Liberté, Egalité, Sensualité
Lisa A. Pounders, April 5, 2017
The 2000 film Chocolat, directed by Lasse Hallström, is a story in which, psychologically speaking, individuals and a community have fallen into a one-sided attitude of consciousness. As such it appears to portray how experiences of opposing attitudes and functions—in other words, the integration of previously repressed or unconscious and therefore shadowy function-attitudes—can prompt psychological development. Ideally, the primary four function-attitudes “should contribute equally” to our conscious typological orientation (Jung, 1925/1971, ¶900). However, in reality we tend to have a preference for using one function-attitude primarily while the other three remain less developed, “often only half conscious, or even quite unconscious” (Jung, 1931/1971, ¶955). In effect, a person’s or culture’s conscious personality type is determined by which attitude (introverted or extraverted) and function (sensing, thinking, feeling, or intuition) combination is preferred and then how consciously the other three function-attitudes are also employed. And yet, according to C. G. Jung (1939/1969), we are always experientially and psychologically in the process of reckoning with the presence of things that lie undiscovered in the unconscious (¶499). In typological terms, this means reckoning with the function-attitudes that fall into the fifth through eight positions. Moreover, it suggests that understanding how non-primary or unconscious function-attitudes operate can play an essential role in promoting individuation—what Jung called the process of psychological development in which unconscious contents are integrated into consciousness (¶490). Throughout Chocolat, we find illustrations of how the interaction and integration of opposing function-attitudes in individuals and a culture (in this case that of a small French village) lead to new ways of understanding, knowing, and being.
A Tale of Values and Their Enforcement
Set in 1959, Chocolat begins as a rather fairy tale like story. This is implied by the film’s opening sequence in which a female voice narrates: “Once upon a time, there was a quiet little village in the French countryside whose people believed in tranquillité” (Brown & Hallström, 2000). As we hear these words, we are shown an aerial view of a hilltop village with old stone buildings, perhaps dating back to medieval times. The scene appears to be in winter as there are small mounds of snow located around a statue in the village square, and the lighting and the atmosphere of the opening scenes have a rather dull gray cast. The narration continues as the camera moves down into the village to follow people entering a church:
If you lived in this village, you understood what was expected of you. [Inside the church a mother turns to give a knowing look to her son.] You knew your place in the scheme of things, and if you happened to forget, someone would help to remind you.
Essentially, the opening sequence gives us an idea of the psychological orientation of the village. We learn that it believes in or places importance on tranquility (peace and calmness), agreeability, and order. This suggests that the village has certain values through which it judges situations—in other words, a feeling function is at work. Moreover, this function has an extraverted attitude about its judgment because these words demonstrate “interest in the external object” as traditional values. Jung (1936/1971) described extraversion as a responsiveness to and “a ready acceptance of external happenings,” as well as “a desire to influence and be influenced by [outer] events” (¶972). Therefore, we could characterize this village as employing a function-attitude of extraverted feeling (Fe). Sharp (1987) explained, “It is characteristic of extraverted feeling that it seeks to create or maintain harmonious conditions in the surrounding environment” (p. 49). Here, Sharp emphasized that Fe values are based on both responding to and influencing external situations in order to maintain tranquility.
However, as the film’s opening sequence continues, we learn more. We see further scenes within the church focusing on individuals from the village. While the narrator relates, “In this village if you saw something you weren’t supposed to see, you looked the other way,” a boy turns around to see an older man hiding his dog, and then the boy’s mother turns the boy’s face back toward the front of the church. When we hear, “If by chance your hopes had been disappointed, you learned never to ask for more,” a woman sitting by her husband reaches into the pew in front of her to take a slim gold metallic case from someone’s purse and then hides it in her coat (Brown & Hallström, 2000). Here, these words and actions give us a clue that another function is important to the village and the film. For turning away from seeing “something you weren’t supposed to see” suggests a preference for introversion of the sensation function (Si). Jung (1921/1971) said that a preference for Si gives the appearance of one “shielding [oneself] directly from all objective influences” (¶ 651). Shumate (2008, 2009) characterized the “Introverted Sensing Hero [as] the soul of correctness and moderation” (p. 11). What Shumate meant by “Hero” is a reference to Beebe’s (2005/2006) eight-function model of typology, based on his research and expansion of Jungian typology to include a correlation between archetypes and the positions of function-attitudes in relation to type structures. The hero archetype, according to Beebe, influences the way that a function-attitude operates in the primary or first position—in other words, when that is the preferred way of functioning (p. 40). These characterizations of Si show us that the village’s preferred or dominant function is Si; therefore, Fe is its second or auxiliary function. This is further verified in the idea that one’s disappointed hopes result in learning to “never ask for more.” Such lack of expectation implies a repression of intuition, consonant with intuition in the inferior position. Therefore, the village’s four-letter type code would be ISFJ (Si, Fe, Ti, Ne).
