I have not seen “A Dangerous Method” the David Cronenberg film that depicts the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Maybe the problem is that I’ve been exposed to the trailer so relentlessly over the past few months that it feels like I’ve already watched the movie at least two or three times.

From the preview, it’s clear that the men’s friendship gets tested when Jung succumbs to temptation and begins sleeping with a patient, played by Keira Knightley, who is both mad and gorgeous, which is always a deadly concotion. This leads to scenes of Freud expressing strong disapproval while Jung alternates between guilt – “I can’t believe I’m having sex with a patient!” – and bliss – “I can’t believe I’m having sex with Keira Knightley!” While I doubt that it happens, I thought there should be a point in the film where Jung defends himself to Freud by using the line from an old country-western tune: “If loving her is wrong, I don’t want to be right …”

Anyway, here’s one thing you probably won’t learn in the movie: Jung was a big believer in astrology; so big that he actually examined the birth charts of some of his patients to gain insight into their issues. In fact, Jung dedicates an entire
chapter to astrological research in his book “Synchronicity”. About astrology, Jung has written:

“Since you want to know my opinion about astrology I can tell you that I’ve been interested in this particular activity of the human mind since more than 30 years. As I am a psychologist, I am chiefly interested in the particular light the horoscope
sheds on certain complications in the character. In cases of difficult psychological diagnosis I usually get a horoscope in order to have a further point of view from an entirely different angle. I must say that I very often found that the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise would have been unable to understand.”

One of Jung’s best known works is “Psychological Types”, published in 1921. In it Jung set forth his theory of types, delineating two basic attitudes – extroversion and introversion – and four essential functions: sensing, intuition, feeling and thinking. Anyone familiar with traditional astrology will recognize the underlying structure of temperament theory at work in his formulation, a source that Jung both confirms and then brushes aside, saying that “temperament hardly rates as a psychological typology since the temperaments are scarely more than psychophysical colorings”.

That statement seems a little disingenuous when you consider that temperament theory has about a 2000 year old history. Now, I’ve written about temperament before, but it was a while ago, so here’s a quick recap:

The universe, and everything in it including human beings, is comprised of four basic qualities: hot, cold, wet & dry. If that seems like an odd or abstract concept, consider the following statements:

She has a dry wit.
He needs to cool off.
His brother needs to dry out.
I’m all fired up.
He can be cold-hearted.
She’s hot in those red high-heels.
She got cold feet and didn’t show up.
He’s a little wet behind the ears.
She gave me the cold shoulder.

We can see the four qualities at work in all kinds of places. Take music: Salsa music would be hot & wet, rap music would be hot & dry while the music of someone like Philip Glass is cool and dry. The same ideas can be applied to food or fashion.

And here’s one final thought: introversion and extraversion are already built into the elements. Hot & wet are extraverted qualities because they connect things – think of Spring and Summer with their warmth and rain. In contrast, cold and dry tend
to be introverted – think of Fall & Winter, when life becomes more internal and restive.

The combination of the qualities – hot, cold, wet & dry – lead to the temperaments. About which we’ll talk in the next edition of the newsletter and on this blog.