Freud's Stages of Psychosexual Development and Jung's Model of Development

Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were pioneers where the understanding of human psychology is concerned. These two titans were at some point entwined work wise and formed a friendship. This however did not last, causing a parting of paths. This essay looks at some of Jung’s and Freud’s original approaches, their principles and how they relate, if at all.

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Freud was business minded and pragmatic compared to Jung who was spiritual and religious. They also went on to explain the human psyche in somehow different ways, as seen below. Freud was well known for his pleasure principle and his belief that we are essentially in the grips of our sexual and destructive urges. He also believed that we are conflicted where our emotions and thoughts are concerned. He explained how we deal with these struggles in terms of the conscious mind: what we are focusing on, the pre conscious mind: a space from where we can easily recall things into our conscious and the unconscious mind: where all things repressed lurk. The unconscious is far away from day-to-day life and rationality. It stores our defences, sexual urges, aggressiveness, thoughts and feelings we have supressed. Freud named the above the Topographical model of the mind.

Jung also believed in the unconscious, thus aligning himself with Freud on this specific matter. His model was however different on other aspects as he believed in the collective unconscious. There is a common psychic heritage passed down from our ancestors attached to the collective unconscious, and this did not resonate with Freud. The collective unconscious according to Jung is made up of a number of components which hold behaviours, ideas about right wrong, emotional states, credentials about society amongst others. He called these components which are arranged by themes the archetypes and they hold the blueprint to how we will eventually grow, behave and think in society. Jung also diverged where the Libido pleasure principle was concerned. He acknowledged its existence but thought of it as a life force. Libido is one of many peculiarities to be included within this life force and sexual urges are not the overarching factor as Freud believed. Jung also linked this life force to the collective unconscious.

Freud went on to coin the The Structural model where he talked about the id, the ego and the superego. The id in an infant revolves around his utmost basic needs such as being fed and his sexual urges. An infant wants to be satisfied and there is no room for ethics and logic. As this cannot be sustained, the ego and the superego will emerge. The ego develops to act as a bridge between gratification and what is viewed as acceptable. The ego is partly conscious, partly unconscious. It emerges when the infant develops a self and not just wanting his impulses met. The superego is said to encapsulate moral standards and what is seen as acceptable by society. It can also be divided into one’s ego ideal: attributes of an idyllic person, and one’s conscience: what is seen as wrongdoing and not. Staying with the sexual theme, Freud said we progress thorough stages of our lives by going through stages of psychosexual development. As discussed below by Howard, he referred to these stages as oral stage, anal stage, phallic stage (3-5 years), and genital stage. Each of these stages are linked to a source of pleasure. For example, the oral stage is where the child suckles a breast, the anal stage involves withholding or letting out faeces and the phallic stage where the boy girl becomes aware of his her reproductive body part. The latter is a key stage for Freud in terms of the Oedipus complex. The boy wants to possess the mother and the girl ends up with penis envy. At the same time these children experience fear of retribution by the other parent; importantly fear of castration for the boy by the father for having sexual urges for the mother. This Oedipus war is concluded through identification of the same sex child with the same sex parent, allowing the superego to arise in due course and the formation of moral standards. Freud also believed that in times of anxiety, stress amongst others we can regress back to one of these stages or be fixated within one of these stages due to that stage being over satisfied or poorly satisfied.

Jung had his own model of development. In this paragraph, as advocated by Stevens, we look at how the Self is at the epicentre of that model. It is anchored within a circular, spherical framework of collective unconscious discussed before, where a number of archetypal cores reside, also described above. Going outwards from the circular collective unconscious, there is another circle where the personal unconscious can be found. Within that specific circle complexes exist. These complexes are linked to the archetypes from the collective unconscious circle. They are lower-level activations of the higher-level archetypes in a more personal manner in each individual’s psyche, hence the personal unconscious. The outermost circle represents the individual’s consciousness where the ego revolves. The Self which is at the core of this model has biological fulfilment needs but also importantly the need to become an individual whilst crystalising what is within that collective unconscious; i.e., our blueprint and our portfolio of archetypes. Described briefly, the archetypes fuse with the collective unconscious knowledge and the individual nature of the Self, forming complexes. This allows the Self to come into her his own and have exclusive qualities as individuals when becoming active and having different life experiences in society. Compared to Freud, Jung saw the Self as significant even when compared to the ego. The Jungian Self seeks to become whole; it rules and adjusts all operations during someone’s life. These relate to matters not only associated to society but also those connected to God and the spiritual.

