Sigmund Freud...any insight?

I am writing a historical essay examining the impact Freud may have had on the development of psychotropic drugs (he at one point was prescribing cocaine), the development and modification of mental institutes and how his theories may have changed the structure of 19th-20th century families. Everyone here seems well-read, has anyone come across any ideas on exactly how much Freuds works changed the outlook on psychiatry? If anyone knows anything on the subject I would be more than happy to hear your opinions…
Additionally, I have been reading that many people, including psychiatrists are sceptical of Freud, are you?

Freud Returns
see also

Scientific American- Trends In Psychology: Why Freud Isn’T Dead, by John Horgan; Dec. 1996, Page 106

I went to graduate school in neuroscience and psychopharmacology. I regard Freud as a derailment to real science at best. Freud influenced psychology and psychiatry greatly up until the 1960’s. That is one reason why they have the general reputation of pseudo-science today. I am unaware of any Freudian theories that have withstood scientific examination.

His theories were made up completely by him. At best you can call him a quack philosopher. It is as if we based an area of medicine on the works of Tolkien and then slowly realized that they weren’t applicable to the real world.

Current testable and effective areas of psychology like cognitive therapy do not build on his work in any way. Psychopharmacology is where many of the most effective therapies lie. They owe nothing to Freud. His cocaine experiments were simply giving the patient a hit of what he liked to indulge in personally.

The man should be wiped from all textbooks because he gives opponents of modern psychiatry ammunition and contributes zero to the knowledge base. He was not a scientist in any sense of the word.

Since you’re original question(s) are going to draw opinions and debate, rather than some nice tidy factual single answer, I’ve moved this one to In My Humble Opinion.

samclem GQ moderator

About at much, scientifically and historically, as Pope Pius IX had on the development of Dianetics and Scientology.
I tend to regard a great deal of modern psychopharmacology as quackery and the selling of snake oil. I tend to regard a great deal of Freudian theory as unsubstantiated balderdash.

They had very very little to do with each other. Psychopharmacology arose in the big bins, the aggregate mental wards. Drugs like Thorazine replaced straitjackets and the wrapping of naked mental patients in tightly-wound wet sheets.

I don’t know where people get the idea that huge state-run insane asylums and psychiatric facilities and mental hospitals were chock-full of Freudian psychoanalytic couches. They weren’t. At no point in western history were the majority of people who were diagnosed as mentally ill placed face-upward on a couch and asked to free-associate or probed about their early childhood.

The folks who got psychoanalysis were more akin to the ones who paid for EST in the 1970s. Some of these (generally wealthy) folks were mental and emotional basket cases, some of them were just seeking the absolute most healthy self that they could attain. Almost none of them, aside from a child or two dragged in by Park Avenue parents, were subjected to psychoanalysis involuntarily.

Mainstream institutional psychiatry (the kind that the majority of mental patients were exposed to) has always embraced “physical” cures. Back around the time the Declaration of Independence was being signed, one of its signators was spinning his mental patients on a big wheel to make the blood go to the head and perhaps clear up their thinking. Around the time Freudian psychoanalysis was catching hold as the new trend in mid-wealthy-and-upwards circles, mainstream institutional psychiatry was more enamored of the prefrontal lobotomy. (And to be sure, even the rich and powerful who had relatives who seemed to have Major Problems tended to put them in mental wards. Very few seriously problematic & disturbing psychotics have ever been treated by psychoanalysis, at any time and in any venue.

Positing “Freud vs Modern PharmaPsychiatry” as the matchup to be discussed frustrates the hell out of me, because it’s a false dichotomy in which both sides are badly wrong.

Did Freud bring anything to the table worth acknowledging? Oh, probably. The notion that your motivations may not lie on the surface but may in fact be hidden from you. The notion that a surprising amount of what people invest their energies in is in one form or another erotic, much of it deflected and rechanneled and distorted in various ways. We take his useful insights for granted, I guess.

On the other hand, the guy made these ridiculous assertions of stuff as if it were just self-apparently true. Like primitive man staring at a big burning fire and desiring to piss it out and restraining himself from doing so and this being an important component of what makes society tick. (WFT???) Or women checking out their vulva and thinking “Gee, this is a wound where I used to have a penis but then I got castrated” (uh huh…) Or eroticism evolving from tit-sucking to pooping, and then, after somehow bypassing pissing entirely (having located itself on the backside orifices during potty-training or something?) slipping back frontside to discover the genitals (say WHAT??) And women converting their desire for a penis of their own into a desire for a boy-baby (yeah, sure) And how women who tell of being molested are fantasizing cuz all little girls wish men would grope them (sure thing buddy). And so on and so on and so on.

It’s really hard to conjure up much admiration for someone who sprouted so many silly “this is so” statements with no substantiation whatsoever, especially given the damage done by treating so much of that as some kind of gospel truth.

We finally agree on something AHunter3. Freud has no value whatsoever other than as a person with a grandiose sense of self, a vivid imagination, and a drug problem.

I have no idea why he is still included in any discussion of psychiatry or psychology other than the fact that most people have heard of, and want to learn about him.

Wow, previous posters have denounced Freud more throughly and eloquently than I could. I’d just like to add that at no point, when a patient came to Freud and said, “I have clear and distinct memories of being sexually molested as a child” did Freud say, “I believe you.”. We can only speculate about the prevelance of child sexual abuse in his time, but out of all the patients he saw, the probability that at least one had actually been sexually molested, rather than delusional, is very high.

Wow, lots of Freud bashing here.

My impression is that Freud’s inclusion in accounts of psychiatry offers historical value. It’s important to understand why people bought into his theories, and why psychoanalysis was at all successful (although I still don’t think it was as successful as the psyc textbooks would have you believe, and I sure wish he wasn’t the principal figure associated with psychiatry, since he has such little to do with modern psychiatric thinking). Sure, we can discount his theories now - hindsight, 20/20, blah blah… and one day we’ll probably be saying the same thing about the stuff we believe/theorize now.

Another idea to ponder: part of the reason psychoanalysis was “allowed” to become so successful is because it brought psychiatrists/psychologists into private practice. This means lots of money, especially since the demographic Freud’s beliefs appealed to (disgruntled aristocratic Jewish women) was fairly wealthy. Plus at the time psychoanalysis was reaching America, WW2 was starting and Jews were fleeing Germany (basically the center of psychiatric research at this time).

Contributions of psychoanalysis: I’d say it improved the doctor-patient relationship, which was basically non-existent in the era of asylum psychiatry. It expanded the domain of psychiatry. It wasn’t confined to only the most severe mentally disturbed people, but just about anyone could go, so there was less of a stigma attached to psychiatric treatment.

I do agree with that.

Think I disagree with that though.

Definitely disagree with that. Wiped from the textbooks? Maybe not given so much attention, maybe not the figure we should be thinking of when we think of “psychiatry” - but wiped from the textbooks? You gotta look at some of these things from an historical perspective. In those days, they were desperate for effective treatments of mental disorders. I don’t blame them - the state of psyc in the US was disgraceful, the infrastructure of state asylums was completely overwhelmed. How else can you account for the widespread use of lobotomies and other desperate biological treatments (insulin coma therapy, Tulane electrical brain stimulation experiments, various silly forms of hydrotherapy), most/many of which didn’t even have real therapeutic benefits?

TheHayley, I’d say Freud had very little to do with the development of psychotropic meds, and I’d probably have a hard time writing a very long paper about it!