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Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science and Psychoanalysis download epub

by Richard Webster


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Webster argues that Freud became a kind of Messiah and that psychoanalysis is a pseudoscience and a disguised continuation of the Judaeo-Christian tradition

Why Freud Was Wrong is the most exciting book I’ve read in years.

Why Freud Was Wrong is the most exciting book I’ve read in years. covers a lot of intellectual ground with great clarity and verve. JEROME BURNE, The Independent. Towards the end of the twentieth century, Webster has lifted the incubus Freud placed at the beginning of the century upon the minds of all those who think about human nature.

First Webster starts with a clining analysis of Freud's personality. It would be interesting to see why, in a book intended to attack Freud as a maker of ideas, it is Freud's ideas and their derivatives that are used to pursue this goal in a quite evident ad hominem attempt. But the author would surely reply that he is just resorting to that poetic psychology he accuses Freud to have plagiarized and distorted into a pseudoscientific endeavour, so perhaps this objection can be discounted.

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Home Browse Books Book details, Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science, and. Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science, and Psychoanalysis. According to this view the whole point of psychoanaysis is that it is not a science at all; it should be judged not as a contribution to our systematic knowledge of human nature but as a kind of poetry. Psychoanalytic theories, therefore, can never be rejected as 'false' and Freud, as the.

Richard Webster states that the purpose of his book is to unravel the Freudian theory of human nature

Richard Webster states that the purpose of his book is to unravel the Freudian theory of human nature. He believes this is a necessary prelude to the development of an alternative way of thinking about ourselves and, in his final chapter, he gives an outline o. iew Full Text. CallenderJohn S. Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science and Psychoanalysis BMJ 1996; 312 :518. BibTeX (win & mac) Download. EndNote (tagged) Download.

Webster also portrays a Freud who was fame-starved, grandiose, ""messianic,"" as well as distant, sometimes cruel, and intellectually authoritarian with his early followers. The weakest part of this book is a long, murky critique of the entire metaphysical tradition of Cartesian mind-body dualism in which, according to Webster, Freud's thinking falls. A thorough and largely successful-if sometimes ng of the major theories of the founding father of psychoanalysis. Webster, a British journalist and essayist, repeatedly demonstrates what a poor scientist and flawed clinician Freud was.

Why Freud Was Wrong sets out to redress the imbalance and to offer a definitive answer to controversies that have .

Why Freud Was Wrong sets out to redress the imbalance and to offer a definitive answer to controversies that have raged with increasing bitterness in recent years. It is also an unusual and successful exercise in intellectual archaelogy

New York: Penguin Books, 1998. Killing Freud: Twentieth­ Century Culture and the Death of Psychoanalysis. New York: Continuum, 2003.

Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science and Psychoanalysis. Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytic Meaning of History. Freud and the Question of Pseudoscience. Peru, IL: Open Court, 1999. The Problematic Self in Kierkegaard and Freud. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1971. New York: Penguin Books, 1998.

Written in 1995, this book is an engrossing study and measured critique of Sigmund Freud's approach to psychotherapy. The book examines controversies that have raged for a century around one of the most influential of all modern thinkers. In addition, by tracing Freud's personality to his childhood, Webster shows how the founder of psychoanalysis allowed his messianic dreams to shape the 'science" he created and lead him into a labyrinth of medical error.

Comments: (7)

Felolak
I was looking for a fact-based take-down of Freudian pseudoscience, but decided in chapter one this book wasn't for me. The book comes out of English lit, not science. What turned me off was the discussion of how Freud's ambition compromised his theorizing. The author establishes that Freud was over-ambitious, but then it veers into detailed speculation about why Freud was so driven. The author insists Freud just made up fanciful stories and called it science, but then it uses a very similar approach: inventive but fact-less speculation on the inner psychology that produced Freud's hyper-ambition. It was Freudian anti-matter. I believe there may be worthwhile material in the book, but it's padded with English lit prattle.
Freaky Hook
On one side, Webster's book strikes for the detailed historical research, the extensive argumentation, and the apparently impressive deconstruction of Freudian "mythology", in this being rather apt to leave the occasional reader with the image of a thorough refutation of Psychoanalysis.

But to any scientifically-inclined peruser, it fails to deliver but a sense of biased aggression.

