Key Concepts Introduced By Freud And Assess Their Value For Contemporary Psychology

Key Concepts Introduced By Freud And Their Value For Contemporary Psychology

Freud is viewed by academic Psychology with total ambivalence: an outcast iconoclast whose concepts may be judiciously borrowed provided that his theory is kept at arm’s length - Key Concepts Introduced By Freud And Assess Their Value For Contemporary Psychology introduction. All admiration must be strongly qualified, and any influence cautiously confessed.

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Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind, particularly engaging the mechanism of repression; his re-explanation of sexual need as dynamic and directed towards various different objects; and his treatment method, particularly his knowledge of transference in the therapeutic relationship and the assumed value of dreams as sources of insight into unconscious desires. (Andreas-Salome, 1996)

Freud was engaged from the beginning on the quest for a set of interrelated concepts that could be made to work together. This meant that the concepts had to be by some logic on the same stage. They had to have relations to each other. It would be conceivable, for example that a person might try to “explain” the processes of personality by means of the central concept of “mana.” Other concepts would then have to be related to this central concept.

It became necessary then to construct concepts that had to do directly with mental proceedings. This course, as we have seen, involved a very slow emancipation from the idea of somatic causation as being sufficient causation.

Freud laboriously struggled to create concepts that would identify mental proceedings with physical proceedings, and most of all, sexual proceedings. Yet, even while this struggle continued, Freud was minutely observing the complex operations of the mind. His study of dreams is a masterpiece of such observation. This study invited him to the formulation of more and more concepts. But there were not enough somatic manifestations to match the wealth of mental events. Yet to Freud it must have seemed that mental events would certainly be most illusory and elusive, unpredictable and unscientific, unless these mental events were tied to somatic events. Yet these somatic events were not, in any real sense, observable. (Green, 2005)

Freud devised a long string of concepts of organic relevance that carried with it the imputation of organic reducibility. Ego “instincts” will serve as an example. These organic concepts tended to obscure the fact that Freud was really trying to set up a system of related concepts that would reflect mental events. In the second place, Freud made assumptions about somatic conditions that would fit with his observations of mental events. He felt compelled to retain his concepts of organic relevance.

For the first half of the twentieth century, the theories of Sigmund Freud subjugated clarifications of the working of human mind. His primary assumption was that our inspirations stay mainly concealed in our unconscious minds. Furthermore, they are vigorously withheld from consciousness by a suppressive force. The supervisory apparatus of the mind (the ego) denies any unconscious drives (the id) that might ignite attitude that would be unsuited with our civilized notion of ourselves. This repression is compulsory as the drives express themselves in unconstrained fervours, childish fantasies, and sexual and aggressive urges.

Freud held that Mental illness is an outcome of failure of repression. Fears, panic attacks and fascination originate from disturbance of the hidden drives into voluntary attitude. The goal of psychotherapy, at that time, was to outline neurotic symptoms back to their unconscious roots and depict these roots to mature, logical judgment, thus withdrawing them of their compulsive power. (Green, 2002)

Mind researches developed to be more refined in the later half of twentieth century and onward, and it became evident to specialists that the verification Freud used to support his theories was rather weak. His primary method of research was not controlled experimentation. It was rather plain observations of patients in clinical settings, interlinked with theoretical conclusion. Drug therapies gained ground, and biological methods to mental illness steadily surpassed psychoanalysis

Freud lacked the science or technology to know the organization of brain of a normal or neurotic personality. For decades, Freudian theories of ego, id and repressed urges subjugated psychology and psychiatry’s trials to treat mental illnesses. Better perception of brain chemistry steadily substituted this model with a biological description of how the mind arises from neuronal activity. The most recent tests to piece together varied neurological conclusions, on the other hand, are leading to a chemical structure of the mind that authenticates the common sketch made by Freud, a century ago earlier. An increasing group of scientists are keen to merge neurology and psychiatry into a unified theory. (Green, 1997)

Unconscious Motivation

When Freud commenced the principal concept that most mental processes that decide our routine thoughts, feelings and volitions take place unconsciously, his colleagues denied it as unfeasible. But today’s researches are verifying the presence and essential role of unconscious mind. For instance, the behaviour of patients who are not able to consciously recall events that happened after harm to definite memory-encoding make-up of their brains is obviously affected by the “forgotten” events. Cognitive neuroscientists clarifies such cases by defining various memory systems that process information “explicitly” (consciously) and “implicitly” (unconsciously). Freud divided memory along just these lines. (Olson, & Hergenhahn, 2003)

Repression Vindicated

Even if we are mainly inspired by unconscious thoughts, this does not verify anything about Freud’s assumption that we actively repress unpalatable information. But case studies following that notion are beginning to amass. The most famous one initiates from a 1994 study of “anosognosic” patients by behavioural neurologist Ramachandran of the University of California at San Diego. Damage to the right parietal region of these people’s brains causes them to be unaware of gross physical defects, such as paralysis of a limb. After unnaturally activating the right hemisphere of one such patient, Ramachandran checked that she abruptly became aware that her left arm was paralyzed–and that it had been paralyzed constantly since she had undergone a stroke eight days before. This explained that she was able of realizing her defect and that she had unconsciously registered these defects for the previous eight days, despite her cognisant refusals during that time that there wasn’t any problem.

