Carl Jung Explains Why His Famous Friendship with Sigmund Freud Fell Apart in Rare 1959 Audio

Sig­mund Freud and Carl Jung—leg­endary friends and col­leagues, then rivals—“were not good for one anoth­er,” wrote Lionel Trilling in a 1974 review of their new­ly-pub­lished cor­re­spon­dence. Their friend­ship, begun in 1907, “made them sus­cep­ti­ble to false atti­tudes and ambigu­ous tones.” Freud first thought of Jung as “the Joshua to his Moses,” his “heir” and “suc­ces­sor and crown prince.” Twen­ty years his mentor’s junior, Jung swore feal­ty to Freud’s pro­gram, hop­ing not to dis­ap­point the man. But this was inevitable.

Freud’s harsh 1913 break-up let­ter to his for­mer dis­ci­ple shows us the lim­its of the Vien­nese doctor’s kind­ness as he recounts the “lin­ger­ing effect of past dis­ap­point­ments” that has sev­ered his “emo­tion­al tie” with Jung. Forty-six years lat­er, and twen­ty years after Freud’s death, Jung remained tac­i­turn about the per­son­al details of their rela­tion­ship. In the 1959 inter­view above, Jung tells us how their “long and pen­e­trat­ing con­ver­sa­tions” began after he sent Freud a book he’d writ­ten on schiz­o­phre­nia. In answer to the ques­tion, “what kind of man was Freud?” Jung gives us only a hint of his mentor’s obsti­na­cy, say­ing he “soon dis­cov­ered that when [Freud] had thought some­thing, then it was set­tled.”

As for him­self, Jung says he “was doubt­ing all the time,” a con­se­quence of his devot­ed study of Kant, where Freud “had no philo­soph­i­cal edu­ca­tion.” Their method­olog­i­cal impasse only grew as Jung pur­sued the sym­bol­ic depths of the col­lec­tive uncon­scious, and their the­o­ries began to diverge on almost meta­phys­i­cal grounds. And yet, Jung cred­its their tur­bu­lent rela­tion­ship for inspir­ing his “lat­er inves­ti­ga­tion of psy­cho­log­i­cal types.” Dur­ing their acquain­tance, the two ana­lyzed each oth­er fre­quent­ly; asked about “the sig­nif­i­cant fea­tures of Freud’s dreams,” Jung refus­es to answer on the grounds of keep­ing “pro­fes­sion­al secrets.”

Jung died two years after this inter­view, and in 1970 the Freud and Jung fam­i­lies made what Trilling called “the enlight­ened deci­sion” to pub­lish their cor­re­spon­dence togeth­er in one vol­ume, in Ger­man and Eng­lish. You’ll hear Jung above dis­cuss his unwill­ing­ness to release the let­ters before his death. At the very end of the short inter­view he talks more explic­it­ly about his break with Freud. While Freud may have felt let down by his one­time dis­ci­ple, Jung express­es his own dis­ap­point­ment with Freud’s “pure­ly per­son­al approach and his dis­re­gard of the his­tor­i­cal con­di­tions of man.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Famous Let­ter Where Freud Breaks His Rela­tion­ship with Jung (1913)

Carl Jung’s Hand-Drawn, Rarely-Seen Man­u­script The Red Book: A Whis­pered Intro­duc­tion

Sig­mund Freud Speaks: The Only Known Record­ing of His Voice, 1938

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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