At the beginning of the 1900’s, two revolutions were shaping the new century. One was in the physical sciences. This included the discovery of subatomic particles, with its principles and laws governing the universe. The other was medical science that was making leaps and bounds in the areas of diagnostics and treatments. With this territory came an astonishing proposal. That human behavior could be studied scientifically, and that treatments could be devised that would be as effective as those for ailments in the physical realm. Sigmund Freud was one of those that led the psycho-medical science revolution. Freud came to symbolize the search for the fundamental principles that define human behavior.
In the first part of this report we will cover Freud’s background, both personally and professionally. The second part will review his work and the social background in which he developed his theories and models of human behavior. The third part will cover his critic’s and their opinions of his shortcomings. Finally, part four will discuss Freud’s contribution in the area of criminal justice.
Part I Background
Sigismund Schlomo Freud was born on May 6, 1856, in Freiberg, Moravia. He had seven younger siblings. Freud's father, a Jewish wool merchant, moved the family to Leipzig, Germany in 1859, and then settled in Vienna, Austria in 1860. Freud remained there until 1938. In 1877, he abbreviated his name to Sigmund Freud. In 1886, Freud married Martha Bernays. Together, they had six children (Mathilde, 1887; Jean-Martin, 1889; Olivier, 1891; Ernst, 1892; Sophie, 1893; Anna, 1895) (Austrian National Tourist Office).
One of the interesting things about Freud was his ethnic background. There is some difficulty in establishing his true citizenship and identifying his nationality. The obvious answer would be Austrian, but Austria had only been created by the Treaty of Saint Germain in 1919, and disappeared in 1938. Some say he was a Czech since he was born in Moravia. But, at that time it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At times, Freud saw himself as a German, and at other times, in response to his upbringing and the anti-Semitism he encountered along the way, he identified as a Jew (APA 2000). So we have a German-identified, culturally assimilated Jew, born in what is now the Czech Republic and living in Vienna, a town he claimed to detest with an almost physical loathing. Its no wonder Freud spent so many years doing “self-analysis”).
Freud was deeply influenced by several diverse factors that interconnected with each other to shape the development of his thought. Both Jean-Martin Charcot and Josef Breuer had a direct impact upon him, but there were other factors that were of a rather different nature (Pfohl 1995).
First of all,
Freud himself was very much a Freudian - his father had two sons by a previous
marriage, Emmanuel and Philip. Freud's
own self-analysis - which forms the core of his masterpiece The Interpretation of Dreams - originated in the emotional crisis
which he suffered on the death of his father, and the series of dreams to which
this gave rise. This analysis revealed to him that the love and admiration that
he had felt for his father were mixed with contrasted feelings of shame and
hate. Particularly revealing was his
discovery that he had often fantasized as a youth that his half-brother Philip
was really his father. This along with
certain other signs convinced him of the deep underlying meaning of this
fantasy - that he had wished his real father dead, because he was his rival for
his mother's affections (Freud 1911). This was to become the personal basis for
his theory of the Oedipus complex.
Secondly, an account must be taken of the contemporary scientific climate, in which Freud lived and worked. In most respects, the towering scientific figure of nineteenth century science was Charles Darwin, who had published his revolutionary "The Origin Of Species" when Freud was four years old. This evolutionary doctrine radically altered the prevailing conception of man. Whereas before man had been seen as a being different in nature to the members of the animal kingdom by virtue of his possession of an immortal soul, he was now seen as being part of the natural order, different from non-human animals only in degree of structural complexity. This made it possible and plausible, for the first time, to treat man as an object of scientific investigation, and to conceive of the vast and varied range of human behavior, and the motivational causes, from which it springs, as being amenable in principle to scientific explanation. Much of the creative work done in a whole variety of diverse scientific fields over the next century was to be inspired by, and derive sustenance from, this new world-view, which Freud, with his enormous esteem for science, accepted implicitly.
