Freud, Adler and Jung: Founders of Psychoanalytic Research
Elizabeth R. Blight
Introduction: There are three well-known influential thinkers who are considered to be pioneers in the field of psychology. It could be argued that without …., the emergence of psychology as we know it might not have ever happened, at least in its present form. Freud is considered by his modern-day counterparts to be the founding father of analytic psychology, as he is the first to have come up with an albeit rudimentary, but nevertheless valuable model of the human psyche. Prior to his groundbreaking work, the nature of human consciousness was largely debated and theorized by medical doctors and theologians. Then there is Adler, (who was the first to have suggested the societal impact on emotions and thought processes and vice-versa, arguing that consciousness and culture have what could be termed as a symbiotic relationship. He emphasized, too, the importance of self-esteem and was the first to say that without a healthy self-esteem, an individual would develop an inferiority/superiority complex which would in turn affect many aspects of life. Last but not least, Carl Jung, who was a respected colleague of Freud in his earlier years, focused on the spiritual aspects of consciousness and saw the value it played on thoughts and emotions. We will explore in this paper the commonalities between these founding fathers of psychology as well as their differences, and explore the strengths in their theories as well as the weaknesses. By understanding the founders of this very subjective field of scientific thought, we can gain a better picture of how psychology has evolved over the years and apply it to our own research and studies.
According to Freudian theory, the consciousness is composed of three opposing forces: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id (Freud used the German term Das es) which consists of our instinct-driven behavior. Governed by what he termed the “Pleasure Principle”, It is largely pleasure-seeking: when we are hungry, we seek to obtain relief from these feelings by eating. Because the id is a self-gratifying drive, it can, according to Freud, cause problems if left unchecked, since the person would have absolutely no self-control and wouldn’t be able to exercise the self-discipline necessary to function in society. In accordance with what Freud calls “The Reality Principle”, The ego (das ich) copes with the limitations of reality by putting into place coping mechanisms when one’s basest needs cannot be fulfilled. For instance, it is the ego which represses the needs of the id by waking up early for work when the id tells us to sleep in late. The Superego (uber ich) tries to rule over the ego and id with moral principles which are both conscious and unconscious. It can be described as one’s religious convictions and moral principles. The Superego can override the ego and id when something must be done “for the greater good”, i.e. for moral reasons.
Another Fundamental element of Freudian theory is his stages of psychosexual development, which categorizes each stage as follows: The oral stage where a child seeks comfort from suckling, the anal stage where the child is toilet-trained, the phallic stage where a child’s awareness of a penis (or lack thereof) plays a crucial role in early development, the latent period, and finally the genital stage. In each of these stages (aside from the latent stage where it is believed no crucial psychosexual development takes place) if there is a disturbance in normal development, a “fixation” can occur. For instance, if a child is weaned from breastfeeding too early, he or she can have an “oral fixation” which would manifest itself as nail-biting or smoking later in life. Last but not least, Freud was the first to propose that when we face situations we cannot emotionally handle, we have certain defense mechanisms...
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