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Midweek Lenten Liturgy for Theological Therapy, March 20, 2013

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Midweek Lenten Service

Themes in the Life and Thought of Luther

March 20, 2013 at 7:00pm

Gathering after having Soup Together

Taisé or Special Music

Greeting

A Prayer of Martin Luther, Evangelical Lutheran Worship Hymnal, page 87

“Out of the Depths I Cry to You” ELW # 600

Psalm 32: the Psychoanalytic Psalm

Bible Verse: Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved by faith, and this is not of your own doing; it is a gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what God has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

The Message:

“Luther’s In Depth Theology is Good Theological Therapy.”

Discussion and sharing

Luther’s Evening Prayer:

I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have graciously protected me today. I ask you to forgive me all my sins, where I have done wrong, and graciously to protect me tonight. Into your hands I commend myself: my body, my soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel be with me, so that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.

 

Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father in Heaven,

hallowed be your name,

Your kingdom come, your will be done,

on earth as in Heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

As we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.

 

Blessing: The grace of our Lord Christ Jesus, the love of God and the Holy Spirit’s fellowship, be with us all, be with us all. Amen. Amen.

In German: Die Gnade unsers Herrn Jesus Christus und die Liebe Gottes und die Gemeinschaft des Heil’gen Geistes, sei mit uns allen, mit uns allen. Amen. Amen.

Written by peterkrey

March 21, 2013 at 11:15 am

Posted in Luther, Psychology, Theology

Luther’s In Depth Theology is Good Theological Therapy, Midweek Lenten Message: March 20, 2013

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Midweek Lenten Message: March 20, 2013

Luther’s In Depth Theology is Good Theological Therapy.

I’ve always believed that Luther’s theology was good therapy for someone with mental distress. Paul Tillich translated Luther’s justification by grace into modern language: God’s acceptance of those who are unacceptable, making them acceptable. In his book “The Theology of Pastoral Care,” he writes,

“The power which makes acceptance possible is the resource of all pastoral care. It must be effective in [the person] who helps and it must become effective in [the person]] who is helped….This means that both the pastor and the counselee…are under the power of something that transcends both of them. One can call this power the new creature or the New Being. The pastoral counselor can be of help only if [she or] he is grasped by this power.”[1]

Thus Luther’s justification by grace is really basic to all therapy.

One time in an inner-city conference, some mentally challenged persons pleaded with us pastors not to give the secular psychiatric community the last word over them. When looking at the many places where Jesus heals the demon possessed, which was the psychological personality theory of that day, how can we Christians shirk the responsibility for the care of these souls and not delve into the spiritual roots of their distress? Luther [certainly] encourages us to care about those who suffer in this way. In mental disturbances we have, in the words of Luther,

the misfortunes that assail… even our very mind, which after all is the main target of all evils and the one trysting place of sorrow and every evil.[2]

I believe that Luther with an immense capacity for empathy with the mentally distressed, also has a theological version of the unconscious.

God shelters us from knowing and feeling all the evils that are inside us, even our innermost evils. One symptom of evil is nothing in comparison to a thousand evils hidden from us by God.

“Although these evils are deeply hidden, they bear fruit that is clearly seen.”[3]

On the blessing side of the consolations, Luther says,

“To have faith is to have the Word and truth of God’s

self, the Maker of all. If all these blessings in their fullness were revealed to the soul, it would in a moment break free of the body, because of its exceeding abundance of sweet pleasure”[4] and “Since this life of ours cannot bear to have [the fullness of these blessings] revealed, God mercifully keeps them hidden from us….”[5]

Of course, to become more psychologically healthy, it is important that more and more of the unconscious become conscious. We fear only what we did not integrate.

In the lecture I gave at Gettysburg, I compared Self Psychology with Luther’s In Depth Theology. Heinz Kohut, who developed Self Psychology, noticed that Freud’s psychoanalysis no longer worked with many people who were suffering from mental distress today. In Freud’s society families became too tight and children were over involved with their parents. In today’s society many families have empty relationships and there is under-involvement of children with their parents. Thus personality structures have to be built from scratch and issues lie deeper in Narcissistic disorders.

In a metaphor, Kohut and Wolf describe the self as having two poles one for mirroring and one for merging and a tension arc of action around them. Luther always argues that we have to be justified by grace so that from a new self we do good works. Self Psychology also argues that the structure of the self has to be repaired and a weak enfeebled self needs to become a strong and rigorous, organized self. Self Psychology also separates the healing needed for the self from action, like St. Paul and Luther separate justification from works. Mirroring refers to reflecting one another:  all the transactions characterizing the mother–child relationship, including not only the reflections of grandiosity, but also constancy, nurturance, a general empathy and respect.”[6] Believers mirror Christ. Merging takes place “with an idealized, omnipotent, self-object,”[7] using the terms of Self Psychology and in Luther’s words, when bridegroom, Christ marries the believer’s soul, thus becoming merged into one. The merging and mirroring of Self Psychology are right in Luther’s theology. What these psychologists call the nuclear self, Luther calls the inmost self and his theology aptly shows how it is healed in justification.

