When Carl met Sigmund

With the UK release of the new Cronenberg film ‘A Dangerous Method’ starring the gorgeous Keira Knightly this week, we thought you might like to re-visit the very interesting history behind the relationship between Carl Yung and Sigmund Freud. – Deskarati –

Jung was thirty when he sent his Studies in Word Association to Sigmund Freud in Vienna in 1906. The two men met for the first time the following year, and Jung recalled the discussion between himself and Freud as interminable. They talked, he remembered, for thirteen hours, virtually without stopping’. Six months later, the then 50-year-old Freud sent a collection of his latest published essays to Jung in Zurich, which marked the beginning of an intense correspondence and collaboration that lasted six years and ended in May 1910. At this time Jung resigned as the chairman of the International Psychoanalytical Association, where he had been elected with Freud’s support.

Today Jung’s and Freud’s theories have diverged. Nevertheless, they influenced each other during the intellectually formative years of Jung’s life. As Freud was already fifty years old at their meeting, he was well beyond the formative years. In 1906 psychology as a science was still in its early stages. Jung, who had become interested in psychiatry as a student by reading Psychopathia Sexualis by Richard von Krafft-Ebing, professor in Vienna, now worked as a doctor under the psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in Burghölzli and became familiar with Freud’s idea of the unconsciousthrough Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) and was a proponent of the new “psycho-analysis.” At the time, Freud needed collaborators and pupils to validate and spread his ideas. Burghölzli was a renowned psychiatric clinic in Zurich at which Jung was a young doctor whose research had already given him international recognition.

In 1908, Jung became an editor of the newly founded Yearbook for Psychoanalytical and Psychopathological Research. The following year, Jung traveled with Freud and Sándor Ferenczi to the U.S. to spread the news of psychoanalysis and in 1910, Jung became Chairman for Life of the International Psychoanalytical Association. While Jung worked on his Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido (Psychology of the Unconscious), tensions grew between Freud and Jung, mostly due to their disagreements over the nature of libidoand religion. In 1912 these tensions came to a peak because Jung felt severely slighted after Freud visited his colleague Ludwig Binswanger in Kreuzlingen without paying him a visit in nearby Zurich, an incident Jung referred to as “the Kreuzlingen gesture.” Shortly thereafter, Jung again traveled to the United States and gave the Fordham lectures, which were published as The Theory of Psychoanalysis. While they contain some remarks on Jung’s dissenting view on the nature of libido, they represent largely a “psychoanalytical Jung” and not the theory Jung became famous for in the following decades.

In November 1912, Jung and Freud met in Munich for a meeting among prominent colleagues to discuss psychoanalytical journals. At a talk about a new psychoanalytic essay on Amenhotep IV, Jung expressed his views on how it related to actual conflicts in the psychoanalytic movement. While Jung spoke, Freud suddenly fainted and Jung carried him to a couch.

Jung and Freud personally met for the last time in September 1913 for the Fourth International Psychoanalytical Congress, also in Munich. Jung gave a talk on psychological types, the introvertedand the extraverted type, in analytical psychology. This constituted the introduction of some of the key concepts which came to distinguish Jung’s work from Freud’s in the next half century.

In the following years Jung experienced considerable isolation in his professional life, exacerbated through World War I. His Seven Sermons to the Dead (1917) reprinted in his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections can also be read as expression of the psychological conflicts which beset Jung around the age of forty after the break with Freud.

Jung’s primary disagreement with Freud stemmed from their differing concepts of the unconscious. Jung saw Freud’s theory of the unconscious as incomplete and unnecessarily negative. According to Jung (though not according to Freud), Freud conceived the unconscious solely as a repository of repressed emotions and desires. Jung agreed with Freud’s model of the unconscious, what Jung called the “personal unconscious“, but he also proposed the existence of a second, far deeper form of the unconscious underlying the personal one. This was the collective unconscious, where the archetypes themselves resided, represented in mythology by a lake or other body of water, and in some cases a jug or other container. Freud had actually mentioned a collective level of psychic functioning but saw it primarily as an appendix to the rest of the psyche.

Edited from Carl Jung

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2 Responses to When Carl met Sigmund

  1. K Jones says:

    I was actually watching the film, ‘A Dangerous Method’, on DVD and was curious if this was not the famous Carl Jung as Keira Knightly’s psychiatrist. I was happy to find this article in my Google search for images of Jung & Freud. The article was helpful in relating the history and science involved in the movie, as well. I have now bookmarked this interesting website!

  2. K Jones says:

    Would be interested in the thoughts of the author and/or other readers…

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