Friday, October 7, 2011

The Freud-Jung Break in Light of Contemporary Trends

"The authors' argument is that the Freud-Jung battle was in large measure a narcissistic one and that the technical arguments that were the ostensible points of contention seem to us to be much more settled issues than they were to the original protagonists. In fact, the field of depth psychology has progressed to the point that some of the things Freud and Jung argued about, such as the nature of libido, are now of minimal relevance to many analytic practitioners. Many of us no longer depend on libido theory for our clinical formulations. Other disputed areas, such as the importance of the pre-oedipal years, have been clarified and agreed upon as a result of continued clinical experience. Still other bones of contention hardly seem worth fighting over; the issue of the validity of religious belief is no longer a hotly contested one. . . .

Although there are still important areas of disagreement between the Freudian and Jungian traditions, these hardly require the ostracism and defensiveness that has characterized the camps so far. For both men, the break involved the disruption of a self-selfobject tie that resulted in serious narcissistic wounding, and as a result, the baby of their theoretical differences, which could have grown into an interesting child of mixed parentage, was thrown out with the bathwater of their personal relationship. So far, there has been rather little opportunity for their differences to be debated in the light of the evolution of the field since their deaths. But, as Andrew Samuels (1985) has pointed out, despite the rejection of Jung by mainstream psychoanalysis, much of his thought has independently found its way into modern psychotherapeutic practice.

No less an authority than Paul Roazen (1975) noted that: "Few responsible figures in psychoanalysis would be disturbed today if an analyst were to present views identical to Jung's in 1913" (p. 272). To substantiate Roazen's insight, Samuels provides a list of some of the ways in which Jung's ideas have been incorporated into the mainstream of psychotherapy. These are: stress on early preoedipal experiences with mother; the vital part played by innate psychic structures; the creative, purposeful, nondestructive aspects of the unconscious; the forward-looking meaning of symptoms as distinct from their causal reductive aspects; the move away from patriarchal, male-dominated, and phallocentric approaches, with attention to the specific psychology of the feminine; stress on the clinical use of countertransference; the idea that analysis is a mutually transformative endeavor and that the analyst's personality and his or her experience of the analysis is crucial; the idea that regression is potentially useful; the stress on the self rather than the ego, in which the self is the totality of the person and not just a representation in the ego; the fact that the personality is subdivided and can potentially split, creating autonomous splinter psyches, which he calls complexes; the idea that incestuous fantasy can be symbolic and not literal; that issues of the integration and unfolding of the personality (individuation, or the realization of the self's nuclear program) are more important than a stress on genitality; the expansion of therapeutic interest into the second half of life; and the idea that the problems between parents find expression in their children. Surely future historians of the field will ask why, if all of these ideas are found in Jung and all are now more or less acceptable ideas among some psychoanalysts, it happened that Jungian theory became so ostracized and devalued in the larger psychotherapeutic world? Some of this was the result of the opprobrium and ad hominem attacks that Freud's followers heaped onto Jung himself, so that he developed a bad reputation at a time when psychoanalysis dominated American psychiatry. In addition, Jung's interest in a nonreductive approach to religion earned him the title of mystic rather than psychologist. (A similar criticism was directed at Kohut because of his interest in empathy.) Jung's rejection of the exclusively sexual etiology of neurosis in Freud's theory was enough to seal his fate among the early Freudians, but today such rejection does not mean automatic dismissal from the larger psychoanalytic community. Apparently, some of Jung's ideas have gained credence without his early contributions being formally recognized because they have been independently arrived at by other workers. This fact, together with the acceptance of psychoanalytic ideas by Jungian analysts, may mean that the split between the followers of Jung and Freud has begun to heal."(pp. 294-295)

Lionel Corbett and Anne-Lise Cohen (1998). The Freud-Jung Break: Reflections and Revisions in Light of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, Progress in Self Psychology, Vol . 14, pp. 293-328


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