Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud, 1856–1939

sigmundGenerally speaking, our civilization is built up on the suppression of instincts. Each individual has surrendered some part of his possessions, some part of the sense of omnipotence or of the aggressive or vindictive inclinations in his personality. From these contributions has grown civilization’s common possession of material and ideal property, Beside the exigencies of life, no doubt it has been family feelings, derived from eroticism, that have induced the separate individuals to make this renunciation. The renunciation has been a progressive one in the course of the evolution of civilization. The single steps in it were snctioned by religion; the piece of instinctual satisfaction which each person has renounced was offered to the Deity as a sacrifice, and the communal property thus acquired was declared “sacred”.The man who, in consequence of his unyielding constitution, cannot fall in with this suppression of instinct, becomes a “criminal”, an “outlaw”, in the face of society–unless his social position or his exceptional capacity enables him to impose himself upon it as a great man, a “hero”.

Civilized Sexual Morality

A feebleness of the ego of this sort is to be found in all of us in childhood; and that is why the experiences of the earliest years of childhood are of such great importance for later life. Under the extraordinary burden of this period of childhood–we have in a few years to cover the enormous developmental distance between stone-age primitive men and the participants in contemporary civilization, and, at the same time and in particular, we have to fend off the instinctual impulses of the early sexual period–under this burden, then, our ego takes refuge in repression and lays itself open to a childhood neurosis, the precipitate of which it carries with it into maturity as a disposition to a later nervous illness.

The Question of Lay Analysis

A progressive renunciation of constitutional instincts, whose activation might afford the ego primary pleasure, appears to be one of the foundations of the development of human civilization. Some part of this instinctual repression is effected by its religions, in that they require the individual to sacrifice his instinctual pleasure to the Deity: “Vengence is mine, saith the Lord.” In the development of the ancient religions one seems to discern that many things which mankind had renounced as “iniquities” had been surrended to the Deity and were still permitted in his name, so that the handing over to him of bad and socially harmful instincts was the means by which man freed himself from their domination. For this reason, it is surely no accident that all the attributes of man, along with the misdeeds that follow from them, were to an unlimited amount ascribed to the ancient gods. Nor is it a contradiction of this that nevertheless man was not permitted to justify his own iniquities by appealing to invine example.

Obsessions and Religion

When we start considering this possibility, we come upon a contention which is so astonishing that we must dwell upon it. This contention holds that what we call our civilization is largely responsible for our misery, and that we should be much happier if we gave it up and returned to primitive conditions. I call this contention astonishing because, in whatever way we may define the concept of civilization, it is a certain fact that all the things with which we seek to protect ourselves against the threats that emanate from sources of suffering are part of that very civilization.

Men are proud of those achievements, and have a right to be. But they seem to have observed that this newly-won power over space and time, this subjugation of the forces of nature, which is the fulfillment of a longing that goes back thousands of years, has not increased the amount of pleasurable satisfaction which they may expect from life and has not made them feel happier.

The first requisite of civilization, therefore, is that of justice–that is, the assurance that a law once made will not be broken in favor of an individual. this implies nothing as to the ethical value of such a law. the further course of cultural development seems to tend towards making the law no longer an expression of the will of a small community–a caste or stratum of the population or a racial group–which, in its turn, behaves like a violent individual towards other, and perhaps more numerous, collections of people. The final outcome should be a rule of law to which all–except those who are not capable of entering a community–have contributed by a sacrifice of their instincts, and which leaves no one–again with the same exception–at the mercy of brute force. The liberty of the individual is no gift of civilization, though then, it is true, it had for the most part no value, since the individual was scarcely in a position to defend it. … Civilized man has exchanged a potion of his possibilities of happiness for a portion of security.

