Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Psychoanalysis Evolves: Freudian Dissenters

This is the second post in my series on psychotherapy. I know, I've been gone a long time. My stats show it, too.

When Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams, he became a very controversial figure because of his emphasis on sexuality. He went through a brief period where he worked in isolation, but, by 1902. he began to gather a group of physicians around him. By 1908, the group had grown into the Vienna Psychoanalyic Society. Two early members of the Society eventually split from Freud: Alfred Adler and Carl Jung.

Carl Jung

Jung and Freud were very close and Freud saw Jung as his successor. This relationship soon fell apart, however, as Jung began to diverge from Freud's views. There are many accounts (some of them scandalous) of their final split, which, fortunately, are irrelevant to my goals for this series.

Jung's theory, like Freud's, is extremely complicated. A good summary of his ideas can be found here. Jung became fascinated with symbols, and began to see a cross-cultural pattern in them. He argued that there are "archetypes" among those symbols which relate to common human heritage, not just the individual's experience. Thus, each of us has a set of common symbols within us, which Jung referred to as the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious coexisted with the personal unconscious.

For Jung, neurosis, or mental illness in general, resulted from attempts to cut off elements of both the collective and personal unconscious from the conscious experience of the individual. Humans have an innate need for "self-realization," which involves understanding and integrating all of the material from the collective and personal unconscious. Proceeding with self-realization results in "individuation," the process of becoming a unique and unified individual.

Psychotherapy for Jung was less structured than psychoanalysis. He did not use free-association the same way Freud did. Rather, he relied on the spontaneous discussion of the individual. Like Freud, he analyzed dreams and verbalized symbols. He was less concerned with uncovering trauma and more concerned with tracing the relationships among symbols. He also understood symbols more in terms of common human experience and less in terms of sexuality. Through therapy, individuals become more centered and more comfortable with their own contradictions.

Alfred Adler

An early member of Freud's inner circle, Adler was the first to break with Freud. A good summary of his ideas can be found here and here. Adler anticipated much of modern psychology and psychotherapy. He dispensed with Freud's instinctive psychology and focused instead on the goal-oriented nature of human behavior.

Adler saw individuals first and foremost as social creatures, forming goals and striving to meet them. Where Freud talked about the superego managing our behavior, Adler conceived of the role of values. This is an oversimplification, but essentially Adler saw mental health in terms of (a) having healthy values, which affect what goals we try to achieve, and (b) having both the confidence and the ability to achieve those goals.

This means that analysis was very straightforward. The analyst encourages the patient to overcome feelings of insecurity, develop more rewarding and meaningful relationships, and to pursue healthy life goals. Insight and exploration of the patient's past occur early in the relationship, but later on, there is more emphasis on behavior change.

There were two critical differences between Adler and Freud. First, Adler emphasized the role of empathy in the therapeutic relationship. For Freud, the analyst was supposed to be a blank slate. This encouraged the development of transference. The interpretation of transference was critical for psychoanalysis. In contrast, Adler argued that the analyst should develop an empathic relationship with the patient, stimulating hope and commitment to the process. Second, while Freud encouraged the analyst to be quiet and allow the patient to free associate, Adler encouraged the analyst to engage in Socratic dialogs to help the patient achieve insights.


Jung and Adler are really polar opposites. Adler was much the realist, while Jung was much more mystical. Together, Jung and Adler moved analysis off the couch and put it across the desk. This changed the dynamic between the patient and the analyst, making it possible to create the modern collaborative relationship.

Both Jung and Adler continue to be influential, and there continue to be institutes (e.g., Alfred Adler Institutes and C. G. Jung Institutes) devoted to their ideas. While Jung is better known, it has been Adler whose influence has been most pervasive in modern psychotherapy. He anticipated the more active approaches we use today and was the first analyst to downplay the emphasis on probing the unconscious. We will come back to him briefly when we discuss cognitive-behavior therapy.


Viagra Online said...

All about the old psychoanalysis is my passion, Freud and his students, also his critics... all them are my passion. I've been reading hundreds of books about their emphasis and antithesis... just amazing and very important today.

Chelsea said...

This is great!