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Homans, P. (1981). Narcissism in the Jung-Freud Confrontations. Am. Imago, 38(1):81-95.

(1981). American Imago, 38(1):81-95

Narcissism in the Jung-Freud Confrontations

Peter Homans, Ph.D.

As Jung's collected works began to appear in the 50's and 60's, it became clear to even the most cursory readers that at least two themes preoccupied the mind of the great Swiss psychologist: the work of his former master, Sigmund Freud, and the heritage of his pastor-father, traditional Protestant Christianity. Then, in 1961, Jung (1961) himself lent autobiographical credence to this, and further indicated that Freud had also been of crucial personal influence on him as well. Indeed, Jung devoted an entire chapter to Freud, and Freud was the only person, with the exception of his own immediate family, to receive mention.

More recently, the publication of the Freud-Jung letters (McGuire, 1974) has provided an intimate and detailed account of that relationship, about which Jung had only reminisced and about which others could only have speculated. These letters provide students of the history of the psychoanalytic movement with detailed evidence regarding Jung's personal life—and of course, Freud's—over an extended period of time, a period—and this is crucial—before which, so to speak, “Jung became Jung.” For, during his psychoanalytic years, Jung was at best a promising but undistinguished follower of Freud's ideas; but, shortly after this period, he produced in a brief span of time the leading ideas for his new psychology. Furthermore, the letters give some basis for testing the observation made by Joseph Wheelwright (1976), a Jungian analyst trained by Jung, to the effect that, throughout his mature life, Jung again and again came back to a haunting question: What had gone wrong in his relationship to Freud?

With these materials at hand—Jung's works, his autobiography, his letters—I wrote my study of the rise of modern psychological man and his psychological society and of Jung's place in it (Homans, 1979).

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