Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Sticks and Stones

Written by: on November 17, 2023

Sticks and Stones

How many times as children did we used to say, ‘STICKS AND STONES MAY BREAK MY BONES BUT NAMES WILL NEVER HURT ME?’ Growing up, I used to say it all the time. Then, several years after giving my life to Christ, I began to learn the meaning of words. And I finally had a light bulb moment when I realized words can hurt. Words have meaning – some are polysemous. Fun fact, the word sound has over 19 noun meanings. Scripture tells us that we are created in the image of God and that our words have power. I purposely try to watch what I say because I believe I am made in His image and I am also His representative to my family, friends, community, and more. The average person has an 8th-grade education level. When I teach, whether in a community classroom, community seminars, or church – I am mindful that most of my audience will not take the time to look up words like polysemous. Instead, they will either miss the meaning of what is said or written or pull from the most basic understanding of that particular word. And as my favorite writer in Scripture, Paul did, I meet my audience on their level and then encourage them to go deeper and higher in thought or meaning. How does this relate to Daniel Lieberman’s book, Spellbound? In a circuitous way, I will demonstrate.

Lieberman’s Work

Daniel Lieberman is a world-renowned medical doctor, psychiatrist, and clinical professor. In Spellbound, he looks at modern science, ancient magic, or the supernatural to understand the hidden potential of the unconscious mind. Compared to the conscious, the unconscious mind is faster and unencumbered in terms of how many things it can process at once. Hence, the unconscious mind is always at work.[1] Yet very few people know what is happening in their unconscious mind and have little control over it.[2] One of the reasons Lieberman delves into the workings of the unconscious mind is to understand better how it communicates with the conscious. A partnership exists between the two, whether we realize it or not. He states that one of the most essential goals in life is to forge an effective partnership between the two parts of the mind.[3] Some of the ways communication takes place are through the body, emotions, gut feelings, intuition, and inspiration.[4] As a psychiatrist, his work attempts to answer such questions as: how does the unconscious work, where does it come from, and how does it impact our behavior?  Lieberman argues that science and the supernatural must be researched and studied to understand the unconscious. The supernatural helps us to understand why we act irrationally.[5] The ancient stories teach us how to foster cooperation and harmony between the two parts (conscious and unconscious) to achieve a certain harmony within.[6] Both are needed – going from the metaphysical to the literal.[7]

In Spellbound, frequently, the word mysticism and mystical concepts are used. He sometimes expounds on the words to mean “unity of all things” and universal love. These attributes are promoted by the unconscious mind derived from mystical encounters (religious, spiritual, or drug-induced).[8] His goal is to demonstrate that transcendence is the ultimate state of being. Truly one within our conscious and unconscious self.[9] In “Jungian psychology, transcendence is seen in the unity of opposites…the joining of darkness with the light and the spiritual with the chthonic (meaning the underworld)”.[10]


Carl Jung

Reading about Lieberman and his work piqued my interest to revisit Carl Jung since he had a significant impact on Lieberman, and his (Jung’s) work is sprinkled throughout Spellbound. Carl Jung led the way in studying mysticism, folklore, earth gods, and other primitive stories to understand the unconscious.[11] Jung’s work takes us from the field of scientific experiments to mystical experiments.[12] In Modern Psychotherapies, Jung is credited for including spirituality in his analytic approach to studying the unconscious.[13] Albeit, his spirituality was heavily influenced by the occult on both a personal and professional level, and he had repeated encounters with “spirits” throughout his adult life.[14] “Thus, the Christian reader of Jungian psychology must be extremely cautious when encountering phrases and concepts borrowed from Christian theology.”[15] Jung had a difficult time with Christianity because of his father’s double-minded faith. Consequently, some of the answers he provides as we struggle with becoming mature Christians are deeply concerning because they are re-imagined through his system of thought.[16]

In Summary

The fruit of Lieberman and Jung’s work has provided a way for individuals and practitioners to help those struggling with understanding why their behavior, thoughts, feelings, and emotions are sometimes uncontrollable. However, according to a 2018 Pew Research article, there has been an increase in new-age practices, even within Christianity.[17] There may need to be more than this article to draw a direct line between Jung, Lieberman, and New Age practices. To the average person, the word myth typically implies a pseudo-religious or pagan embracing practice, i.e., new age. In light of this, and when you consider some of the Spellbound book reviews – it is clear that many people are using new-age words to describe how the book has impacted them.

