Sunday, May 3, 2015

THE INTELLECTUAL HEIR TO SIGMUND FREUD

Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, is known as one the most famous persons of the last century. Psychoanalysis is perhaps one of the most widely known systems of psychology. Despite having his critics, he has left behind a long lasting legacy.
Freud had a tremendous impact on twentieth-century psychology. His psychoanalysis was the first comprehensive theory of personality. According to Freud, the development of personality was determined by the unconscious adaptation of motivational principles that depended on energy forces beyond the level of self-awareness.
Psychoanalysis carried the implication of mental activity further than any other system of psychology. Unlike the other systems of psychology, psychoanalysis did not emerge from academic research; it was rather a product of the applied consequences of clinical practice. Among all the classic schools of psychology, psychoanalysis is the only one that made it an aim to improve the mental health of an individual.
Freud’s impact is further reflected by the continued influence of his psychoanalysis on art, literature, and philosophy. His writings on the unconscious have led to new interpretations of artistic expression. Consequently, literary and artistic expressions are interpreted in the light of the unconscious activities of the artist as well as the unconscious impressions of the perceiver. The influence of psychoanalysis on Western thought, as reflected in literature, philosophy, and art, significantly exceeds the impact of any other system of psychology.
This as well as some of the popular psychoanalytic terms introduced by Freud such as the unconscious mind and dream analysis have made him perhaps the most well known psychologist of all time, to the extent that many see Freud to be synonymous to the entire field of psychology.
Before introducing psychoanalysis, Freud was a practicing neurologist. In the initial phase of his career, Freud started getting patients with neurological symptoms such as paralysis, numb feelings in the hand or foot, complete or partial blindness, chronic headaches, and similar complaints with no organic pathology. Freud concluded that these symptoms were not due to biological causes, but were instead produced by intense emotional conflicts. This led Freud to change his direction from being a neurologist to establishing psychoanalysis.
According to Freud, the patients suffering from intense emotional conflict were actually suffering from hysteria, which is a diagnostic label in which a person experiences neurological symptoms that were thought to be imaginary in nature. The person, however, believes the symptoms to be real and is not malingering.
Sigmund Freud
Freud asserted that information that may cause psychological threat to an individual are hidden within the unconscious of the individual. This hidden information mainly comprises of painful childhood memories, forbidden sexual wishes, and forbidden aggressive wishes. It is these memories and wishes, according to Freud, that are hidden in the unconscious, when not resolved, cause an emotional conflict within the individual leading him/her suffering from hysteria. Freud believed that an individual being aware of these memories and wishes in the unconscious can help the individual to be treated with such psychological problems. This forms the principle assumption of psychoanalysis.
Freud along with his friend and colleague, Joseph Breuer, who was a physician, collaborated on a book called Studies on Hysteria, which was published in 1895. This is the first book written on psychoanalysis and this is also considered to be the starting date of the school of psychoanalysis. Later, Freud and Breuer separated from each other, moving in different directions. Freud, although, never looked back, and after the publication of his books The Interpretation of Dreams in 1900, and The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, published in 1901, psychoanalysis kept on flourishing.
As psychoanalysis continued to flourish and Freud’s writings gained reputation, he attracted a number of followers. During this time he started looking for someone who could become his successor; someone who he felt would take his ideas forward, make his psychoanalysis to be as popular as possible, and thus, become his intellectual heir.  
He was also keen to have discussions and further spread psychoanalysis. This led Freud to start the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. The Vienna Psychoanalytic was a small group of people that Freud invited to discuss about psychology and neuropathology. This was also the international psychoanalytic authority of that time. One of the first members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society was the then young psychiatrist Alfred Adler.
Alfred Adler
Adler was one of the first followers of Sigmund Freud. In 1902, he was appointed as the first president of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society.
After being with Freud for quite some time, Adler started developing his own ideas, which were at variance with Freud and the other members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. He later, began to criticize Freud openly, especially about Freud’s emphasis on sexuality. In 1911, Adler was fervently criticized by the members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, which led him to resign as the president of the society.
After a few months he terminated his association with Freud and Freudian psychoanalysis. Adler then developed his own psychoanalytic model and called it Individual Psychology, which emphasized individual’s need for self-unity, perfection and specifically designed goals. He gave importance to social urges rather than sexual urges.
Alfred Adler
Freud had begun seeing Adler as his successor, someone who he believed would help him in carrying his psychoanalysis forward. He had developed a strong association with Adler. He was highly impressed by his ideas as well as his diligence. He not only made Adler one of the first members of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, but he also appointed him its first president. Unfortunately for Freud, Adler developed strong disagreements with him and decided to move away, leaving Freud to look for someone else as his intellectual heir.
Apart from Adler, Freud met someone else that made him think to be his heir. That person was Carl Gustav Jung. Jung was a psychiatrist in Zurich. 
Carl Gustav Jung
In 1900, when he read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, right after its publication, he became highly impressed with Freud’s ideas. He began to use Freud’s ideas in his own practice. He became so highly influenced by Freud that he began to write to Freud, asking for his viewpoint about his own ideas. A regular correspondence began between the two in 1906. When they finally met in 1907, they had a meeting which lasted continuously for thirteen hours.
Freud developed a deep sense of admiration and fondness for Jung. He decided to make him his successor, what he called “his crown prince.” In 1910, Freud founded the International Psychoanalytic Association and made Jung its first president. Jung held this position till 1914.
Despite the fondness that they formed for each other, a rift began to develop between Freud and Jung. Jung began to apply psychoanalytic insights to ancient myths and legends in a search for the key to the nature of human psyche. Such independent thinking did not meet with Freud’s approval. Freud felt that associating psychoanalysis with ancient myths and legends will give it a bad name and will thus, become an impediment in spreading psychoanalysis.
Jung also differed with Freud on matters of sexuality. They both differed on matters of theory. Jung differed with Freud’s emphasis on sexuality and Freud questioned Jung’s interest in spirituality. Jung rejected Freud’s pansexualism, which became the main reason for their once intimate relationship being ruptured. It is also said that Jung made a critical analysis of Freud’s personal life that may have been another reason for the tensions between them.
Sigmund Freud (front-left) with Stanley Hall (front-center) and Carl Jung (front-right), at Clark University

