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Analyzing Jung’s Psycho-Dynamics

Analyzing Jung’s Psycho-Dynamics


Psycho-dynamics could be seen as one grand way of resolving tension or conflict across a variety of psychological disciplines, which meta-level feature may mark the early attempts at integrating a host of mental functions and structures so as to take explicit account of the inherent complexity of the environment and the inner system alike. Although the early psycho-dynamics could loosely be thought of as tending to the cognitive domain of the behavioral versus cognition divide, it can also be deemed to have facilitated their convergence toward a more holistic, gestalt type paradigm in a multi-stage setup. This allows for an in-depth insight into the mechanisms bridging the ways in which the environment is perceived and shaped versus how it affects the behaviors and emotions. In fact, some of the arcane applications for non-psychological science will recur throughout (Conte et al., 2007).

It would be a sheer anachronism to tackle the structural-functional dichotomy’s relevance based on the later and largely positivist tone as embedded in behaviorism (Baum, 2005, p. 11). In retrospect, it remains to be seen whether the artificial chasm between allegedly unobservable inner states or drives, as opposed to observed or revealed behaviors and functions as presumably the only relevant domain of explanatory variables, has benefited the profession rather than ushering in excessive and arbitrary tension.

On the one hand, how refutable the particular paradigm might prove hinges crucially on whether the ongoing state of the art renders the empirical ‘facts’ observable and quantifiable technically. Needless to say, the criterion can shift anytime, or at any rate over the long haul. On the other hand, introspective observations, which make part and parcel of psychoanalytical practice, could be made subject to experimental and statistical rigor much the way ‘unbiased’ and large-scale observation of behaviors claims to be. For instance, ANOVA tests on any number of groups as well as with respect to arbitrary scrutiny could draw upon the same dummy variables approach as part of the OLS (ordinary least squares) routine, whether it be a set of qualitative case studies or a panel data set building on very little detail or fixed effects.

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Ad-hoc studies may either be well-informed ex ante or otherwise largely atheoretic, yet in any event, psycho-dynamics could be referred to as an elegant conceptualization and methodology alike, which may not go into the gory detail of each particular ‘drive’ while aligning or reconciling these in a consistent and parsimonious manner.

Whereas Freud’s legacy could be seen as the commonly shared core carrying over across remote areas by parity of reasoning, Jung’s extensions will be addressed with an eye on how the subsequent developments in science and philosophy have underpinned the respective paradigm shifts in psycho-dynamics and social work practice. In particular, it will be shown how this generalized core could be maintained as the transfer node reconciling the apparent subsequent divergence between the spawned fields, notably relational as distinguished from structural-functional. One rewarding way of addressing the crossovers could be to tap into the mid-level pillars or mechanisms within each that could posit natural reconciliation.

Biographic Background

Jung’s early experiences in the way of confronting a parental clash over his mother’s unreported mental illness and constantly depressed yet unstable moods (Bair, 2003, pp. 17-19) may have garnered his lasting interest in the area while possibly making room for his would-be concurrence with Freud around the perceived limitations to the female Superego and Ego alike—more so given that perceptions were not at odds with the then-dominant archetypes. On the other hand, it has yet to be seen whether this had any repercussions in treating the dynamic nature of the psyche and the collective unconscious, with archetypes emerging in non-stationary ways, somewhat in line with the complexity of psyche.

His own, dual persona may have evolved toward greater multiplicity at some stage while converging to as high a degree of comparability with the rest of the fellow citizens belonging in the same cultural or institutional setup. Incidentally, he would spot this inherent similarity early on, in just how his own, self-serving rites or symbolic routines would secure him the emotional equilibrium that related magic rituals had long accommodated the primitive societies. It appears in retrospect that this could have sufficed to induce some of his cornerstone generalizations, with the limited data sample or biased experientialism questioning their validity no more than a similar meta-restriction would validate a Freud critique.

The even more controversial and recurring experience whereby his mother and himself would be exposed to largely similar mystical visuals could parsimoniously be rationalized along his paradigmatic lines of the consciousness being less likely to perceive what the unconscious has developed or stored no archetypes for. In effect, weak-form qualifications of his theories could apply wherever strong-form corollaries have been refuted.

