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Sigmund Freud, physiologist, medical doctor, psychologist and father of psychoanalysis, was an influential thinker of the twentieth century

. Working initially in close collaboration with Joseph Breuer, Freud elaborated the theory that the mind is a complex energy-system, the structural in estigation of which is proper pro ince of psychology. !e articulated and refined the concepts of the unconscious, of infantile sexuality, of repression, and proposed a tripartite account of the mind"s structure, all as part of a radically new conceptual and therapeutic frame of reference for the understanding of human psychological de elopment and the treatment of abnormal mental conditions. #otwithstanding the multiple manifestations of psychoanalysis as it exists today, it can in almost all fundamental respects be traced directly back to Freud"s original work. Further, Freud"s inno ati e treatment of human actions, dreams, and indeed of cultural artifacts as in ariably possessing implicit symbolic significance has pro en to be extraordinarily fecund, and has had massi e implications for a wide ariety of fields, including anthropology, semiotics, and artistic creati ity and appreciation in addition to psychology. !owe er, Freud"s most important and fre$uently re-iterated claim, that with psychoanalysis he had in ented a new science of the mind, remains the sub%ect of much critical debate and contro ersy.

1. Life

Freud was born in Frieberg, &ora ia in '()*, but when he was four years old his family mo ed to +ienna, where Freud was to li e and work until the last year of his life. ,n '-./ the #a0is annexed 1ustria, and Freud, who was Jewish, was allowed to lea e for 2ngland. For these reasons, it was abo e all with the city of +ienna that Freud"s name was destined to be deeply associated for posterity, founding as he did what was to become known as the 3first +iennese school" of psychoanalysis, from which, it is fair to say, psychoanalysis as a mo ement and all subse$uent de elopments in this field flowed. 4he scope of Freud"s interests, and of his professional training, was ery broad 5 he always considered himself first and foremost a scientist, endea oring to extend the compass of human knowledge, and to this end 6rather than to the practice of medicine7 he enrolled at the medical school at the 8ni ersity of +ienna in '(/.. !e concentrated initially on biology, doing research in physiology for six years under the great 9erman scientist 2rnst Br:cke, who was director of the ;hysiology <aboratory at the 8ni ersity, thereafter specialising in neurology. !e recei ed his medical degree in '((', and ha ing become engaged to be married in '((=, he rather reluctantly took up more secure and financially rewarding work as a doctor at +ienna 9eneral !ospital. Shortly after his marriage in '((* 5 which was extremely happy, and ga e Freud six children, the youngest of whom, 1nna, was herself to become a distinguished psychoanalyst 5 Freud set up a pri ate practice in the treatment of psychological disorders, which ga e him much of the clinical

aris. When he returned to +ienna. hysterical paralyses and pains. 1t this point he decided to adopt instead a method suggested by the work of an older +iennese colleague and friend. etc. . %ointly published by Freud and Breuer in '(-). . some forms of paranoia. 4his techni$ue. Working with Breuer. who was at that time using hypnotism to treat hysteria and other abnormal mental conditions.material on which he based his theories and his pioneering techni$ues.n '(()-(* Freud spent the greater part of a year in . and the theory from which it is deri ed. Josef Breuer. was gi en its classical expression in Studies in Hysteria. the latter sometimes gradually abated. but found that its beneficial effects did not last. where he was deeply impressed by the work of the French neurologist Jean >harcot. to remo e the underlying psychological causes of the neurotic symptoms. Freud formulated and de eloped the idea that many neuroses 6phobias. Freud experimented with hypnosis. and in thus discharging it. who had disco ered that when he encouraged a hysterical patient to talk uninhibitedly about the earliest occurrences of the symptoms. hidden from consciousness? the treatment was to enable the patient to recall the experience to consciousness. to confront it in a deep way both intellectually and emotionally.7 had their origins in deeply traumatic experiences which had occurred in the past life of the patient but which were now forgotten.

