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Unread July 17th, 2004, 09:02 AM
loftus75 loftus75 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 19
Default Art or Science

I've just loaded this and realised it's probably in the forum, excuse me for this, it's my first contribution....I think it should be under General Discussion. I hope I'll have better luck next time

While studying for my Degree with the Open University in England I held the position of Internet Officer with the Open University Psychological Society. During this time I wrote a paper for our web sight which received much interest, and I might add, the backing from one or two of our immanent psychologists. Though I've titled this document 'Why Freud'. It asks the question whether the psychoanalysis approach is valid in this day and age. I would be interested in the groups view on this subject as I remain true to my paper.

Why Freud?


Mike Loftus

As many students start their OU semester, either for the first time or as a continuum of their studies, they will be confronted with the work of Freud and his approach to the human psyche, specifically psychodynamics. Okay, while it's true we do need to know about the history of our subject, does this aspect of psychology deserve the level of interest it's afforded by the various courses supplied by the OU? The notion of the metaphor as a basis for our understanding of psychology, is only useful up to a point. Through the years I've studied with the OU, the courses have become more intense causing the student's to take more and more information in, at some point we have to be selective about what usefully serves the subject and the student. The problem with the emphasis on psychodynamics is that it leaves many students thinking that the 'qualitative' deserves the same level of gravity as the 'quantitative' in scientific terms. In my view the qualitative distorts the hard facts, the qualitative is an art issue, not an issue for science. That's not to say we shouldn't scientifically examine why humans have subjective experience, but that the language we use should reflect the times we live in and the methodology should produce something near to a reproductive result, it should also offer more then just a platform for more 'subjective' arguments by the psychological community. Terms such as 'anal retentive', 'penis envy' and 'oral fixation', while highly descriptive have done little to advance our understanding of why people become obsessive, feel inadequate or help in the understanding of the addiction to smoking. While on the other hand behaviorism, biology and cognition has actually done more in the last 15-20 years for our understanding of the human condition than almost any other field of psychology has in the last 100 years.

These subjects, behaviorism, biology and cognition can be demonstrated, tested and most importantly, they should not leave the individual psychologist in the 'expert' role when applying therapies.

A drawing is a drawing, no matter what name your care to use to describe it, and although the art historian wouldn't see it that way, the printer would. How the drawing is constructed is the issue for the printer, not what someone else interprets as the intention of the artist. When I started studying psychology, ( feels like a very long time ago), I wanted answers; how does our memory work?; why does our body chemistry play such a major role in our perception?; and many more questions. But I also wanted better questions. Questions like, why does our visual cortex interpret shapes and objects the way it does? And other questions I hadn't previously considered . I wasn't disappointed while studying with the OU, the various courses pushed out the parameters in which I now frame myself and my view of the world has changed. However I am also one of those students that struggled with exams, my TMA's were very satisfactory, in fact I often received distinctions. But I couldn't take an exam to save my life and failed on a number of occasions. I wanted the answer as to why this might be, and if you were to ask me today, I would have to tell you I have no idea why, nor did any other psychologist or tutor I asked have an answer. But I even learned something from this, there are still important questions that need answers, like what is intelligence? Are we formatted early in life or do we go on throughout life recreating ourselves? And, is there such a thing as an intelligence gene?

The trouble is there are so many voices talking today about what psychology should be I suspect mine will just be another less qualified view in a sea of confusion. But it is not confusing to me if I stick to those areas which can be demonstrated and reproduced. While I'm very happy to hear of someone's experience, I also wonder just how reliable their version of events are. Freud, Jung, Rogers and others place great emphasis on the individual's perception of events, but I know that if I asked 100 people who sat in the same room at the same moment what took place 5 minutes ago I'd get 100 different versions for answers. Aside from telling me human experience is unique, how does this advance our knowledge of psychology. In fact doesn't Freudism lead to a kind of anti-social approach, where the individual out-weighs the group. And if psychology is about the individual doesn't that make it an art, a unique construction that can only be admired for it's aesthetics?

Perhaps it's time that psychology was divided into two completely separate fields of study, one encompassing the 'art' aspect of psychology and the other dealing with the issues that many students are interested in, the mechanics of the human condition. It's time that Freud was given less emphasis so that we can give more space to the ever increasing knowledge base psychology has to offer today.

Last edited by loftus75; July 17th, 2004 at 09:09 AM. Reason: Wrong Forum, should be General Discussion
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