudice, by which they deceive themselves to be superior. Karen Horney also explains that some persons ailing with an idealized self image externalize their inadequacies. She writes, “When I call this attempt externalization I am defining the tendency to experience internal processes as if they occurred outside oneself and, as a rule, to hold these external factors responsible for one’s difficulties.”[23] The externalization that Karen Horney describes could easily lend itself to the projection of the psychic contents of the shadow side on victims of prejudice along the lines of a scapegoat psychology.

The presumption of self-righteousness as the sin of all sins is the language of Luther that refers to the same kind of a disturbed relationality. Luther finds that the law encounters such a person as a mirror confronting the person with his or her real self. It can also be like a hammer that shatters the ideal self into pieces. Robert J. Goeser, using Luther’s theology, did not like to speak of the first and second uses of the law, because that language could obviate the living word experienced as event and encounter. Goeser described law and gospel not as doctrines or teachings, but as experienced language-events.

Robert Goeser illustrated the problem of the ideal self and the inability of owning up to one’s real self by means of the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale and his affair with Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Here he is the holy and reverend parson among Puritans and Hester has been adulterous and will not divulge that it was the minister that made her pregnant. She wears the scarlet letter “A” on her chest and becomes an outcast. Pearl the little daughter, the issue of their affair, symbolizes Dimmesdale’s secret self, and he cannot face the reality that under the Puritan ethics, which he preaches, he should not preside self-righteously in his “holy” position in this community, but should own up to being one with the outcast Hester and her child Pearl. To become his real self, the false self that he has been living shatters to pieces. It took a great while before he could muster that courage and affirm his own weakness, which would be soundly rejected in that Puritan ethos. The Rev. Dimmesdale would have to accept the destruction of his own arrogant, respected, and “holy” identity, a very painful experience, indeed.

With that illustration, we can understand Neumann’s conviction that an acceptance of one’s evil takes place and the harrowing way it is experienced becomes obvious. One has to co-exist with one’s shadow and that is possible only on a morally deeper level of life. The ego has to be dethroned and realize its individual, constitutional, fateful, and historical imperfection. This acceptance of one’s own imperfection is an extraordinarily difficult challenge. The unconscious always asserts itself with force and violence against this conscious self-rejection (page 74). [I think the word “self-rejection” works better here than Neumann’s mere “rejection.”]

Neumann explains that there is a breaking in of the shadow side in culture and philosophy as well (pages 76-77). By way of illustration he mentions materialism, relativism, secularism, empiricism, Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, Freud’s Future of an Illusion, among other influences, which impacted the masses negatively (page 77). He states that the inflation and deflation of the ego are escapes that refuse to face the need for a new ethic (page 80). One should not trivialize the unconscious as merely a trick played on the conscious and vice versa, making them like pseudo-things. In that way the conscious can be interpreted merely as the instrument for perpetrating breakthroughs of unconscious drives (page 81). To revert to my icebergs again, the massive, looming portion under the surface of the water was no trivial matter to the Titanic.

Neumann says that not to vet state officials for their moral integrity and to find them inaccessible because of a lack of soul structure, will one day appear like placing persons infected with diphtheria over an infant nursery (page 87-88). Only those are undeniably ethical in the new sense of ethics, who have accepted their shadow problem and have become conscious of their negative side, because we know today that the unconscious controls the life of people more than their conscious (page 88).

That events take place behind our backs and against our wills is another way of stating Neumann’s determinism of the unconscious. Similarly, theologically, Luther also believed in the bondage of the will. In a book with the latter title he writes:

So [the human] will is like a beast between two riders. If God rides, it wills and goes where God wills: as the Psalm says, ‘I have become like a beast before you and I am ever with you’ (Psalm 73:22-3). If Satan rides, it wills and goes where Satan wills. Nor may it choose to which rider it will run, or which it will seek; but the riders themselves fight to decide who shall have and hold it.[24]

But Luther sees this issue as complex. Human beings do have a free will coram hominibus, that is, before others on a horizontal level. But coram Deo, before God, vertically, they have no free will, only God has it:

We know that man was made lord over things below him, and that he has a right and free will with respect to them, that they should obey him and do as he wills and thinks. But our question is this: whether he has “free will” God-ward, that God should obey man and do what man wills, or whether God has not rather a free will with respect to man, that man should will and do what God wills, and be able to do nothing but what God wills and does.[25]

Luther and Erasmus are struggling about free will in terms of choosing salvation. Neumann was, of course, asserting a determinism of the unconscious.

