Saturday, May 06, 2006

Happy birthday, Dr. Freud.

He's 150 years young today. Mind Hacks has a round-up of interpretations. Who wants to analyze Freud? Times Online tries:
Although his writings were not scientific in any rigorous sense, and although he was not the lone pioneer that he claimed to be, supposedly charting a completely unknown psychological continent, there is no doubt that it was he who made us aware, in a straightforward and coherent fashion, just how hidden and contorted human motivation could be, how little reliance we could place on our consciously avowed intentions, and how important, though also how difficult, it is for us to know ourselves.

Freud was not a great scientist, nor did he discover anything in the sense that Robert Koch discovered the germ that causes tuberculosis, and Watson and Crick discovered the double helix. He did not contribute any store of positive facts to human knowledge. Science would be deprived of practically nothing had he not lived. His theories are now universally dismissed, either as having been disproved or, somewhat contradictorily, as being incapable of disproof and therefore not scientific theories in the first place.

Yet his influence on all of us was enormous, and it would be as impossible to return to a pre-Freudian way of thinking as to return to a pre-heliocentric theory of the solar system. Freud is a little like Nature in Horace’s famous line: though you may throw him out with a pitchfork, yet he returns. It is as if he enunciated deep if unprovable truths about ourselves that had never been so clearly enunciated before...

2 Comments:

Blogger John J. Coupal said...

There are non-invasive methods that can be used to test Freud's theories. PET (positron emission tomography) and SPECT (don't ask) can image certain areas of the brain related to emotions and behavior.

By the end of this decade, we'll know a lot more about why humans act in the weird way that we do.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Roy said...

Here I argue that Freud set back Psychiatry a century, resulting in things like more stigma, marginalization from the House of Medicine, and Tom Cruise.

6:12 AM  

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