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This is the method of free-association, the rationale for which is similar to that involved in the analysis of dreams—in both cases the super-ego is to some degree disarmed, its efficiency as a screening mechanism is moderated, and material is allowed to filter through to the conscious ego which would otherwise be completely repressed. The process is necessarily a difficult and protracted one, and it is therefore one of the primary tasks of the analyst to help the patient recognize, and overcome, his own natural resistances, which may exhibit themselves as hostility towards the analyst.

Taking it that the super-ego functioned less effectively in sleep, as in free association, Freud made a distinction between the manifest content of a dream what the dream appeared to be about on the surface and its latent content the unconscious, repressed desires or wishes which are its real object. To effect a cure, the analyst must facilitate the patient himself to become conscious of unresolved conflicts buried in the deep recesses of the unconscious mind, and to confront and engage with them directly.

In this sense, then, the object of psychoanalytic treatment may be said to be a form of self-understanding—once this is acquired it is largely up to the patient, in consultation with the analyst, to determine how he shall handle this newly-acquired understanding of the unconscious forces which motivate him. One possibility, mentioned above, is the channeling of sexual energy into the achievement of social, artistic or scientific goals—this is sublimation, which Freud saw as the motivating force behind most great cultural achievements.

Another possibility would be the conscious, rational control of formerly repressed drives—this is suppression. Yet another would be the decision that it is the super-ego and the social constraints which inform it that are at fault, in which case the patient may decide in the end to satisfy the instinctual drives. But in all cases the cure is effected essentially by a kind of catharsis or purgation—a release of the pent-up psychic energy, the constriction of which was the basic cause of the neurotic illness.

It should be evident from the foregoing why psychoanalysis in general, and Freud in particular, have exerted such a strong influence upon the popular imagination in the Western World, and why both the theory and practice of psychoanalysis should remain the object of a great deal of controversy. Freud and Cocaine: The Freudian Fallacy to the view that he made an important, but grim, empirical discovery, which he knowingly suppressed in favour of the theory of the unconscious, knowing that the latter would be more socially acceptable see Masson, J.

The Assault on Truth. The supporters and followers of Freud and Jung and Adler are noted for the zeal and enthusiasm with which they espouse the doctrines of the master, to the point where many of the detractors of the movement see it as a kind of secular religion, requiring as it does an initiation process in which the aspiring psychoanalyst must himself first be analyzed.

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In this way, it is often alleged, the unquestioning acceptance of a set of ideological principles becomes a necessary precondition for acceptance into the movement—as with most religious groupings. In reply, the exponents and supporters of psychoanalysis frequently analyze the motivations of their critics in terms of the very theory which those critics reject. And so the debate goes on. This is a crucially important issue since Freud saw himself first and foremost as a pioneering scientist, and repeatedly asserted that the significance of psychoanalysis is that it is a new science , incorporating a new scientific method of dealing with the mind and with mental illness.

There can, moreover, be no doubt but that this has been the chief attraction of the theory for most of its advocates since then—on the face of it, it has the appearance of being not just a scientific theory but an enormously strong one, with the capacity to accommodate, and explain, every possible form of human behavior.


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However, it is precisely this latter which, for many commentators, undermines its claim to scientific status. The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Thus the principle of the conservation of energy physical, not psychic , which influenced Freud so greatly, is a scientific one because it is falsifiable—the discovery of a physical system in which the total amount of physical energy was not constant would conclusively show it to be false.

Sigmund Freud: The phrases you use without realising it

If the question is asked: "What does this theory imply which, if false, would show the whole theory to be false? Hence it is concluded that the theory is not scientific, and while this does not, as some critics claim, rob it of all value, it certainly diminishes its intellectual status as projected by its strongest advocates, including Freud himself.

