A Critique of Freud and Jung

Category: Article Critique

The history of the past century is hard to imagine without the names of Freud and Jung. While a lot of their views seem naive, pretentious and far-fetched today, their teachings did not lose their urgency. It is possible to ascertain their growing influence on the moral and political thought and social interactions as an increasing number of people become familiar with psychoanalysis. Jungian and Freudian schools still compete. Sigmund Freud is an Austrian psychologist, a psychiatrist and neurologist, a founder of psychoanalysis. He developed a theory of psychosexual development of the individual. According to his theory, experiences of early childhood play a central role in shaping the character and its pathology . Freud spread the principles of psychoanalysis to different areas of human culture - mythology, folklore, artistic expression and religion. One of the most famous Freud’s theories is the Oedipus complex. The importance of the theory of the Oedipus complex is determined primarily by the impact this complex has on subsequent relationships. Freud believed that the subsequent attitudes toward other people are largely a repetition of the oedipal installation. However, this theory is still criticized by a great number of psychologists.

A student and successor of psychological traditions of psychoanalysis was Carl Jung. He was a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of one of the directions of depth psychology - analytical psychology. According to Jung, the task of analytical psychology is the interpretation of archetypal images that occur in patients. He developed the theory of the collective unconscious in the images (archetypes) that saw the source of human symbols including myths and dreams. The aim of psychotherapy, according to Jung, is the implementation of individuation of the individual. In the article “The Personal and the Collective Unconscious”, Jung enriched the understanding of the content and structure of the individual. His understanding of the unconscious as a rich and vital source of wisdom triggered a new wave of interest in his theory of the modern generation of students and professional psychologists.

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According to Sigmund Freud and his followers in psychoanalysis, the Oedipus complex is a set of children’s experiences consisting of the boy’s attraction to his mother with jealousy and hostility towards the father developing in this regard. The Oedipus complex is one of the basic concepts of classical psychoanalysis used by Freud to describe the ambivalent (dual) relationship of a child to his/her parents. The Oedipus complex is represented as the manifestation of unconscious drives of a child accompanied by an expression of feelings of love and hatred for parents. Developing a theory of neurosis, Freud came to the conclusion that there are strong sexual themes in their etymology. Addressing a confirmation of his hypothesis to mythological subjects, artistic and literary works of history, Freud gives special attention to the ancient Greek myth of Oedipus. Representations of the Oedipus complex have its origin in the ancient Greek tragedy of Sophocles Oedipus the King. It narrates the unfortunate fate of Oedipus. Unknowingly, Oedipus kills his father Lai, the king of Thebes, and then marries his mother Jocasta. When he learns from the oracle about involuntarily committed acts, Oedipus blinds himself. Obtained from the Greek myth, the theme of patricide and a ban on incestuous relationship evolved into the idea of ??Freud’s Oedipus complex. In these mythological subjects, Freud saw not only the evidence that sexual attraction is the basis of human activity but also the proof of the concept of the existence of the sexual complexes that allegedly are laid in a person from childhood. He thought that everyone inherits this complex. According to Freud, dreams convince people that probably everyone is destined to direct the first sexual feelings on mother and the first violent desire on father.

According to Freud, observation of children and study of adult recollections of childhood leads to the conclusion about the general and universal manifestation of the Oedipus complex. A boy is erotically attached to his mother. He wants to possess her and perceives his father as a hindrance. A girl has a tender feeling for her father and the need to remove her mother in order to take her place in the relationship with the father. Freud believed that this complex is equally common to all people regardless of their gender. In his opinion, a human culture associated with the relevant rules and prohibitions on incest is based on this complex . In the Freud’s theory, the beginning of religion, morals, morality, social institutions of society and arts coincide. The Oedipus complex, which is one of the basic formations, further defines the specificity of human sexuality, features of inclinations, oddities, tastes and habits. Preformation of the complex lies at the heart of neurosis and neurotic reactions of a person.

A psychoanalyst and sociologist Carl Jung considered that unconsciousness of a person is divided into personal and collective. As a psychiatrist, he had to deal a lot with problems of personality and its development. Studying these questions, Jung concluded that the mental development of the individual and diseases are largely rooted in the socio-cultural processes. According to the complex concept of Jung, the structure of the human mind consists of four universal elements:

  1. Personal consciousness.
  2. Collective consciousness.
  3. Personal unconsciousness.
  4. Collective unconsciousness.

Carl Gustav introduced the concept of the collective unconscious contrasting it to Freud’s personal unconscious. Under the collective unconscious Jung understands the sphere of unconscious mythology, images of which are a universal human heritage. Moreover, an important difference with Freud’s theory lies in the inherent nature of the layer of the human psyche while Freud believed that origins of its formation form in childhood.

The peculiarity of the collective unconscious, according to Carl Jung, is the inability to its remembering using any methods and techniques as it has not been forgotten or repressed from consciousness by its nature. This is not a collection of all sorts of innate ideas, but a complex of congenital features existing a priori in the mental structure of the personality of each person. The only way of their manifestations is the direct experience of their perception. “They appear only in the creatively designed material as the governing principles of its formation, in other words, we are able to reconstruct the original underlying cause of the prototype by reverse conclusion of the finished work of art back to its origins”.

Carl Jung considered the archetype to be unconscious. This concept refers to “the manifestation of a deeper layer of the unconscious where universal and original characters and motives slumber”. The archetype is a kind of battery of the most valuable human experience, which is perceived by the artist in the creative process. There are different archetypes described by Jung: a child, a mother, a hero, a sage, the Sun, God and death. The most important archetypes are a person, a shadow, anima, animus and the self.

Analyzing unconsciousness, Carl Jung considers that it is wrong to reduce all mental impulses to sexuality, treat libido just as the energy of impulses, and output the entire European culture from the sublimation of the individual. Freud’s concept of libido takes a broader interpretation in Jung. Under libido, he understands the psychic energy that determines the intensity of the mental processes that occur in the human soul. This energy is related not exactly with certain mental-force due to, for example, sexual desire, as in the case with Freud, but on the internal psychological attitude that characterizes the psychic activity of a person.

The theory of the Oedipus complex had a huge influence on modern education. The positive role of this effect is that parents could recognize the harm caused to children not only by sexual arousal, but also because of connivance, overprotection and excessive bans in sexual matters. The negative role is that this theory contributed to the illusion that it is enough to refuse from spanking, prevent sexual intercourse in front of children and protect them from excessive attachment to their parents. The danger lies in the one-sidedness of such councils. Even if to follow all rules religiously, there can still be sown grains of future neuroses.

Similarly to Freud, Jung devoted himself to the study of the dynamic unconscious instincts of human behavior and experience. However, unlike Freud, Jung argued that the contents of the unconscious are something more than repressed sexual and aggressive impulses. Nonetheless, Jung’s theory does not rise above the level of supposition. His basic hypotheses do not provide ample opportunities for serious control. Partly, the reason of it is the case that many of its concepts are not defined clearly enough to be able to assess their validity.

Jung and Freud differ in their views on the nature of the unconscious, on the understanding of libido, and on the primary forms of human adaptation to the society of the surrounding world. It must be said that in many respects, the criticism of Freud’s views by Jung was fair. Carl Jung introduced new trends in psychoanalysis. He significantly strengthened the main postulates of psychoanalysis and helped create a new, highly productive direction in analytical psychology.