By Zia H Shah MD
According to a BBC survey, in 2007, one billion people world wide are suffering from anxiety and depression. Which world view will give you contentment and peace, Sigmund Freud’s or Carl Jung’s? This is the question, the answer of which you owe to yourself! The answer may predict your sanity and your future peace of mind or lack there of!
It is in remembrance of Allah that hearts can find comfort. (Al Quran 13:29)
Did you imagine that Allah had created you without purpose, and that you would not be brought back to Us? (Al Quran 23:116)
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and his colleagues defined man as a purely ‘Psychological man’ driven by his past experiences and memories as opposed to ‘Religious man’ who has a constant attraction and a drive towards his Creator and Protector, the God of monotheism. Freud theorized that personality is developed by the person’s childhood experiences. He was not vague about his claims for atheism. He actually predicted that as the masses of people become more educated, they would ‘turn away’ from the ‘fairy tales of religion.’ We will examine how his views were shaped by the anti-Semitism of his time.
Carl Jung, a contemporary of Freud took an exception, he wrote, “Freud has unfortunately overlooked the fact that man has never yet been able single‑handed to hold his own against the powers of darkness — that is, of the unconscious. Man has always stood in need of the spiritual help which each individual’s own religion held out to him.”
Totally on the opposite pole of Freud in matter of religion, Carl Jung explained at length, in the chapter, ‘Psychotherapists or clergy’ of his book, Modern Man in Search of a Soul:
During the past thirty years, people from all the civilized countries of the earth have consulted me. I have treated many hundreds of patients. … Among all my patients in the second half of life — to say, over thirty‑five — there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. It is safe to say that every one of them fell ill because he had lost that which the living religions of every age have given to their followers, and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook.
Sigmund Freud wrote in a letter to Carl Jung, dated January 17, 1909, “The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief.” In his essay on war & death, he wrote, “Religion is an illusion, and it derives its strength from its readiness to fit in with our instinctual wishful impulses.”
Both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were psychologists of great repute. So, are we to believe in ‘Psychological man” of Freud or the “Religious man’ of Carl Jung?
“As a boy Jung had remarkably striking dreams and powerful fantasies that had developed with unusual intensity. After his break with Freud, he deliberately allowed this aspect of himself to function again and gave the irrational side of his nature free expression. At the same time, he studied it scientifically by keeping detailed notes of his strange experiences. He later developed the theory that these experiences came from an area of the mind that he called the collective unconscious, which he held was shared by everyone. This much-contested conception was combined with a theory of archetypes that Jung held as fundamental to the study of the psychology of religion. In Jung’s terms, archetypes are instinctive patterns, have a universal character, and are expressed in behavior and images.… Jung devoted the rest of his life to developing his ideas, especially those on the relation between psychology and religion. In his view, obscure and often neglected texts of writers in the past shed unexpected light not only on Jung’s own dreams and fantasies but also on those of his patients; he thought it necessary for the successful practice of their art that psychotherapists become familiar with writings of the old masters.”
- “Carl Jung.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 20 Nov. 2008 ca.com/EBchecked/topic/308188/Carl-Jung>.