Historical, Social, Cultural & Political Contexts

Whereas the WWI may or may not have aggravated the creative ailment following the break-up with Freud, this might have been Jung’s single most critical exercise in coping and individuation with reference to the two competing perspectives that may have centered on complementary subsets of the same grand set of phenomena (or dependent variables) and possibly explanatory variables.

On the other hand, their drastically disparate marital experiences and timing may have mapped into more focused as opposed to laxer attitudes vis-à-vis tension and coping within the core area in question. One other socio-economic or institutional domain which could make sense out of their posterior schism would be Jung’s acceptance of Freud promoting him to an IPA chair despite his own (or ad-hoc cultural) early sniffing at the profession as less of a prestigeous enterprise. Freud’s emotional condemnation of the ‘ingrate’ would, however, be at odds with Jung’s ethical move to resign prior to breaking up and away from the special theory.

Jung’s work is generally believed to have been inspired by the early Freudian axiomatization which was largely modeled after thermodynamics. The key analogy or metaphor was to view the human brain as a complex system involved in the transfer or allocation of psychic energy as loosely dubbed libido in ways that could align the higher-order needs, notably self-actualization and creative pursuits, against the basic core of sexuality urges and safety concerns.

In fact, the latter couple alone would appear to be at odds over the limited energy discharge (catharsis), which referred to the key underlying premise of energy conservation. Much like in classical physics or cybernetics yet to evolve back then, a law or principle of energy conservation was maintained as one minimalist way of capturing a variety of straightforward implications. Among other things, time invariance of momentum a la Newton or preserved amount of action along the Cartesian lines, would refer to largely the same conjectured premises whose own merit might not be directly testable while ushering in enough implications that have not been refuted. In this light, it might not be a very scrupulous enterprise to criticize any of the aforementioned cognitive or non-behavioral disciplines on grounds not applying in natural sciences or as part as positivist cut-offs either.

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Libidinal energy is surmised to be stored in the Id and discharged somewhat the way heat is transferred while reconciling the work done with the energy change, or potential differential. However, it is the Ego as the medium or indeed mechanism that drives the specific modality as well as range of libido transfer to domains as remote as the Superego, by and large capturing the vicinity of moral maxims, social values, and otherwise institutional constraints.

Sublimation is one other physics analogy pertaining to discontinuous phase change anywhere in between the solid state (or carnal domain) and gaseous or plasmic (spiritual or creative faculty). For one thing, sublimation can be neither complete nor minimal, or at any rate it is the Ego’s agency to strike the right balance. However, it is not so much about this bare-bones trade-off per se as it is with an eye toward the numerous and subtle dilemmas that the mind or Ego has to resolve when managing the unconscious (be it the sub-conscious Id or super-conscious Superego) and coping with the mounting tensions. In fact, the latter could be seen as the counterpart of entropy, whose treatment depends on whether the mind is presumed to be a closed or open system. The former option would refer to the structuralist, cognitive, or retrospective psychoanalytic venues. In contrast, the latter would pertain to how the environment shapes reinforcers, experience, and phenotypical liaisons or interaction that may come to dominate the genotype or innate Triebe.

More importantly, neither the libidinal energy nor its repository could possibly amount to a mechanism or engine akin to the Ego’s implicit function. That said, the effective work as opposed to entropy may vary as a result of libido transfer alternatives being attempted, despite the fact that action (along the lines of momentum preservation) will remain either optimal or intact. In fact, this ambiguity refers to an equilibrium state at which cumulative entropy could either prove maximal or fostering minimal incremental entropy. Again, this depends on whether the Ego has tapped the optimal allocation path (or homeostasis)—which at this stage comes to border on pragmatics as well as the gestalt parsimony.