The Pleasure Principle

Freud stepped even ahead, though. He said that not only much of our mental life is unconscious and controlled but that the repressed part of the unconscious mind operates according to another principle than the “reality principle” that rules the conscious ego. This type of unconscious thinking is “wishful”–and it casually ignores the rules of rationale and the arrow of time. (Masson, 2003)

Animal Within

Freud discussed that the desire principle gave expression to ancient, animal urges. To his Victorian colleagues, the proposition that human behaviour was at bottom controlled by urges that served no higher reason than carnal self-fulfilment was absolute disreputable. The moral rage diminished during following years, but Freud’s theory of man-as-animal was pretty much pushed aside by cognitive scientists.

Neuroscientists such as Donald W. Pfaff of the Rockefeller University and Jaak Panksepp of Bowling Green State University consider that the instinctual mechanisms that control human motivation are even more ancient than Freud thought. We have common basic emotional-control systems with our primate relatives and with all mammals. At the deep level of mental organization that Freud called the id, the functional anatomy and chemistry of our brains is not much varied from that of our preferred barnyard animals and household pets. (Olson & Hergenhahn, 2003)

Dreams Have Meaning

Freud’s concepts are also reawakening in sleep and dream science. His dream theory–that nighttimes visions are partial glances of unconscious wishes–was discredited when rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and its tough relationship with dreaming were found out in the 1950s. Freud’s theory seemed to lose all trustworthiness when researchers in the 1970s displayed that the dream cycle was synchronized by the persistent brain chemical acetylcholine, generated in a “mindless” part of the brain stem. REM sleep took place mechanically, every 90 minutes or so, and was driven by brain chemicals and structures that had nothing to do with emotion or motivation. This finding implied that dreams are without explanations; they were simply stories invented by the higher brain to try to replicate the casual cortical activity caused by REM.

But more current studies exposed that dreaming and REM sleep are separable conditions, controlled by distinct, though interactive, mechanisms. Dreaming turns out to be produced by a network of structures ran on the forebrain’s instinctual-motivational circuitry. This research has arisen a host of theories about the dreaming brain, many strongly suggestive of Freud’s.

Psychoanalysis is considered the brain-child of Sigmund Freud, and, indeed, many of its theories were developed and investigated by Freud. His contributions to psychology include the study of hysteria and hysterically- related symptoms in patients, and the then-taboo topics of adult and childhood sexual impulses and conflicts. These last were not widely acceptable subjects and were not usually open to discussion in the late 1800’s. But Freud’s insistence on referring to them in his studies forced others to standardize and broaden their theories. (Jarvis, 2004)

To study his subjects Freud used hypnosis, which was highly popular at the time, as well as largely self-developed methods of dream interpretation. These processes were meant to help the patient recall repressed (forgotten) experiences from childhood which could help the patient and therapist understand the patient’s difficulties. Another Freudian method of therapy is that of exploration of transference, which often happens in therapy, when the patient places feelings from the patient are other relationships onto the psychoanalyst.

Some of the more popular works which Freud wrote include The Interpretation of Dreams, Totem and Taboo, and The Future of an Illusion, which deals with, among other things, the conflict between religion and science. During his career, Freud produced a great amount of writing, and analysts are continually trying to dissect it all. This is as modern-day psychologists and historians find that Freud himself is an excellent case subject to study. Some people think that Freud suffered from a psychological neurosis and that his research really was a method of self-analysis.

We understand that Freud was not correct in all the things he believed. Modern psychoanalysis is much more sensitive to its patients. Freud, however, was important in spurring the field of psychoanalysis and psychology forward and creating a movement of ideas about the human psyche.


Green, André (1997) “On Private Madness”, Publisher: International Universities Press, ISBN 0-8236-3853-7

Green, André (2005) “Psychoanalysis: A Paradigm For Clinical Thinking” Publisher: Free Association Books, ISBN 1-85343-773-5

Green, André (2002) “The Chains of Eros”, Publisher: Karnac Books, ISBN 1-85575-960-8

Green, André (1999) “The Work of the Negative” by Andre Green, Andrew Weller (Translator), Publisher: Free Association Books, ISBN 1-85343-470-1

Masson, Jeffrey Moussaieff, (November 2003) The Assault on Truth: Freud’s Suppression of the Seduction Theory, Ballantine Books, ISBN 0-345-45279-8

Andreas-Salome, Lou (1996) “The Freud Journal”, Publisher: Texas Bookman, 1996, ISBN 0-7043-0022-2

Olson, B. R., & Hergenhahn, Matthew H. (2003) An Introduction to Theories of Personality, Prentice Hall, New Jersey

Jarvis, M. (2004) Psychodynamic Psychology: Classical Theory and Contemporary Research.


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