howe er. . work The Ego and the Id. !e was initially . which were to form the basis of his '-'* book Five Lectures on Psycho. producing in all more than twenty olumes of theoretical works and clinical studies. Breuer. with Freud continuing to work alone to de elop and refine the theory and practice of psychoanalysis.sychoanalytical >ongress was held at Sal0burg. and the two parted company. ego. and in '-@) by Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality . Freud"s psychoanalytic theory was initially not well recei ed 5 when its existence was acknowledged at all it was usually by people who were. that Freud"s importance began to be generally recogni0ed. scandali0ed by the emphasis placed on sexuality by Freud 5 and it was not until '-@(.Shortly thereafter. or to making fundamental alterations to his most basic principles when he considered that the scientific e idence demanded it 5 this was most clearly e idenced by his ad ancement of a completely new tripartite 6id. and super-ego7 model of the mind in his '-=. and this was followed in '-@' by The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. From this point on Freud"s reputation and fame grew enormously.n '-@@.nternational . as Breuer had foreseen. found that he could not agree with what he regarded as the excessi e emphasis which Freud placed upon the sexual origins and content of neuroses. when he was in ited to gi e a course of lectures in the 8nited States. 4his was greatly facilitated in '-@-. and he continued to write prolifically until his death. after a protracted period of selfanalysis. when the first .nalysis. !e was also not ad erse to critically re ising his iews. which is generally regarded as his greatest work. he published The Interpretation of Dreams.

1s indicated abo e. 1fter a life of remarkable igour and creati e producti ity. Backdrop to his Thought 1lthough a highly original thinker. Freud himself was ery much a Freudian 5 his father had two sons by a pre ious marriage. who was his own age. but some of the other factors. 2.hilip. 2mmanuel and . and the young Freud often played with . Freud"s own self-analysis 5 which forms the core of his masterpiece The Interpretation of Dreams . 4his analysis re ealed to him that the lo e and admiration which he had felt for his father were mixed with ery contrasting feelings of .originated in the emotional crisis which he suffered on the death of his father. were of a rather different nature. and was correspondingly disappointed personally when they both went on to found ri al schools of psychoanalysis 5 thus gi ing rise to the first two of many schisms in the mo ement 5 but he knew that such disagreement o er basic principles had been part of the early de elopment of e ery new science. and the series of dreams to which this ga e rise.greatly heartened by attracting followers of the intellectual calibre of 1dler and Jung. Freud was also deeply influenced by a number di erse factors which o erlapped and interconnected with each other to shape the de elopment of his thought. both >harcot and Breuer had a direct and immediate impact upon him.hilip"s son John. First of all. he died of cancer while exiled in 2ngland in '-. though no less important than these.-.

4he e olutionary doctrine radically altered the pre ailing conception of man 5 whereas before man had been seen as a being different in nature to the members of the animal kingdom by irtue of his possession of an immortal soul.shame and hate 6such a mixed attitude he termed 3ambi alence"7. as being amenable in principle to scientific explanation. and the moti ational causes from which it springs. 4his made it possible and plausible. the towering scientific figure of nineteenth century science was >harles Barwin. to treat man as an ob%ect of scientific in estigation. and to concei e of the ast and aried range of human beha ior. and at a more general le el.hilip 6who was of an age with his mother7 was really his father. different from non-human animals only in degree of structural complexity. he was now seen as being part of the natural order. and deri e sustenance from. account must be taken of the contemporary scientific climate in which Freud li ed and worked. this new world- . &uch of the creati e work done in a whole ariety of di erse scientific fields o er the next century was to be inspired by. Secondly. and certain other signs con inced him of the deep underlying meaning of this fantasy 5 that he had wished his real father dead. for the first time. 4his was to become the personal 6though by no means exclusi e7 basis for his theory of the Aedipus complex. who had published his re olutionary !rigin of Species when Freud was four years old. . .articularly re ealing was his disco ery that he had often fantasised as a youth that his half-brother . because he was his ri al for his mother"s affections.n most respects.

