Anthony Storr

London, 1973.

In this slim volume from the old Modern Masters series, Storr, a Jungian analyst himself, provides a useful critical guide to Jung's main ideas. Many of these, needless to say, are explained by contrast to Freud's, and may be summarized in this table:

Freud Jung
naturalistic explanations supernatural, mythic
repression dissociation
interpersonal relationships growth of personality
paternal emphasis maternal images
orgastic release of sex unifying experience of religion
art as fantasy art as adaptive
secular pessimism religious vision

Storr casts doubt on several aspects of Jung's analytical psychology, including the way that he conceived of complexes:

"Very few people find it necessary to personify... unconscious mental activities in the way that Jung did any more than they find it necessary to personify physical parts of themselves like the liver or kidneys, which function independently of the will." (p.13)

This tendency is also behind Jung's diminished account of human relationships:

"Jung... chose to adopt a terminology which reflects only the ego's relation with 'internal objects' and says very little about actual relations between real human beings... Analysts of other schools... do not generally encourage their patients to treat preconceived notions [of other people] as persons and to hold conversations with them." (p.56)

Storr defends Jung's central concept of the collective unconscious from the sort of criticisms mentioned by Brown. He quotes Jung as saying that, "archetypes are not determined as regards their content, but only as regards their form, and then only to a limited degree" (p.40).

Other concepts do not fare so well:

"Almost everyone who has attempted a critical assessment of Jung has come to the conclusion that his thinking was confused, that he contradicts himself, uses words in differing senses and often makes use of 'blanket' concepts which include so much under a single heading that they actually explain less than at first appears. Whilst the dichotomy of extraversion versus introversion has proved valuable and continues to stimulate research, the quaternity of the four functions [thinking/feeling/sensation/intuition] has been discarded by all except the most dedicated Jungians, and is, I suspect, little used even by them." (p.79)

Discussing the creative reconciling of opposites, and the healing process which may be brought about, Storr brings out an aspect of Jungism that seems rarely to be noticed by those with artistic leanings who may favour Jung above other psychologists:

"Jung referred to religions as psychotherapeutic systems. He might equally well have used the same phrase about works of art. Nowadays, more people gain what Jung would have called experience of the Self from one or other of the arts than they do from religion." (p.104)



Paul Taylor 2002