A related but perhaps more serious point is that the coherence of the theory is, at the very least, questionable. What is attractive about the theory, even to the layman, is that it seems to offer us long sought-after and much needed causal explanations for conditions which have been a source of a great deal of human misery. However, even this is questionable, and is a matter of much dispute. In general, when it is said that an event X causes another event Y to happen, both X and Y are, and must be, independently identifiable.

At a less theoretical, but no less critical level, it has been alleged that Freud did make a genuine discovery which he was initially prepared to reveal to the world. However, the response he encountered was so ferociously hostile that he masked his findings and offered his theory of the unconscious in its place see Masson, J.

What he discovered, it has been suggested, was the extreme prevalence of child sexual abuse, particularly of young girls the vast majority of hysterics are women , even in respectable nineteenth century Vienna. He did in fact offer an early "seduction theory" of neuroses, which met with fierce animosity, and which he quickly withdrew and replaced with the theory of the unconscious.

Questions concerning the traumas suffered by his patients seemed to reveal [to Freud] that Viennese girls were extraordinarily often seduced in very early childhood by older male relatives. Doubt about the actual occurrence of these seductions was soon replaced by certainty that it was descriptions about childhood fantasy that were being offered. By what standard is this being judged? The answer can only be: By the standard of what we generally believe—or would like to believe—to be the case. Freud, according to them, had stumbled upon and knowingly suppressed the fact that the level of child sexual abuse in society is much higher than is generally believed or acknowledged.

If this contention is true—and it must at least be contemplated seriously—then this is undoubtedly the most serious criticism that Freud and his followers have to face.

Ego: Dealing With Reality

Further, this particular point has taken on an added and even more controversial significance in recent years, with the willingness of some contemporary Freudians to combine the theory of repression with an acceptance of the wide-spread social prevalence of child sexual abuse. On this basis, parents have been accused and repudiated, and whole families have been divided or destroyed. Victims of Memory. In this way, the concept of repression, which Freud himself termed "the foundation stone upon which the structure of psychoanalysis rests," has come in for more widespread critical scrutiny than ever before.

Here, the fact that, unlike some of his contemporary followers, Freud did not himself ever countenance the extension of the concept of repression to cover actual child sexual abuse, and the fact that we are not necessarily forced to choose between the views that all "recovered memories" are either veridical or falsidical are, perhaps understandably, frequently lost sight of in the extreme heat generated by this debate. The theory upon which the use of leeches to bleed patients in eighteenth century medicine was based was quite spurious, but patients did sometimes actually benefit from the treatment!

And of course even a true theory might be badly applied, leading to negative consequences. One of the problems here is that it is difficult to specify what counts as a cure for a neurotic illness as distinct, say, from a mere alleviation of the symptoms. In general, however, the efficiency of a given method of treatment is usually clinically measured by means of a control group—the proportion of patients suffering from a given disorder who are cured by treatment X is measured by comparison with those cured by other treatments, or by no treatment at all.

Such clinical tests as have been conducted indicate that the proportion of patients who have benefited from psychoanalytic treatment does not diverge significantly from the proportion who recover spontaneously or as a result of other forms of intervention in the control groups used. So, the question of the therapeutic effectiveness of psychoanalysis remains an open and controversial one.

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Stephen P. Thornton Email: sfthornton eircom. Sigmund Freud — Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was a physiologist, medical doctor, psychologist and influential thinker of the early twentieth century.


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Life Freud was born in Frieberg, Moravia in , but when he was four years old his family moved to Vienna where he was to live and work until the last years of his life. Backdrop to His Thought Although a highly original thinker, Freud was also deeply influenced by a number of diverse factors which overlapped and interconnected with each other to shape the development of his thought. Critical Evaluation of Freud It should be evident from the foregoing why psychoanalysis in general, and Freud in particular, have exerted such a strong influence upon the popular imagination in the Western World, and why both the theory and practice of psychoanalysis should remain the object of a great deal of controversy.

