Psychoanalysis In Modern Theory: An Inheritance From Sigmund Freud

2242 words - 9 pages

Long regarded as the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) lives on today as an incredibly influential and powerful figure in the applied discipline of psychology. For Freud, it was his intense study of dialogue and interplay of involuntary human communication that ultimately led to his conclusions concerning the human unconscious. In contemporary studies, these conclusions have evolved into many of the distinguished, and more importantly controversial theories we associate with his name: the Oedipus complex; castration anxiety; penis envy; repetition compulsion; repression; etc. Much of the contention surrounding Freud is grounded in the belief that his works instituted notions that cannot be proven scientifically, such as personality development in infantile stages; sexuality in unconscious desire; and the unconscious drives behind human mannerism. Yet, despite the fact that many of Freud’s theories have not withstood the test of scientific scrutiny, few can argue against the fact that Freudianism is still impactful and has permeated other branches of modern theory. To prove this point, we can bring to attention the names of two modern theorists that have not only built upon Freud’s ideas in their work, but have consequently expanded his influence into other realms of literature, and other spheres of study. Harold Bloom (1930 – present) and Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) are only two notable thinkers that extend Freud’s ideas and have gained far-reaching influence in intellectual life. In response to this revival however, new opponents of Freud have found the opportunity to retaliate with their concerns and arguments. Nevertheless, the presentation of human identity and unconscious by Freud’s opponents and successors continues to motivate discussion, preserving the significance of Freudian ideas in modern theory.
To understand the basis behind the impressive amount of skepticism that has afflicted Freud’s work demands a discussion concerning his practice of psychoanalytic therapy. If one examines Freud’s methodology today, it gradually becomes clear that as an analyst, Freud placed great attention and faith in his therapeutic technique, which later became known as “free association”. Because “free association” is an auditory procedure whereby the patient simply speaks their mind to the analyst, it becomes necessary to introduce a notable Freudian term, “transference,” which constitutes the idea that the attitude a patient develops towards his analyst essentially conveys his unconscious feelings as well. However, it was precisely the nature of Freud’s relationship with his patients and his “treatment” of their neuroses that ultimately drew the attention of critics, who called to question the scientific value behind his doctrines. A critique of Freud, Eliseo Vivas, believes that because psychoanalysts are primarily concerned with uncovering and interpreting the unconscious, they are forced to probe it, but the unconscious, according...

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