Ultimately, the film portrays a working through of the village’s psychological stagnation due to its overemphasis of Si-Fe preferences. This is accomplished with the help of the unconscious archetypal function-attitude dynamics between the village and a newcomer, Vienne, and between her and Comte de Reynaud, the town’s well-meaning father-figure mayor. At the film’s opening, Vienne and her young daughter Anouk arrive as strangers to the village wearing matching bright red capes. Upon arrival, Vienne rents an empty storefront and begins to set up a chocolate shop. Whereas extraverted sensation (Se) is immediately evident as one of Vienne’s function-attitudes—as indicated by her bright colorful clothing and her business focus on the sensual pleasure of chocolate—her type is most likely ISFP (Fi, Se, Ni, Te). Comte de Reynaud (the mayor) appears to be ISTJ (Si, Te, Fi, Ne). Vienne’s and the mayor’s conflicting interactions and difficult relationship serve to develop both the village as a whole and these two characters (as well as others in the village) in the process. These developments illustrate both the nature of typology and its relationship to Jung’s idea of individuation.
A Clash of Attitudes
From the beginning of the film, the arrival of Vienne’s obvious extraverted sensation (Se) function sets up a challenge for the introverted sensation (Si) dominant French village. According to the Function-Archetype Decoder (McAlpine et al., 2009), ISFPs tend to be action-oriented, open and flexible, enthusiastic, empathetic, observant, practical, sensitive to needs of others, and caring—all traits that Vienne exhibits. As an ISFP, her dominant function-attitude would be introverted feeling (Fi). However, because for introverts “the dominant process is habitually and stubbornly” focused on their inner world, they will predominantly adapt by displaying their auxiliary process when engaging the outer world (Myers & Myers, 1980/1995, p. 13). In other words, an introvert’s primary function is difficult to externally discern because the auxiliary (parent) function is the face they present to the outside world. In Vienne’s case, extraverted sensation (Se) is revealed in how she appears to be “adaptable …easy-going, very much at home in the world” (p. 99). Moreover, Se is evident in the way that she goes about carefully cleaning, painting, and tending to her chocolate shop and in her choice of colorful, stylish, and subtly sensuous styles of clothes, including red shoes—a direct contrast to the more somber formal dressing and colors of the villagers. At one point, her daughter, who is having a difficult time fitting in with the village children, laments, “Why can’t you wear black shoes like the other mothers?” An aspect that points to Se as being in the auxiliary or archetypal parent function position is how Vienne employs it as a means of caring for others. Once she has opened her chocolate shop, she essentially begins to coax and nurture the villagers’ absent Se by inviting them into her shop and offering her exotic and sensuous treats. Almost immediately, Vienne maternally nudges into consciousness aspects of the village’s opposing personality and therefore disturbs the stagnating sense of agreeable tranquility. Vienne’s efforts also indicate an underlying value system, or her Fi dominant attitude.
In general, Fi types tend to foster and protect their “intense inner emotional life” and do not like to reveal their true depth of feeling until they know someone well (Myers & Myers, 1980/1995, p. 79). Therefore, it is difficult at first to discern Vienne’s primary feeling function. However, we learn that the rather gypsy-like existence of Vienne and her daughter is effectively a consequence of Vienne’s desire to “maintain independence from the judgment of others,” for as is typical of an Fi-dominant type, she only feels bound by her own, inner morals (p. 95). Consequently, any time in the past that she has come up against others’ judgments or laws that run counter to her values, she has packed up and moved on—Fi in combination with the Se “don’t fence me in” temperament. In addition to being colorful and carefully coordinated, Vienne’s dress as well as her attitude towards others is informal compared to the usual customs and the conservative nature of the village. This independent sense of ethics is further displayed when during her first conversation with the mayor, she shows no concern or hesitancy about revealing to him that she has never been married despite the fact that she has a daughter. People of the village immediately suspect her of being a radical or rebel. And so she is, for she marches to the beat of her own ethical drum, demonstrating how introverted feelers seek “the outer fulfillment and realization of the inner ideal” (Myers & Myers, 1980/1995, p. 79).
