Sigmund Freud may have pioneered psychoanalysis and initiated interest in behavioral patterns, but some of his concepts/theories are controversial.
“Sigmund Freud is one of the well know scientist of his time in the area of psychology, he is intentionally referred to as the godfather of psychology. Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, who created an entirely new approach to the understanding of the human personality. He is regarded as one of the most influential and controversial minds of the 20th century.”
“Sigismund (later changed to Sigmund) Freud was born on the 6 May 1856 in Freiberg, Moravia (now Pribor in the Czech Republic). His father was a merchant. The family moved to Leipzig and then settled in Vienna, where Freud was educated. Freud’s family was Jewish but was himself non-practicing.”
“In 1873, Freud began to study medicine at the University of Vienna. After graduating, he worked at the Vienna General Hospital. He collaborated with Josef Breuer in treating hysteria by the recall of painful experiences under hypnosis. In 1885 Freud went to Paris as a student of the neurologist Jean Charcot. On his return to Vienna the following year, Freud set up his private practice, specializing in nervous and brain disorders. The same year he married Martha Bernays, with whom he had six children.”
“Freud developed the theory that humans have an unconscious in which sexual and aggressive impulses are in perpetual conflict for supremacy with the defenses against them. In 1897, he began an intensive analysis of himself. In 1900, his major work “The Interpretation of Dreams” was published in which Freud analyzed dreams in terms of unconscious desires and experiences.
In 1902, Freud was appointed professor of neuropathology at the University of Vienna, a post he held until 1938. Although the medical establishment disagreed with many of his theories, a group of pupils and followers began to gather around Freud. In 1910, the Intentional Psychoanalytic Association was founded with Carl Jung, a close associate of Freud’s, as the president. Jung later broke with Freud and developed his own theories.”
“After world war one, Freud spend less time in clinical observation and concentrated on the application of his theories to art, literature, and anthropology. In 1923, he published “The Ego and the Id,” which suggested a new structural model of the mind, divided into the “Id, the “Ego, and the “Superego.” In 1933, the Nazis publicly burnt a number of Freud’s books. In 1938 shortly after the Nazis annexed Austria, Freud left Vienna for London with his wife and daughter Anna. Freud was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw in 1923, and underwent more than 30 operations. He died of cancer on 23rd September 1939.” (http://bbc.com.uk/history…./freud_sigmund.shtml)
Freud studied hysteria at length, and became involve with Josef Breuer. Dr. Breuer became Freud mentor, and together they co-authored a book on hysteria. It was during these studies that Freud came to realize that the personality was made up of having three aspects the id, ego, and super ego, (Krogh, D.). The id is the part of personality that is responsible for survival and self gratification, it is our primitive mind. It is the source of our libido and has only one rule, satisfying the pleasure principles, (Gay, P.).
The ego deals with our rational thought, it develops our growing awareness that you cannot always get what you want. It has a tough job compromising negotiation between the id and the super ego. It pleases the id but also remains responsible and bears the long term consequences in mind.
The super ego is the last part of the mind to develop. It is best described as the moral of personality. The super ego has two sub systems, those been the ego ideal and conscience. The ego ideal lays down the laws regarding positive behavior and standards which the ego must live up to. The conscience are the sets of rules which define deviant behavior, it houses thoughts and behaviors that would result in punishment if they were to be acted out.”
Freud was also responsible for defining the five stages of psychosexual development, which are briefly explained below.
Stage One: The oral stage, (0-18 months). During this stage, the physical focus is on the mouth. The young child receives libidinal pleasures while feeding. Any problems at this stage, for example, over indulgence or privation could lead the child to an oral personality in adulthood suggesting, that the adult would partake in extensive oral activities e.g. smoking, drinking, or eating disorders, (Gay, P.).
Stage two: The anal stage (18-36 months). Freud believed that the child experienced erogenous pleasure while defecating. Potty training takes place round about this time, so that the child had to learn control over its bowels. Also the caregiver puts emphasis on the child to control urges regarding deviant behavior (often called the terrible twos). If the caregiver is too controlling the child is likely to grow to have a retentive personality e.g. the adult will have rigid thought complexes, be overly organized, and obsessed with neatness. On the other hand, if the caregiver is not controlling enough, the child will grow up to be messy, untidy and could possibly be defiant with little self-control, (Feldman, R, F).
Stage Three: The phallic stage (3-6 years).The physical focus at this stage for both boys and girls is the penis boys wonder why girls haven’t got one. In return, girls start noticing that they are without one and become curious. Also during this stage, Freud suggested that children have sexual feelings for the opposite sexed parent, (so they deal with Oedipus and Electra complexes respectively). Boys experience castrations anxiety and girls suffer penis envy (the lack of). Fixation at this stage could result in promiscuity and immoral behavior, (Feldman, R,F.).
Stage four: The latency stage,(6 years to the onset of puberty). This is a calm period where virtually no psychosexual conflicts are taking place. Boys and girls tend to be gender aware thorough this stage and have little in common with the opposite sex, (Feldman, R.F.).
Stage five: The genital stage (post puberty). If all transitions of the above stages have been smooth and the caregiver has responded in a relevant well balanced manner. A healthy competent adult should emerge, fully equipped to contribute to society emotionally, and physically. If on the other hand, one or more of the transitions have been impaired, a fixation of the impaired stage will occur. Stress will trigger the adult to regress to the particular impaired stage in question, (Feldman, R,F).
As straight forward and relevant as Freud’s theories were, he was not without criticism , Carl Jung, Karl Krus et al, and T.S. Szasz are among a few who strongly object to Freud’s findings (Robinson, P. Feud and his critics). Could they have a point? For all Freud’s genius, he failed to incorporate genetic influences regarding behavior in his studies. Freud dealt only in the unconscious mind, with a few age related triggers thrown in, and that our whole personality is based on the development of these triggers. These triggers were purely Freud’s interpretation. Behavior on the other hand, deals solely with environmental factors, and believes that babies are born as a blank slate, often termed “tabula rassa”
Freud is also accused of been totally subjective and having a bias attitude. An example of this would be that he based all his findings on his recollections and findings (Robinson, P. Freud and his critics). He did conduct research using his youngest daughter Anna, but this form of opportunity sampling is not productive, because being his daughter, she would strive to produce socially desirable answers.
When conducting psychoanalysis, Freud’s patients were always middle class women. This was not a representative samples of the population, the data collected from his analysis would again be bias. Other arguments against the proficiency of Freud’s practices are that due to patient
Problems occurring in childhood, this may result in parental blame. There are also problems surrounding false memory syndromes, it has been found that patients receiving Freudian analysis have imagined childhood abuse. These allegations could be imagined and have no facts, (Robinson, P. Freud and his critics). Also the whole model of psychoanalysis is non-scientific, it cannot be falsified.
So there we have it, the basic from which Freud conducted his psychoanalysis. In its day it was a revolution but certainly not without opposition, as previously discussed Freud managed to put words, terms, and phases to complex notions regarding personality and unravel almost simplify intricate developmental processes, enabling Freudian psychologists to accurately define and hopefully rectify a patient’s regressed emotional problems.
Was Feud practicing a pseudo-science? Are his findings mere quackery? Were his theories on psychoanalysis a revolutionary breakthrough? Either way people will remain divided.