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Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud: Early Influences Essay

Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud – two of the best known names in psychiatry – each had tremendous roles in the field of psychoanalysis. Born nearly twenty years apart, they met in 1907 (Kendra Cherry ), and their first conversation was rumored to have lasted thirteen hours, they had such a good rapport. Jung soon worked under Sigmund Freud and they became great friends, although Freud was more of a father figure to Jung. Although they both had similar thoughts on issue of psyche development, they differed in significant ways, and those differences eventually drove them apart.

Although Jung did believe, like Freud, that sexual drive often had a great influence on behavior, he felt that Freud did not go far enough, and that this was only one contributor to people’s personalities and issues. Jung’s theories reflected a much more religious component, and Sigmund Freud’s theories were based in scientific evidence. The obvious question might be, how did their own lives and early experience shaped their theories? Sigmund Freud was born in May 6, 1856, in what is now the Czech Republic.

His family was large, wealthy and Jewish, and “young Siggie,” as his mother called him, was not only the oldest of six children but had two half brothers from his father’s first marriage. Although initially religious, spirituality took a back seat when his family went bankrupt and moved to Vienna. It then became important to encourage Sigmund academically, so he could become a doctor and help the family financially. Because of this, he was the only sibling to have his own room to concentrate on his studies, which may have fed his feeling of importance.

Also, in those Victorian times, people suppressed their sexual drives, and perhaps this was a major motivator for Freud. He was influenced by science; Darwin’s, “The Origin of the Species,” was first published just after Freud was born. Science was Freud’s religion. Freud was actually an atheist as an adult (WGBH Educational Foundation , 2004). His belief was that religion was something that someone had to overcome and religion basically was an expression of underlying psychological neuroses and distress ( Kendra Cherry).

He pursued the link between the physical and psychological, and his father’s death in 1896 caused him to delve even deeper into the world of dreams and the unconscious. He definitely believed in the role of repressed sexual attraction in parental relationships and later, adult relationships as causing many of the problems people faced. Jung, who agreed that sexual drive was a factor, also thought Freud was very negative. Jung was born in 1975 in Switzerland. He was the fourth – and only surviving – child of his parents, Paul, a pastor (Carl Jung Biography, 2012), and Emilie, his mother.

His father was a fairly poor, although his was given a more prestigious parish later on. His mother was from a wealthy family. Young Carl soon learned to trust his father more for his consistency, as his mother suffered from depression and spent much time alone in her room, claiming spirits visited her there. At one point in Carl’s life, she was hospitalized, and he was sent to live with his spinster aunt. Carl Jung grew up solitary and alone with his thoughts: he was an introvert. When Jung was growing up, he had a fascination with mystical phenomena.

In fact, although his family was Christian, he was more drawn towards the occult and mystical beliefs, and his mother read to him about exotic religions and shared her own mystical beliefs. He had some early experiences, such as his creation of the wooden mannequin he hid in the attic, that reinforced his idea that a “collective unconscious” of ancestral, spiritual origins played a huge role in people’s lives. He combined medicine with philosophy in many ways, and experienced strange phenomena early on that later became important contributors to his theories of the unconscious and the role of spirituality in psychological development.

Unlike Freud, Jung felt religious belief was necessary to development. Perhaps his role as a Swiss doctor during WWI, and seeing the carnage, reinforced his belief in the necessity of spirituality in a person’s life. Jung, with his lesser emphasis on sex drive and his religious bent, might be something of a prude in his personal life, but he was not. Married with five children, he actually had a rather open marriage, with many sexual relationships. By this time, however, Jung had had a falling out with Freud, whom he ironically accused of being too obsessed with sexuality alone.

In the end, the break may have been when Jung published his book about transformative symbols, which included mythical symbols. Freud, of course, thought this was nonsense. Jung’s belief in individuation, which was the spiritual journey to bring the “two sides” of a person’s psyche together, rejected Freud’s belief that there was a clear, scientific reason, rooted in physiology, for everything. It is easy to see, in looking at both m en’s lives and childhoods, how their very different experiences shaped their theories. Freud and Jung, themselves, are good examples of what, in fact, influences a person’s personality.

Bibliography Kendra Cherry. (n. d. ). Freud & Religion . Retrieved from About: http://psychology. about. com/od/sigmundfreud/p/freud_religion. htm Carl Jung Biography. (2012, Nov 12). Retrieved from Soul Therapy Now: http://soultherapynow. com/articles/carl-jung. html Kendra Cherry . (n. d. ). Sigmund Freud Photobiography. Retrieved from About : http://psychology. about. com/od/sigmundfreud/ig/Sigmund-Freud-Photobiography/Freud-and-Jung. htm WGBH Educational Foundation . (2004). The Life of Sigmund Freud. Retrieved from PBS: http://www. pbs. org/wgbh/questionofgod/twolives/freudbio. html.


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