When we talk about Psychoanalytic theory the first name that comes to mind is Sigmund Freud. Even though they are other psychologists that contributed to psychoanalytic theory and its development, Sigmund Freud is known for being the founder of this theory. He is famous for his work on sexual bias of neurosis, his study of hysteria, childhood seduction controversy, and dream analysis, among other theories like id, ego, and superego. Psychoanalytic Theory is the theory of the unconscious mind, and the personality development. Another concept, that helped shape psychoanalysis, is the early ideas of psychopathology. Like any other theory, there is always criticism, and other psychologists that do not share the same view. In Freud’s case, he was criticized for his way of collecting and recording data from his sessions with patients.
Also for his theory of women having penis envy, and that he focused on the past behaviors instead of paying attention to the patient’s goals, future hopes, and motivations. Psychoanalytic Theory focuses on the study of the unconscious and abnormal behavior. Three of the major influences of psychoanalysis were philosophical speculations about the unconscious, early ideas about psychopathology, and other evolutionary theory. The theory of the unconscious mind is that it is a big influence in our life whether we are sleeping or awake.
Freud’s speculated that our actions were a manifestation of the unconscious consequence of childhood experience or emotion. It was Fechner that used the analogy that the unconscious mind is like an iceberg. This analogy helped inspire some of Freud’s work so much that he even quoted Fechner is some of his writings. There were other psychologists before Freud that suggested the theory of the unconscious mind; however Freud claimed that he found a way to study it scientifically. According to Freud, the unconscious mind slips and exposes our true thoughts, desires, emotions and behavior in dreams. This is known as the Freudian slip.
Psychopathology also had a great influence on the development of Psychoanalysis. The study of mental illness dates back to 2000BC. The Babylonians believed that mental illness was the cause of demon possession and that the only treatment was thru magic and prayer. The Hebrews also believed that the cure for mental illness was thru magic and prayer. They also believed that the cause of mental illness was the cause of sins. The great Greek philosophers believed that mental illness was the cause of the disorder of thought process. The treatment was the power of the healing word. In other words, they believed that therapy was the answer to mental illness. When Christianity became popular they convinced the people that mental illness was the result of the evil spirits sending us back to 2000BC mentality.
The only difference is that the Christian Church believed that the only way to get rid of evil spirits and possessions was thru torture and execution. It wasn’t until the eighteen century that mental illness was considered as a behavioral problem. People displaying irrational behavior were sent to an asylum also known as the cemetery for the still breathing. This inspired other psychiatrists to find forms of treatment for the mentally ill. The Emmanuel Movement focused on talk therapy sessions. Elwood Worcester believed that psychological issues can be in some cases the cause of mental illness. The movement became so popular that when Freud came to the United Sates with the concept of psychoanalysis they welcomed him with opened arms.
Sigmund Freud is believed to be the father of psychoanalytic theories. His research was based on his theories about the conscious and unconscious mind. He believed that our actions, emotions, and true thoughts are stored deep in our unconscious. He actually got inspired by Fechner’s analogy that the mind is like an iceberg. The part that is above water represents the conscious mind, and the part that is deep in the water is the unconscious mind. Freud strongly believed that our deepest desires were stored in the mind, and no divine power could change that not even religion. He liked using the free association technique by letting his patients talk about whatever came to mind. Freud believed that by letting the patients express their thoughts they would uncover repressed memories that were the cause of their behavior.
He noticed that his patients talked about childhood suppressed memories that involved sexual issues. At first he thought that his patient’s neurosis was caused by childhood trauma of sexual abuses. Later he suspected that they were fantasies that his patients were reporting and not the actual abuse. One of his theories is that all sons have a sexual attraction towards the mother and all girls towards the father. Freud published a paper talking about his theory of childhood seduction. This paper created so much controversy that some people were angry, and other had mixed emotions. Freud believed that sexual frustration was the cause of neurosis.