The latter hallmark could be reconsidered in greater depth. To begin with, entropy would loosely pertain to either the mental or environmental complexity, or both. As it was pointed out before, the nature of entropy depends on whether the psychodynamics posit the mind as an open or closed system, thus stressing the cognitive versus behaviorist bias in tension resolution and coping. In the former case, the gestalt perspective would place a high value on a holistic work function of the Ego, which means prior elegance in how the inner value system has evolved will either resolve to greater cumulative tension over the environment’s complexity or lack of parsimony or otherwise suggest congruity, should the two boast a close fit irrespective of how complex they are.

In other words, entropy may or may not be largely a matter of inner complexity, yet some of it is inherently relational in nature. Likewise, it might apply to the Ego layer, marking just how much libido is spent on transferring it from the Id all the way up to the upper causes.

At this stage, one further analogy could be drawn, suggesting how the long-standing mind-body problem (Kim, 1995) could be reduced along the gestalt lines. In particular, the agenda of the equivalence or correlation between mental versus physical states could grow more of an issue whenever the multitude or combinatorics of these is material or at least non-singular. On the one hand, this domain could be reduced to mental states as fostered by brain activity rather than just correlated with experientialism or physiology at large. In fact, this reduction is dubbed as psychophysical morphism in gestalt psychology.

However, this explanatory account raises extra concerns in its own right, as the notion of isomorphism, or one-to-one mapping, hardly applies whenever the multitude of mental states is incommensurate or non-identical vis-à-vis that of the physical states. Simply put, not only is causality the key issue, it also refers to topological considerations that may not have been resolved in the respective areas toward any conclusive outcomes. Any such disparity amounts to extra complexity to be coped with, in which light basic principles a la Cartesian clarity or Kantian recognition of inductivism as the dominant mental mechanism (which could be a counterpart of the consciousness leap) would hardly suffice.

Some of the apparent gap has to do with poor transferability of thermodynamics onto humanistic domains that embark on more spontaneity or free will as well as more complex matter that might be at odds with embedded regularities such as innate craves and flows. In fact, this could be the starting point for departure of Jung’s psychodynamics from Freud’s biologism, if only because the basic core does not in and of itself rationalize further evolution or interplay of derivative layers. Irrespective of whether the exogenous reinforcers act as a controlling tool, the resultant negative feedback acting to force the system to seek and regain homeostasis (or emotive congruity as one way around either identity crisis or cognitive dissonance), they do not exhaust the entire scope of coping or the system’s evolution (not necessarily toward greater complexity) in a multi-stage setup.

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For instance, institutions at large, be it culture or formal precepts of law, have gone through ongoing testing in an inter-generational setup, with support lending itself in part to archetypes and the collective unconscious. However, these cognates of the Freudian Superego have likely evolved as well—even though this whole, in line with the gestalt perspective, cannot possibly be reduced to either individual tension resolution or the historical snapshots of the environment.

The transfer of libido may in between the Eros versus Thanatos corners might be a gross oversimplification, as there is an overwhelming variety of specific objectives (irrespective of the minimalism of the basic flows) that could be deemed as higher-key spectrum and a more sophisticated quantization. The latter loanword could be consistent with the fact that Jung was free to embark on further, post-classical, developments in science beyond quantum or conscious leaps or naïve thermodynamics, as well as probabilistic readings of either along the lines of construing humanitarian discretion.

Jung appears to be maintaining the disparity between the multiplicity of psyche versus its gestalt-style search for wholeness could be seen as the ultimate arena of tension and coping alike. Multiplicity supplies the variety of tools or alternative pathways whereas the collective unconscious cannot be denied some holistic convergence that amounts to a transferable core likely informing similar behavioral patterns.

For the same token, the role of the third in coping with the archetypal tensions would seem akin to that of ‘the other’ in congruity studies (Osgood & Tannenbaum, 1955), whereby the perceiver seeks to match his or her own apperception of the object or message with that revealed by the public or the trustworthy authority such as celebrities and otherwise trend setters. In a sense, these ‘others’ could be seen as the agents of environmental or institutional change and agenda or frame setters beyond the inherent archetypes as housed in the collective unconscious. Any inconsistency or non-transitivity is to be eliminated or reduced—be it in ways questioning the institutional settings or one’s own priors and preferences. Insofar as the former escape is correlated with lower credulity, it remains to be seen whether this amounts to deviance or delinquency, or whether its conformist alternative would pertain to trauma that can be traced to childhood or to any interim point down the road of dynamic coping.