To continue with Neumann: the new ethic rejects the mastery of part of the structure of the personality and requires taking responsibility on the basis of the whole personality (page 89). The new ethic takes two directions:

1. not being individualistic, it does not only take account of the individual situation, but includes the affect of the individual’s stand on the collectivity.

2. because it is not a partial ethic of the conscious mind, but is also mindful of the affect this conscious stance has on the unconscious, it therefore establishes the totality of the person as the responsible agent, not only the ego, which is only the center of the conscious mind (page 89).

Neumann’s new ethic, which is informed by the unconscious, moves from the ego to the self to the total person, bringing ever more stability to the person. He anticipates the move that Heinz Kohut makes from the ego theorized by Freud to the concept of the self worked out in his Self Psychology.

“Both expansions of the ethic belong close together. The consideration of the shadow, that allows the outward collective of the masses of primitive people a part in the ethical responsibility, complies with individual’s internal orientation toward the primitive masses of people, which is an internal content that belongs to every person.” (page 89-90) To boil this down for Neumann: the collective external with its archaic tendencies is represented in the collective unconscious of the individual.

That a person is somehow diminished because of accepting his or her shadow side is only apparent (page 91), i.e., by actually sacrificing the ethically perfect ideal one has of oneself, one does not diminish one’s human dignity but enhances it. “The shadow which is to be accepted is the outcast of life. It is my individual form, which accepts the dark side of humanity into myself and for myself as a part of my personality.” (page 92) “The love of the shadow and its acceptance is the primary psychological basis for a realizable ethical position vis à vis the Thou, who is outside us.” (page 92)

Neumann repeats that the psychological negation of a negation leads to scapegoat psychology with its self-justification and negated love of neighbor. Christ was true to that love, Christian ethics on the other hand, never overcame a split, Gnosticizing a lower and a higher person, a duality of this world and the next in a person (page 93).

I have already brought Luther’s safeguards for splitting the world person and the Christ person because of the two kingdom theory to bear (according to Ebeling) at the beginning of this study. Further Luther really does not Gnosticize the lower and a higher person. He does not see the mind as pure and the body as the sullied part of creation. The whole person separates from God, mind and body. This separation is sin spiritually and physically. He celebrates the miraculous nature of the physical body as created by God no less than soul, mind, and spirit, seeing sin and atonement in the whole person.

In Neumann’s hierarchy of the soul, the human and the individual form only the top level of the collective, which proceeds reaching down to the unconscious and reaching down further to the animal, but as a psychical not a biological or zoological reality (page 94). Only the assimilation of the shadow side, dark side, primitive side of one’s own nature leads to a feeling of belonging together, to solidarity, to collective co-responsibility. “Because the total ethic includes the shadow in its responsibility, the projection of this [shadow] part and the scapegoat psychology ends, as well as the ethically tainted internal wish to annihilate the evil in the neighbor. With that the dubious punishing and cleansing strategy of the old ethic subsides.” (page 94)

I often notice that Neumann uses the word “personality” where I would rather use the word, “person”. It seems somewhat like constructing the artificial word “spirituality” where the word “spirit” would do. To say that someone is quite a person is stronger for me than saying someone is quite a personality. The latter seems to be about being famous, where the greater maturity of the person is what I believe Neumann is after. I will, however, follow Neumann’s word choice.

The conscious and unconscious systems have to become unified for the development of the structure of the personality (page 95). The instability of a group or person is directly related to the amount of the unconscious left in the mind. The more integrated and comprehensive the territory of the unconscious in the conscious mind the more stable the person or group. Thus among primitives and the masses, the vitality of the affects are especially strong and so their instability is very great (page 96). [first Neumann argued that going from the ego to the self to the total person brought ever increasing stability to the person. Now he is adding that the larger the area of the unconscious that has not been integrated into the conscious the greater the instability. I do not think that Neumann makes the feelings negative in the last citation. Feelings can also become conscious. The person, however, can regress to tribalism through the disintegration of the personality].

Neumann seems to be describing the psychoanalysis of a mob. In a mob the person or individual disintegrates, that is, the unity of the ego, which otherwise represents the personality, becomes dissolved, and a partial content of the unconscious, a complex, an enlivened constellation of drives, for example, takes over the leadership and asserts itself, which beforehand had been led by the ego (page 96).

