Comparison of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung


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This paper is an analysis of the differences and the similarities between the various teachings of dreams that was propagated by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud shared a personal relationship for many years, and Jung was the junior partner in these relationships. This is because he concentrated too much of his time to learn on the theories of unconsciousness, that were propagated by Sigmund Freud. This made him to develop his own methods of studying psychology, and he referred to these methods as analytical. Both these two men were able to appeal to the concept of the unconscious mind, as a way of interpreting dreams. However, Jung used a more multi-layered approach of the sub-conscious mind in his interpretation of dreams (McGuire, 1974). Despite the common background that these two scholars have, their perception of dreams greatly differs. For example, the two scholars disagreed on what formed the unconscious mind.

Sigmund Freud was able to view the unconscious mind, as a collection of thoughts, experiences, and images that an individual refused to process, and which later led to the neuroses (Okazaki, 1986). Jung viewed this definition as incomplete, and he was able to denote that people also possess a collective unconsciousness, and archetypes which were common to every human being. This was able to bubble up to the surface of an individual’s state of personal unconsciousness. Furthermore, Jung believed that it is far much better to interpret dreams through an understanding of a symbolic reference point, of a shared symbol. This is an aspect that Freud disagrees on. There are numerous arguments and counter arguments on the similarities and differences on the teachings of dreams that this paper would analyze.

Differences and Similarities:

Freud (1900) views the study of dreams by Sigmund Freud as a large field to explore. This is because it is possible to interpret the symbols of a dream, on a broader perspective, as opposed to the use of sexual connotations in the interpretation of dreams. The use of sexual connotations in the interpretation of dreams was one of the major teachings of Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud denoted that dreams are an accurate method of expressing the desires of the unconscious mind of an individual. Furthermore, Freud explains that people and objects in a dream are always represented in a symbolic form. Freud calls this aspect as the road to the unconscious. Grosskurth (1991) further explains that the ideas of Freud regarding psychoanalysis and dreams are widely known. This is because the use of his style of analysis in therapy played a great role in advancing towards the understanding of the term psyche.

His technique, which involved asking patients for free associations, in regard to the details of their dreams has remained an important technique of psychoanalysis. Even to the scholars who ascribe to the Jung’s views of dreams and psychoanalysis (Rycroft, 1977). Furthermore, the views of Freud on the study of dreams, has demonstrated the fact that dreams are able to offer or reveal an issue about a dreamer. This is a belief that is shared by Carl Jung, and other theorists of dreams. As opposed to Jung, Freud emphasized greatly on the need to reduce and separate physical processes, from the biological process (Herdt, 1987).

Jung further believed that dreams would only emanate from the most significant issues or things that affect an individual’s life. This is because they exist in the unconscious mind of an individual. Jung believed that it was very unlikely, that an individual would dream, on issues that do not affect him or her, or on issues that are not of importance to him. This is an aspect that Sigmund Freud rejects. Freud rejects the Kantanian structures or elements, in regard to the analysis and interpretation of dreams (Tedlock, 1987).

Freud admits that a small portion of mental subjection plays a role in the analysis of dreams; however, Freud felt that psychoanalysis is able to overcome this subjectivity. On this basis, Freud was advocating for an objective analysis and truth, in regard to the human personality. This is as opposed to the subjective analysis that was advocated by Carl Jung. Furthermore, Sigmund Freud believed that intuition is an example of an illusion. Intuition refers to the ability of understanding a dream, without the use of conscious reasoning (Loewald, 1977). This therefore means that Freud believed in the interpretation of dreams, by appealing to the conscious nature of an individual. This is an aspect that Jung did not believe in. This is because Jung denoted that to effectively understand dreams, there is a need of understanding the unconscious mind, which is shaped by the experiences of an individual.

There is no need of appealing to the conscious state of a person, in the interpretation of dreams. This is because it would lead to inaccuracies in the interpretation of dreams, and its analysis. However, Freud explains that this is only the subjective part of dream analysis and interpretation. There is a need of being objective, and this is through appealing to the biological consciousness of an individual. By being objective, chances are high that an individual would correctly analyze and interpret dreams. Davis (1997) further explains that Freud had a very negative view, regarding humanity. He believed that mankind has very little chance of living a happy life, and achieving a sense of good mental health, or condition. Furthermore, Sigmund Freud believed that human beings are naturally evil, and they do not have the capability of loving their brothers, with as much instinct or drive towards death, when compared towards life.

This belief of Freud significantly differed with the belief that Carl Jung had towards humanity. Carl Jung believed that many people had the capability of reaching a state of health. Furthermore, Carl Jung believed that there is a natural process within the psyche, and this process is therapeutic in nature (Jung, 1961). Furthermore, Jung believed that people have both good and evil characteristics. Based on these facts, Jung was more optimistic on the concepts of non-violence and social justice, when compared to Sigmund Freud.

Jung believed that the conscious acceptance of evil, is able to depotentiate the effects of evil, internally, and when it is directed to other people. Jung further disagreed with Sigmund Freud assertions on issues regarding the unconsciousness, and on the important role of sex. Jung viewed libido as energy, and sex is just a part of the energy under consideration (Freud, 1916). Furthermore, Jung believed that sex was part of energy that was expressing itself on all areas of mankind. Jung further rejected Freud’s idea on the Oedipus complex. This is because he believed that the attachment of a child, to the mother is based on the child’s need for food. This is as opposed to the view that was held by Freud, whereby people or individuals are regarded as the victims of their childhood experiences.

