Freud Is Losing out to the Jung-at-Heart

By Goode, Stephen | Insight on the News, September 20, 1993 | Go to article overview

Freud Is Losing out to the Jung-at-Heart


Goode, Stephen, Insight on the News


The debate over whether Sigmund Freud or Carl Gustav Jung was the top analyst of the human psyche was once a question with an easy answer -- and that answer was Freud.

The Viennese physician and father of psychoanalysis had the kind of authority in his field that no one else shared, or even approached. There are few people worldwide who haven't heard of Freud's belief that our lives are determined by how we come to terms with our sexuality.

But intellectual climates change, and none so rapidly as psychology -- a field, after all, that has the audacity to attempt to explain why human beings do what they do. Jung's star is now on the rise, while Freud's is in partial eclipse -- possibly because Freud has been dominant for so long, and the world now seems ready for something different.

Jung, who lived from 1875 to 1961, believed that a person's most important task in life is fulfillment through coming to terms with the conscious and the unconscious. He coined such terms as extrovert and introvert, which have become part of everyday vocabulary.

Even the less common Jungian terms, such as collective unconscious and archetypes -- which Jung used to describe what he thought were the memories, dreams and experiences of all of us -- have entered the mainstream and are tossed around casually (even if their meaning isn't always entirely understood).

There are Jungian institutions, such as the Center for Applications of Psychological Type in Gainesville, Fla., which, with an annual budget of more than $1 million, has provided information internationally since 1975. Says center Preside McCaulley, "The Japanese have particularly proved interested. Their royalties increase regularly."

Every major U.S. city, and minor ones as well, now has Jungian societies that meet regularly, have their own publications and sponsor the training of new Jungian analysts. And there are a number of Jungian journals, including Quadrant, a semiannual publication of the C. G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology that costs $18 an issue.

But Jung's influence is far deeper than the terms he contributed or the magazines he inspired. Jung is regarded increasingly as a thinker of the first rank, if not a guru with the answers to the emotional and psychological problems that ail us and even to the meaning of life itself.

In Toronto, Inner City Books publishes works on Jungian thought that sell in the tens of thousands or more. That's unusually high for nonfiction books and especially high for a field such as psychology, in which academics armed with advanced degrees often write for one another rather than the public. Inner City's newsletter gets correspondence from devoted Jungians in various countries and U.S. cities such as San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Spokane, Wash. Jung, it seems, is becoming a growth industry.

In downtown Manhattan, a small bookstore run by the C. G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology -- a group that boasts a yearly budget of more than $800,000 -- offers a quiet place to browse, with books on not only Jungian thought but also the occult.

One of Jung's most popular books is Modem Man in Search of a Soul, a title that says a great deal about what Jung was and helps explain why people are interested in him today. Jung's writings ranged widely, and his erudition was enormous. He wrote with admiration and learning about diverse fields: on medieval alchemy and the practice of magic, for example, and on what the Virgin Mary means in Catholic thought.

He was Freud's major disciple and was considered his heir apparent -- even by Freud himself, who cultivated Jung's friendship and traveled to America with him on a lecture tour.

But Jung came to part with his teacher's notions about sexuality and its central role in our makeup. He concluded that Freud, who thought faith was an illusion invented to make people hopeful about their future, didn't give religion its proper place in human life.

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