Volume 4 – A Classic

I cannot think of any higher praise for this work of Jung’s but to say that I have frequently read parts of this volume out to my wife when we have been about to head off to sleep

Sounds like an odd way of putting it, but then we are the middle of young family hell. So it means risking both waking up our nearly one-year-old daughter but also the wrath of a tired mother-of-two – high stakes indeed.

These collected pieces are meant to be about Freud – the title of Vol 4 being ‘Freud and Psychoanalysis’.

You expect fireworks – but in fact Jung is very polite and considered in mentioning Freud. It is only in the final work that he lets loose – the truth will out must be his method surely rather than a personal attack.

“My position on this question [of theology] is the third point of difference between Freud’s views and my own. Because of it I am accused of mysticism. I do not, however, hold myself responsible for the fact that man has, always and everywhere, spontaneously developed a religious function, and that the human psyche from time immemorial has been shot through with religious feelings and ideas. Whoever cannot see this aspect of the human psyche is blind, and whoever chooses to explain it away, or to ‘enlighten’ it away, has no sense of reality. Or should we see in the father-complex, which shows itself in all members of the Freudian school, and in its founder as well, evidence of a notable release from the fatalities of the family situation? This father-complex, defended with such stubbornness and oversensitivity, is a religious function misunderstood. As for Freud’s concept of the ‘super-ego’, it is a furtive attempt to smuggle the time-honoured image of Jehovah in the dress of psychological theory. For my part, I prefer to call things by the names under which they have always been known.”

Phew, take that. What that means for this volume of collected works is that Jung’s ideas follow closely those of the man with the biggest reputation in psychoanalysis. But then they move away quickly, and go into truly amazing territory as a result.

‘Freud and Psychoanalysis becomes ‘Why Jung differered from Freud and what he thought instead’ is how this turns out.

Anyway, much of my reading takes place on the bus in the morning. And I have frequently just stopped during the course of this vol 4 and just looked up or outside while just being blown away by some of the insights.

Take this, for example.

“The parental imago is possessed of a quite extraordinary power; it influences the psychic life of a child so enormously that we must ask ourselves whether we may attribute such magical power to an ordinary human being at all.”

The archteype, in other words, which is much, much larger than we suspect and remaining unconscious remain led by it.

At this point Jung is defusing Freud’s over-emphasis on paternal power. Earlier he has taken us through a different concept of sexuality – energy more in the ancient Greek concept of ‘libido’, a force that drives sexual urges among many others.

And the key in terms of the therapeutic field is that it forces itself into neurotic behaviour, into harmful, painful byways.

Freud is sex and more sex – too much sex. “the logical conclusion is that the psyche is a function of the genitals”, says Jung of the Freudian view.

But the Vienna school is also too obsessed with the past.

“Unlike Freud and Adler, whose principles of explanation are essentially reductive and always return to the infantile conditions that limit human nature, I lay more stress on a constructive or synthetic explanation, in acknowledgement of the fact that tomorrow is of more practical importance than yesterday.”

That’s one for all of those people who tar all kinds of analysis with a brush with the past, and it being all about blaming the parents.

It’s when Jung moves into the essence of the problem as being a moral one – he believes morality is internal, rather than some imposed ‘super-ego’ in Freud’s language – that it feels like it is going up a gear.

“I consider it a waste of time to rummage in the past for the alleged specific causes of illness; for neuroses, no matter what the original circumstances from which they arose, are maintained by a wrong attitude which is present all the time and which, once it is recognised, must be corrected now and not in the early period of infancy. Nor is it enough to merely bring the causes into consciousness, for the cure of neurosis is, in the last analysis, a moral problem.”

Love this unfashionable way of talking about internal morality and love even more the idea that this is at the heart of the problem. Amazing, amazing stuff and I suggest you get reading this immediately.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Volume 4 – A Classic

  1. SM Dutton

    After I thought to begin a blog something like this, I found yours. I like the style and content. Did you get further?

    • Hey there Jack I read all his Collected Works but stopped blogging as I did so. I just couldn’t get the right voice. Let me know how you get on with writing it. Are you training in Jungian psychotherapy?

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