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Sigmund Freud

  1. May 29, 2004 #1
    Does anyone know what Freud's most recognized accomplishments or benefits to Psychology were? I'm trying to find it now but the only prevalent thing I'm finding so far is that Freud was quite an eccentric fellow in his beliefs.
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  3. May 29, 2004 #2


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    He certainly makes a great cautionary tale.
  4. May 29, 2004 #3
    I believe it was his theory of how the mind works, and how to clinically help those with a troubled mind. His theory of the mind included the uncounscious, and how the uncounscious affected greatly how we think and act, and innovative theory for the time and believed even more so today.

    Overall, I think Freud was one of the first to look at the mind much more scientifically, in an attempt to anylize it, like any other mechanism - something that could be figured out. IE-thats why he is considered the father of psychoanalysis

  5. Jun 1, 2004 #4
    Its easy to knock Freud, but he was an original in the sense that he drew together a lot of existing ideas and created something new, like The Beatles did with music. If you give him the same breaks you would any mould-breaker e.g. Mick Angelo, he is a lot easier to digest; we don't say "What a stupid helicopter - it will never work". However, to say that he invented a cure for psychological problems would be giving undue credit; the blueprint is not the finished product.

    Did I just compare Freud to The Beatles!? I need to lie down on this nice couch for a while...
  6. Jun 2, 2004 #5


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    Did I just compare Freud to The Beatles!? I need to lie down on this nice couch for a while...

    Yeah, but that's where Freud wound up; a pop icon. Einstein did too, of course, but he always had that solid physics, and the rigorous math that describes it. Freud's theories, considered in detail, don't hold up so well.
  7. Jun 2, 2004 #6


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    Freud's most "recognized" (famous) accomplishments were his development of psychoanalysis and his ideas about the 3 divisions of the unconscious: Id, Ego, and Superego, which you see so often on these forums ;) Oh yeah, and the Oedipus Complex um stuff
    Yeah, he was a whacker- I'd stay away from his couch if I were you or your mother :rolleyes:
    Happy thoughts
  8. Jun 3, 2004 #7
    Agreed: Freud's theories weren't backed up by hard science. In fact any theories of the mind that aren't falsifiable (e.g. open to objective testing by PET scanning) cannot be considered scientific in the true (Popperian) sense.

    He sure was funky though.
  9. Jun 3, 2004 #8
    I pretty much agree with the number 42. Except the Beatles part.

    It is very easy to knock Freud today for his assertions that so much boiled down to sex, but the fact of the matter is, in his time sexuality was greatly repressed compared to us in the western world today, and the things he observed were quite real at that time. He is really the reason they aren't so true today. He got the world to start considering the ultimate psychological consequences of clamping down so harshly on sexuality. And he also, in a different but related vein, started informing the public, via his writings, about how damaging sexual molestation and seduction of children was to the adult those children would become.

    His notions on therapy got a long trial and seem to have proven not very effective.

    My favorite thing of his is The Interpretation of Dreams.
  10. Jun 3, 2004 #9
    I agree that his approach dream interpretation (latent Vs manifest content) is one of the most valuable things of his work, and perhaps the thing of most practical value. On the other hand, he has been heavily criticised for interpreting his patients' accounts of childhood sexuality as 'fantasy' (e.g. Oedipus complex), thus missing an opportunity to save a couple of generations from child abuse. Perhaps he just couldn't believe that such things were possible?

    I should point out though that never having actually read one of his books cover to cover I'm not in a position to pass judgement.
  11. Jun 3, 2004 #10
    This controversy arose about a particular article or paper in which he reported that some thing like one in four girls he treated claimed to have been molested by her own father. His first reaction was shock, and he wrote the paper.

    Later, If I recall correctly, he decided that percentage was impossibly high, and, to explain it, came up with the notion that the reports of the girls must be the result of them fantasizing such a relationship and he caught the paper before it was actually published. I don't know his logic in deciding the percentage was too high. It could have been shock. It could have been he realized it was a statement he didn't want to be put into a position of having to defend.

    He has been criticized, in restrospect for not believing the kids stories. I am not sure what the statistics say about how often this happens today, but at some point it was determined it happened more than Freud was willing to put into print.

    My remark about that earlier was actually directed toward the case histories of adults he talks about whose history of abuse lead to their adult neurosis, and to various other mentions he makes of this having done severe damage to people. He was, at least, willing to assert that it does happen, and that it isn't good for people. Simply speaking openly about it in print was quite a stride forward in those days. "Decent" people didn't mention such things.
  12. Jun 3, 2004 #11
    Being a decent person and a bit old fashioned I think I won't mention it any further either.

    Maybe Freud's greatest accomplishment was the use of his concepts in marketing in the US by his nephew Edward Bernaise. Apparently it worked pretty well.
  13. Jun 3, 2004 #12
    How did that go? "Buy Parson's Soap today! Your Mama will say you never smelled so good!" ?
  14. Jun 3, 2004 #13


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    Me too- it is easy to knock Freud ;)

    So his observations were correct, but his explanations were wrong. Well, that is helpful :tongue2:

    Freud was not the one who began to treat psychology as a science, William James did that. Freud relied more heavily on his own imagination than on evidence. James contributed much more to modern psychology than did Freud. Freud is famous because he talked about sex. And as we all know, sex sells.

