Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, after they began corresponding, became close friends, but Freud’s insistence that all behavior, especially abnormal behavior, stemmed from a frustrated sexuality while Jung put faith in a power greater than himself caused an irrevocable rift.  Freud was an avowed atheist whereas Jung believed we could transcend who we are as well as how we define ourselves to become spiritually reborn.  Jung coined the term “synchronicity,” and used this word to explain the inexplicable way moments and even events correspond to each other, adding layers of meaning to the seeming everyday and ordinary.  Synchronicity comes into play when coincidences start to add up and become more than coincidental.  Jung relied on the mystical elements of life to explain how things, even disparate things, circle each other.  He differed from Freud in that he believed in God, something most psychoanalysts shied away from in their attempt to legitimize analysis.  He put forward the notion that there was a collective unconscious which informed our very being.  It was like a genetic inheritance, a type of ingrained mythology linking one human to another.

The filmA Dangerous Method details the unique, somewhat strange relationship between Freud and Jung and detailed the sexual relationship between Jung and one of his patients, Sabina Spielrein.  Jung juggles family life with his affair with his mistress Speilrein.  After being treated for nervous anxiety and possible mental illness, Spielrein rises from her past to become a revered psychoanalyst in her own right, although she has been virtually forgotten in recent years.  Spielrein was the first to purport that there were two distinct instincts, the life instinct and the death instinct.  Unfortunately, she, along with her daughters, were shot and killed during the Second World War because they were Jews.  Freud, also a Jew, recommended that Jews stick together.  But eventually he himself was forced into exile.

In the book An Unquiet Mind, written by Kay Redfield Jamison, Jamison details her own bipolar disorder, and her successful effort to transcend her illness in becoming a psychiatrist.  The movie, A Dangerous Method, explores the little known history of the forefathers of modern psychology.  The book, by Jamison, casts a modern light on all the advances which allow the mentally ill to contribute to society with a special understanding of what’s called abnormal psychology.  Spielrein undoubtably stands as one of the important examples of someone not defined by her illness, someone who wants to make a difference with her life.

If you know nothing about mental illness or the contributions of both Freud and Jung, check out A Dangerous Method.  If you want a more modern take on how the mentally ill can lead meaningful lives, read An Unquiet Mind.

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