Would the profession of psychology be where it is today without Freud? Of course that question is near impossible to answer, but it is certainly safe to say that Freud’s contributions to psychology are perhaps some of the most important. Today’s theorists have drifted a bit from the extremes of Freud, but in many respects his basics are still represented. There are many aspects of Freud’s theory that resonate with me, but I do have some difficulty digesting some of his ideas.
Perhaps Freud’s most extreme theory was his psychosexual stages of development. As a part of these stages, Freud believed that the adult personality is formed by the end of the fifth year of life. I’m sure that I’m not the only person to ever take issue with this, but I’d like to take my turn. I find it so odd that an adult, who clearly was bright and creative, would make such a statement.
Whenever I read something of Freud that seems a bit too extreme for me, I can’t help but wonder if his own issues weren’t the reason for some of his claims. I’m not sure if anyone else has even wondered this, and by doing so maybe I’m disgracing the roots of psychology. I do believe that childhood plays an important roll in the development of the self and one’s personality, but to say that development is concluded at the age of 5 is almost a defeatist statement. For me, one of the most exciting aspects of life is personal growth and the constant development of self and understanding that one goes through on a daily basis. It seems to me that Freud might suggest that this isn’t necessary since we are who we are going to be at the ripe age of 5. My question then to Freud would be, what is the point of living after age 5? Perhaps my take on Freud’s theory is just as pessimistic as his view on human life, but I can’t imagine living a life without growth and development past the age of 5.
In contrast to Freud’s view on this particular issue was Jung’s. According to Jung the most important stage in human development occurred around age 40 and beyond. These are almost two extremes. Freud didn’t put enough weight in the possibility of development in later years, while Jung seemed to look past the early years. While I do think childhood is a very important time in one’s development, the idea that there is so much more to look forward to is quite refreshing. Jung’s concept of the goal of self-realization is extremely appealing to me. At this point in life, it seems to me that it should be the ultimate goal for all of us to understand life to the fullest extent possible and resolve who we are to be as individuals.
While I may not agree with certain aspects of Freud’s theories, I do have a great deal of respect for many of his contributions and the enormous effect he has had on almost every facet of human life. I am interested to see how my views change as we explore more theories. Perhaps I will come to agree with Freud’s notion at some point. I doubt it though.