in effect. which Freud. 1s we ha e seen. that energy $uanta can be changed but not annihilated. From there it was but a short conceptual step 5 but one which Freud was the first to take. ha e so comprehensi ely transformed the contemporary world. who had great admiration and respect for Br:cke. $uickly adopted this new 3dynamic physiology" with enthusiasm. that the human . who in '(/C published a book setting out the iew that all li ing organisms. howe er. no less than to inanimate ob%ects. Freud. are essentially energy-systems to which. and conse$uently that when energy is mo ed from one part of the system it must reappear in another part. that the total amount of energy in any gi en physical system is always constant. accepted implicitly. electromagneticism. and on which his claim to fame is largely grounded 5 to the iew that there is such a thing as 3psychic energy". 1n e en more important influence on Freud.iew. with their associated technologies. with his enormous esteem for science. came from the field of physics. and nuclear physics which. which were largely initiated by the formulation of the principle of the conser ation of energy by !elmhol0. when he first came to the 8ni ersity of +ienna Freud worked under the direction of 2rnst Br:cke. including the human one. 4his principle states. 4he second )@ years of the nineteenth century saw monumental ad ances in contemporary physics. the principle of the conser ation of energy applies. 4he progressi e application of this principle led to the monumental disco eries in the fields of thermodynamics.

transmissions. and to hold that the broad spectrum of human beha ior is explicable only in terms of the 6usually hidden7 mental processes or states which determine it. The Theory of the Unconscious Freud"s theory of the unconscious. 4his latter conception is the ery cornerstone of Freud"s psychoanalytic theory. Freud was arguably the first thinker to apply deterministic principles systematically to the sphere of the mental. obsessi e beha iour. on the contrary. are determined by hidden causes in the person"s mind. and that it is the function of psychology to in estigate the modifications. instead of treating the beha ior of the neurotic as being causally inexplicableDwhich had been the pre ailing approach for centuriesDFreud insisted. should not be surprising.personality is also an energy-system. and dreams 5 all. a fact which. is highly deterministic. on treating it as beha iour for which is meaningful to seek an explanation by searching for causes in terms of the mental states of the indi idual concerned. gi en the nature of nineteenth century science. 4hus. !ence the significance which he attributed to slips of the tongue or pen. then. and con ersions of 3psychic energy" within the personality which shape and determine it. he held. and so they re eal in co ert form what would otherwise not be known . 3.

is not one which merely happens to be out of consciousness at a gi en time. his reasoning here being simply that the principle of causality re"uires that such mental states should exist. the conscious mind. for it follows from this that whene er we make a choice we are go erned by hidden mental processes of which we are unaware and o er which we ha e no control. certainly more tightly circumscribed than is commonly belie ed. be brought to the forefront of consciousness. except through protracted psychoanalysis. 4his suggests the iew that freedom of the will is. for Freud. it is rather structurally akin to an iceberg. but is rather one which cannot. 4he postulation of such unconscious mental states entails. exerting a dynamic and determining influence upon the part which is amenable to direct inspection. and as . of course. the bulk of it lying below the surface. for it is e ident that there is fre$uently nothing in the conscious mind which can be said to cause neurotic or other beha ior. identified with consciousness or that which can be an ob%ect of consciousness 5 to employ a muchused analogy. Beeply associated with this iew of the mind is Freud"s account of the instincts or dri es. for Freud. that the mind is not. if not completely an illusion. 4he instincts.at all. 1n 3unconscious" mental process or e ent. 4he postulate that there are such things as unconscious mental states at all is a direct function of Freud"s determinism. are the principal moti ating forces in the mental realm. and cannot be.

it is undeniably true that Freud ga e sexual dri es an importance and centrality in human life. which co ers all the instincts towards aggression. and human beha ior which was new 6and to many. which co ers all the self-preser ing and erotic instincts.such they 3energise" the mind in all of its functions. and cruelty. 4here are. 4hus his theory of the instincts or dri es is essentially that the human being is energi0ed or dri en from birth by the desire to ac$uire and enhance bodily pleasure. shocking7. e en here a crucial $ualification has to be added DFreud effecti ely redefined the term 3sexuality" here to make it co er any form of pleasure which is or can be deri ed from the body. Eros 6the life instinct7. he held. self-destruction. human actions. an indefinitely large number of such instincts. arguing as he does both that the sexual dri es exist and can be discerned in children from birth 6the theory of infantile sexuality7. !owe er. !a ing said that. 4. Infantile Sexuality . and that sexual energy 6li#ido7 is the single most important moti ating force in adult life. and Thanatos 6the death instinct7. 4hus it is a mistake to interpret Freud as asserting that all human actions spring from moti ations which are sexual in their origin. since those which deri e from 4hanatos are not sexually moti ated 5 indeed. which he grouped into two broad generic categories. but these can be reduced to a small number of basic ones. 4hanatos is the irrational urge to destroy the source of all sexual energy in the annihilation of the self.

