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Jung before Freud, not Freud before Jung: the reception of Jung's work in American psychoanalytic circles between 1904 and 1909

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A review is first presented of the new Jung scholarship – that Jung is to be properly understood, not as a disciple of Freud, but as the twentieth century exponent of the symbolic hypothesis in the tradition of the late nineteenth century psychologies of transcendence. This is followed by an outline of the so-called French-Swiss-English and American psychotherapeutic alliance, of which Jung was a part, and the cross-cultural mediumistic psychology of the subconscious it promoted, chiefly through the works of William James, F. W. H. Myers, and Théodore Flournoy. Focusing on the experimental work of the Swiss-American pathologist Adolph Meyer and the American neurologist Frederick Peterson, evidence is then produced to show that Jung, before Freud, was more important in American psychotherapeutic circles. His experimental researches into the association method and the psychogalvanic reflex, his study of mediums and connection to Swiss psychiatry had numerous unique alliances with the American scene, particularly because of their similar historical relation between psychology and religion. Therefore, to understand Jung, one must consider the archetypal significance which America held for Jung's own individuation process, as well as the Americanization of Jungian ideas that followed.
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Keywords: Adolf Meyer; Americanization of Jungian ideas; Freud; Nineteenth century psychology; Swiss psychiatry; Théodore Flournoy; William James; psychotherapeutic alliance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Cambridge, MA

Publication date: 01 January 1998

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