Aims and Values of the New Ethic

When the new ethic “accepts” the unconscious contents and attaches them to the conscious instead of denying, repressing, and displacing them, it works them through (pages 97-98). The integration of opposites, their synthesis, is the main purpose of the new ethic (page 99). The final goal of the old ethic was separation, differentiation, and splitting – like the separation of the sheep and the goats in the Last Judgment. The leitmotif of the new ethic, however, is the unification of opposites into a single structure.[26] The more pairs of opposites, the more opposite forces that can be held together, the more fully and the more connected is the structure reached – and to a point that Neumann calls “centroversion” (pages 99-100).

This section of Neumann’s work correlates with Luther’s struggle to integrate opposites. In Jungian psychology the opposites consist of the conscious and unconscious, male, female, heaven and earth, and many others. Look at the tension-arc of all the many pairs of opposites that in his in-depth theology Luther holds together: the human and divine, sovereign and slave, saint and sinner, rapture and groaning in the spirit, faith and doubt, (as in confident despair), faith and love, faith and works, which he gives polarities, etc. He seems to illustrate an advance to Neumann’s centroversion by holding together all these opposites for the sake of growing and maturing in the stature of Christ. Jung describes this integration of opposites as the transcendent function, which brings about a living birth into a new level of being.[27] For Luther such a more mature human existence is the freedom of the Christian person in faith as well as his or her bondage in love and service of the neighbor. Ethically speaking, this freedom received by faith issues into the responsibility for others.[28]

For Neumann, the autonomy of the ethical personality consists in the working through and using of the negative powers in each structure so that a conscious development of the person results (page 100-101). The wholeness of the personality, its autonomy and integrity in the sense of the new ethic, is the basis of its creative process, i.e., the value creating processes. Creativity and value creating processes are evidence that the holistic structure of the personality and its re-centering have been successful. [Neumann is probably describing his “centroversion” here without using the word.]

For Neumann, however, not to become infected seems almost more important than to be creative (page 101). Scapegoat psychology finally is a general concept that includes this form of infection in the narrow personal world (page 101). When a prejudiced person is insecure and immature so many things can threaten his or her narrow, inflexible mind and narrow, convenient world. “Persons who are less insecure and have a strong sense of self are more grounded and are less apt to be swept away from their center.”[29]

“For ethical autonomy and a total ethic, one has to provide oneself consciously with the economy of one’s own shadow.” (page 102) Neumann cites Freud: “In reality there is no such thing as the eradication of evil,” (page 102) then Neumann continues, “and by extension, because evil also cannot be eradicated out of the individual, the person is assigned to live freely and responsibly with his or her share of evil allotted by fate.” (page 102)

“The unconscious working and the underground radiation of evil resembles the dangers of activity of an ‘epidemic,’ while the evil done consciously by the ego and the evil for which one has accepted responsibility, does not infect the human environment, but is a task of the individual and confronts the forming personality with another component for integration, like every other content of the soul a well.” (page 102)

In German “damit fertig werden” refers to working something through, integrating something, an act of assimilation for out-growing something. Thus an ego-threatening, ego-strange content is overcome, but not like in the old ethic with repression, denial, and displacement (page 102-103). The hero, for example in mythology does evil, which is the necessary act of freedom of the ego. Thus Freud theorizes about the murder of the parents, the father,[30] the mother. In normal development, the necessity to do a certain measure of evil and work it through, also overcoming the congruent conflicts, belong to growing up. Neumann qualifies the evil he is writing about in this way: to become independent is bound to the individual standing in opposition to the collective, asserting the necessities of the individual against collective values – which is to do evil.

Neumann’s thinking at this point has a family resemblance to St. Paul and Luther’s, whose dictum, “Sin boldly, but more boldly still believe!”[31] resembles Neumann’s writing about “a necessity to do a certain measure of evil.” Accordingly, St. Paul asks, “Should I do evil so that good results? Indeed not!” The voice of the individual opposes the conscience of the collective and it brings the problem of spiritual development (page 103). (In Neumann’s language, the Sermon on the Mount would represent the voice of Jesus, while the Ten Commandments would represent the conscience of the collective.) You can betray your voice and avoid conflict, while conventional morality tries to prevent the in-breaking of love (page 104). “The danger of the in-breaking of God (I like to say the “breaking and entering of God”) is the danger of the live, conscious experience of the depth dimension, whose numinous strength and super-personal appeal cannot be shut out, if one does not want to shut out at the same time one’s vitality, depth, and the super-personal with it, to one’s own destruction.[32] Here a conflict begins, [because] in the sense of the cultural standard – [it is] to do evil – not, however, [out of] an overwhelmed conscious, but in a conscious and conflict-rich “acceptance of evil,” which here requires the “breaking in and entering of the Godhood.” (page 105)