I see a black versus white issue here (not racial – but color). The deep, darker self that Lieberman and Jung describe is analogous to our sinful nature. Unfortunately, Christians live with the duality of this nature on this side. However, the Holy Spirit enables us to walk with self-control over the relics of our sinful nature. It helps us to take captive every thought and vain imagination (sounds like the unconscious) that exalts itself against the knowledge of Jesus. Will we ever learn everything about ourselves? Probably not. The secular arena has gone in the direction of science and ancient supernatural traditions and stories, and it is the closest scientists can get to understanding how beautifully wonderful and complex God has made us.

[1] Dr. Phil Stieg, “Magic, Myths, and the Unconscious Mind,” February 10, 2023, This Is Your Brain Podcast, https://thisisyourbrainwithdrphilstieg.libsyn.com/magic-myths-and-the-unconscious-mind-4

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Daniel Z. Lieberman, MD, Spellbound: Modern Science, Ancient Magic, and the Hidden Potential of the Unconscious Mind (Dallas: BenBella Books., Inc., 2022), 5.

[6] Ibid., 5.

[7] Ibid., 6.

[8] Ibid., 27.

[9] Ibid., 211.

[10] Ibid., 212.

[11] Ibid., 6.

[12] Ibid., 7.

[13] Stanton L. Jones and Richard E. Butman, Modern Psychotherapies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1991), 121.

[14] Ibid., 122.

[15] Ibid., 122.

[16] Ibid., 139.

[17]  Claire Gecewicz, ‘New Age’ beliefs common among both religious and nonreligious Americans,’ (October 1, 2018) https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2018/10/01/new-age-beliefs-common-among-both-religious-and-nonreligious-americans/


About the Author


Audrey Robinson

8 responses to “Sticks and Stones”

  1. Kristy Newport says:

    wow! Just wow!!
    I was reading this saying to myself throughout…Yes! Yes! Audrey is on point!! I agree with your superb analysis.
    I personally like Jung. I think there are some great things that he has to offer. BUT- I like how you pull in research! i want to get this:
    Stanton L. Jones and Richard E. Butman, Modern Psychotherapies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1991),
    what a great resource! You did well in quoting it.

    and this is SO true:
    “Will we ever learn everything about ourselves? Probably not.” Yes!! Not everything in the unconscious will be brought to the unconscious. I think we value the Holy Spirit making us aware of things. Could this be the work of the unconscious coming to the conscious? Or is the work of the Holy Spirit different?

    I think this is my favorite post written by you.
    I love this word: “circuitous”….Great thoughts on the power of words!!

    I hear Audrey saying this-
    “I see a black versus white issue here (not racial – but color). The deep, darker self that Lieberman and Jung describe is analogous to our sinful nature. Unfortunately, Christians live with the duality of this nature on this side.”

    I am curious- Do you see some of what Jung is presenting as not only the “dark side”/sinful nature but….does he cast light on the good as well?

    *****….great post! I hope everyone reads it!

  2. mm Audrey Robinson says:

    Kristy, thank you for the words of encouragement. As I was researching and writing I was thinking about you reading the post and if you might think I was going out to left field. LOL

    It’s been some time since I studied Jung so I’ll refer to what the Modern Psychotherapies book states (and I do agree with): Jung helped “raise concerns about “the soul of man” at an intensity that has seldom been matched…The Jungian perspective may teach us that our Creator-God is not only concerned about the events of day to day but also the deepest depths of our personality.” page 139.

