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13.1: Prelude to Carl Jung

  • Page ID
    16627
  • Jung has always been controversial and confusing. His blending of psychology and religion, as well as his openness to different religious and spiritual philosophies, was not easy to accept for many psychiatrists and psychologists trying to pursue a purely scientific explanation of personality and mental illness. Perhaps no one was more upset than Freud, whose attitude toward Jung changed dramatically over just a few years. In 1907, Freud wrote a letter to Jung in which Freud offered high praise:

    …I have already acknowledged…above all that your person has filled me with trust in the future, that I now know that I am dispensable like everyone else, and that I wish for no one other or better than you to continue and complete my work. (pg. 136; cited in Wehr, 1989)

    In 1910, hoping that others would also support Jung, Freud wrote to Oskar Pfister:

    I hope you will loyally support Jung, I want him to acquire the authority that will entitle him to leadership of the whole movement. (pg. 136; cited in Wehr, 1989)

    However, in a dramatic shift just three years later, Freud wrote to Jung:

    I suggest to you that we completely give up our private relationship. By this I lose nothing, since for a long time I have been bound to you emotionally only by the thin thread of previously experienced disappointments. … Spare me the supposed “duties of friendship.” (pg. 136; cited in Wehr, 1989)

    Later, in 1922, Freud thanked Oskar Pfister for his help in trying to eliminate Jung’s influence on the psychoanalytic community:

    With your ever more thorough and ever more clearly demonstrated dismissal of Jung and Adler, you have for a long time given me great satisfaction. (pg. 136; cited in Wehr, 1989)

    Who was this man who inspired such profound confidence from Sigmund Freud, only to later inspire such contempt? And were his theories that difficult for the psychodynamic community, or psychology in general, to accept? Hopefully, this chapter will begin to answer those questions. As evidence of his character, and in contrast to Freud, Jung did not turn his back on his former mentor. Following Freud’s death in 1939, and later in 1957, Jung wrote the following:

    [Freud’s work was]…surely the boldest attempt ever made on the apparently solid ground of empiricism to master the riddle of the unconscious psyche. For us young psychiatrists, it was a source of enlightenment… (pg. 29; cited in Wehr, 1989)

    …Despite the resounding censure I suffered at the hands of Freud, I cannot, even despite my resentment toward him, fail to recognize his importance as a critical analyst of culture and as a pioneer in the field of psychology. (pg. 39; cited in Wehr, 1989)