What happens in him to render his desire for aggression innocuous? Something very remarkable, which we should never have guessed and which is neverhteless quite obvious. His aggressiveness is introjected, internalized; it is, in point of fact, sent back to where it came from–that is, it is directed towards his own ego. There it is taken over by a portion of the ego, which sets itself over against the rest of the ego as super-ego, and which now, in the form of “conscience” is ready to put into action against ego the same harsh aggressiveness that the ego would have liked to satisfy upon other, extraneous individuals. The tension between the harsh super-ego and the egothat is subjected to it, is called by us the sense of guilt;it expresses itself as a need for punishment. Civilization, therefore, obtains mastery over the individual’s dangerous desire for aggression by weakening and disarming it and by setting up an agency within him to watch over it, liek a garrison in a conquered city.

Civilization and Its Discontents

Carl G Jung, 1875–1961

jungThe great events of world history are, at bottom, profoundly unimportant. In the final analysis, the essential thing is the life of the individual. This alone makes history, here alone do the great transformations first take place, and the whole future, the whole history of the world, ultimately spring as a gigantic summation from these hidden sources in individuals. In our most private and most subjective lives, we are not only the passive witnesses of our age and its sufferers, but also its makers. We make our own epoch.


Today humanity, as ever before, is split into two apparently irreconcilable halves. The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner contradiction, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposite halves.


If a work of art is explained in the same way as a neurosis, then either the work of art is a neurosis or a neurosis is a work of art. This explanation is very well as a play on words, but sound common sense rebels against putting a work of art on the same level as a neurosis. An analyst might, in an extreme case, view a neurosis as a work of art through the lens of his professional bias, but it would never occur to an intelligent layman to mistake a pathological phenomenon for art, in spite of the undeniable fact that a work of art arises from much the same psychological conditions as a neurosis.

The primordial image, or archetype, is a figure–be it a demon, a human being, or a process–that constantly recurs in the course of history and appears wherever creative fantasy is freely expressed. Essentially, therefore, it is a mythological figure. When we examine these images more closely, we find that they give form to countless typical experiences of our ancesters. They are, so to speak, the psychic residua of innumerable experiences of the same type. They present a picture of psychic life in the average, divided up and projected into the manifold figures of the mythological pantheon.

Peoples and times, like individuals, have their own characteristic tendencies and attitudes. The very word “attitude” betrays the necessary bias that every marked tendency entails. Direction implies exclusion, and exclusion means that very many psychic elements that could play their part in life are denied the right to exist because they are incompatible with the general attitude. The normal man can follow the general trend without injury to himself; but the man who takes to the back streets and alleys because he cannot endure the broad highway will be the first to discover the psychic elements that are waiting to play their part in the life of the collective. Here the artist’s relative lack of adaptation turns out to be his advantage; it enables him to follow his own yearnings far from the beaten path, and to discover what it is that would meet the unconscious needs of his age. thus, just as the one-sidedness of the individual’s conscious attitude is corrected by reactions from the unconscious, so art represents a process of self-regulation in the life of nations and epochs.

What is of particular importance for the study of literature, however, is that the manifestations of the collective unconscious are compensatory to the conscious attitude, so that they have the effect of bringing a one-sided, unadapted, or dangerous state of consciousness back into equilibrium. … Every period has its bias, its particular prejudice, and its psychic malaise. An epoch is like an individual; it has its own limitations of conscious outlook and therefore requires a compensatory adjustment. This is effected by the collective unconscious when a poet or seer lends expressions to the unspoken desire of his times and shows the way, by word or deed, to its fulfillment, regardless whether this blind collective need results in good or evil, in the salvation of an epoch or its destruction.

The Spirit in Man, Art and Literature

The mass crushes out the insight and reflection that are still possible with the individual, and this necessarily leads to doctrinaire and authoritarian tyranny. … Most poeple confuse “self-knowledge” with the knowledge of their conscious ego-personalities, Anyone who has any ego-consciousness at all takes it for granted that he knows himself. But the ego knows only its own contents, not the unconscious and its contents. People measure their self-knowledge by what the average person in their social environment knows of himself, but not by the real psychic facts which are for the most part hidden from them.