    I definitely believe that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to show us that deeper unconsciousness and then empower us to embrace, overcome and walk in victory. In Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart perfectly describes the inner work of the Holy Spirit. We have to listen and obey. And when needed seek professional Christian counseling or therapy.

  3. mm Shonell Dillon says:

    Great post, I love to hear that each and everyone of us has a different point of view. It is also hard for me to some times speak and write on a level of higher education. I have worked so often with the underprivileged and poorly educated population that I have become accustomed to meeting them on their level of understanding. Sometimes I forget to be Dr. Shonell and I am just Shonell. At times I am just “girrrrrl” (if you know what I mean). I get stuck there because not only is it comfortable but I have found that the spirit (unconscious) speaks to me in plain language. This method has also been very successful in meeting the needs of the people that I serve. So I promised to do what the Lord says do but I will also learn to lead (wear many hats).

    • mm Audrey Robinson says:

      Shonell, great observation regarding how one might sometimes forget to be Dr. So&So because of meeting people where they are. I have no doubt you have already learned how to be Dr. Shonell. Perhaps, it’s the people you will be leading as Dr. Shonell haven’t arrived yet or the season hasn’t. Either way the Lord is leading you and you will not be disappointed.

  4. Caleb Lu says:

    Audrey, thanks for your post! I’m unfamiliar with Jung and so reading Peterson last week and Lieberman this week has been relatively difficult to keep up with, though I’m starting to see how they overlap.

    While I’m not a fan of either, I am curious if their Jungian influence could be helpful in pulling Christians who have leaned (maybe a little too hard) into rationalism and logic to explain faith and the bible. Perhaps I’m reading into it, but this has been a tension that I’ve been trying to pull apart for myself, especially as I get to interact with some more “charismatic” friends in the program.

    Even with the growth of new age-y practices (including at least one of my former youth group students) I’m wondering if the way I’ve thought about faith and the Holy Spirit, and really limited it by my own senses, have pushed people to connect with a deeper spirituality and mysticism in other places.

    • mm Audrey Robinson says:

      Caleb, this is a $64,000 question. (That’s an old saying meaning it’s a big question.) While Lieberman, Peterson, and Jung have made strides in helping people to understand the unconscious mind I’m not sure it will help Christians who are relying on logic to explain faith and the Bible. I do think that many Christian therapist are doing that very thing and have had success. But I’m reminded of the passage (paraphrase) if we gain the whole world but lose our soul we’ve lost.

      For me it comes down to faith in the love of the Father and trusting the work of the Holy Spirit. One example, I sometimes feel a sense of ill-temperament out of the blue. Once I recognize it, I immediately ask the Holy Spirit to take it away. It’s a simple ask – sometimes silent or audible. I believe that feeling came from my unconsciousness. I also have had some strained family relationships in the past. My dark side would say ‘move on’ – but then because that’s not what the word says I prayed for help from the Holy Spirit and the relationships have been restored. I know that inclination to cut them out came from my dark side (that’s the duality I mentioned in another response) I recognize it but I don’t let it control me. The Holy Spirit endows me with His fruit of self-control.

      For the Christians that long for a deeper spiritual connection or are into new age (my husband was before we married) we demonstrate the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit, as Paul says a demonstration of the Spirit. And lastly, our testimonies about God ignite the mustard seeds of faith in other people to grow. There’s so much more I’d like to dialogue about here with you. I always come back to how did Jesus minister to people. What techniques or approaches did he use? What resources did he use? Simplistic? Yes. Come as little children.

      It is often difficult to press pass our intellect and our sense of control to make friends with the Holy Spirit and rest in Him. But in order to differentiate between the spirits and from whence they came it is needful.

  5. Tonette Kellett says:


    I love where you went with this post! My favorite quote was this…

    “the Holy Spirit enables us to walk with self-control over the relics of our sinful nature. It helps us to take captive every thought and vain imagination (sounds like the unconscious) that exalts itself against the knowledge of Jesus.”

    It is not the unconscious mind that dictates our choices for us. We as believers in Jesus Christ have the Holy Spirit indwelling us.

    Thank you!

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