The Difference Between Carl Jung's and Sigmund Freud's Views on Religion
This article aims to outline and summarise the views of both Freud and Jung and highlight the differences in their views in a tabulated format at the end of the article.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Sigmund Freud was heavily against religion and called it a "collective neurosis" stating that it should be abolished from modern society.
He conceded that it did serve us in the past when we lived in 'primal hordes', primitive groups of humans that lived in tribes, but stated that we as a species have surpassed our need for irrational religious behaviour.
Similarities Between Carl Jung & Freud's Views
- Both Carl Jung and Freud believed in the unconscious and its important role in our behaviour and in explaining the meaning of our dreams.
- Freud and Jung both believed that religion was a positive thing for our society at some point in time, but Freud claimed that it was only beneficial up until the point where we evolved from our primal, basic societies.
- Both Carl Jung and Freud based their theories of religion around the idea that we have different sections of our psyche and that we all have more primitive instincts (id) and also higher faculties (ego, superego).
- They both believed that religion has been used to help people deal with certain issues.
Differences Between Jung and Freud's Views
- Jung believed that religion was in fact very beneficial to society and should stay forever, unlike Freud who was completely against religion, calling religious behaviour a 'collective neurosis' and stating that it should be obsolete.
- Jung believed that religion was a natural expression of the collective unconscious whilst Freud believed it was a collective neurosis.
- Jung thought that religiousness was a way of aiding the process of individuation: the exploration of ourselves and the final acceptance of who we are.
- Jung invented the idea of and believed in archetypes, mental facilities which 'create' images of certain things. He thought that we are born with an 'archetype' of God, an image which we are all predisposed to having. He provides evidence for this by referring to the fact that although there are thousands of religions in existence, they all share common core ideas: strong infallible figures, rules etc. This suggests that we are either born with, or quickly pick up from others, images or archetypes (note: this is both a noun and a verb) of these things.
- Jung believed in God, saying "I don't believe, I know [that he exists]" whilst Freud thought that the belief in God is ludicrous.
- Jung split up the psyche in a different way to Freud, stating that we have a masculine and a feminine side (anima) of the psyche. Freud believed in the id, ego, superego.
What was the relationship between Freud and Jung?
Jung first encountered Freud after sending him one of his works. The two psychologists hit it off and Freud and Jung enjoyed an intellectual friendship. Apparently, the first conversation that Freud and Jung had together lasted for a full thirteen hours!
Jung recalls his first encounter with Freud and states that he found him an "extremely intelligent, shrewd, and altogether remarkable." Freud looked at the younger Jung as an heir to his theories.
As Freud and Jung thought about their theories, Jung stemmed off from Freud, developing his own ideas about the psyche and the causes of our behaviours.
In the end of course, Jung's rejection of the views Freud had all his life lead to the break up of their friendship. Jung stated to Freud that "...your technique of treating your pupils like patients is a blunder. In that way you produce either slavish sons or impudent puppies... I am objective enough to see through your little trick" (McGuire, 1974).