… For this purpose he has to be regarded as a comparative unit. This results in a universally valid anthropology or psychology, as the case may be, with an abstract picture of man as an average unit from which all individual features have been removed. … In view of the fact that, in principle, the positive advantages of knowledge work specifically to the disadvantage of understanding, the judgment resulting therefrom is likely to be something of a paradox. Judged scientifically, the individual is nothing but a unit which repeats itself ad infinitum and could just as well be designated with a letter of the alphabet. For understanding, on the other hand, it is just the unique individual human being who, when stripped of all those conformities and regularities so dear to the heart of the scientist, is the supreme and only real object of investigation.

… This development [of the state] becomes logically unavoidable the moment the individual combines with the mass and thus renders himself obsolete. Apart from the agglomeration of huge masses in which the individual disappears anyway, one of the chief factors responsible for psychological mass-mindedness is scientific rationalism, which robs the individual of his foundations and his dignity. … For in order to turn the individual into a function of the State, his dependence on anything else must be taken from him. Religion means dependence on and submission to the irrational facts of experience. These do not refer directly to social and physical conditions; they concern far more the individual’s psychic attitude.

… The goals of religion–deliverance from evil, reconciliation with God, rewards in the hereafter, and so on–turn into worldly promises about freedom from care for one’s daily bread, the just distribution of material goods, universal prosperity in the future, and shorter working hours. That the fulfillment of these promises is as far off as Paradise only furnishes yet another analogy and underlines the fact that the masses have been converted from an extra mundane goal to a purely worldly belief.

… A natural function which has existed from the beginning, like the religious function, cannot be disposed of with rationalistic and so-called enlightened criticism. You can, of course, represent the doctrinal contents of the creeds as impossible and subject them to ridicule, but such methods miss the point and do not affect the religious function which forms the basis of the creeds. Religion, in the sense of conscientious regard for the irrational factors of the psyche and individual fate, reappears–evilly distorted–in the deification of the State and the dictator.

… This is the century of the common man, that he is the lord of the earth, the air, and the water, and that on his decision hangs the historical fate of the nations. This proud picture of human grandeur is unfortunately an illusion and is counterbalanced by a reality that is very different. In this reality man is the slave and victim of the machines that have conquered space and time for him.

… The psyche has a peculiar nature which cannot be reduced to anything else. Like physiology, it presents a relatively self-contained field of experience, to which we must attribute special importance because it includes one of the two indispensable conditions for existence as such, namely, the phenomenon of consciousness. Without consciousness there would, practically speaking, be no world, for the world exists for us only in so far as it is consciously reflected by a psyche. Consciousness is a precondition of being. Nothing estranges man more from the ground-plan of his instincts than his learning capacity, which turns out to be a genuine drive for progressive transformation of human modes of behavior. It is also the ultimate source of those numerous psychic disturbances and difficulties which are occasioned by man’s progressive alienation from his instinctual foundation, by his uprooted-ness and identification with his conscious knowledge of himself, by his concern with consciousness at the expense of the unconscious. The result is that modern man knows himself only in so far as he can become conscious of himself.

… Dreams try to re-establish the equilibrium by restoring the image and emotions that express the state of the unconscious. One can hardly ever restore the original condition by rational talk, which is far too flat and colorless. But as my examples have showed, the language of dreams provides just those images which appeal to the deeper strata of the psyche.