Jung therefore believed that people or individuals are shaped by their past and future aspirations. In as much as Jung agreed with the Freud’s idea on unconsciousness, he was able to divulge deeper on this notion of unconsciousness, when he is compared with Sigmund Freud. This is because he came up with the concept of collective unconsciousness. Furthermore, Jung saw the state of unconsciousness as a world which is vital, and it forms a significant part, of the real life of an individual, just as the state of consciousness. This is an aspect that Freud completely disagrees with. Freud views the state of unconsciousness, as a situation whereby there is a repression of the desires of an individual or a person.

Furthermore, Caillois (1966) explains that Freud viewed the dream as playing a role of guarding sleep from the irruption of repressed impulses. Jung on the other hand took the view that dreams perform the function of compensating the limited views regarding the waking ego. This is a purpose that does not contradict with the concept of information processing hypothesis of a dream. Furthermore, Jung explains that the most important role of dreams is to communicate with an individual, as opposed to disguising communication.

The analytical psychology of Jung was able to equate dreams to the primordial descriptions of the unconscious, as symbols which were pointing to a meaning within this notion of a collective unconsciousness (Homans, 1979). These primordial descriptions or images were referred to as archetypes. Jung believed that dreams was seen as a method of communicating through these descriptions or images, and this is with the intention of the unconscious mind conveying the meaning that is behind the inner states of an individual, and showing their relationship with the collective unconsciousness. Furthermore, Jung explains that the archetypal symbol functions as a mediator between the state of unconsciousness and the consciousness. It helps in enabling a dialectical interaction between two compensatory and opposing systems of the unconscious and the conscious.

Bion (1967) further explains that the symbols which appear in dreams depict images of an archetypal nature. This nature further depicts the centralizing production or process of an emerging center of personality. Jung therefore believes that the personality of an individual is a representation of the unconscious and thee conscious mind of a person. Just as the ego, in the view of Freud is a representation of the center of consciousness (Rycroft, 1977). Based on this fact, it is possible to denote that the two scholars both agree on the important role of the state of consciousness and unconsciousness plays in the interpretation and analysis of dreams. However, differences emanate on the roles of these states, and the level or rate of their involvement in the interpretation and analysis of dreams.


In conclusion, there are lots of similarities and differences in the analysis and interpretation of dreams that is advocated by Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Both Jung and Freud are analytical in the manner which they are able to interpret dreams. However, they do not use the same method of analysis. Carl Jung calls the method which Freud uses in the interpretation of dreams as free association. This method requires a dreamer to carefully examine the dream for its latent hidden content, and this is amongst the near manifest content. The dreamer will experience difficulty in undertaking this task, and this is based on the instructions that Freud gives. For instance, Freud explains that the dreamer must be under instruction to renounce all forms of criticism, of the various thoughts that he or she may have or perceive (Kerr, 1994).

This is a very difficult task for an individual to undertake. In fact, Freud recognizes this situation, and he explains that the psychological state of an individual in an attitude of reflection is different from that of a person who is engaged in observing the psychological processes. On the other hand, Jung believes that this method is inadequate in finding an individual’s basic wishes or internal complexes (Segal, 1981). Furthermore, Jung considers this a highly uninteresting and banal fact. Therefore, Jung makes a decision to use a method that philologists normally use for purposes of deciphering writings which are difficult to understand. In Jung’s opinion, this would help him to find what people normally do with their internal complexes. Through this knowledge, Jung believes that people can make a decision on what they intend to undertake with their future.

The two authors also agree on the fact that dreams have a source, rather than the conscious mind of an individual. Furthermore, they also agree that dreams emanate from the unconscious mind of an individual. However, the main difference is what these two authors believe that constitutes the unconscious mind. Jung believes that people or individuals have both the collective unconscious mind, and the personal conscious mind. However, Freud argues that people have an unconscious mind, but it is not collective. Furthermore, Freud would push for the concept of the dream day, or a day before the dream happened or occurred. Furthermore, Freud would push for the analysis of the actions and thoughts of the day, before the examination and interpretation of the dream under consideration. Freud would further push for the notion of past experiences or ideas while analyzing and interpreting dreams. This also involves what an individual remembers from his or her childhood.

However, Jung counters this aspect with his own theories, and he argues that an individual should look at the activities that they undertake in their dreams, and they should either take it as an advice or as a warning. Freud further believes that dreams are an aspect of wishful fulfillment, and they are normally distorted so that an individual may be forced to analyze and look into the hidden meaning of the dream under consideration. Therefore, any manifest contents should be discarded as worthless. Freud also believes that certain dreams are of convenience. The intention of these dreams is to make an individual to stay asleep. An example is that of a sleepy student. On the contrary, Jung believed that dreams are not distortions, but in a different aspect, they present a different language. In explaining this point, Jung gives an example gives an example of a man who has the intention of advancing himself in a fast and quicker manner.

Jung gives an interpretation of the man’s dreams, and he tries to use these interpretations for purposes of discouraging this man from involving himself into seeking a quick fortune. However, Jung explains how the man uses Freud’s concept of wishful fulfillment, and goes on with his plans, resulting to a loss of everything that he or she possesses. These are the summaries of the differences and similarities of Jung and Freud’s ideas on dreams.


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Tedlock, B. (1987). Dreaming and Dream Research in B. Tedlock (ed), Dreaming: Anthropological and Psychological Interpretations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-30.

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