Freudian and Jungian concepts of the mind in contrast.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is considered to be the father of psychoanalysis and was a pioneer in the conceptualization of the mind. He was the first to name the unconscious mind and thoroughly describe it. He believed the structure of the mind consisted of the conscious, preconscious and the unconscious. Freud described the different elements of the mind using the metaphor of an iceberg. Indeed, he believed that the tip of the iceberg, being the visible section illustrated perfectly the conscious mind; the one that we are aware of. The preconscious can be found beneath the conscious. The basic personality entity of the ego lies within the preconscious mind. The bottom of the iceberg is where the unconscious sits and this is where the personality entities of the superego and id are held. If interpreting the metaphor to its full extent, one comes to the conclusion that the majority of the mind activity is submerged in water, in other words not directly accessible by consciousness. He stated "The mind is like an iceberg; it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water". Therefore, Freud perceived the mind as a complex psychological force that was divided into fractions. The smallest fraction being our operational mind -the conscious. He believed that the conscious mind was entirely submitted to the control of the unconscious. Thus, anything that becomes conscious has been at some point unconscious before being released to ones awareness. Nonetheless, not every item from the unconscious is rose to the conscious state, these are called repressed memories. Freud argued that it these repressed elements that create neurosis. The main aim of Freud's psychoanalysis was to allow these repressed memories to be released by the unconscious so they could be explored by the conscious mind. He argued and believed that this would calm the psychic tension between the two main mind structures.
Carl Jung (1875-1961) followed Freud's steps as a young psychiatrist until he detached and dissociated from what he deemed too sexually oriented theories. Jung believed that there was more to the unconscious and the mind than what Freud explored. Jung didn't refute the existence of the unconscious, however he believed that there was a greater form of unconscious. Indeed, he believed in the existence of a specific part of the unconscious that could be found in everyone of us, he called it the collective unconscious. Jung was very interested in mythology, symbols, traditions, and cultures worldwide. Having researched the subject extensively, he realized that many myths and symbols shared similarities across the world in differing centuries. This observation led him to think that there may be a part of the unconscious that contributes in memorizing and sharing these collective memories. Jung theorized this notion of collective unconscious and claimed that these universal memories came across as archetypes. He saw archetypes as general symbols that shared a specific meaning, and provided a figurative way to comprehend the world. There are many archetypes, yet these four are the most common. The Anima which is the female figure that constitutes men. The Animus which is the male figure that occurs in women. The Self which consists of ones entire personality. And the Shadow which is the representation of ones individual unconscious. The collective unconscious is somehow a survival instrument that has been passed on from generation to generation over years of evolution as a collective memory. Jung stated that "the personal unconscious rests upon a deeper layer, I call the collective unconscious". The collective unconscious would then be the ocean in which Freud's iceberg floats.
Understanding the mind is important for all therapies and is integral to hypnotherapy. During Freudian and Jungian times the concept of the mind and reflecting on this was ground breaking and novel. However, it was also untestable and subjective. Nowadays, there is a plethora of empirical evidence drawn from all areas of psychology, and medicine to support current theorize of cognition. The concept of the unconscious mind whilst still discussed and utilized in practice today is still enigmatic for science. Present attention(course notes, stage 1 NCHP) as described in the course notes has a limited capacity and is all encompassing. Present attention is not dissimilar to Freud's conscious mind. There are three ways that present attention can be occupied. Language-conveyed thoughts which are complex and internal (course notes,stage 1 NCHP). Memory-sourced thoughts involving memories triggering the in voice within the present attention (course notes, 2014). These two aspects of present attention are useful to bare in mind when practicing hypnotherapy because as with Freud and Jung's approach the conscious mind is a barrier to the unconscious. Understanding how it works is the only tool available for developing a deeper understanding of how hypnosis works to access the unconscious. The third type of present attention is Survival Thoughts this involves little to no linguist content. This aspect of present attention can be compared to Jung's collective unconscious. Survival thought is when the senses are alert to dangerous situations and push their way into the present attention as a survival instrument this is how Jung described the collective unconscious. Survival thought and the awareness of the unconscious and collective unconscious concepts is essential to practicing hypnotherapy and is by far the most useful element of the mind to grasp. Working with Survival thought and the unconscious whilst not entirely empirically testable has contributed enormously to the development of therapeutic methods and the recovery of individuals presenting with functional problems.
In conclusion, Freud, Jung and the course notes whilst all differ slightly on terminology and approach to the mind are in agreement that it is the most important aspect of the human to understand when working in a therapeutic way. The unconscious, conscious, and present attention are all ways to conceptualize one of the most abstract phenomena of the human being.
-Atkinson & Hilgard's, 2009, Introduction to psychology, Hayward, Ca, USA
- Course notes stage 1, 2014, Mind, national college of hypnosis and psychotherapy London
-Jung&Hull, 1981, The archetypes and the collective Unconscious, Bolligen foundation Ltd, New york.