The Undiscovered Self

The psychic life of civilized man, however, is full of problems; we cannot even think of it except in terms of problems. Our psychic processes are made up to a large extent of reflections, doubts and experiments, all of which are almost completely foreign to the unconscious, instinctive mind of primitive man. It is the growth of consciousness which we must thank for the existence of problems; they are the dubious gift of civilization. It is just man’s turning away from instinct–his opposing himself to instinct–that creates consciousness. … Every problem, therefore, brings the possibility of a widening of consciousness–but also the necessity of saying goodbye to childlike unconsciousness and trust in nature. This necessity is a psychic fact of such importance that it constitutes one of the essential symbolic teachings of the Christian religion. It is the sacrifice of the merely natural man–of the unconscious, ingenuous being whose tragic career began with the eating of the apple in Paradise. The biblical fall of man presents the dawn of civilization as a curse. And as a matter of fact it is in this light that we first look upon every problem that forces us to greater consciousness and separates us ever further from the paradise of unconscious childhood.

Modern Man in Search of A Soul

There for the first time I had the good fortune to talk with a non-European, that is, to a non-white. He was the chief of the Taos pueblos, an intelligent man between the age of 40 and 50. His name was Ochwiay Biano (Mountain Lake). … I felt that we were approaching extremely delicate ground here, verging on the mysteries of the tribe. “After all,” he said, “we are a people who live on the roof of the world; we are the sons of Father Sun; and with our religion we daily help our father to go across the sky. We do this not only for ourselves, but for the whole world. If we were to cease practicing our religion, in ten years the sun would no longer rise. Then it would be night forever.” I then realized on what the dignity, the tranquil composure of the individual Indian was founded: it springs from his being a son of the sun; his life is cosmologically meaningful, for he helps the father and preserver of all life in his daily rise and descent. If we set against this our own self-justifications, the meaning of our own lives as it is formulated by our reason, we cannot help but see our poverty. Out of sheer envy we are obliged to smile at the Indians’ naivete and to plume ourselves on our cleverness; for otherwise we would discover how impoverished and down at the heels we are. Knowledge does not enrich us; it removes us more and more from the mythic world in which we were once at home by right of birth.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Feminine Sexuality by Jacques Lacan

An Introduction by Juliet Mitchell

jacques-lacanLacan’s human subject is not a “devided self” that in a different society could be made whole, but a self which is only actually and necessarilycreated within a split, a being that can only conceptualize itself when it is mirrored back to itself from the position of another’s desire. … The question as to what created this difference between the sexes was a central debate among psychoanalysts in the twentieth and thirties. Lacan returned to this debate as a facal point for what he considered had gone wrong with psychoanalytical theory subsequently. Again, Lacan underscored and reformulated the position that Freud took up in this debate. Freud always insisted that it was the precence or absence of the phallus and nothing else that marked the distinction between the sexes. … To be human is to be subjected to a law which decenters and divides: sexuality is created in a division, the subject is split; but an ideological world conceals this from the conscious subject who is supposed to feel whole and certain of sexual identity. Psychoanalysis should aim at a destruction of this concealment and at a reconstruction of the subject’s construction in all its splits.

The phallus needs to be placed on the axis of desire before it can be understood, or questioned, as the differental mark of sexual identification (boy or girl, having or not having the phallus). By breaking the imaginery dyad, the phallus represents a moment of division (Lacan calls this the subject’s “lack-in-being”) which re-enacts the fundamental splitting of subjectivity itself. … Sexual difference is then assigned according to whether individual subjects do or do not possess the phallus, which means not that anatomical difference is sexual difference (the one as strictly deducible from the other), but that anatomical difference comes to figure sexual difference, that is, it becomes the sole representative of what that difference is allowed to be. It thus covers over the complexity of the child’s early sexual life with a crude opposition in which that very complexity is refused or repressed. The phallus thus indicates the reduction of difference to an instance of visible perception, a seeming value. Sexuality belongs for Lacan in the realm of masquerade. The term comes from Joan Riviere (Rievere, 1929) for whom it indicated a failed femininity. For LAcan, masquerade is the very definition of “femininity” precisely because it is constructed with reference to a male sign.


