Thursday, September 6, 2012

Elizabeth Urban: Jungian and Kleinian Notions of the Inner World

"A major, if not the major, difference between Freud and Jung lay in their views about the inner world. Freud's main emphasis was on the way contents of the mind are derived from personal experience, whereas Jung's studies viewed the mind as innately endowed with a priori configurations that encompass far more than personal contents. Klein too departed from Freud on this point, and the Controversial Discussions of the British Psycho-Analytical Society revolved around this issue (Hinshelwood 1989). Both Jung and Klein thought that the primary contents of the mind are inextricably bound up with the instincts, that, in fact, they are the mental representations of instincts.

According to Jung, the primary content of the psyche is the archetype. In contrast to instincts, the archetypes are ‘inborn forms of "intuition" ‘(Jung 1919, p. 133), analogous to instinct, with the difference that whereas instinct is a purposive impulse to carry out some highly complicated action, intuition is the unconscious, purposive apprehension of a highly complicated situation. (ibid. p. 132)

Jung also notes the similarities between archetypes and instincts. The archetypes make up the collective unconscious, which is universal and impersonal; that is, it is the same for all individuals. Instincts, according to Jung, are also impersonal and universal, and are, also like the archetypes, hereditary factors of a dynamic or motivating character. Thus, instincts ‘form very close analogues to the archetypes, so close, in fact, that there is good reason for supposing that the archetypes are the unconscious images of the instincts themselves’ (Jung 1936, pp. 43-4). Elsewhere he writes that the archetype ‘might suitably be described as the instinct's perception of itself, or as the self-portrait of the instinct’ (Jung 1919, p. 136).

Archetypes described in this way are virtually the same as Klein's unconscious phantasies. She writes, ‘I believe that phantasies operate from the outset, as do the instincts, and are the mental expression of the activity of both the life and death instincts’ (Klein 1952, p. 58). Isaacs presents a fuller exposition of the relationship between phantasies and instincts than does Klein. Isaacs states that ‘phantasies are the primary content of unconscious mental processes’ (Isaacs 1952, p. 82). ‘This "mental expression" of instinct is unconscious phantasy. Phantasy is (in the first instance) the mental corollary, the psychic representative, of instinct’ (ibid., p. 83).

Although for the most part Klein and Isaacs describe phantasies in terms of ‘stories’, for example, ‘I want to eat her all up’, these stories are based upon images:
'What, then, does the infant hallucinate? We may assume, since it is the oral impulse which is at work, first, the nipple, then the breast, and later his mother as a whole person; and he hallucinates the nipple or the breast in order to enjoy it. As we can see from his behaviour (sucking movements, sucking his own lip or a little later his fingers, and so on), hallucination does not stop at the mere picture, but carries him on to what he is, in detail, going to do with the desired object which he imagines (phantasies) he has obtained.' (ibid., p. 86)

The ‘picture’ of the breast that is an image of the instinct makes Isaacs's description of unconscious phantasies virtually identical to Jung's description of the archetype as the ‘self-portrait of the instinct’. When she writes ‘such knowledge [of the breast] is inherent … in the aim of instinct’ (ibid., p. 94), she can be understood to be talking about the same thing that Jung is describing when he states that the yucca moth has an image of the yucca flower and its structure, so that, when present externally, the flower sets off instinctual behaviour (Jung 1919). Both Jung and Isaacs are stating that there is an image of the aim of the instinct—the object that fulfils the instinctual urge—that exists within the psyche, enabling the instinct ‘to know what it is looking for’.

Important differences do, however, exist between Jung and Klein. Klein was a psychoanalyst who extended Freud's concepts of libidinal and destructive instincts to pre-Oedipal development, focusing on how infancy lies at the core of the personality. On the other hand, although Jung drew attention to the inherent richness of the mind before Klein began writing, his interest in childhood and infancy is limited. Although he refers to the individuality of the infant (Jung 1911, 1921), for the most part he thinks that the infant is in primary identity with the mother (Jung 1927). The issue of primary identity raises a number of questions which have since been addressed by Fordham." (pp. 412-413)

Elizabeth Urban (1992). The Primary Self and Related Concepts in Jung, Klein, and Isaacs. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 37, pp. 411-432

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