I believe that a theological therapy can encompass the internal deep self and extended, social self, where the super-ego, the ego, and the id of psychoanalysis leave out the relational aspect of reality that is so necessary for healing.

Theologically these ego states can be replaced by Luther’s account of the four forums, (Let me just be crass, because the plural of the Latin word forum should be fora.) But the forums are the places where we relate with each other. Luther describes four:

The forum before God, before ourselves, before others, and before the world (in Latin coram deo, coram meipso, coram hominibus, et coram mundo).

One time struggling with self-knowledge I also came to the awareness that I was not only the person I thought I was, that I also had to take into account how other people saw me and that what I thought of myself or how they might want to define me, didn’t matter if it was not how God defined and created me. Thus I already touched on three forums and for me only a person’s image in the world is missing.

In the coram-relations, “The truth of our very being experiences the encounter of our becoming known [by God, by ourselves, by others, and by the world].”[8] The four coram-relations, before God, before oneself, before others, and one’s image in the world, [again] transcend and have a wider scope than ego-states like the superego, the ego, and the id, which are only intra-psychic. The coram-relations would be analogous to them, however, for Luther’s in-depth theology. Each coram-relation places the person in a forum of existence and evaluation, the forums ranging from the internal into the external.

The Latin preposition “coram” means “before” but most often used in the biblical Hebrew, it is derived from “being before the face of,” “existing in the eyes of,” “in the sight of,” either God, oneself, others, or the world.

Gerhard Ebeling has an important chapter in his book, Luther, an Introduction to his Thought,[9] explaining these coram-relations as the heart of how Luther’s theology opens directly into life-experience. Coram deo is one’s existence in the eyes of God. How one is seen by God, how one lives before the face of God. Ebeling has a whole rhapsody of insights about what goes on in the face. If God’s eyes go down, we know God disapproves of us and that constitutes our conscience. Is our conscience defined only by how others look at us? We can save face, lose face, fall on our face; someone can even turn his or her face away, that is, turn his or her back on us. These four coram-relations take place in forums. They are not mutually exclusive relations, because the person is in all of them at one and the same time simultaneously. Sometimes one has to turn one’s back on others, coram hominibus, to set one’s face toward God, coram-deo. But to live coram deo is to respond to the needs of others, coram hominbus. For some people the coram-hominibus is determinative because of peer pressure, keeping up with the Jones. We let others define our existence. In this respect, those living in the eyes of God have an advantage. Importantly we also exist in our own eyes, coram meipso. For some of us this forum is very weak and our self-definition derives almost completely from our living in the eyes of others. Bismark is said to have had a strong coram-meipso-self. Perhaps, when he introduced universal health coverage back in the 1800’s and unemployment insurance or perhaps other legislation, the parliament would go off into a tirade of noisy protest. He would take out the newspaper and read it until the raucous was over and then continue with his speech.

Interestingly enough, we do not see and know ourselves the way God does. We are naked in the eyes of God, because God sees the heart. Self-knowledge follows after God’s knowledge of us, takes real time, and is very difficult to attain. Hence we learn to know ourselves fully, even as [by God] we have [already] been fully known (1 Cor. 13:12).[10] I submit that these coram-relationships, these, forums because of their spiritual and relational character, hold real promise for Luther’s in-depth theology and therapy.

Now if you become aware of these coram-relations, then you will find them very helpful and easily thought in your everyday experience.

Let me conclude with Luther’s Anfectungen and recovery because that is why Luther had an in depth theology, from my point of view. Anfectungen are episodes of spiritual conflict that attacked him and disabled him sometimes for months at a time. Now from my lecture:

