Sigmund Freud

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Sigmund Freud

Sigismund "Sigmund" Schlomo Freud (b. 6 May 1856 in Freiberg in Mähren, Austrian Empire; d. 23 September 1939 in London) was a Jewish physician, known for his discredited theories on the "unconscious" and sexuality and for creating pseudoscientific psychoanalysis. His theories and practices have had great influence on, for example, psychology, psychiatry, and Cultural Marxism. Criticisms have been extensive.



Main article: Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis has progressively moved towards the fringes of mental health care.[1] Its usefulness as a technique has not been demonstrated.[2] The theoretical foundations of psychoanalysis lay in the same philosophical currents that lead to interpretive phenomenology rather than in those that lead to scientific positivism, making the theory largely incompatible with scientific approaches to the study of the mind.[3]

E. Fuller Torrey, writing in Witchdoctors and Psychiatrists (1986), stated that psychoanalytic theories have no more scientific basis than the theories of traditional native healers, "witchdoctors" or modern "cult" alternatives such as est.[3] Frank Cioffi, author of Freud and the Question of Pseudoscience, cites false claims of a sound scientific verification of the theory and its elements as the strongest basis for classifying the work of Freud and his school as pseudoscience.[4] Noam Chomsky has also criticized psychoanalysis for lacking a scientific basis.[5]

Mario Bunge states that psychoanalysis is a pseudoscience, as claims like that of the Oedipus complex and Elektra Complex are contrary to observational evidence. The philosopher Paul Ricoeur argued that psychoanalysis can be considered a type of textual interpretation or hermeneutics. Like cultural critics and literary scholars, Ricoeur contended, psychoanalysts spend their time interpreting the nuances of language. He classified psychoanalysis as a "hermeneutics of suspicion". By this he meant that psychoanalysis searches for deception in language, and thereby destabilizes our usual reliance on clear, obvious meanings.

He also believed people's entire psychology would be caused by them being fixated on certain stages as he claimed, such as being fixated on the anus, which he called the "anal stage".[6]

Hans Eysenck who sought to reduce all psychological phenomena to purely biological causes, particularly anatomical and genetical, said that Freud set back the study of psychology and psychiatry "by something like fifty years or more."[7]

Even Karl Popper explains, all proper scientific theories must be potentially falsifiable, and Freud's psychoanalytic theories were presented in unfalsifiable form, meaning that no experiment could ever disprove them.[8]


Freud's psychoanalysis was criticized by his wife, Martha Bernays. René Laforgue reported Martha Bernays saying, "I must admit that if I did not realize how seriously my husband takes his treatments, I should think that psychoanalysis is a form of pornography." To Martha there was something vulgar about psychoanalysis, and she dissociated herself from it. According to Marie Bonaparte, Martha was upset with her husband's work and his treatment of sexuality.[9]


  • Hannibal had been the favourite hero of my later school days. Like so many boys of my age, I had sympathized in the Punic Wars not with the Romans but with the Carthaginians. And when in the higher classes I began to understand for the first time what it meant to belong to an alien race, and anti-semitic feelings among the other boys warned me that I must take up a definite position, the figure of the semitic general rose still higher in my esteem. To my youthful mind Hannibal and Rome symbolized the conflict between the tenacity of Jewry and the organization of the Catholic Church.

External links


  1. (25 February 2005) "French Psychoflap". Science 307 (5713): 1197a–1197a. doi:10.1126/science.307.5713.1197a.
  2. Abbot (15 October 2009). "Psychology: a reality check". Nature 461 (7266): 847–847. doi:10.1038/461847a., as highlighted by Hansen, edited by Elizabeth M. Altmaier, Jo-Ida C.. The Oxford handbook of counseling psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 71. ISBN 9780195342314. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Fuller Torrey E (1986). Witchdoctors and Psychiatrists, 76. 
  4. Frank Cioffi (November 9, 2005). Was Freud a Pseudoscientist?. Retrieved on April 13, 2011. “The strongest reason for considering Freud a pseudo-scientist is that he claimed to have tested – and thus to have provided the most cogent grounds for accepting – theories which are either untestable or even if testable had not been tested. It is spurious claims to have tested an untestable or untested theory which are the most pertinent grounds for deeming Freud and his followers pseudoscientists (though pseudo-hermeneut would have been a more apposite and felicitous description).”
  6. Cherry, K. Freud's Psychosexual Stages of Development. Retrieved on May 9, 2012.
  7. Hans Eysenck: Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire, Pelican, Harmondsworth 1986, p. 202.
  8. Popper, Karl. Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge. London: Routledge and Keagan Paul, 1963, pp. 33–39
  9. Behling, Katja (2005). Martha Freud. Polity Press, 164–165. ISBN 978-0-7456-3338-1.