We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

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

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a PublicPeople contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon996756 — On Oct 11, 2016

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.

By anon996755 — On Oct 11, 2016

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.

By anon996297 — On Aug 08, 2016

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.

By patrtrick26 — On Oct 07, 2014

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.

By anon968778 — On Sep 05, 2014

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.

By anon966445 — On Aug 19, 2014

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

By anon955388 — On Jun 06, 2014

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.

By anon155837 — On Feb 24, 2011

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

By anon147516 — On Jan 29, 2011

@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.

By anon132781 — On Dec 08, 2010

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

By anon127888 — On Nov 17, 2010

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

By anon112881 — On Sep 22, 2010

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.

By anon88830 — On Jun 07, 2010

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.

By anon78670 — On Apr 19, 2010

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.

By anon30755 — On Apr 23, 2009

Who do you prefer? Jung or Freud and why?

By verclio — On Jan 04, 2009

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.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a PublicPeople contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.