Luther himself plummeted into the depths when he felt crushed in his spiritual conflict (Anfechtung) between Satan and Christ. Gerhard Ebeling spends 82 pages analyzing this Anfechtung from many different angles. Here’s a very brief account: this spiritual conflict lasted from the middle of 1527 until deep into 1528,[11] by far the worst of his life (365 and 409). The plague was rampaging in Wittenberg (starting late in July and climaxing early in November), but Luther refused to leave the souls who were sick and dying, who depended on his care, even when the Elector commanded him to flee to Jena with the rest of the faculty [of the university]. Luther felt left alone because all the students fled as well, except that Bugenhagen and his family moved in with them (378). Imagine an empty Wittenberg University, like a ghastly gospel! Luther needed the company and support of his friends and students. His and Katie’s home, the Black Cloister, where he gave all his table talks, became a hospital filled with the dying. The wife of the mayor, Tilo Dene, died almost in his arms.[12] George Rörer’s wife, Hanna, had a miscarriage and died soon afterwards (378).  The sack of Rome took place May 6th but Luther writes about it July 13th.  Then on August 16, 1527 Luther received the news that Leonhard Kaiser, a promising graduate freshly out of Wittenberg was burned at the stake in Passau for his evangelical faith (390). “Why was he, Luther, himself not worthy of martyrdom?” was Luther’s excruciating question to God (393) just before he went unconscious. “Why was I not worthy to shed my blood” was also the first thing he said after awakening (393). When Agricola sent his disturbed wife, Else, to join the Luthers for a change of atmosphere, Luther wrote that her sickness was more spiritual than physical (374). Else and Katie, too, argued that the Word of God did not concern them directly, but really the men who protected them (402). In a half joking tone, Luther said that they should know that precisely they also were addressed, when the Gospel was preached (402).

On July 6th 1527 the Anfechtung started by his life-strength draining out of him and [as already said] his going unconscious (366, 372-373). Being held in the arms of Katie and his friends, he thought he would die. It seemed like Luther slipped down into the unsheltered abyss, where for weeks he felt like a ping-pong ball bouncing between death and hell. His limbs and his whole body shook and he felt as if the whole Christ was gone[13] (368 and 373). He felt like a rudderless ship tossed about in the floods and waves of a storm of despair and blasphemy (368 and 407-408). He said that Satan assaulted his person because he had not been able to prevent the Gospel truth from being proclaimed (404), so Satan clobbering him with his fists. [One could say that Luther experienced a demonic spiritual ad hominum. (The ad hominum fallacy in thought attacks the person when the argument cannot be refuted.)]

Even when the plague was being overcome, late in 1527 and students were returning, Luther felt hell within. Outside the world was again healthy, inside are the devil and all his angels, (he wrote). Outside the enemies plague us and inside [as weak and few as we are] the devil is among the children of light (403). Luther asked everyone in his letters to pray for him. Not that the Anfechtung would cease, but that Christ would not leave him. But his connection to Christ was by a gossamer thread and the devil had a chain and an anchor on his leg dragging him into the abyss (371 and 408).

Luther finally recovered again late the next year, having once again received a gracious God and having had a firsthand experience of the in-depth dimension, the in-depth theology that from experience, counted on the grace of Christ, whose strength was manifest in Luther’s weakness that made the devil’s victory a defeat.[14]

With Carl Gustav Jung’s psychological approach using the theory of opposites I believe that Luther’s Anfechtung can be explained. Jung may get his theory from Luther, who took delight in placing opposites together.[15] The tension arc is so very interesting for Luther’s theology, because for him it does not only issue into the action agenda, but he places tension right into the self, the God-encountered-event-of-the-self in the union of opposites, human and divine, sovereign but slave, raptured but groaning in the spirit. We know the sinner and saint opposition best, in the formula simul iustus et peccator. Luther continually places opposites together in the “Freedom of a Christian” and he insists they are in us at one and the same time! Did you notice his putting together “confident despair” in George Spenlein’s letter in our book?[16]

This tension, which Luther brings directly into the self, is key to the dynamic growth of a person’s maturity in Christ, from human to divine. Luther enfolds believers inside his Christology. “For the Word of God comes, whenever it comes to change and renew the world,”[17] but also “the Word of God comes, whenever it comes, to change and renew the person.”

To consider Luther’s Anfechtung once more, now the opposing powers of Christ and the devil fight inside him. Carl Gustav Jung argues that the union of opposites is required for differentiation and integration of the psyche.[18] (Note that when needed, Kohut saw no problem in complementing Self Psychology with the classical psychoanalytic approach,[19] when the (Freudian) guilty self needed to be treated along with (Self Psychology’s) tragic self.)[20]  Jung’s opposites which are relevant here are the conscious and unconscious. For Jung, the directedness of the conscious mind always has an opposite countering it in the unconscious (276). When the tension increases as a result of too great [a] one-sidedness, the counter tendency breaks through into consciousness, just at the moment when it is most important to maintain the conscious direction (276).

Jung is speaking of an unconscious balance where opposition in the unconscious accompanies the direction taken in the conscious.

Thus, using this theory of opposites, I believe Luther went too far into the direction of his Christ and the Gospel in many ways without the support of his close companions and then the devil broke through from his unconscious. When Luther found a more refined integration of justification by faith, as the one who proclaimed the pure gospel precisely because he was a most wretched sinner, the integration of these opposites brought back a gracious God.

