Oedipus Redivivus
Freud, Jung and Psychoanalysis

Douglas A. Davis1
Haverford College

One repays a teacher badly if one remains only a pupil. And why, then, should you not pluck at my laurels? You respect me; but how if one day your respect should tumble? Take care that a falling statue does not strike you dead! You had not yet sought yourselves when you found me. Thus do all believers -- Now I bid you lose me and find yourselves; and only when you have all denied me will I return to you.
(Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, quoted by Jung to Freud, 1912 [McGuire, 1974])

Freudian psychoanalysis, a related body of clinical technique, interpretive strategy, and developmental theory, was articulated piecemeal in dozens of publications by Sigmund Freud, spread over a period of forty-five years. The structure of Freud's monumental twenty-three volume corpus of work has been the subject of thousands of critical studies, and Freud is still one of the most popular subjects for biographers. Despite this wealth of writing, however, the effectiveness of Freud's therapeutic methods and the adequacy of his theories remain subjects of animated debate.

This chapter is concerned with the status of Freud's theorizing during his collaboration with Carl Jung, and with the mutual influence of each thinker on the other in the years following their estrangement. Jung's seven year discipleship with Freud was a turning point in his emergence as a distinctive thinker of world importance (Jung, 1961). At the beginning of his fascination with Freud in 1906, Jung was a thirty-one year old psychiatrist of unusual promise, with a gift for psychological research and a prestigious junior appointment at one of Europe's major centers for treatment of psychotic disorders (Kerr, 1993). By the time of his break with Freud in 1913, Jung was internationally known for his original contributions to clinical psychology and for his forceful leadership of the psychoanalytic movement. He was also the author of the seminal work, Transformations and Symbols of the Libido (Jung 1912), that would define his independence from that movement.

In another sense, Jung never fully overcame his pivotal friendship with Freud. His subsequent work can be understood in part as an ongoing, if unanswered, discourse with Freud. The tensions in Jung's relationship with Freud are, in retrospect, apparent from the first; and the drama of their intimacy and inevitable mutual antipathy has taken on the character of tragedy, a modern iteration of the Oedipal myth.

For his part, Sigmund Freud valued Jung as he did no other member of the psychoanalytic movement, pressed him quickly to assume the role of heir apparent, and revealed his (Freud's) character to Jung in striking ways in years of impassioned friendship. Freud seems also both to have anticipated and to some extent to have precipitated the tensions that would undo the friendship and the professional collaboration. Those tensions concerned the role of sexuality in personality development and neurotic etiology -- a topic about which Jung had been cautious from the first and about which Freud was to become increasingly dogmatic in the context of Jung's defection.

The story of Jung and Freud is of crucial importance to an understanding of Freud and psychoanalysis. The theory of erotic and aggressive transference illustrated by the Freud-Jung relationship is, in my view, the key to understanding the importance of each man for the other.

Freud was fifty-one when the friendship began in 1907, Jung thirty-one. Despite the difference in ages, each man was at a turning point in his life. Jung was poised to act on his vaunting ambition, on the brink of developing a distinctive expression of his genius. Freud was in the process of consolidating the insights developed over the preceding decade and eager to foster (but not to manage actively) an international movement. The relationship allowed Freud to free psychoanalysis from his quarrelsome and unsatisfactory Vienna colleagues, to link it to the international reputation of the Burghölzli Psychiatric Clinic (via Bleuler) and to experimental psychology (through Jung's studies of word association), and to articulate for a uniquely qualified interlocutor his ideas about the psychodynamics of culture and religion (Gay, 1988; Jones, 1955; Kerr, 1993). The relationship with Freud allowed Jung to broaden his perspective on the etiology and treatment of both neurosis and psychosis and gave him a satisfying political role to play in the international psychoanalytic movement.

