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Comparison of Theorists

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Comparison of Theorists
Comparison of Theorists
From the point where Sigmund Freud’s structuralization of the human psyche rose and fell; the Neo-Freudian theoretical perspective grew and progressed. Explicitly, Freud’s conceptual base of sexuality or instinctual determinants was limited. However, his followers took a more open and inclusive stance, all the while recognizing his contributions to psychology (Burger, 2010). Therefore, in order to recount the contributions that were made by a few of these major Neo-Freudians this discourse will juxtapose Freud’s theoretical perspectives, major concepts, and approach to therapy to those of the following theorists: (a) Carl G. Jung, (b) Alfred Adler, (c) Karen Horney, and (d) Erik H. Erikson.

Moreover, these analysts and theorists retained the basic Freudian psychology while expanding and remodeling specific areas of interest to reflect their personal experiences and findings. In this light, Carl G. Jung is undoubtedly the most avant-garde of all the Neo-Freudian defectors. This was demonstrated in 1914 after leaving Freud’s leadership and psychoanalytic group (Burger, 2010, p. 101). Jung departed the group in order to research his own ideas and approach to therapy. He eventually named his school of thought “analytic psychology” (Burger, 2010, p. 101). On the one hand, Jung’s work reflects Freudian concepts, methods, and a similar therapeutic approach (Stein, 2010).

But on the other hand, Jung’s work remains uniquely his own (Burger, 2010). For example, Jung took interest in Freud’s instruction on the unconscious. Thus, whereas Freud made sense of the human psyche in a tripartite personality construct consisting of the “conscious, preconscious, and unconscious” which he further theorized as the “id, ego, and superego”; Jung’s theory was structured around the collective unconscious (Burger, 2010, p. 43-44). Further, Jung’s conceptual structures are heavily based on various aspects of Eastern mysticism and abstract mythological concepts (Carter, 2011).

Interestingly, the collective unconscious as expressed by Jung consists of many “primordial images” or archetypes (Burger, 2010, p. 101). Unlike Freud’s unconscious material, which is repressed and originates from some arrested area of psychosexual development, Jung’s material (still difficult to access) is innate. Furthermore, this material and these symbolic images are characteristic in relationship to the individual’s personality. The purpose of Jung’s images (inherited symbolic characteristics) is to guide each person through life. For example, Jung’s archetypes, which he referred to as the animus and anima are symbols of a man’s unconscious ideal feminine side and a woman’s unconscious ideal masculine side (Carter, 2011; Stein, 2010; Burger, 2010). Explicitly, these quintessential masculine/feminine images are projected on a potential partner to lead an individual to their intended mate. In other words, by projecting the desired feminine image from within a man onto a specific matching woman, he is guided to her, which is Jung’s explanation for mate attraction. But, in spite of the Platonic milieu created by Jung’s ideas, he has made considerable contributions to psychology and among them are his personality divisions of Extravert and Introverts (Burger, 2010). More expressly, Extroverts are considered to be outgoing personalities, while Introverts are classified as introspective in nature. In addition (and in opposition to Freudian thought) Jung like many of the other Neo-Freudians posited that the human personality is malleable and continues to be developed throughout life. He also maintained that Freud’s concept of libido was a broader term that should be applied to the meaning of life forces or energies, whereas Freud argued that libido referred to sexual desire or energy. Further, some of Jung’s less popularized contributions include his principle of psychosynthesis which describes the process of conjoining different components of the unconscious such as material from dreams, imagination, and base actions with a personality (Carter, 2011; Stein, 2010). Jung applied the term constructive to this type of structure as opposed to Freud's applied meaning, which he termed as a reductive process (Carter, 2011; Burger, 2010). Jung’s teleological approach to analytical research and therapy set him apart not only from Freudian thought, but also from all other Neo-Freudian perspectives including Alfred Adler.

Coincidentally, Adler was the first analyst to depart from the Freudian school of psychology. Explicitly, the concept of interpersonal interactions (in direct opposition to Freud’s instinctual determinants) was a major dividing point. Although, Adler’s approach to therapy retained Freud’s analytical framework, there are many recognizable differences. More importantly, unlike the instinctually centered theories held by both Freud and Jung, Adler emphasized social interactions and environmental factors as the primary determinants in personality development (Utay & Utay, 1996; Burger, 2010).

