The notion we have a perfect tape recorder in out brains probably arose from the discoveries of Wilder Penfield who found that stimulating various parts of the brain with a small voltage seemed to evoke remarkably clear and intact memories of childhood. This discovery got widely published and astonished a lot of people.I've heard the tape recorder theory so many times, usually attributed to Freud. So he never said such a thing after all?
Any idea who did start the whole tape-recorder thing? I've heard the most ridiculous stories, like that people under hypnosis can remember the door to their childhood home down the most minute scratch and stain.
In fact, though, the people he was doing this to were all epileptics (whose skulls had been opened for surgery), and in cases where it was tried later on non-epileptics it didn't seem to work. Pennfield therefore, strongly began to suspect that the "memories" he initially evoked weren't authentic at all, but pseudo-memories created on the spot from elements of real memory by virtue of the fact that the neurons of epileptics are vastly more "touchy" than those of non-epileptics (google: "the kindling effect" or maybe "neuronal kindling").
The notion that we store every minute detail of our lives in memory is the erroneous notion that lives on from Penfield's work and I suppose it is repeated by hypnotists for the simple reason it serves their purpose. That has nothing to do with Freud, and Freud is not responsible for any erroneous associations of this idea with his theories of mind.
The reason Freud is fair game is because he raised the subject of sex at a time when sex was taboo: it was clear to him that the content and subject matter of dreams and the things that drove neurotic behaviors were all those things we automatically repress from our conscious mind during the day. At that time, mores being what they were, this mostly meant sexual things. It was important to most to maintain the status quo and Freud had to be denigrated, made to appear silly or everyone would have to face the fact they were all very much more sexual than social and religious pretence allowed them to admit. He was somewhat in the position of someone who wants to criticize a dictator while the dictator is still in power and most people's energies are monopolized by trying to obey the dictator. The habit of criticizing him without reading what he'd written became firmly instituted and continues to this day, despite the fact, strangely, that we can all be very much more open about sex because of Freud.I think the reason Freud has turned into fair game is because there are so many quack psychologists out there. I was talking with my parents about it the other day (sparked by the "is psychology a pseudo-science" thread from PF actually :tongue:), and it's part of why my dad has decided to leave the field for good. They feel it has lost its way. There are too many psychologists out there that are either poorly qualified, looking to make a quick buck, or just completely nuts.
My mom still wants to keep practicing. But my dad is completely frustrated with the field and the way it's going. All the nuts doing mystic healing and crap like that get all the press coverage, while people doing real research are barely even mentioned in the news.
That's a completely different topic though.