Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Freud vs. Jung

Or, perhaps more accurately, Freudians vs. Jungians.

About a week ago I stumbled on a post about the the general unsexiness of Jungian women compared to the sexiness of Freudians and it's been rolling and rolling around my head ever since. I mean, I consider myself relatively sexy and I'm a Jungian. Well, not "sexy" per se but certainly not a "hippy-dippy-granola-town-goat’s-milk" AARP escapee. If I had to describe myself I'd say I was funky and playful with a dash of sexy. Too much "va-va-voom" and I feel uncomfortable and fake, like I'm dressed up in a Halloween costume. Personally, I feel the most comfortable when sexy is used as condiment - and with a fairly light hand - rather than drowning myself with the hot sauce. But then that's just me.

So, I know that I'm not particularly unsexy, and I never felt like sexiness of lack thereof had anything to do with being a Jungian, but this seems to have been an issue for the writer:

When I was working on my graduate thesis “The genesis of shame: The fig leaf of fashion and its place in psychotherapy” and I would tell women analysts in the Jungian community in which I trained that I was writing on the topic of clothing I received some pretty harsh judgements.  Clothing was looked at as immaterial to the field of psychology and judged as a surface interest and not one that should be given serious academic consideration. It’s interesting to note that five years after completing my thesis that the very same institute offered the course, “Clothes in the Analytic Relationship: Not For Women Only”. It was bittersweet to see that the topic was finally being considered. I attended the nearly sold out event and was somewhat pleased to see that the women who did the presentation had not approached the topic with the depth of analysis that I had. I was also amused and somewhat irritated by the participants cooing question to the presenters, “This is such a rich therapeutic topic. Why hasn’t anyone written on it before?” Grrr!!!!
Are Jungians less sexy? Are less sexy people drawn to Jungianism or does Jung make you unsexy (and vice versa with Freudianism)? Or is it just the issue of this particular writer? From the little I read of her blog it seems that she's very concerned with sexiness, and of expressing her sexiness - is there a general attitude in Jungian circles that focusing on such "earthy" topics is shallow and unworthy?

I've been reading a lot about Freud lately. I had prematurely dismissed him because his theories seemed so silly (and patently wrong - "penis envy"?? give me a break *rollseyes*), and because of his many well-known failures but had the feeling that there was something there that I was missing. So far, I have learned that I have to give him credit for basically laying the foundations for the entire field of depth psychology. It seems that his fault wasn't so much in coming up with the wrong ideas as stubbornly clinging to them, even in the face of all kinds of evidence to the contrary, but that doesn't negate what he did manage to accomplish.

But is Freud (or are Freudians) sexier? Mmmmmmaybe. My tentative conclusion is that it's very possible that they are. If I had to put the difference between Freud and Jung in a nutshell, I'd have to say that where for Freud everything, including religion, has to do with sex, for Jung everything, including sex, has to do with religion. So maybe Freudians are sexier than Jungians. Certainly it's likely that they're more interested in sex. And it's indisputible that anyone uncomfortable in their sexuality would have a hard time remaining a Freudian for very long!

Edit 4/4/12:

I just had another brainwave as I was re-reading this post - maybe Freudian's are "sexier" because they're more focused on "first half of life" issues, i.e. on building up the ego, making it stronger. First half of life stuff includes success in the social realm of which sexual attractiveness is an important part, obviously. Jungianism, on the other hand, is more focused on "second half of life" issues and often calls for a breaking down - or, at the very least, a dethronement - of the ego.

I always felt that Jungianism could be profitably applied to first half of life problems despite the fact the Jung himself would often refer his patients to others when he felt that their issues fell outside his purview. I still do (although who knows, that may change) but there is no denying the fact that there is an "other worldly" aspect to Jungianism, and this doubtless contributes to people feeling that earthly matters don't fit with what we're doing. I can't think of anything further from the truth - anyone who's followed this blog for any length of time will know that I deal with the most earthy, embodied problems we can encounter; love in particular but also family and work.

The way I see it, Jung just went deeper than Freud. Freud focused on what Jung called the "personal unconscious" (all of the things of our personal lives that have dropped into the unconscious) but Jung felt there was something of vital importance that lay beyond the personal unconscious. We need to work on and pass through the Freudian problems of childhood, not just for their own sake but in order to contact this thing "beyond," and from which exerience we come back to humanity with the understanding of our special mission in this life.

Jungianism encompasses Freudianism. If the thing you need to work on right now is being sexy and wearing high heels, then you're doing exactly what you need to be doing. And if that's not what you need to be doing, then do whatever it is that you should be doing. The hardest thing about Jung - and the thing that keeps it so honest and true - is that there are no rules. There is only you, and your god or daimon, and whether or not you are living the life you should be living.


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