Tarot, Psychology & DSM – “Justice”

No matter the number associated with this card, be it VIII or XI, the idea of “Justice” has its own perils when seen through the eyes of neurotic or psychotic tendencies…the far end of the scale of justice…out of balance.

If you are new to this series, I recommend that you review the May 2020 weblog post I started on my current perceptions about the connection between Tarot, psychology, and the DSM. This will provide a much fuller description of these concepts.

On the surface, the idea of justice may seem noble, associated with professions in the legal system. We think of judges, courts, attorneys, peace officers, and issues such as social justice, fairness, equality, and the appropriate application of law.

At its core, I see this card as the “Balance” archetype, often represented by the “scale”, which is a measured art, a cultivated “virtue” to be practiced, not a stagnant point of view or energy. When one cannot practice this art of balance, life begins to tilt to one side, the other side, or flips back and forth.

In the DSM, there are many diagnoses that flip between two states, most lumped under the title of “Bipolar Disorder”, with paired symptoms such as”depression” and “mania”, representing the two sides of that dynamic scale, switching back and forth with very little middle ground.

Psychological challenges that carry this off-balance pattern:

  • Bipolar disorder (Mood Disorder)– involves specific fluctuations of Mood and Affect:
    • Mood – subjective emotional content that an individual personally experiences and can describe to others (e.g., “I feel very sad.”)
    • Affect – behaviors that a person exhibits and that are used to infer internal emotional states in someone (e.g., a person who is continually crying is considered to be very sad)
    • The Mood and Affect in Bipolar range from depression to mania.
  • Borderline Personality disorder (Personality Disorder) – ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior:
    • May experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety. Can be dangerous or abusive.
    • These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships, resulting in push/pull interactions.
The New Palladini Tarot by David Palladini

Astrologically, Libra, with it’s scale of fairness and justice, is often associated with the Justice Tarot card and, much like the challenges of this sign, can represent being of two minds, a mental split which can manifest as the following:

  • Inability to make decisions, fear of making the “wrong” decision or disappointing others.
  • Over critical, judgmental.
  • Right fighter, litigious actions.

Balance and the “Middle Way” are the way out of this one-sided or wishy-washy mindset, and as the virtues teach us, it is an awareness, intent, and practice that moves one closer to being centered.


American Addiction Center

National Institute of Mental Health

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  1. Pingback: Psychology & Tarot – Exploring Major Issues | MY SACRED JOURNEY . . .

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