The Rise and Fall of Freudianism?

lpetrich
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The Rise and Fall of Freudianism?

Has anyone tried to chronicle the rise and fall of Freudianism and Sigmund Freud's reputation? It's been hard for me to find anything on that.

And my interest in this was provoked by Michael Shermer's discussion of Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud in The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense. He noted that both gentlemen were big on self-promotion, but he noted important differences between Darwin and Freud. Darwin was much less secretive than Freud, and much more willing to address problems with his theories. Freud would respond to criticisms by stating that you have to have acquired all his experience before you can address the problems with his theories, which his followers did not find very satisfying. And his followers Adler and Jung eventually broke with him, going in their own separate directions.

In any case, it must be said that most post-Freud psychology is not as colorful as Freudianism. But perhaps that was what helped Freudianism succeed when it did -- having a plausible-looking narrative. Which makes it more like religion than like science, it must be said.

And in that light, I recall someone claiming that Freud was very good at coming up with hypotheses, but that he did not know how to test them. Which means that he was not that great a scientist.


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In the liberal arts, Freud

In the liberal arts, Freud is still something everybody has to know because of his influence on others, and many old-timers continue to build their careers out of application of Freudian psychology to various different phenomena (like literature, for example) in the same way that some people still drive Detroit muscle cars or prefer Windows 98.

But very few people coming out of (liberal arts) grad school now would make any effort to become a Freudian.  I predict he's on his way out of that sector of the academy.  Biology and anthropology are offering much simpler and more well-supported theories for why people act the way they do.

Jung is still hot, though. 

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


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I think freud can be

I think freud can be credited for the begining of what we today call psychoanalysis and psychology, but he merely opened the door for others to follow. My 2 cents fwiw

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The major problems with

The major problems with Freud's theories and Psychoanalysis in general is it's unfalsifiability. The theory mostly stems from anectodal case studies and Frueds experiences. He was more the father of applied psychology, at least in regard to helping people and counseling. He would not be considered in anyway a part of experimental psychology. William James in the U.S. and Wundt in Europe began experimental Psychology.

Europe became more psychoanalytic because of Freud, while the U.S. was more behaviorist. However, psychiatrists in the U.S. adopted Freuds theories, which began talk therapy in the U.S. Psychology in the U.S. was mainly experimental and stronly bsed on the behaviorism of Watson.

Not until after WWII did Psychologists begin the application of psychology to helping people clinically. Of course the behaviorist leanings of Psychologists were not met with open arms by Psychiatrists. This also brought the emergence of Carl Rogers and humanistic views into Psychology. For a few decades into the 60's and 70's the various methods began to intermingel in both the fields of Psychiatry and applied Psychology. Freudian therapy began to be taught in clinical psychology curriculums. Freud had much to offer in terms of counseling style and therapist behavior. However, experimental psychologists were still focused on purely behavior, which was led by B.F. Skinner. During the 60's and 70's the cognitive revolution occured, where mental processes began to be studied. All of this together allowed psychological science to be adopted into the therapy model (based on Freudian and Rogerian principles) that was being used by most Psychologists. This evolved into what is known today as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. 

During this same time Psychiatry was becoming more biologically-based and by the 80's and 90's became more pharmacological. Rarely today will you find a Psychiatrist who does therapy.

Sadly, neo-Freudian notions of human behavior (not just counseling principles) have persisted in some clinical psychology programs and is still a large force in the American Psychological Association. In fact, most clinical internships programs for Psychologists have a neo-Freudian bent. Interestingly none of Freuds theories are even considered in experimental circles due to it's unfalsifiability. This has actually caused a big rift amongst Psychologists and spawned the American Psychological Society that is made up mostly of researhers.

Why this is very troublesome?? Well, the media still likes to report on Freudian type psychology/psychiatry. This is also the general stereotype and notion that has persisted in the general public. I am sure we have all heard of Psychobabble. Shrinks are referred to as quacks and opportunists. Rightfully so in some cases (Dr. Phil) and other perpetuators of fringe therapies. These individuals give the public false ideas and notions of what the science of psychology actually has to offer that is based in sound experimentation. This has given way to POP psychology and a myriad of self-help books, suggestions in pop magazines, and articles on yahoo and google. What is worse, is that paraprofessionals continue to perpetuate false belifs and myths about human thought processes, emotions and behaviors. One of the largest business operating on myths and falsehoods in the drug and alcohol treatment industry. Never will find more of an uninformed group of professionals. Rarely does the public get to hear about the discoveries that psychology is finding on how the brain processes information and the purposes of human behavior.

"Those who think they know don't know. Those that know they don't know, know."


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I do notice in popular

I do notice in popular media they talk about freud or use his ideas like they are universally accepted by psychologists, which is slighly annoying. Do you notice the same trend Rationalscema?

 

Also, ratinoalscema thank you for telling me that i , who wants to be an experimental psychologist, should join the American Psychological society instead of the APA.

 

did you mean the Association for Psychological sciences?  < scracth that the American Psychological Society is now called the Association for Psychological Sicences


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Thanks for the correction.

Thanks for the correction. Good to know. Yea, I would join APS. APA also tends to get involved with political issues. I am a member, only for personal convenience, but there is a lot of problems in that organization.

