Sunday, May 8, 2011

Personality Overview

Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung remain two of the most influential psychologists in the psychodynamic perspective. After a significant investment in both a personal and professional relationship, the two found irreconcilable differences in their ideas and both permanently withdrew from the relationship. Although many of the differences in their theories seem subtle, their directions maintained wide differences that remained at odds, yet supplied the psychological community with a rich bounty of theory which, although highly criticized, remains some of the most applied theory and therapy in contemporary psychology.

Underlying Assumptions

Sigmund Freud

Long before Sigmund Freud focused on unconscious processes, philosophers and poets made it the topic of discussion. However, he was the first early psychologist to create psychological theory based on this proposition (Westen, 1998). Freud's theory distinguished psychoanalysis from other perspectives during his time because of its focus on unconscious mental processes. Feist and Feist (2009) claims sex and aggression are its main basis. Based on the analysis of his own dreams and case studies of his patients, Freud separated the religious and philosophical underpinnings of his time from unconscious human thought processes, and created a theory based on their dynamic motivational influence on behavior (Feist & Feist, 2009).

Central to Freud's theory are three fundamental elements of the human psyche: the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious. The conscious mind is that of which humans are aware at any given time, and consists of memories, thoughts, fantasies, sensations, and present perceptions (Boeree, 1997). The preconscious is associated with the modern concept of available memory that can be readily brought to mind. Freud considered the unconscious the dominant influence of human thought processes and behavior (Boeree, 1997). It contains human drives and instincts that originate within the unconscious, and censors memories and emotions too difficult to maintain in conscious awareness (Boeree, 1997). Freud considered the unconscious the source of all human motivation or drives. These three levels of consciousness are used as representations or hypothetical constructs of processes and locations within the mind.

Carl Gustav Jung

Jung was originally a colleague of Freud, but because of differences in their perspective of psychoanalytic theory, he established a separate theory of personality called analytical psychology. Jung's theory is based on the idea that the human psyche resides in the world and significantly influences human thought processes and behavior (Feist & Feist, 2009).

Alternative to Freud's psychoanalysis, which determines human motivation as the exclusive rendering of the personal unconscious, Jung believed human motivation is provoked by the collective unconscious as well as our repressed experiences. The collective unconscious is a composite that we inherit from our ancestors as well as our repressed experiences. Jung referred to the highly developed features of the collective unconscious as archetypes, the most inclusive of which is the idea of self-realization (Feist & Feist, 2009). He believed self-realization could be accomplished only by balancing opposing personality forces within the self and consequently his theory is based on the action of this internalized opposition. Jung understood people are both conscious and unconscious, rational and irrational, introverted and extroverted, all of which are influenced by experience, expectations, and goals. The integration of these opposing forces would create wholeness (Feist & Feist, 2010).

Jung perceived the unconscious as a source of healing and development in individuals while acknowledging the collective conscious, and the mysterious nature of the soul, and developed a distinctive approach that incorporated dreams, archetypes, mythology, and folklore (Feist & Feist, 2009). He was compelled to explore the mysterious depths of the human unconscious and its beauty (Jung, Hull, & De Laszlo, 1990). Whereas Jung placed immediate importance on the collective unconscious as an integral part of human motivation, Freud considered inherited constitutions and inclinations only when other explanations failed.

Determinism versus Free Will


Freud's psychoanalysis was decidedly deterministic. He believed a large percentage of
human behavior had its roots in past events and early childhood experiences, most of which were unidentifiable by conscious awareness (Feist & Feist, 2009). Freud thought if humans were unaware of the directives that motivated them, they were destined to live a life controlled by unconscious strivings. He also thought people have an illusory belief that they are, in fact, in control of their destinies, but stated, "the ego is not master in its own house" (Freud, 1933, p. 143 as cited by Feist & Feist, 2009). Most people tend to believe they have access to free will, the ability to make conscious decisions, and the capacity to be motivated by both internal and external goals, but Freud believed humans are destined to follow internal unknown directives created in the past, and destined to influence the most significant behaviors throughout the life span.

Carl Jung

The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him. As a human being he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is "man" in a higher sense - he is 'collective man,' a vehicle and moulder of the unconscious psychic life of mankind (Jung, 1933).