Usually, Vienne is calm and composed while also affecting a warm and informal manner. She mostly interacts or tends to others through her work at the chocolate shop, hence via her Se function, as is predicted by the auxiliary function’s association with parental energy. However, when the mayor disparages her lifestyle and work, and warns the other villagers not to visit the chocolate shop, Vienne’s values are threatened. That is when her shadow functions surface. Thus, she uncharacteristically storms into his office in a flustered and angry manner, knocking over a photo on his desk and demanding to know what he has been saying. Further affronted by the mayor’s cool response, on the way home as Vienne passes the statue in the town square (apparently a memorial to some Reynaud ancestor), she throws a kind of tantrum, kicking the stone edifice and lashing out with her shawl. Because her values have been brought into question, Vienne is pushed to extravert her feelings. Such oppositional resistance is typical of extraverted feeling (Fe) in the fifth position, which carries the opposing personality archetype. Therefore, her attempt to express this shadow function results in a stance that is anathema to the way she would normally want to behave (Beebe, 2005, p. 42) and she “[flies] off the handle” (McAlpine et al., 2009, n. p.) in an effort to outwardly express and protect her inner values.
As for mayor Comte de Reynaud, his type (ISTJ) also represents an attitude preference for introversion. Therefore, like Vienne, the mayor’s type is tricky to pin down, in part because of how he outwardly and actively engages with his community. However, Beebe (2017) emphasized that noticing how a function is used, what “role” it takes on in a person’s life, is important to determining the overall type. He said that whereas the primary or hero function relates to areas of personal interest, “the auxiliary function …operates like a good parent to everyone else, offering its strength as protection to the more vulnerable parts of others” (Beebe, 2017, p. 132). Throughout the film, Comte de Reynaud outwardly behaves like a father-figure or guardian; therefore, this gives us a clue to his overall type. In the opening film sequence, the narrator tells us:
The Comte de Reynaud was a student of history, and therefore a patient man. He trusted the wisdom of generations past. Like his ancestors, he watched over the little village and led by his own example—hard work, modesty, and self-discipline. (Brown & Hallström, 2000)
Here we learn that the mayor, as “a student of history,” is a thinking man. Moreover, he is concerned with what happens outside himself as he likes to watch over or care for his community and environment. As such, his thinking focuses on objective rather than subjective situations, meaning an extraverted expression and therefore signifying the mayor’s preference for Te as his judging function. Jung (1921/1971) said that extraverted thinking tends to operate from ideas that “have been transmitted by tradition and education” (¶ 577). Moreover, the Function-Archetype Decoder (McAlpine et al., 2009) indicates that someone with Te in the auxiliary position “generally likes to advise others on how it should be done, but doesn’t want to take over the doing,” “can feel an irresistible urge to organize people for their own good,” and “often likes to impart [his] own code of principles on others” (n. p.). Such Te parenting behavior in the mayor is evidenced by how he enthusiastically edits the village priest’s sermons as well as advising the young man on their delivery. In addition, Te is apparent in how the mayor actively organizes the villagers—through insinuating comments that enforce rigid views of religious conduct, conveying his own code of principles—to keep their distance from Vienne and her chocolate shop.
So if Te describes Comte de Reynaud’s auxiliary function or parenting role, what in his behavior asserts introverted sensation (Si) as his primary function? That he trusts the “wisdom” of past generations tells us that the mayor’s judgments are derived from tradition and suggests that, typical of Si, he likes to “focus on memories and mementos from the past because they have a sense of sacredness” (McAlpine et al., 2009). Moreover, throughout the film we see how his “hard work, modesty, and self-discipline” are the result of a formal and methodical personal adherence to principles established by past experiences. Overall the mayor demonstrates how Si types are systematic, painstaking, thorough, hard-working, stable, and practical, and like to “use their preferred kind of judgment, thinking or feeling, to run their outer life” (Meyers & Myers, 1980/1995, p. 102). Like the village, he also seems to habitually ignore and repress outward experiences of sensation. For example, as much of the film takes place during the season of Lent, the mayor abstains from eating to the point of almost starving himself, in an observance which demonstrates how an Si type can adopt “a rigid adherence to existing procedures” (McAlpine et al., 2009, n. p.), in this case a religious tradition.