First Webster starts with a psychodynamically-inclining analysis of Freud's personality. It would be interesting to see why, in a book intended to attack Freud as a maker of ideas, it is Freud's ideas and their derivatives that are used to pursue this goal in a quite evident ad hominem attempt. But the author would surely reply that he is just resorting to that poetic psychology he accuses Freud to have plagiarized and distorted into a pseudoscientific endeavour, so perhaps this objection can be discounted. And besides, we are told that Freud's personality is relevant as a token of his tendency to falsify evidence and misreport clinical cases in name of his desires of self-aggrandizement.

Any honest knower of psychoanalysis and its history can but admit that Freud had more than his own share of megalomania, and in a Kuhnian perspective we all know that scientific trends are matter of consensus and authority as much as of evidence, as Freud knew all too well. Yet in a sense the subjective faults of the Father of Psychoanalysis are just any researcher's faults, or Webster perhaps assumes that people publish out of charity, and not ambition? The field of psychology deals with complex phenomena, and as such, Freud's initial post-hoc rationalisations (the subject of all the book's criticism) are certainly less than scientific: it remains to be seen if they led in time to valuable insights or only, as Webster would imply, to the birth of a religious cult.

A rather specific and surely reasonable attack on the nosographic construct "Hysteria" follows, intended to show how the foundations of Freud's speculations rested on shaky grounds. While it is certainly true that Hysteria is a mysterious entity, and that temporal lobe epilepsy is a more than reasonable alternative explanation, in this we already perceive a less-than-forward criticism. Pages are spent on the examination of Le Log's case, but it is only in the notes that we are told that Freud never saw Le Log, as Charcot treated him after the Austrian Physician had left Paris. This case, and the others Freud reported are certainly dubious. But Freud, later on, was trying to explain psychoneuroses in general, not hysteria per se, and again we are to see if what Freud deduced from his erroneous or limited knowledge of hysteria cannot be scientifically useful.

And what Freud knew as psychoneuroses, exist even today as recognized pathologies, under the names of anxiety disorders, dissociative disorders, etc. Columbus did, indeed, set out with the intent to reach Cathay, but this doesn't erase America from maps.

On the other hand, Webster himself openly asserts that some cases of hysteria are observed even today (at page 84 for example), and doesn't provide any conclusive evidence to claim that all cases of hysteria are cases of temporal lobe epilepsy (a rather strong experimental claim that would be) and neither that the reasons for the reduction of the prevalence of this, supposed or real, pathological condition, are to be traced in its nonexistence: in a bio-psycho-social perspctive, several alternative explanations are possible, first and foremeost the disappearance of important, to date unidentified, risk factors.

But there is in truth no reason to discuss the book's conclusions on hysteria as in reality, these do constitute only an attack to what is an outdated vision of the phenomenon Freud investigated. Again, what we should be evaluating are the results he derived on human psychology, not the existence of a nosographic category. It is well known that at times, correct conclusions can be reached based on wrong premises: the observations of early physicists are still valid today, even though ether and caloric have been proven to be misconsceptions.

At times not remembering that investigations of the mind are not the domain of cultural studies alone, because the mind is a physical object after all, ie. the brain (or at least the informational state of that physical object), Webster proceeds in a trial to some of the most important figures of 19th century psychiatry and psychology, openly and unflinchingly distributing labels of "scientificity" and "unscientificity" based on their attitudes, as much as their theories and practices. Striking is in particular, the treatment of Fechner, whose fault is to have cultivated mystical and religious fancies (like Goethe, Jung, Newton, Pascal and many others before him). Webster apparently forgets that the basic law of perception if infact Weber-Fechner's law, named after that uncanny religious figure.

Noticeable is also the insufficiently documented discussion of Freud's "Project for a Scientific Psychology". It would have been benefitted by a less than nonexistent knowledge, or at least mention, of the field of Consciousness studies, and of the related works of, to mention an earlier case, Karl Pribram and Merton Gill (Freud's Project Re-assessed, 1976), containing a less skeptical (or even at times truly enthusiastic) account of the intuitions present in that fundamental work.

Webster's attack on the existence of Neurasthenia, is even more disheartening. We could discuss the cultural factors involved in psychopathology and the problems with any descriptive take on mental illness from DSM-IVTR to ICD-10, but I deem it irrelevant, as yet this argumentation fails to touch the insights of Freud, and to discuss their relevance.