From his account of the instincts or dri es it followed that from the moment of birth the infant is dri en in his actions by the desire for bodilyEsexual pleasure. 4his is termed 3 castration anxiety$. and took the form of the general thesis that early childhood sexual experiences were the crucial factors in the determination of the adult personality.nitially. infants gain such release. howe er. . where this is seen by Freud in almost mechanical terms as the desire to release mental energy. Breuer"s earlier disco ery that traumatic childhood e ents could ha e de astating negati e effects upon the adult indi idual. and was a generalisation of. through the act of sucking. he comes to fear that he may be castrated. he may be harmed by the father? specifically. .Freud"s theory of infantile sexuality must be seen as an integral part of a broader de elopmental theory of human personality. and Freud accordingly terms this the 3oral" stage of de elopment. it also puts the child at risk.n the case of a male. 4his is followed by a stage in which the locus of pleasure or energy release is the anus. 4his had its origins in. . Both the attraction for the mother and the hatred are usually repressed. 4his. and a hatred of the parent of the same sex 6the 3Aedipus complex"7. 4hen the young child de elops an interest in its sexual organs as a site of pleasure 6the 3phallic" stage7. particularly in the act of defecation. gi es rise to 6socially deri ed7 feelings of guilt in the child. who recogni0es that it can ne er supplant the stronger parent. and de elops a deep sexual attraction for the parent of the opposite sex. which he percei es 5 if he persists in pursuing the sexual attraction for his mother. and this is accordingly termed the 3anal" stage. and deri e such pleasure.

. is the se$uence or progression implicit in normal human de elopment. 4he de elopmental process. 4his happens at the age of fi e. homosexuality is seen by some Freudians as resulting from a failure to resol e the conflicts of the Aedipus complex. when mature genital de elopment begins. or to e ents which otherwise disrupt the normal pattern of infantile de elopment. and the pleasure dri e refocuses around the genital area. Freud belie ed. 4his. the successful resolution of which is crucial to adult mental health. in which sexual moti ations become much less pronounced. is for the child essentially a mo ement through a series of conflicts. and it is to be obser ed that at the infant le el the instinctual attempts to satisfy the pleasure dri e are fre$uently checked by parental control and social coercion. For example. &any mental illnesses. Freud held.and the child usually resol es the conflict of the Aedipus complex by coming to identify with the parent of the same sex. whereupon the child enters a 3latency" period. particularly a failure to identify with the parent of the same sex? the obsessi e concern with washing and personal hygiene which characterises the beha iour of some neurotics is seen as resulting from unresol ed conflictsErepressions occurring at the anal stage. can be traced back to unresol ed conflicts experienced at this stage. then. 4his lasts until puberty. particularly hysteria.

which has many points of similarity with the account of the mind offered by .@@@ years earlier. again like .7. !euroses and The Structure of the "ind Freud"s account of the unconscious. is best illustrated by his famous tripartite model of the structure of the mind or personality 6although. the contents of the id belong permanently to the unconscious mind. while the super-ego is an unconscious screening-mechanism which seeks to limit the blind pleasure-seeking dri es of the id by the imposition of restricti e rules.lato. namely. socially-ac$uired control mechanisms 6usually imparted in the first instance by the parents7 which ha e been internali0ed? while the ego is the conscious self created by the dynamic tensions and interactions between the id and the super-ego. . 4he theory is termed 3tripartite" simply because.lato o er =. 4here is some debate as to how literally Freud intended this model to be taken 6he appears to . and super-ego. which he called id. and the psychoanalytic therapy associated with it.. 4he id is that part of the mind in which are situated the instinctual sexual dri es which re$uire satisfaction? the super-ego is that part which contains the 3conscience". Freud distinguished three structural elements within the mind.t is in this sense that the mind is to be understood as a dynamic energy-system. ego. as we ha e seen. which has the task of reconciling their conflicting demands with the re$uirements of external reality. he did not formulate this until '-=. 1ll ob%ects of consciousness reside in the ego.