Freud's tendency to interpret the actions (and inactions) of his colleagues in psychoanalytic terms had become well established by the time Jung met him in the year of his fiftieth birthday. In relation to Fliess, Ferenczi, and Jung, Freud played out conflicting elements of his own character in his exaggerated evaluation of each new follower's quality, in over-investment in the correspondence, in sensitivity to rejection, and finally in bitter anger at disloyalty. The decade of intimate friendship with Fliess in the 1890s displays most fully both the depth of Freud's neurotic needs in friendship and the beauty of his creative intellect as he struggles to define himself (Masson, 1985). It is in relation to Jung, however, that Freud's ambivalences were played out most fully and explicitly in terms of his psychoanalytic theory and practice. Freud wrote for Fliess during the years of his self-creation, and for Jung in the years when his mature theory was being systematized. After Jung there was no equal merging of professional magnanimity and personal investment -- and after Jung the core theory of psychoanalysis became reified around a libidinal orthodoxy regarding the role of sexuality in personality development, neurotic etiology, and culture.

Freud developed the theory of transference -- the position that we all carry with us as templates for future interpersonal relationships the residues of the most significant emotional attachments of our childhood. He himself created a profound transferential wake, in which most of those who became his associates found themselves awash. Indeed, the history of psychoanalysis both as a clinical specialty and as a field of scholarship gives ample evidence of the transferential hold Freud continues to exert on each of us. In the therapy Freudians would practice, seduction became metaphoric for the whole relationship of doctor and patient. The patient falls for an analyst whose every move (s)he will be capable of assimilating to the erotic and aggressive possibilities of the transference, and understanding the transference is the key to recovery from the neurosis.

It is clear in light of their personal correspondence and of recent studies of the concurrent clinical and family circumstances of each that Freud and Jung were drawn together in part by unresolved personal needs -- Freud's for a male intimate in relation to whom he could play out his need for an alter, and Jung's for an idealizable father figure toward whom he could direct his powerful ambitious energy. These personal needs eventually proved deadly to the relationship, as Jung took on increased independence and a distinctive voice of his own and Freud interpreted this growth as Oedipal hostility. After their parting, each man would portray the other as prey to unanalyzed neurotic needs.

At the beginning of the friendship Freud was well known in the psychiatric and psychological communities as the author of an intriguing book on dreams and a controversial theory about the role of sexuality in neurosis. His most recent works -- Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905a) and Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria ["Dora"] (1905b) -- had emphatically stated and illustrated in detail his theories of the core role of eroticism in child development and of the sexual metalanguage of neurosis. Freud had been severely criticized for his claim in the Three Essays that what the pervert compulsively does and the neurotic falls ill defending against, every human child both wishes and (within its infantile capacities) does.

Jung's July, 1906 preface to The Psychology of Dementia Praecox, written just after his correspondence with Freud began, is prescient in its assessment of the points of stress along which the relationship would eventually split:

I can assure the reader that in the beginning I naturally entertained all the objections that are customarily made against Freud in the literature. ... Fairness to Freud does not imply, as many fear, unqualified submission to a dogma; one can very well maintain an independent judgment. If I, for instance, acknowledge the complex mechanisms of dreams and hysteria, this does not mean that I attribute to the infantile sexual trauma the significance that Freud does. Still less does it mean that I place sexuality so predominantly in the foreground, or that I grant it the psychological universality which Freud, it seems, postulates in view of the admittedly enormous role which sexuality plays in the psyche. As for Freud's therapy, it is at best but one of several possible methods, and perhaps does not always offer in practice what one expects from it in theory. (Jung, 1906, 3-4; Kerr, 115-116)

Freud revealed at several points in his correspondence with Jung (a decade after the crucial events of 1897) how he had come to conceptualize himself. On September 2, 1907, he writes of his longing to tell Jung of his "long years of honorable but painful solitude, which began after I cast my first glance into the new world, about the indifference and incomprehension of my closest friends, about the terrifying moments when I myself thought I had gone astray and was wondering how I might still make my misled life useful to my family" (McGuire, 1974, 82). Freud's imagery here, as he recalls his self-analysis a decade before and the completion of his dream book, suggests birth as well as a voyage of exploration.

Then on September 19 he sends Jung a portrait and a copy of his 50th birthday medallion. In his reply on October 10 Jung expresses delight with the photo and the medallion, then expresses his anger with critics of psychoanalysis, using the image of "the dismal face of this coin." In his characterization of Freud's critics Jung makes a revealing slip:

[W]e know that they are poor devils, who on the one hand are afraid of giving offense, because that might jeopardize their careers, and on the other hand am [sic] paralyzed by fear of their own repressed material (McGuire, 87).