Jung perceived the complexity of humans in their opposing poles. He did not believe that the will of humans was necessarily free and unencumbered, nor did he have Freud's oppressive deterministic view. He viewed human motivation as a composition of conscious thoughts, the personal unconscious, and traces of evolutionary memory derived from ancestral past. However, Jung did not believe, as did Freud, humans are destined to behave and think according to early childhood experiences. Jung thought people were influenced by the collective consciousness of humankind, unlike the exclusively personal directives of Freud's theory, and per se, he believed humans could participate with their collective selves toward the goal of self-realization.

Analysis of Self Awareness


Freud theorized unconscious directives, of which they have neither awareness nor control, motivate humans (Feist & Feist, 2009). He insisted human behavior was motivated primarily by the unconscious, which embodies drives, urges, and instincts, and encourages nearly all human words, feelings, actions, and religious and spiritual experiences mostly beyond the control of the mind. According to Feist and Feist (2009), although individuals may be aware of observable behavior, they are often not aware of the mental processes contributing to such behavior. He thought all of human motivation was deeply embedded in the unconscious, and these unobservable directives were the primary influence of behavior. Freud's deterministic view held individuals to a destiny produced early in childhood with little room for personal goals, and the influence of the external environment (Feist & Feist, 2009).


Jung believed the purpose of life was self-actualization, and the self was a composite of the conscious and the unconscious mind, which manifested in opposing forces seeking balance within the human psyche. Jung thought the ideal of self-realization existed within the collective unconscious of all people, although its actualization was seldom realized (Feist & Feist, 2009). To reach self-realization, people must face the duality that manifested as the darker side of human nature, and ultimately confront the anima or animus. Because Jung believed in the singular purpose of self-actualization, he concerned himself with both conscious and unconscious motives for behavior. Human motivation was a composition of the collective conscious, personal unconscious, and traces of evolutionary memory and as such, Jung understood people made choices, worked toward goals along with motivation from forces generated in childhood. Jung defined influences other than those motivated from exclusively intrinsic directives (Feist & Feist, 2009).


On some of the central assumptions of psychodynamic theory, such as levels of consciousness and the influence of mental life, both Freud and Jung have influenced significantly modern psychology, contemporary secular thought, and self-understanding. Psychology continues to integrate the ideas of these two psychodynamic theorists into the scientific community, even though some of their theories fall short of addressing the contemporary understanding of human thought and its processes. Although both men were originally rooted in Freud's psychoanalysis, differences in perspectives separated them and their two distinct psychodynamic theories. Although these differences were many, perhaps the most disparate was their distinct view of the human psyche: Freud's internal unconscious directives versus Jung's universal collective unconscious. Both men and their theories continue to influence psychology and secular thought with their ideas of energy as it influences and becomes human thought and behavior.


Boeree, C. G. (1997). Sigmund Freud. My Webspace Files. Retrieved April 27, 2011, from

Feist, J. & Feist, G. J. (2009). Theories of personality (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Freud, S. (1953). Symptoms, inhibitions, and anxiety. (In J. Strachey (Ed. and Trans.), The standardedition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud. London: Hogarth Press.

Jung, C. G. (1933). Modern man in search of a soul. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & World.

Jung, C. G., Hull, R. F., & De Laszlo, L. V. (1990). Psyche and symbol. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Westen, D. (1998). The scientific legacy of Sigmund Freud: toward a psychodynamically informed psychological science. Psychological Bulletin, 124(3), 333-371. doi: 10.1037//0033-2909.124.3.333


  1. Deborah Stone, Hi my name is Kelli French. I am in online classes at UOP and I really like your work when it comes to psychology. I reference everything I use of your papers. The only problem I am having when it comes to referencing your paper is the (blogspot) right before the .com. Is there any way that you can take out that word or put a different word in there to make your research more creditable, (I am not say is not creditable) but for my research at the college It needs to be scholarly articles which I am sure you can understand this issue. My papers are spot on, good grades good material is fantastic but the cite itself is not. Please see if you can fix this? Thank You Kelli

  2. Hi Kelli,
    Blogs aren't scholarly articles for school-related intents and purposes. My work is not peer-reviewed, and like any other blog, I can write what I please. It's great fun, and might stimulate an idea or two, but it is not in your best interest to reference my work in your papers, unless your instructor allows you to do that.

    Some students review my references and get ideas from some of the scholarly works I have referenced.

    Good luck in your class work!