Due to all the differences and tensions between the two, Freud and Jung began to move in separate ways. In early 1913, they ended their personal relationship and a few months later their business correspondence. In April 1914, Jung resigned from the post of the president of the International Psychoanalytic Association, and in August 1914, he even withdrew his name as a member. After that Freud and Jung never saw each other again.
Jung continued with his own interpretations of psychoanalysis, after moving away from Freud. He developed his own theory of psychoanalysis and his own method of psychotherapy, which came to be known as Analytical Psychology. He also redefined many Freudian concepts.
Thus, once a relationship of fondness and admiration came to a bitter end. Freud used to find Jung to be inspiring. In Jung, he saw someone who could take his psychoanalysis forward. He very evidently saw Jung as his heir. But, their disagreements with each other developed a rift that was beyond healing. The relationship between the two that started on a highly positive note ultimately got severed forever. With this, Freud’s search for his heir also became bitterly unsuccessful.
Adler and Jung moving away from Freud led to the development of three different versions of psychoanalysis. This made Freud have a lack of trust in others as far as taking forward his psychoanalysis was concerned. He decided to have a more close-knit group and became very cautious in making associations with others. He was adamant about preserving the conceptual pillars upon which psychoanalysis was based. Anyone who attempted to undermine these pillars or to replace them was no longer considered a part of the psychoanalytical enterprise.
Anna Freud
In 1918, Sigmund Freud psychoanalyzed his daughter Anna Freud, which began her serious involvement in psychoanalysis, although she had been reading her father’s work since 1910. Anna was very close to her father and was very much influenced by him. They both began working together. They attended the International Psychoanalytic Conference together, in 1920. Soon they had work and friends in common.
In 1923, when Sigmund Freud began suffering from jaw cancer he became very dependent on Anna. Anna used to take care of him and nurse him. His illness led to the formation of a secret committee that protected psychoanalysis against attacks. Anna Freud was one of the members and was given a ring as a token of trust. 
Sigmund Freud had, finally, found his successor. His search for an intellectual heir, which was bitterly unsuccessful with colleagues such as Carl Jung, ultimately succeeded with his own daughter. It was Anna Freud who actually studied children and the childhood periods about which Sigmund Freud had erected such elaborate interpretations based on the clinical recollections of adult patients.
This work convinced her that the psychoanalytic techniques proposed by her father must be modified for the analysis of children. This led to the formation of the field of psychoanalytic child psychology or child psychoanalysis, Anna Freud being one its founders.
Anna Freud with her father Sigmund Freud
Anna Freud remained one of the closest associates of Sigmund Freud, till his death. The death of Sigmund Freud, in 1939, led to a number of significant developments in Freudian psychoanalysis. The most striking of the developments in the psychoanalytic theory was the formation of the new theory of the ego, also referred to as Ego Psychology. Although Sigmund Freud regarded the ego as the executive of the total personality, he never granted it an autonomous position; it always remained subservient to the wishes of the id. After Freud’s death, some psychoanalytic theorists, in contrast to Sigmund Freud’s position, proposed a greater emphasis on the role of ego in total personality.
Anna Freud was the first of the ego psychologists. But, unlike Adler and Jung she remained faithful to the basic ideas developed by her father. Her work continued her father’s intellectual adventure. She believed that Freudian psychoanalysts were the first who had been given the key to the understanding of human behavior and its aberrations as being determined by instinctual forces arising from the unconscious mind rather than by overt factors.
In contrast to the subsequent ego psychologists, Anna Freud conceptualized the ego in a manner that was consistent with the traditional psychoanalytic view of the interrelationships of the id, ego, and superego. She provided a systematic discussion of the defensive strategies to which the ego may resort, extending her father’s treatment to include ten defense mechanisms - regression, repression, reaction formation, isolation, undoing, projection, introjection, turning against the self, reversal, and sublimation.
In order to preserve her father’s ideas, Anna Freud influenced research in Freudian psychoanalysis. She standardized the records for children with diagnostic profiles, encouraged the pooling of observations from multiple analysts, and encouraged long-term studies of development from early childhood through adolescence.
Anna Freud with Sigmund Freud
She also led the way to natural experiments in order to verify the Freudian concepts. She did careful analyses of groups of children who suffered from similar disabilities such as blindness or early traumas. This makes the common criticism that Freudian psychology has no empirical basis to be false. It is true only if empirical basis is restricted to laboratory experiments. Thus, Anna Freud is credited to giving an empirical basis to her father’s concepts making them verifiable.
Anna Freud made modifications to her father’s ideas, which led to the formation of Ego Psychology. She, however, regarded her formulations as consistent with Sigmund Freud’s emphasis on instinctual impulses. Her basic loyalty to her father’s work remained unimpaired. She devoted her life protecting her father’s legacy. Therefore, Anna Freud, not only became Sigmund Freud’s intellectual heir, she also became her father’s intellectual custodian.

This article can also be found on the blog Life, Psychology, And A Lot More in three parts:

The Intellectual Heir To Sigmund Freud (Part I)
The Intellectual Heir To Sigmund Freud (Part II)
The Intellectual Heir To Sigmund Freud (Part III) 

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