The Neo-Freudians take Freud's ideas of psychoanalysis as a starting point but diverge from his theories in significant ways. They shift away from his focus on the biological instincts of the individual to give greater emphasis to social and cultural factors in the shaping of the individual's personality.Thus they give greater weight to the role of external forces in the life of the individual than Freud was generally prepared to do.
Carl Jung, the direct contemporary of Freud and often in discussion and debate with him, agreed with Freud about the important effects of the individual libido, but downplayed Freud's sexual theory of human development in favour of cultural factors, which he saw as being deeply ingrained in every individual. He agrees with Freud's theories about the individual unconscious but sees it in a different light, or rather he adds an extra layer to it.Whereas Freud views the unconscious rather negatively as comprising sharply repressed sexual desires and instincts, Jung also postulates the existence of a collective unconscious - a giant repository of ancestral memory which is expressed through universal symbols, or archetypes. Therefore, Jung sees cultural forces as exerting a very deep and powerful pull on the individual. He also lays greater stress than Freud on spiritual and religious factors in shaping the individual personality.
Alfred Adler, like Jung, was a contemporary of Freud and at first worked with him but then broke away to formulate his own theories on individual psychology. He also downplayed Freud's sexual theories about individual development, looking more to social influences. He favoured a more holistic approach to individual psychology than Freud. Karen Horney and Erik Eriksson also stressed the importance of social and environmental factors, highlighting the individual's need for warmth and affection and not just the fulfillment of physical desires.