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What are the Primary Differences Between Freud's and Jung's Theories?

Freud's psychoanalysis centers on the role of unconscious desires and childhood experiences, emphasizing sexual and aggressive drives. Jung's analytical psychology expands the unconscious to include collective archetypes and spiritual dimensions. While Freud saw behavior as rooted in past conflicts, Jung believed in the psyche's forward momentum towards self-realization. Curious about how these theories influence modern psychology? Let's delve deeper.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Freud and Jung shared a relationship of many decades, as Jung, the junior partner, learned more about Freud’s theories of the unconscious. Perhaps fortunately, to modern psychology, Jung later came to reject some of Freud’s theories, and leaned toward his own method of psychology which he called analytical. Both men drew on the concept of the unconscious as a way of explaining dreams, but Jung drew more on a multi-layered concept of the subconscious. The primary differences between Freud and Jung are interesting to observe.

A main schism which separates the two psychiatrists pertains to religion. Freud felt religion was an escape and a fallacy, which ought not to be propagated. His relationship to religion resembles that of Karl Marx. Religion was “opiate” of the masses. His faith was fully in the mind's ability to access its unconscious thoughts, thus curing any neuroses.

Sigmund Freud.
Sigmund Freud.

Jung conversely believed that religion was an important place of safety for the individual as he or she began the process of individuation, exploring and accepting all parts of the self. Religion further was a means of communication between all types of people, because although religions differed, the archetypes and symbols remained the same.

Jung did not practice a traditional Christian religion, but rather leaned toward exploring the occult. In some of Freud’s letters, he accuses Jung of anti-Semitism, based not so much on the acceptance of Judaism as a religion, but rather on discrimination against Jews in general. Jung’s respect for the religious aspects of Jewish life was greater than Freud’s however.

Freud's thoughts on religion resemble those of Karl Marx.
Freud's thoughts on religion resemble those of Karl Marx.

Freud and Jung disagreed on what constituted the unconscious. Freud viewed the unconscious as a collection of images, thoughts and experiences the individual refused to process, which lead to neuroses. Jung added to this definition by stating that each individual also possessed a collective unconscious, a group of shared images and archetypes common to all humans. These often bubbled up to the surface of the personal unconscious. Dreams could be better interpreted by understanding the symbolic reference points of universally shared symbols.

Jung believed that the work of any therapist was to help the patient "recognize the work of the unconscious."
Jung believed that the work of any therapist was to help the patient "recognize the work of the unconscious."

Freud believed that the principal driving force behind men and women’s activities was repressed or expressed sexuality. Unfulfilled sexuality led to pathological conditions. Jung believed that sex constituted only one of the many things that drive humans. More importantly, humans are driven by their need to achieve individuation, wholeness or full knowledge of the self. Many emotions drive humans to act in psychologically unhealthy ways, but all these ways were a longing for the desire to feel complete.

Freud believed that religion was an escape and a fallacy, while Jung thought it provided safety for the individual.
Freud believed that religion was an escape and a fallacy, while Jung thought it provided safety for the individual.

The unconscious to Freud was the storage facility for all repressed sexual desires, thus resulting in pathological or mental illness. Only through laying bare the unconscious could a person discover how to live happily and recover from mental illness. Jung, conversely, felt that the unconscious often strove on its own for wholeness, and that mental illness was not pathology, but an unconscious regulation of emotions and stored experience tending toward individuation.

The goal of the therapist, according to Jung, was to help the person recognize the work of the unconscious, and thus to assist the patient in understanding how better to strive for individuation which would produce a “whole” person.

While Freud tends toward a very masterful way of storming the unconscious to denude it of repressed feelings, Jung’s path is more in line with the later humanist psychologists. It inspires the holistic Gestalt school, and later therapeutic schools.

Both Freud and Jung used talk therapy to help identify and solve emotional and mental issues.
Both Freud and Jung used talk therapy to help identify and solve emotional and mental issues.

The idea of an unconscious is generally almost universally accepted, yet neither Freud nor Jung felt that after an explanation, continued therapeutic work was necessary. Later psychoanalytic schools like those which posit behavioral changes have proved more successful in treating mental illness. Once underlying feelings are understood, the work lies in helping to negate these feelings and replace them with more positive thoughts. This work is something both Freud and Jung ignored. Yet we are indebted to both theorists for their contributions to psychiatry. In effect, they are credited with beginning the field of psychiatry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the fundamental differences between Freud's and Jung's views on the unconscious?

Freud's concept of the unconscious is primarily a reservoir of repressed thoughts and desires, heavily influenced by sexual and aggressive instincts. He believed the unconscious mind played a crucial role in shaping behavior, often through dreams and slips of the tongue. In contrast, Jung expanded on this idea with his notion of the collective unconscious, a shared, deeper layer of the unconscious that holds universal archetypes inherited from our ancestors. This collective unconscious, according to Jung, influences our behaviors and experiences by manifesting in symbols, myths, and dreams that are common across different cultures.

How did Freud and Jung's theories differ on the structure of the psyche?

Freud's structural model of the psyche consists of three parts: the id (instinctual drives), the ego (the conscious self that mediates between the id and reality), and the superego (moral standards and conscience). Jung, however, proposed a more complex structure that includes the ego, the personal unconscious (similar to Freud's notion of the unconscious), and the collective unconscious. Jung also introduced the concepts of archetypes, the persona (the mask one presents to the world), the anima and animus (the feminine and masculine aspects of the psyche), and the shadow (the darker, repressed part of the psyche).

Did Freud and Jung agree on the role of sexuality in psychological development?