Third, an even more important influence on Freud came from the field of physics. The second 50 years of the nineteenth century saw monumental advances in contemporary physics, which were largely initiated by the formulation of the “Principle of the Conservation of Energy”. This principle states, in effect, that the total amount of energy in any given physical system is always constant, that energy quanta can be changed but not annihilated, and consequently that when energy is moved from one part of the system it must reappear in another part. The progressive application of this principle led to the monumental discoveries in the fields of thermodynamics, electromagnetism, and nuclear physics that, with their associated technologies, have so comprehensively transformed the contemporary world. When Freud first came to the University of Vienna he worked under the direction of Ernst Theodor Brucke, who in 1874 published a book setting out the view that all living organisms, including humans, are essentially energy-systems to which the principle of the conservation of energy applies. Freud, who had great admiration and respect for Brucke, quickly adopted this new 'dynamic physiology' with enthusiasm. From there, Freud was able to take on the view that there is such a thing as 'psychic energy. He stated that the human personality is also an energy-system, and that it is the function of psychology to investigate the modifications, transmissions, and conversions of 'psychic energy' within the personality, which shape and determine it. This latter conception is the very cornerstone of Freud's psychoanalytic theory.
In the late 19th century, the conflicting interests of its multiple nationalities plagued Austria. Its occupation of the Turkish provinces of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1878 and rivalry with Russia for control over the Balkans in the wake of the Ottoman Empire's decline inevitably intensified the nationalism of the empire's large Slavic minorities. Six years after Austria's outright annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1914, a Serbian nationalist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. This event led to World War I, in which Austria was allied with Germany (see Triple Alliance). Russia's decision to mobilize escalated the war beyond a regional conflict by bringing into play the system of European alliances. Because German war strategy depended on avoiding a two-front war, Germany had to defeat France before Russia could fully mobilize. Thus, Germany responded to Russia's mobilization by immediately declaring war on France and Russia. Britain declared war on Germany. Austria declared war on Russia. Finally, France and Britain declared war on Austria and Hungary.
Although German and Austrian military victories in the east during the spring of 1915 overcame the military disasters that Austria experienced early in the war, the empire's internal economic situation steadily grew more precarious. Austria was not prepared for a long and costly war. The death of Emperor Franz Joseph in November 1916 deprived Austria and Hungary of its symbolic unifying presence. His grandnephew, Karl, was unprepared for his role as emperor. But by this time, the future of the monarchy no longer depended on what the emperor did; rather, its fate hinged on the outcome of the war. Despite revolutionary Russia's withdrawal from the war, military success in the east could not counter events in the west. The United States had entered the war on the side of the Allies in April 1917, and with the failure of its military offensive in the spring of 1918, Germany and Austria were no longer capable of continuing the war. After witnessing the carnage of the war, Freud was able to establish additional theories to his ever-growing studies on the normal personality of the id, ego and superego.
Austria emerged beaten and stripped of the territories that had contributed to its 1,000-year imperial history. The new Austrian republic was reduced to its essential Germanic core, a quarter of its former size. Austria did not adjust well to its restructured postwar circumstances. Politically oriented private armies representing both socialists and conservatives increased the potential for internal strife. The failure of Austria's largest bank in 1931 plunged the nation into economic crisis.
In 1933 Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of the German Reich. Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, a pro-Fascist, assumed dictatorial powers the same year. He dissolved all rival parties a year later. Socialist resistance to this measure led to Dolfuss murder in July 1934. Subsequently, an attempted takeover by Austrian Nazis collapsed when Mussolini dispatched troops to the Austrian border as a warning to Adolf Hitler to keep hands off. Kurt Von Schuschnigg, who was unable to stop the growth of Nazi Germany’s influence in Austria, succeeded Dollfuss. Following his resignation, German troops entered the country, and the union of Austria and Germany was proclaimed. As part of their routine business of scare tactics and domestic terrorism, the Gestapo searched Freud's house, arrested and interrogated his daughter Anna (Allen 1997). In 1938, threatened by the Nazi occupation of Austria and suffering from a serious form of cancer, Freud immigrated to England with his family. At 83 years of age, Sigmund Freud died in London on September 23, 1939.
Work was fundamental to life in Freud's view, and the concept of work for him, was a central one for both practice and theory (APA 2000). Freud came out with his first influential work, in 1900, The Interpretation of Dreams. It contained nearly all his fundamental observations and ideas. "Dreams," Freud said, "are invariably the product of a conflict ... [they help sleep] releasing tensions that come from unattainable wishes”. But it is not just from dreams that a trained psychoanalyst might take his or her clue: just everyday behavior of the subject will be telling. For instance, Freud said that to forget a name means that you unconsciously dislike the person; if a man misses his ride to work or school, it is because he or she unconsciously dislikes going to school or work; or if a man forgets his house keys, it is because he has an unhappy marriage (whether he thinks it or not.)