Freud seems to have responded immediately to Jung's intellectual passion, his brilliance, and his originality -- all qualities he missed in his Viennese disciples. Jung's reading of Freud's works was incisive, and he knew how to administer a compliment, as in a letter after Freud's four hour presentation of the "Rat Man" case (Freud, 1909) to the 1908 First International Psychoanalytic Congress in Salzburg:

As to sentiments, I am still under the reverberating impact of your lecture, which seemed to me perfection itself. All the rest was simply padding, sterile twaddle in the darkness of inanity (McGuire, 1974, 144).

Freud and Oedipus

During the late 1890s Freud developed most of the core concepts for his new psychology, as evidenced by his correspondence with Wilhelm Fliess, the Berlin physician who was his closest adult friend and who served as the alter ego to whom Freud divulged his struggles to understand neurosis, dreams, traumatic memories, and the emergence of personality (Masson, 1985). Over the course of several years Freud transformed his theorizing about the sources and dynamics of neurotic anxiety from neurophysiological concern with actual predisposing and concurrent causes to interpretive investigation of fantasy and personal psychodynamics. Freud's self-analysis following his father's death in late 1896 led to an increased concern with dream-interpretation and to an increasingly rich experience of mutual transferential involvement with patients (Anzieu, 1986; Davis, 1990; Salyard, 1994). At a theoretical level the major change in Freud's thinking during this period involved a movement away from a causal model for the effects of childhood trauma in the formation of adult personality and neurosis -- the so-called "seduction theory" -- and toward psychoanalysis as a hermeneutic discipline in which the subjective meaning of experience, whether real or fanciful, is the basis for understanding (Davis, 1994).

In his 1899 paper, "Screen Memories, Freud shows that apparent recall of early experiences may be determined by unconscious links between the memory and repressed wishes, rather than by actual events. Freud (writing as if about a male patient) demonstrates that one of the most poignant and persistent memories of his own childhood was a screen memory. The content of this false memory -- playing in a field of flowers with his half-brother Emmanuel's children John and Pauline -- allowed Freud to articulate his neurotic need for an intimate male friend as well as the competitive aggression such a friendship would arouse in him.

I greeted my one-year-younger brother (who died after a few months) with adverse wishes and genuine childhood jealousy; and . . . his death left the germ of [self-]reproaches in me. I have also long known the companion of my misdeeds between the ages of one and two years; it is my nephew [John], a year older than myself. . . . The two of us seem occasionally to have behaved cruelly to my niece, who was a year younger. This nephew and this younger brother have determined, then, what is neurotic, but also what is intense, in all my friendships (Masson, 1985, 268).

Freud's voluminous correspondence with Fliess (Masson 1984) with Ferenczi, (Brabant & Giampieri-Deutch, 1993), and with Jung (McGuire, 1974) reveals his longing for a male confident, his anxious concern that his correspondent respond to his letters quickly and fully, and his readiness to turn on a friend who doubts the core assumptions of Oedipal theory. The false memory Freud analyzed in 1899, of uniting with a boy to take flowers from a girl, is also revealing of the extent to which his relations with males would be mediated by shared interest in a female. Both his rivalry and his interest in a "third" female were to play themselves out in his relationship with Jung.

The degree to which Freud changed his mind about the seduction theory, and his reasons for doing so, have attracted a great deal of attention in recent years (Coleman, 1994; Garcia, 1987; Hartke, 1994; Masson, 1984; Salyard, 1988, 1992, 1994). Most of these discussions have referred to Freud's own stated reasons in a famous letter to Fliess from September 1897, 11 months after the death of his father. In one of the most striking passages from the Fliess correspondence, Freud reported his loss of conviction about the seduction theory (his "neurotica") and articulated the reasons for his change of mind. In light of the careful scrutiny this letter has received in recent discussions of Freud (see McGrath, 1986; Krüll, 1986; Balmary, 1982), it is rather surprising that the entire set of reasons Freud gave for abandoning his "neurotica" has received little attention. Freud mentioned several motives for his change of mind, classed in groups.

