The Famous Break Up of Sigmund Freud & Carl Jung Explained in a New Animated Video

Mak­ing friends with sim­i­lar inter­ests can be a chal­lenge for any­one. But imag­ine you are the founder of an entire­ly new dis­ci­pline, with its own pecu­liar jar­gon, set of prac­tices, and con­cep­tu­al cat­e­gories. Imag­ine, for exam­ple, that you are Sig­mund Freud, who in 1896 made his break with med­i­cine to pur­sue the work of psy­cho­analy­sis. Draw­ing on clin­i­cal expe­ri­ence with patients, his own self-analy­sis, cocaine-induced rever­ies, and an idio­syn­crat­ic read­ing of Greek mythol­o­gy, Freud invent­ed his strange psy­cho­sex­u­al the­o­ries with­in the con­fi­dence of a very small cir­cle of acquain­tances and admir­ers.

One of his close rela­tion­ships dur­ing those pro­duc­tive and tur­bu­lent years, with eccen­tric ear, nose, and throat doc­tor Wil­helm Fliess—a col­lab­o­ra­tor, influ­ence, “con­fes­sor and moral sup­port­er”—end­ed bad­ly in 1906. It was in that same year that Freud met the much-younger Carl Jung. At their first meet­ing, the two “talked non­stop for 13 hours,” the Aeon video above, ani­mat­ed by Andrew Khos­ra­vani, tells us. Thus began the intense and now-leg­endary six-year friend­ship between the psy­chi­a­trists, a “pas­sion­ate and sur­pass­ing­ly weird rela­tion­ship, which, giv­en the peo­ple involved, per­haps shouldn’t come as a sur­prise.” Freud set­tled upon Jung as his pro­tege and suc­ces­sor, the “Joshua to my Moses,” over­joyed to have found a friend who seemed to under­stand his ideas inti­mate­ly.

They trav­eled to the US to give joint lec­tures and ana­lyzed each other’s dreams. Freud wrote to pro­pose that Jung should think of their rela­tion­ship as between “father and son,” an odd pro­pos­al in any friend­ship, but espe­cial­ly when the “father” invent­ed the Oedi­pal com­plex; “this did not go unno­ticed by Freud, and he freaked out a lit­tle.” The unset­tling dynam­ic already pre­sent­ed a shaky basis for a long term bond, but it was their wild­ly diver­gent ideas that ulti­mate­ly drove them apart. Jung took issue with Freud’s obses­sion with libido as the pri­ma­ry dri­ver of human behav­ior. Freud cast a with­er­ing eye on Jung’s keen inter­est in reli­gion, mys­ti­cism, and the para­nor­mal as expres­sions of a col­lec­tive uncon­scious.

As he had divorced him­self from Wil­helm Fleiss in 1906, Freud sim­i­lar­ly, abrupt­ly, broke off his friend­ship with Jung in 1913, send­ing a rather nasty break-up let­ter to sev­er their “emo­tion­al tie.” Jung, he wrote, “while behav­ing abnor­mal­ly keeps shout­ing that he is nor­mal,” giv­ing rise to “the sus­pi­cion that he lacks insight into his ill­ness. Accord­ing­ly, I pro­pose that we aban­don our per­son­al rela­tions entire­ly.” The video ends by declar­ing Freud the win­ner of this “feud,” such as it was, though the per­son­al con­flict seems rather one-sided. As Jung would lat­er relate, he “soon dis­cov­ered that when [Freud] had thought some­thing, then it was set­tled.” After Freud broke it off, Jung wrote in his diary, “the rest is silence.”

As for the lega­cies of both men, these seem set­tled as well. They both had sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence on writ­ers and artists of all kinds, on lit­er­ary the­o­rists, new age mys­tics, and philoso­phers. But Jung is hard­ly tak­en seri­ous­ly in the main­stream of psy­chi­a­try, and Freud’s ideas have large­ly been aban­doned, save for one: as mil­lions who still reveal them­selves week­ly on ther­a­pists’ couch­es can attest, the talk­ing cure of psy­cho­analy­sis is alive and well.

via Aeon

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ani­mat­ed Video Tells the Sto­ry of Jean-Paul Sartre & Albert Camus’ Famous Falling Out (1952)

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

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

How a Young Sig­mund Freud Researched & Got Addict­ed to Cocaine, the New “Mir­a­cle Drug,” in 1894

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

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Comments (5)
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  • Frank Beurskens says:

    One could say it was “Freudi­an” to end the video with such a blan­ket state­ment sug­gest­ing a “win­ner” in some intel­lec­tu­al debate, blind­ly miss­ing one of the most valu­able con­cepts that Jung expand­ed through­out his life, coin­ci­den­tia oppos­i­to­rum. While Freud might be viewed as more suc­cess­ful in his mon­e­ti­za­tion of psy­chol­o­gy, Jung went far beyond the sim­plis­tic foun­da­tion­al basis of Freud’s work. This work was not of Aeon qual­i­ty and dis­ap­point­ing in its shal­low treat­ment of a ‘com­plex’ sub­ject.

  • Zeitgeist says:

    Jung may not the father of psy­cho analy­sis, but his con­tri­bu­tion of arche­types and the col­lec­tive uncon­scious can’t be dis­missed as infe­ri­or in com­par­i­son.

    Joseph Camp­bel­l’s Heroes Jour­ney, which is uti­lized in so many books, movies, pro­pa­gan­da, the list goes on — was direct­ly lift­ed from Jung.

    Freud may “Win” con­cern­ing dis­cov­ery, but Jung clear­ly wins if we are mea­sur­ing a win­ner by influ­ence.

  • @ideaswords says:

    A ridicu­lous con­clu­sion.
    This was appar­ent­ly writ­ten by a mate­ri­al­ist, only con­cerned with the zero-sum game of con­flict.

    Jung’s vision pre­fig­ured the dis­so­lu­tion of the mate­ri­al­is­tic world-view, includ­ing the incred­i­ble burst of cre­ative intel­li­gence in the (ongo­ing) psy­che­del­ic rev­o­lu­tion.

    His col­lec­tive sub­con­scious is reflect­ed in the mul­ti-dimen­sion­al physics of the 21st Cen­tu­ry, while Freud remains mired in bio­log­i­cal impuls­es: the first, sec­ond and third chakras, of self-preser­va­tion, repro­duc­tion, and peck­ing order.
    Freud act­ed exact­ly like a pater­nal­is­tic, con­trol­ling, ‘strict father’ (to use George Lakof­f’s excel­lent term) who could­n’t take the fact that his ‘son’ was stand­ing on the shoul­ders of the giants of cul­ture, the ancient and archa­ic sto­ries which encap­su­late the expe­ri­ence and strug­gles of a tran­scen­den­tal intel­li­gence embed­ded in a bio­log­i­cal space-time cap­sule.

    Jung sees the fourth chakra of the heart, and beyond to the Uni­ver­sal Intel­li­gence, the ulti­mate inter­con­nec­tion between all things on a dimen­sion deep­er and more fun­da­men­tal than that of the bio­log­i­cal.
    That psy­chi­a­try dis­miss­es Jung is no sur­prise at all. The mon­ey is in phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, not in under­stand­ing or heal­ing ones own spir­it or the soul.

    Peter Fra­ter­deus

  • Annie Lass says:

    An enter­tain­ing film. I enjoyed it.
    Much abridged and ‘stylised’. Not a full and com­pre­hen­sive review.

  • Karla Carmona says:

    How dare you end this video say­ing that a per­vert who was obsessed wit penis­es could be more influ­en­tial than Carl Jung?

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