Freud and Jung: an incomplete encounter1


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    The paper was first presented (in French) at a conference entitled ‘Freud et Jung: une rencontre manquée’ organized by The International Association of the History of Psychoanalysis in Paris, February 2002. The point of departure was a Jungian Commentary on Freud's An Autobiographical Study.


Abstract:  The author discusses the bases of the close, personal and professional relationship between Freud and Jung, and conjectures that the eventual schism between them was the result of the different profound psychological needs that each had for the  other. Because of his identification with the psychoanalytic enquiry, particularly as it was based in large measure on his own self analysis, Freud looked to Jung as a collaborator who would not deviate from the principles at the basis of psychoanalysis, seeking psychoanalysis’ acceptance within the established scientific community. From Jung's point of view, Freud fulfilled the role of a respected father figure who, Jung hoped, would grant him the autonomy and freedom to pursue his own scientific enquiry, based on Freud's ideas, but which he would revise according to his own researches. These led Jung to certain revisions and additions, such as the nature and function of the libido, the broadening of the idea of the complex (as in the Oedipus complex) to include a number of universal, archetypal themes, and the elaboration of the concept of the self.

During the years of their relationship, they shared a mutual psychological support which was deeply important to each, based on reciprocal love and respect but also on a fantasy that each would be able to supply to the other a key capacity that the other lacked. Jung was able to offer important scientific verifications of a number of psychoanalytic notions via the Word Association Test, such as the concept of repression, of the complex, including the Oedipus complex, and the proof of the existence of the unconscious. However, neither could supply to the other what each looked for in the other at the psychological level.

The final breakdown and rupture in their relationship was caused by their theoretical differences and by the fact that they became bitter competitors in a race to publish treatises on the nature and origins of spirituality and religion. It has left in its wake the implicit traces of discord and misapprehension which have characterized much of subsequent professional relationships between the two traditions.