We now focus on what Jung says about the ego, the persona, the shadow, the mother complex and the myth of the hero. The ego which arises in early childhood was seen by Jung as linked to The Self and is about how someone sees himself or herself throughout life; the Me and I. Jung explained it in terms of two different parts of one’s life: the first part is where ego develops and becomes strong to allow one to take a place in society away from the caregivers. The second part comes later in life when the Self challenges the ego and vice versa to attain higher consciousness and integration. The Self eventually establishes itself as dominant through what is broadly described here as the resolution of pressures between the conscious and the unconscious. The persona according to Jung evolves from the conformity social archetype. It emerges with the ego which uses it as a tool to conform in society and be accepted. This need to conform involves a level of performance and disguise. As individuals according to Jung we repress and disguise our less favourable and acceptable parts of our personality, relinquishing them to our personal unconscious. They can however sometimes manifest themselves in dreams in very intimidating and scary ways. The shadow complex is about those repressed, unfavourable traits and has its origins within The evil stranger The enemy archetype. Hiding our less favourable aspects is bowing to the moral complex according to Jung and can be equated to the Freudian superego. This can be limiting for The Jungian Self who pushes much of it to the shadow and if manifested, is dealt with through mechanisms such as repression, denial and projection. The mother complex develops from the mother archetype. The infant is not blank canvas due to the archetypes present. In this case, the mother archetype contributes to the child actively forming a relationship with the mother. The way a mother or caregiver acts towards an infant, as in a loving and nurturing way, has enough likeness to correspond to the mother archetype already present within the infant’s blueprintcollective unconscious. Recurring comparable experiences of love from the mother over time allows the mother complex to become active in the personal psyche of the infant. Returning to the enemy archetype, it actualises during the first year of a child’s life when she or he responds to the mother positively and less so to strangers. This wariness may also develop into open aggression as the child gets older as debated in Stevens. Moving forward to teenage years, Jung spoke the myth of a hero. He symbolically sees the fight with a dragon- monster as adolescent struggle to allow rescue from motherly love and care. Unlike Freud and the Oedipus complex, Jung did not agree that the battle was about fighting off sexual desire but maintained that it was about moving away from these childhood attachments.

Freud’s key language involved words like repression, neurosis, unconscious and defence mechanisms. He saw everyone as being somehow neurotic. He argued that neurotic symptoms were born of conflict between the ego and the id. To keep the ego safe from tensions we put up defences, especially in the form of repression. Consequently, we forget these psychological worries by leaving them into our unconscious, creating psychological disturbance that can become apparent in the form of neurotic symptoms. He also believed that there was a need to repeat painful experiences, albeit unconsciously, and termed this repetition compulsion. This was originally believed to be linked to the death instinct and the need to be destructive. Freud also added later on that anxiety was a response to the ego feeling unsafe from the environment as well as from internal pressures The key to change was to move from hysteria to unhappiness. This is a pessimistic and purist Freudian idea that one can only come to accept one’s life with one’s limitations, conflicts and repressions where change is concerned. The role of the therapist analyst is to fortify the ego to deal with the needs of the id and the super ego and also to manage the stresses of day-to-day life. The analyst’s role is to help the patient understand himself better and grow not to rely soley on defence mechanisms. The traditional Freudian analyst is silent, still faced, non-judgemental and sits in the chair at the head of the couch where the patient lies. The patient uses free association; i.e., says what comes to his her mind and the analyst will at times speak to make an interpretation, thereby trying to help the patient understand what his her unconscious is trying to say. Often these interpretations will have some roots in the relationship between the analyst and the patient itself, thus the use of transference and transference neurosis as tools to make interpretations, uncovering defences and their anxieties. Transference neurosis is where the symptom of the patient takes a new form and plays itself out within the confines of the analyst patient relationship itself; for example, the patient turning up late for therapy. The analyst can use this enactment of the symptom; i.e., the lateness, to make interpretations. The Freudian analyst can also make use of dream interpretation to break down the defences of the superego. Dreams are there to protect the ego by encrypting unacceptable hidden needs into more acceptable pictures and also allow the person to carry on sleeping. Through free association during therapy, the connections are decrypted allows access to the unconscious. The therapist will then interpret the dream to allow the patient to gain a better understanding.

Jung thought differently about the concept of transference. The analyst patient dyad has archetypal roots and some of the relationship happens at unconscious level. He also used the symbolism of alchemy and chemical substances to explain the transference. He used the term coniunctio and ffinity to describe how patient and analyst are pulled together and likened it to how when chemicals merge, they can be altered and changed. He believed the same can happen in the analyst patient relationship. Therefore, during the analytical process, the analyst can be projected upon. The patient might bestow upon the analyst powers of healing or destruction and also project unfulfilled archetypal needs from his past; i.e., an absent parent. The relationship in the therapy room can change because of this and create disorder; i.e., transference and counter transference from the analyst side. As such, it is vital that the analyst remains in analysis himself to be aware of the above and use it positively to allow growth during his working life. With regard to dreams, Jung was influenced by Freud but he also evolved away from the latter. Dreams are more than just the product of guilty hidden desires and have roots in the wider context of human existence and are linked to the collective unconscious. Instead of interpretation, Jung talks about amplification and the need to understand the mood of the dream amongst other requirements. During therapy, dreams are approached by looking at the 3 stages: the personal context, the cultural context and the archetypal context. These are likely to be examined together due to their overlap. It is also suggested that Jung stopped the use of the couch in the therapy room as he wanted to empower the patient to grow and be accountable for that growth rather than just regress to infantile stages. He also did not agree with seeing patients as often as Freud did. According to Jung there is the need for a break in therapy after a number of sessions to allow the patient to rely more on life in general and the Self rather than on the analyst alone.

To conclude, we have looked at a few of Jung’s and Freud’s original models and therapy practices. Contemporary Jungians, Freudians and others have adapted, changed and debated these approaches. As an example, the original Freudian concept of repetition compulsion and the death instinct is nowadays outdated and according to Goodwyn Jung’s concept of archetypes has been questioned as well as defended. Like with many theories, Jung and Freud have their limitations and these have been dissected by others in the field. Whilst they are not expanded upon here, they cannot be dismissed and it is vital that we bear this in mind when ending this essay.

01 August 2022

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