Essays on Comparison of Theorists

Freud’s ideas attracted a lot of scholars and therapists, and thus he received a lot of followers. It is not surprising that the most prominent of them used Freud’s discoveries just as a base and an impetus for consequent research. One of the most famous followers, who developed his own theory, was Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961). While the attitude of Freud to religion was skeptic (the monotheistic god, for instance, was regarded as “an illusion based upon the infantile emotional need for a powerful, supernatural pater familias”), Jung found a lot of material for work in it and found it significant for understanding conscious and unconscious process in person’s mind, as to him human psyche was religious by nature. Jung worked actively in Zurich for the Wednesday Group (later the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society) with much autonomy.

To distinguish his method from Freud’s one, Jung named his theory “analytical psychology”. Like Freud, he was interested in the organization of human mind and believed that human behavior is controlled by internal operations of mind. Jung was equally interested in the meanings and symbols of dreams. But he preferred to base his discoveries on deep observation together with categorization, while Freud first imagined those categories and then searched for the evidence. Jung presented the concept of individuation that was achieved by integrating all the opposites fighting in person’s mind. Besides, Jung introduced the concepts of the Archetype, the Collective Unconscious (in addition to Freud’s lone “personal unconscious”), and the synchronicity.
Another one gifted confederate was Alfred Adler (1870- 1937), “regarded as the most formidable intellect among the early Freud circle” (Fiebert, 1997, p. 241). Adler conducted his own research with the help of his patients and soon began to approach differently some topics like neurosis. After separation from Freud’s circle, Adler guided the Society for Free Psychoanalysis (later the Society for Individual Psychology). Adler’s most famous concept was the inferiority complex and also a stress made on power dynamics instead of “pleasure principle” proposed by Freud. From the Freud’s assumption on three concepts of unconscious, Adler developed the theory of psychodynamics and made a great contribution to the depth psychology. Like Freud, he searched understanding of additional meaning in therapy, but Adler was one of the first to replace the analytic couch with a couple of chairs, to make the patient and the therapist almost equal in “talking”.

One more provocative follower was Karen Horney (1885 – 1952). She agreed in most concepts with Freud, however, she is often called “Freud’s most outspoken critic” (Rubins, 1978, p. 134). His theory of feminity was severely criticized by her. In response to his assumption on the castration complex, she suggested that men face the same problem being jealous to women’s womb and ability to bear children. The absence of this function may be compensated by persistent search of other achievements. For Horney, the explanation of biological nature of women with reference to penis envy was “scientifically unsatisfying” (Paris, 1994, p. 55). Moreover, neurosis for Horney was “a continuous process ”” with neuroses commonly occurring sporadically in one’s lifetime” (Rubins, 1978). Horney is well-known for ten patterns of neurotic needs, condensed into three categories: compliance (arising from the fear of abandonment), aggression (coming from the will to maintain omnipotence) and detachment (a demand for solitude and independence). In addition, narcissism for Horney was not a primary compensatory feature (as it was in Freud’s view), but it was a product of acting on a particular kind of temperament, “the product of indulgence rather than of deprivation” (Rubins, 1978).

Finally, the experience of psychoanalysis was brilliantly applied by Milton Erickson (1901 – 1980). He returned to the technique of hypnosis that was abandoned by Freud and managed to give a brand new life to it. The unconscious mind was the crucial object for Erickson, just as it was for Freud, but Erickson approached it as creative and solution-generating. Among his outstanding achievements are the brief therapy, strategic family therapy and others. In contrast to the previously existing norms of hypnosis, Erickson insisted on delicate approach with no demands and pressure. “Erickson would see if the patient would respond to one or another kind of indirect suggestion, and allow the unconscious mind to actively participate in the therapeutic process,” as Gregg E. Gorton (2005, p. 1255)notes. As opposed to Freud, Erickson paid much less attention to sexual drives, focusing on person’s sense of identity and underlined the importance of cultural demands.

In fact, there were enough bases for the followers to criticize Freud’s ideas, as a lot of his assumptions were just deduced and not directly concluded from practice. However, it is obviously difficult to imagine this evolution without this prominent figure. As Donald H. Ford and Hugh B. Urban resume, “Later systems have differed about therapy and technique in certain respects, but all of them have been constructed around Freud’s basic discovery that if one can arrange a special set of conditions and have the patient talk about his difficulties in certain ways, behavior changes of many kinds can be accomplished” (Hale, 1971, p. 168). On the other hand, each theorist step by step made us closer to understanding what the human beings are like and how their lives can be eventually improved.

Esterson, Allen (1993). Seductive Mirage: An Exploration of the Work of Sigmund Freud. Chicago: Open Court.
Fiebert, M. S. (1997). In and out of Freud’s shadow: A chronology of Adler’s relationship with Freud. Individual Psychology, 53(3), 241-269.
Gorton, Gregg E (2005). Milton Hyland Erickson. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 162 (7), 1255.
Hale, Nathan G., Jr. (1971). Freud and the Americans: The Beginnings of Psychoanalysis in the United States, 1876”“1917. New York: Oxford University Press.
Paris, Bernard J. (1994). Karen Horney: a Psychoanalyst’s Search for Self-understanding. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Rubins, Jack L. (1978). Karen Horney: Gentle Rebel of Psychoanalysis, New York: Summit Books.


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