I wonder if any of our members has read Robert Langs’ most recent book, Freud on a Precipice. How Freud’s Fate pushed Psychoanalysis over the Edge? While most Jungians seem familiar with Langs’ earlier work on derivative communication, communication styles, and the importance of the analytic frame, I have only met a few familiar with Langs’ work of the last decade. I have just reviewed Freud on a Precipice in the most recent issue of the Journal of Analytical Psychology (vol. 57, no. 1, 127-8) and the book strikes me as a good introduction to Langs’ current research.
Key to Langs’ recent work is how death anxiety and death-related trauma are the most basic factors in all psychic conflict and distress. Langs considers death anxiety to be so potent a force in psychic conflict that he claims: (1) it is archetypal, in Jung’s sense; (2) we therefore always experience death anxiety on some level and (3) evolution has conferred upon us a psychic factor whereby we deny this anxiety, lest we be overwhelmed by it. Thus it appears – if I understand Langs correctly – that some amount of psychic conflict is more or less inevitable, because we need to face death-related traumas and anxieties in order to gain psychic health yet we are simultaneously battling an ingrained, evolutionary mechanism tending us to deny it.
These ideas enter into the Freud book, in that Langs postulates that current psychoanalytic practice and theory in essence “acts out” this psychic situation by denying the centrality of death anxiety, something which Langs seeks to prove happened in Freud’s own case and which continues, he thinks, throughout the psychoanalytic tradition. How plausible do you all think it is that death-related traumas and anxieties lie at the root of psychic conflict? Does anyone find parallels to Langs’ claims in the Jungian tradition? Are there signs of the denial of death-related anxieties and traumas in the Jungian tradition?
Some related texts:
Langs, Robert. 2010. Freud on a Precipice. How Freud’s Fate pushed Psychoanalysis over the Edge. Lanham MD: Jason Aronson
Langs, Robert. 2004. “Death anxiety and the emotion-processing mind”. Psychoanalytic Psychology. Vol. 21, no. 1, 31-53