Desktop version

Home arrow History

  • Increase font
  • Decrease font


<<   CONTENTS   >>

The split between Freud and Jung

Woman - obliterated by her religious persecution as a witch, removed as irrational by the new science of the Renaissance, and silenced by the claustrophobic patriarchal grip of the Victorian era. Her oppression has become so complete that the maternal feminine is excised from consciousness. Inevitably, then, the blinding power of the Terrible Mother, coming as it does from the repressed deep in the unconscious, is completely cut off from conscious control - and so becomes annihilating. The waning role of religion in supporting the sexual caste system is extended to the burgeoning profession of psychoanalysis. The ground is fertile for the succubus to take hold again, this time in the theories of psychoanalysis which came to define the psychology of modern man, and the writings and lives of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

This is not to say that Freud and Jung didn’t contribute anything to the severely repressed, turn of the century woman. Both men were gifted with an extraordinary grasp of life and ability to see into people. And by listening in a new way, they gave nervous patients a voice they had not had before. They gave new value to inner psychic realities, and from this came a new appreciation for the externally real. Feeling the openness to express different childhood experiences created the possibility of reflecting in a new way on the origins of one’s own personality. The nineteenth century saw the rise of the notion of the unconscious and a new experience of the collective unconscious through their work.

Prior to their influence, disturbed women were taken care of as best they could be by their families, but if this care failed, the most atrocious remedies were attempted. Ovariectomies and clitoridectomies were done to rid the female body of the infection hidden within it. More humanely, Freud noticed a whole host of disorders resulting from Victorian women’s silence. He called these hysteria after classic Greek theory which postulated the core of female dis-ease to be the uterus (hustera in Latin, hence the name hysteria). Hysterical women were under the influence of deeply primitive material that they couldn’t repress, and so had to be caused by some sexual or procreative dysfunction (Kerr, 1993: 22).

Despite what they did give to women through their genius, their best intentions, their intensity towards self-reflection, their disciplined application of analytic principles or their understanding of the dynamics of the unconscious, Jung and

Freud, in pursuit of their own power, passions and desires, played right along with the repression of the maternal feminine and the ego of our culture which is founded on the abjection of the mother. What is denied by vision, however, comes back in through the rear door. Engelsman succinctly describes Freud’s conception of the return of repressed material:

First, certain elements of the feminine might evade the initial repression and remain accessible to memory and occasionally emerge into consciousness. These fragments, however, would still be “isolated, like foreign bodies out of connection with the rest.” Or, second, since the material that is repressed maintains its upward urge, it will eventually enter consciousness in disguised form. The fact that it cannot return “smoothly and unaltered” testifies to the resistance of the ego which cannot be overcome.

(1979: 121)

The mythic pattern and archetypal structure of the succubus was bound to surface out of Freud and Jung’s unconscious, one manifestation being a theoretical exaggeration of psychoanalysis as science during a time when scientific discoveries would guarantee lasting fame. This stance actually served to intensify the repression of the feminine even more, giving the succubus greater thrust in the realm of reason. Even though they asked deep, primordial questions, psychology was to lose its “psyche;” its roots in soul, or the true self, was to slowly fade out of the picture with their increasing rationalizations around the feminine.

Freud and Jung’s intellectual position in itself was a mask, a defense against shame. Their defensiveness, however, did not prevent psychoanalysis’ eventual development into an art and humanity as well. Art and science are related modes of thought and spring from the same root structures of consciousness: the artist can experience a dim intuition of truth, and the scientist can prove a dim intuition of truth. Psychoanalysis has become not only a clinical method, but a literary, artistic and cultural movement with the potential of being a Weltanschauung. Only as an art and science can psychoanalysis serve as bridge between the conscious, the unconscious and the whole of life.

Freud and Jung’s shame, however, goes much deeper than their choice of paradigm; it has been built into the very structure of their theories, so that despite their initial affinities (their first meeting lasted 13 hours) that resulted in a profitable give and take, their theories have not found real integration. Sexuality and spirituality are pairs of opposites that need integration, yet it is at this point that shame petrifies psychoanalytic progress, and splits the body of psychoanalysis in two.

I believe that Freud and Jung’s blindness to their own shame nearly destroyed the “science” they built together, and its reverberations are still felt in the undercurrents of depth psychology today. Just as shame in the form of the succubus reshaped our cultural history as the alienations of civilization set in, the succubus took hold and began her destructive effects as psychoanalytic theory became increasingly restricted to suit the personal and political need of its founders - and to obscure their male vulnerability and shame.

The complex and disturbing history of the break between Freud and Jung is well-known (see Kerr’s A Most Dangerous Method): “Of all its manifold dimensions, perhaps the most important has also been the hardest to conceptualize: the relation between the personal factor and the theoretical struggle that arose out of it and ultimately supplanted it” (1993: 10). When one looks at what is hardest to conceptualize through the eyes of shame, however, one clearly and simply sees the image of the succubus linking the “personal factor” and “theoretical struggle” to supplant the foundations of psychoanalysis. Just how this is true will be shown in the pages to come.

 
<<   CONTENTS   >>

Related topics