The continual disappointment in my efforts to bring a single analysis to a real conclusion; the running away of people who for a period of time had been most gripped [by analysis]; the absence of the complete successes on which I had counted; the possibility of explaining to myself the partial successes in other ways, in the usual fashion--this was the first group. Then the surprise that in all cases, the father, not excluding my own (mein eigener nicht ausgeschlossen), had to be accused of being perverse--[and] the realization of the unexpected frequency of hysteria, with precisely the same conditions prevailing in each, whereas surely such widespread perversions against children are not very probable. The [incidence] of perversion would have to be immeasurably more frequent than the [resulting] hysteria because the illness, after all, occurs only where there has been an accumulation of events and there is a contributory factor that weakens the defense. Then, third, the certain insight that there are no indications of reality in the unconscious, so that one cannot distinguish between truth and fiction that has been cathected with affect. (Accordingly, there would remain the solution that the sexual fantasy invariably seizes upon the theme of the parents) (Masson, 1985, 264).

The first set of reasons, that perverse acts against children might be common, is epidemiological. The second -- that fathers, including Freud's own, stand condemned -- is Oedipal/psychoanalytic. The third, having to do with the difficulty of establishing that any long-term memory is factual, is the most telling, and the most over-determined. This becomes the argument of his brilliant short paper on "Screen Memories" two years later (Freud, 1899). The practical impossibility of reliably distinguishing memory from wish in the unconscious points directly to central issues in psychoanalysis: the need for free association and extensive anamnesis in the context of a relationship between analyst and patient that allows continued study of the role of emotional needs in the memories and fantasies of each. In the psychoanalytic transference therapy Freud was beginning to practice by the time he wrote The Interpretation of Dreams, no particular memory could be known with certainty. The web of connectedness that gradually emerged from the collaboration of therapist and patient was believed to reveal the salient aspects of the latter's personality.

In a detailed analysis of Freud's overdetermined involvement with the Oedipus myth, Rudnytsky (1987) called attention to Freud's consistent failure to mention the birth and death of his younger brother Julius at seemingly appropriate junctures in his self-analysis. Only in the 1897 letter quoted above and in a November 24, 1912 letter to Ferenczi explaining his several fainting fits in the Park Hotel does Freud mention that such events must stem from an early experience with death. Freud's reaction to his brother's sudden infant death made Freud himself an instance of his own later theory of "Those Wrecked by Success" (Freud, 1916).

After his brother's death, Freud too was "wrecked by success," and left with an uncanny dread of the omnipotence of his own wishes. His agitation on receiving the medallion on his fiftieth birthday, when he again experienced in reality the fulfillment of a "long-cherished wish," becomes explicable when it is seen as an unconscious reminder of the death of Julius.

By the same token, had it not happened that the death of Julius left in him the germ of "guilt," or, more literally, the "germ of reproaches," Freud would almost certainly not have responded with such "obstinate condolment" to the death of his father. In his unconscious mind, he must have believed that his patricidal wishes had caused his father's death, just as he was responsible for that of Julius (Rudnytsky, 1987, 20).

The pattern of murderous rivalry and uncanny love Freud identified as a man of 40 in his unconscious memories of Julius became a template for his relations with male disciples (Coleman, 1994, Hartke, 1994; Roustang, 1982).

Freudian Correspondence

Freud was a prolific letter writer throughout his long life, and his rhetorical gifts often found their most vivid expression in his personal correspondence. Each of Freud's relationships with a man in the early period of psychoanalysis is mediated by a woman. In this triangle, Freud's possible homoerotic feelings for the man can be aroused and sublimated. Freud's adolescent letters to his friend Silberstein, for example, testify to the extent to which his first romantic crush, on the pubescent Gisela Fluss, was in fact motivated in large measure by his fascination with her mother and her older brother (Boehlich, 1990). His later letters repeatedly illustrate this motif.

