Re-envisioning Carl Jung from “The Red Book”

Neuroscience

Many modern-day therapists and psychologists – particularly those who work with dreams as a means of exploring a patient’s unconscious – owe a great debt to the Swiss analyst Carl Jung. While he lived, Jung significantly broadened the scope of psychoanalysis from the model established by Sigmund Freud. Whereas Freud largely viewed the Unconscious as a repository of unsavory memories and repressed impulses, Jung believed that it was in many ways aware and responsive, and an untapped reservoir of wisdom, knowledge, and even spiritual revelation. Read More →

Theories & Techniques of Dream Analysis

Dream Interpretation

A castle in the sky, a monster taller than any man-made structure, and public escapades in your underwear are just a few of the scenarios you could encounter in your dreams. Nobody quite knows why every night we drift off to distant lands and encounter bizarre scenarios, but in seeking to understand this great mystery researchers have contributed vast amounts of information to the area of dream interpretation. Thanks to the work of scientists and laymen alike, now anyone can take part in the rewarding experience of decoding your own dreams. Read More →

Sigmund Freud and the Primordial Murder

Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis, is well known for his strange and controversial theories on such topics as personality development, sexuality, and the unconscious. His theory about the basis of all religion, as presented in the book “Totem and Taboo,” is no less contentious. In this book Freud presents the idea that all religion stems from a primordial murder.

Freud begins his discussion in “Totem and Taboo” by considering a primal, savage tribe. In this tribe there existed a violent and cruel father who drove his sons away from the hoard so that he could keep all of the females for himself. The banished brothers joined forces and worked together to kill the father. To celebrate the accomplishment of their task the brothers threw a feast and ate their murdered father.

According to Freud, this cannibalism was an attempt by the sons to identify with a father who they feared and yet envied. They were ambivalent to the father. They hated him for being jealous and cruel but they also respected him for his strength and power. Upon eating the father, the brothers were able to symbolically take his strength and power for themselves. This feast, said Freud, marked the beginning of religion.

Once the brothers completed their identification with the father and satisfied their hatred of him, the tender impulses that they had previously suppressed began to surface. Now they felt a sense of remorse and created a father substitute, a totem. To assuage their guilt they forbade the killing of this totem. By treating the father substitute in this way they attempted to bring about reconciliation him.

Freud argues that the primal murder went on to determine the character of every religion. To him, all religion is an attempt to alleviate the feelings of guilt. As time went on, humans created the various gods of the various faiths in the world today. All of these gods remained at their core an exalted image of the father. It was to this image that one could offer conciliations as apology for the long forgotten but psychologically embedded murder.

Freud, in his usual fashion, throws the reader for a loop by admitting that this hypothetical primordial murder may have actually never happened. He contends that all that was necessary for the creation of religion was simply the longing to kill the father, but not the act itself. Just the thought of patricide may have been enough to create what he saw as the hallmark of religion – an exalted father figure.

Most people are not likely to agree with Freud in this day and age. Still, it is sometimes said that once you read Freud you begin to see him everywhere. An exalted father figure does seem to be present in many religions, as does an attitude of ambivalence towards a god who is feared and yet loved. Whether this really came from the murder and cannibalization of a primordial father is speculative at best. Freud himself backed away from the literal truth of this idea. His main purpose seems to have been to show that the unconscious psychological conflicts which influence everything else in our lives have also influenced and maybe even created religion.

Why Robots Scare Their Masters

One of the most talked about subjects in robotics today is the uncanny valley hypothesis. So many works of speculative fiction feature robots in relationships with humans that it’s become a cliche, but this idea states that there’s a dip in the graph of human comfort levels when they approach machines that look too much like people. Devices that are disturbingly close to organic life forms often repulse human observers. However, the emotional response becomes far more positive as the machine becomes even closer to humanity. Read More →

The Relationship Between Freud and Jung

Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were colleagues and leading figures in the field of psychiatry in their day. This naturally led to a strong relationship filled with many meetings and numerous correspondences. In total they sent over 350 letters to each other. However, the story of their relationship is more the story of a relationship gone awry. Their close friendship only flourished for a few years before they decided to go their separate ways.

The first known correspondence between Freud and Jung took place in the year 1906, when Jung sent Freud a copy of his book, “Studies in Word Association.” When the two were finally able to meet in 1907 in Vienna, they sat and talked for thirteen hours straight. It seemed that they got along wonderfully. From that day until 1909, their letters were filled with father-son references. Freud took an obviously paternal role to Jung, writing in one letter, “I formally adopt you as eldest son and anoint you . . . as my successor and crown prince.”

Freud, because of the part of his Oedipal theory that said all sons harbored a death wish onto their father, was under the impression that Jung had an unconscious death wish towards him. He blamed Jung’s eventual dissent on this unresolved oedipal problem. On a few occasions this thought seemed to have worried Freud so much that it caused him to faint.

Another source of tension between the two was that Jung viewed Freud’s psychoanalysis as sexually repressive, and wanted to advocate for greater sexual freedom. This was in direct confrontation to Freud, who wanted Jung to promise never to abandon the sexual theory. In fact, he insisted that Jung make it unquestionable dogma. Jung was of the opinion that Freud was no longer using scientific judgement, and wondered why he placed such an importance on sexuality.

Jung was also heading in a direction that Freud did not like with his research as he began looking at mysticism and occultism. He became interested in gods, archetypes, the collective unconscious, and the shadow side of man. He wanted Freud to join in to the crusade to conquer occultism. Freud, though he said that he did not wish to hold Jung back, also wanted nothing to do with it. By May of 1912, Freud had begun to distance himself from Jung’s ideas. Finally on January 3, 1913 he wrote, “I propose we abandon our personal relations entirely.”

Though intense as the relationship between Freud and Jung initially was, it only managed to last roughly six years due to diverting interests and oedipal worries. However, those six years contributed greatly to the future work of both men and left an undeniably important mark in their psychoanalytic field. The ideas and theories that they worked on both together and apart are still discussed by psychologists, psychiatrists, philosophers, and various scholars today.