Yes. I do notice the trend. The trend used to be only having Freudians on, but now it has moved to a more Pop Psychology. They bring out so-called experts who have practices in fringe area talking about what helps their clients. What may or may not help their clients is usually nowhere in the literature and is not based on general standards of practice. I often wonder when the last time these people actually read anythin in the scientific literature. That being said, the idea of mommy and daddy issues is perpetuated by the media, hollywood, and TV. Another issue is related to what apllied Psychology has to offer the medical field and healthcare industry. When you get psychodynamic/psychoanalytic clinicans talking psychobabble to doctors it undermines the credibility of Psychologists who have effective interventions to offer their patients that are based on psychological principles that and empirically supported.

"Those who think they know don't know. Those that know they don't know, know."


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Freud was unable to break

Freud was unable to break from the mythology of sexual normalcy.  It's ironic that the OP mentions him with Darwin, for Darwin's ideas were the ones that could have saved Freud from intellectual oblivion.

 I've been working quite a bit lately on human sexuality and myth, and I've reinforced what I already suspected -- virtually all Western research and methodology for the last century has presupposed a "correct" sexuality.  Western psychologists' insistence on dichotomy -- right and wrong, good and evil -- has been a huge impediment to the understanding of social and sexual attitudes and behaviors.

If anyone is interested, the first part of my writings on the subject can be found HERE.  While it doesn't address Freud directly (it may when it's done) it does deal with some of the myths that Freud himself fell victim to.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote:

Hambydammit wrote:

Western psychologists' insistence on dichotomy -- right and wrong, good and evil -- has been a huge impediment to the understanding of social and sexual attitudes and behaviors.

This is why Jung has held up better than Freud.  Jung's conviction that dichotomies--he called them "binary oppositions"--are illusionary, mere artifacts of human psychological processes and not features of an objective universe, makes his ideas much more applicable to a post-modern world view.

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


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The thing you have to

The thing you have to understand about Freud is the fact that he was writing to a post-Victorian audience and addressing post-Victorian problems of identity, sexuality, repression, and the like.  To most modern folks around the world, Freud's ideas have become something of a punch line, embodying the "pretentious European psychoanalyst" caricature that we see in cartoons and film quite frequently. 

His seemingly endless collection of tomes are in a sense useless now, but in a way they are still very important.  I feel that psychoanalysis was a watershed moment in man's journey of knowing himself for all time.  Modern psychology as it is practiced today is almost singularly indebted to Freud, even though his specific theories were for a certain time and place and have limited applicability now.

In a way I still consider him to be the Socrates of psychology, in that you have a definite pre- and post- Freudian time line (just as you have a pre- and post- Socratic timeline in philosophy) - a time line which marks a permanent and radical change in the way that we do psychology and will do psychology from here on out. 


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Textom wrote:   Jung is

Textom wrote:

 

Jung is still hot, though. 

 

Damn right he is. Archetypal psychology for the win. I gave a speach on Archetypes for a psych class and I wish I would have recorded it ...


todangst
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Textom wrote:Hambydammit

Textom wrote:
Hambydammit wrote:

Western psychologists' insistence on dichotomy -- right and wrong, good and evil -- has been a huge impediment to the understanding of social and sexual attitudes and behaviors.

This is why Jung has held up better than Freud.  

 

Has he? The facility that I work at as a psychologist is Freudian, not Jungian, and it's responsible for helping to rehabiliate some of the most pathological cases in the area...

 

I really don't think that most Freud critics know how modern psychologists use his works... they may know a bit about Freud's errors, but not as much about how the theory is used today....

 

Oh, and the old Popperian point about Freudian non-falsifiability - that goes for some of the defenses, certainly for "reaction formation", but in many ways, modern theory is quite testable, for example, see attachment theory, which is well researched, and Freudian in origin.

I've helped quite a few clients with Freudian theory, and I'm no preacher or obscurantist, I'm an empiricist....

 

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

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lpetrich wrote:Has anyone

lpetrich wrote:

Has anyone tried to chronicle the rise and fall of Freudianism and Sigmund Freud's reputation?

It would be a bit premature, seeing as his reputation is still quite good among psychologists.  The big change is that with the coming of Freud came competition: behaviorism, cognitive theory, etc..... the only big change is that, for a time, all there was... was Freud.

 

Quote:

And in that light, I recall someone claiming that Freud was very good at coming up with hypotheses, but that he did not know how to test them. Which means that he was not that great a scientist.

Freud was a scholar and well versed in the scientific method:

It is a mistake to believe that a science consists in nothing but conclusively proved propositions, and it is unjust to demand that it should. It is a demand only made by those who feel a craving for authority in some form and a need to replace the religious catechism by something else, even if it be a scientific one. Science in its catechism has but few apodictic precepts; it consists mainly of statements which it has developed to varying degrees of probability. The capacity to be content with these approximations to certainty and the ability to carry on constructive work despite the lack of final confirmation are actually a mark of the scientific habit of mind." -- Sigmund Freud

The problem wasn't that he wasn't a great scientist, it was that his clients had problems that were not ammenable to scientific examination. A problem that remains today. Psychological problems are not (yet) capable of being examined like biological diseases, despite what managed care would like to claim...

 

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

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