He then hypnotized her and repeated the words to her; Breuer found out that the words were associated with her father's illness and death. In the early s Freud used a form of treatment based on the one that Breuer had described to him, modified by what he called his "pressure technique". The traditional story, based on Freud's later accounts of this period, is that as a result of his use of this procedure most of his patients in the mids reported early childhood sexual abuse. He believed these stories, but after having heard a patient tell the story about Freud's personal friend being the victimizer, Freud concluded that his patients were fantasizing the abuse scenes.
In Freud posited that the symptoms of ' hysteria ' and obsessional neurosis derived from unconscious memories of sexual abuse in infancy, and claimed that he had uncovered such incidents for every single one of his current patients one third of whom were men. However a close reading of his papers and letters from this period indicates that these patients did not report early childhood sexual abuse as he later claimed: rather, he arrived at his findings by analytically inferring the supposed incidents, using a procedure that was heavily dependent on the symbolic interpretation of somatic symptoms.
Perhaps the most significant contribution Freud made to Western thought was his argument for the existence of an unconscious mind. During the 19th century, the dominant trend in Western thought was positivism , which subscribed to the belief that people could ascertain real knowledge concerning themselves and their environment and judiciously exercise control over both.
Freud, however, suggested that such declarations of free will are in fact delusions ; that we are not entirely aware of what we think and often act for reasons that have little to do with our conscious thoughts. The concept of the unconscious as proposed by Freud was considered by some to be groundbreaking in that he proposed that awareness existed in layers and that some thoughts occurred "below the surface.
- Sigmund Freud.
- Psychoanalytic Feminism.
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In , when psychoanalysis was still unheard of, William James , in his monumental treatise on psychology, examined the way Schopenhauer, von Hartmann , Janet, Binet and others had used the term 'unconscious' and ' subconscious '". Moreover, the historian of psychology Mark Altschule wrote: "It is difficult - or perhaps impossible - to find a nineteenth-century psychologist or psychiatrist who did not recognize unconscious cerebration as not only real but of the highest importance.
Dreams , which he called the "royal road to the unconscious," provided the best access to our unconscious life and the best illustration of its " logic ," which was different from the logic of conscious thought. Freud developed his first topology of the psyche in The Interpretation of Dreams in which he proposed the argument that the unconscious exists and described a method for gaining access to it.
The preconscious was described as a layer between conscious and unconscious thought—that which we could access with a little effort. Thus for Freud, the ideals of the Enlightenment , positivism and rationalism , could be achieved through understanding, transforming, and mastering the unconscious, rather than through denying or repressing it.
Crucial to the operation of the unconscious is " repression. Such thoughts and feelings—and associated memories—could not, Freud argued, be banished from the mind, but could be banished from consciousness. Thus they come to constitute the unconscious. Although Freud later attempted to find patterns of repression among his patients in order to derive a general model of the mind, he also observed that individual patients repress different things.
Moreover, Freud observed that the process of repression is itself a non-conscious act in other words, it did not occur through people willing away certain thoughts or feelings. Freud supposed that what people repressed was in part determined by their unconscious. In other words, the unconscious was for Freud both a cause and effect of repression.
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Later, Freud distinguished between three concepts of the unconscious: the descriptive unconscious , the dynamic unconscious , and the system unconscious. The descriptive unconscious referred to all those features of mental life of which people are not subjectively aware. The dynamic unconscious, a more specific construct , referred to mental processes and contents which are defensively removed from consciousness as a result of conflicting attitudes.
The system unconscious denoted the idea that when mental processes are repressed, they become organized by principles different from those of the conscious mind, such as condensation and displacement. Eventually, Freud abandoned the idea of the system unconscious, replacing it with the concept of the Ego, super-ego, and id discussed below.
Throughout his career, however, he retained the descriptive and dynamic conceptions of the unconscious. Freud hoped to prove that his model was universally valid and thus turned to ancient mythology and contemporary ethnography for comparative material. Freud named his new theory the Oedipus complex after the famous Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. Freud sought to anchor this pattern of development in the dynamics of the mind. Each stage is a progression into adult sexual maturity, characterized by a strong ego and the ability to delay gratification cf.
Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. He used the Oedipus conflict to point out how much he believed that people desire incest and must repress that desire. The Oedipus conflict was described as a state of psychosexual development and awareness. He also turned to anthropological studies of totemism and argued that totemism reflected a ritualized enactment of a tribal Oedipal conflict.
Freud originally posited childhood sexual abuse as a general explanation for the origin of neuroses , but he abandoned this so-called " seduction theory" as insufficiently explanatory, noting that he had found many cases in which apparent memories of childhood sexual abuse were based more on imagination than on real events. During the late s Freud, who never abandoned his belief in the sexual etiology of neuroses, began to emphasize fantasies built around the Oedipus complex as the primary cause of hysteria and other neurotic symptoms.
Despite this change in his explanatory model, Freud always recognized that some neurotics had been sexually abused by their fathers, and was quite explicit about discussing several patients whom he knew to have been abused. Freud also believed that the libido developed in individuals by changing its object , a process designed by the concept of sublimation. He argued that humans are born "polymorphously perverse ", meaning that any number of objects could be a source of pleasure. He further argued that, as humans develop, they become fixated on different and specific objects through their stages of development—first in the oral stage exemplified by an infant 's pleasure in nursing , then in the anal stage exemplified by a toddler's pleasure in evacuating his or her bowels , then in the phallic stage.
Freud argued that children then passed through a stage in which they fixated on the mother as a sexual object known as the Oedipus Complex but that the child eventually overcame and repressed this desire because of its taboo nature. The lesser known Electra complex refers to such a fixation on the father.