Specifically, the major divisions in their (Freud and Adler) theoretical perspectives regarded motivation. Whereas Adler’s personality theory is based on a striving for superiority; Freud’s theory emphasizes sexual motivation or his idea of libido. Notably, Adler placed great importance on his striving for superiority to the extent of concluding that all psychological issues could be resolved based on this concept. Per contra, Freud’s pervasive sexual theme asserts that child development is grounded through sexual expression in various stages, which he identified as oral, anal, and phallic. Thus, Adler rejected Freud’s sexual emphasis particularly on the parent/child relationship and replaced it with a parent/child relationship based on inferiority; hence, the need for or striving for superiority (Utay & Utay, 1996; Burger, 2010).

In addition, Adler also framed the concept of birth order. Birth order, demonstrates his emphasis on the impact of interpersonal relationships as seen within the family dynamic. For example, Adler asserts that each position assigned by birth such as first-born, middle, and last born, create a situation that affects the development of the child. In line with this thought, he also theorized that parental influence on child development made a huge negative impact when parents either over-pampered/protected their children or neglected them altogether. And although, Adler opposed Freud regarding his main concepts, Adler’s ideas were in sync with those of Karen Horney (Burger, 2010; Ingram, 2012).

Precisely, Horney’s theoretical perspective (somewhat like Adler’s premise) asserts that determinants of personality (in relation to psychoneurosis) are based on anxiety that stems from child-parent relationships. In essence, she also asserted that interpersonal relationships as well as other environmental factors should be considered as a determinant in personality development. However, this was merely one point in Horney’s list of differences, which culminated in her decision to separate from the Freudian perspective. Moreover, the most significant difference of opinion between Horney and Freud concern issues women face (DeRobertis, 2006; Burger, 2010).

For example, Horney’s female psychology points to a need for self-confidence and an overemphasis on the male-female roles in interpersonal relationships; specifically love. Contrarily, Freud’s view of female psychotherapy is addressed in his concept of penis envy, which he considers to be a causal agent regarding feelings of inferiority in females. Therefore Horney absolved the differences between them by opening her own “American Institute for Psychoanalysis” and further developing her ideas on “feminine psychology” (Burger, 2010, p. 111). But in spite of the disagreements, Horney’s theoretical system retained quite a few of the Freudian ideas such as repression, projection, and resistance (Rendon, 2008; Burger, 2010). In particular, Horney continued to use the conception of unconsciousness as a motiving influence on behavior. She also revised Freud’s oedipal complex by asserting that the parent/child relationship was centered on the child’s basic need for a secure, safe, and loving environment. Conversely, Horney asserted that child anxiety is the leading determinant in neurotic behavior and not Freud’s posit of sexual tension or hostility. More specifically, Horney’s conceptual structure emphasizes the individual’s need to create a false self-image or idealized-self (DeRobertis, 2006; Burger, 2010).

Albeit, this false-self is unavoidably contrasted to the real-self, producing self-hatred and irrational needs that are insatiable. Additionally, neurotic needs are the prominent feature of her theory and Horney defines these needs within three different orientations that she labels “moving toward people, moving against people, and moving away from people” (Burger, 2010, p. 113). Thus, introspectively; these orientations explain various expressions of neurosis in terms of reality verses delusion in the neurotic attempt at self-actualization. In essence, each aspect of the irrational re-orientation illustrates a level of discontent (Rendon, 2008; Ingram, 2012; Burger, 2010).

Further, these areas of discontent are basically defined in the light of their impact on each individual. For example, one person may find that anxiety is relieved through the strategy of dependent behavior or “moving toward people”, whereas another may seek solace in the safety of solitude or by “moving away from people” (Burger, 2010, p. 113). And a third method of aggressive, controlling, or contemptuous behavior may push fears away through the dominant actions of “moving against people” (Burger, 2010, p. 113). Thus, in these theoretical constructs Horney’s assumption of inner conflicts are understood in the light of relational and socially conditioned experiences rather than innate determinants as posited by Freud. In addition, Horney expanded on the Freudian concept of defense mechanisms by including the idea of self-idealization. Moreover, Horney’s entire theoretical view is a re-construct of Freud’s major conceptions and rework of his therapeutic approach of psychoanalysis, which been adapted to her humanistic concept of self-realization (Burger, 2010, p.106).

