Structuralism and the Plant Kingdom

My photo
Frodsham (Chester), Cheshire, United Kingdom
Interests: Philosophy, Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Buddhism, Psychosynthesis, Hypnotherapy and R.E.B.T.

My Book - Why the Big 5?

Big 5 personality traits (MBTI)

Notes ... Under Construction

 In this book I investigate the posibility of assigning mineral-like ’Stages’ to remedies from the plant kingdom.
To do this we have to define what we mean by a ’Stage’ quite carefully. Dr. Sankaran has described 10 miasms using psychological and physical parameteres such as intensitiy and duration of the complaint.

- Can the same parameters be applied to the Mineral Kingdom?

- Does modern psychology offer any further personality parameters that we can usfully employ to describe a sequence of ascending Stages?

I conclude the debate by offering a chart of all the major A.P.G. (angiosperm phylogeny group) plant families, sorted into fairly obvious and clear-cut Stages. To define stages we first need to define ’normality’.

My first line of research for the book was to familiarise myself with the personality measures and parameters in use today – both the latest edition of the DSM and the WHO use the BIG 5 personality inventory extensively. 

Trait theorists have tied the 5 factor model to an evolutionary perspective. These factors are held to play a role in social domiance and mate selection - which are major forces in genetic selection and fitness. On top of this it has become very popular with big business, where it is frequently used by personnel departments to select new staff. It easily hightlighs desirable personality traits, and this gives us as good an indication as any of what society finds desirable in a person. It is not only for boffins and psychologists.

The Big 5 personality inventory has almost become a universal standard of ’normality’ and ’deviance’. These traits have become so aggressively selected for in our present culture and society that if there is any doubt about their playing an evolutionary role in the past, there is little doubt that they are shaping our future, and ever more so, because everyone is at risk. Can we afford to ignore this trend? If not how can we use it?

To start with, lets just enumerate the five factors that are tested in the Big 5 Inventory:

[1] EXTRAVERSION : Low score reseserved timidity; high score - sociability & sense of ones own status.
[2] AGREEABLENESS : Low suggests altruism and modesty; high toughness and antagonism.
[3] CONSCIENTIOUSNESS : Low impulsive, negligent; High responsible or fastidious.
[4] NEUROTICISM: Low insecure, anxious, emotional; High, relaxed and stable.
[5] OPENESS: Low, bored conservative; High, cultured and creative.

Can you read these descriptions without remedy suggestions popping up? Anacardium? Argentum? Pulsatilla? Arsenicuam? Bellis?

The list of possible remedy (or more properly, rubric) associations provoked by this ’comparative word list’ is virtually endless. The modern five factors are based on The Myers Briggs Indicator, which tested more classical traits.   These were derivatives of Carl Jung's work on archetypes. Jung selected his original types  (Psychological Types - 1921)  so that they would represtent fundamental dichotomies found in every person.  An echo of the ancient elemental temperaments can be seen in his types.

Jung originally proposed two dichotomous pairs of cognitive functions:
  • The "rational" (judging) functions: thinking and feeling
  • The "irrational" (perceiving) functions: sensing and intuition
Perceiving and sensing are related to form - the earth element. Judging mainly by feeling is related to emotional response - the water element.  Judging mainly by thinking is related to our intellect - elemental air.  Judging by using the process of intuition is a function of the fire element.

He also observed that these two sets of functions are fundamentally either an introverted or extraverted form... the extraverted form, being objective and attracted to the 'concrete', material world of facts, is perhaps at heart, a materialistic 'go-getter' (Nux-v) - as opposed to someone having a more inner, reflective orientation. This process of 'extraverted - thinking' seems to have filtered through the Homeopathic literature as the rubric, 'confounding subject and object',  i.e. someone who find self-validation from external things.

Jung's final set of Dichotomies:
   ATTITUDE          Extraversion (E) - (I) Introversion
   PERCEIVING      Sensing (S) - (N) Intuition
   JUDGING            Thinking (T) - (F) Feeling

 A good homeopathic example of the 'extraverted - feeling' type is Ignatia. I would cautiously place Pulsatilla on the 'Extraverted - Sensing' axis ( "The judging, rational functions are subordinated to the concrete facts of sensation, and, accordingly, possess the qualities of inferior differentiation, i.e. they are marked by a certain negativity, with infantile and archaic tendencies.", Jung).

A good homeopathic example of the 'extraverted - intuitive' type is found in Chinchoa, particularly in the rubric: 'Builds castles in the air', which implies a state of wishing for something external, indulging in plans and day-dreams that are virtually impossible to realise.   A life of 'wishing' implies a break with the external,  "thinking, feeling, and sensation are relatively repressed; of these, sensation is the one principally affected, because, as the conscious function of sense, it offers the greatest obstacle to intuition ...intuition tries to peer beyond".

The introverted types are ruled by a highly subjective appraisal of experience. A furthur dichotomy, added by Myers/Briggs tests an individuals overall preference for thinking (logic) or sensing (empathy).  Further scrutiny of these dichotomies seems to emphasise some of the differences between individuals requiring remedies from the Mineral Kingdom, the Plant Kingdom or in some cases (consider 'sensing' as a possibility) the Animal Kingdom.

Just to recap, Jung felt that people were fundamentaly either rational or irrational i.e sensing and feeling or logical and analytical … the same criteria we were taught to use at Homeopathy College to differentiate between KINGDOMS.

 Mineral patients being the more organised, rational individuals. Plant Kingdom patients being more emotional, ’fuzzy’ thinkers, relying on their feelings to make decisions, and Animal patients, also relying on feeling, but much more on sensing than others.

As we now know the more rational, organised and structured approach to life found in Mineral Kingdom individuals correlates well with social position and more importantly, with the chemical structure found in the elements of the periodic table... hence the popular 'Element Theory' in Homeopathy.

Within the Periodic Table itself, and in mineral patients, there are further subtle divisions in the characteristics of the rows of elements.  Compare the Gold Series with the Lanthanide Series ... the Gold Series, very broadly speaking, is about accomplishing outer power - self actualisation, in Jungs frame of reference this is a highly extraverted approach, whilst the Lanthanides are about inner power, a highly intraverted approach.  A similar dichotomy of orientation arises in the Silver Series (extraversion & show) and in the Ferrums (intraversion & protection).

 The system derived from the Element Theory works quite well most of the time, but it can’t be applied too dogmatically... I would describe one male patient as a Stage 10 Kali! What??? Well, he’s both Kali and Palladium – a confident, original performer with many difficulties relating to work and duty… not as unusual as you might think in these difficult times. Each sphere of endeavour requires consideration, and potentially needs support, and can develop its own sphere of ’Kentian’ pathologies … relating to frustrations at work (Ferrums) or creativity (Silver) and so on.

The 'classical' (Kentian) approach, with the faithful recording and analysis of rubrics still has a crucial role to play in describing the case and differentiating remedies.

Ref: Jung's original essay can be found at Psychological Types, Chapter X