Carl Jung

28.04.2015 |

Episode #3 of the course “Influential Psychologists Throughout History”

Carl Jung was a supporter of Freud in that they shared an interest in the unconscious, but Jung did not support some of Freud’s more controversial theories, especially those based on infantile sexuality. When Jung criticized Freud’s theories in this area, the two made a significant split, and Carl Jung developed his own version of psychoanalytic theory. His work is best viewed as a contrast to Freud’s theories.

Freud believed that childhood experiences strongly influenced behavior and thought. Jung agreed, but he thought that our aspirations for the future shaped behavior and thought patterns just as strongly as the past. In addition, Freud believed that all repressed memories in the unconscious were bad or socially unacceptable. Jung did not go this far. He agreed that the unconscious stored repressed memories, but that does not necessarily mean that those memories are bad.

Jung’s emphasis on the unconscious was greater than Freud’s, and he developed his own “mental map.” It contained the ego, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious. Like Freud, Jung stated that the ego was the conscious mind as we know it. Then, he proposed two layers of unconscious. The first is personal unconscious, and it contains forgotten and repressed information. It also included what Jung called “complexes.” A complex is a collection of thoughts, attitudes, memories, and feelings about a particular concept. The more things that are attached to the complex, the stronger it is within the person’s unconscious.

The second level is the collective unconscious, and it is shared with other members of the human race. It includes memories from our ancestral and evolutionary past. He referred to these memories as “archetypes.” These archetypes are focused on notions of survival, reproduction, thoughts that are inherently male or inherently female, and social norms. In his book The Undiscovered Self, Jung argues that many of society’s problems are based on the disconnect between modern thought and these archetypes.

Jung’s theories, along with Freud’s, are still used extensively in therapy sessions. The term “complex” also continues to appear frequently. His studies laid the groundwork for evolutionary psychology.


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