Jung says that the tendencies of the conscious and unconscious are the two factors that make up the transcendent function (279) and it manifests as a quality of conjoined opposites (298). The shuttling to and fro of arguments and affects [Luther felt like a ping pong ball, his whole self, bouncing back and forth] represents the transcendent function of opposites. The confrontation of the two opposites, Jung continues, generates a tension charged with energy and creates a living third thing – not a logical stillbirth…but a movement out of the tension between opposites, a living birth that leads to a new level of being (page 298). So long as [the opposites] are kept apart, naturally for the sake of avoiding conflict, they do not function and remain inert (298).

Christ and the devil, the opposing powers fought over Luther, until he received a new integration in a higher level of being in faith for a deeper level of service in love.

Jung seems to explain the engine of our growing and maturing into the stature of Christ. Gracious, while painful, Christ-self experiences written about and lived by Luther, bring hope, I believe, alongside secular treatment, for those who also have primary disturbances of the self. Psychiatrists are no longer unanimous about people with a psychosis being beyond the talking—cure.[21]


[1] Clinebell, Jr., Basic Types of Pastoral Counseling, p. 306-307. Page 4 in Tillich’s book.

[2] LW 42:128.

[3] LW 42:127.

[4] LW 42:147. (For the Latin text of the “Fourteen Consolations,” see WA 6, (99) 104-134.)

[5] Ibid. I substituted “God’s self” for “God himself.”

[6] From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirroring_%28psychology%29

[7] Kohut, The Restoration of the Self, page 265.

[8] Gerhard Ebeling, Luther, and Introduction to his Thought, page 225.

[9] Ibid., pages 192-209.

[10] Ebeling, Luther: an Introduction to his Thought, pages 192-209.

[11]  Ebeling, Luthers Seelsoge, page 426. The following page numbers in this section refer to this book.

[12] LW 43:115.

[13] I associate his allusion to the “whole Christ” with his passive righteousness in the experience of justification and to having Christ, in the sense of being in the power of Christ.

[14] In Luthers Seelsorge, Gerhard Ebeling analyzes this Anfechtung of Luther for 82 pages, p. 464-446.

[15] From a static kind of logic, these opposites are viewed as crass contradictions. Luther states, “What is our teaching to unbelievers than a pack of contradictions?” Ebeling, Luthers Seelsorge, page 460.

[16] Philip and Peter Krey, Luther’s Spirituality, page 4.

[17] From Luther’s Bondage of the Will,  LW 33:52, WA 18:626.25-27, 31-32. What follows about the person I have extrapolated from this Luther citation.

[18] Joseph Campbell, ed., The Portable Jung, translated by R.F.C.Hull, (New York: Penguin Books, 1971), pages 273-300. The page numbers that follow are from this book. I thank Pr. Rod Seeger of Mill Valley, CA for making me aware of the usefulness of the integration of opposites, simul iustus et peccator in therapy.

[19] Heinz Kohut, The Restoration of the Self, page 279.

[20] Ibid., page 206.

[21] See https://peterkrey.wordpress.com/?s=rats+gnawing+ Ira Steinman, a psychiatrist, affirms that the talking cure works with people who suffer from psychoses in his book, Treating the Untreatable. I mention his work in a sermon online with the above URL.

Written by peterkrey

March 21, 2013 at 11:08 am

“The Freedom of a Christian,” Luther’s best-Selling Pamphlet and the Existential Rapture, March 6, 2013, Midweek Lenten Service

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Midweek Lenten Service

Themes in the Life and Thought of Luther

March 6, 2013 at 7:00pm

“The Freedom of a Christian,” Luther’s best-Selling Pamphlet

and the Existential Rapture

Luther wrote one pamphlet after another in the movement that became the Reformation. He was the first author whose writing publications numbered in the millions especially when his New Testament came out in 1522 and when his translation of the whole Bible came out in 1534. Illiterate peasants learned how to read by reading it, while discovering that the old believing priests had never read it and did not know what was in it.

Luther never received any income from his many writings, while he kept printing presses humming in many cities and it seemed that the printers did not let his ink dry before they already took his work to their presses. They were making real money with Luther’s work. (My lecture, “Notes on a Rereading of the Freedom of a Christian” online in my website has gotten over 10,000 hits, but I have also not made any money with it.)

Other than the New Testament and the whole Bible, “The Freedom of a Christian” was Luther’s best-selling pamphlet. It came out in 38 editions in his life time. He noted that it contained the “whole sum of a Christian life.” Of the 38 editions, ten were in Latin and 22 were in German. It turns out that we only know the Latin version in the English translation, while the popular German one is shorter, more simple, spiritual, and direct, much like his Small Catechism. For example, you will find such gems such as “One who hears the word becomes like the word, pure, good, and just” and “What is the word that gives such abundant grace and how shall I use it? The answer: it is nothing but the preaching of Christ in accordance with the Gospel, spoken in such a way that you hear your God speaking to you!”[1]

Right now this version is only available in Philip and my book, Luther’s Spirituality.