    Happy thoughts
  15. Jun 4, 2004 #14
    In the preface to The Interpretation of Dreams Freud expressed his surprise that the people who criticized his work most strongly were the ones who hadn't read it.

    He was amazed to find that people formulated complete and final opinions about him and his ideas based on reviews of his published works, and based on what people told other people he had said. People came to the conclusion they didn't need to read the original work and that it was obviously baloney, based on what other people characterized him to have said.

    So, yes. It is easy to knock Freud, and always has been: No required reading!
    Strawman alert!
    And this is relevant to what? Einstein is unimportant because Galileo preceeded him in investigating Relativity? Is that your logic?
    It would take at least a book-length essay for you to lay the foundaton of support for a bald assertion like this. Is this something you believe based on having read at least most of what he wrote, or is this something you read someone else say about him?
    Stipulating for the sake of argument, that this is true, what is the implication of the statement? Are you irritated by the injustice of Freud's undeserved fame relative to the greater William James? You think, Honestrosewater that if you can catch this man, this Buffalo Freud, it will stop that sound you hear in the middle of the night, that terrible screaming of the lambs??


    Freud is famous to the general population because misconstructions of what he said turned out to be fun to repeat and criticize and cast in a silly light. If you just twist what he said a little bit, it can sound ridiculous, and is great fodder for all kinds of jokes and comedy skits. Einstein, the icon, is the same: the prototypical "nutty professor", reputed to be brilliant but who comes off as scatterbrained, unkemped, and unconscious of elementary things.
    But Freud is still read and seriously discussed by anyone practising or learning about psychology because for decades his thoughts about psychology were the most compelling ones around. A history of psychology has to include Freud.
    Yes, happy thoughts, Honestrosewater, and may you sleep peacfully, in the silence of the lambs.
  16. Jun 4, 2004 #15
    I could be facetious and say that the history of the helicopter would have to include Michelangelo, but that would be to lower the tone of an otherwise clean punch-up.

    I think we can agree that Freud is easy to knock, mainly due to his views on sexuality. In fact it says a lot about just how puritanical we still are that many people consider Jung a genius and Freud a loon. In fact Jung fairly wholesale borrowed from Freud, apart from cutting out the naughty bits (ouch) and pasting in some even less verifiable stuff on archetypes.

    The moral of the story is: go to the original sources. In fact I might get around to it myself one day if I can get off the internet.
  17. Jun 4, 2004 #16
    Yeah, he's easy to knock, but if you want ease, Dr. Ruth is practically a human bullseye.
    Freud's online. Somewhere. I think. I could google. Someday.


    P.S. I think the helicopter was da Vinci.
  18. Jun 4, 2004 #17
    Da who? Gnnn! Doh! etc
  19. Jun 4, 2004 #18


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    OMG! Okay, if everyone agrees he's so easy to knock, why get so offended when it happens? The first two things I said were in jest. And I actually came back to edit the James bit, but since I was too late, I will explain.

    Does science go: observation-> hypothesis-> theory? Or is there testing involved? How did Freud test his theories? Contrast that with Pavlov's salivating dog. This is the reason I mentioned Freud's "scientific" method. And the reason I mentioned James is because James is known for his scientific approach to psychology and, since they worked around the same time, I thought Jake had perhaps mixed them up.

    Really? You know, a wise man once said,
    What exactly did I say to provoke that attack anyway? If I could have edited it in time, I would take back the bit about James being the first and explain why I don't think Freud's method was scientific, which I have now done. Otherwise, what I said is accurate as far as I know. If you disagree, you can offer something to refute it, or ask me to explain further.

    Happy thoughts
  20. Jun 4, 2004 #19
    Any "testing" Freud did was probably the psycho-anylisis of his patients. Really, its not possible to test his theories in the way pavlov did, because his theories were more geared to the untestable internal workings of the brain. Remember, Einstein's theories were untested till a while after he made them, and some parts still are infact untested. You can be scientific without having rock solid tangable testing to back up your theories.
  21. Jun 4, 2004 #20


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    If Einstein had said, "I have this very interesting idea, but it cannot be tested" what would have happened? A theory that is theoretically untestable is not a scientific theory, it is a philosophical theory.
    A theory is not evidence.
    Sure, Freud didn't have to test his theories himself. Sorry, that is not what I meant. Any of Freud's theories which are untestable are unscientific.
    Physics was around for a long time, in a philosophical context, before Galileo. But there is a difference between 1) making observations and 2) performing experiments to test a theory.

    You can develop a science to investigate the internal workings of the brain- look at the cognitive sciences. And what is Pavlov's conditioning if not an explanation of the internal workings of the brain?

    How many psychologists still *practice* psychoanalysis?

    I never (seriously) said that Freud's theories were crap; only that they were not scientific.

    Happy thoughts
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