The recent publication of the first volume of the voluminous correspondence between Freud and Sandor Ferenczi, the Hungarian colleague with whom he maintained a twenty-five year professional and personal relationship (Brabant, Falzeder, and Giampieri-Deutsch, 1993), provides new information about Freud's personal and professional concerns during the crucial period of his relations with Jung. Ferenczi offered Freud his admiring friendship in January, 1908 by requesting a meeting in Vienna to discuss ideas for a lecture on Freud's theory of the actual neuroses and psychoneuroses. Ferenczi was "eager to approach personally the professor whose teachings have occupied me constantly for over a year" (Brabant, Falzeder, and Giampieri-Deutsch, 1993, 1). From the first, Ferenczi's letters display a rather obsequious devotion to Feud's personality and theories. Freud's short note in response to Ferenczi's request expressed regret at not being able on account of the illness of several family members to invite Ferenczi and his colleague Philipp Stein to dinner, "as we were able to do in better times with Dr. Jung and Dr. Abraham" (ibid., 2). A month later, in his second letter, Ferenczi refers to Freud a paranoid woman, offers to contribute to Freud's joke collection, and expresses his commitment to Freud's psychosexual theory of the neuroses affirming that it "should no longer be called a theory" (Brabant, Falzeder, and Giampieri-Deutsch, 1993, 4), closing with "kindest regards from your most obedient Dr. Ferenczi" (ibid.). Obedient Ferenczi was to prove himself over the long years of Freud's patronage, until the end of his life when he suggested that his transference onto Freud had never been adequately analyzed, prompting Freud's last methodological paper, "Analysis Terminable and Interminable" (Freud, 1937).

In striking contrast to Ferenczi, Jung from the first set limits on the relationship with Freud. Jung also anticipated where the fatal tension would occur -- the father-son transference inevitable in discipleship to Freud, and Freud's insistence on acquiescence to his psychosexual theory. Roustang (1982, 36-54 and passim) traces Jung's caution on the subject of infantile sexuality from the first correspondence with Freud in 1906 to the crisis in their relationship in 1912 (cf. Gay, 1983, 197-243).

Freud's references to sublimated homosexual feeling as the key to male bonding is ubiquitous in both correspondences but is played out more systematically with Jung and more therapeutically with Ferenczi, who regularly attributes his anxieties about communicating with Freud to homoerotic issues. For his part, Jung admits in a remarkable letter early in the friendship in 1907 that his "boundless admiration" for Freud "both as a man and as a researcher" constantly evokes a "self-preservation complex," which he explains as follows:

[M]y veneration for you has something of the character of a "religious" crush. Though it does not really bother me, I still feel it is disgusting and ridiculous because of its undeniable erotic undertone. This abominable feeling comes from the fact that as a boy I was the victim of a sexual assault by a man I once worshipped (McGuire, 1974, 95).

Freud's next letter, curiously, has been lost. The matter does not seem to have been explicitly raised again. Each time Jung might have felt seductively approached by Freud, however, he withdraws. Each time Freud might have felt attacked by Jung, he panics -- in two instances, by fainting.

Freud's relationship with Ferenczi seems to have allowed him to play a more supportive father with the infantile Hungarian than he could to the aggressive Swiss. In one letter, written after Freud and Ferenczi had traveled together to Italy in 1910, Freud complains to Jung about Ferenczi's effeminate dependence:

My traveling companion is a dear fellow, but dreamy in a disturbing kind of way, and his attitude towards me is infantile. He never stops admiring me, which I don't like, and is probably sharply critical of me in his unconscious when I am taking it easy. He has been too passive and receptive, letting everything be done for him like a woman, and I really haven't got enough homosexuality in me to accept him as one. These trips arouse a real longing for a real woman. (McGuire, 1974, 353)

The three men had traveled together to the US in 1909 so that Freud and Jung could take part in a symposium at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. In the correspondence of Freud with each of the other men about plans for the trip and its aftermath, Jung seems the mature older brother and Ferenczi the dependent younger one. Both Jung's and Freud's remarks were well received by their elite audience of American psychologists, including G. Stanley Hall and William James (Rosenzweig, 1992) but, as we shall see, a return invitation to America was the occasion for the rupture of relations between Freud and Jung.

The Eternal Triangle

Throughout his life, Freud experienced competitive feelings for a woman whom he shared with a male intimate companion. The resulting male-female-male triangles usually brought Freud's relationship with the male to a crisis. The prototype, in his own view, was Freud's infantile lust for his mother -- threatened when he was displaced from her breast by the birth of baby brother Julius, and eventuating in prototypical guilt when Julius seemed to succumb to Sigmund's hatred by dying (Krüll, 1986)). The second instance, recovered by Freud in his analysis of the screen memory of playing in a meadow (Freud, 1899), involved his half-brother Emmanuel's children, John and Pauline Freud. In this memory the aggressive and sexual elements were merged, as three-year-old Sigmund and four-year-old John threw Pauline to the ground and took her dandelions -- "deflowered" her.