repression is the most important. but it is important to note that what is being offered here is indeed a theoretical model. and regression 6a return to the beha ior characteristic of one of the stages7. rather than a description of an obser able ob%ect. 1 key concept introduced here by Freud is that the mind possesses a number of 3defense mechanisms" to attempt to pre ent conflicts from becoming too acute. Freud also followed . and Freud"s account of this is as followsF when a person experiences an instinctual impulse to beha e in a manner which the super- . Af these. if the satisfaction of some or all of these dri es would indeed transgress the moral sanctions laid down by the super-ego. .lato in his account of the nature of mental health or psychological well-being. science. more commonly. which functions as a frame of reference to explain the link between early childhood experience and the mature adult 6normal or dysfunctional7 personality. etc. or. poetry. fixation 6the failure to progress beyond one of the de elopmental stages7. such as repression 6pushing conflicts back into the unconscious7.7. which he saw as the establishment of a harmonious relationship between the three elements which constitute the mind. then an inner conflict occurs in the mind between its constituent parts or elements 5 failure to resol e this can lead to later neurosis.f the external world offers no scope for the satisfaction of the id$s pleasure dri es. in art. su#limation 6channeling the sexual dri es into the achie ement socially acceptable goals.ha e taken it extremely literally himself7.

a strong erotic impulse on the part of the child towards the parent of the opposite sex7. because they are dri en by the now unconscious repressed impulse. Gepression is thus one of the central defense mechanisms by which the ego seeks to a oid internal conflict and pain. but are completely beyond the control of the sub%ect. Freud positioned the key repressions. as an energy-form.ego deems to be reprehensible 6e. Such beha ioural symptoms are highly irrational 6and may e en be percei ed as such by the neurotic7. from where it exerts a determining force upon the conscious mind. then it is possible for the mind push it away. 1s such it is completely normal and an integral part of the de elopmental process through which e ery child must pass on the way to adulthood. not of kind 5 the compulsi e beha ior of the neurotic is itself a beha ioral manifestation of an instinctual dri e repressed in childhood.g. the repressed instinctual dri e. and can gi e rise to the dysfunctional beha ior characteristic of neuroses. to repress it into the unconscious. 4his is one reason why dreams and slips of the tongue possess such a strong symbolic significance for Freud. is not and cannot be destroyed when it is repressed 5 it continues to exist intact in the unconscious. for both the normal indi idual . 4he difference between 3normal" repression and the kind of repression which results in neurotic illness is one of degree. and why their analysis became such a key part of his treatment 5 they represent instances in which the igilance of the super-ego is relaxed. !owe er. and when the repressed dri es are accordingly able to present themsel es to the conscious mind in a transmuted form. and to reconcile reality with the demands of both id and super-ego.

and by bringing them to the forefront of consciousness. the symptoms began to abate. to allow the ego to confront them directly and thus to discharge them. $sychoanalysis as a Therapy Freud"s account of the sexual genesis and nature of neuroses led him naturally to de elop a clinical treatment for treating such disorders. 4he actual method of treatment pioneered by Freud grew out of Breuer"s earlier disco ery. that when a hysterical patient was encouraged to talk freely about the earliest occurrences of her symptoms and fantasies. he held. of course. in the first fi e years of childhood. #. and. and were eliminated entirely she . 4he aim of the method may be stated simply in general terms 5 to re-establish a harmonious relationship between the three elements which constitute the mind by exca ating and resol ing unconscious repressed conflicts. 4his has become so influential today that when people speak of 3psychoanalysis" they fre$uently refer exclusi ely to the clinical treatment? howe er. held them to be essentially sexual in nature 5 as we ha e seen. 4he task of psychoanalysis as a therapy is to find the repressions which are causing the neurotic symptoms by del ing into the unconscious mind of the sub%ect. lead to a strong tendency to later neurosis in adult life. the term properly designates both the clinical treatment and the theory which underlies it. mentioned abo e.and the neurotic. repressions which disrupt the process of infantile sexual de elopment in particular.

