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Theoretical weakness of Freud's psychoanalysis

Theoretical weakness of Freud's psychoanalysis
Utter Cunt
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Posted Dec 5, 2004 - 10:46 PM:

...a lil summary of existential psychoanalysis. Don't get me wrong, freud was ahead of the times, and prolly the greatest psychologist of all time (not counting nietzsche). However, since he was a philosopher of sorts, its only fair to rip his theory philosophically and show their absurdity without a strawman.

I also sent this to an aspiring psychologist who has too much premature faith in Freud. Since I had already gone thru the theory on a philosophical level, heard all the attacks and debates, etc, I decided to bless her with this nugget of a brainfreeze she won't overcome except self-deception by wilful dogmatism and ostrichlike behavior. The irony is truly rich!


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There are two problematic points with psychoanalysis.

I. Freud’s psychoanalysis irreversibly leads to self-deception.

It all begins within the ID – the unconscious part of the psyche that contains the instincts, drives that are generated by the individual’s personal history. Freud’s standard complex is the Oedipus where the desire to harm one’s father includes the sexual desire of one’s mother. This complex is in direct contradiction to the norms and standards of modern society. These moral and conventional standards of society are internalized in the human psyche as the superego. However, the unacceptable desires or impulses are repressed by the Censor, which lies between the ID and the Ego (the conscious psyche). The Censor, according to Freud, hides the unacceptable impulses from the conscious part of the psyche.

But the censor cannot always succeed in hiding or suppressing these desires, for they eke out and manifest as different, more acceptable desires. An urge to destroy or violate an object may be interpreted as the manifestation of one’s hidden Oedipal instincts. Since that person does not know the actual reason for his/her behavior, that person will attribute such deviant behavior to other (more superficial) reasons or justifications, and take these reasons to be genuine.

Consequently that person is in self-deception with regards to the actual truth of his/her actions and the actual reason for performing them. The Ego is being deceived by the Id. Yet, the ID cannot be a lying bastard in any conventional sense because it is not conscious. In order to deceive, one must know the truth and then consciously attempt to hide it from the other. Ergo, there is a deception, but no deceiver.


II. During psychoanalysis, the patient will resist when the analyst is ‘getting warm’ or closer to the repressed desires. However, this resistance cannot possibly come from the Ego. Why? The ego is not in any position to know the truth, nor is it in a better position than the outside observer. So it cannot know at all whether the analyst is getting ‘warm.’ In addition the ego – the conscious psyche – has no reason to resist since it is part of the search party of the truth.

Nor can the ID be part of the psyche that resists, because its function is to manifest the raw impulses or complexes, bring them to the surface, but the Censor blocks it. Since it is also ‘unconscious’ or ‘subconscious’ the ID cannot be aware of the analyst’s probing actions.

Since it is neither the Ego nor the ID that resists, it must be the Censor. It knows full well what it represses, and whether the analyst is ‘getting warm.’ The censor must also be conscious of what is being repressed because if it determines which drives/complexes are to be repressed, it must be conscious of which ones. On the level of the censor there is an awareness of what is being hidden, and the proximity of the analyst, plus the resistance of the analyst. Everything that takes place with self-deception is done at the level of the censor. The censor is itself in self-deception.

In Freud’s attempt to account for the duality between the deceiver and the deceived that is necessary for any type of deception, he offered the Id and the Ego as the primary suspects. Yet instead of a successful duality, Freud theory actually has a third and separate consciousness between the Id and the Ego that is in self-deception. Freud’s theory does nothing but pass the buck, for it posits a separate consciousness in self-deception, rife with the very problems psychoanalysis theory was supposed to solve in the first place! shaking head
tambourine-man
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Posted Dec 6, 2004 - 2:08 AM:

Fair enough, my friend. You make some persuasive arguments regarding the 'traditionalist' Freudian theory.

Trouble is, I've always considered debating Freudian theory as somewhat fruitless pursuit. It's like arguing about one's current location, with neither a compass nor clear sky. There are no clear points of reference, no real evidence as such and the 'familiar' concepts are rather subjective. Freudian theory (like most other clinical theories of personality) can provide us with a guide, a rough map - but never a 'topographical' map of detail, certainly not one that withstands a thorough scrutinising.

Your criticisms can be boiled down to a single point - that the three 'areas' of consciousness cannot be regarded as 'seperate' conscious entities... to be honest, I'm not sure that Freud ever did regard them as such. I know these days, most clinicians would not regard the concepts of Id, Ego and Superego as 'fixed', definite or 'true' ideas - more that they give a simplified and (almost) personified representation of the more complex chaos beneath the client's exterior.

There used to be a children's cartoon strip called 'The Numbskulls' (or something to that effect). In it, little people would run around inside this child's body, making his body and mind work - sometimes they were at the mercy of the child's thoughts and actions, other times they exerted a degree of control over his behaviour.

