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  • So on to Sigmund Freud

  • We're going to give him somewhat short shrift. I'm afraid because we only have an hour to talk about Freud, but that's okay

  • We could get a fair way through it

  • He's still persona non grata, I would say among experimental psychologists and probably clinical psychologists as well

  • But that seems to me to be very unfair

  • Freud Freud is one of those thinkers who?

  • All that's left are his mistakes

  • and the reason for that is that everything that he

  • Discovered or put forward is so entrenched in our culture now that we think it's self-evident and so everything

  • correct has been assimilated and that just leaves everything that's more or less floating on top to look wrong and

  • But Freud is also one of those thinkers who was always wrong in an interesting way and that's very useful. And so I

  • also think that many of the things that he put his finger on that are of

  • still disputed for example, the idea of the Oedipus complex are much more useful than people are willing to

  • admit

  • especially in the clinical realm because the eatable complex which we'll talk about quite a bit is actually a

  • description of a fairly

  • stable

  • form of familial psychopathology where

  • child gets trapped within the confines of a family because the relationship with one parent or the other or both is so tight that

  • they can't break beyond it and maybe because of their own inability to

  • move towards independence but more frequently because of

  • What you might describe as a kind of conspiracy between the son and and the parent or the child and the parent

  • that prevents them from

  • moving towards

  • Autonomous life and keeps them in a state of essentially a state of childhood dependence

  • Freud said I started my professional activity as a neurologist trying to bring relief to my neurotic patients under the influence of an older friend

  • And by my own efforts, I discovered some important new facts about the unconscious and psychic life

  • The role of instinctual urges and so on out of these findings grew a new science psychoanalysis

  • A part of psychology and a new treatment for the neurosis. I had to pay heavily for this bit of good luck

  • People did not believe in my facts and thought my theories unsavory

  • Resistance was strong and unrelenting in the end

  • I succeeded in inquiring pupils and building it up in international psychoanalytic Association

  • But the struggle is not over he made that recording just shortly before he died. He moved to to England to escape the Nazis

  • Before Freud I guess

  • The mind was

  • It's complicated because Freud of course was not the only person to be thinking along the lines that he thought Pierre

  • jennae

  • who was one of his teachers had originated and started to develop many of the ideas that I would say were popularized by Freud but

  • The idea of the unconscious mind was not

  • Certainly not as well developed

  • prior to Freud as it became afterwards and

  • Before that I suppose

  • You might say that insofar as people thought of the mind at all

  • They thought of in philosophical terms and the mind would be that part of you

  • That's that you're aware of like in the dark in

  • The Cartesian sense Descartes said I think therefore I am and it kind of seems in some sense

  • Self-evident that you're aware of and have control over the contents of your own mind

  • But that was what Freud really questioned and he questioned it deeply said well

  • first of all the idea that you're one thing like one mind is a dubious idea to begin with because

  • People are full of internal contradictions. And then the idea that your mind is all of one type

  • it's it's all of one form was also very questionable as far as Freud was concerned because you could be fractionated into

  • subcomponents and

  • You know the idea for example that your anger or your sexual desire could be an autonomous part of your personality in some sense

  • It could overtake you and control you. That's really a Freudian idea and

  • one of the classic Freudian ideas really is that people are made out of sub personalities and

  • Those sub personalities are alive. And that's one of the things I really like about the psychoanalytic thinkers because even the

  • Psychologists who say over the last thirty years are they're about

  • Since maybe longer now

  • anyways, since the demise of behaviorism as an ideology and

  • the admission by psychologists that there were

  • There is an active unconscious or many active unconscious which is a better way of thinking about it

  • Psychologists still really haven't come to terms with the idea in any deep sense that these unconscious

  • Processes are living things, you know there

  • When psychologists talk for example about the cognitive unconscious they're talking about something that that they describe it more machine-like

  • with more machine like metaphors and that's not reasonable you you understand things a lot better if you

  • understand that the sub components that make up people the fragmentary bits of them and also the biological

  • subsystems that that are part and parcel of your being are

  • Much more intelligently viewed as personalities there

  • there are kind of uni dimensional personalities in some sense so that for example, if you're angry you're nothing, but angry I mean

  • That's an overstatement obviously or if you're afraid you're nothing but afraid or if you're hungry you're nothing but hunger well

  • That's certainly true

  • If you get hungry enough or thirsty

  • Or too hot or any of those things you you kind of collapsed to a simpler personality. That only has one