From these arguments to the quarrel with Jung onwards, what strikes is not the inadequacy of Webster's journalistic effort, but the implicit or explicit idea that this book can constitute a decisive settlement of the questions raised by psychoanalysis, a settlement provided not by a psychiatrist, psychologist or a neuroscientist, but by what is at times more or less an attempt at character-assassination by a well-read literary researcher.

It is the unfortunate truth about life that people (even those who advance or seem to advance our understanding of reality) have plenty of faults. Freud, I suspect, was not exempt from this human characteristic. But if Webster rightly discusses the inappropriate hero myth which surrounded his figure, we can but ask ourselves why he would expect a simple man to be a hero if he has to advance science. Is he not making the same mistake he reproaches to so many (including Thomas Mann and the whole 20th century culture): isn't he looking for perfection in human beings, and, instead of hallucinating its presence, taking its obvious absence as a justification to reject scientific theses?

Why shouldn't we instead read a book on the neuroscientific, epistemological and psychiatric arguments to reject, or to accept, Freud's conclusions? Grunbaum's "the Foundations of Psychoanalysis" remains, for the skeptic,a much better choice, in my opinion.
Nalme
Another Cultural Marxist attack on a great European thinker, imaginative as well as a scientific. Oh, but there's the crime. We are penalized for speculating, imagining, synthesizing and inventing aren't we? We are praised and rewarded for consensus trance, mediocrity, assenting and duplicating. No one is allowed to think out of the box and, God forbid - be WRONG. Our children must never be exposed to such people. It ruins their indoctrinated minds.

Because some Freudianism is erroneous, Freud has himself been scurrilously apportioned the blame for what institutions of control later did with some of his theories, and for how his ideas might have disaffected this or that individual who learned about them second and even third hand.

It doesn't matter that Freud meant well and was deeply concerned - on practical and philosophical levels - about the condition and future of human consciousness and behavior. It doesn't matter that he developed ingenious ways of penetrating into the darkness of consciousness. That is in itself an unforgivable crime to those who never inquire within, and who automatically shun and denigrate those who do. Look at the state of psychiatry, philosophy and education today, and you'll have the proof for what I say.

Freud is only to be forgotten and ridiculed if the unconscious doesn't exist. He can be fatally faulted if no one in this world is foul when they appear fine, to paraphrase Professor Tolkien. Since it is a no-brainier that we are surrounded by such people - liars, fakes, hypocrites, traitors, narcissists and malingerers, etc, don't you think it is important that we have a tool-kit by which to expose them? Isn't it vital to have any kind of light, no matter how imperfect, to see behind the many masks people don? No? Okay, you don't need Freud. Carry on about your business and see how far you get, how far a society made up from unpsychological, non-introspective people gets.

The sensible man realizes that we desperately need diagnostic tools, regardless of how imperfect they are. We realize that imperfect tools can be updated, as Anna Freud later updated and revised her father's work...Ah, but you weren't told about her were you?

And remember too, that with Freud comes other men of genius, who arguably did a better job at understanding human nature - Groddeck, Janet, Jung, Adler, Klein and above all Wilhelm Reich, Arthur Janov and Otto Rank.

It is also vital to remember that some of Freud's key ideas were inherited from earlier sages such as Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. I suppose they are all wrong too. Well to Cultural Marxists and the pinkos that infest academia, yes they are.

In short, read Freud himself, and see what you agree with and what you don't. You can't rely on inadequate opinions from uninformed or biased scribblers when it comes to the profound works of great men who willingly wrestled with the problems we still face.

And if you have issues with Freudianism, by all means critique it by comparing its weaknesses and strengths with those of Groddeck, Sidis, Jung, Adler, Rank, Reich, Janet, Janov, Klein, Horney, Miller, Fromm, Le Bon, Sullivan, Rogers, Maslow, Kernberg and other champions of the subject. Know what you are talking about and avoid gutter journalism posing as definitive work.

For deeper critiques of psychiatry, check out the superlative works of Thomas Szasz.

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Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science and Psychoanalysis download epub
Psychology & Counseling
Author: Richard Webster
ISBN: 0002555689
Category: Health, Fitness & Dieting
Subcategory: Psychology & Counseling
Language: English
Publisher: HarperCollins 1995-09-21; First Edition edition (1995)