Jung on Schizophrenia: An Introductory Survey

However, it wasn't possible to speak about identity between the two types of illness: the impairment and irreversiblity of the dementia required another explanatory factor. Jung believed that the answer resided in the concept, "Fixing of the complexes." That is to say, while in hysteria the affects showed a characteristic fluidity and mobility that would allow ego consciousness to re-establish itself, in dementia praecox it seemed as if one or several complexes adhere to the conscious process in an irreversible way. One or more complexes turned autonomous from the ego in an absolute way which then lost its role of "coordinator" and was converted merely in any other "subject" in the psychic experience of the patient, completely overwhelmed by the chaotic effects of his mental split.

There was in dementia praecox, therefore, the utmost disintegration of the psychological processes, and at the same time an absolute possession of the consciousness on the part of unconscious complexes that would otherwise be inhibited.

Although it was possible to understand the form and the contents of schizophrenia in accordance with the theory of Freud, the intensity of the process, in respect to etiology, caused Jung to postulate a necessarily organic factor (Jung 1907, p32).

But in this matter two posible interpretations were opened. Given an initial aperceptive disturbance, What was primary? A physiological unknown alteration which would cause extreme harm to the "niveau mental" with the subsequent release of automatisms? Or could it be that the violent intrusion of complexes in consciousness would be the primordial fact in damaging the brain, more or less, in an irreparable way and paralyzing the higher psychical functions?. The author, being based in clinical experience, prefers this second posibility, although without discarding the opposed option (upheld by Bleuler) (Jung,1907,p.34).

In spite of all the reserves, it was revolutionary in Jung's time to bet on a psychic alteration—or rather, psychosomatic—as an etiogenic factor for dementia praecox. in his time (Samuels, 1986).

It has been said that the book of Bleuler of 1911 would be unthinkable without The Psychology of the Dementia Praecox (Castilla del Pino, 1982, p.227). In fact, Jung developed here the first psychodynamic conceptualization of schizophrenia and established the necessary bridge with the work of Janet, extending its field, from neurosis towards psychosis. Moreover, the parallelism established with hysteria will be the base of the "secondary symptoms" of Bleuler (Bleuler,1991 p.476).

But 1907 also marks the beginning of Jung's collaboration with S. Freud, which would last until 1914. These are the years in which Jung moved away from academic psychiatry and decided to promote with all his interest the development of the psychoanalytic movement. The most valuable document of this period is, without doubt, the correspondence sustained between Freud and Jung. In the light of the information contained in it, several things can be affirmed: First of all, the traditional idea about Jung being a disciple of Freud is completely imprecise (V zquez, 1981, pp 375-383). Second, the theoretical differences which finally cut them off had their origin nearly from the beginning of the relationship. Finally, it was precisely the field of schizophrenia where those principle differences between the two men were more evident. Already in the The Psychology of Dementia Praecox, Jung showed his reticence about considering sexuality as the only foundation, even within the arena of hysteria, in spite of the support that he was explicitly giving to Freud (Jung, 1907, p.59).

During the correspondence maintained between 1907 and 1908, both writers were involved in a sort of "deaf's dialogue" in regard to the etiology of psychosis and, specifically, in regard to the "self-erotism" outlined by Freud. But is from 1909 on when little by little the new approach Jung would defend in the following years became evident: We can see his enthusiasm in discovering how the contents in schizophrenia showed a close relation with mythological and cultural motifs shared in common by all the humankind and see the progressive necessity to expanding his conceptual system to give account of the phenomena that were became his focus of interest.

With Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido—Symbols of Transformation (1911-12) and Theory of Psychoanalysis (1913), Jung separates himself from Freud, defending a new concept of "Libido," purely energetic and desexualized, of neutral character (equivalent to "interest"). If in dementia praecox the patient withdraws from the outer world in order to create inwardly an "equivalent of the reality," the loss is of such calibre that it must include "even some impulses whose sexual character must be set completely in doubt, since nobody will recognize that the reality in itself is a sexual function" (Jung, 1913, p.77).

On the contrary, Jung was frequently faced with patients who had lost "all consideration in respect to the self-conservation, but not regarding the erotic interests, very strong in them ." (Jung, 1913, p.77).

The new "Libido" is set up as a "limit concept," necessary to give an account of the value of the psychical processes, understanding "value" as something that provides an effect. Libido has nothing to do with a measurable force but rather a hypothetical concept useful to explain the capacity for psychological transformations toward new actitudes and behaviours (Jung, 1921, para 868).

The psychic process will be now understood as a relatively closed system in which are to found the principles of "equivalence" and "enthropy."

Jung also will set up an "energetic-finalist"concept in contrast to the "causal-mechanicist" one of Freud—Jung regarded both points of view as complementary and necessary to understand the mental life. The psyche is an auto-regulated system with subsystems of opposite polarity that function in a dialectical way through an energetic movement of "progression-regression" and "extraversion-introversion."

It is in relation to Schizophrenia where it is possible to clearly discern the slight influence exercised by Freud on Jung. In fact, when he finished his psychoanalytic stage, Jung paid attention to applying his new concepts to schizophrenia and to reclaiming inmediately the legacy of Pierre Janet, modified by his own findings, and replacing them in the conceptual frame attained by Bleuler in 1911.

In this way, Jung will redefine the classical Janetian distinction between hysteria-psychasthenia through his new typology. In hysteria the extraversion (regressive) predominates, and in dementia praecox, just like in psychasthenia, introversion is the more obvious mechanism (Jung, 1913 b para 931, 932).

As well, from now on, Jung will allude over and over again to Bleuler, whom he had intensely criticized with respect to the schizophrenic negativism (Jung, 1911), considering that the "primary symptoms" should be understood as defensive reactions of the sick person due to being "overwhelmed" by the complexes. The sole specific issue, Jung will argue about the primary symptom, would be the same thing Janet had defined as "Abaissement du niveau mental " (Jung 1939 a).

With regard to the problem of psychogenesis, his main controversy with Bleuler, Jung will formulate: "On the basis of a disposition whose nature is at present unknown to us, an unadapted psychological function arises which may develop into a manifest mental disturbance and secondarily induce symptoms of organic degeneration" (Jung 1914 a . CW 3 para 318).

What does that unadapted function consist of ? Accorging to Jung there is a breakdown of the compensatory function of the psyche. In the presence of an unilateral attitude of consciousness and in the event of an external conflict, the Unconscious responds with a complementary attitude trying to re-establish the mental equilibrium; in normal circumstances this occurs succesfully. This is not the case in psychosis where consciousness reinforces even further its one-sideness in an "escape forward" facing the unconscious compensatory trends, arriving to a point in which "The pairs of opposites are torn asunder, the resultant division leads to disaster, for the unconscious soon begins to obtrude itself violently upon the conscious processes. Then come odd and incomprehensible thoughts and moods, and often incipient forms of hallucination, which plainly bear the stamp of the internal conflict." (Jung 1914 b, p.63. CW3 para 457 ). This invasion would be expressed in the "Unconscious' own language," an archaic material closer to mythical formations than to personal repression.