The displacement of evil is the convenient action [done] in the sense of the old ethic, to demonstrate one’s “morality.” It is often enough the convenient way to avoid danger and to remain in the old [problematic ethic]. “Where danger increases, rescue from it does as well,” according to the adage. The voice of the new ethic obviously calls danger and rescue into existence at once (page 107). The acceptance of evil takes place in inner space as a transformative event for the personality. The way Luther said that Christ came only for sinners, Neumann writes that only the unclean can be saved (page 108). We can’t do all things that come from within, not without resistance. But we work through negative things (page 109). Have the moral courage, Neumann writes, not to be worse, but also not to be better than one really is (page 110).

St. Paul and Luther could again have sayings that correlate with this one by Neumann.[33] The citation, which may originally come from a modified statement by Augustine, about the two thieves on the cross beside Jesus, captures the same sentiment: “On Calvary there were two thieves crucified with Jesus. One thief was saved, so no one need despair; but only one, so that no one might presume.”

Neumann’s new ethic rejects the principle of punishment (page 112). I submit that forgiveness of sinners is the main thing. What did Jesus really do? He reintegrated sinners into society. Returning to Neumann, “The necessity to integrate evil into one’s own domain brings one’s ethical duty to the conscious mind.” (page 112-113)

Listen to this shocking statement by Neumann: “The evil that one does consciously, that is, in always knowing oneself responsible and from which one does not withdraw, is the ethical good.” (page 114) The displacement of evil, which is always accompanied by an inflated overestimation of the self, is evil, even when it is done with an attitude of meaning the best or is done out of a good will (page 114). Neumann’s sentiments here are very similar to the way Luther disparages those who do good works in this way. Here a unique explanation of Luther’s antagonism to “good works” comes to mind. That only a good tree [person] can bring forth good fruit, means that the person has taken responsibility for the evil in his or her own unconscious and worked it through, while the evil tree or person has not. Such a person consciously denies, represses, and displaces his or her evil into the unconscious, and they cannot even see the shades of evil in the “good” that they do. In a more extreme case, such persons find the proverbial monkey on their backs making them do all kinds of unethical things they can’t help doing. Thus Neumann also takes on the free will here: “We will later see that the ego, in spite of the accent in which it is pronounced, in reality does not get the final decision.” (page 114)

Sublimation revolves in the circle of the old ethic and still maintains the power to infect others with primitive tribalism. (I’ve put Neumann here into my words.) Neumann gives examples of sublimation: a bloodthirsty man becomes a butcher, soldier, or surgeon (page 115). “We know the sublimation of the saints, who in the sense of the old ethic live an existence without reproach, free of the life-experience of sexuality and are full of the love of neighbor. But a closer and more precise look does not overlook the hellish gloriole that this holiness radiates. We recognize as the marginal edge that belongs to the pure center: a wreath of perverse sexual fantasies, which the “devil” sends as temptations, as well as the blood and the fire, the ring of blood and fire, in which the inhuman, hateful persecution of all unbelievers takes place by burnings at the stake, torture chambers and with pogroms, crusades, which demean the consciousness of the love of neighbor by such sublimation.” (page 115) The holiness of the inquisitors is like that of party thugs – without humanity (page 116).

The god Pan is the picture of our devil. In the acceptance of evil the modern person takes the world and himself into a dangerous double nature that belongs to both. This self-affirmation in its deepest sense is to be understood as a yes to the human totality, which comprehends the unconscious as well as the conscious, and its center is not the ego, the “I,” which is the center point of only the consciousness, and also not the superego, but the self. This self is a limit concept for the conscious, which means, it cannot be grasped rationally by the conscious mind (page 117). This insight of Neumann’s reminds of those in Self Psychology.