One of Freud's initial theories on the levels of consciousness was that there were two states: the conscious and the unconscious. He described the mental processes of the unconscious as being responsible for the aspects of human behavior. For instance, a man might think consciously that his bumping into a woman was purely accidental in nature, but actually it may have been a manifestation of his unconscious sexual desire for her, as he managed to invade her intimate space and brought his body into a sort of forceful contact with hers, perhaps an act symbolic of sexual intercourse (Davis 1997).
Freud came to find this "black or white" definition of consciousness to be unsuitable, however, and redefined his theory on consciousness, incorporating a third level: the pre-conscious. The conscious level of mental activity is the level on which all thought processes occur. What one thinks, conceptualizes, or understands takes place on this level of activity. The pre-conscious is where information is stored away, but is easily obtainable. Fond memories and the knowledge of how to perform day-to-day activities are examples of information stored at this level. The unconscious is where memories and information are stored which cannot be accessed readily. Most of a person's past history is stored on this level of consciousness, as well as those thoughts and memories which have been put out of mind in order to preserve a person's mental stability and/or to prevent pain.
Another aspect of Freud’s early research led him to conclude that the human personality contains three major components: The Id, the Ego and the Superego. The id is the unrestrained, primitive, pleasure-seeking component with which each child is born. The Ego develops out of the Id as the child grows. The ego develops through the reality of living in the world and helps manage and restrain the id’s need for immediate gratification. The Ego is not so inward seeking and recognizes that there does exist a world beyond. It recognizes the larger picture. Conflict between the Id and the Ego can result in a person having neuroses. The third state is the Superego. The Superego is the highest state at which we have arrived in our evolutionary "progress." The Superego is an overseer, our conscience; and, like the Id, is something of which we are not conscious. The superego develops through interactions with parents and other significant people and represents the development of conscience and the moral rules that are shared by most adults (Jeffery 1990). Though we are not aware of the struggle, according to Freudian theory, there exists a continuing battle between the id and the Superego with the Ego in the center trying to keep them apart (Davis 1997).
All three segments of the personality are in simultaneous operation. If these components are properly balanced a person can lead a normal life. If one aspect of the personality becomes dominant at the expense of others, however, the individual exhibits neurotic or even psychotic personality traits.
For Freud, the sex drive is the most important motivating force in a person’s life. In fact, Freud felt it was the primary motivating force not only for adults but also for children and even infants. Freud noted that, at different times in our lives, different parts of our skin give us greatest pleasure. Later theorists would call these areas erogenous zones. It appeared to Freud that the infant found its greatest pleasure in sucking, especially at the breast. In fact, babies have a penchant for bringing nearly everything in their environment into contact with their mouths. A bit later in life, the child focuses on the anal pleasures of holding it in and letting go. By three or four, the child may have discovered the pleasure of touching or rubbing against his or her genitalia. Only later, in our sexual maturity, do we find our greatest pleasure in sexual intercourse. In these observations, Freud had the makings of a psychosexual stage theory. These stages are experienced by every person during his or her life and tend to shape their personality. The stages are delineated below (Davis 1997).
The oral stage lasts from birth to about 18 months. The focus of pleasure is, of course, the mouth. Sucking and biting are favorite activities.
The anal stage lasts from about 18 months to three or four years old. The focus of pleasure is the anus. Holding it in and letting it go are greatly enjoyed.
The phallic stage lasts from three or four to five, six, or seven years old. The focus of pleasure is the genitalia. Masturbation is common.
The latent stage lasts from five, six, or seven to puberty, that is, somewhere around 12 years old. During this stage, Freud believed that the sexual impulse was suppressed in the service of learning.
The genital stage begins at puberty, and represents the resurgence of the sex drive in adolescence, and the more specific focusing of pleasure in sexual intercourse.
