Sigmund Freud & Psychoanalysis: Pseudoscience?

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Anonymous

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#1
our good friend Mr Freud is hardly a well respected individual these dfays. His theorys and case studies have been shot so full of holes that they no longer hold water (a nice mixed metaphor).
 
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jamesveldon said:
our good friend Mr Fread is hardly a well respected individual these dfays. His theorys and case studies have been shot so full of holes that they no longer hold water (a nice mixed metaphor).
I think that's a bit harsh for a man who single handedly founded a branch of science. Sure, there are problems with his theories, but his genius is unquestioned. Its like having a go at Newton because he didn't include quantum chromodynamics in his theory of gravity .
 
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No, I do think his genius is questioned. A lot of people seem to think he was just a crackpot now.
 

EnolaGaia

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This new article reviews the status of Freud's work now that he is increasingly discounted and even dismissed as a significant analyst of human behaviors.
Was Freud right about anything?

Sigmund Freud is one of the most famous doctors to delve into the human subconscious. But is anything he said rooted in science?

After all, one of his most memorable ideas suggested that we're all repressing our true desires to have sex with our parents. But Freud didn't use science to arrive at this idea. He started out with a theory and then worked backward, seeking out tidbits to reinforce his beliefs and then aggressively dismissing anything else that challenged those ideas. That's according to Frederick Crews, a one-time Freudian follower and professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley.

"Freud passed himself off as a scientist. He was very sensitive to objections and would simply laugh at an objection and claim the person making it was psychologically ill," Crews told Live Science. ...

Back in 2017, Crews wrote "Freud: The Making of an Illusion" (Metropolitan Books) to examine the legitimacy of Freudian principles.

"Statistically, it's conceivable that a man can be as dishonest and slippery as Freud and still come up with something true," Crews said. "I've tried my best to examine his theories and to ask the question: What was the empirical evidence behind them? But when you ask these questions, then you eventually just lose hope."

As damning an assessment as that is, it wasn't always like this for the founding father of psychoanalysis, who wrote that mental health problems could be cured by bringing unconscious thoughts back into the conscious realm. In his own time, Freud enjoyed celebrity status as a leading intellectual of the 20th century.

Chief among Freud's overflow of opinions was the "Oedipus complex," the hypothesis that every young boy wants to have sex with his mother and so wants to murder his father, whom he sees as a rival. But there's a catch. The boy also has the foresight to realize that his father is simultaneously his protector. Presented with this challenging scenario, the child is forced to repress his homicidal cravings.

"It's just about the craziest idea that anyone ever had," Crews said. When people asked about young girls, Freud hastily came up with another idea, the Electra complex. "It's just a cut-and-paste job. Suddenly, the little girl wants to have sex with her father," Crews said. "It's completely ludicrous."

At the core of both these theories is the notion of repressed emotions. That very concept empowered Freud to dismiss his detractors. "He would always be totally convinced he knew what was wrong with his patients and then simply browbeat them until they agreed. When patients disagreed, he didn't entertain the notion that he could be mistaken," Crews said. ...

But not everyone is as critical as Crews.

"Freud was right about 'day residue' in dreams," said Robert Stickgold, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "But the whole psychoanalysis thing, and the role of childhood sexuality, was totally bonkers." ...

"You can think of him as an idea factory," explained Harold Takooshian, a professor of psychology at Fordham University in New York City. "Freud never considered himself a data guy. He hoped other people would take on his ideas to prove or disprove them."

But Freud's theories are, on the whole, almost impossible to submit to the rigor of statistical analysis that legitimate science has to endure, said Crews. "That's because his ideas are hopelessly vague. How do you test for them? They're just phrases."
FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/why-freud-was-wrong.html
 

INT21

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Well, last time I (accidentally) passed by some of the more (sordid, delightful, pick the one that suites you best) parts of the internet they seemed to confirm Freud's conclusion that we are all a set of would be Mother Fu****s anyway.

So maybe he was right.
 

JamesWhitehead

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Freud had a massive cultural impact. It is said that The Interpretation of Dreams, published in 1899, carried the date 1900, as if to underline his modest assumption that he was launching a new era. His scientific credentials, such as they were, served to justify the exploration of dark sexual matters, previously kept under cover. His writings are actually very readable: I gulped them down greedily as a junior pervert. They contain much curious learning, which I would flaunt to annoy my religious teachers. A rare television-showing of John Huston's picture, Freud: the Secret Passion may have inflamed or possibly even triggered the interest.

There is a theory that fin-de-siècle Vienna was such a hot-bed of incest and perversity that Freud was merely generalizing from things he saw daily. I also recall that a whole book was devoted to his cocaine addiction and homoerotic fixation with a colleague. What larks! :sneaky2:
 

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F
There is a theory that fin-de-siècle Vienna was such a hot-bed of incest and perversity that Freud was merely generalizing from things he saw daily.
Yup, I have read that so many people disclosed sexual abuse to Freud, which he frankly didn't believe, that he had to adjust his theory to accommodate it. He came up with the idea of children's and adolescents' sexual fantasies about the adults in their lives. Horrifying.
 