Heinz Kohut, the pioneer of Self Psychology, also moved from the ego, superego, and id to the self, perhaps influenced by Jungian thought. Ernest Wolf, a disciple of Kohut, defines the self as the core of the personality, but Kohut and Wolf’s other definitions include “an independent center of initiative and recipient of impressions,”[34] and “the center of an individual’s psychological universe,” but essentially unknowable.[35]

To take another step: In the wider scope of the internal dimension, the way Neumann and Kohut move from the ego, superego and id to the self, it is possible to move from the isolated deep self of psychoanalysis to the four relational selves of Luther’s coram-relations: coram Deo, coram hominibus, coram meipso, and coram mundo. They can be the place holders for relational selves in these fora, i.e., the plural of forum, in the internal dimension where the deep self spreads out into the extensive, social self.[36]

Neuman continues that the entelechy of the organism, [the vital force directing its growth and life], makes all its systems work in unity. The self is symbol of this holistic phenomenon (page 118). Neumann again brings up his concept of centroversion, which he has worked out in previous studies: he says, the self is the center of the psyche, which also includes the unconscious processes and is identical to the wholeness of the body, because we have to presume that all psychic processes have physical correlates (page 118). The inclusion of the unconscious always spells an inclusion of the body with it (page 118-119). When we speak of the earth, according to Neumann, then the earth is symbolically identical with the body,[37] just like the flight and escape from the earth is always also from the body at one and the same time (page 119).

A strong correlation with Luther’s theology exists for these themes. His centripetal spirituality, drawing everything swirling to the center, his emphasis on embodiment and enfleshment, even of words themselves: “with my bodily voice I bring Christ into your heart,”[38] are all part of the motion of Luther’s incarnational theology. His theology of the Word is really a theology of the Holy Spirit, because for him the Holy Spirit is embodied in words.[39]

While the wholeness of the body in its unity and centeredness works unconsciously in all its organisms, the human condition is marked by the separation of opposites. Opposites are torn apart. The poles are conscious and unconscious, spirit vs. life, up and down, heaven and earth or in other symbols, mythological, philosophical, moral, and religious. By tearing apart the opposites, the human being became lost in the middle, losing his or her center. Thus our position in the world and our life together has become powerfully threatened (page 119).

Ethical development goes through the stages of the collective, conscious, and the inclusion of the unconscious in the conscious; the latter is the one that is really stable. Before this stage one had relative, partial incarnations of the ego (page 120). The primitive ego is an infantile ego. It is confronted by the collective in the form of the superego, with the whole gravity of external authority (page 120). The father archetype is a symbol, a picture, in which the infantile ego of early humans experienced the impact of the superego (page 122). To simplify, one can say that the little individual ego experiences the super-individual collective, from which it derives, which provides for it and controls it and prescribes its values for it, as the Father archetype. Precisely from this primitive, group-identity experience, the spark came for the ego. Freud’s dictum: “What began with the father, completed itself in the masses” has to be turned around, according to Neumann. What began in the masses, the collective, completed itself in the personal. Phylogenetically and ontogenetically the history of development had the super-personal collective before building up the personal contents that relate to the ego (page 122). Mythology precedes the family novel[40] and the conscious comes from the unconscious. Freud’s idea of the murder of the father is observed in the religions: [mythologically, not historically speaking[41]] Judaism is the Father, Christianity, the Son. Luther the son murdered the pope, the father, and then carried out the revolution of the son. The Chassidim play the son against rabbinical Judaism’s father type (page 123).

An attempt at stability today, in terms of the masses, has to be based no longer only on the firmness of consciousness, but on a totalizing psychic structure. In place of a superego as an expression of a heteronymous, collective ethic coming from the outside, you now have the self as an inner center of the personality (page 124), which reminds very much of Kohut’s definition of the self again. In the constant consultation with the unconscious and questioning the self, the center of gravity of the personality is moved from the ego and consciousness to the self and the wholeness phenomenon of the psyche. Only now we can understand, Neumann, continues, why we could assert that the ethic tending toward the holistic character of the development of the psyche led to the stability of the personality (page 125).[42] The ego becomes oriented to the self (page 125). One needs a stronger deeper being in the world that makes possible the centering of the self and the drawing in of the unconscious elements into the personality (page 126). The integration or assimilation of the negative displaces sublimation. Thus change takes place within the personality. [Sublimation is here overcome.]