Any trauma that occurs during any of these early life stages may have a lasting effect on the child’s personality. For example, premature weaning during the oral stage may cause an individual to be fixated on oral pastimes such as smoking and drinking alcohol. If toilet training is a frightening or frustrating experience, the child’s superego may be damaged and sometimes a sadistic and cruel anal personality will develop.
During his research Freud discovered that his patients would talk about past experiences associated with their childhood and their relationships with their parents. Freud also utilized hypnosis as a means of recovering unconscious desires and feelings from his, mostly neurotic patients. The technique of recalling these repressed feelings was called “free association”. In 1896, out of this groundbreaking research, Freud coined the term, “psychoanalysis” . In An Outline of Psychoanalysis he restated some of the basic tenets of psychoanalytic theory:
· Consciousness is not co-terminus with the psychical. That is to say, the unconscious is also psychical. It is not some mystical, transcendent or occult phenomenon, but is simply a part of the psychical.
· Secondly, "the complete truth of the assertion" as Freud says in the Outline of Psychoanalysis, "that the child is psychologically father to the adult".
· Thirdly, and most important, the primacy and inevitability of psychic conflict.
· Fourthly, the insistence that the equation, perception = reality, does not hold; our desires and fears distort our perception of the world; and
· Fifthly, the insistence that the basis of this conflict is 'instinctual life' in its widest sense and its indissoluble link to anxiety (Allen 1997).
To continue the basic tenets of psychoanalysis Freud felt introduced, at the age of 82, some entirely new concepts - especially the idea of the splitting of the ego in two. So, at the same time Freud restates his basic principles, he is introducing fresh concepts and new avenues of research. This was Freud's answer to the problem of tradition - he demonstrated that creativity in science can only be fruitful on the basis of fundamental principles. Psychoanalysis is not a philosophy. It does not advance through speculation of the individual ego, with its illusion of free will and its tendency to think whatever pleases it or brings solace in the trials of life. Psychoanalysis is constrained by its connection to experience, to a social practice, and through a submission - being held accountable, one might say - to basic tenets (APA 2000). “When anything is possible, then nothing scientific can really develop.” This was Freud's answer, and this was Freud's work.
PART III MAJOR CRITICISMS
“Every hour of every day . . . there are people who cannot forget a name, or make a slip of the tongue, or feel depressed; who cannot begin a love affair, or end a marriage, without wondering what the [Freudian] reason may be”. (Cramer 1998). Despite his popularity in worldwide culture, intellectual journalists and the press frequently feature new exposes concerning Freud's therapeutic mistakes. They attack his personal idiosyncrasies and his theoretical limitations. Freud is declared in many of these articles to be profoundly limited by his own neuroses, gripped by biases and unable to practice what he preached.
Even some of Freud's colleagues in psychoanalysis were not content with simply being followers and developed various ideas that did not fit with his own. Adler and Jung, for example, de-emphasized sexuality in favor of other unconscious forces (Jeffery 1990). Freud was faced with controversy from within the psychoanalytic movement and from critics from various fields in medicine, the humanities and the social sciences
"Opinion is gaining ground that doctrinaire psychoanalytic theory is the most stupendous intellectual confidence trick of the twentieth century: and a terminal product as well-something akin to a dinosaur or a zeppelin in the history of ideas, a vast structure of radically unsound design and with no posterity." (Tallis 1996).
Freud as A Person
The critics began by attacking Freud as an individual and over what kind of person he was. There is evidence that he, as Freud himself said, was an "intellectual conquistador." They said he was an intellectual ideologue and conqueror. Critics proclaim that he was in no way a scientist. In fact, they claimed that he was not even a fair clinician in the sense that he was always misrepresenting what he had found and was frequently deceptive. And lately, that he seems to have had some unsavory personal characteristics. But the major critiques of Freud are not personal.
