Freud and Modern Psychology: Volume 1: The Emotional Basis by Helen Lewis

By Helen Lewis

The stress among Freud's scientific discoveries concerning the strength of human feelings and the theoretical framework during which he embedded those discoveries has been so much eloquently exact by way of Freud himself. His agoniz­ ing reappraisal. in 1926, of the libido conception of hysteria is only one instance. yet, as is generally the case, theoretical problems aspect to gaps in current wisdom. on the time whilst Freud made his basic discovery that hysterical indicators (and goals) have been comprehensible as reflections of for­ bidden ("strangulated") have an effect on, anthropology used to be basically nonexistent as a technology. The cultural nature of humans (our species' certain edition to existence) may perhaps in basic terms be adumbrated by means of Freud (for instance, within the fantasy of Totem and Taboo). to that end, the primacy of human attachment feelings within the acculturation procedure couldn't be postulated as a theoretical base. What Freud followed as his base of theorizing was once the main ahead­ having a look materialist idea of his time: the Darwinian proposal of person instincts because the driver in existence. Freud assumed that the vicissitudes of in­ stincts make certain the destiny of "ideas" in realization. Freud's theoretical base therefore impelled him to invest concerning the starting place and destiny of principles rather than concerning the starting place and destiny of human emotional connectedness. This booklet is a small step alongside the line which should still eventually deliver Freud's discoveries right into a modem theoretical framework in psychology.

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This kind of circular reasoning persists today even though many patients in psychoanalysis are clearly able to operate at quite high levels of productivity except for their neurotic troubles. CHAPTER 2 Hysteria The Problem of Forbidden Sexual Longings It is sometimes a source of ironic (sexist) gratification to me to think that the very first scientific insight into the emotional basis of mental illness was derived from the sufferings of hysterical women. Members of the "second sex" in middle-class Vienna, living with a set of values that fostered a benign degradation of womanhood, transformed their forbidden rage into forbidden sexual longings and thence into incapacitating neurotic symptoms.

This hint in Freud's work of a sex difference in proneness to depression and hysteria versus obsessional neurosis and paranoia is confirmed by present-day statistics. Women are indeed two to three times more prone to depression and to hysteria than men; men are more prone to obsessional neurosis and paranoia than women, although not by so big a ratio (Lewis 1976). Once I had undertaken my study of shame and guilt, I discovered that my focus on my patients' actual experiences of these emotions itself resulted in a considerable improvement in my therapeutic efficiency.

The difficulties and disagreements that the two authors had over these points were the symptoms of unsolved problems in understanding complicated psychological events, as well as of their personal vulnerabilities. In the preface to the second edition of Studies on Hysteria, in 1908, Freud emphasized how far psychoanalysis had gone beyond the "simple" catharsis that he and Breuer had espoused. But whether patients can benefit from hypnosis as an aid to catharsis, or from the more general personality reorganization that classical psychoanalysis now recommends, is still a wide-open question today.

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