Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pier Claudio Devescovi on the Separation of Freud and Jung

Introduction: "The thesis I wish to uphold is that Jung, at the time of his first meeting with Freud, had already developed his own understanding of the Unconscious and of psychic functioning and had autonomously elaborated a method of his own.

His ideas and his method, with their deep-seated roots in humanistic culture, had taken shape during his years at the University of Basel (1895-1900). It was in his degree dissertation entitled ‘On the psychology and pathology of so-called occult phenomena’ (Jung 1902) that they were first presented in a more organic way.

I shall try to follow the formation of Jungian ideas using his university years' documents—some already published and others still in course of publication—so as to highlight the relevant historical coordinates and cultural influences. I believe that these elements played an important part in Jung's relations with Freud and in their separation. Beyond the many facets of this undoubtedly very complex relationship, the fact remains that the two men had incredibly different cultural backgrounds and ways of thinking. Independently from one another, they both constructed hypotheses on psychic functioning and on the aetiology of neurosis and elaborated a method for analysing the Unconscious."
(p. 277)

Conclusion: "I have tried to highlight the nucleus of Jung's initial ideas, tracing their origins and derivations. Jung's conceptions of mythology and religion, his historical perspective, his understanding of the Unconscious, of repression and of the aetiology of hysteria have roots in a cultural background and in a method very different from Freud's. The originality and independence of this set of ideas enable us to argue that Jung should not simply be considered as one of Freud's pupils and that the elements that I have described played an important role in the relationship, and in the eventual separation, between the two men.

During the years in which Freud and Jung worked together, the various aspects: political, transferential, professional, etc. evolved around this basic situation. Freud strongly believed that it was his destiny to be the founder of psychoanalysis, which meant he was entirely open to the prospect of having as his successor someone who would continue his work, but left no space for a plurality of fundamental ideas, nor for the possibility of a co-foundation. These were interpreted by Freud as a schismatic attitude on Jung's part and, as such, were received with bitterness and resentment. Over 80 years after that split, and in the light of the considerations which I have attempted to express, it seems to me that their relationship should be viewed, rather, as the ‘Chronicle of a Separation Foretold’. " (pp. 284-285)

Pier Claudio Devescovi (2000). At the Origins of Jungian Thought: Culture and Method. Elements of a Separation'. Psychoanalysis and History, Vol. 2, pp. 277-286

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