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Freud and Jung: Similar Theories, Different Approaches


            When comparing psychotherapy and analytic psychology, the discussion is really about two different forms of therapy. Sigmund Freudís psychotherapy is the study of mental behaviors through dream analysis and the dissection of childhood development. Analytic psychology, Carl Jungís form of therapy, involves the evolution of the relationship between patient and therapist in order to fully understand the patientís psyche.

            Freudís theory known as psychoanalysis is based on the study of the specific stages that contribute to the development of the personality. He divided the psyche into three parts: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is the basic component. It does not mature, and never changes. It is the part of the personality that is constantly striving to ďreduce tension, increase pleasure, and minimize discomfortĒ (pg. 32). The idís workings are found only in the unconscious. The ego is developed from the id, which is created  early on as an infant. The ego grows to project and to carry out the idís demands. The ego is a form of the id that addresses the external world around the individual. Externally it works to protect itself by avoiding, adapting, or modifying the environment around them. The egoís goal is to minimize stress and tension created by the world around the individual. By controlling the level of stress, the ego satisfies the id. The superego consequently is created by the ego. The processes of the superego, according to Freud, are categorized as the conscience, self-observation, and the formation of ideals. The conscience judges and restricts activities. An individualís concept of accepted and rejected ideals is controlled by the superego. It helps the individual develop oneís moral code. Through psychotherapy, the ego becomes stronger and more capable of satisfying the id, while respecting the set boundaries and limitations of the superego. (Fadiman and Frager 22-28)

            Apart from distinguishing the three main components of the psyche, Freud studied the psychosexual stages of development. The earliest stage is referred to as the oral stage. Beginning at birth, the child seeks to satisfy themselves through the lips, tongue, and eventually their teeth. They seek to relieve tension from hunger, thirst, and fatigue. Because the mouth is one of the first places the child learns to manipulate, it becomes the first focus associated with pleasure. With age and growth, the child begins to recognize other areas of gratification. Within the ages of 2 to 4, the child becomes aware of bodily excretions such as urination and defecation. The child begins to understand physiological control. In the phallic stage the child begins to notice the genital areas. Sometimes beginning as early as the age of 3, the child acknowledges sexual differences. In his period, the presence or absence of a penis is acknowledged, and therefore the child begins to distinguish sexual differences. In this stage, the child starts to seek sexual gratification and begins to interpret male and female relationships via the behavior of the parents. The final stage is known as the genital stage. This stage usually occurs when the child is going through puberty and seeks to fulfill its sexual desires, while being completely aware of the differences between girls and boys. Freud analyzes the evolution of sexual discovery biologically and psychologically in order to understand the patientís personality. (Salnave 1)

            Jungís theories rest on a solid foundation based on Freudís studies. Though he credited Freudís findings, he centered his theory on positive support and individuation.

            One of Jungís well-known concepts is the difference between introversion and extroversion. A person who is considered an introvert tends to be more complacent with their inner environment concerning feelings and thoughts on how the world affects him or her. An extroverted person feels comfortable with the social world of people, the external environment that surrounds them and ultimately their impact on the world. Jung found that though an individual tends to be more of an introvert or an extrovert, no individual is wholly one characteristic. He found a necessity of balance among these attributes that allows the appropriate characteristics to appear based on the social situation at hand in unique social situations. (Moore and Fine 589-602)

            His theory of type explains the inner-workings of how people think, feel and interpret the world. The four functions he identified were thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. These functions work through whichever characteristic is more dominant in the individual Ė extroversion or introversion. Thinking involves searching for the meaning of things, looking for objective truth and impersonal analysis. Feeling focuses on value. Feelings decipher between right and wrong judgments. Sensations are created by what the individual sees, smells or touches. They focus on experience and perception. Intuition interprets sensations by categorizing them as possibilities, past experiences, future goals, and unconscious processes. No individual can fully develop all four functions. Two functions remain in the unconscious, while one function is dominant, and the other is partially developed. The dominant function can depict the individualís strengths and weaknesses. This typology is useful when trying to comprehend social relationships. (Fadiman and Frager 61-63)

            Jung divided the unconscious into personal unconscious and collective unconscious. The personal unconscious is based on an individualís past. It is formed by repressed, painful memories from oneís past and insignificant memories that have been discarded by the conscious. This half of the unconscious remains unknown to the conscious. The collective unconscious is the most significant half of the unconscious. It is based on experiences familiar to all human kind, including pre-human and animal ancestry. Through the instinctual energies of the collective unconscious, archetypes are created. Archetypes are inherited predispositions made to respond to the world in structured ways. This theory was supported by Jungís patients. They reported dreams involving mythical and religious contents, therefore suggesting imagery was present in everyoneís collective unconscious. Some of the archetypal situations include the heroís quest, the night-sea journey, and the battle for deliverance from the mother. Archetypal figures include divine child, the double, the old sage, and the primordial mother. Many symbols are attributed to each different archetype. The major structures of the personality are archetypal. The ego, the persona, the shadow, the anima (in men), the animus (in women), and the self are used to help study the personality. The ego, the core of the conscious, creates a sense of direction in the conscious mind. It reminds us to be structured and to analyze our experiences. The persona represents the person the individual projects to the social world. An individual dresses and acts in ways that it wants the world to perceive it as. The shadow encompasses everything that the conscious represses, including all tendencies, desires and memories deemed different from the persona that are consequentially rejected by the individualís social standards. What a man processes as masculine is his anima. A womanís animus is her concept of femininity.

The most important archetype is the self. Known as the central archetype, the self is the fusion between the conscious and the unconscious that creates a balanced personality. The archetypes are elaborations of the different major structures of the personality. (Skelton 324-328)

            Freud and Jung shared many core theories. Both psychologists used similar techniques in order to understand the psyche. They both analyzed dreams to find unconscious thoughts projected through the conscious. These theorists centered their core values on the functions of the ego and the personal unconscious. Jung uses Freudís theories as a solid ground for his studies, but does not analyze the human psyche in the same manner as Freud conducted his studies.

            Freudís therapy is centered on analyzing child development, dream interpretations and social behaviors from the early stages of the personality, while Jung focused on the present status of his patientís personal growth. Jungís form of therapy involves the different aspects of the personality through the patientís individuation, typology, archetypal projections, and the symbology found in the individualís dreams. Freud seems to focus on biological and mental development, while Jung studies the patientís present position in life in order to understand their psyche. Freud remained objective in therapy sessions, while Jung interacted with the patient in order to create a relationship. Jung considered therapy a joint effort between therapist and patient. Freud treated therapy as a study of the patientís psyche development as opposed to analyzing the present state of the patientís life.

            While both theorists acknowledge similar stages of the development of the personality, both centered their therapy on different projections of those stages. Freud expresses more concern on past experiences, while Jung encourages his patients to analyze their present environments. Jungís acknowledgment of the individual as a unique entity separates his approach from Freudís form of therapy. In Freudís work, the patient is never characterized as a unique person, but generalized into his biological understanding of personal evolution. Though Freudís emphasis on childhood stages was too general in the overall understanding of the personality, the core theories he developed about basic structure of the mind did influence Jungís work. The foundation of Freudís evaluation of the psyche was a strong introduction to psychology that later influenced Jung to expand on Freudís observations by studying the current mental state of the psyche.