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Freud: Is Freud still relevant Which of his theories still apply Which don't, and why - Essay Example

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Freud: Is Freud still relevant Which of his theories still apply Which don't, and why

His theories were inspired by the work of Josef Breuer while performing hypnosis on patients. Since then he started using the technique of free association and dream analysis to uncover the root cause of problems or dysfunctions and find solutions to cure them. Some of the theories developed by Freud include: the conscious and unconscious mind; the id, ego and superego; stages of psychosexual development; life and death instincts and defense mechanisms. Although most of them are in use today, hey have been modified and updated by neo-Freudians such as Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Otto Rank, Karen Horney and Erich Fromm among others. According to Engler (62) Freud’s theories may not be universally accepted but they compel many people. One of his most notable contributions is the talk therapy as well as the notions of unconsciousness. This paper will critically analyze Freud’s theories to determine whether Freud is still relevant and which of his theories still apply. One of the tenets of Freud’s psychoanalysis theory is that personality is unconscious, hidden and unknown. In other words, behavior is shaped by unconscious mental processes which are out of our control (Storr ch.3). His theory of the unconscious mind was developed through empirical observation of hysterical women. This method of collecting data is different from modern methodologies whereby experiments are conducted in the research laboratory. The clients are subjected to free association technique whereby they are asked to narrate their experiences based on the assumption that these clients mostly women suffer from sexual frustration (Storr ch.3). In this case, Freud focused most of his attention on sex in the belief that personality is shaped by sex drives and also that psychological dysfunctions and neurosis result from sexual frustration. Today, this method is not widely used as more interactive and interpersonal sessions developed by later theorists such as Adler and Horney are preferred. One problem with this method is that it focused on a homogenous sample group of hysterical women and generalized the results to whole population including men and children. Furthermore, there was the problem of sexual frustration in the area he studied thus the results could have been biased or influenced by the situation thus the conclusions can be refuted. Freud also laid more emphasis on past events rather than current experiences in the belief that early childhood experiences affect adulthood or shape personality (Storr ch. 7). As such, he assumed that children developed in stages starting from oral, anal, phallic, latent and genital stages and conflicts arising out of each stage must be resolved or fixation occurs. The most notable form of conflict during the psychological development is the Oedipus complex whereby boys lust for their mothers and hate fathers and Electra complex or penis envy for girls (Storr ch. 4). Freud emphasizes the role of environment in shaping behavior through this theory. For example, toilet trainers are very vital in ensuring the anal stage is completed effectively. For Freud behavioral dysfunctions such as homosexuality result from arrested development at phallic stage and thus homosexuality is neither an illness nor a crime. Hysteria in women could also be treated by stimulation of the clitoris. (Storr ch.7). For Freud therefore, sex and ...Show more


Name: Course: Date: Introduction Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is regarded as the father of psychoanalysis. Although most of his ideas are controversial in nature, there is no doubt that they brought a revolution in the field of psychology and now form the foundation for much of theoretical expansion by modern psychologists…
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