  • Motivation in mind and we'll talk a lot as we progress about the grounding of those uni-dimensional

  • Motivational systems in biology, but I'd have to say that Freud was

  • among the first at least the first to

  • Synthesize a coherent theory of this multiplicity and to put it forth

  • while also insisting that much of what was happening to you and inside of you was

  • not

  • immediately accessible

  • To your awareness and it's a very profound. It's a very profound discovery

  • it means among any among many other things that you

  • can formulate ideas

  • First of all, it means that you can act out things

  • That you don't understand for reasons that you don't understand it

  • also means that

  • Your memory can contain things that's represented in one way, but that can't be understood in another

  • So for example, and we know this is true because there are independent memory systems. There's an independent memory system for procedures

  • That's for actions. There's an independent

  • memory system for what you might describe as imagination for for the memory that uses images and then there's a another system that

  • articulates knowledge that's the semantic memory system and it's not obvious at all that the contents of all of those are

  • equivalent and that's why for example

  • you can dream things that you don't know because one of the things you might think is that your dreams watch you act and they

  • Watch other people act and then they make a little drama out of that and that drama has information in it

  • But you don't necessarily know what that information is in that you can't describe it consciously

  • Right. It's it's akin to the PA Chetty an idea. That kids can play a game

  • and you can take them away from the game and then they won't know how to describe the rules even though they can play the

  • Game and so dreams can contain information. That's full of

  • the encoding of behavior that has information in it that you're not consciously aware of and so then you can become

  • consciously aware of that in a kind of a revelation side

  • Maybe that's what you do when you become aware of the meaning of a dream or the meaning of a fantasy or something like that

  • and

  • That's all all our ability to think that way in some ways can be traced back to Freud

  • Now Freud concentrated mostly I would say at least in terms of pathology on

  • sexual and aggressive

  • Impulses and I I don't think that there's any mystery for modern people

  • about why aggressive impulses might be particularly difficult to integrate into the personality and might remain underdeveloped or will say

  • repressed although those aren't the same thing and

  • I think in order to you might think that in different times in society

  • Some things are allowed to surface express themselves and other things are less allowed. And so

  • Victorian times had a number of

  • characteristics that made the repression of sexuality particularly likely and perhaps also the repression of aggression and we're talking about

  • Victorian times in in Europe, obviously and only one time in one place

  • As Henry or Ellen Burgess says this is a great book by the way

  • the discovery of the unconscious if you're interested in

  • If you're really interested in psychoanalytic ideas Freud Jung and Adler and also the history of those ideas

  • There's no better book than the discovery of the unconscious. It's an absolutely remarkable book a great work of scholarship

  • I think it it goes for about

  • 250 pages before it even gets to Freud and so it places Freud's discoveries in their historical context

  • So that's a really good thing to know

  • Allen Burgess says it was a world shaped by man for man in which women occupied the second place

  • Political rights for women did not exist the separation and dissimilarity of the sexes was sharper than today

  • women who wore slacks their hair shorter smoked were hardly to be found and the universities admitted no female students, man's

  • Authority over his children and his wife was unquestioned education was authoritarian

  • The despotic father was a common figure and was particularly conspicuous only when he became extremely cruel

  • Laws were more repressive delinquent youth sternly punished and corporal punishment was considered indispensable

  • now

  • So the times themselves I would say were harsher and more repressive but then there was an element to sexuality that was also

  • Extraordinarily

  • Problematic. I mean the first thing you might notice might consider and people generally don't it's almost impossible to overstate

  • how

  • revolutionary the birth control pill actually is

  • You know people like to think that the political rights that women have attained have been a consequence of a political struggle

  • But I don't buy that for a second. I don't think that's true even in the least

  • I think that what happened was that we underwent a biological revolution in the 1950s late

  • 1950s with the emergence of the birth control pill and that for the first time in human history gave women

  • Pretty reliable control over the reproductive function not really transformed them into entirely different biological

  • beings in many many ways like here's an example a subtle example, so, you know

  • if you track women through their

  • Ovulation cycle and you show them a picture of a man same man

  • And you do nothing but vary his jaw width

  • When they're ovulating the guy with the wider jaw is more attractive and when they're not

  • Ovulating the farthest away from that the guy with the thinner jaw is more attractive and that's associated with testosterone levels

  • And so women who are fertile like more masculine men and basically if you're on the pill then you're never in that

  • Ovulation phase and so one thing that may have happened and I don't know this for sure

  • but it's it's interesting to consider is that

  • Since women have been taking the birth control pill their preference for less

  • masculine men has become more pronounced and that could easily be one of the things that's fueling at least some of the tension that's

  • Existed and exists now politically between men and women, but the point is is that you just cannot ignore

  • The massive consequences of a biological revolution like that and to make any other factor causal when you're trying to understand

  • The political movement movements especially in the last say 40 years. It's you're putting the cart before the horse now

  • It's reasonable to point out that the pill wouldn't have been accepted as a technology if certain

  • Political changes with regards to the emancipation of women hadn't already been in place, right?

