Word Count = 2617
Year Two, Module Two
Course Code – South2S14
EVALUATE THE EXTENT TO WHICH FREUD’S THEORY OF PSYCHOSEXUAL DEVELOPMENT CAN HELP US TO UNDERSTAND A CLIENT’S PRESENTING ISSUE
The target of this essay is to evaluate Freud’s psychosexual theory and to discuss whether or not it can help us, as councillors, to better understand a client’s presenting issue. It will attempt to show how his psychosexual theory relates to adult neurotic behaviour and finally to look at some of the criticisms Freud had.
Before we begin to look at Freud’s theories I will introduce you to Freud. Sigmund Freud was born in the Austrian town of Freiberg on May 6, 1856. When he was four years old his family moved to Vienna, the town where he would live and work for most of the remainder of his life. He received his medical degree in 1881 and became engaged to marry the following year. His marriage produced six children – the youngest, Anna, herself became a distinguished psychoanalyst. After graduation, Freud promptly set up a private practice and began treating various psychological disorders. Considering himself first and foremost a scientist, rather than a doctor, he endeavoured to understand the journey of human knowledge and experience.
At the start of his career, Freud became hugely influenced by the work of his friend and colleague, Josef Breuer, who himself had discovered that when he encouraged a hysterical patient to talk uninhibitedly about the earliest occurrences of the symptoms, the symptoms sometimes gradually lessened. Inspired by Breuer, Freud concluded that neuroses had their own origins in deeply traumatic experiences that had occurred in the patient’s past. He believed that the original occurrences had been forgotten and hidden from consciousness. His treatment was to empower his patients to recall the experience and bring it to consciousness and by doing so, confront it both intellectually and emotionally. He believed the patient could then discharge it and rid themselves of the neurotic symptoms. These theories were published in a book they published together called ‘Studies in Hysteria’ (1895). After working together for a long period, Breuer ended the partnership as he had the feeling the Freud was placing too much emphasis on the sexual origins of a patient’s neuroses and was completely unwilling to consider other viewpoints. Freud continued on alone and in 1900, after a long period of self-analysis, published ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’. He followed this in 1901 with ‘The Psychopathology of Everyday Life’ and in 1905 with ‘Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality’. The admiration that was later given to Freud’s theories was not shown for some years as most of his contemporaries felt as Breuer did, that his emphasis on sexuality was either scandalous of overplayed. In 1909, Freud was invited to give a series of lectures in the United States and it was after these visits and the publication of his 1916 book, ‘Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis’ that his fame grew massively.
Freud’s many theories, including those about psychic energy, the Oedipus complex and the importance of dreams were probably influenced by other scientific discoveries of his day. Charles Darwin’s understanding of humankind as a progressive element of the animal kingdom informed Freud’s investigation of human behaviour. Also, the formulation of a new principle by Helmholtz, stating that energy in any given physical system is always constant, informed Freud’s scientific inquiries into the human mind. Freud’s work has been both rapturously praised and hotly contended, but there will be few who doubt that no one has influenced the science of psychology as intensely as Freud.
After a life of constant inquiry, he committed suicide after requesting a lethal dose of morphine from his doctor while exiled in England in 1939, following a battle with oral cancer. (www.biography.com).
Freud proposed that