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Mayer, E.L. (2002). Freud and Jung: The boundaried mind and the radically connected mind. J. Anal. Psychol., 47(1):91-99.

(2002). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 47(1):91-99

Freud and Jung: The boundaried mind and the radically connected mind

Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, Ph.D.

It seems to me we are at a point in psychoanalytic thinking when customary expectations about who thinks what are being turned significantly upside-down. Jungians are sounding peculiarly Freudian, Freudians sound like inter-subjectivists and intersubjectivists are calling for things like boundaries between individuals which hearken back to early Freudian texts that Freudians are trying hard to abandon.

My guess is that all amounts to something good. First, I think it is helping to renew a kind of honesty among analysts about what really works clinically. As a result, adherence to a given school of thought is not functioning as an automatic guide to clinical method. That means long-standing assumptions about how to work with patients are being examined with fresh eyes.

One consequence is a certain simplification of our clinical goals as well as our clinical methods. As we shed shibboleths and focus on essentials, we inevitably find ourselves attempting to sort wheat from chaff. So, for example, instead of being content to define the goals of psychoanalytic treatment in terms of goals particular to our own favourite schools of thought, we find ourselves focusing more on the heart of the matter: on how, at the most basic level, we actually do help people. And as boundaries between schools of thought lessen, we cannot help but recognize the fact that clinicians with very different approaches appear to help people in strikingly similar ways.

This leads us to re-think what is clinically mutative and highlights what is truly essential. For me, the psychoanalytic essentials that stand out reduce to two quite simple and basic premisses about what makes for human psychology. One asserts the power of love and the other asserts the power of unconscious mentation. Both these premisses have been basic to any clinical tradition that calls itself psychoanalytic from the beginning. The important thing about highlighting them now rests not in the fact that they are essential, but in the fact that if they stand out as what is essential, a great deal else is not. That means we have a lot of chaff to get rid of - not an easy task when it comes to abandoning treasured ideas, but one that is ultimately liberating both for theory and for our creative development as practitioners.

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