SECRETS: The Untold Story of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung

A New Drama by Broadway Producer Ken Wydro about the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. One Thousand letters were exchanged between these two Masterminds of psychological analysis. One Thousand letters. In six years. This play is based on those actual letters.< FIRST POST - Click on MAY under "Archives" >

Jun 30, 2006

"...this breakup with Freud was necessary..."





FREUD AND JUNG

-- DIFFERENT TAKES

A COMMENTARY ON

SECRETS: THE SIGMUND FREUD – CARL JUNG AFFAIR
BY
KEN WYDRO

The people who know best and have studied the works of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung -- as well as their intimate and passionate relationship -- have very different takes on what went wrong between them. Depending on which camp one is aligned with, either Freud or Jung played the heavy while the other one was given a free pass and absolved of any blame in the coming together and the splitting apart.

Many historians of the early days of psychoanalysis would probably agree that there were professional and personal differences between the two that made it impossible to continue. Certainly, two major forces in any one field of study could disagree – and agree to disagree – and still have lunch and be glad to see each other at some professional conference -- if there were no personal animosity and hard feelings in play.

It is clear, an objective fact if you will, that after 1913, Freud and Jung did their best to stay clear of each other, would barely mention each other’s name and did their best to avoid any discussion or give commentary on what had driven them apart with such a vengeance.

Given those circumstances and hard feelings, my conclusion as playwright was that their “divorce” was more personal than professional. Yes, Freud was committed to the idea of Libido as being sexual in nature while Jung saw Libido more as an energy force that drove many forms of desires and aspects of creativity. For Jung, Libido could have a sexual expression but Libido could also be manifested in the composition of a piece of music or the writing of a novel.

OK, you think Libido is this, and I think Libido is that – let’s laugh about it and go out and have some dinner and a few glasses of wine and laugh about how and why we can’t agree about everything all the time. We have different takes – big deal, so what, who cares? Let’s get together next time you are in town.

But that is not what happened to Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. When they broke up, each felt deep disappointment, abandonment, fractured souls, and broken hearts. Jung, in particular, even though he had “driven” the split, fell into a deep depression taking a long time to recover and get over the hurt and pain.

On one level, he had to be his own man and remove himself from the shadows of Freud, but on the other hand, Jung felt deeply disturbed and wounded by the good-bye letter from Freud. His depression was deep and dark, needing someone like his former patient and current mistress-research assistant, Antonia “Toni” Wolff, to help him navigate the swirling, dangerous waters of turbulent emotions.

Toni Wolff herself had once been lost and drowning in her own depression when Jung “descended” and helped to fish her out.

Now, when Jung had the similar sense of drowning in his own depths, Toni was the one who threw out the lifeline that Jung grabbed hold of.

Emma, Jung’s wife, had never really been there – in that kind of frightening depression – and had little frame of reference or personal skill to rescue her husband. In a sense, Carl and Toni had shared a foxhole together, huddling together while the bombs and bullets had whizzed over their heads. Emma never fought that kind of personal war, either within herself or in a hospital or therapy situation.

So – there was a need in Jung that Emma, at the time, could not fill nor could many others. Difficult to explain or understand by anyone else on the outside, but to Emma’s credit and stamina, she hung in there when many other wives or family members would have thrown in the towel.

Yet, it seems clear to me – and this is my take on the subject – this breakup with Freud was necessary for him to reach his more original and authentic self to evolve. In fact, only later did Jung begin to formulate that this journey toward and quest for the Original and Authentic Self was the true “meaning” of life. The more one could get at the core of one’s issues and get past the needs and issues of the past, the more one could come into and express the Capital S “Self.”

From that point of view, the Self is another “take” on God – the transpersonal, creative force and energy that is within us and around us all the time. Realizing Self, or coming to know and accept God, is the main task of every individual – and therein, Jung had a very different “take” on reality than Freud.

Perhaps it had to do with the indisputable fact that Jung had a Christian family and background and Freud came out of a Jewish culture. Whatever the reason or the source, Jung had a take on God that was different than Freud. There is evidence that Freud, not an observer of Jewish rituals and customs, did not wholeheartedly believe in the concept of God while Jung was open to the possibility – or it could be said that they had different takes on what was in play in the lives of humans on earth.

Their “different takes” most likely played into the eventual breakup of these two pioneers, and it is certainly true that there could be “different takes” on what really happened between Freud and Jung. SECRETS is my particular take on hundred-year-old story, and I certainly believe that there are other takes that are possible for a book, a play or a movie.

There is so much material available to the prospective playwright or screenwriter that there could be many points of view about how the relationship grew and split apart, and I invite others to do what I have done to this point, especially if you have a different take than what I have presented in SECRETS -- that the breakup was personal in nature, and necessary for both Freud and Jung to become what they eventually became. They were enamored of each other - not actually physical lovers – and their relationship played out a classic courtship-honeymoon-divorce romance.

Do the research, read the letters, write the play, audition and pay the actors, arrange for and direct a series of readings, invite industry professionals, identify potential bookings in the USA, Europe and Israel – and then see what others say about your take on the subject.

I can guess that the same would happen for you that has recently happened with me. Others would have “different takes” – perhaps even tell you what you should have written – and wonder why you presented the material as you had.

So much comes down to “different takes,” and the current version of SECRETS: The Sigmund Freud – Carl Jung Affair, the writing is not yet finished. There will probably be more rewrites as I work with a director and actors in future productions

I have been greatly energized and inspired by the work on the Freud-Jung material, so far. I imagine seeing productions all over the world, and I invite others to write and stage their own versions of this story. There is a lot to say about these two characters that may help to illuminate and enlighten us even more about their views and concepts that have had such an impact on the 20th Century and beyond.




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