The main complaint about the science in which Freud researched was that it was too general. Freud seems to explain everything after the fact, but predicts nothing beforehand. There is the accusation that Freud intentionally technicalized his language to give it an air of scientific authenticity. A term like repression, Macmillan notes, points to no independently known reality but merely gives a name to the questionable survival of traumatic memory traces in an unconscious, which itself remains uncharacterized. Moreover, incompatible burdens are placed upon the term, indicating that the theory behind it is fatally muddled. When repression is then invoked as an explanatory factor in new contexts, true believers may feel that fresh territory is being conquered, but the scope of Freud's circularity is simply being widened. The same flaw of empty conceptualization appears in virtually every feature of his system, from the preconscious through the ego, introjection, the death instinct, and so forth. They aim at the intellectual structure of the system. Freud himself, and many other Freudians when these ideas of his were first proposed, claimed that psychoanalysis had achieved the status of a science. These proponents held that Freud's themes were an application of the natural scientific tradition to the realm of the mind. Those pretensions are gone now. Today virtually no one believes that Freud's understanding of the mind has had any impact whatsoever on traditional science. Some of the critics have said that psychoanalysis is really an "interpretive" science rather than an empirical science, a so-called “applied philosophy of life”. In fact, even most psychoanalysts have given up trying to claim that they are practicing science.
Critics have attacked Freud at the very heart of his theories. A theory should not create its own facts. Critics claim that psychoanalysis, however, does so at every turn. For example, repression is invoked to account for the delayed effect of childhood trauma in producing adult psychoneuroses, but the only reason for believing that such an effect occurs is a prior belief in repression. A dream is regarded as a disguised representation of its latent content, the dream thoughts, but such thoughts can be detected only by Freudian dream interpretation. So, too, castration threats, real or fantasized, supposedly trigger the onset of the male latency period, but the latency period is itself a pure artifact of the theory. Or again, Freud invoked penis envy to explain female submissiveness, masochism, and incapacity for cultural strivings, but in this instance the theory and the "facts" alike derived from cultural prejudice. A theory should be falsifiable. Often, however, Freudian tenets are scarcely challenged, much less refuted, by unexpected outcomes. The vagueness of the theory is such that it can withstand almost any number of surprises and be endlessly revised according to the theorist's whim, without reference to data. Indeed, as Macmillan emphasizes, Freud drew on the same pool of evidence in offering three incompatible etiologies for homosexuality, and he did the same in proposing three incompatible paths for the overcoming of narcissism. Throughout his whole career of theoretical development, rhetorical guile, and not much more, established the linkage between evidence and theory. Hypothetical entities or processes should be characterized, that is, they ought to possess attributed properties that lend themselves to confirmation outside their immediate role in the theory at issue. If they lack this quality, they are only placeholders for mechanisms that may not exist at all. This is just what the critics claim to find in the case of psychoanalytic postulates.
More directly the critics have attacked psychotherapy itself. They claim that free association is really catholic confession and psychotherapy today is preoccupied, on the one hand, with medication, and on the other hand, with behavioral and cognitive strategies for dealing with very special symptoms and problems. Freud's influence is on the wane because he had nothing to contribute to the biochemical nature of mental problems or to the behavioral and cognitive strategies of dealing with particular anxieties or phobias. Freud as a scientist, metapsychologist, and diagnostician of society emerges as a quack. (Tallis 1996).
Freud on Personality
In the criticism of Freud and his personality testing and theories, critics claim that he overstressed the early personality formation and he failed to consider adult personality changes. One of the negative consequences of focusing on the importance of early childhood is that, while gaining insights, some people just stay there, and they blame irresponsible behavior on childhood experiences, never seeming to move forward. These people become permanent victims stuck in the past and unable to move beyond it. They blame their parents or someone else for their problems without seeing their own responsibility. Freud also heavily emphasized the past as a deterministic system. Here he was simply assimilating the prevailing nineteenth-century model of causality and applying it to human behavior. He did not excuse their behavior as the result of past experiences, but he provided logic for the notion that we are not responsible for our behavior. One of the things psychology, psychotherapy, and psychoanalysis have done is to introduce the idea that people are not responsible for a large amount of their behavior. This takes away any formal judgment of irresponsible behavior.
Critics claim that Freud continually made an overemphasis on sex and especially infantile sexuality. First, that he emphasized sexuality way past its natural importance. Secondly, that he emphasized that sexuality was always repressed and that it was desirable if it was brought into the open. Some believe that over time this doctrine has led to our pornographic culture. He was the first to argue that repressed sexuality was at the source of neurosis -- a theory that gained wide acceptance and had a far-reaching cultural influence despite the lack of any supporting evidence.
