Sunday, April 06, 2008

Freud: unbelievable nonsense

I am shocked by what I read here:

At the beginning of the twentieth century, adult psychiatrists became interested in stutterers after Sigmund Freud wrote that the etiology of stuttering was "for the most part" psychological. Later, he stated that "stammering could be caused by displacement upward of conflicts over excremental functions"' Freud felt the adult stutterer's speech mechanism was enmeshed in a conflict between the wish to defecate symbolically on his parents and authority figures by using hostile words and a concurrent fear of retaliation that caused the stutterer to hold the fecal-oriented words inside.

The early psychiatric theories about stuttering (1900-1945) generally supported Freud's anal displacement theory, and led to the recommendation that stutterers undergo psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. However, child psychiatry and child psychoanalysis did not take shape as a medical specialty until the 1940s.

Modifications to Freud's theory were seen after 1945, as in the work of the psychiatrists Kolansky and Glauber and this author, who discussed the parents' role in the etiology of stuttering. In 1960, Kolansky wrote about his treatment and cure of a 3-year-old girl who began stuttering when her mother gave birth to twins and her grandmother concurrently vigorously bowel-trained her.' In 1965, he became one of the first child psychiatrists to emphasize that the treatment of a child's stuttering should include the parents' active participation .7 His treatment of the 3-year-old involved having the mother and child together in his office playroom. This author described the treatment of two stuttering early grade school girls and the concurrent' therapy with the girls' mothers.

I cannot believe why so many people glorified and still glorify Freud, when in fact the vast majority of his theories are just complete and utter non-sense. Especially his methods to "prove" his theories. Just imagine how much misery he and his blind followers have brought to the millions of sufferers from various disorders with their completely ridiculous theories and associated treatment approaches. And think about all those down-to-earth and honest doctors that told their patients that they just don't know what is going on, and were of course completely ignored. Who wants to go to a doctor or therapist who does not know what stuttering is about?


Anonymous said...

How far removed is Freud from the "bleeding" rituals from those who came before. For all of the crazy things that Frued did and believed, he made breakthroughs in the way that we look at the human psyche. Pervert, genius, wacko, and godfather can all be used in the same sentence to describe Freud.

Dave said...

It's my understanding that Freud himself had a stutter. And this changed the methodology of Psychoanalysis. At first he used hypnosis, but found the induction techniques difficult because of his stutter. As a result he developed free association. But I don't recall ever reading what he believed the cause of his own stuttering to be.

Tom Weidig said...

It is a myth that he made breakthroughs. There were many psychologists and psychiatrists of his age that were far more scientific, and whose theories hold the test of time.

Read this on wikepedia:

Although Freud's theories were influential, they came under widespread criticism during his lifetime and afterward. A paper by Lydiard H. Horton, read in 1915 at a joint meeting of the American Psychological Association and the New York Academy of Sciences, called Freud's dream theory "dangerously inaccurate" and noted that "rank confabulations...appear to hold water, psychoanalytically" [21]. Peter D. Kramer, a psychiatrist and faculty member of Brown Medical School, said "I'm afraid [Freud] doesn't hold up very well at all. It almost feels like a personal betrayal to say that. But every particular is wrong: the universality of the Oedipus complex, penis envy, infantile sexuality." A 2006 article in Newsweek magazine called him "history's most debunked doctor."[22]

Freud's theories are often criticized for not being real science.[23] This objection was raised by Karl Popper, who claimed that all proper scientific theories must be potentially falsifiable. Popper argued that no experiment or observation could ever falsify Freud's theories of psychology (e.g. someone who denies having an Oedipal complex is interpreted as repressing it), and thus they could not be considered scientific.[24] Author Richard Webster characterized Freud's work as a "complex pseudo-science"[25].

H. J. Eysenck claims that Freud 'set psychiatry back one hundred years', consistently mis-diagnosed his patients, fraudulently misrepresented case histories and that "what is true in Freud is not new and what is new in Freud is not true".[26]

Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen claims that "The truth is that Freud knew from the very start that Fleischl, Anna O. and his 18 patients were not cured, and yet he did not hesitate to build grand theories on these non-existent foundations...he disguised fragments of his self-analysis as ‘objective’ cases, that he concealed his sources, that he conveniently antedated some of his analyses, that he sometimes attributed to his patients ‘free associations’ that he himself made up, that he inflated his therapeutic successes, that he slandered his opponents."[2]

Anonymous said...

Wikepedia...The source of all truth.

T h a n k s ! ! !

Nathan Lavid said...

Hello Tom,

I enjoy your blog. As a psychiatrist, who admires and has read a much of Freud’s work, I can share that he did not propose a psychoanalytical etiology or treatment for stuttering. In fact, he thought psychoanalysis was not of much help. The theory that I believe you are referring to is derived from the German psychiatrist Otto Fenichel, where he used Freud’s developmental stages, specifically the anal stage of infants where children are toilet trained, to explain stuttering. To paraphrase Dr. Fenichel, stuttering resulted when children’s sphincter control was restricted by the toilet training policies of their parents. The dysfluencies and blocking in stuttering represented the fact that as children, those who stuttered did not develop the proper control of their anal sphincter and the autonomy such an action entails. As a result, they stuttered.

Obviously, this is nonsense and psychoanalytic theory doesn’t offer much help to those who stutter. Nonetheless, Freud is a giant in other areas of psychiatry. That a layperson knows of and comprehends terms such as unconsciousness, repression and hypochondriac, is a testament to the extent and validly of his work. Nathan Lavid, MD

ac said...

Nathan has a point. I'm fully in agreement with Popper's criticisms of Freud. However a theory doesn't have to be composed entirely of falsifiable hypotheses to be useful .

Anonymous said...

A very corrupt man, IMHO. A little boy called Hans (aged 5) came to him complaining he feared horses after seeing one fall down in the street. Freud told him his phobia really meant he wanted to sleep with his mother and kill his father and little sister, and had the kid browbeaten until Hans broke down and told his tormentor what he wanted to hear.

A 17 year old gay girl called Dora came to Freud complaining her father was having an affair with a woman whose husband had made pedophile passes at her at 13 and 16. Freud told her that she really wanted to sleep with both the pedophile, and his wife, *and* her own dad.... Unsuprisingly, Dora thought this was a load of crap.

Every case of Freud's is like this. A vulnerable patient presented with some form of mental distress, sometimes with good commonsense as to the cause thereof, only to have Freud insist on an alternative explanation which was not only unlikely, but crazy and insulting as well.

He cured not one of his patients, but wrote each of his cases up as great successes In other words, he knew his theories were a sham but covered this fact up in order to make his name.

It's shocking that he has had such great influence in the treatment of mental disorders. He will have done nothing but harm.