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Carl Jung Answers to his Questions on Freud

4 Freud

Symbolic Life

On 24 July 1953, the representative of the New York Times in Geneva, Michael L. Hoffman, sent Jung the following questionnaire in connection with a projected article on Freud:

1 What part of Freud’s work do you accept?

  1. What was the role of Freud’s work and views in the development of your own analytical psychology?
  2. In your opinion does Freudian sexuality play any part in the aetiology of neuroses?
  3. Would you care to make an estimate of Freud’s contribution to our knowledge of the psyche?
  4. Would you care to comment on the value of Freud’s procedure as a therapeutic procedure?


As it is impossible to deal with a critique of Freud’s work in a short article I have to restrict myself to concise answers.

  1. I accept the facts Freud has discovered, but accept his theory only partially.


  1. The facts of repression, substitution, symbolization, and systematic amnesia described by Freud coincided with the results of my association experiments (1902-4).

Later on ( 1906) I discovered similar phenomena in schizophrenia.

I accepted in those years all of Freud’s views, but I could not make up my mind to accept the sexual theory of neurosis and still less of psychosis, no matter how much I tried.

I came to the conclusion (1910) that Freud’s one-sided emphasis on sex must be a subjective prejudice.

it is obvious that the sexual instinct plays a considerable role everywhere in life, and thus also in neurosis, and it is equally obvious that the power-drive, the many forms of fear, and the individual necessities are of equal importance.

I object only to the uniqueness of sexuality as suggested by Freud.

  1. Freud’s contribution to our knowledge of the psyche is without doubt of the greatest importance.

It yields an insight into the dark recesses of the human mind and character which can be compared only to Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals.

In this respect Freud was one of the great cultural critics of the nineteenth century.

His specific resentment explains the one-sideness of his explanatory principle.

One could not say that Freud is the discoverer of the unconscious—C. G. Carus and Eduard von Hartmann were before him and Pierre Janet was his contemporary—but he certainly showed a way to the unconscious and a definite possibility of investigating its contents.

In this respect his book on dream interpretation proved to be most helpful, although from a scientific standpoint it is most objectionable.

  1. The question of psychological therapy is exceedingly complex.

We know for certain that just any method or any procedure or any theory, seriously believed, conscientiously applied and supported by a humanly congenial understanding, can have a most remarkable therapeutic effect.

herapeutic efficacy is by no means the prerogative of any particular system; what counts is the character and the attitude of the therapist.

For this reason I tell my pupils: you must know the best you can about the psychology of neurotic individuals as well as of yourself.

If it is the best, you are likely to believe it, and then you can be serious enough to apply what you know with devotion and responsibility.

If it is the best you know, then you will always entertain a reasonable doubt whether somebody else might not know better than yourself, and out of sheer compassion with your patient you will make sure that you don’t lead him astray.

Therefore you will never forget to inquire how far he agrees or disagrees with you.

When he disagrees you are stuck, and if this fact is overlooked both doctor and patient are fooled.

Theory is important in the first place for science. In practice you can apply as many theories as there are individuals.

If you are honest you will preach your individual gospel, even if you don’t know it. If you are right, it will be good enough.

If you are wrong, even the best theory will be equally wrong.

Nothing is worse than the right means in the hands of the wrong man.

Never forget that the analysis of a patient analyses yourself, as you are just as much in it as he is.

I am afraid psychotherapy is a very responsible business and anything but an impersonal application of a convenient medical method.

There was a time when the surgeon did not even think of washing his hands before an operation, and the time is still with us when doctors believe they are not personally concerned when they apply psychotherapeutic methods.

For this reason I object to any kind of prejudice in the therapeutical approach.

In Freud’s case I disagree with his materialism, his credulity (trauma theory), his fanciful assumptions (totem and taboo theory), and his asocial, merely biological point of view (theory of neurosis).

This is a mere outline of critical viewpoints.

I myself regard such statements as futile, since it is much more important to put forward facts that demand an altogether different conception of the psyche, i.e., new facts unknown to Freud and his school.

It has never been my purpose to criticize Freud, to whom I owe so much.

I have been far more interested in the continuation of the road he tried to build, namely the further investigation of the unconscious so sadly neglected by his own school.  ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 438-440