Freud and Beyond a History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2064 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Psychology

¶ … Sigmund Freud to the science and art of modern psychology. His frame is based on expanding humankind's knowledge of itself, and the systematic forces that influence day-to-day behaviors. In his study of the inner mental human behavior, Freud demonstrated that the hysterical system could consistently be traced to highly emotional experience which had been repressed and excluded from conscious memory, which influenced virtually every aspect of human behavior such as slips of the tongue and simple errors in memory. Furthermore, Freud developed a method though which the individual could uncover the root sources of dysfunction with a goal of heal them, thereby allowing people to become freer to make better and more satisfying choices in their lives. Freud's work introduced and popularized a number of techniques that are still in use today, his most enduring contribution has been the use of talk therapy and the notion of the unconscious. A summary of the research and important findings are presented in the conclusion.

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Term Paper on Freud and Beyond a History of Modern Psychoanalytic Thought Assignment

The giant's shoulders that many modern mental healthcare practitioners stand on are of course those of Sigmund Freud. Indeed, Freud's pioneering work in psychoanalysis has left a legacy that remains highly influential in modern psychology today, and it is reasonable to suggest that Freud is the most well-known psychiatrist in the relatively brief history of the science. The early work conducted by Freud showed that the so-called hysterical system was responsible for a wide range of human behaviors, including the repression of highly emotional experiences. This manipulation of experiential memories was shown to be responsible for many aspects of human behavior, including "Freudian slips" and simple errors in memory. The goal of Freud's psychoanalytic approach was to help people discover the root sources of any dysfunction so that they could be resolved, thereby allowing individuals to make better and more satisfying choices in their lives. To determine Freud contributions to psychoanalysis, including the techniques he introduced, this paper provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature, followed by a summary of the research in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

Born in 1856 in a small town near Vienna, Austria, Sigmund Freud's innovative approach to psychoanalysis is widely regarded by many mental healthcare practitioners today as being the foundation of the modern psychodynamic paradigm. In this regard, Demorest (2005) calls Freud one of the originators of the "Grand Theories" of psychology, and notes that he was "a Viennese physician whose major treatise introducing his theory was published in 1899. When Freud looked at the human being, what he saw were seething forces arising from different sources within the mind to wage a never-ending war, and all of this going on without the individual's own awareness" (p. 2). According to one biographer, "The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud is best known for his tendency to trace nearly all psychological problems back to sexual issues" (Sigmund Freud, 2010, para. 2). These biographers go on to emphasize, though, that while Freud's original theory has been radically revisited time and again over the years, he is credited with a number of innovations that have been enormously influential in creating the psychodynamic paradigm that remains prevalent today. In this regard, this biographer also notes that, "Other now-famous Freudian innovations include the therapy couch, the use of talk therapy to resolve psychological problems, and his theories about the unconscious -- including the role of repression, denial, sublimation, and projection" (Sigmund Freud, 2010, para. 3). Likewise, although she refuses to go so far as to call him the "Father of Psychoanalysis," Ellerby (2005) does allow that "Freud [was] the progenitor of psychoanalysis" (p. 59). The major treatise referred to by Demorest was published at the fin de siecle and was contained in Freud's book, The Interpretation of Dreams, which would go on to fuel interest in his theories and treatment approaches for the next century and beyond. In this regard, Demorest (2005) emphasizes that, "By all accounts it was his greatest work, introducing a model of the human psyche that was to profoundly change the way that later generations would think about themselves and their world" (p. 20).

These designations of Freud being the founder of modern psychoanalytic thought, then, are based on this seminal work as well as the numerous contributions to modern psychoanalysis that Freud would go on to make including what Demorest describes as "the first comprehensive model with a psychodynamic approach to understanding persons. This approach offers us an image of the human psyche that infers powerful forces battling unseen within us, envisioning an intriguing mystery hidden under that which is apparent" (2005, p. 2). From this perspective, various mental forces that remain in the unconscious realm of the human mind constantly attempt to manifest themselves in various types of sometimes-irrational behavior; however, these mental forces inevitably encounter other unconscious forces that attempt to prevent their manifestation (Demorest, 2005). In other words, human behavior results from how these conflicting mental forces are assigned varying degrees of acceptability and the extent to which one force wins out over the other. As Demorest puts it, "Human behavior represents the resolution of this dynamic battle as these various forces are modified, channeled, and given compromised satisfaction" (2005, p. 3).

The mental forces that are believed to be most active in this unconscious duel over what behaviors will be manifest are primarily sexual and aggressive impulses and the moral restrictions that prevent their expression (Demorest, 2005). This point is also made by Hughes (2004) who notes that in seeking to explain the "hysterical" behaviors of his first case, "Anna O.," Freud maintained that her symptoms "stood as a compromise between contending psychic forces, and hence their meaning was not immediately comprehensible; and then, he further argued, it was sexual fantasies, not traumatic events, that were being represented" (p. 9). According to Cherry (2010), "While Anna O. is often referred to as one of Freud's most famous patients, the two never actually met. The real Anna O., a young woman by the name of Bertha Pappenheim, was actually a patient of Freud's friend and colleague, Josef Breuer" (para. 1). Although Beam (2001) characterizes the relationship between Freud and Breuer as being on of mentee and mentor, respectively, it was this collaboration (the two disagreed about some important points during their collaboration) that would later be refined into Freud's guiding theoretical framework (Cherry, 2001). According to Cherry, "Through discussing her symptoms and treatment with Breuer and their eventual work on a book titled Studies on Hysteria, Freud continued to develop his theory and use of talk therapy" (para. 3). The inextricable interplay between the mental forces described in this and future works by Freud were based on his views that human behavior was mysterious and difficult to comprehend, but it could be understood to some extent by applying his psychoanalytic approach and allowing patients to talk about things that might remain undisclosed and therefore untreatable. In this regard, Demorest advises that a Freud believed that a state of homeostasis could be achieved when the delicate balance between what was socially acceptable and what was not was reached in the expression of human behavior. As Demorest puts it, "In a successful compromise between these opposing forces, human behavior represents the symbolic expression of sexual and aggressive wishes in a socially acceptable form" (2005, p. 3). In the battle between what the primal desires compel people to do and their intuitive analysis of the social acceptability of its various permutations, even the most benign or altruistic behaviors, Freud maintains, are the manifestation of the resolution of these inner conflicts. In this regard, Demorest adds that, "Thus, even the most apparently adaptive and rational human behavior rests on a hidden base of passion, conflict, and irrationality" (2005, p. 3). This type of analysis is attractive for a number of reasons, but especially because it can help explain the otherwise-inexplicable, and while it is reasonable to suggest that people act different ways for different reasons, it is also reasonable to suggest that many people behave in ways that they do not completely understand but which may be understood, at least to some degree, if they are examined from Freud's perspective.

Although it has undergone significant refinement and reinterpretation over the years, Freud's model remains the foundation upon which many other influential psychological theorists have based their work. For example, Demorest reports that, "Freud's theory was the first of its kind, but it has been followed by many others, such as those offered by Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Karen Horney, and Erik Erikson" (2005, p. 3). While all of these theorists differ in how they view the human developmental process and what forces are preeminent during various periods in the human life span, they share the underlying belief that people behave the way they do as a result of unconscious forces at work in their lives, and that these forces can be illuminated and resolved through various talk therapy methods.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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