Neumann states that on the lowest step you get to the holiest spark (page 127). (Luther’s Magnificat could be cited here. He once said that you could not get into the flesh enough!) Neumann states, “The good is hidden in the dark,” (page 127) and Luther also claims that God is in complete darkness.[43] To love God with all one’s heart, Neumann writes, is to love God with one’s good and evil drives. A word from the Chassidim goes, “Love your evil, as you love yourself.” (page 127) Neumann provides a concise definition here: What leads to wholeness is good. What leads to splitting is evil (page 128). The wholeness in the unity of the conscious and the unconscious builds the growth of the lower strengths as well as the higher ones. We have to synthesize ourselves to a higher unity (page 129), [which is to say in the words of C.G. Jung, that with the transcendent function the integration of opposites issues the person to a higher level of being or in other words, a greater maturity. (The ascent that Luther describes in the “Freedom of a Christian,” which I call the existential rapture, seems to correlate with this idea) and, as mentioned before, C.G. Jung’s transcendent function supplies the engine for the ascent and descent.] The constellation of the old ethic is infectious. The individual in the new ethic establishes an anchor and a point of support for the collective. Thus Neumann cites C.G. Jung: “The personality, however, does not allow itself to be grasped by the panic of those awakening, because it has already gone through that terror and the terror lies behind it. It has grown and is up to the changes of the times, and unknowingly and unwillingly, its leader.” (page 130)

Neumann continues that vicarious suffering or representative suffering for another is the opposite of scapegoat psychology: “in scapegoat psychology the individual [or group] displaces their evil on the weak. In representative suffering, an individual [or group] takes part of the burden of the collective for their responsibility along with their own, detoxifies and integrates it in their inner transformative work with evil. If it succeeds it leads to inner freeing of the collective, which at least in part is freed of that evil.” (page 132) Neumann continues that by introducing representative suffering, we have entered the realm of religion (page 133). Isaiah illustrates Neumann’s point:

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, upon him was the chastisement that made us whole and by his bruises we are healed. (53:4)

And Jesus identified with the suffering servant that Isaiah here describes. St. Peter writes,

[Christ] himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that free from sins, we might live in righteousness [and] by his wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24).

Martin Luther depicts representative suffering relationally and presents it as an ingredient of love:

I must place even my faith and righteousness before God for my neighbor, so that they cover my neighbor’s sin, and then take that sin upon myself, and act no differently than if it were my very own, even as Christ did for all of us. That, you see, is the nature of love, when it is genuine” (“The Freedom of a Christian”).[44]

Perhaps the opposite of externalization of one’s shadow side would be its internalization and its transformation in the work of the soul. The question arises, what is this internal transformative work that overcomes evil? Neumann’s writes about its detoxification and integration. The former prevents an epidemic in the collective unconscious from occurring, because of an infected self displacing his or her evil and the latter again refers to the opposites that need to find a transcendent unity, because the dualism, the falling apart of opposites per se entails evil, harm, and loss. This language from in-depth psychology helps understand the religious language of Isaiah, St. Peter, and Luther.

It is Neumann’s conviction that the incredible infinities of the universe, making us so small, will pull us together in human solidarity on the whole planet.[45] But the surprise is that what we projected out there is deep in the abyss of our souls. Neumann makes the venture within, into the internal, the last word in his book:

The fact that religion and philosophy have their roots in the collective unconscious is becoming ever more clear (page 137-138) and the coming together of all races and cultures in a unity will constitute the internal history of humanity (page 138). All the cold projections of humanity will be taken back and found to constitute the very ground of our own human soul. “Out of the midst of this circle of everything human, which has begun building up from the coming together of all parts of humanity, countries, races, continents, and cultures, the same creative divinity steps unformed in many forms into the within, which beforehand filled the outward heavens and the spheres of the human world.” (page 138)

The internal dimension is a very significant part of my broadening the scope of the deep self into the extensive social self in my Gettysburg Lecture. When Neumann requires that our conscious ethics include accountability for the unconscious as it dwells in the collective unconscious, he is searching for a wider scope of the internal.

It is wonderful the way Neumann realizes that “what we projected out there in the universe is deep in the abyss of our souls” as well. I believe that this insight also needs to move from astronomy and physics to social psychology. Neumann has already begun this move here in mentioning “the internal history of humanity.” I submit that we can also move into an internal dimension of society and social institutions. In my study called Performative Declarations I argue that language philosophy provides an internal approach to sociology and how language can change and renew society from within.[46] The collective unconscious has the intuition of this internal realm and the whole notion of creativity versus infection implies the spreading of the deep self into the extensive self in this internal realm.

The kingdom opens up within, to use religious language. With the suffering servant, Jesus Christ, leading the way, the internalization of the shadow side, the detoxification and integration, the transformation of evil can take place by all those following in his footsteps and perhaps a transcendent unity overcoming evil can take place on a much higher order.