He was actually obsessed with the subject because of sex because of the lack of sex in his life. By analyzing his dreams he realized that the unconscious mind can manifest thru dreams. Years later he published a book “The Interpretation of Dreams” (1900). Even though Sigmund Freud’s is considered the father of psychoanalysis it was Charles Darwin’s work that inspired Freud. Most of his views came from Darwin’s ideas on psychoanalysis like the meaning of dreams, the unconscious mind, sexual arousal, and even childhood development. Frank J. Sulloway was a recognized historian of science, and he found that Freud’s way of thinking was inspired by Darwin. “What Sulloway did was to check the books in Freud’s personal library, where he found copies of Darwin’s works. Freud had read them all and had written notes in the margins.”(Schultz, D 1969 pg293). Even though Freud contributed to the field of psychoanalysis there was criticism of his work.
Some scholars believe that his work was reliable due to poor record keeping. “He did not make a verbatim transcript of each patient’s words but worked from notes made several hours after seeing the patient” (Schultz, D 1969 pg315). This means that his notes of the sessions with his patients were compromised by his opinions and ideas. I can see way people would be concerned with his methods of data collection. There is a chance that he misunderstood what his patients were telling him. For example, when my husband and I have an argument there’s time when I misinterpreted what he said. My recollection of the argument is different from his recollection of the argument.
In his case, it is important to have the most accurate information. Other scholars believed that he influenced the patient’s answers and only heard what he wanted to hear. “Examination of the actual cases referred to by Freud reveals not a single instance in which this was the case. There is no evidence that any patient ever told Freud she had been seduced by her father. This is nothing more than an inference on Freud’s part. (Kihlstorm, 1994, p.683)” (Schultz, D 1969, pg316). Concerns about the credibility of his work arose because of inconsistencies with his research, his notes, and the work he published. His work was limited to just a number of people and considered incomplete.
There were other psychologists that also contributed to the development of Psychoanalysis. Carl Jung worked closely with Freud but after 1914, he developed the idea of analytical psychology. This was his own version of what psychoanalysis should be and opposed some of Freud’s work. Jung believed that what shape our personality are our goals, hopes and aspirations and not just childhood experiences like Freud suggested. Personality can change with time. During our lifetime, we can experience several personalities depending on the experiences and the level of maturity. This means that you are not the same person you were in high school. As time passes you learn from your experiences and adapt to your environment as it changes. One of Jung’s theories is that the unconscious mind is formed by two levels. One is the personal level where all the memories, wishes, faint perceptions and suppressed memories are.
The second form of unconscious is the collective unconscious this is where all the universal and evolutionary experiences are. For example, the need and instinct to survive that gets passed on for generations. He also referred to this as archetypes of the collective unconscious. “We typically experience archetype in the form of emotions associated with significant life events such as birth, adolescence, marriage, and death or with reactions to stream danger.” (Schultz, D 1969, pg.327). He also suggested the theories of introversion and extraversion along with the types of functions and attitudes. Another psychologist, that also made a great contribution to psychoanalysis, was Alfred Adler.
Like Jung, Adler did not share Freud’s views on the Oedipus complex. Adler was more interested in the conscious mind than the unconscious mind. He also believed that our plans for the future are the ones that influenced behavior and not the past experiences. Some of his theories are the creative power of the Self and that the order in which we are born matters. Karen Horney also contributed to the development of psychoanalysis. She had many disagreements with Freud’s theories except for the unconscious motivations. She did not share Freud’s view that women had penis envy; instead she suggested that man had womb envy. These psychologists helped developed psychoanalysis. They all brought interesting and exciting new ideas to the table.
These theories helped shaped and develop psychoanalysis. Even though Sigmund Freud is considered the father of psychoanalysis the one that pave the way for others to follow, in fact, it was Charles Darwin how inspired Freud theories. It was Darwin who paved the way for psychoanalysis, but Sigmund brought attention to it by claiming he found a scientific way to study the unconscious mind. Freud had many theories some were accepted by scholars, other theories were not. For example, Childhood seduction caused controversy, and some psychologists did not share his view of the Oedipus complex. Even his method of collecting data was criticized causing doubts about the credibility of his work. The one thing they did agree on was of the existence of the unconscious mind and how it influenced a person’s thoughts, emotions, dreams, personality, and behaviors. Psychoanalysis began with just a philosophical speculation about the unconscious mind. Shaped by the early ideas about psychopathology and developed by evolutionary theories.
Schultz, D. (1969). A history of modern psychology (10e ed.). New York: Academic Cohen, T. (2003). Sigmund freud: The founder of psychoanalysis. School Library Journal, 49(9), 231. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/211726954?accountid=458
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