Many Myths Surround Teachings of Freud

Many Myths Surround Teachings of Freud

Pioneer in Psychoanalysis Quick to Find Results from Hypnotism Weren't Lasting

by Art Coulter, M.D.

SIGMUND FREUD (1856-1939) was a Viennese physician who enjoys the dubious distinction of being one of the most misunderstood men of our times. He was a great pioneer in the study of the depths of human personality.

A supremely honest man, he had the courage to report objectively what he observed without fear or favor. Since most persons do not like to face the truth about themselves, Freud was ostracised for more than a decade, and even today, many myths exist and flourish about what he said and taught. Of parenthetic interest may be that he is reported to have had perfect eidetic recall.

The purpose of this series of articles is to present some of the more important ideas and techniques introduced by Freud, for the following reasons:

1. Those who prefer self-honesty to self-deception may be interested in trying some of these techniques to see for themselves the phenomena reported by Freud.

2. I personally have found a study of Freud's original writings extremely rewarding, and feel others may likewise. There are several excellent sources*.

3. Psychoanalysis is one of the leading schools in the field of integration, and any worker in that field owes it to himself to have a first hand knowledge of it.

4. In Synergetics, we are finding by entirely different techniques phenomena that are strikingly similar to those reported by Freud. We are encountering other phenomena as well, but his great pioneer work makes ours easier. The continued development of psychoanalysis by his brilliant co-workers is also helpful.

This article will give a brief historical survey and description of psychoanalytical technique. Subsequent articles will deal with sex, the interpretation of dreams, and the superego.

Freud began his work at a time when hypnosis was in vogue as a treatment for mental illness. Freud's teacher, the great French neurologist, Jean Charcot, had earlier shown that hypnotism was not a hoax, but a genuine phenomenon. Soon thereafter, incredible cures of all kinds of mental disorders were being reported. Gradually it became apparent that these cures did not last, but with this background, it is not surprising that Freud began his work using hypnosis.

Freud first worked with another Viennese physician, Dr. J. Breuer, who had earlier developed a technique for placing a patient under hypnosis, and "returning" him to an early painful experience he did not recall when fully conscious. In a paper published in 1893, they reported being able to trace "the most varied symptoms" back to an "exciting trauma", often occurring in early childhood. Such things as anesthesials, neuralgias, contractures, paralyses, attacks which inexperiencedobservers mistook for epilepsy, chronic vomiting, visual disturbances, tics, etc., could be treated in this way.

They also discovered that "at first, to our own great surprise,...when we had succeeded in bringing the exciting event to clear recollection, and had also succeeded in arousing with it the accompanying affect, and when the patient had related the occurrence in as detailed a manner as possible and had expressed his feelings in regard to it in words, the various hysterical symptoms disappeared at once, never to return. Recollection without affect is nearly always quite ineffective; the original psychical process must be repeated as vividly as possible, brought into statum nascendi and then 'talked out'. In the case of ... contractures, neuralgias, and hallucinations -- the symptoms appear again during this repetition in full intensity and then disappear forever." From this, they con-

"A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis." Sigmund Freud. Garden City Publishing Co.

"The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud." Modern Library Giant.

"The Collected Writings of Sigmund Freud." Five volumes. Hogarth Press. -- A.C.