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Fisher, J.V. (2008). Abdication of a Father: Some Reflections on the Freud-Jung Correspondence. Brit. J. Psychother., 24(3):273-298.

(2008). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 24(3):273-298

Abdication of a Father: Some Reflections on the Freud-Jung Correspondence1

James V. Fisher

This paper explores one dimension of the complex relationship linking Freud and Jung as revealed in their correspondence between 1906 and 1912. It focuses on Freud's adoption of Jung as his heir, particularly in terms of his repeated proposal to Jung ‘to continue and complete my work by applying to psychoses what I have begun with neuroses’. The paper tracks the fate of this proposal in the words of these two men and suggests that the ambivalence of both can be seen as an expression of an unconscious dynamic portrayed in Shakespeare's King Lear, a dynamic characterized by the author as the developmental task of ‘heriting’. Emma Jung captured the heart of the dilemma of ‘heriting’ in her question to Freud: ‘Doesn't one often give much because one wants to keep much?’ Although the trajectory of the heritage Freud sought for his ‘adopted eldest son’, ‘crown prince’ and ‘successor’ was not the same as that of the tragedy of Lear, it was no less poignant in its tensions and disappointments - even for a time in its reversal of the ‘heriting’ - and finally in the disintegration of the relationship.

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