Akhenaten reconciling Freud and Jung

In 1912, Jung and Freud met in Munich among peers to discuss journals in psychoanalysis. A debate arose between the two concerning Jung’s new psychoanalytic essay on the symbol of Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV in old Egyptian or Amenophis IV in Greek form) mutilating the statue of his father Amenhotep III.

Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud have been close for 6 years now; they traveled together to the United States, they interpreted each others’ dreams and talked for hours. Freud became a father figure to Jung and considered the latter to be his heir (in psychoanalysis of course) and his successor.

Akhenaten statue [KnYghT Mind Architects]

A colossal monument of Akhenaten

In parallel, three thousand and three hundred years earlier, Akhenaten was abandoning the traditional Egyptian polytheism that his father embraced and creating a monotheistic religion. Along with the many changes he obliged, he mutilated the statue of his own father Amenhotep III and changed his own name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten. These changes are of significant values to our herein article.

Regarding the mutilation of the statue, the subject of the dispute, Freud considered that it was a gesture of conflict with the image of the paternal figure while Jung, on the other hand, viewed the act as a sign of creative intuition for a monotheistic religion.

The whole dispute and rupture between Freud and Jung is as symbolic as Akhenaten (the son) mutilating the statue of Amenhotep III (the father). Jung had maybe ended his own projection on Freud as a father figure. The concept of projection being itself conceptualized by Freud. As Akhenaten ended the ways of his father, Jung ended the ways and concepts of his father of psychoanalysis.

After the dispute, Jung refrained himself from talking about the conscious and the subconscious and started talking about two concepts: the introvert/extrovert personalities and the individual/collective consciousness. Isn’t this fact equivalent to the acknowledgment that he is different than Freud and that he has his own signature just like Akhenaten changing his five-fold titulary (names) from Amenhotep?

On another note, Jung had moreover identified himself to Akhenaten by the creation of the individual and collective consciousness concept; during the 5th year of his reign, the pharaoh established Aten as the sole god of Egypt and the beginning of construction of his new capital. Do we see the connection between Akhenaten’s god of gods and Jung’s collective consciousness?

The parallelism of actions between Akhenaten and Jung extends beyond the annihilation (total destruction) of the old ways by also constructing their own capital, their own individuality. Jung established himself as a different thinking entity than Freud’s.

Freud and Jung during convention [KnYghT Mind Architects]

Oftentimes conflicts are needed to create something new, a change of perspective so mankind can evolve and grow further instead of staying still in a pond of stagnating ideas. Many minds come into conflict and this leads to different intellectual currents.

Amenhotep iv [KnYghT Mind Architects]

The face of Akhenaten

Although the symbolism broke up the relationship between Jung and Freud, it was well place and needed as part of maturation. This is where Akhenaten reconciles the two by breaking them up. We already said that Freud considered that Akhenaten mutilating the statue of his father was a gesture of conflict with the image of the paternal figure while Jung, on the other hand, viewed the act as a sign of creative intuition for a monotheistic religion. Aren’t the two views complementary?

According to Jung, individuation is maturation, it is the transformation of the being, a displacement of the center of gravity with the new center being the self. This individuation evokes the image of the divine in Man and constitutes the fusion of the double totality, that of all the elements of the individual/collective consciousness and that of the conscious/subconscious minds as the individual accomplishes by his own transformation.

In other words, separating ourselves from the old ways of our fathers and having our own identity as individuals contributing to the collective pool of growth is a necessity and maturation by itself. We break the old ways of thinking and habits to create new ideas and perspectives. Maturation happens when we become interdependent – whole individuals in relationship with our surroundings.

I am my father’s child, I am my mother’s child, but I am me.

By mutilating his father’s statue, Akhenaten has ended his conflict with the paternal figure and moved on to his individual and radical beliefs.

Freud didn’t embrace well the fact that Jung has matured and established himself as a leader of another current. The proof being that he (Freud) took the German psychoanalyst Karl Abraham under his wing and considered him as his successor. Freud suffered deeply from the father complex and couldn’t just understand the nature of relationships between parents and their children.

Your children are not your children [KnYghT Mind Architects]

A quote from the Prophet – Khalil Gibran

With his concept of collective consciousness, Jung has merged the death and life instincts depicted by Freud. According to Freud, there exists an opposition between the death instinct and the life instinct. However, the concept of collective consciousness lead to the dependency of these instincts on each other; the life instinct (sexual instinct) is equivalent to the death instinct (aggressive instinct) for each individual, as part of its species, needs to assure the continuity of the latter by having sex and reproducing. The death of the species incites the sexual drive of the individual pretty much like the concept of the Yin and Yang[1] where the opposing forces of the instincts (life versus death) lead to the expansion of their containing circle.


Finally, it is of importance to mention that as Akhenaten came before his time by creating a monotheistic religion (it wasn’t accepted at the time), the tragic of Jung was that he too came before his time by his moderation and humanization of psychoanalysis.

Articles coming soon:

[1]Through the eyes of the Yin and Yang

In the making:

Right or wrong?

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