Repetition compulsion - Wikipedia
The repressive or dormant latency stage of psychosexual development preceded the sexually mature genital stage of psychosexual development. Freud's way of interpretation has been called phallocentric by many contemporary thinkers. This is because, for Freud, the unconscious always desires the phallus penis. Males are afraid of castration - losing their phallus or masculinity to another male.
Females always desire to have a phallus - an unfulfillable desire. Thus boys resent their fathers fear of castration and girls desire theirs. For Freud, desire is always defined in the negative term of lack - you always desire what you don't have or what you are not, and it is very unlikely that you will fulfill this desire.
Thus his psychoanalysis treatment is meant to teach the patient to cope with his or her unsatisfiable desires. In his later work, Freud proposed that the psyche could be divided into three parts: Ego, super-ego, and id. Freud discussed this structural model of the mind in the essay Beyond the Pleasure Principle , and fully elaborated it in The Ego and The Id , where he developed it as an alternative to his previous topographic schema conscious, unconscious, preconscious.
Freud acknowledges that his use of the term Id or the It derives from the writings of Georg Grodeck. It is interesting to note that the term Id appears in the earliest writing of Boris Sidis , attributed to William James , as early as According to Kirrilee Arb, the defense mechanisms are the methods by which the ego can deal with conflicts between the super-ego and the id.
The use of defense mechanisms may attenuate the conflict between the id and super-ego, but their overuse or reuse rather than confrontation can lead to either anxiety or guilt which may result in psychological disorders such as depression. His daughter Anna Freud had done the most significant work on this field, yet she credited Sigmund with defense mechanisms as he began the work. Freud believed that humans were driven by two conflicting central desires: the life drive Eros incorporating the sex drive and the death drive Thanatos.
Freud's description of Eros and Libido included all creative, life-producing drives. The death drive or death instinct represented an urge inherent in all living things to return to a state of calm, or, ultimately, of non-existence. The presence of the Death Drive was only recognized in his later years, and the contrast between the two represents a revolution in his manner of thinking. The death instinct is also referred to as the Nirvana Principle.
It should be added that these ideas owe a great deal to both Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. Schopenhauer's pessimistic philosophy, expounded in The World as Will and Representation , describes a renunciation of the will to live that corresponds on many levels with Freud's Death Drive. Freud was an avid reader of both philosophers and acknowledged their influence. Freud gave explanations of the genesis of religion in his writings, included in a reflection on crowd psychology. Ethnologists would later criticize this point, leading to ethno- psychoanalytic studies.
According to Freud, the father is protective, so his sons love him, but they are also jealous of their father for his relationship with their mothers. The super-ego then takes the place of the father as the source of internalized authority.
A ban was then put upon incest and upon marriage within the clan, and symbolic animal sacrifice was substituted for the ritual killing of a human being. In Moses and Monotheism Freud reconstructed biblical history in accord with his general theory, but many biblical scholars and historians would not accept his account since it defied commonly accepted views on the history of Judaism and of dynastic Egypt.
However, this book remains interesting as an interpretation of leadership based on charisma and mass psychology , using the Prophetic figure of Moses. His ideas about religion were also developed in The Future of an Illusion When Freud spoke of religion as an illusion , he maintained that it is a fantastic structure from which a man must be set free if he is to grow to maturity ; and in his treatment of the unconscious he moved toward atheism.
In this sense, Freud approached the Marxist theory of alienation. Freud isolated two main principles: Thanatos is the drive towards the dissolution of all life, whereas Eros is to strive towards stopping that drive. When one goal is reached, the other becomes out-of-reach, and vice versa.
When the individual joins a crowd, he ceases repressing his instincts, and thus relapses into primitive culture , according to Freud's analysis.
However, crowds must be distinguished into natural and organized crowds, following William McDougall 's distinction. Thus, if intellectual skills the capacity to doubt and to distance oneself are systematically reduced when the individual joins a mass, he may eventually be "morally enlightened". Prefiguring Moses and Monotheism and The Future of an Illusion , he states that the love relationship between the leader and the masses, in the Church or in the Army , are only an "idealist transformation of the conditions existing in the primitive horde ".
Freud then compares the leader's relationship with the crowd to a relation of hypnosis , a force to which he relates Mana. Pessimistic about humanity's chances of liberty , Freud writes that "the leader of the crowd always incarnates the dreaded primitive father, the crowd always wants to be dominated by an unlimited power, it is grasping at the highest degree for authority or, to use Le Bon 's expression, it is hungry for subservience".
According to Freud, self-identification to a common figure, the leader, explained the phenomenon of masses' obedience. Each individual connected themselves vertically to the same ideal figure or idea , each one thus has the same self-ideal, and hence identify together horizontal relation. Along with Moses and Monotheism , Massenpsychologie Freud's theories and research methods were controversial during his life and still are so today, but few dispute his huge impact on psychologists and the academically inclined.
Most importantly, Freud popularized the "talking-cure"—an idea that a person could solve problems simply by talking over them, something that was almost unheard of in the 19th century. Even though many psychotherapists today tend to reject the specifics of Freud's theories, this basic mode of treatment comes largely from his work.
Most of Freud's specific theories—like his stages of psychosexual development—and especially his methodology, have fallen out of favor in modern experimental psychology. Some psychotherapists, however, still follow an approximately Freudian system of treatment. Many more have modified his approach, or joined one of the schools that branched from his original theories see Neo-Freudian. Still others reject his theories entirely, although their practice may still reflect his influence.
Psychoanalysis today maintains the same ambivalent relationship with medicine and academia that Freud experienced during his life.