4he process is necessarily a difficult and protracted one. and then encouraged them to speak freely and uninhibitedly. Freud further de eloped this 3talking cure". acting on the assumption that the repressed conflicts were buried in the deepest recesses of the unconscious mind. and material is allowed to filter through to the conscious ego which would otherwise be completely repressed. with the analyst irtually silent and out of sight7.was induced to remember the initial trauma which occasioned them. 1ccordingly. !owe er. Freud made a . and it is therefore one of the primary tasks of the analyst to help the patient to recogni0e. preferably without forethought. e en of keen awareness of the presence of the analyst 6hence the famous use of the couch. its efficiency as a screening mechanism is moderated. 4his is the method of free-association. 4aking it that the super-ego functioned less effecti ely in sleep. 4urning away from his early attempts to explore the unconscious through hypnosis. Freud always took the occurrence of resistance as a sign that he was on the right track in his assessment of the underlying unconscious causes of the patient"s condition. as in free association. 4he patient"s dreams are of particular interest. which may exhibit themsel es as hostility towards the analyst. he got his patients to relax in a position in which they were depri ed of strong sensory stimulation. his own natural resistances. for reasons which we ha e already partly seen. and to o ercome. in the belief that he could thereby discern the unconscious forces lying behind what was said. the rationale for which is similar to that in ol ed in the analysis of dreamsDin both cases the super-ego is to some degree disarmed.

which Freud saw as the moti ating force behind most great cultural achie ements. in . rational control of the formerly repressed dri es 5 this is suppression. the ob%ect of psychoanalytic treatment may be said to be a form of self-understanding 5 once this is ac$uired. he must facilitate the patient himself to become conscious of unresol ed conflicts buried in the deep recesses of the unconscious mind. 4he correct interpretation of the patient"s dreams. in ariably in terms of the patient"s passage through the sexual de elopmental process. 4o effect a cure. and the libidinal content of his family relationships. . repressed desires or wishes which are its real ob%ect7. free-associations.distinction between the manifest content of a dream 6what the dream appeared to be about on the surface7 and its latent content 6the unconscious. artistic or scientific goals 5 this is sublimation. in consultation with the analyst. and to confront and engage with them directly.n this sense. and responses to carefully selected $uestions leads the analyst to a point where he can locate the unconscious repressions producing the neurotic symptoms. slips of tongue. mentioned abo e. Ane possibility. then. and the social constraints which inform it. which are at fault. it is largely up to the patient. is the channeling of the sexual energy into the achie ement of social. the manner in which the conflicts implicit in this process were handled. 1nother would be the conscious. Het another would be the decision that it is the super-ego. to determine how he shall handle this newlyac$uired understanding of the unconscious forces which moti ate him.

knowing that the latter would be more acceptable socially 6>f. 4hornton. But in all cases the cure is effected essentially by a kind of catharsis or purgation 5 a release of the pent-up psychic energy. and why both the theory and practice of psychoanalysis should remain the ob%ect of a great deal of contro ersy. and Freud in particular.t should be emphasised here that Freud"s genius is not 6generally7 in doubt. but grim. the constriction of which was the basic cause of the neurotic illness. ha e exerted such a strong influence upon the popular imagination in the Western World o er the past -@ years or so. empirical disco ery.which case the patient may decide in the end to satisfy the instinctual dri es. . with criticisms ranging from the contention that Freud"s theory was generated by logical confusions arising out of his alleged long-standing addiction to cocaine 6>f. &asson. Freud and %ocaine& The Freudian Fallacy7 to the iew that he made an important. which he knowingly suppressed in fa our of the theory of the unconscious. 2. the contro ersy which exists in relation to Freud is more heated and multi-faceted than that relating to irtually any other recent thinker 6a possible exception being Barwin7.t should be e ident from the foregoing why psychoanalysis in general. 4he supporters and . J. The ssault on Truth7. . but the precise nature of his achie ement is still the source of much debate.n fact. %ritical &'aluation of (reud .&.