Many believe that Freud had an obvious bias against females. Freud’s negative attitudes towards women colored his theory. An example of this speculative and globalizing argument is that Freud and various colleagues persistently and mistakenly diagnosed hysteria in great numbers of women, the majority of whom were, in fact, suffering from epilepsy. The heterogeneity and vicissitudes of past and present psychiatric diagnoses is at least as likely an explanation for most mistakes made, rather than the claim that all, or nearly all, "hysteria" can be accounted for by organic brain disease.
Finally, critics have a claim that everything becomes psychological. Psychology expanded so that if you have an allergy, or asthma, or you are obsessive, or compulsive, this has a psychological origin. Psychology can even explain religion, uncovering your religious motivation. Psychology lies behind every form of behavioral or medical pathology. The pushing of psychology as the cause of everything is Freud's legacy.
There is not one study which one could point to with confidence and say: "Here is definitive support of this or that Freudian notion." (Eysenck and Wilson, 1973)
Although many criticisms exist, there are as many arguments, if not more, in support of the groundbreaking contributions that Freud made to his field. Perhaps because its flawed nature or perhaps because of its validity Freud’s theory and his legacy live on in seeming indisputable form.
PART IV CRIMINOLOGY INFLUENCE
Freudian psychoanalysis has had some impact on criminology. However, Freud has heavily influenced the social approach to criminology. Crime and criminal behavior increasingly became viewed as the product of early childhood experience producing complexes, antisocial tendencies, repressions, delusions or the act of the unconscious mind. This is evidenced by a number of articles and books dedicated to the analysis of behavior by psychoanalysts. In Wayward Youth, August Aichhorn (1925) described delinquency in terms of classical Freudian theory (Jeffery 1990). For example, if neglectful parents fail to develop a child’s superego adequately, the id may become the dominant personality force. Later, the youth may demand immediate gratification, may lack sensitivity and compassion for others, may disassociate feelings, may act aggressively and impulsively, and may demonstrate other psychotic symptoms. As a result, delinquent activity may become an outlet for violent and antisocial feelings. Thus, to explain social behavior, psychodynamic theory focuses on traumas experienced early during one’s developmental stages and the resulting personality imbalances. Psychodynamic theory suggests that an imbalance in personality traits caused by a traumatic early childhood can produce a damaged mature personality. That is, deep-rooted problems developed early in childhood will cause long-term psychological problems (Brendtro 1998).
A number of studies have been made of the relationship between psychiatric disorders and criminal behavior. Some theorists rely on the psychoanalytical theory and link delinquency to ego development and personality. Others use the behavioral perspective.
Erik Erikson speculated that, many adolescents experience a life crisis in which they feel emotional, impulsive, and uncertain of their role and purpose. To resolve this crisis most youths achieve a sense of ego identity, a firm sense of who they are and what they stand for. However, some youths cannot adequately deal with their feelings of role conflict and experience a sense of role confusion, feelings of uncertainty that make them susceptible to suggestion and at the mercy of others who might lead them astray. The clash between ego identity and role diffusion is precipitated by an identity crisis. Using Erikson’s approach, the behavior of youthful drug offenders might be viewed as an expression of confusion over their place in society, their inability to direct their behavior toward useful outlets and perhaps their dependence on others to offer them solutions to their problems (Cramer 2000).
The success of psychotherapy in the treatment of criminals is the subject matter of many debates. The problems involved in the evaluation of psychoanalysis and criminal behavior are vast. There is much disagreement between therapists on classification, cause and effect. “There is no way to know that a particular childhood experience did or did not cause anxiety behaviors at a later date” (Jeffery 1990). There is no way to relate a causal variable to the effect variable. There is no reason to assume that a class of behaviors causes another class since their relationships are dependent on a variety of other variables. The relationships could be causal, but could also be spurious or affected by a host of other precedent or antecedent variables with which they might have in common.
Studies have shown that psychoanalytic and therapeutic interventions into career criminals have a very low rate of success. One study, at the Judge Baker Clinic Guidance Center in Boston, had an 88% recidivism rate and was judged to be a failure (Jeffery 1990).
The views of psychoanalysts like Freud and Erikson have been supported by some research that shows a number of serious, violent juvenile offenders suffer from some sort of personality disturbance. As such, the psychoanalytic approach puts major emphasis on the family’s role in producing a delinquent child.
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