freud and psychoanalysisExcluding pop psychologists, (such as Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew or Wayne Dyer) Sigmund Freud is probably the most well known name associated with psychology (at least to the lay public).  In Frank Sulloway’s book, Freud: Biologist of the Mind, the author notes, “Few individuals, if any, have exerted more influence upon the twentieth century than Sigmund Freud.” (Shermer, 2001, p.203).

A 1981 survey of chairpersons of graduate psychology found that the respondents considered Freud the most influential figure in the history of psychology (Davis, Thomas, & Weaver, 1982).  But times have changed.

“[I]f all the members of the American Psychological Association [APA] who  were concerned with Freudian psychoanalysis were collected, they would make up  less than 10 percent of the membership.  In another major psychological association, the Association for Psychological Science, they would make up  considerably less than 5 percent.” (Stanovich, 2007, p.1)

2 Comments to
The Freudian Problem

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  1. Hi,

    Through a troubling ordeal of the past couple of years I was reintroduced to Freud. Previously, I had grown to accept that Freud was “off his rocker” and a “coke head” who made biased and chauvinist observations. What I came to understand as life’s events drove me to seek answers to unexplainable behaviors was that those descriptions are more fitting of modern “mental health experts”. I was just floored with how many times i heard “These drugs (SSRI/ SNRI’s) are always a crap shoot. There is no way to tell how any individual is going to react to them.”

    I am a system designer and trouble shooter by education and trade. As such I has to laugh when I read, “Freud did not conduct controlled experimentation, which is the most powerful tool in the modern psychologist’s arsenal of methods.” Money alone seems to drive “data collection”. As far as therapist, I find it humorous that they can prescribe a drug the completely changes their client’s behaviors. The therapist asks the client, “are you still depressed” the client says, “no” and the therapist thinks they did a great job. In reality, behind the scenes, that patient’s life will have disintegrated into shambles due to their clients “Id driven” behaviors.

    What I found is that the one thing Freud is known most for (“penile envy”) was but a minuscule component of his work. He got so many other things right. Most importantly was his modeling of the human personality. he didn’t back it up with science. But people like Pavlov, Milgram, and Stephenson have went on to prove them. We aren’t paying enough attention to Freud today. If depression is the result of conflicting “Id “ and “Super Ego” well then a drug that suppresses the “Id” will of course lead to fits of mania driven by repressed memories.

    • Correction: “Supression of the ‘Super Ego’ would lead to manic behaviors.

  2. Sorry, but scientific research backs up Freud.

    E.g., see:

    Shedler, J. (2010), “The Efficacy of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy”, American Psychologist 65 (2): 98–109

    Westen, D. (1999), “The scientific status of unconscious processes: Is Freud really dead?”, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association (49): 1–30.

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