No, Freud and Jung had divergent views on the role of sexuality. Freud posited that sexuality was the primary driving force behind human behavior and psychological development, with his theory of psychosexual stages outlining how early childhood experiences shape personality. Jung, on the other hand, believed that libido was not just sexual energy but a more general life force, and he emphasized the role of spiritual and cultural factors in psychological development. Jung felt that the search for personal growth and meaning was a central human motivation, not just sexual fulfillment.

What is the significance of dreams in Freud's and Jung's theories?

Both Freud and Jung considered dreams to be important windows into the unconscious, but they interpreted them differently. Freud saw dreams as wish fulfillments, often with latent content that needed to be deciphered to reveal the unconscious desires and conflicts. Jung, conversely, viewed dreams as direct expressions of the unconscious, providing insight into unresolved issues and future potential. He believed dreams could offer solutions to problems and were less disguised than Freud suggested, often using universal symbols from the collective unconscious.

How did Freud and Jung's approaches to therapy differ?

Freud's approach to therapy, known as psychoanalysis, involves free association, dream analysis, and transference, focusing on uncovering repressed memories and desires to resolve neuroses. Jung's analytical psychology, while also utilizing dream analysis, places a greater emphasis on the integration of the conscious and unconscious parts of the psyche, aiming for individuation or the harmonious balance of various aspects of the self. Jung also incorporated a broader range of cultural and spiritual elements into his therapeutic practice.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent PublicPeople contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent PublicPeople contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

anon996756

It is amazing that Freud achieved overwhelming greatness despite the fact that his work was with psychotics in a clinical setting. It was much later that his work with 'normal' people who had mal-adaptive behaviors excelled.

anon996755

Freud and Jung are both like god; I believe in what both teach us, but I do not believe all that is said about either. Freud was so far ahead of the world. Jung would not have had the opportunity to further his concepts without the trailblazing of Freud. Those who accuse Freud of too much sexuality are themselves in denial of their own sexuality to that same extent. As for religion, we live in a time when we wish Freud could re-incarnate and stop the carnage all over the world, all over "religious" differences.

anon996297

If one looks at Jung personally, he was less interested in 'religion', as it is usually understood. He was interested in esoteric 'spirituality,' to be more specific. This was quite dangerous at the time, but less so now. Freud may have given Jung some initial respectability and credit is due there, but he was soon left behind by Jung.

To many, Jung is still considered too metaphysical, and his interest in esoterica too eccentric. This is probably the reason, alas, why he is not yet regarded as superior to Freud. I personally believe that eventually his genius will be recognized.

patrtrick26

Freud seems sexually motivated in all his theories, I haven't grasped all of the thought processes of Jung, I'm torn because repressed experiences can lead to mental illness, and dealing with dreams and the concepts of consciousness has a way of healing.

anon968778

Freud seems too much caught up in an over-rational view of what humans are or should be. Jung looks at the psyche as nature and sees lots of things, both rational and irrational. Jungs focus on the Self gives him a unique perspecitve. In a time when modern man has lost himself and sees the psyche as "nothing" or "fantasies," Jung is the guide back to ourselves.

anon966445

Yes, Jung was ahead of his time. Only through progressive thinking, or science, will we get closer to discovering a universal truth.

anon955388

I prefer Freud because religion has no place in science, in the abstract thinking, or in introspective thought of therapy. One cannot address and manganese neurosis with "faith' and false hope. One must use rationality, logics, ethics and morality. I am an ardent believer in Marx' theories and Freud compliments those as well. I like Jung's archetypes, but that is as far as it goes with his analysis.

anon155837

Answering the above question, I was fortunate enough to see the Red Book at the Rubens in NYC. A magical experience.

anon147516

@anon132781 - Freud wasn't obsessed with sex. If you'd study him thoroughly you'd understand that most of his references to sex mean gender oriented things. The only sexual references he brings up are the Oedipus/Electra Complexes.

anon132781

i think jung was at least generation ahead of freud, who was himself ill and obsessed with sex.

anon127888

I'm having a hard time discerning any core differences between Jung and Erikson.

anon112881

Did anyone get a chance to see Jung's Red Book at the Rubin in NYC? It is quite spectacular. Jung was a very interesting man.

anon88830

honestly, to avoid criticism in discussing about this article I'll just say that both of them knew that there will be radical theories before and after them. Freud still is the root of the modern psychology.

anon78670

i prefer jung, not saying freud is bad though. jung seems to be more concerned with people and how we live our lives (religious influence), and in a massive world full of intelligent and thinking humans we cannot reject our relationships with them, without empathy and introspection i reckon we would still be apes.

anon30755

Who do you prefer? Jung or Freud and why?

verclio

I've just finished taking a basic psychology class based on the theories of these two psychologists. This is an excellent summary of the primary differences between the two.

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    • Sigmund Freud.
      Sigmund Freud.
    • Freud's thoughts on religion resemble those of Karl Marx.
      By: Georgios Kollidas
      Freud's thoughts on religion resemble those of Karl Marx.
    • Jung believed that the work of any therapist was to help the patient "recognize the work of the unconscious."
      By: michaeljung
      Jung believed that the work of any therapist was to help the patient "recognize the work of the unconscious."
    • Freud believed that religion was an escape and a fallacy, while Jung thought it provided safety for the individual.
      By: Ruggiero Scardigno
      Freud believed that religion was an escape and a fallacy, while Jung thought it provided safety for the individual.
    • Both Freud and Jung used talk therapy to help identify and solve emotional and mental issues.
      By: Tatyana Gladskih
      Both Freud and Jung used talk therapy to help identify and solve emotional and mental issues.