Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Carl Jung (1875-1961) have most likely had the greatest and most recent significant impact on our thinking about the human mind. They did this largely in their quest to establish models of the mind in order to treat its maladies – i.e. psychoanalysis.  Their theories of mind also led the way to categorizing people into groups based upon behavior patterns, specifically resulting in the Meyer’s-Briggs Type Indicator test. 

Freud introduced us to “id, ego, and superego”.  The id is rather animalistic and instinctually drives behavior in order to provide satisfaction or pleasure to the person. The id is unconscious and responsible for our basic drives and desires in life; it represents the vision-based cognition which is both unconscious and basic.  The ego in Freud’s world is where conscious awareness exists.  The ego balances the needs of the id and superego and is where reason and common sense occur.  Freud’s definition of ego is very consistent with theories presented here. The superego has both conscious and unconscious elements, and is the higher level of behavior motivations such as morals, ethics, ideals, etc. (i.e. “conscience”).  A superego conscience basically makes us be a good citizen in the world and seems to have the sense of “group” as its basis.  Therefore, since it is both conscious and unconscious, the superego straddles both our right brain sense of “group” and also our left brain “group thoughts”.  The approximate relationship between the Freudian concepts and the Sensory Mind is diagrammed in the figure.  The Freudian categories, however, are not as perfectly encapsulated as the figure suggests.  For example, part of Freud’s ego is unconscious, implying that part of the ego also exists in the right brain.

Figure.  An approximation showing how the Freudian id, ego, and superego overlay upon the base for the Sensory Mind. 

Freud is also remembered well for his psychoanalytic method of attempting to uncover the unconscious and reveal it to the patient.  However, as pointed out by Boeree, the unconscious was filled with “seething desires, .. perverse and incestuous cravings, and….frightening experiences”, and maybe not a humane place for a psychologically-challenged patient.   

Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, who was 21 years younger, had an intense academic exchange with one another for approximately 3 years, after which time they went their own ways, largely in disagreement.  The 2 had significant influence on one another.  Jung opposed experimental psychology and advocated that the truth about human behavior could be identified on the streets and by-ways, whether high or low, of the living world.  He determined his well-known theories primarily by observing people, largely from his psychiatric practice, and using his internal thinking. The teachings of Carl Jung have attracted a large following of both supporters and detractors (Boeree). The strong impact he has had on psychoanalysis and analytical psychology cannot be questioned.

Freud and Jung both believed in a hierarchical relationship between “unconscious” and “conscious”.  Clinical treatment was often directed towards making the unconscious conscious, i.e. delving into the unconscious of the patient.  The Freudian and Jungian unconscious is analogous to the vision-based right brain.  The right brain, since it has no words or thoughts, can easily by thought of as “unconscious”.  Certainly many portions of the right brain are entirely unconscious, however I suggest that our general awareness comes from our right brain and is part of the consciousness that we can appreciate.

The teachings of Carl Jung are numerous and broad within the field (Young-Eisendrath and Dawson).  Here I will address 2 of his most significant and important contributions: 1) the divisions or parts of the psyche and, 2) his psychological types which led to personality typing and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test.

The Jung Psyche

Carl Jung divided the human psyche divided into 3 parts: the ego, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious.  He is particularly known for his identification of the latter.  Jung characterizes these as essentially descending levels of our psyche.  The ego is the conscious and thinking self; the personal unconscious is the collective personal experiences unique to each individual, and the collective unconscious is a collection of experiences and behavior patterns that is common to all people. 

Arguments about “consciousness” aside, the Jungian personal unconscious and collective unconscious are analogous to the right brain concepts of “self” and “group” developed herein.  Likewise, the Jungian concept of ego is the same as the left brain ego in the sensory mind.  The Jungian psyche categories are overlaid the sensory mind base in the figure. 

Figure. The 3 Jungian components of the psyche (ego, personal unconscious, and collective unconscious) overlaid on the base of the sensory mind. 

The 3 Jungian components of the psyche map nicely atop the sensory mind; however Jung did not identify the “group thoughts”.  I suspect that Jung would have embraced the “group thoughts” aspect of the human psyche.

Jung also suggested a fairly strong hierarchical order from ego down to personal unconscious and down to collective unconscious.  The hierarchical superiority of the ego over the right brain sense of “self”, at least in terms of our daily awareness, is acknowledged; the development of our speech-based left brain must be considered a significant advancement.  The thinking brain superiority was also recognized by Plato.

The relationship between the personal unconscious (“self”) and the collective unconscious (“group”) is complex and probably not a simple hierarchy, but may have hierarchical attributes.  It is likely that many common and group behaviors are encoded in our genes and are a part of all members of a species.  This serves as a base from which each individual evolves their particular traits and behaviors.