The Claim to Scientific Status This is a crucially important issue since Freud saw himself first and foremost as a pioneering scientist, and repeatedly asserted that the significance of psychoanalysis is that it is a new science , incorporating a new scientific method of dealing with the mind and with mental illness. The Coherence of the Theory A related but perhaps more serious point is that the coherence of the theory is, at the very least, questionable.

Freud's Discovery? In this way, it is suggested, the theory of the Oedipus complex was generated. References and Further Reading a. Strachey with Anna Freud , 24 vols. London: New York: Free Press, Bettlelheim, B. Knopf, Cavell, M. Harvard University Press, Becoming a Subject: Reflections in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis. Chessick, R. Freud Teaches Psychotherapy. Hackett Publishing Company, Cioffi, F.

Freud: Modern Judgements. Macmillan, Deigh, J. Dilman, I. Freud and Human Nature. Blackwell, Dilman, I. Freud and the Mind. Blackwell, Edelson, M. Hypothesis and Evidence in Psychoanalysis. University of Chicago Press, The reader will find, in the works listed at the end of this work, many stimulating observations, and plenty of interesting material relating to our subject, but little or nothing that concerns the true nature of the dream, or that solves definitely any of its enigmas.

The educated layman, of course, knows even less of the matter. Except where otherwise noted, all the contents published in this website are in the Public Domain. This includes original texts, translations and book covers. The manifest content of a dream included all of the actual content of the dream - the events, images, and thoughts contained within the dream.

The manifest content is essentially what the dreamer remembers upon waking. The latent content , on the other hand, is all the hidden and symbolic meanings within the dream. Freud believed that dreams were essentially a form of wish-fulfillment. By taking unconscious thoughts, feelings, and desires and transforming them into less threatening forms, people are able to reduce the ego's anxiety.

He often utilized the analysis of dreams as a starting point in his free association technique. The analyst would focus on a particular dream symbol and then use free association to see what other thoughts and images immediately came to a client's mind. Even if you've never studied Freud's theories before, you have probably heard the term "defense mechanisms" bandied about a few times.

When someone seems unwilling to face a painful truth, you might accuse them of being "in denial. These things represent different types of defense mechanisms or tactics that the ego uses to protect itself from anxiety. Some of the best-known mechanisms of defense include denial, repression, and regression, but there are many more. Discover more about the types of defenses and how they work to protect the ego in this overview of the defense mechanisms. While Freud's theories have been widely criticized, it is important to remember that his work made important contributions to psychology.

His work sparked a major change in how we view mental illness by suggesting that not all psychological problems have physiological causes. His belief that mental problems could be resolved by actually talking about them helped revolutionize psychotherapy.

Psychoanalytic Theory - What Freud thought of Personality

Since many contemporary psychologists do not give much credence to a lot of Freud's ideas, you might find yourself asking why you should bother learning about Freudian theory at all. First and perhaps most importantly, in order to understand where psychology is at today, it is essential to take a look back at where we've been and how we got here.

Freud's work provides an insight into an important movement in psychology that helped transform how we think about mental health and how we approach psychological disorders. By studying these theories and those that came after, you can gain a better understanding of psychology's rich and fascinating history. Many psychoanalytic terms such as defense mechanism , Freudian slip , and anal retentive have become a part of our everyday language.

By learning more about his work and theories, you can better understand how these ideas and concepts became woven into the fabric of popular culture. Have you ever wondered what your personality type means? Sign up to get these answers, and more, delivered straight to your inbox. There was an error. Please try again.

Thank you, , for signing up. More in Psychology. Talk Therapy. Personality Driving Forces. The Psyche. Psychosexual Development. Dream Analysis. Defense Mechanisms.

The Interpretation of Dreams · Sigmund Freud · English - [PDF] [ePub] [Kindle]

Contemporary Views. View All. The five stages of psychosexual development are:. The Oral Stage: The libidinal energies are focused on the mouth. The Anal Stage: The libidinal energies are focused on the anus.