Artistic tendencies: How long have you felt this way, Darth?

As a film chronicles Freud and Jung's battle of wits, Phil Boucher puts 10 artistic moments on the couch

On 27 February 1907, budding psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung travelled to Vienna to meet Sigmund Freud for the first time. It was to be a momentous occasion: Jung described Freud as "intelligent, shrewd, and altogether remarkable", and for the next seven years the duo developed the intellectual friendship detailed in A Dangerous Method, starring Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen.

Sadly, it was not to last. Initially Freud assumed the role of Jung's mentor, but as the young Swiss developed his own theories he began to question Freud's beliefs – most notably his obsession with sexuality as a motivating force.

Jung also disputed Freud's concept of the unconscious mind being little more than a reservoir of repressed thoughts; to Jung, these hidden emotions were something that could be tapped and freed to become a source of immense artistic creativity.

The impact on the arts of this theoretical split has been dramatic: Jung's ideas rapidly inspired artists such as Salvador Dali to plot a course into the previously uncharted dream world of Surrealism, followed by musicians such as The Beatles and Pink Floyd; meanwhile Freud's concepts of repressed mental distress have long been adopted by film-makers and authors searching for a psychologically tormented hero, twisted femme fatale or delusional scoundrel.

Nor does it stop there, as this list of 10 artistic hits influenced by the two great thinkers proves.

'A Dangerous Method' is on general release from Friday

The films of Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock created the most famous murder scene in film using little more than a shower curtain and a violin, yet this was just the tip of his psychological genius: in Marnie, Tippie Hedren stars as a dysfunctional kleptomaniac suffering from childhood trauma; Vertigo sees James Stewart suffering from nightmarish flashbacks; while Spellbound features an elaborate dream sequence created by Jungian devotee Salvador Dali, and opens with the words: "Our story deals with psychoanalysis, the method by which modern science treats the emotional problems of the sane."

'Synchronicity', by The Police

It's not just tantric fumblings that float Sting's intellectual boat. Hell no. The Wallsend-born songwriter was heavily influenced by Jung's theory of synchronicity while writing The Police's 1983 album, which bears its name, and is pictured reading Jung's book on the cover artwork. The album also contains a song in two parts called "Synchronicity I" and "Synchronicity II". "Jung believed there was a large pattern to life, that it wasn't just chaos," Sting later explained. "Our song 'Synchronicity II' is about two parallel events that aren't connected logically or causally, but symbolically." Who are we to argue?

'The Sopranos'

Given that he spent his life dealing with a sociopathic mother, morally bankrupt sister and suicidally nervous wife, while simultaneously running a murderous crime empire, it's hardly surprising that Tony Soprano turned to psychotherapy. Yet the show went much further than simple parody: it used extended dream sequences, and Tony's in-therapy stories of ducks landing in swimming pools or stealing his penis as metaphors to reveal his inner torment – even if the sessions with Dr Melfi weren't always successful. Tony once described Freud's Oedipus theory as "that crap about every boy wanting to have sex with his mother".

'Star Wars'

In 1975 George Lucas was desperately struggling to pull together the strands of his imaginary Star Wars world when he stumbled upon Joseph Campbell's book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, which is inspired by Jung's theory of a universally shared subconscious model of what constitutes a perfect hero. Lucas then used Campbell's ideas as a blueprint for the film, with the likes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker representing such mythic elements as mentor, oracle and deified apotheosis. The same blueprint was also used in The Matrix – although with more PVC and fewer light sabres.

The paintings of Jackson Pollock

Some may claim that Jack the Dripper did little more than haphazardly spill paint around his studio in a drunken rage, yet Pollock's abstract expressionism displays a deep-seated understanding of both composition and colour. It also owes a huge debt to Jungian therapy, as in 1938 the American spent four months in hospital undergoing psychiatric treatment for his alcoholism. Here therapists tried to draw out the root causes of his inner torment by asking Pollock to draw pictures and closely examining the results for signs of unconscious symbolism. This thorough Jungian examination remained with Pollock throughout his career – as, sadly, did his alcoholism.

'Fight Club'

What is Fight Club? On the one hand it's a commentary on alienation in modern consumerist society; on the other it's an excuse for Brad Pitt, to look enviably handsome, tough and cool. Yet it's also an exploration of the Freudian mind, with Edward Norton's insomniac narrator representing a human mind that's allowed the hedonistic impulses of its id to slip free of the restraining influence imparted by its more sensible ego. The narrator projects this wildly roaming Id through the guise of Pitt's rampaging Tyler Durden, who embarks on a mission to fulfill all the narrator's desires. At the climax of the film, the narrator – or ego – manages to regain control of his Brad Pitt-shaped id and destroys every edifice of the insanely egomaniacal world that Tyler has inhabited.

Laurence Olivier's 'Hamlet'

William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet some 250 years before Freud was born, yet when it came to filming his 1948 adaptation of the play, Sir Laurence Olivier relied heavily on the Austrian psychologist's theories to turn the cold and sexless Dane into a virile young man struggling to deal with immense psychological torment – most notably in the strong Oedipal undercurrents present in the scenes between Olivier's Prince and Eileen Herlie's Queen Gertrude. Despite criticism from traditionalists, Olivier's approach paid off: Sir Larry's film was a hit at the box office and won him the Best Picture and Best Actor awards at that year's Oscars.

'Life on Mars'

After months of tortuous clues, the ground-breaking cop show ultimately revealed Gene Hunt's macho Seventies world to be the fantastical construct of Sam Tyler's dying, tumour-riddled brain. In the 1980s sequel, Ashes to Ashes, this concept was then taken a step further, with the retro universe portrayed as a special form of purgatory for dead police officers. Yet by driving a Ford Cortina at high speed into the heart of Tyler's coma-induced fantasies, Life on Mars was effectively basing itself in the concepts of a collective and personal subconscious – ideas created by Freud and Jung.

'Crow', by Ted Hughes

Poets such as Byron, Shelley and Coleridge would have gladly forsaken their last vial of opium to have known about the surrealist dreamworld opened up by Carl Jung. So it was only natural that Ted Hughes drew heavily on Jung's ideas of myth and the collective subconscious to tackle such weighty issues as man's innately foolish nature within his Crow poems, written between 1966 and 1969. By setting free thoughts that frequently remain repressed within the unconscious, Hughes participates in the healthy psychological process Jung calls individuation. Or, at least, that's the theory.

Assassin's Creed

On the surface, this computer game is little more than a feeble excuse to leap across medieval rooftops and elegantly slaughter people. Yet the game also works on a much deeper level and is essentially set within the subconscious memories of a 21st-century barman called Desmond Miles, as he's hooked up to a mind-delving machine known as the Animus. Carl Jung coined the term "animus" to describe one of the two main archetypes of the unconscious mind. The other – the "anima" – is represented by the game's female characters.

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?