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Jung and Freud.

I have always had a poor New Yorker’s skepticism of “therapy” – shrinks and psychoanalysis.  That sort of thing, goes the prejudice, is for Manhattanites; and it never cures them anyway.  In fact, it is likely to make people more self-centered and self-justifying than ever.  An acquaintance with Freud’s writings, and the atrocious way that Freud is used in intellectual circles, did not encourage me in this regard.

But I have really found Jung entirely different.  And you can see his polemic against the Freudians in pieces of writing like this:

I should like to show by means of an example how important it is to evaluate the unconscious contents correctly.  A young man brought me the following dream: “My father is driving away from the house in his new car.  He drives very clumsily, and I get very annoyed over his apparent stupidity.  He goes this way and that, forwards and backwards, and maneuvers the car into a dangerous position.  Finally he runs into a wall and damages the car badly.  I shout at him in a perfect fury that he ought to behave himself.  My father only laughs, and then I see that he is dead drunk.” This dream has no foundation in fact.  The dreamer is convinced that his father would never behave like that, even when drunk.  As a motorist he himself is very careful and extremely moderate in the use of alcohol, especially when he has to drive.  Bad driving, even slight damage to the car, irritate him greatly.  His relation to his father is positive.  He admires him for being an unusually successful man.  We can say, without any great feat of interpretation, that the dream presents a most unfavorable picture of the father.  What, then, should we take its meaning to be for the son?  Is his relation to his father good only on the surface, and does it really consist in over-compensated resistances?  If so, we would have to give the dream-content a positive sign; we should have to tell the young man: “That is your real relation to your father.”  But since I could find nothing neurotically ambivalent in the son’s real relation to his father, I had no warrant for upsetting the young man’s feelings with such a destructive pronouncement.  To do so would have been a bad therapeutic blunder.

But, if his relation to his father is in fact good, why must the dream manufacture such an improbable story in order to discredit the father?  In the dreamer’s unconscious there must be some tendency to produce such a dream.  Is that because he has resistances after all, perhaps fed by envy or some other inferior motive?  Before we go out of our way to burden his conscience – and with sensitive young people this is always rather a dangerous proceeding – we would do better to inquire not why he had this dream, but what its purpose is.  The answer in this case would be that his unconscious is obviously trying to take the father down a peg.  If we regard this as a compensation, we are forced to the conclusion that his relation to his father is not only good, but actually too good.  In fact he deserves the French sobriquet of fils a papa.  His father is still too much the guarantor of his existence, and the dreamer is still living what I would call a provisional life.  His particular danger is that he cannot see his own reality on account of his father; therefore the unconscious resorts to a kind of artificial blasphemy so as to lower the father and elevate the son.  “An immoral business,” we may be tempted to say.  An unintelligent father would probably take umbrage, but the compensation is entirely to the point, since it forces the son to contrast himself with his father, which is the only way he could become conscious of himself.

The interpretation just outlined was apparently the correct one, for it struck home.  It won the spontaneous assent of the dreamer, and no real values were damaged, either for the father or for the son.

Not merely why – not stuck on the past, not trying to assign blame about what our parents did or did not do – but what for.  How is it that Freud got to be the influential one?  Unlike the Freud stuff, Jung always seems to me real and important – not merely a game to blame your parents for your neuroses.