Luther organizes his pamphlet into three parts:

Part One: Points 1-19: the inner person or the soul

Part Two: Points 19-24: the outer person or the body

Part Three: Points 25-30: the relation of outward persons. Part

Three undertakes describing the vision and shape that Christianity would give to a society.

Luther begins right at the beginning with the tension of opposites. And these opposites bring about growth, development, and even movements in society. What was the Reformation itself but a historical movement? Some opposites we can think about are men and women, church and state, – which are supposed to be opposites, but sometimes the church doesn’t challenge the state and the society the way it is supposed to.

Luther’s tension of opposites begins right at the start in his two contradictory statements presenting the tension between freedom and responsibility:

A Christian person is a free sovereign, above all things, subject to no one – [let me add by faith].

A Christian person is a dutiful servant in all things and subject to everyone – [let me add by love].

It is important to understand this tension of opposites and the growth and development it brings about, to later understand what I call the existential rapture.

Let me just highlight three themes that stand out in this Luther pamphlet: the one called the marvelous exchange; the second, more than just being Christians, Luther challenges us to become Christs to one another; and the third, the joyful economy.

In the marvelous exchange, Luther says that the gracious and righteous, bridegroom, Christ, and the bride, our dreadfully sinful soul, get married and become one body. In the exchange, we receive the sinless, virgin birth of Christ from his Mother Mary and he receives our sinful, human birth. We receive his immortality, while he takes on our mortality. So in exchange for our birth, we get the new birth of Christ, in exchange for our poverty, we get his riches, for our sin, we get his righteousness, in exchange for our hatred, we get his love, for our death, we get his eternal life. (Think of the way nuns wear a ring saying they are married to Christ. Luther has every believer’s soul as the bride married to Christ, the bridegroom.)

The tension of opposites again stands out, because Luther calls our soul a whore, whom the sinless and pure Christ takes as his wife, so that she becomes a wonderful woman, happy house-mother, and wife. Now not to be sexist, we could also say the whore-monger of our soul, through this exchange, becomes a wonderful man, happy house-father, and husband. You can see how Luther places extreme opposites into tension. Prof. Timothy Wengert from our Philadelphia seminary had a funny way of presenting the marvelous exchange. When as a student he married his wife, she had a beautiful new BMW and he was driving an old wreck. After their marriage, he drove the BMW and she drove the old wreck: a truly marvelous exchange.

Secondly, Luther does not only promote us into the priesthood of all believers, but into a Christhood of all believers. (I just read in this month’s Lutheran how Stephen P. Bouman up in ELCA Chicago offices now speaks of all believers being missionaries and our churches becoming centers of mission: He writes, “Every ELCA baptized missionary (each of us is one).”[2] So more than just being Christians and wondering haphazardly what that could mean for today, we are challenged to grow and mature into the full stature of Christ.

As Christs we lay down our lives for our friends. We love our enemies. We don’t project our sins on others, but take their sins upon ourselves and act as if they were really our own. That is the genuine love, which is full of forgiveness, because in our divine vicarious suffering, evil and sin are overcome by the divine power of Christ. Like in the marvelous exchange, Luther is providing another description of how our sins become forgiven.

Thirdly, Luther declares the Freedom of a Christian from the Babylonian Captivity of our Church. The third part of his pamphlet is his sociological section and in it Luther describes the internal Kingdom of Christian Freedom in terms of the circulation of grace for the common good in the joyful economy of abundance. (That’s a mouthful! It comes from my dissertation.) We have an economy of scarcity, while the giving and sharing taught us by Christ lead to a joyful economy of abundance. That is why we gather around the Table of the Lord for Holy Communion. The circulation of grace means that whatever Christ has done for us, we do for our neighbor. Christ of course suffered and died for us. Even the new selves that we become in Christ are not for ourselves but for those in need. Our righteousness is not our own but belongs to our sinful neighbor, whose sins we try to cover in order to forgive. Having died to ourselves in our baptisms, all we have, all our possessions, even our own lives now belong to God and we are now free in the Holy Spirit to share them where needed, because we have so much more and all our needs are provided for by God. So Luther’s “Freedom of a Christian” actually declares the Good News that Christ leads us out of our Babylonians Captivity into the heavenly Kingdom of freedom; except, don’t forget the tension of our earthly state with all its duties and responsibilities.

Finally, the existential rapture is about our inner persons or souls, which Luther places in tension with our bodies, our external selves. This rapture is what we mean when we say in the Great Thanksgiving: “Lift up your hearts!” So what I am describing from Luther’s pamphlet is not at all like the rapture where you are lifted up and out of here, like in Hal Lindsey’s Late and Great Planet Earth. But one where we are promoted right here in our responsibilities and the contributions we make in our lives. We are being lifted up in our internal selves, spiritually, for a strengthening to undergo suffering for the sake of the love, ministry, and service that we provide for others. The saints are like the stars, who grow from being invisible to the naked eye, to sixth, fifth, fourth,  and ever greater magnitudes of brightness, from glory to glory, as St. Paul would word it in the Bible (2 Cor 12:18).

