Dr. B: Can you comment on the relationship between Freud and Jung as depicted in this movie?
Dr. Kirsch: I thought that David Cronenberg’s portrayal of the relationship between Freud and Jung was fair, showing the strengths and weaknesses of both characters. Jung’s initial enthusiasm for Freud and his theories, as well as his reservations about ubiquity of the sexual origin of neurosis, are well portrayed. Freud is seen as sympathetic to Jung’s countertransference to Sabina Spielrein — a highly probable response, given what we know of their early relationship. The movie shows the historical beginning of the study of the countertransference dimension of psychoanalysis as seen through the relationships between Freud, Jung and Sabina Spielrein.The scene on the boat going from Bremen to New York was an especially good rendition of the spirit of Jung’s account of the incident, if not the details. In the movie Jung tells his dreams to Freud, but Freud does not reciprocate. Actually, according to Jung in Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Freud did tell a dream, but refused to offer his associations . Jung asked why. ‘He said, “But I cannot risk my authority!” At that moment he lost it altogether.’
Thomas Kirsch is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Palo Alto, California. He was president of the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco from 1976 – 1978, served on the executive committee of the International Association for Analytical Psychology from 1977 – 1995, and was IAAP president from 1989 – 1995. Dr. Kirsch was the co-editor of the Jungian Section of the International Encyclopedia of Psychoanalysis, Psychiatry, and Neurology, 1977, as well as editor of the Jungian section of the three volume International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis edited by Alain de Mijolla, 2005. He is the author of The Jungians: A Comparative and Historical Perspective, Consulting Editor to the Correspondence between his father, James Kirsch and C.G. Jung, (The Jung-Kirsch Letters: The Correspondence of C.G. Jung and James Kirsch), as well as many published chapters in books, articles in scientific journals, and book reviews. In 2013 he co-edited with George Hogenson a book of papers on Jung’s Red Book. For more information on Dr. Kirsch, see his website at www.jungians.com.