Freud's collaboration with Josef Breuer on Studies in Hysteria, published in 1895, produced the first detailed account of a "psychoanalytic" therapy directed at the alleviation of symptoms by recovery of repressed memories. The treatment by Breuer of Bertha Papenheim ("Anna O.") had been conducted by Breuer in the early 1880s and recounted to Freud when the latter was a medical student engaged to Martha Bernays. Breuer was reluctant to publish the case fifteen years later, and Freud attributed this reluctance to unanalyzed erotic feelings Breuer had conceived for his young female patient. The details of Breuer's feelings are still in doubt (cf. Hirschmüller, 1989), but the account Freud gave Ernest Jones and other psychoanalytic colleagues later suggests a fantasy identification with Breuer. Freud's account, reported in Jones's biography (Jones, 1953), suggested that Breuer's guilt over his erotic feelings for Bertha brought the therapy to a premature close and led to an anxious renewal of the Breuer marriage in the birth of a daughter, Dora (Jones, 1953).

Freud's own choice of the pseudonym "Dora" for his patient Ida Bauer suggests both his identification with Breuer and his obsession with exposing the erotic source of the patient's symptoms, as Breuer had feared to do (Decker, 1982, 1991). Freud's interpretation of his 1895 dream of "Irma's Injection," the exemplar to which he devotes a chapter in the Interpretation of Dreams (Freud, 1900), was produced when his friendship with Breuer was under great strain and his devotion to Fliess at its height. The dream casts Breuer ("Dr. M.") as a bungling therapist who has missed the sexual cause of Irma's neurosis, and Freud's interpretation spares Fliess the accusation that the patient's bleeding was caused by careless surgery to cure her hysteria through removal of "sexual" nerves in her nose (Davis, 1990; Masson, 1984).

Rudnytsky sets in apposition three of these Freudian triangles -- with John and Pauline; with Wilhelm Fliess and Emma Eckstein (Freud's patient on whose nose Fliess operated in 1895) and with Jung and Sabina Spielrein -- and argues that that this configuration affected Freud's treatment of his adolescent patient "Dora" (Freud, 1905). Freud's fantasy alignment of himself with the would-be seducer (Herr K.) of his adolescent patient was the transition from the second to the third triangle (Rudnytsky, 1987, 37-38).

Sabina Spielrein

Jung's controversial treatment of his young female patient Sabina Spielrein has been the subject of two books (Carotenuto, 1982; Kerr, 1993). It certainly appears that Jung was personally, and even erotically, involved with his patient both during and after his formal treatment of her. Much of the Freud-Jung-Spielrein correspondence, along with Spielrein's fascinating and disturbing diary, was published in Carotenuto's 1982 A Secret Symmetry, but Kerr's book is the first thorough examination of her influence. Spielrein was a severely disturbed young Russian Jewish woman who was treated by Jung in 1904 as a test case in psychoanalysis. She maintained an intimate friendship with Jung for many years, trained in psychoanalysis with Freud, corresponded with both men during the crucial years of their friendship and subsequent alienation, and influenced Russian clinical psychology in the 1920s and '30s. Working from Spielrein's diary, her correspondence with Freud, Jung's correspondence with Freud about her, and her own published papers, Kerr traces in detail Spielrein's influence on both men's theories.

At the time Jung's correspondence with Freud began in 1906, Spielrein's clinical material pertaining to anal eroticism seems to have convinced him of the importance of Freud's assertions on the subject (Freud, 1905a; Kerr, 1993). Spielrein played an especially important role in Jung's theory of the anima and in Freud's theory of a destructive instinct. As he had with Fliess a decade earlier, Freud avoided criticizing Jung's treatment of Spielrein even when there was reason to suspect that the therapy had miscarried badly. Spielrein's diary reveals a fantasy of having a child ("Siegfried") by Jung that Jung seems to have encouraged in therapy sessions even as he denied to Freud that the relationship was sexual (Carotenuto, 1982; McGuire, 1974).

