Is Freud still valid?

I don’t know about you guys, but I find Freud really interesting. Maybe because I like some of his theories, or maybe because I over analyze things way too often so I guess we have something in common. Anyway, despite his obviously controversial theories, I think many of his ideas have merit. Hear me out; obviously I don’t think all of his theories are correct. I’m not a believer in the “Oedipus Complex” or his theory of “penis-envy” (which we didn’t really talk about but is basically the female parallel to “castration anxiety”), nor do I think those ideas would go over very well if he tried to propose them in this day and age. What I do admire about Freud is his way of thinking, especially in a society that was extremely repressed at the time. Rather than politely explaining away people’s problems, he looked at aspects of the human psyche that most people were afraid to look too closely at. While many of his theories are only loosely based on scientific facts and are arguably far too fixated on sexual desires, he tried to make sense of things that had previously gone without any explanation. Some of Freud’s theories I enjoy because they are grounded in some aspect of plausibility, while others I find are just plain entertaining. I think that humans have an innate desire to explain things that we don’t understand, which sometimes results in people jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions. While Freud’s conclusions are in no way ‘jumped to’ – he makes many somewhat far-fetched connections between certain things in order to reach his conclusions – there is no way to confirm or deny for sure that they are truly the reasons for the behaviours in question.

I think what Freud was trying to do with his whole concept of psychoanalysis was to help people better understand themselves, whether it be as a way to alleviate ‘hysteria’ or to understand their own unconscious behaviours as a way to be happier in the future. As we discovered with Oedipus, knowing about yourself doesn’t always make you happier, but it can definitely allow you to change your behaviours in a positive way (or scratch out your eyes, whichever feels right).

What I’m trying to say is that while Freud’s theories are extremely difficult to prove and are in many ways controversial, we shouldn’t necessarily discredit them completely. Someone in seminar mentioned that it would be interesting to see what Freud would think about himself if he applied his theories to his own behaviours, and I definitely agree. What if his need to uncover unconscious desires is rooted in a childhood experience that he is repressing?freudian slip

Either way I think Freud is super intriguing and still valid to discuss in a modern context, whether or not he was correct, seeing as he did contribute a lot to the development of psychology.

One response to “Is Freud still valid?

  1. Nice post! I agree (which is not surprising, given that I have spent a good deal of time learning about Freud and lecturing on his work in Arts One!). I, too, find what he was trying to do in terms of looking into what others hadn’t (or didn’t want to) look into to be admirable. He really was a pioneer in that respect, and in the treatment of hysteria and other neuroses at the time. The whole idea of people talking through their thoughts and feelings as a way to move towards feeling better really started with Freud and Josef Breuer, whom he worked with early on in studying and trying to treat hysteria. They thought that hysterics suffered from repressed memories, fantasies, desires, and if they could get those out into the open then the patients would feel better. I can’t speak for whether their claims to success are valid, but the fact that we still today feel it can be useful to talk about what might otherwise be hidden to us, with a psychotherapist, is testament to the importance of this idea.

    Though I most certainly do not agree with many of his conclusions (pretty much anything about the Oedipus complex, penis envy…) I really respect what he was trying to do. And the idea that we could interpret dreams, fantasies, fiction, visual art, etc., as a means to express things that are otherwise unconscious to us, well, I just find that fascinating. I have no idea if it’s true, but to even think that’s possible is really darn amazing of him (and others) to come to.

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