Freud Jung Differences between Freud and Jung

A man walks down a road and meets two men. The first one asks him where he is coming from. The second, where he is going to. They are Freud and Jung.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the founder of the psychoanalysis, grew to his theory through the studying of an interesting and modern (for those times) “disease”: hysteria. Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), his proclaimed “heir”, developed his thoughts experiencing another field of psychological disease: schizophrenia. Both were amazed by the unconscious activities that could subvert and disturb so greatly a person’s life. Both worked mainly with women, their chiefly subject of research.

The older Freud was Jewish, his family life in Vienna (Austria) suffered from social and racial prejudice. The young Sigmund witnessed his father weakness when a passer threw his hat away in a disdainful gesture to which the Jewish man didn’t reply. Jung grew up in the peaceful and eternally neutral Switzerland, born to a Christian pastor father who lost his inner spiritual faith. Jung’s mother recalled the great Goethe (1749-1832) among her ancestors.

Freud graduated as a neurologist but turned to psychopathology after he went to Paris to study with the most renowned neurologist of those times, Jean Martin Charcot. The latter was specialized in the study of hysteria and its susceptibility to hypnosis. Back to Vienna, Freud used hypnosis with his own patients, but soon developed his free association and dream analysis as the method that will give birth to psychoanalysis.

Freud discovered that dreams are the result of disguised psychological matter that has been stored in a dark closet of the mind and that pops up whenever there are life events related to it in some way. What a person interpret as something forbidden or unpleasant is thus immediately repressed, buried inside. However, for some reason, it may periodically or chronically bother the person’s consciousness, therefore needing to be addressed.

From Freud’s point of view, two main streams wrestle with each other in the human mind: Thánatos (in ancient Greek, “Death”) and Eros (in ancient Greek “Love”). Human life unfolds between the tendency to destruction and end and the one towards life, love and procreation. The rebellious Eros gets frequently into trouble, being the biggest of all represented by the Oedipus Complex.

Freud initially believed the unconscious sexual drive to be realistic and concrete, thus being the son sexually attracted to his mother and the girl to her father (in the Electra Complex). Only latter he realized that it was usually a symbolic drive.

The unconscious mind is to Freud the result of personal disposal fighting to get to the surface and thus disturbing the conscious. He believed that there’s the inevitable price we pay for civilization (see his “The Future of an Illusion”, 1927). His method of cure looks back to the past and to the “dirty things” that like monsters disturb the present.

When Freud published his “Interpretation of Dreams” in 1900, Jung was working in the Burgholzi, a psychiatric hospital in Zurich. He studied Freud’s works and applied them to the treatment of his patients. The result was surprising. The schizophrenic mind denied some of Freud’s assertions, mostly when he took in a literal sense what were symbolic images.

Through the free association, Jung recognized relationships between ideas that patients could not have, neither by reading of hearing. Going further in his research, he found parallels among dream’s main plots and symbols of all kind of people: since his patients to American prisoners and natives of middle Africa. Not only, there are recurrent themes in the history of human culture expressed in mythology as well as in literature. Jung’s conclusion was that the unconscious mind cannot be only personal. There‘s a deeper layer that is collective, belonging to each individual on the planet.

In his first main work, “Libido, symbols of transformation” (1913), Jung interpreted the fantasies of a patient and in doing so he inevitably broke with Freud, because of the symbolic analysis and vast background knowledge in mythology, culture and literature he used through the hundreds of pages of his work. Above all, he denied that the sexual drive was a concrete phenomenon, but a metaphor to tell deeper and even more important things for the persons growing.

From then on their ways diverged. Jung was dispossessed of his title of heir, also because he was more interested in research than in managing the growing international psychoanalysis association, and Freud became more and more concerned on holding tight his theory which was dealing with a series of transformations each time a new member joined it.

To Jung, individuals are driven to a higher themselves by inner forces. This is called Individuation Process. The uniqueness of each person is at stake in each life every day. As the heroes in dreams, myths, movies and fairy tales, a person has to fight against external as well as internal obstacles that imprison her. This struggle makes her wings strong, as the butterfly’s wrestling to get out of her cocoon.

The end of the story cannot be told in a few lines, also because there is no end.

I leave you with this image. You go to Freud’s office. He makes you lay down, sits where you can’t see him in order, as he believes, not to interfere with your process of opening up. He mostly listens and let you talk. Then you go to Jung’s office. You’ll find two comfortable armchairs, one facing the other. You and him are two people dealing with the unconsciousness mysteries. One is experienced and helps the second to find his or her own way. Naturally, the analyst’s personality is involved. Jung doesn‘t believe at all the he can hide himself from you. He believes in honesty and humility. To Jung, both people are in a journey, both learning, both discovering and both influenced by the same force: the captivating intelligent unconscious mind.