So in the tension of opposites we grow and mature from one level of maturity to another. Carl Gustav Jung, the great psychologist, talks about the tension of opposites bringing a transcendent function that overcomes our psychological problems and brings about our health. Now the ascent comes about through faith and the descent comes about through love and that’s why we speak of falling in love. Faith makes us into a king, while love makes us into a slave to the one we love. Remember the song? “If they made me a king, I’d still be a slave to you!”

According to Luther in our ascent we first receive the first-born status. That is good for me since I’m the eleventh child and you will receive it too, even if you are the baby in your family. Next in our ascent, we receive the nobility of the spirit. In our spiritual royalty we become kings and queens; today we would say mayors, governors, and presidents. At one point we could not even take care of ourselves, but we grow and provide for a family, then a congregation, perhaps, then watch over and shepherd a whole city, guide a nation, become a leader of countries in the world, just like John Kerry now that he has become the Secretary of State. Next we ascend into the priesthood. Luther saw priests as higher than nobility, because they interceded for others in prayer and God listened to them. From priesthood one ascends up into being a Christ for others and then one goes up into God. Talk about having self-esteem. If you ever feel low and down and out, just remember that! Luther maintained that coming out of baptism, every believer became more than a priest, bishop, and even a pope. [Don’t forget you have to believe this. Luther had a slogan: Glaubstu so hastu; glaubstu nit, so hastu nit!  Believe it and you have it. If you don’t believe, you won’t have this gift.)

But then we descend falling in love through all these levels until we arrive below the least of these, finding ourselves emptying the bed pan of an elderly person in a hospital, bending down to tie the shoe laces of a child. The ascent takes place to give us the strength to love and suffer and serve. Paul and Silas are in prison, beaten and bruised, chained with their feet in stocks. Ascending above themselves in faith, they started praying and singing hymns while the prisoners listened to them. Then, when the earthquake shook open all the doors, the jailer, the prison warden was about to commit suicide, Paul shouted to him not to harm himself because they were all still there and no one had tried to escape. The warden knelt trembling before them and asked, “What must I do to be saved?” and became a believer in God. He then washed their wounds, gave them food, and ate together with them. (Acts 16:16-34) This is the strength that we receive from on high.

Luther begins his pamphlet by saying that we are completely sovereign and full of freedom and completely enslaved and subject to everyone at one and the same time. He ends his pamphlet with the famous words:

Christians do not live in themselves, but in Christ and in their neighbor—in Christ through faith one ascends above oneself into God. From God one descends through love again below oneself and yet always remains in God and God’s love. As Christ says, in John 1:51: “You will see the heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”[3]

Now that paragraph concludes the popular version of “The Freedom of a Christian” while it is buried two thirds of the way into the more intellectual Latin version of this Luther writing.


[1] This edition of “The Freedom of a Christian” is available in Philip and Peter Krey, editors,  Luther’s Spirituality, (New York: Paulist Press, 2007), p. 268 and p. 72.

[2] Stephen P. Bouman, “Blinded by the Light: We Must Be like Paul,” The Lutheran, March 2013, Vol. 26 No. 3, p. 17.

[3] Philip and Peter Krey, editors, Luther’s Spirituality, page 90.

Written by peterkrey

March 6, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Otto F. Kernberg, M.D., The Inseparable Nature of Love and Aggression

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Blogging my Thoughts:

I just read the last chapters of Otto F. Kernberg’s The Inseparable Nature of Love and Aggression: Clinical and Theoretical Perspectives, (Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2012), pages 350-388.

The psychiatrist Otto Kernberg, writing about group regression as related to personal insecurity and breakdown, as well as related to narcissistic and paranoid leaders, has helped me gain a far greater insight into Erich Neumann’s analysis of racism as well as conspiratorial theories and mass psychology showing how malignant narcissistic or paranoid leaders gravitate toward group regression, like the masses in Nazi Germany or the Cultural revolution in China, where they become capable of socially sanctioned violence.[1] He mentions Wilfred Bion’s 1961 study of unstructured groups, whose task orientations have broken down: “There is an immediate regression into one of three ‘basic assumption groups,’ namely, 1)  the assumption of ‘dependency,’ 2) of ‘flight-fight,’ or 3) of ‘pairing.’[2] The first idealizes a leader and will usually take a narcissistic one, while the second, will take a paranoid leader, who will lead them in flight or in fighting against real or imagined enemies (Think of Jimmy Jones and Jonestown!); while the third takes a couple and hopes their relationship will spread to characterize the relationships in the group. Hitler and Stalin were malignant narcissistic and paranoid types.[3] Kernberg notes that “a dominant social or political ideology” can shift in the “paranoid-fundamentalist direction, particularly in a culture with strong trends of racism and religious conflict,” because of “severe traumas such as the loss of a war or territory, an economic crisis, the threat of internal foreign groups or external enemies, or belonging to a disadvantaged or suppressed social classes.” Any of these conditions can cause group regression that turns into a violent mob or mass movement.[4]