Biological, Psychological & Social Domains

The very inversion of Jung’s programme, with the name reading as ‘analytical psychology’ likely connoting a dual or complementary stance on Freud’s psychoanalysis, lends itself to individuation as the grand principle referring to individual-specific modality of reconciling polar domains while treating them as distinct yet intertwined. For starters, this is how species may have been organized on levels or in manifestations as diverse as, cells within the organ tissues, and colonies of bacteria or viral forms of life, which may boast a significant extent of coalescing at least in response to some states of nature, e.g. negative reinforcers such as common threat or competing species.

In the human realm, Jungian critique of Freud’s propensity to treat the unconscious as the repository of libido and suppressed craves appears reasonable, insofar as the psychic matter extends far beyond its thermodynamic core or cognate. Libido need not amount to Eros in the literally sexual sub-domain—or, at any rate, the Eros could profitably and safely be seen as parsimonious elegance, indeed as a prior meta-pillar of tension resolution. By contrast, a Thanatos bias would amount to mounting complexity—somewhat in line with the modernity and most-modern era looming large at the time.

On second thought, Freud does appear to be treating the unconscious true to the thermodynamics metaphor as well as consistent with respect to both categories, libido and suppressed urges, proving a matter of potential for or a slack of conflict to be picked before it breaks out in a major mental disorder or social unrest, be it a religious warfare, a political protest as part of class struggle, or post-crisis apathy and depression as characterized by a sheer lack of desires in the aftermath of these having been suppressed.

Part of the rationale could stem from the dual persona premise of individuation, whereby a compromise is maintained in between the actual self versus its socially apparent manifestation. In other words, a persona amounts to neither as well as to both partially. However, social unrests alongside religious wars could be seen as incidents of persona converging to a corner, with individuation resulting or resolving in greater polarization than a social or institutional equilibrium would have warranted.

Implications for Social Work

Whereas there was no denying that sublimation could be seen as a generic form of individuation with reference to a suppressed Eros mapping into productive outcomes, it would appear that Jung succeeded most along the lines of Thanatos suppressing sublimation. In particular, it has long been maintain as one way of channeling alcoholic and drug addiction into spirituality. For that matter, mental disorders and excessive introvert as well as extrovert propensity (e.g. attention deficit as opposed to autism) has been treated by means of art therapy. In all of these instances, one can hardly talk full suppression or complete sublimation. As argued from the outset, an optimum extent as well as direct is key to securing best outcomes.

At this rate, Jung’s legacy has given rise to a host of social movements that are non-violent and non-competitive in nature. It for one remains to be seen whether these initiatives have correlated with a not-for-profit or NGO profile, and are completely devoid of any manipulation on the part of the resource mobilizing leaders (Jung, 2006, pp. 12-16). In any event, Jung has demonstrated that the marginalized strata could be reduced—which could make the most difference in particularly adverse states of nature or the environment collapsing to downside modes such as crises ushering in excessive deprivation and utter lack of self-actualization amidst a warped portfolio of industries and social sectors alike.

Not least, Jung’s impact has been pronounced at the cutting edge of science wherever positivist method cannot boast it need not embark on philosophy anymore. Among other things, seminal was his contribution to the rethinking of strong-form causality or naïve determinism. Although a departure from it would mark a quantum era without necessarily re-motivating inductive leaps, still it would run counter to classical thermo- and psychodynamics while showing how persistent patterns and archetypes could re-emerge without building on path dependence or heredity.

In the broader sense, Jung has demonstrated that the unconscious pillars or elements need not be observable or identifiable as distinct stand-alones for the profession to be able to work with these in a controllable as well as replicable manner. In particular, the generic recipe for any particular initial persona (as one way of either enforcing upside individuation or otherwise coping with downside states such as disorders and persistently unresolved tension toward more optimal personae) could be to arrive at a particular rite, perhaps a subtle and non-transferable one, that could expedite the attainment of balanced emotional states.