Similarly, Erik H. Erikson discovered another perspective that grew out of Freud’s basic psychological organizational strategies. And like Horney, he proved that expansionism was at the heart of Neo-Freudianism. In his view, it is a person’s identity that is associated with the underlying issues. More importantly, Erikson’s perspective is objective to some degree and has placed a positive spin on Freud’s generally negative view of development. In essence, Erikson has created a more positive face validity regarding his theories, which project many testable hypotheses. In comparison, the Freudian concepts are solely based on untestable subjective abstract material (Burger, 2010).

Additionally, Erikson’s theoretical perspective postulates a psychosocial approach to therapy associated with the various stages of life (from birth to death). In essence, he proposed that there are eight stages of development that span over a person’s lifetime. Moreover, these ages (stages) in one’s life are met with introspective and interpersonal type conflicts or “crises” that persuade an individual’s maturation if successfully navigated; hence, Erikson’s term “identity crisis” (Burger, 2010, p.106). Explicitly, these periods of life represent an individual’s personality development from the perspective of self-conception and social identity.

Thus, Erikson’s concepts form what has been called ego psychology, personal psychology, and psychosocial psychology. In other words, the ego (unlike Freud’s ego) is viewed by Erikson as having autonomous abilities and is associated with both inner and outer or behavioral conflicts. This type of perspective veers from the Freudian doctrine for several reasons. Foremost, it centers on social and environmental influences. Secondly, it presents a positive view of human psychological development. And thirdly, it offers a more testable theory (Burger, 2010).

In comparison of each of the four analysts (Jung, Adler, Horney, and Erikson) to the Freudian psychological structure many similarities and differences emerge. However, the most significant contribution is that these additional perspectives (to Freud’s) have allowed the organism of psychoanalytical psychology to maintain life and usefulness. Moreover, it is not so much the differences and similarities between these theoretical perspectives, major concepts, and approaches to therapy that are important. It is the fact that they were constructed in such a fashion that each became a supplement for the other. Therefore, it is fair to say that Freud set the foundation and designed the basic framework; however, it was the Neo-Freudian contributions that have fortified the work by broadening its scope.

In conclusion, Freud constructed a visible model of the human psyche, which allowed others to study, analyze, and discover new theoretical perspectives. For example: Jung opened doors into the heavens for science to contemplate new possibilities beyond instinct. Adler; directed attention to the effects of social/environmental factors on development. Horney expanded concepts regarding women, neuropsychology, and self-actualization. And Erikson presented psychology with a better understanding of identity. Additionally, he also made every age in life important. Moreover, it has been from these discoveries that psychoanalytical approaches to therapy have evolved into a multi-perspective discipline shedding light on a world of multifarious issues. References

Burger, J. M. (2010). Personality (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth-Thomson Learning. Carter, D. (2011). Carl Jung in the twenty-first century. Contemporary Review, 293(1703), 441-451. Retrieved September 30, 2012, Available from: Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost: Web site: DeRobertis, E. M. (2006). Deriving a Humanistic Theory of Child Development from the Works of Carl R. Rogers and Karen Horney. Humanistic Psychologist, 34(2), 177-199. Retrieved September 25, 2012, Available from: Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost: doi:10.1207/s15473333thp3402_5

Ingram, D. H., M.D. (2012). Who was Karen Horney? Psychiatric Times, 29(3), 22-23. Retrieved September 25, 2012, from Stein, M. (2010). Jung, C. G., The Red Book: Liber Novus edited by Sonu Shamdasani. Journal Of Analytical Psychology, 55(3), 423-434.Retrieved September 25, 2012, Available from: Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost: Web site:

Rendón, M. (2008). The vicissitudes of affect in Horney's theory. International Forum Of Psychoanalysis, 17(3), 158-168. Retrieved September 25, 2012, Available from: PsycINFO, EBSCOhost: doi:10.1080/08037060802031678

Utay, J., & Utay, C. (1996). Applications of Adler's theory in counseling and.. Journal Of Instructional Psychology, 23(4), 251.Retrieved September 25, 2012, Available from: Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost: Web site:


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