Then Kernberg also has given me much more insight into how science trespasses its bounds and the dangers involved in it becoming a Weltanschauung. Both Naziism and Marxism co-opted science in this way. “The ‘rational moralities’ of Naziism and communism co-opted science, without which the scope of their depredations would have been seriously curtailed.”[5]

I noted while reading his comments that when science begins to make pronouncements against God and religion and begins to interfere with the practice of religion, the way Marxism and Naziism did, then it operated as a pseudo-science and embarked on a very detrimental historical path. Those scientists, who declare their atheism today on the basis of their science, are also becoming guilty of scientism, which is merely another word for the issue involved.

Kernberg also criticized Freud’s atheism and noted his faith in rationality for the universalization of morality has proven to be unfounded and his position contradicts his own pessimistic conviction that the irrational unconscious had such power over human life. He shows how psychoanalysis can uncover the origin of religion in the depth psychology of object relations and can help the development of religious maturity, but it cannot make any pronouncement about the objective truth of religion or the existence of God. But religion is necessary to place boundaries around and overcome evil, which comes out of the depths of human consciousness, below the place where rationality could combat it. He ends his book in showing how psychological object relations that are internal become transcendent externally and how for the sake of the protection of morality, a spiritual realm exists beside the realm of psychology, which grounded in the normal consciousness, needs to be respected and accepted by the psychoanalytic community. There are different vertices of reality that science, religion, values, and art operate in. As Max Weber noted, a mature science knows its limitations, while an immature science wants to make pronouncements on the totality of reality.

These are some of the section headings of Kernberg’s final chapters:

“Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Religious Experience,” (page 349)

“A Critical Review of Freud’s Position,” (350)

“The Nature of Evil and the Psychology of Religiosity: Some Psychoanalytic Contributions, (354)

“The Relationship between Individual Psychopathology, Group Regression, and Sociocultural Developments,” (366)

“Mature Religiosity: the Characteristics of the Deity and of Mature Religions,” (371)

“The Emergence of a Spiritual Realm.” (377)

Psychoanalysis has come a long way!


[1] Erich Neumann, Depth-Psychology and the New Ethics, Dritter Auflage, (München: Kindler Verlag, 1973).

See my review of his work: A New ethics for the Total Person.

[2] Kernberg, Love and Aggression, page 356.

[3] Ibid., page 367.

[4] Ibid., page 369.

[5] Ibid., page 354.

Blogging my thoughts, June 18th, 2011

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Blogging my thoughts on Saturday, June 18th 2011

For the Joseph Book: I’m not arguing that the Theology of the Cross is central to Luther’s theology, mostly scholars have agreed that it is justification by faith, yet for the old Luther, it became believing that God would keep his or her promises. (God is beyond sex.)
“For if I believe the promise of God, I am certain that my life is pleasing to God and is superior to all the orders, since it makes a heavenly [human being], a conqueror of death, an heir of eternal life, and one who tramples the devil underfoot….This is the strength and particular power of a Christian”  (LW 8: 167).
When the promise is analyzed through the Philosophy of Language, it corresponds with justification by faith. After all, living a life that is pleasing to God is the result of both believing the promise and being justified by faith. In a promise, the accent falls on the speaker, in the case of God’s promise, on God, who actively carries out the justification, salvation, God-pleasing life of the passive listener, the believer. A listener has to carry out a command, that is, the Law, while the speaker carries out a promise, that is, the Gospel. So the Philosophy of Language indicates a correspondence between the performative speech act of a promise and justification by faith.

My mind wandered to reading “Those Manly Men of Yore” by Sara Lipton (NY Times OP-Ed page A31, June 17, 2011). Sara Lipton called Schwarzenegger a girlie man, a name he called others. If the constraint on sexual desire spelled being a man (in early modern times) and being womanish meant to have a voracious appetite in this regard, then Schwarzenegger’s lack of constraint made him a girlie-man, she argued.
I wonder how this relates to Carl Gustav Jung’s psychological argument that a man needs a woman’s soul within him to become mature and a woman needs the soul of a man? Then the lack of self-control cannot be blamed on either being a man or a woman, but just on the maturity of a person.

