Sigmund Freud: Scientist and Pragmatist
The Scientific/Humanism Divide
∙ Scientific: The study of the brain and its processes to better understand the origin and composition of human behavior, and therefore be able to treat patients in a clinical fashion that influences the brain
∙ Humanism: The study of the mind in a broad social and cultural context, aiming to address the meanings and effects of the patient’s subjective experiences and existential concerns
∙ The psychiatric community is conflicted by practitioners who stand by one of these two approaches and believe it is the best way to treat patients. Many believe, though, that a proper balance between the two would be most effective, but where that balance lies has yet to be agreed upon
Freud and the Divide
∙ According to Brendel, Freud falls on the scientific side of this debate Don't forget about the age old question of What is the function of blood in human beings?
∙ Freud was surrounded by scientists and mentors that held the belief that mental events were epiphenomenal on brain events
∙ Brendel labels Freud and his colleagues as “proto-eliminative materialists” ∙ Even at the end of his career, Freud proclaimed his faith in the scientific community to prove that the mind and consciousness were in fact physical processes that could be viewed
Psychophysical parallelism Don't forget about the age old question of How does opportunity cost factor into comparative advantage?
∙ The idea that mental events are correlated to events in the brain, but the mind cannot impact the brain.
o Brain -> Mind
o Mind -> Nothing
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∙ Does not allow for Cartesian mind/body interaction
o Cartesian mind/body interaction maintains that the mind is a separate entity from matter (the brain), but the mind can influence matter.
Organically based paralyses VS Hysterically based paralyses
∙ Freud argues that hysterical paralyses did not cohere with any known neuroanatomical patterns
∙ Explained hysterical paralysis as a “change in the action of the mind on the body”, meaning the origin of the disorder comes from the mind
∙ The idea that recent memories are more likely to be forgotten before distant memories are affected
∙ This was defied by Anna O, who forgot her native German language but would be able to speak in another learned language
∙ The case with Anna O led Freud to form the idea of the unconscious as something that governs all human actions, whether we are aware of it or not
Chimney Sweeping and the Talking Cure
∙ The process by which the patient talks about the circumstances surrounding the onset of their symptoms with a psychiatrist Don't forget about the age old question of What are fats?
∙ Breuer discovered this process while working with Anna O
∙ Freud’s observation that physical ailments may be adapted by patients in order to serve a psychological purpose. He states that different body parts tend to have psychodynamic meanings ascribed to them
∙ Somatic compliance is still accepted today—contemporary theorist Graham Macdonald believes involuntary symptoms may be used to express emotions or desires
Freud’s criticism of Breuer
∙ Freud stated that Breuer did not realize that Anna O was conveying a transference of feelings for her father onto Breuer, which resulted in a failure to treat her ∙ Freud pointed out that Breuer could not be successful in treating Anna O without an understanding of unconscious fantasy
∙ 29-year-old patient of Freud in 1909
∙ Suffered from obsessional neurosis and constantly feared that his father and a “lady friend” were enduring a torture through rats boring into their anuses
∙ Freud concluded that Ratman’s intrusive thoughts and strange behavior were due to primitive unconscious fantasies that reflected his unacknowledged feelings of love and hatred for important people in his life. Don't forget about the age old question of What is the meaning of gonads in sexual reproduction?
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∙ Through his understanding of transference, Freud determined that patients like Ratman needed treatment that “trances their unconscious thoughts and translates them into conscious ones.”