Oedipus Redivivus

The last stage of the Freud-Jung friendship was characterized by each man's preoccupation with the role of universal aggressive and erotic forces in childhood personality development. For Freud the result was a renewed commitment to orthodox Oedipal theory, while for Jung the result was his typology of individual differences that allowed him to validate different analytic approached, encompassing Freud's, Adler's, and Jung's own of sexual and aggressive feelings as they intersect with symbols of a collective unconscious. By 1911 the Freud-Jung correspondence is full of the problem of Adler's and Stekel's defections. Freud notes that he is "becoming steadily more impatient of Adler's paranoia and longing for an occasion to throw him out ... especially since seeing a performance of Oedipus Rex here -- the tragedy of the 'arranged libido'" (McGuire, 1974, 422). Referring to Adler as "Fliess redivivus," Freud also notes that Stekel's first name is Wilhelm, suggesting that both relationships evoked the ending of his friendship with Wilhelm Fliess in 1901, because of what Freud described as Fliess's paranoia.

Like Ferenczi, Jung had lent a sympathetic ear in 1911 while Freud struggled to explain Schreber's paranoia in terms of repressed homosexuality (Freud, 1911), but the sympathy was not reciprocated. Freud expressed confusion and distress with Jung's attempts to explain his rational for Transformations and Symbols of the Libido the following year. Even in the early days of Oedipal theory in the late 1890s, Freud had suggested to Fliess that because each of us has experienced and repressed a personal Oedipus complex it will always be tempting to revise our account of development to omit or downplay the role of infantile sexuality. Such revisionist accounts will find favor with the public, Freud argued, since they leave each person's repressions intact. Despite frequent assurances from Freud that neither Jung's friendship nor his role in psychoanalysis could be in doubt, there is a growing sense of each man protesting too much. Subsequently, Jung's increasing independence begins to arouse Freud's avuncular concern and finally his hostility in the summer of 1912, as Jung discussed the lectures he was preparing for a second trip to America.

On his return in November Jung sent Freud a letter describing the enthusiasm with which his talks on psychoanalysis were received and added:

Naturally I made room for those of my views which deviate in places from the hitherto existing conceptions, particularly in regard to the libido theory. (McGuire,1974, 515)

Freud's reply immediately revealed the chill that was descending on the relationship:

Dear Dr. Jung:

I greet you on your return from America, no longer as affectionately as on the last occasion in Nuremberg -- you have successfully broken me of that habit -- but still with considerable sympathy, interest, and satisfaction at your personal success. (McGuire,1974, 517)

After repeated exchanges about the now-famous "Kreuzlingen gesture" -- Jung's hurt feelings that Freud did not arrange to meet him while visiting his colleague Binswanger in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, and Freud's hurt feelings that Jung did not show up -- a confrontation occurs. Freud gets Jung to admit that he could have inferred the necessary details to appear, and Jung surprisingly recalls that he had been away that weekend. At lunch afterwards, Freud offers hearty and seemingly friendly criticism of Jung and then drops into a faint, in the same room where he had passed out prior to the 1909 trip to Clark University with Jung and Ferenczi. It was also the same room where he had quarreled with Fliess in 1901.

When Freud attempts shortly thereafter to interpret Jung's slip that "even Adler's and Stekel's disciples don't consider me one of theirs/yours," Jung has had enough:

May I say a few words to you in earnest? I admit the ambivalence of my feelings towards you, but am inclined to take an honest and absolutely straightforward view of the situation. If you doubt my word, so much the worse for you. I would, however, point out that your technique of treating your pupils like patients is a blunder. In that way you produce either slavish sons or impudent puppies (Adler-Stekel and the whole insolent gang now throwing their weight about in Vienna). I am objective enough to see through your little trick. You go about sniffing out all the symptomatic actions in your vicinity, thus reducing everyone to the level of sons and daughters who blushingly admit the existence of their faults. Meanwhile you remain on top as the father, sitting pretty. For sheer obsequiousness nobody dares to pluck the prophet by the beard and inquire for once what you would say to a patient with a tendency to analyze the analyst instead of himself. You would certainly ask him: "who's got the neurosis?" (McGuire, 1974, 534-535).