Conversely, it is Freud’s discovery that gives to the opposition of signifier to signified the full weight which it should imply: namely, that the signifier has an active function in determining the effects in which the signifiable appears as submitting to its mark, becoming through that passion the signified. This passion of the signifier then becomes a new dimension of the human condition, in that it is not only man who speaks, but in man and through man that it speaks, that his nature is woven by effects in which we can find the structure of language, whose material he becomes,. and that consequently there re?sounds in him, beyond anything ever conceived of by the psychology of ideas, the relation of speech.

The phallus is elucidated in its function here. In Freudian doctrine, the phallus is not a fantasy, if what is understood by that is an imaginary effect. Nor is it as such an object (part, internal, good, bad, etc. . . . ) in so far as this term tends to accentuate the reality involved in a relationship. It is even less the organ, penis or clitoris, which it symbolizes. And it is not incidental that Freud took his reference for it from the simula?crum which it represented for the Ancients. For the phallus is a signifier, a signifier whose function in the intrasubjective economy of analysis might lift the veil from that which it served in the mysteries. For it is to this signified that it is given to designate as a whole the effect of there being a signified, inasmuch as it conditions any such effect by its presence as signifier. …

Demand in itself bears on something other than the satis?factions which it calls for. It is demand for a presence or an absence. This is manifest in the primordial relation to the mother, pregnant as it is with that Other to be situated some way short of any needs which it might gratify. Demand constitutes this Other as already possessing the ‘privilege’ of satisfying needs, that is, the power to deprive them of the one thing by which they are satisfied. This privilege of the Other thus sketches out the radical form of the gift of something which it does not have, namely, what is called its love. …

Thus desire is neither the appetite for satisfaction, nor the demand for love, but the difference resulting from the subtraction of the first from the second, the very phenomenon of their splitting (Spaltung). One can see how the sexual relation occupies this closed field of desire in which it will come to play out its fate. For this field is constituted so as to produce the enigma which this relation provokes in the subject, by ‘signifying’ it to him twice over: as a return of the demand it arouses in the form of a demand made on the subject of need, and as an ambiguity cast onto the Other who is involved, in the proof of love demanded. The gap in this enigma betrays what determines it, conveyed at its simplest in this formula: that for each partner in the relation, the subject and the Other, it is not enough to be the subjects of need, nor objects of love, but they must stand as the cause of desire. …

The demand for love can only suffer from a desire whose signifier is alien to it. If the desire of the mother is the phallus, then the child wishes to be the phallus so as to satisfy this desire. Thus the division immanent to desire already makes itself felt in the desire of the Other, since it stops the subject from being satisfied with presenting to the Other anything real it might have which corresponds to this phallus – what he has being worth no more than what he does not have as far as his demand for love is concerned, which requires that he he the phallus. Clinical practice demonstrates that this test of the desire of the Other is not decisive in the sense that the subject learns from it whether or not he has a real phallus, but inasmuch as he learns that the mother does not. This is the moment of experience without which no symptomatic or structural consequence (that is, phobia or penisneid) referring to the castration complex can take effect. It is here that the conjunction is signed between desire, in so far as the phallic signifier is its mark, and the threat or the nostalgia of lack-in-having. …

Paradoxical as this formulation might seem, I would say that it is in order to be the phallus, that is to say, the signifier of the desire of the Other, that the woman will reject an essential part of her femininity, notably all its attributes through masquerade. It is for what she is not that she expects to be desired as well as loved. But she finds the signifier of her own desire in the body of the one to whom she addresses her demand for love. Certainly we should not forget that the organ actually invested with this signifying function takes on the value of a fetish. But for the woman the result is still a convergence onto the same object of an experience of love which as such (cf. above) ideally deprives her of that which it gives, and a desire which finds in that same experience its signifier. Which is why it can be observed that the lack of satisfaction proper to sexual need, in other words, frigidity, is relatively well tolerated in women, whereas the Verdrangung inherent to desire is lesser in her case than in the case of the man. …

Selected Bibliography of Psychoanalytical Writings:

