Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What Did Freud Actually Contribute?

First post: http://cophilosophy.blogspot.com/2015/11/sigmund-freuds-theories-of-mind.html
Second post: http://cophilosophy.blogspot.com/2015/12/freud-and-psychoanalysis.html

He’s been dead for nearly 70 years, but Sigmund Freud’s provocative theories are still a huge part of psychology, neuroscience, and culture.  He contributed ideas to all of these sciences, but his theories have either been discredited or disproved.  Sigmund Freud was a giant in his field of psychoanalysis.
Freud’s legacy has transcended science, with his ideas deeply ingrained into Western culture. Rarely does a day go by where we don’t find ourselves uttering a term drawn from his work: Mommy and daddy issues. Arrested development. Death wishes. Freudian slips. Phallic symbols. Anal retentiveness. Defense mechanisms. Cathartic release.  However, when it comes to the academic spectrum, Freud has, for the most part, fallen completely out of favor. Virtually no institution in any discipline would dare use him as a credible source.

Many of Freud’s methodologies, techniques, and conclusions have been put into question, for example his perspectives on female sexuality and homosexuality are reviled, causing many feminists to refer to him by a different kind of ‘F’ word.  Without a doubt, many of these criticisms and valid and totally justified. But a renewed look at his legacy shows that Freud’s contribution is far from over — both in terms of his influence on culture and science.

We’ve learned much about the human brain and the way our psychologies work since that time, but he got the ball rolling.  A great deal of today’s work is still predicated on many of his original insights.  Some areas of his studies have been refined and expanded, while others abandoned and dismissed altogether in favor of new theories.  The trouble with Freud was that, while his ideas were intriguing, there was little evidence to back them up.  For instance, there is no scientific evidence to support of the idea that boys lust after their mothers and hate their fathers.  There is no proof of the id, ego, or superego, nor the notion that human development proceeds through oral, anal, phallic, and genital stages.  He was also a large proponent of cocaine as a viable medical treatment.  This resulted in the death his friend when Freud prescribed him cocaine to treat his morphine addiction.  This did not turn Freud away from the drug, instead he used it to treat his own aches and pains.

Although he was wrong about some ideas, he suggested some things that were probable.  For example, Freud was correct in his assertion that we are not masters of our own mind. He showed that human experience, thought, and deeds are determined not by our conscious rationality, but by irrational forces outside our conscious awareness and control; forces that could be understood and controlled by an extensive therapeutic process he called psychoanalysis.  However, we now know that the unconscious brain doesn’t exist or function in the way that Freud suggested, but we know it does exist. The brain performs a myriad number of tasks in the background, particularly in managing our autonomous bodily processes, the way it affects our conscious, cognitive functioning, and how we interpret our surroundings.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/06/07/freud.psychology.psychoanalysis/

1 comment:

  1. You're a little hard on him, I don't think he's in such total disfavor - as your last paragraph acknowledges. His greatest influence has probably come not in science but in literature.

    That second graphic quote is garbled at the end.