n reply. incorporating a new scientific method of dealing with the mind and with mental illness. 6c7 the dispute concerning what. 1nd so the debate goes on. 6b7 the $uestion of the theory"s coherence. and 6d7 the $uestion of the efficacy of psychoanalysis as a treatment for neurotic illnesses. . Freud really disco ered. but repeatedly asserted that the significance of psychoanalysis is that it is a ne' science. 1nd there can be no doubt but that this has been the chief attraction of the theory for most of its ad ocates since then 5 on the face of . since Freud not alone saw himself first and foremost as a pioneering scientist. The %lai) to Scientific Status 4his is a crucially important issue. to the point where many of the detractors of the mo ement see it as a kind of secular religion. it is often alleged. a. the exponents and supporters of psychoanalysis fre$uently analy0e the moti ations of their critics in terms of the ery theory which those critics re%ect.followers of Freud 6and Jung and 1dler7 are noted for the 0eal and enthusiasm with which they espouse the doctrines of the master. !ere we will confine oursel es toF 6a7 the e aluation of Freud"s claim that his theory is a scientific one. the un$uestioning acceptance of a set of ideological principles becomes a necessary precondition for acceptance into the mo ement 5 as with most religious groupings. if anything. .n this way. re$uiring as it does an initiation process in which the aspiring psychoanalyst must himself first be analysed.

that e ery genuine scientific theory must be testable. the $uestion is askedF 3What does this theory imply which. e ery possible form of human beha iour. undermines its claim to scientific status. The Logic of Scientific Discovery 7. would show the whole theory to be falseJ". is a scientific one. it has the appearance of being.opper. !ence it is concluded that the theory is not scientific. An the $uestion of what makes a theory a genuinely scientific one. and therefore falsifia#le. including Freud himself. and explain.it. as it is called. it is precisely this latter which. 1nd it is argued that nothing of the kind is possible with respect to Freud"s theory 5 if. has now gained ery general acceptanceF namely. if a theory is incompatible with possi#le obser ations it is scientific? con ersely. Iarl . .opper"s criterion of demarcation. the answer is 3nothing". which influenced Freud so greatly. a theory which is compatible with all possible obser ations is unscientific 6>f. with the capacity to accommodate. it certainly diminishes its intellectual status. I. as that was and is pro%ected by its strongest ad ocates. if false. in relation to it. the theory is compatible with every possi#le state of affairs 5 it cannot be falsified by anything. not %ust a scientific theory. and while this does not. 4hus the principle of the conser ation of energy. but an enormously strongscientific theory. since it purports to explain e erything. !owe er. at least in principle 5 in other words. for many commentators. rob it of all alue. because it is falsifiable 5 the disco ery of a physical system in which the total amount of energy was not constant would conclusi ely show it to be false. as some critics claim. .

at last. . when it is said that an e ent K causes another e ent H to happen. !owe er. 4he thesis that neuroses are caused by unconscious conflicts buried deep in the unconscious mind in the form of repressed libidinal energy would appear to offer us. at the ery least. e en this is $uestionable. $uestionable.e. and must be. and is a matter of much dispute. and much needed.7. is that it seems to offer us long sought-after. What is attracti e about the theory. as in science causes are sometimes unobser able 6sub-atomic particles. but there are nocorrespondence rules for these alleged causes 5 they cannot be identified except by reference to the beha iour which they are said to cause 6i. causal explanations for conditions which ha e been a source of a great deal of human misery. The %oherence of the Theory 1 related 6but perhaps more serious7 point is that the coherence of the theory is. e en to the layman. both K and H are.t is true that this is not always a simple process.n general. an insight in the causal mechanism underlying these abnormal psychological conditions as they are expressed in human beha ior. 4he difficulty with Freud"s theory is that it offers us entities 6repressed unconscious conflicts.*. etc. but in these latter cases there are clear 3correspondence rules" connecting the unobser able causes with obser able phenomena. molecular structures. . radio and electromagnetic wa es. independently identifia#le. for example7 which are said to be the unobser able causes of certain forms of beha ior. and further show us how they are related to the psychology of the 3normal" person. the analyst .

