10 Slices
Medium 9781855757257

Chapter Seven: Subject to exclusion

Moran, Frances Karnac Books ePub

In the preceding chapters of this book we have seen how Freud wanted to be and considered himself to be a scientist. From his point of view, it is true, psychoanalysis is unquestionably part of the scientific enterprise. “Psycho-analysis is a part of the mental science of psychology” (1940b (1938), p. 282), he reminds us in his posthumously published elementary lessons in psychoanalysis. Be that as it may, what these first chapters of The Paradoxical Legacy of Sigmund Freud make clear is that Freud was about something different from science. He was involved in something that at the time, he was unable to recognize for himself. His life's work, as transmitted in the Standard Edition, reads as a thorough, energetically and constantly worked psychoanalytic theory of practice. As such, it gains unqualified and lasting value in its own right.

This, however, does not mean that we accept without question all that Freud taught throughout his lengthy career. Not at all. Freud was limited by the then available knowledge base and by the conceptual tools within his grasp as he tackled each problem. We may well see the same issues quite differently now.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855757257

Chapter Five: Aim

Moran, Frances Karnac Books ePub

It is my argument that although Freud wanted to produce a theory that had scientific status, his works are most profitably read as having the structure of a theory of practice. From beginning to end, he had a practical aim in mind and our endeavour is to follow the changes he made in his aim, as his theoretical postula-tions traversed different lines of thought over numerous decades.

Freud aimed to bring about a change in the psychical world of his patients: “I have been engaged for many years (with a therapeutic aim in view) in unravelling certain psychopathologi-cal structures—hysterical phobias, obsessional ideas, and so on” (1900a, p. 100). His initial focus was the neuroses and he wanted to ‘cure’ his patients of the pain they brought to his attention. His aim was cure in the sense of what was expected of a medical practitioner in his time—practical results were constantly in mind. When he did consider the psychoses he likewise had therapeutic results in view. “The neuroses were the first subject of analysis, and for a long time they were the only one. … It would seem, however, that the analytic study of the psychoses is impracticable owing to its lack of therapeutic results (1925d (1924), p. 60).

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855757257

Chapter Six: Technique

Moran, Frances Karnac Books ePub

Psychoanalytic technique, within the context of a theory of practice, cannot be a list of rules of thumb for the treatment of neurotic patients. Rather, it can be understood only within the context of the recursively interdependent components of which it forms but one aspect. Technique is the outcome or practical result of a thorough understanding of the premises and goal; it provides the link between the two. It is for this reason, I propose, that there is relatively little work on the topic of technique as such.

First, I will outline how changes in Freud's technique to be found over the years can be accounted for in the light of changes in his theoretical premises. Thus we will be in a position to appreciate the interdependence of the components of his theory of practice for psychoanalysis. What we will discover is that as the theoretical premises become more enriched, complex, and abstract, Freud's optimism in regard to his therapeutic aim waned. Here, with reference to his aim, I argue that while his ultimate aim remained the same, his growing realization of the scope of his task brought Freud to appreciate the limits of his life's work.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855757257

Chapter Two: Establishing the freudian field

Moran, Frances Karnac Books ePub

Easter Sunday, 25 April, 1886, marks the beginning of Freud's private practice as a specialist in nervous illnesses. He had not long returned from his time with Charcot at the Hospice de la Salpêtrière in Paris and brought with him the imprint of the Professor's views on hysteria. Over subsequent years he conversed about interesting cases with his friend and mentor, Josef Breuer, a respected Vienna physician. Their collaboration materialized into a joint publication, Studies on Hysteria (1895d), which provides the focus of this chapter. Here we find in Volume II of the Standard Edition the ground plan for Freud's future theorization.

Hysterics,” we are told, “suffer mainly from reminiscences” (p. 7). This early, pithy observation lies at the heart of Freud's approach to the neuroses. Although it may not be entirely original (see note 3, pp. 7–8) it nevertheless carries a central Freudian conviction associated with the role of memory in psychic life, a theme Freud is never to abandon. If hysterics suffer from reminiscences then several questions immediately arise. What is the nature of these memories that cause such disturbance? Why do they persist? How can they be dealt with? These are key issues for Freud and Breuer as they begin their investigations. Initially, in the “Preliminary Communication” (1893a), they together propose that hysterical symptoms are produced by what they term a psychical trauma. The latter refers to an experience which causes distressing affects. These affects include those of fright, shame or anxiety. The important point about traumatic experiences is whether or not the person in question reacts to the experience with affect. If the trauma is not sufficiently abreacted then memories will persist unconsciously and it is from these memories that the hysteric suffers. The clinical aim is therefore to bring such memories to consciousness and so abreaction and consequent relief.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855757257

Chapter Three: The fundamental hypothesis of the split psyche

Moran, Frances Karnac Books ePub

Freud had been in private practice for nine years when he wrote to Fliess on May 25, 1895 of the inhuman amount he had to do and of his long hours working with neuroses. He was engaged at that time—and throughout his entire working life—in an attempt to theorize his day to day practical activity. In this chapter we will trace the path he forged over many decades, the focus being his effort to conceptualize the split psyche, his fundamental axiom.

A number of interwoven themes emerge in reference to Freud's postulations concerning the unconscious: (a) the status of the unconscious as either place or state and (b) the source of theorization as either speculation or clinical observation. We will meet these themes time and time again as Freud grapples with the complexity of his terrain.

In the correspondence to Fliess mentioned above, Freud expressed his desire to write a full psychology and wrote of how very troubled he was by the problem of defence. Soon after, he sent Fliess a package of two notebooks; the third, dealing with repression, he retained. These two notebooks form the now well-known “Project for a Scientific Psychology” (1950a (1887-1902)), the aim of which was “to furnish a psychology that shall be a natural science …” (p. 295).

See All Chapters

See All Slices