Recent update

Subscribe to RSS feed

the power of Freud

July 16th, 2009 by Mindy Erchull

I’ve got a small collection of toys in my office.  Among them is a set of 4 “great psychologists” finger puppets.  The puppets are Freud, Jung, Anna Freud, and a couch.  All of these things are connected to Freud (we’ll just ignore the fact that apparently people couldn’t come up with a 4th psychologist more famous than a couch!).  Freud is among the first things people think of when talking about psychology and/or therapy.  He is well known, and his influence is everywhere.

Given that his ideas have not stood up well to the test of time (and research), it’s really amazing how influential he has been.  His language has become part of our everyday vernacular.  We talk about being anal, orally fixated, repressing memories, etc. with little or no through to where these ideas come from. 

Perhaps the very fact that Freudian theory is not grounded in research is part of the reason for our general comfort and familiarity with it.  People tend to be uncomfortable with research and don’t really understand how research works, what statistics mean, and when research is quality work.  Perhaps theory without data is just much more approachable.  As a researcher by both training and inclination, this is frustrating to me.

Perhaps by the end of my career, Freud will be recognized as more of a historically important figure than one central to modern psychology.  I won’t hold my breath, however.  His ideas are well know, frequently used in the media, and lend themselves well to parody.  I doubt this will change anytime soon.  I wonder what Freud would have thought of his legacy as it exists today?

Posted in miscellaneous, research | | 1 Comments

One Response to ' the power of Freud '

Subscribe to comments with RSS

  1. psy4chai said,

    on July 16th, 2009 at 9:12 am

    I think that even though people talk about moving forward and trying new things–including in psychology theories–that there remains the tendency to try and relate or link “the new” back to “the familiar” (in this case, Freud). I noted that in the text book it mentioned that there is some support for defense mechanisms, even if they do not work quite the way Freud theorized. People tend to accept familiar things faster, even when the part that is familiar may only be the shade of lipstick that we apply to the pig.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.