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Updated on March 7, 2013

The devaluation of Psychoanalysis

Freud, Jung and Adler comprise the great triad of Psychology. Freud and Jung had a long and productive association first as mentor-student, then co-equal colleagues, and finally direct competitors in the once exciting and startling field of Psychoanalysis. Adler was very wise to stay clear of the feud that erupted between mentor(Freud) and student (Jung), when Freud pushed very aggressively for his idea that human sexuality had a strong input in the the development of the human psyche, emphasizing the physical and animal nature as man's primal driving force. Jung emphasized the spiritual, the mystical, the transcendent soul as the more significant force in man's need to grow and achieve higher goals.

I must admit that Psychology and Psychiatry were never my favorite subjects when I was a Pre-Med and Medical school student. I generally thought that the concepts and principles and theories that were propounded by Freud and Jung were much too complicated and complex for a just "being introduced to the real world" 18 year old. But what struck me most in trying to understand the vagaries of the psyche and how it is manifested or expressed in the physical world is Jung's concept of 'mystical participation' which accoring to the unique Jungian jargon is the process of identification of the human subject with external phenomena, objects, and beings with the aim of taking over or determining specific effects.

Jung's and Freud's debate may have happened a while back, but as debate goes, theirs reverberates to this day. Of course, the question of materialism and spiritualism have engaged men over the mellenia, and obviously predates the one that Jung and Freud were involved in. I was involved in one such intellectual brawl (topic: Man- God's final act of vanity or Evolution's vital act of serendipity? )with a fellow hubber. I posited the above topic on the forum section to stimulate a lively and intelligent debate on whether, man's creation (by God, as creationists forcefully argues)) or man's formation (by evolution, as Darwin's disciples fiercely argues) were acts of futility, by either one, or both of them. I specifically argued that if God created man in his own image, vanity, free will and all, wasn't that an act of futility, because man with his God given vanity and "free will" for intellectual curiosity would and did discover the secret of the atom and its potential for his ultimate destruction; OR if evolution formed man and ingrained in him the eternal capacity to adapt , would that lead him to evolve or devolve into another life form i.e. a bionic-ized and metallic-ized and roboti-ced version of his old self. Either way, man as previously visualized by God or as initially configured by evolution would be no more. Therein, I thought, lies the futility of it all.

My opponent on the debating divide, promptly tried to derail my arguments by in effect saying that spirituality and religiosity should never be part of human affairs. Since he denies the existence of God (he is an ardent evolutionist), he dismissed my first proposition as meritless. On the subject of evolution, he said that evolution obviously did not have any grand plans for man except for him to to be just like any of its formation (plant or animal), an entity that neither evokes nor provokes, an entity whose existence must not be given any meaning or purpose beyond its basic biologic need to adapt and survive i.e. breathe, eat, sleep, defecate, urinate, and procreate.

The above discussion (or any other well-intentioned argumentation for that matter) made me think of the debate that once involved Freud and Jung....two of the best minds of the previous century. If man's psyche is driven mostly by the animal, material/physical and sexual in him, as Freud believed, what lies ahead of him is nothing but futility. If as Jung proposes, man is conceptual, spiritual, mystical and not merely material, then what lies ahead of him is utility for himself, and for the force (God or evolution) that created or formed him.

Jung's original ideas deserve to be ensconced in our conscious and perhaps in our unconscious mind too. But then again wasn't it Jung himself, who famously said: "Thank God I am Jung and not a Jungian". He believed in the existence of ESP, and in the waning days of his life and career, he perhaps extrasensorarily perceived that his beloved (and Freud's too) Psychoanalysis, in its attempts to adapt and survived would be devalued by amateur and professional charlatans alike( Dr. Phil and Oprah comes to mind), and turned to an altogether different "life form" so to speak. Thus its evolution or devolution to Psychobabble, a souless version of its old self.

So now that we are in what some would consider technological nirvana that allows instant communication, and instant revelation and instant gratification, and instant celebration, Jung's, and even Freud's precepts have been irretrievably lost, in precincts or sections of society that neither put any value on the deeper meaning of human contact and interaction, nor allow humans to look deeper into the conscientious urging of their soul. The superficialization and artificialization of humanity has followed the secularization of society, and the psychobabble that have arisen during that process of transformation remains unabated. Jung and Freud must be rolling in their graves.


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    • A.Villarasa profile image

      Alexander A. Villarasa 7 years ago from Palm Springs

      Hello Ixxy: Nice to read your very concise comments about the content of this particular hub. As you can infer from my discussion with earnesthub, the devolution of Psuchoanalysis to Psychobabble and its final extinction as a treatment modality for various mental illnesses was I think inevitable for the three reasons I mentioned above. I agree with you about the importance of introspection and self-examination in the process of discovering what exactly makes one "tick".

    • lxxy profile image

      lxxy 7 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      I'm a believer of self discovery and intention. Oh, yes, sounds new agey and all. But when you cut to the chase, people are too busy patching up their minds with ideas and drugs and they don't ever stop to understand the process of their own thought creation.

      I learned this from meditation. I'm 0 for 2 in the scientific crowd here, so I'll just trod along.


      I've read some Jungian and Freud; personally, I think they both did good to at least keep the ideas in mental health science flowing forward, different.

      That's all I'm about--the permutations of possibilities.

    • A.Villarasa profile image

      Alexander A. Villarasa 7 years ago from Palm Springs

      Ultimately, here in Anerica, the death kneel of Psychoanalysis as both science and art will not be sounded by its decomposition into psychobabble or the competition afforded by psychotropic drugs, but by the Managed care system of health care delivery where Psychoanalysis as treatment for various mental illnesses is not being paid for by the insurance companies. Psychiatrists have therefore shied away from using this treatment modality to their patient because they are not being paid for their psychoanalytic expertise.

    • earnestshub profile image

      earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Which drugs would they be? The best you can come up with are some of the older tricyclics which are patchy at best.

      Most of the drugs I know of have proved to be close to or no better than placebo with a list of side effects as long as your arm. :)

      Blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin is hardly a long term solution.

    • A.Villarasa profile image

      Alexander A. Villarasa 7 years ago from Palm Springs

      It is obvious that I am not as intellectually steeped on the finer points of Freudian/Jungian Psychology as you are. After all you've been a Jungian for 30 years and I am a simple Pediatrician for almost as long. You don't have to state and re-state the obvious to score some debating points. My point is, Psychoanalysis as is being practiced by professional and amateur charlatans alike bears little resemblance to Jung's beloved Psychoanalysis. It has devolved into what most people would derisively refer to Psychobabble. I may also mention the fact that ever since researchers (drug companies and the scientific commuity alike) have established the molecular-biochemical basis of mental illness the development of Psychotropic drugs have put a dent on the practice of Psychoanalysis.

    • earnestshub profile image

      earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I assume from this hub that the "intellectual brawl" as you interpret it had the usual effect on your religionist consciousness as in you couldn't deal with the negative response it caused in you.

      I could throw some light on that for you......

      Otherwise you thought you may be able to control the argument better from here, and get a running argument contributing to your comments under your control.

      Re writing a few comments from a forum then adding a wiki like description of the relationship and dynamics of Jung's relationships with his peers just doesn't cut it as a hub about psychobabble.

      Lumping in Dr. Phil the TV pop psych who is a narrcisitically cathected fool, or the other neurotic entertainer caps it off.

      You are a true religionist. Truth is the first casualty here.

      You know nothing of psychology.