[1] This study reviews Erich Naumann’s  Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, Third Edition, (Muenich: Kindler Verlag, Ein Taschenbuch, 1973. his preface is dated 1948. Note that page numbers in parentheses throughout this study are those of this book.

[2] Translated by Eugene Rolfe. It has been published in 1969 by Hodder and Stoughton, Ltd. and the C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytic Psychology; and the Shambhala Publications, Inc. in 1990. You can read the back cover and table of contents. Click on this title:  Depth Psychology and a New Ethic .

[3] Luther theorizes four coram-relations: our existence before God, coram Deo, before others, coram hominibus, before myself, coram meipso, and before the world, coram mundo. Each is a forum in which we exist and we can exist in them simultaneously. We can live in the eyes of God coram Deo and turn our back to others coram hominibus. Or we can live before God and thereby serve our neighbors coram hominibus. Each implies being defined in that forum. Coram meipso would spell self-definition in existing before oneself.

[4] Gerhard Ebeling, Luther: Einführung in sein Denken, (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1964), page 237-238. Gerhard Ebeling, Luther, and Introduction to his Thought, R. A. Wilson, translator, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970) is the English edition.

[5] Luther’s analysis of self-righteousness, which I will discuss later, is right on target.

[6] It is also necessary to bring to mind that ignorance does the same thing. Large segments of reality are not understood nor are the ignorant even aware of them.

[7] In his 1535 “Commentary on Galatians,” LW 28.307. WA XL.476-478.

[8] Ibid., page 310 and WA XL.481-483.

[9] Philip and Peter Krey, Luther’s Spirituality, (New York: Paulist Press, 2007), pages 61 and 63.

[10] I believe that in archaic times “suffering” was merely the general term for experience. In the historical career of words, the neutral term “experience” is probably not very old. Luther writing from Nominalist background often refers to his theology being based on his experience.

[11] I’m taking this out of Robert J. Goeser’s essay, “From Exegesis to Proclamation,” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church: Essays in Honor of Samuel McCray Garrett, (Vol. LIII, No. 3, September, 1984: 209-220), page 213. See LW vol. 19, p. 65 and WA 19, 216:29.

[12] Ibid. See LW vol. 19, p. 59 and WA 19, 211:1.

[13] Ibid., page 214.

[14] Gerhard Ebeling, Luthers Seelsorge: an seinen Briefen Dargestellt, (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1997), page 453.

[15] Perhaps I am being unfair to Nietzsche, because it seems that Neumann also starts speaking of the “super-personal” later.

[16] See Karen Horney’s description of externalization, which I will cite later in this study.

[17] Because of the voices of proponents in history of higher levels of ethics as opposed to the prevalent conscience for the level of common people, Neumann rightly argues that accommodation was often necessary. History is, of course, one thing and a theological insight into the ethics of law versus the gospel, is quite another In so far, however, that he is proposing a farther development of ethics, then a gospel ethos, if understood in terms of Luther’s theology, would spell an antidote to acommodationism.

[18] I submit that Luther’s theological sense of the law/gospel distinction is an antidote to this need for accommodation.

[19] Note that Luther’s understanding of the Gospel can do away with the problem of accommodation, because the higher ethic is the righteousness received from God as a gift. Luther insisted that Christ was sent only for sinners and “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” according to St. Paul. Luther via St. Paul taught that we are saved by grace through faith for Christ’s sake in spite of not deserving it, thus receiving the higher ethic freely as a gift. Understanding Luther’s justification by faith is designed to close the gap Neumann describes. Luther also proclaims the priesthood of all believers, which militates against dividing society into the elite and the masses.

[20] My proposed theological therapy derived from Luther’s in-depth theology also tries to widen the scope from only the individual deep self to the extensive social self in the internal dimension.

[21] Karen Horney, Our Inner Conflicts,  (New York: W.W. Norton & Company,1945), pages 96-114.

[22] Ibid., page 112.

[23] Ibid., page 115.

[24] Luther’s Bondage of the Will, Luther’s Works, volume 33,  Helmut Lehmann and Philip Watson, editors, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1972), pages 65-66 and WA 18, 634.

[25] LW: 33, pages 284-285. WA 18,  781.

