Sigmund Freud rightfully holds a place in history as a pioneer in psychoanalysis. He’s recognized as the father of psychoanalysis, but in fact, there were a number of men and women who helped develop psychoanalysis. Many of them, such as contemporaries, Adler and Jung broke away from Freud’s basic tenets and formed their own psychoanalytic theories.
The split with Freud’s theories began while the movement was still getting off the ground, but it was Freudian theory that found its way to the western world.
How did Freudian thought find its way so quickly across the sea into American thought and education systems? In the 1930s, many Jews fled Nazi Germany bringing philosophy and culture to the United States. Many of these were scholars and educators, familiar with Freud’s work in psychoanalysis. Our leading universities became a fertile ground for this philosophy.
Today, you will find a that most attitudes toward Freud’s theories have changed to a high degree. We’ll explore a few of them.
Behaviorists: Disdain for Freud’s work and any introspective psychology. John Watson and B.F. Skinner openly showed contempt for Freud’s work. On the flip side of the coin, psychoanalysts allude to behaviorist theory as an attempt to reduce man to slavery with human science theories, citing apartheid as an example.
Gestalt psychologists: Max Wertheimer, founder of Gestalt psychology called psychoanalysis, piecemeal analysis. He once spoke at a seminar at the New School where psychoanalyst Karen Horney was a speaker. He openly refuted her theories on psychoanalysis, branding it a school of gloom, doom and death.
Movie and Film Media: Contempt for the stereotypical psychoanalyst in the movies, Harold and Maude and There’s Something About Mary.
Psychoanalysts challenged Freud’s tenets and dismissed the Oedipus complex, instinct as the primary motivation in humans, emphasis on analytic neutrality, and therapy as a regression to infantile neurosis. These theories are not used in current practice.
Psychoanalysts, except for Lacanian psychoanalysts, have done away with the psychoanalyst couch using a face-to-face approach today. The new therapy approach is called psychotherapy today where the therapist and client are both engaged with the process of healing.
How do Freud’s theories stand up in modern society? With a very few exceptions, Freud’s basic tenets are dead and buried.