Kondoru

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As if no one had sexual fantasies about their elders...I find that hard to believe.

(And if they had been abused, then they might well not?)
 

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As if no one had sexual fantasies about their elders...I find that hard to believe.

(And if they had been abused, then they might well not?)
It's dangerous to generalise. But you don't fantasise about shagging your dad unless there's something seriously wrong with you. A fantasy is a "safe" way of working out and satisfying your preferences, but Freud was obviously unconvinced it could be healthy, and when it really wasn't, he invented his theories to explain away some grave issues he would have been better off reporting to the police.

I wouldn't write him off completely, we still have his effect on the world to this day (eg advertising), but he's more useful as a starting point for discussion and psychological exploration than taking all he said as gospel.
 

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... I wouldn't write him off completely, we still have his effect on the world to this day (eg advertising), but he's more useful as a starting point for discussion and psychological exploration than taking all he said as gospel.
The allusion to "starting point" is a key issue. Prior to Freud scholarly work in "psychology" was essentially limited to "psychophysics" (the study of sensory / perceptual capabilities) and cataloging the varieties of aberrant human behaviors. The former could be addressed with "scientific" methods of experimentation to yield results that could then be employed to measure or prescribe. The latter was limited to being descriptive in the sense it accumulated data and attempted to organize it into categories without making claims as to what caused the different things being identified and categorized.

Except for this sort of categorization matters such as individual personality, neuroses, etc., had only been addressed in very general and philosophical terms. There weren't any widely accepted and specific models for the psyche's structure / organization or the causal mechanisms that determined its dynamics.

Freud was in a position analogous to that of the "naturalists" who studied particular things in nature, described their observations, and contributed to amassing data against which eventual models and hypotheses might be tested. During the same period there were similar activities occurring in other "social" fields attempting to bootstrap themselves as "sciences." A good example of such parallel work would be the rise of ethnography as the basis for cultural anthropology.

Of course, Freud proceeded to hypothesize models of psychic structures or forces to explain the phenomena he discerned in his case studies. The problem was that the nature of these models were abstract to the point one had to evaluate them on the basis of being rhetorically convincing rather than being demonstrably accurate at predicting outcomes. The same could be said of early models and theories in anthropology and sociology.

In other words, Freud and similar thinkers were attempting to be prescriptive in the sense of providing reliable explanations for dynamic phenomena, but they were effectively limited to being reliably descriptive of outcomes and merely allusive with respect to causality.

Freud was therefore operating in a grey area somewhere between casual armchair philosophizing and hardcore scientific theory building. This is the same foggy area that's spawned a lot of similarly allusive investigations - many of which would be "damned" as pseudoscience or outright bullshit.
 

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The allusion to "starting point" is a key issue. Prior to Freud scholarly work in "psychology" was essentially limited to "psychophysics" (the study of sensory / perceptual capabilities) and cataloging the varieties of aberrant human behaviors. The former could be addressed with "scientific" methods of experimentation to yield results that could then be employed to measure or prescribe. The latter was limited to being descriptive in the sense it accumulated data and attempted to organize it into categories without making claims as to what caused the different things being identified and categorized.

Except for this sort of categorization matters such as individual personality, neuroses, etc., had only been addressed in very general and philosophical terms. There weren't any widely accepted and specific models for the psyche's structure / organization or the causal mechanisms that determined its dynamics.

Freud was in a position analogous to that of the "naturalists" who studied particular things in nature, described their observations, and contributed to amassing data against which eventual models and hypotheses might be tested. During the same period there were similar activities occurring in other "social" fields attempting to bootstrap themselves as "sciences." A good example of such parallel work would be the rise of ethnography as the basis for cultural anthropology.

Of course, Freud proceeded to hypothesize models of psychic structures or forces to explain the phenomena he discerned in his case studies. The problem was that the nature of these models were abstract to the point one had to evaluate them on the basis of being rhetorically convincing rather than being demonstrably accurate at predicting outcomes. The same could be said of early models and theories in anthropology and sociology.

In other words, Freud and similar thinkers were attempting to be prescriptive in the sense of providing reliable explanations for dynamic phenomena, but they were effectively limited to being reliably descriptive of outcomes and merely allusive with respect to causality.

Freud was therefore operating in a grey area somewhere between casual armchair philosophizing and hardcore scientific theory building. This is the same foggy area that's spawned a lot of similarly allusive investigations - many of which would be "damned" as pseudoscience or outright bullshit.
Freudian psychoanalysis has largely been replaced with cognitive therapy. Freud did some ground breaking in his time, but a bit extreme in many ways. An individual seeking psychiatric treatment may need to examine the past, but after a bit it's time to stop digging it and move on.
 

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Freudian psychoanalysis has largely been replaced with cognitive therapy. Freud did some ground breaking in his time, but a bit extreme in many ways. An individual seeking psychiatric treatment may need to examine the past, but after a bit it's time to stop digging it and move on.
It's all about change at the moment.
 
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