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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.
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.