[26] In my Gettysburg Lecture on the possibility of a theological therapy derived from Luther’s in-depth theology, it becomes obvious that Luther integrates opposites and keeps them in tension as a way to promote growth and maturity in faith. Jung calls this union of opposites the transcendent function and I argued that it plays the role of an engine in the ascent and descent of what I call the existential rapture that Luther describes in the “Freedom of a Christian.” See Joseph Campbell, ed., The Portable Jung, translated by R.F.C.Hull, (New York: Penguin Books, 1971), pages 273-300.

[27] Ibid., page 298.

[28] I submit that Luther touches what Jung calls the transcendent function in these words: “Christ is the king whose strength lies in weakness, who directs all opposites with their opposing parts: hot with cold, hard with mild, death with life, sin with righteousness – directing, ordering, and unifying them according to the greatness of [God’s] glorious power.” Ebeling, Luthers Seelsorge, page 456.

[29] I thank Nora Zapata-Krey for this formulation of the issue.

[30] Freud is really theorizing in mythological not historical terms, because Moses was not murdered. But the fact about myths is that although they are not historical they reoccur in history over and over again.

[31] Luther is writing these words in a letter to Philip Melanchthon, who was paralyzed before the spiritual militancy of the Zwickau prophets. He has to be “good” and cannot break through the good to the spiritual forces using good and evil. Luther discerned the spirits saying that these prophets had swallowed the Holy Spirit feathers and all.

[32] Perhaps Nietzsche means the super-person in much a similar way as Neumann does here.

[33] See Romans 12: 3: “I say to everyone among you, not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment…”

[34] The disciple of Kohut, Ernest S. Wolf, Treating the Self: Elements of a Clinical Self Psychology, (New York: the Guilford Press, 1988), page 182.

[35] Heinz Kohut, The Restoration of the Self, (Madison, Connecticut: International Universities Press, Inc., 1977), page 310-311.

[36] From “Luther’s In-Depth Theology and Possible Theological Therapy,” my lecture given at Gettysburg Seminary, October 29th 2008.

[37] This need not be thought of as only symbolic. The impurities of the earth are very quickly also found in the breast milk of a mother.

[38] From Luther’s “Sacrament of the Body and Blood, against the Fanatics,” in Timothy Lull, editor, Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989), page 319. LW 36: 335-361.

[39] I believe that the concept of the Word containing the spirit is the basis for Hegel’s “concrete spirit.” See Ulrich Asendorf, Luther and Hegel, (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag GMBH, 1982), pages 152, 162-163, and 350.

[40] Genesis reads very much like a family novel and the sacred writers took care to demythologize previous accounts.

[41] “There is hardly any need to state that Moses and Monotheism does not operate at the level of exegesis of the Old Testament and does in no way satisfy the most elementary requirements of a hermeneutics adapted to a text.”  Thus Freud did not make or even begin to make an analysis of religious representations required for historicity. See Paul Ricoeur, Freud & Philosophy: an Essay on Interpretation,  ((New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970), page 545.

[42] The grounding of the sense of self becomes ever stronger, because it moves from the ego centered only in the conscious, to the self informed by the conscious and unconscious, and thence to a responsibility of the self for the total person.

[43] He does so in the Magnificat, where he uses the temple as a metaphor to illustrate the spirit, soul, and body of a person. See Philip and Peter Krey, Luther’s Spirituality, page 99. Also see 1 Kings 8:12: “The Lord said that he would dwell in thick darkness,” Also cited by Luther in a letter to Philip Melanchthon dated June 29, 1530. See LW 49. 331.

[44] Philip and Peter Krey, Luther’s Spirituality, (New York: Paulist Press, 2007), page 89-90. Also see my sermon of March 4th 2009: “Vicarious or Representative Suffering versus Scapegoat Psychology.”

[45] I believe it will be Christ who will draw all flesh together. In Hebrew “flesh” in this sense refers to “people.” Thus Christ will draw all the people of the world together.

[46] Peter Krey, Performative Declarations, for Prof. John Searle’s course, Philosophy of Language,” University of California at Berkeley,  (May 6, 1996). I have expanded this unpublished study, most recently in 2008.

Written by peterkrey

October 16, 2010 at 9:04 am

Posted in Ethics, Luther, Psychology

3 Responses

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  1. […] See my review of his work: A New ethics for the Total Person. […]

  2. […] sermon above was based on my study called “A New Ethics for the Total Person.”  I translate portions of Erich Neumann’s book, which can be quite difficult. Check my […]

  3. Hi! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out
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    March 19, 2014 at 12:21 am


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