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Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud: Restructuring of Psychoanalytic Theories

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Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud are the prominent names of psychoanalytic theory. The interpretations of dreams, conscious and unconscious, sexuality, and religion are the main concerns of Freud’s and Jung’s studies, however, they also have distinctive arguments about common topics. Contrary to Freud’s theory of the unconscious, Jung insists on the issue of the collective unconscious. Also, the disagreements about dream interpretations between them led to new horizons and arguments in the psychoanalytic world. In this paper, the theories of the two scholars will be compared and investigated in a certain manner.

Sigmund Freud is an Austrian neurologist who carries out studies on dream interpretations and the unconscious and develops his arguments around them. Carl Gustav Jung is a Swiss psychiatrist who coined the notion of Analytical Psychology to distinguish his theories from Freud’s. Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud had an intense friendship relationship after their encounter in Vienna in 1907. Besides, Freud considered Jung as an heir to his theories. However, a conflict arises between Jung and Freud when Jung does not agree with Freud’s arguments about focusing on only sexuality as a key method for the unconscious by claiming that his concept of the unconscious is too shallow and negative. 

However, according to Jung, there are three parts of the human psyche: the ego (the conscious mind), the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious which incorporates Jung’s ideas about archetypes. 

One of the major contrasts between the Jungian and Freudian definitions of the unconscious was Jung’s comparison of the collective unconscious to a source that contained all of humanity’s experiences and knowledge. The notion of synchronicity, or the inexplicable emotions of togetherness that all people experience, was Jung’s proof of the collective unconscious. Jung demonstrates that people have access to the unconscious through a variety of symbols seen in everyday life, such as dreams, art, and religion. But Freud states that the impact of unconscious thinking processes on different areas of human actions, and it was concluded that the most significant of these forces were youthful sexual urges that were suppressed by the conscious mind.

As it is mentioned before, Freud puts forward the idea that the unconscious is the epicenter of repressed, sex, and traumatic experiences. The human psyche has three stages: id, ego, and superego. The id contains human’s hidden desires which seek immediate pleasure, ego is linked to conscious experiences. Superego mediates human’s impulses of id and ego. Freud uses the term “libido” to describe physiological energy related to sexual urges. Jung disagreed with Freud’s notion of libido associated with sexual instincts, instead, he believes that libido is a kind of mental energy which enables an individual to motivate herself himself in particular ways such as intellectuality or spirituality. Jung also divided the human psyche in three parts as well: the ego, personal unconscious, and collective unconscious. He departs his theory from Freud by conceptualizing the unconscious in a particular way. The ego is the conscious level of the human mind that the person is aware of higher emotions, memories, and thoughts. The personal unconscious also comprises forgotten experiences or repressed feelings. However, Jung associates the personal unconscious with past also future aspirations while Freud’s concerns are past and childhood experiences. 

Furthermore, the collective unconscious is the most evident distinction in Jung’s theory. It belongs to the category of universal unconsciousness. Ancestral memories, which Jung referred to as archetypes, are reflected in all civilizations and portrayed in art, literature, and dreams, as he says in his article. The human psyche is founded on various archetypes, according to Jung, which affect current actions. He specifically mentions four archetypes: persona, anima animus, shadow, and self. The persona (or mask, as Jung termed it) is the external face that a person displays to the world. It hides an individual’s true face. The animus describes the feminine side of men and the masculine side of women, they reflect each other. The shadow is likened to Freud’s theory of “id” which incorporates the creative and destructive side of the human psyche, it is a double-functioning element. Finally, the self is the wholeness of the human experience. These archetypes are the products of the collective unconscious, they are universal.

According to Freud, dreams are the reflection of the unconscious what human’s deepest desires lay in there, hidden, disguised. They are repressed, provoking desires (mainly sexual) that individuals cannot act these desires. They appear in the form of symbols in one’s dream. For example, Freud eats spinach in his dream even if he hated it when he was young, and it may symbolize his maturity. 

Jung disagrees with Freud because dreams should not be interpreted in sexual connotations all the time. According to Jung, dreams are more symbolic, and metaphoric that pain, delirium, and unconventional behavior expose itself symbolically in dreams. These symbols could be interpreted through external forces (places) or internal forces (emotions). The distinctive aspect from Freud, he claimed that dreams involve collective elements. Everyone is influenced by hisher ancestors and inherited to the next generations. These prototypes are articulated by symbols in dreams.

Furthermore, Freud argues that an infant baby establishes an Oedipus Complex. The baby boy develops sexual impulses toward his mother which is an unpleasant circumstance for the father. A certain kind of castration emerges between father and child. It has a similar effect on girls as well, they threaten the location of the mother. (Electra Complex) A male child is afraid of cutting of his penis by his father. (Castration complex). The female child envies her father’s penis. On the other hand, Jung thought that Freud’s only focus point is sexual behavior and he rejects Oedipus’s complex theory. He indicates the relationship with children and their parents is based on pure love and care. Religion and spirituality should be separated from psychoanalytic theory. He is also considered a “godless Jew” because he was an atheist. He grappled with religion or metaphysical notions of society. Freud considers religion as “obsessional neurosis”. On the other hand, Jung studied religion and thought that religion was a common practice that it affects the human psyche. He examined religions through archetypes. 

As an additional note that it is stated in the sources that Jung was especially interested in parapsychology and paranormality while Freud was skeptical about it. Also, their clinical attitudes were different. While Freud frequently sees his patients 6 sessions in a week, he wants his patients to lie down on a couch and feel comfortable; Jung sees his patients twice a week and prefers to meet with them face to face. “Free association” was the method of psychoanalytic therapy mostly used by Freud to discover the thoughts, emotions, repressed feelings, traumas, or maybe deepest desires that a patient has in the higher unconscious. The free association enables patients to express themselves without any constraint. The therapy has three stages:

  1. Transference
  2. Projection
  3. Resistance

Transference is the process of conveying feelings to a different person. The stage of projection is the process of projecting an individual’s qualities onto someone else. Resistance is the method of preventing certain memories or emotions

Despite everything, Jung and Freud focused on the conscious and unconscious minds of individuals. Both practiced dream interpretation, their theories are positioned around repressed human behaviors. They have similar backgrounds and even if their friendship did not end well, thanks to each other’s ideas, new theories were produced and new views were added to the world of psychoanalysis. Although Jung coined the notion of the collective unconscious, it has similar qualities to Freud’s term “id”. They are both split human psyche and mind and aware of the significance of investigating the unconscious mind. They both believed that the human psyche consists of three components.

All in all, Freud aimed to raise Carl Jung as the heir to the theories of psychoanalysis, but Jung decided to restructure Freud’s theories in line with his acquisitions and knowledge, assuming that Freud’s theories were not perfect. Although he refuted some of Freud’s theories, the fact that he was inspired by Freud’s ideas and produced theories on his ideas cannot be denied. The unconscious has been studied more extensively in Jung’s work because, according to Jung, Freud’s theories were based solely on sexual impulses. Thanks to Freud’s theories, Jung improved an understanding of the collective unconscious believing that people carry the traces of their ancestors’ unconscious. They interpreted the dreams in different ways but they both conducted their work in the light of revealing the unconscious and enriched psychoanalysis with new theories.

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Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud: Restructuring of Psychoanalytic Theories. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from
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