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working writer wending her way through the labyrinth that is self-publishing

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Dangerous Method

Here is Viggo Mortenson, a cigar smoking Freud. Behind him is Jung, played by Michael Fassbender, an actor I am not familiar with. Both men did an excellent job in their parts and although I have seen Viggo in a couple of other movies, he outdid himself in this one. His arrogant, egoistic and sometimes playful depiction of Freud seemed very close to my own impressions from studying Freud in college.

I felt nervous about how this movie would be handled. I know nothing of the early days of Jung but he's my hero since it was reading him that put me on a spiritual path that included the I Ching and meditation. My fears stemmed from a review I read stating that it was Freud who won out in the end. Not true. There didn't seem to  be any particular side-taking in the film, both characters were shown with their human flaws and frailties. But the turning point for Jung was the turning point for me in the movie. They were together on a ship heading to America and discussing dreams. Jung told his in detail but Freud refused to share his, stating that in telling it he would lose his authority.

Of course the inclusion of Sabina Spielrein, played by Keira Knightly adds a spark of sexuality and interest in the story centering around the two men.  She comes to Jung as a patient, a women with a troubled past. Sabina and Jung are attracted but he restrains himself until he meets Otto, another patient,  whose belief is that nothing should be held back. When Jung has an affair with her the dark passion between them is in stark contrast with his relationship with his beautiful wife who lies in bed prettily, dressed in crisp white, while the baby she just delivered is fed by a wet nurse.

The difference between the two men hinged on a concept. Quite a bit older than Jung, Freud believed in the scientific method and would not be budged to look outside the box he had placed himself in. His contention was that if he veered off at all he would be a laughingstock, anathema to a man of his ego. Jung was interested in letting his mind open to possibilities. In one particularly crucial scene Jung said he knew there would be a sound in a moment, he felt it in his solar plexus. When the wood of the bookcase made a crack, he turned to Freud. I knew that was about to happen, he said excitedly. Yes, but it is only the heating system that causes that sound, Freud replied.

You can see from this how the two men became estranged.

Freud, being the father of psychoanalysis is to be respected, for sure. But Jung's work continues to this day. Being open to the unseen, his development and explanation of the "shadow" in each and every one of us is important for us to understand. We as humans are very good at casting our own fears and darkness onto others--it's why we continue to have wars. "Man and his Symbols" is a book that has been with me since the early 70's and continues to enlighten--the archetypes are well explained in this book by Jung and given historical credence.

Have you seen the movie? do you plan on seeing it?

1 comment:

  1. ego (after Freud)