How we feel about Freud: Susie Orbach and Frederick Crews debate his legacy

Crews, an academic, thinks psychoanalysis is an unscientific jumble of ideas, while psychoanalyst Orbach would prefer not to throw the baby out with the patriarchal bias

For a century or more, Sigmund Freud has cast a long shadow not just over the field of psychoanalysis but over the entire way we think of ourselves as human beings. His theory of the unconscious and his work on dreams, in particular, retain a firm grip on the western imagination, shaping the realms of literature and art, politics and everyday conversation, as well as the way patients are analysed in the consulting room. Since Freud’s death in 1939, however, a growing number of dissenting voices have questioned his legacy and distanced themselves from his ideas. Now Freud is viewed less as a great medical scientist than as a powerful storyteller of the human mind whose texts, though lacking in empirical evidence, should be celebrated for their literary value.

The following debate, conducted through emails, was prompted by the forthcoming publication of Frederick Crews’s book Freud: The Making of an Illusion, which draws on new research materials to raise fresh questions about Freud’s competence and integrity.

There is nothing formulaic about the conversation in the consulting room. It’s a space of exploration

Related: The astrologer and the astronomer

Freud was a sick man who tried to saddle the whole human race with his anxious fantasies

Related: Cold War Freud and Freud: An Intellectual Biography review – the politics of psychoanalysis

Continue reading…

How we feel about Freud: Susie Orbach and Frederick Crews debate his legacy

Crews, an academic, thinks psychoanalysis is an unscientific jumble of ideas, while psychoanalyst Orbach would prefer not to throw the baby out with the patriarchal bias

For a century or more, Sigmund Freud has cast a long shadow not just over the field of psychoanalysis but over the entire way we think of ourselves as human beings. His theory of the unconscious and his work on dreams, in particular, retain a firm grip on the western imagination, shaping the realms of literature and art, politics and everyday conversation, as well as the way patients are analysed in the consulting room. Since Freud’s death in 1939, however, a growing number of dissenting voices have questioned his legacy and distanced themselves from his ideas. Now Freud is viewed less as a great medical scientist than as a powerful storyteller of the human mind whose texts, though lacking in empirical evidence, should be celebrated for their literary value.

The following debate, conducted through emails, was prompted by the forthcoming publication of Frederick Crews’s book Freud: The Making of an Illusion, which draws on new research materials to raise fresh questions about Freud’s competence and integrity.

There is nothing formulaic about the conversation in the consulting room. It’s a space of exploration

Related: The astrologer and the astronomer

Freud was a sick man who tried to saddle the whole human race with his anxious fantasies

Related: Cold War Freud and Freud: An Intellectual Biography review – the politics of psychoanalysis

Continue reading…

What I’m really thinking: the disappointed counsellor

19/08/2017 Anonymous 0

While in the final year of my training, undertaking a placement in a mental health service, I saw how stretched these support services are

I put four years of my life and £12,000 of my hard-earned savings into training to be a counsellor. I sacrificed my time, relationships and mental health so I could give my all to this exhausting and emotionally draining course, which included spending two years in personal therapy.

While in the final year of my training, undertaking a placement in a mental health service, I was exposed to how stretched these support services are. Despite still being a trainee, I saw clients who were suicidal, psychotic and seeking help for borderline personality disorders. I was not trained to help these clients, but I didn’t have a choice. They had to see me or go back on the waiting list for six months. Staff did their best to support me but they were so stretched, I was left to cope with difficult situations by myself.

Related: What I’m really thinking: the burned-out businessman

Continue reading…