Significantly, when inflated, the Si type “gets stuck in concrete reality” and has trouble adjusting to any sort of change. “For them the future does not exist. …They are in the here and now, and …behave in life as though it will always be the same as it is” at present (von Franz, 2013, p. 30). The mayor demonstrates this disposition in the way that he deals (or actually does not deal) with being separated from his wife. Throughout the film, all we see of his wife is a photo on his desk (a memento), which he often stares at in confusion. It seems that everyone in the village but Comte de Reynaud understands that his wife—the Comtesse who apparently has been living in Italy for some time—is never coming back. As is typical of an Si imbalance, the mayor cannot conceive of change as being natural. In other words, that any change should occur “appears to be inconceivable” to him (McAlpine et al., 2009). Consequently, as a newcomer and someone who outwardly demonstrates a preference for extraverted sensation (Se)—the opposing function to the mayor’s Si and thus in his shadow—Vienne is almost immediately viewed as a threat. When discussing the opening of Vienne’s chocolate shop with the young priest, the mayor even goes so far as to imply that she is an enemy of the church. Consciously throughout much of the film, Vienne and the mayor appear to repel each other because their disagreements are essentially the result of shadow projections—the autonomous mechanism in which “everything that is unconscious in ourselves we discover in our neighbor, and we treat him accordingly” (Jung, 1931/1970, ¶ 131). However, they also unconsciously attract and set into motion antagonistic interactions because the individuating psyche, in its teleological or goal-oriented autonomy, wants to develop those opposing repressed aspects and integrate the unconscious contents. Through the tempering experiences of their Se and Si functions, a tension of opposites, by the end of the film both Vienne and the Comte de Reynaud have come to a greater and evolving understanding of their own motivations and an appreciation of each other’s strengths.
Sensate Shadow Work
Von Franz (2013) said of introverted feeling (Fi) types that “without any explanation, they turn up in places where important and valuable inner facts, archetypal constellations, are to be found. They also generally exert a positive secret influence on their surroundings by setting standards” (p. 65). This statement accurately reflects Vienne’s role in Chocolat: ultimately she exerts a positive influence on the village by bringing conscious awareness to their objective or outer experience of sensation. In other words, she represents what the village and the mayor have been repressing, casting light onto the shadow of their overdeveloped introverted sensation (Si) function. Early on in the film, we get a hint about the shadowy psychological dynamic setup by Vienne’s arrival in the village when the narrator says that “through good times and bad, famine and feast, the villagers held fast to their traditions until one winter day, a sly wind blew in from the north” (Brown & Hallström, 2000). During the voice-over, we watch as the red-caped figures of Vienne and Anouk slowly make their way up the cobblestone road that leads into the village. The scene then cuts to the interior of the church as the village priest asks, “Where will we find truth? Where do we start looking? Where will we find truth? We will find it …” With these last words, the church doors are blown open (signifying a change in the outer world), prompting the mayor to get up and close them. Afterwards, when he turns back to face the interior of the church, he is frowning, a foreshadowing that something (or someone) has arrived to disturb the village’s distorted inner tranquility—a bringer of “truth.”