In Plato’s famous chariot metaphor of the ego-states, the mature rational ego in the healthy self (slightly modifying Plato here, of course)  can hold the horse and not let the horses blindly take the chariot over a cliff. “Hold your horses!” The mature rational self, however, takes care of the emotional and sexual needs of the horses, that is, of the id. To neglect them under a false or idealistic self-image of maturity feeds the monstrous strength of the id and extreme sexual strivings can unconsciously become a monkey on a person’s back. This may well take place in persons under the rule of celibacy, which they cannot control internally, but are forced to do by a bad law, an illegitimate law, an unwise law, that might make them prey on the vulnerable.

My thoughts reverted to violence. How filled with violence the Middle East, the East, hey, we in the West are too. What they did to the poor people in Sri Lanka in the fire-free zones, what they are doing to the people in Syria, in Libya, in Afghanistan, in Iraq! All this violence is embedded in societies between their governments and their people. we ourselves in the U.S.A. cannot gloat self-righteously. We’ve merely displaced our violence into technology, partly even remotely controlled. Then the regime change that we initiated in Iraq has cost far many more lives than the blood any regime has so far spilled in the Arab Spring and now Summer.

My mind turned to philosophical and theological thoughts. What do we make of brain research that almost reduces the mind to the brain? What do we make of a violin that excludes the music that it makes? Perhaps the mind is the music of the brain.
Luther’s conception of concrete physicality can come to our aid. The external word, like an organism of physical sound has to precede the internal word, its sense, meaning, and coherence, as it is translated into thoughts. Thus the brain is to the mind, what the speech act word is to the heard and internal word, and what the violin is to music. Physicality does not negate spirituality, but both participate in the complementarity of opposites.

Written by peterkrey

June 18, 2011 at 10:26 pm

A Psychological Analysis of Prejudice for the EALA

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A Psychological Analysis of Prejudice

by Pastor Peter D.S. Krey, Ph.D.

I have been analyzing prejudice and bigotry mostly from experience and from Jungian Psychology.  Conspiracy theories and scapegoat psychology are closely related.

Systems’ analyses and change are also in order, of course, but without changes in the deep self, they will be in vain. What does Christ say? You need new wine in new wine skins or they will burst. But what good is putting old wine in new wineskins? (See Matthew 9:17. The preceding verse about sewing an unshrunk cloth onto old cloth refers to the same thing.)

See the sermon on my website: “Vicarious, Representative Suffering vs Scapegoat Psychology.” If you just click on this title, you will get it.

To the question whether or not anti-racist counseling is possible: The idea is to counsel someone so that they become aware of their own shadow side. (That’s Jungian Psychology.)  We like to see ourselves from our good, sun-shiny side. In scapegoat psychology, we see goodness in ourselves and we project our shadow side onto those whom we do not know, who are a blank screen, so to speak, upon whom we can project the evil that is in our own hearts. Good people can have hearts that are full of evil desires and “bad” people can have hearts that really desire the good. Have you ever seen The Ref? (Kevin Spacey, Dennis Leary, and Judy Davis play in it.) It is a video movie about a criminal that takes a family hostage over Christmas. It is a good illustration of what I’m talking about.

Once I took my inner city Black kids from St. Paul’s Church in Coney Island to a Long Island Lutheran Church that supported our summer programming. I was inside a stall in the men’s room when the white kids from that church were talking with each other not knowing I was there hearing them. I was so shocked by the evil and violent way they talked! They considered my Black kids criminals. My kids were hard, because they had really hard lives. But the Long Island suburban kids took violent language to a whole new level.

The 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 footnotes. It has also come out in English. His idea translates to the insight that a person can be quite ethical from a rational point-of-view and have an ego aware of his or her consciousness alone. But a person also has to take responsibility for his or her unconscious as well, for one’s shadow side in the deep self. Interestingly enough prejudice, bigotry, a search for scapegoats, and conspiracy theories are all related and can be understood from this perspective. I can’t say that I understood Neumann completely, but he certainly throws a great deal of light on the psychology of personal prejudice.
I believe that prejudice, bigotry, and racism could probably be dealt with in counseling.  Going to therapy and learning to take responsibility for our shadow side is a harrowing experience and it should help a person deal with the externalization of our own undesirable self. Myself, I worked on it by knowing I did not want to be prejudiced like the German people had been under Hitler and I stayed with the people who confronted me enough and did some painful growth that made me somewhat more humane, a Mensch, so to speak. Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt. Who can understand it?” Christ is the one who can and does.

My Gettysburg lecture on “Luther’s In Depth Theology and the Possibility of Theological Therapy” is in the Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Review, Volume 11, No. 1-2, (Autumn 2008- Spring 2009). I have only a little summary of it in my website. I usually correlate Luther with In Depth Psychology as I did with Erich Neumann, because Luther had to struggle in the reaches of his deep self in order to overcome his episodes of spiritual distress (his “Anfechtungen”).

Written by peterkrey

October 27, 2010 at 9:42 pm

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