In fact, this might stumble on controversy in its own right, as practices such as yoga have been interpreted in polar ways. Some tend to argue that yoga and meditation is about reaching a perceived harmony, with others believing that dismissing illusory states and perceptions is the ultimate objective. In this light, it cannot be discarded that such practices could trigger illusory harmony as followed by posterior delusion and bitter regret. As it happens, Jung’s approach could be the rare case of asserting positive outcomes without restraining the nature of the experientialism or symbols and mechanisms involved.

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It would be awkward to speculate that the evidence of significant practical implications has been scant or disparate for a cognition-intensive area making heavy use of qualitative research. For instance, Shedler (2010) has observed effect sizes at least commensurate to those marking alternative approaches and practices. What this suggests is that, as part of power analysis and experimental design sensitivity, such testing setups need not embark on large samples or too few explanatory variables or ‘ways’ implying many degrees of freedom. Although refuting an omnibus null hypothesis (of simultaneous insignificance of each and every factor) might be about as challenging as it is uninformative, partial refutation can be done under any reasonable effect sizes, which means a series of related case studies should rank on par with a rigorous regression based test. Better yet, the aforementioned study points out that the bulk of overlapping effects (not to be confused with interactive coefficients as opposed to main or fixed ones) may have stemmed from skill transferability, with well-trained psychodynamics professionals likely to have rewarded areas adjacent and remote.

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This point could be taken with a grain of salt, as it may be due to the superior human capital rather than the comparative advantage of the discipline per se that has accommodated the alternative practices on an equal footing. On second thought, some earlier studies (Westen, 1998) have seconded the claim to ubiquity on somewhat unusual grounds, with reference to Freud’s contribution still standing up to scrutiny in what pertains to mutually reinforcing as well as compromising modes of affective and motivational mechanisms alike. In other words, this again refers to the initial conjecture of Freud’s program being reasonably consistent unless compared and contrasted against Jung’s elaboration. In fact, both may have unearthed a robust core of psychodynamics that could be studied as well as practiced in a parsimonious manner.

Liang, Tummala-Narra, and West (2011) have expanded on the dichotomy of motivation versus affect by referring to transference and counter-transference in ways that could posit the gestalt-like role of therapy seeking to reconcile and align an individual to the community or society as an integral whole. In fact, the very process of sensing for an optimum amounts to the healing dynamics. However, an interpretation of a relational paradigm as in Borden (2000) may have been one further strand toward tapping alignment with the more immediate environment instead of focusing on standalone drives and an exogenous environment or irreducible whole. Although Jung’s legacy may not have captured this perspective in its entirety, still the original enterprise of individuation along with the original hint at interactive effects beyond causality may have paved the way sufficiently.

All things considered, Fonagy (2000) has cautioned the profession that a major divide between the inherently minimalist theory versus adhockery-bound clinical practice will likely persist, as reliance on either dry evidence or aesthetics per se might be at odds with triggering the patients involvement toward best therapeutic outcomes.


Whereas the Freudian core of psychodynamics must have deliberately been modeled after classical physics, Jung’s seminal impart has been dual in a number of ways. Not only did his legacy appear somewhat of a precursor for select areas of the then-emerging quantum mechanics, his was an interesting account of modernity and post-modern discourse. To begin with, their biographical backgrounds were divergent on some critical scores, despite their shared interest in mental disorders and pathological phenomena that may have conveyed the relevance of the topics to them prior to getting the enthusiasm across. Jung’s emphasis on non-sexual connotations of sublimation (or possibly a rethinking of the Eros) may have led to the greater efficiency as well as efficacy of Thanatos-avoiding channels of transferring focus away from addiction and into spirituality. Art therapy may have posited less of a straying off the conventional sublimation, yet in any case higher-order mechanisms of mediation and relational individuation have been spotlighted. Overall, it appears that Jung’s account strikes a careful balance between gestalt holism and clinical plurality, albeit without exposing either as an irrefutable extreme.