Jung's assault on Freud's cherished assumptions is frontal. Freud projects his hostility onto his disciples. Freud has never come to terms with his own neurosis. Freud's methods are one-sidedly sexual. His self-understanding is flawed, and he is -- in the case where it matters most -- no therapist. Freud brooded over his response to this letter and sent a draft reply to Ferenczi for comment, speaking of his shame and anger at the personal insult (Brabant, Falzeder, & Giampieri-Deutch, 1993), and finally suggested to Jung that they end their personal relationship. Jung left his positions as head of the movement and editor or its major journal the following year.

Roustang (1982, 7) cites a comment of Freud's to Groddeck in 1917 that "the discovery that transference and resistance are the most important aspects of the treatment turns a person irrevocably into a member of the primal horde." In Totem and Taboo (Freud, 1914), written while the bitterness of the quarrel with Jung was fresh, Freud laid out an anthropological fantasy of primal incest and parricide as justification for a proto-sociobiological theory of the evolution of society. Jung was now, in Freud's view, one of the brother band along with Adler and Stekel, eager to devour and replace the old man.

Jung's account of Freud in subsequent writings carefully acknowledges the seminal importance of dream interpretation and the role of the unconscious in symptom formation. Jung takes Freud's emphasis on childhood sexuality as evidence of his one-sidedness, however, suggests the need for concomitant analysis of aggressive strivings (cf. Adler), and treats the Oedipus complex in terms of the universal role of myth in the psyche (Jung 1956, 1961). Much of Jung's distinctive mission in the decades after Freud was to affirm the creative and prospective, rather than the regressive and reductionistic, role of myth in each life span. Transformations and Symbols of the Libido was reissued in several editions, and was finally substantially revised in the last years of Jung's life. At that time Jung noted that thirty-seven years had not diminished the book's problematic importance for him:

The whole thing came upon me like a landslide that cannot be stopped. The urgency that lay behind it became clear to me only later: it was the explosion of all those psychic contents that could find no room, no breathing space, in the constricting atmosphere of Freudian psychology and its narrow outlook (Jung, 1956, xxiii).

When Jung joined psychoanalysis in 1907, it could plausibly claim to be a radical new psychology, devised by Freud and consisting of several related parts: a powerful hermeneutics (Freud, 1900), a revolutionary and partly empirical theory of personality development (Freud, 1905a), a novel therapeutic methodology (Freud, 1905b), and a rudimentary theory of cultural psychology (Freud, 1900). Freud's work on dreams, neurotic etiology, and child development were becoming known beyond Vienna, and a psychoanalytic movement was about to form. When Jung left Freud and the International Psychoanalytic Association, both were players on a world stage and Jung was half-ready to launch a movement of his own. Freud's political leadership of the psychoanalytic movement was vested in an orthodox body-guard (Grosskurth, 1991) and for most of the next 24 years he remained in the background, tinkering with the peripheral concepts of his theories and watching jealously that no variant psychoanalysis abandoned the core premise of childhood sexuality. Freud's ideas remained important to psychology for decades, and his notions regarding cultural evolution had wide influence in other disciplines, but classical psychoanalysis as a therapeutic movement became reified around libidinal drive theory and its most original and fertile new hypotheses were developed by practitioners who in one way or another were considered "unorthodox."

Ultimately the professional relationship foundered on arguments over "libido" and its transformations, i.e., on the theory of motivational energy and of the relationship between conscious and unconscious phenomena. Behind this professional squabble lay the aggressive and erotic emotions evident in the letters. Had Freud and Jung sustained their relationship for a few more years, psychoanalytic history would have been very different. There might have been a complete and coherent account of the requirements for psychoanalytic therapy and training (and perhaps a clearer distinction between them) (cf. Kerr, 1993). An adequate theory of female eroticism and gender might have had its beginnings (Kofman, 1985). The interplay of sexual and aggressive emotions in human development would have been addressed explicitly instead of being deflected into tendentious anthropological speculation, and the spiritual aspect of life would perhaps have found a place in theory and in therapy.

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Copyright © 1997 Douglas A. Davis. All rights reserved.
A revised verison of this paper appeared as
Davis, D.A. (1997). Jung in the Psychoanalytic movement. In P. Young-Eisendrath & T. Dawson (Eds.). Cambridge Companion to Jung. Cambridge University Press.

June 23, 2007: a podcast conversation about the Freud-Young relationship, based on this article, appears on the podcast site Shrink Pad Radio: www.shrinkrapradio.com/2007/06/22/97-the-freudjung-letters/