Psychological Polemics

Review of: Freud or Jung. By Edward Glover. (Pp. 207. 15s.) London: George Allen and Unwin. 1950.

British Medical Journal, 19 August 1950, p. 446

   The bewildered doctor who has heard a good deal about Freud and Jung, but has never been able to follow the technical jargon in which their teachings are expressed  may very likely approach this book with the hope that here at last is something which will clear up his ideas and give him new aids in understanding his patients. He will be disappointed, for he will have to be almost as profound a scholar as Dr. Glover himself to understand from this exposition what it is all about. Jung, he will learn, for instance, says that there is only one form of mental energy, which may in its widest sense correspond with elan vital. Freud says there are two forms, involved respectively in sexual appetites and instincts towards death and destruction. According to Dr. Glover the first view is false and the second correct, but it would puzzle the reader to understand the argument why.

   In his sustained polemic Dr. Glover exposes the nebulosity, vagueness, and self-contradictoriness of the Jungian system, in which psychological, philosophical, and metaphysical elements are all combined. The reader will also be made aware that the Freudian system is much more concrete, closely knit, and logical. It is for that very reason that the Freudian feels that Jung is a threat. Individual Jungian conceptions can be disproved or shown to be meaningless, and other parts of his contribution to psychology may yet stand. If it were once accepted, however, that mental energy is unitary, the whole Freudian house of cards would be in danger of falling to the ground.

   One of the faults of Dr. Glover's discussion is that he can find no defect in Freudian doctrine, no good whatever in that of Jung. In his final chapter he issues a serious warning to the eclectic-to the psychiatrist, doctor, or layman who wishes to choose for himself the "bests" out of any or all schools. The Freudian system, it is laid down, must be accepted in whole or not at all. This is not the way in which science has progressed, nor is it necessary in the present case. It is perfectly possible to build new theories from fragments taken from Freud and Jung, and any such theory will prove itself less by its internal consistency than by its capacity for making predictions which prove true when subjected to the test of experience. "Who is not with me is against me" is the worst of mottoes for the scientist.