Freud is the academic embodiment of this cartoon - perhaps no greater or lesser in accuracy than any other current theory. Useful for theorising and approximating mind, but clinical issues are best addressed by the practitioner using their instinct or drawing on the concepts of other theories. A rigid belief in Freudian theory makes for a poor practitioner (in my humble and unabashed opinion).
sensabile
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Posted Dec 6, 2004 - 3:35 PM:

I would tend to agree with the opinions expressed by tambourine-man. Freud's theories lack evidence and, for lack of a better expression, "provability". His followers remind me of the alchemists and earliest medicinal practitioners: if something went wrong or didn't conform to the laws written down for them it was the fault of the practitioner and not the laws themselves. Freudian theories can be used to interpret almost any event. Since his theories do not actually involve any external components they cannot be witnessed and thus no evidence can be found to support - or more importantly - refute his claims.
ying
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Posted Dec 6, 2004 - 9:12 PM:

sensabile wrote:
I would tend to agree with the opinions expressed by tambourine-man. Freud's theories lack evidence and, for lack of a better expression, "provability". His followers remind me of the alchemists and earliest medicinal practitioners: if something went wrong or didn't conform to the laws written down for them it was the fault of the practitioner and not the laws themselves. Freudian theories can be used to interpret almost any event. Since his theories do not actually involve any external components they cannot be witnessed and thus no evidence can be found to support - or more importantly - refute his claims.


*cough* iol.co.za/index.php?click_i...1081160683167P100&set_id=1


Now, for the first time, researchers at Stanford University and the University of Oregon have shown that a biological mechanism exists in the human brain to block unwanted memories. Their findings reinforce Sigmund Freud's controversial, century-old thesis about the existence of voluntary memory suppression.


BTW, Utter Cunt, what is existential psychoanalysis?
I know of existential psychology (by Ludwig Binswanger) and psychoanalysis, but existential psychoanalysis? Is that like using both theories in therapy?? But how does that have to do with your analysis of Freud? If you use both existential psychology and psychoanalysis in therapy, you would be using free association and existential dialogue...
tambourine-man
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Posted Dec 7, 2004 - 12:18 AM:


Oh, come on.

I don't think anyone actually denies that Freudian concepts can describe mind, nor is it in debate that the notions of repression, suppression and displacement are real. Hell, most clinicians would argue that they are essential mechanisms for survival. What's debatable is the accuracy of the model - if you want an analogy, think of Ptolemy and Galileo. Models may pick up on a degree of truth - even be able to predict with some precision - but because one single aspect of that model is supported, it does not automatically follow that the entire model is correct by proxy.

Freudian theory predicted much. Little has been evidentially supported.
ying
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Posted Dec 7, 2004 - 12:37 AM:

Sensible said that there are no external components to Freudian theories, but theories of mind can be described in 3d-person states through neurology. That was what I was trying to make clear with that link. If you thought I was trying to prove Freudian theory with that link, you have presupposed incorrectly. The only thing that link states is that there is a neurological basis for memory repression (so this is proven)
sgtmac_46
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Posted Dec 7, 2004 - 1:04 AM:

Saying that Freud was one of the greatest psychologists of all time, is like saying the Wright Brothers were the greatest aircraft designers of all time. Being first just gives you name recognition. Much of psychoanalysis was debunked decades ago. Freud is just worshipped by under-graduates because College psychology text writters are lazy. Psychoanalysis lost favor in the late 1940's when it was realized that many mental disorders were organic in nature and were much more effectively treated with certain drugs than with years of fruitless psychotherapy (and at a fraction of the hourly rate, i might add).
ying
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Posted Dec 7, 2004 - 1:14 AM:

Freud wasn't the 1st psychologist. Those honors would go to Wilhelm Wundt and William James. Freud was just highly controversial in his day up untill the present.
And psychopharmaceuticals aren't the new holy grail in psychiatry. Take my mother for instance. She was psychotic for three years, and when she got better, she was all confused. If it weren't for my guidance she would have comitted suicide. Psychopharmaceuticals remove the neurological inballance, but the psychical instability remains in the patient if not treated. Another positive aspect of psychiatry is that a person can learn what stressfull situations have the most inpact on the subject and learn how to deal with those situations so the situation won't act as a catalyst for future psychical diseases. Allso, a person has the right to reject medication (if they aren't a threat to others or themselves), even psychotic people. Someone who has a mental disease won't think of himself as sick (so, could reject medication), but when he/she realises he/she is sick, the problem can be treated. Psychopharmaceuticals play an important role in the rehabilitation of a patient, but the road to complete recovery must be guided by therapy.
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Posted Dec 7, 2004 - 1:26 AM:

ying wrote:
Freud wasn't the 1st psychologist. Those honors would go to Wilhelm Wundt and William James. Freud was just highly controversial in his day up untill the present.


I was by no means giving the honor of being the first, no more than to say the Wright brothers were the first people to experiment in flight. Merely being one of the early pioneers.
Gramm
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Posted Dec 7, 2004 - 1:32 AM:

ying wrote:
Freud wasn't the 1st psychologist. Those honors would go to Wilhelm Wundt and William James.


Errmm (tapitty tap on shoulder)...not so fast Ying.


Your forgetting Artemidorus of Daldis.

It was he, who wrote the famous Oneiocritica which was the first recorded analysis of dreams ever committed to writing.


http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/Artemidorus.htm

Gramm
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