An Essay Evolves / Existing argument
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Existing argument

Page history last edited by 1234 12 years, 11 months ago

Existing argument, paragraph by paragraph


  1. Personality comprises mask, social lubricant, public and private. To Freud it is a composite enabling love and work but also underpinned by the id, a primal motivating force.
  2. We are capable of high cultural achievement and refinement, but this is the result of the transformation of the baseness of our twin sexual and aggressive instincts, through the intervention of the ego and by sublimation. This transformation operates largely outside the realm of consciousness.
  3. Freud’s theory has always been an outsider theory. His idea that we are inherently base was unwelcome. He extended an existing concept of unconscious processes to the notion of a dynamic unconscious, which was notable to him chiefly by its nuisance value. Feelings, ideas and drives are defended against. If repressed, they may re-intrude.
  4. Critics suggest that Freud’s observations were artefact based on a small sample of people in a uniquely repressed culture, and so have no cross-cultural validity. This is possibly true, but is it really reasonable to suggest that today’s citizens are wholly rational when we can observe irrational behaviour at every turn? There still exists a need for a psychology of the irrational. Freud based his theory on observable phenomena. However, he apparently failed to generate falsifiable hypotheses from his theory. This has been a strength and a weakness, but has served to ensure that his ideas were not completely dismissed.
  5. Psychoanalysis is not unique in failing to do the above. Before the current era of evidence based practice, this was a characteristic of medicine as a whole. Freud hoped that future scientists would use their advanced tools to test his ideas. So, it’s hardly a real weakness of his theory if nobody has actually done it.
  6. Psychoanalysis was sidelined after drug treatments revolutionised the treatment of emotional illness. This is ironic as there is evidence to suggest that Freud was in favour of drug therapy. However, the pharmaceutical approach hasn’t yet yielded a definitive account of personality. Clinical neuroscience does support the idea that we are driven by base urges, although 4 mechanisms (instead of Freud’s 2) have been identified.
  7. Freud proposed a causal link between aspects of upbringing (eg toilet training) and personality characteristics (eg ‘anality’) in adult life. Ethics mean that this cannot be definitively tested. This is perhaps the greatest bone of contention in Freudian theory.
  8. Trait theory supports the concept that there are ‘oral’ and ‘anal’ personalities. Interestingly, it too has struggled to give a comprehensive account of personality as a whole. Repression has been conceptualised as a personality trait, supporting not only the idea of a repression mechanism, but also the dynamic unconscious and the return of the repressed.

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