Freud's theory of psychoanalysis was built on the assumption that human beings have an unconscious mind. This unconscious mind, with its hidden drives and instincts, is what drives behavior. And since the unconscious is so pervasive and directive, it determines behavior, or to say it more philosophically, is deterministic. Psychoanalysis is a highly deterministic approach to human behavior because it assumes that behavioral patterns established in youth determine one's behavior later in life. This deterministic presupposition is in large part what made Freud's theory so intriguing and controversial.
Yet despite the controversy, psychoanalysis spread rapidly within professional circles and attracted some of the brightest physicians of the day. This included both Alfred Adler and Carl Jung, two names that would become synonymous with Freud as much for their alliance as for their eventual split.
Alfred Adler, a medical doctor with a deep interest in psychology and human nature, met Freud in their native Vienna in 1900 at a medical conference where Freud presented his new ideas about dreams and the unconscious. Freud's radical ideas were met with scorn and open hostility, as they often were during these early years of the psychoanalytic movement. Adler, one of the few who had recognized the brilliance of Freud's first major work, The Interpretation of Dreams, was dismayed by the proceedings and came to Freud's defense in an article he wrote for a medical journal. In the article, he demanded that Freud's views be given the respect and attention they deserved. Adler soon joined the circle of psychologists who gathered at Freud's home on Wednesday evenings for animated discussion, debate, and collaboration about emerging psychoanalytic theory. Buttressed by his loyal supporters, many of them insightful psychologists and original thinkers in their own right, Freud's movement grew as his seminal ideas gradually captured the imagination of intellectuals throughout Europe, England, and America. Adler was for a time the president of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association and the editor of its journal. Yet there had always been differences between Adler's views and Freud's, and over the years, these differences became increasingly apparent and problematic. First,
A group of prominent psychologists at Clark University, Massachusetts, in 1909. In the front row are (left to right) Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, and Carl Jung. (Copyright Bettmann/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.)
Adler never accepted Freud's views about the overarching significance of infantile sexual trauma. Freud was typically intolerant of disagreement, though, and in a dramatic and politically charged break, Adler resigned his posts in 1911, leaving Freud's circle along with a group of eight colleagues to found his own school of psychology. He and Freud never met again.
Individual psychology Adler then took his ideas and his followers and began what he called individual psychology, which was based on the idea of the indivisibility of the personality. His most significant divergence from Freud's theory was his belief that the human being is a whole person, not a conglomeration of mechanisms, drives, or dynamic parts. And in contrast to most psychological thinking of the time, Adler believed that human beings are fundamentally self-determined. Central to his therapeutic approach, and in direct conflict with Freud's views, was his belief that people always have control over their lives; their choices are what shape them. "Individual Psychology breaks through the theory of determinism," Jung wrote. "No experience is a cause of success or failure. We do not suffer from the shock of our experiences—the so-called trauma—but we make out of them just what suits our purposes. We are self-determined by the meaning we give to our experiences." Adler's emphasis on the wholeness of the person and the fact that our values inevitably shape our experience led to his conviction that, in the end, there is only one true meaning to human life: care and love for our fellow humans. "There have always been men who understood this fact; who knew that the meaning of life is to be interested in the whole of mankind and who tried to develop social interest and love. In all religions we find this concern for the salvation of man." For Adler, it is only this meaning, this interpretation of our experience as it pertains to the whole of humankind that leads to the genuine mental health and happiness of the individual.
Analytical psychology Carl Jung met Freud in 1907, after he sent Freud a report on some of his early research in the psychotherapeutic technique of word association, to which Freud responded with an invitation to meet him in Vienna. Jung lived in Zurich, where he was practicing psychiatry and teaching at Zurich University. At that first meeting in Freud's home, the two men talked "virtually without a pause for thirteen hours." Each was captivated by the other's genius and passionate interest in psychology, and they began a close correspondence in which they exchanged letters as often as three times a week. Jung quickly stepped into a leading role in the psychoanalytic movement, becoming a staunch defender and chief disseminator of Freud's ideas. Freud confided to Jung that he saw him as his "successor and crown prince," and Jung became, for all concerned, Freud's heir apparent. From the beginning, Jung found Freud's theories about repression and the unconsciousto be ingenious explanations of much of what he was finding in his work with his own patients. But, as Adler did, he struggled with Freud's insistence on the primacy of the sexual drive.
There was another significant tension between Freud and Jung, however. Jung had a burgeoning interest in world religions, mythology, and alchemy, interests with which Freud had little patience. In fact, Freud was by this time openly atheistic and viewed religion as inferior to science. In contrast, religious imagery and occultism had in fact been a recurring fascination for Jung, and he had had several "paranormal" experiences and encounters with psychic mediums during his youth.
A major turning point in Jung's intellectual career was his book Symbols of Transformation, researched and written between 1909 and 1912, while he was still Freud's champion spokesman and organizer. Jung immersed himself in a world of mythology, fantasy, and preverbal imagery. "The whole thing came upon me like a landslide that cannot be stopped," he wrote of his work during this period. "It was the explosion of all those psychic contents which could find no room, no breathing space, in the constricting atmosphere of Freudian psychology and its narrow outlook."
In 1914 Jung broke with Freud to develop his own school of psychology. His analytical psychology emphasized the interpretation of the psyche's symbols from a universal mythological perspective rather than a personal biographical one. Jung believed that the psyche has a collective ancestry that goes back millions of years. He argued that the psyche was made up of what he termed archetypes, which are primordial images inherited from our ancestors. As support for such a theory, he spoke of the immediate attachment infants have for their mother, the inevitable fear of the dark seen in young children, and how images such as the sun, moon, wise old man, angels, and evil all seem to be predominant themes throughout history. The aim of life, according to Jung, is to know oneself. He thought the best way to do that is to explore both the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious.
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