&asson. and that is its beha ioural effect"? he assertsF 3 This is the beha iour. and offered his theory of the unconscious in its place 6>f. What he disco ered.does not demonstrati ely assertF 3 This is the unconscious cause. it has been suggested. was the extreme pre alence of child sexual abuse. but no less critical le el. but the response which he encountered was so ferociously hostile that he masked his findings. which he was initially prepared to re eal to the world. it has been alleged that Freud did make a genuine disco ery. The ssault on Truth7. which met with fierce animosity. c. particularly of young girls 6the vast ma%ority of hysterics are women7. and replaced with theory of the unconscious. and which he $uickly withdrew. (reud+s . J. e en in respectable nineteenth century +ienna.isco'ery1t a less theoretical. !e did in fact offer an early 3seduction theory" of neuroses. Freud"s change of mind on this issue came about as followsF Luestions concerning the traumas suffered by his patients seemed to re eal Mto FreudN that +iennese girls were extraordinarily often seduced in ery early childhood by older male relati es? doubt about the actual occurrence of these seductions was soon replaced . therefore its unconscious cause must exist"7. 1nd this does raise serious doubts as to whether Freud"s theory offers us genuine causal explanations at all. 1s one contemporary Freudian commentator explains it.

6&ac. this particular point has taken on an added. the theory of the Aedipus complex was generated. what does the expression 3extraordinarily often" mean in this contextJ By what standard is this being %udgedJ 4he answer can only beF by the standard of what we generally belie e 5 or would like to belie e 5 to be the case. 4he result has been that. but traumatic e ents in their childhood which were all too real.ntyre7. Further. and that he had stumbled upon. in the 8nited States and Britain in particular.by certainty that it was descriptions about childhood fantasy that were being offered. But the contention of some of Freud"s critics here is that his patients were not recalling childhood fantasies. many thousands of people ha e emerged from analysis with 3reco ered memories" of alleged childhood sexual abuse by . . the fact that the le el of child sexual abuse in society is much higher than is generally belie ed or acknowledged. not least. 4his statement begs a number of $uestions. and knowingly suppressed. and e en more contro ersial significance in recent years with the willingness of some contemporary Freudians to com#ine the theory of repression 'ith an acceptance of the wide-spread social pre alence of child sexual abuse. . it is suggested.n this way.f this contention is true 5 and it must at least be contemplated seriously 5 then this is undoubtedly the most serious criticism that Freud and his followers ha e to face.

t does not follow that. which Freud himself termed 3the foundation stone upon which the structure of psychoanalysis rests". this in turn has gi en rise to a systematic backlash. are. The &fficacy of $sychoanalytic Therapy . unlike some of his contemporary followers. the direct product of a belief in what they see as the myth of repression. it cannot pro ide us with a basis for the beneficial treatment of neurotic illness. and the fact that we are not necessarily forced to choose between the iews that all 3reco ered memories" are either eridical or falsidical. has come in for more widespread critical scrutiny than e er before. &.their parents.n this way. 6>f. !ere. d. parents ha e been accused and repudiated. (ictims of )emory7. it is suggested. Freud did not himself e er countenance the extension of the concept of repression to co er actual child sexual abuse.alue is far . in which organi0ations of accused parents. 8nsurprisingly. seeing themsel es as the true ictims of what they term 3False &emory Syndrome". if Freud"s theory is unscientific. ha e denounced all such memory-claims as falsidical. or e en false. the concept of repression. because the relationship between a theory"s truth or falsity and its utility. memories which.endergast. were hitherto repressed. the fact that. and whole families di ided or destroyed. . fre$uently lost sight of in the extreme heat generated by this debate. perhaps understandably. An this basis. .

say. howe er. 64he theory upon which the use of leeches to bleed patients in eighteenth century medicine was based was $uite spurious. So the $uestion of the therapeutic effecti eness of psychoanalysis remains an open and contro ersial one. Such clinical tests as ha e been conducted indicate that the proportion of patients who ha e benefited from psychoanalytic treatment does not di erge significantly from the proportion who reco er spontaneously or as a result of other forms of inter ention in the control groups used. leading to negati e conse$uences. but patients did sometimes actually benefit from the treatmentO7. 1nd of course e en a true theory might be badly applied. or by no treatment at all. as distinct. the efficiency of a gi en method of treatment is usually clinically measured by means of a 3control group" 5 the proportion of patients suffering from a gi en disorder who are cured by treatment K is measured by comparison with those cured by other treatments. .from being an isomorphic one. . Ane of the problems here is that it is difficult to specify what counts as a cure for a neurotic illness.n general. from a mere alle iation of the symptoms.