  • Benjamin, Jessica. Shadow of the Other: Intersubjectivity and Gender in Psychoanalysis. Routledge, 1998.
  • Bennet, E. A. Meetings with Jung: Conversations recorded during the years 1946-1961. Daimon, 1985.
  • Bly, Robert. Iron John: A Book About Men. Vintage, 1990.
  • Bly, Robert. The Sibling Society. Addison-Wesley, 1996.
  • Bolen, Jean Shinoda. Goddesses in Everywoman: A New Psychology of Women. Harper Perennial, 1984.
  • Campbell, Joseph, ed. The Portable Jung. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. Penguin, 1983.
  • Clarke, J. J. Jung and Eastern Thought: A Dialogue with the Orient J. J. Clarke. Routledge, 1994.
  • De Laszlo, Violet Staub, ed. Psyche & Symbol: A Selection from the Writings of C. G. Jung. Doubleday Anchor, 1958.
  • De Laszlo, Violet Staub, ed. The Basic Writings of C. G. Jung. The Modern Library, 1959.
  • Flax, Jane. Thinking Fragments: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and Postmodernism in the Contemporary West. University of California Press, 1990.
  • Freud, Sigmund. An Autobiographical Study. Trans. James Strachey. Norton, 1952.
  • Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and its Discontents. Trans. James Strachey. Norton, 1961.
  • Freud, Sigmund. The Ego and the Id. Trans. Joan Riviere. Norton, 1960.
  • Fromm, Erich. Escape from Freedom. Owl Book: Henry Holt and Company: New York, 1994.
  • Hillman, James. Healing Fiction. Spring Publications. 1983.
  • Jung C. G. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Ed. Aniela Jaffe. Vintage, 1963.
  • Jung, C. G. Aspects of Feminine. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. Princeton University Press, 1982.
  • Jung, C. G. Symbols of Transformation: An Analysis of the Prelude to a case of Schizophrenia. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. Bollingen Series: Princeton University Press, 1990.
  • Jung, C. G. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. Bollingen Series: Princeton University Press, 1990.
  • Jung, C. G. The Spirit in Man, Art, and Literature. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. Bollingen Series: Princeton University Press, 1978.
  • Jung, C. G. The Undiscovered Self with Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. Bollingen Series: Princeton University Press, 1990.
  • Jung, Carl G, ed. Man and His Symbols. Doubleday Windfall, 1964.
  • Kalweit, Holger. Shamans, Healers, and Medicine Men. Trans. Michael H. Kohn. Shambhala: Boston & London, 1992.
  • Lacan, Jacques. Feminine Sexuality. Trans. Jacqueline Rose. Norton, 1982.
  • Neumann, Erich. Art and the Creative Unconscious. Princeton University Press, 1959.
  • Neumann, Erich. The Great Mother. Trans. Ralph Manheim. Bollingen Series: Princeton University Press, 1974.
  • Perera, Sylvia Brinton. Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women. Inner City Books, 1981.
  • Segal, Robert A. The Gnostic Jung: Including “Seven Sermons to the Dead”. Princeton University, 1992.
  • Sharp, Daryl. Personality Types: Jung’s Model of Typology. Inner City, 1987.
  • Stevens, Anthony. Archetypes: A Natural History of the Self: A pioneering investigation into the biological basis of Jung’s theory of archetypes. Quill: New York, 1983.
  • Von Franz, Marie-Louise, and James Hillman. Lectures on Jung’s Typology. Spring, 1971.
  • Von Franz, Marie-Louise. An Interpretation of Apuleius’ Golden Ass with the tale of Eros and Psyche. University of Dallas, 1980.
  • Walker, Steven F. Jung and the Jungian on Myth: An Introduction. Routledge, 2002.
  • Wehr, Demaris. Jung & Feminism: Liberating Archetype. Beacon Press, 1987.
  • Wolkstein, Diane, and Samuel Noah Kramer. Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth. Harper & Row, 1983.