According to von Franz (2013), Jung reasoned that “the hardest thing to understand is not your opposite type …but the same functional type with the other attitude!” (p. 69). For example, Jung (1921/1971) said that the introverted thinking and extraverted thinking “orientations are incessantly at war” (¶ 581). Essentially, von Franz and Jung’s comments suggest that the archetypal shadow can be marshaled by allowing contact with the functions opposite in attitude to the personality’s preferred functions. The dominant or hero function is shadowed by what Beebe called the opposing personality function. As the shadow generally represents whatever is most repressed, facing it is integral to the integration of unconscious elements—or the process of individuation. In Chocolat, since the village’s type is ISFJ and the mayor’s ISTJ, extraverted sensation (Se) tends to manifest for them with oppositional energy. Because Se is effectively in their blind spot or the opposing personality position, they perceive Vienne’s outer Se personality (her parenting function) as well as her chocolate shop as a negative influence. Their shadow, as the replica of their “own unknown face,” is projected upon Vienne and her shop (Jung, 1948a/1969, ¶ 17). In this way, the film illustrates how the fifth or opposing personality function intervenes as “the complementary and compensating function of the unconscious” in response to psychological one-sidedness (Jung, 1948b/1969, ¶ 40)—here demonstrated by the village’s and Comte de Reynaud’s entrenched Si preference for holding onto tradition. Ultimately, as the village projects its opposing personality upon Vienne, the transformative autonomy of the archetypal energy of the shadow reveals hidden and repressed secrets. For example, Vienne befriends and rescues Josephine, a woman who was often brutally beaten by her husband and labeled crazy by the village because it did not recognize her kleptomaniac tendency as a signal for help—another sign of Si repressing Se tendencies into shadow. In response, the mayor attempts to rehabilitate Josephine’s husband, Serge, through religious education. However instead of reforming, the loutish husband ends up enacting the dispossessed Se as shadow—its burning need to be recognized and accounted for—when he sets fire to a river boat during a birthday celebration, almost killing Josephine and Anouk in the process. Serge’s dark act brings everyone in the village’s attention to the consequences of their own “oppositional, paranoid, passive-aggressive, and avoidant” behavior which is characteristic of the opposing personality (Beebe, 2004, p. 107).
Another example of the shadow’s influence and work upon consciousness is presented by the mayor. Prior to Vienne’s arrival, he was the village’s primary and powerful parental figure. And, as an ISTJ, his introverted sensation (Si) aligns with the village’s primary function. His shadow projections first appear in how he reacts to Vienne’s Fi independence and her Se nurturing, viewing these attitudes as a threat to the stability and predictability of the village. He feels it is his duty, as an Si hero and Te parent, to rigidly enforce culturally outdated traditions and prejudiced ideas. In other words, “He judges and acts as though he had [rational] powers to deal with,” and eventually “discovers that his [inner] sensations are totally different from reality” (Jung, 1921/1971, ¶ 653). Two back-to-back experiences force this realization and cause the mayor to fall into his own shadow functions. The first is when he chooses to banish Josephine’s abusive husband for the criminal act of arson that was inspired by his own principled rhetoric. The second occurs when he witnesses his romantic interest—his secretary, Madame Caroline Clairmont—going into the chocolate shop to help out Vienne, his perceived enemy. Apparently, the confusion resulting from a sudden awareness of how his inner sense of things no longer reflects the world around him moves the mayor further into the shadowy territory of his Se opposing personality, radicalizing him to take the law into his own hands. As such, and reflecting how ISTJ types when stressed tend to let “tension build up until it erupts” (McAlpine et al., 2009, n. p.), Comte de Reynaud compulsively breaks into the chocolate shop and begins to destroy a window display. However, having denied himself food due to his ascetic observance of Lent, once he tastes a bit of chocolate that has landed on his lips, he compulsively proceeds to devour the entire contents of the window display. At this point, it is as if his long repressed opposing Se personality erupts in the primitive manner to be expected of such an undeveloped function. The next morning, Vienne discovers the mayor asleep in her window, ministers to him in a very sympathetic and feeling manner, and assures him that she will not tell anyone what he did. According to Shumate (2008, 2009), Beebe suggested that when the opposing personality archetype is activated, it can provide access to the function in the eighth position, and that can lead to resolution as the demonic energy turns daimonic (p. 14).
Interestingly, the primitive actions of Josephine’s husband and the mayor effectively de-potentiate the repressed and shadow archetypal energies of the villagers, including Vienne—who decides to remain in the village in contrast to her past pattern of leaving when unharmonious situations confront her. Ultimately, Comte de Reynaud and the village as a whole develop a more well-rounded, relationally tolerant, and Se inclusive attitude, as illustrated by the film’s closing scenes which show everyone attending Vienne’s secular spring festival occurring after their traditional Easter Sunday church service.
In considering how to engage the psychological middle ground where one is “both free and moral, both an individual and a part of society,” Spoto (1995/2011) suggested that “confrontation with the …shadow” is what leads us into this more balanced and consciously integrated territory. Exploring the progressive differentiation of function-attitudes and their relationship to psyche, as well as the typological interactions between individuals and a culture, offers a way to better understand shadow integration and therefore promotes the process of individuation.
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From the film Chocolat, 2000. Directed by Lasse Hallström.