I beleive a critique of British Journalist Richard Webster's book, " Why Freud Was Wrong" is overdue. Way Overdue.
I suppose we can start with the fact that Mr.Webster is trained as a Journalist, with no education in Psychology or Psychiatry. So even if Freud was wrong, how would he know it ? Do plumbers getted critiqued by carpenters ?
Webster says that Freud saw himself as the ' New Christ', and the therapists couch as the ' New Confessional'. Perhaps. One thing is for sure though, Dr. Freud was the 'Messiah' to mental health one hundred years ago.
Before Dr. Freud, enlightened understanding of mental illness and the unconsious mind was rare indeed. Aristotle's Systemic Treatis, his two psychological works, were considered the most empirically oriented writings on dreams and the mind in circa 350 BC. Two thousand years later, Kant wrote that he suspected human beings had a deeper nature to their behavior. But he was reluctant to study the nature of humans. He felt they had too much inherent complexities. This was the position reflected by possibly the most intelligent man that ever lived a mere hundred years before the birth of Sigmund Freud.
It was not until Dr. Freud that any substantial inquiries were made into the nature of the unconsious mind. Freud found that the unconsious mind was the source of almost all our motivation. From the simplest,like food and sex, to our most neurotic and erotic compulsions. His studies were extraordinairly productive works. He was the first to give any 'structure' to the concept of the mind. The concepts of the Id, Ego, and SuperEgo. Even today, are there any more famous terms in Psychology ?
Freud's analysis of the unconsious mind was as big a leap forward in mental health as the Internet is over the Telegraph Line, or the internal combustion engine is over the horse. If anyone doubts this, reread on how most people with mental illness were treated through most of human history up until the late 19th and early 20th century. Most were thought to be demon possessed, and treated accordingly. Freud was the first to show the only real demon possessing them was their own unconsious, and with proper therapy, could be brought out of the long-guilt ridden tyranny induced by the conflicts between the Id and Superego.
Was Freud Right ? It is true many of his student and contempories would leave him, and go on to criticize his theories. Curiouslly however, they all picked something from Freud, and tried to relable it their own. Adler kept Freud's theory on proper child rearing. Erikson kept Freud's theory on Ego, and even expanded on it, feeling it played even a larger role than Freud beleived. Before Jean Piaget or Abraham Maslow, Freud promoted a Stage Developement Theory. His famous Five Stage Psycho-Sexual Development chronicles the stages of oral, anal, phallic, latent, and genital development.
To this writer, there is no doubt that Sigmund Freud was a genius. One hundred years from now, or a thousand years from now, his name, more than any other, will be the preminent name, and yes, Father of modern day Psychology and Psychiatry. In all recorded history, no one single individual gave more understanding to the importance of the unconsious mind.
Robert McLellan, Psychometrist
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