  • No one would have even been allowed to do something like investigate contraception

  • So you can't separate the biological from the political entirely

  • but it's still it's still very useful to organize your organizing your thinking to realize just how profound a

  • Revolution that was but now back in the Victorian times

  • There's another thing about sexuality

  • Modern people like to think that there's nothing dangerous about sex and that is like the stupidest thing you could possibly ever

  • Hypothesize because everything about it is dangerous. It's dangerous

  • Emotionally it's dangerous socially

  • it's dangerous because of the

  • Possibility of unwanted pregnancy and it's dangerous because of the possibility of sickness and that's a major one

  • I mean

  • So when aids emerged in the 1980s that could have easily killed all of us now the fact that it didn't was wonderful

  • But it did kill hundreds of millions of people. So it was no joke. It was a big deal and

  • ADEs

  • mutated to take advantage of promiscuity and so the

  • Relationship between sexual behavior and the transmission of disease is actually mediated at the biological level. But anyways back in the 1890s

  • They had the same problem, right? They had the problem with syphilis and syphilis is one nasty disease

  • it's it can mimic almost any other disease and it's devastating to your nervous system and you can pass it on to your children and

  • so part of the reason that sexuality was heavily repressed in the Victorian period was not only because of the

  • possibility of unwanted pregnancy the relative poverty of people

  • You know back in 1895 in Europe the average person lived on less than a dollar a day in in modern terms

  • You know

  • it's almost impossible to understand how poor people were and so

  • sex in a poverty-stricken place is also a lot more dangerous than it is in a rich place because especially if you were, you know,

  • given the lack of employment

  • opportunities for women back in the Victorian period if you happen to get pregnant out of wedlock you were and

  • You were in serious trouble

  • and so the fact that sexuality was repressed is hardly as hardly a

  • surprise because it was so difficult to integrate into the full-fledged personality, you know, and it has it as it still is so

  • Sexual repression

  • supposedly characteristic feature of the Victorian period was often merely the expression of two facts the lack of diffusion of

  • contraceptives and the fear of venereal disease it was all the more dangerous because of the great spread of prostitution and because prostitutes were almost

  • Invariably contaminated and therefore potential sources of infection we can hardly imagine today how monstrous silithus syphilis appeared to people of that time

  • Well, we can imagine that a little bit better than they could in 1970 because it hasn't you know, AIDS is still with us

  • Although it's nowhere near the plague that it was say

  • 25 years ago

  • Well, here's the Freudian world Freud

  • so let's let's take a look at the history of or the idea of the

  • Unconscious to begin with and one of the things that you might want to consider

  • Conceptually is that there are many different forms of unconscious

  • There's not just one and so Alan bursae points out that by 1904 functions of the unconscious had been described

  • There's a conservative function. So the unconscious stores memories often unaccessible to voluntary recall

  • Well, that's a strange one, you know

  • obviously you remember your past but you don't remember all of

  • What you can remember at any given time and you don't really have access to that full store of memories

  • although you can try to remember so the unconscious is the

  • You could imagine the memories are represented somehow

  • Neurologically, but neural the neurological structure isn't exactly the mind like the neurological structure isn't exactly your consciousness

  • There's some relationship between them that we don't know and the unconscious

  • from a conceptual perspective is the place that your memories are that you

  • Sometimes can get access to and sometimes can't and so

  • you might think well that there are the memories that you can't get access to there might be a variety of reasons you can't get

  • access to them one might be that you've just forgotten them and

  • One might be that they're so painful that you don't want to bring them to mind

  • You'll you'll engage in tricks to stop yourself from getting access to them

  • And or maybe they're memories that are so complex that and painful that even if you did get access to them

  • You wouldn't exactly know what to do with them

  • and so there's not a lot of reason for you to bring them to mind because all it is is pain without any without any

  • Utility and when you understand that a little bit you understand more about what Freud meant by repression

  • The thing about Freud is that he kind of believed that

  • like many people believe now that when you remember an event in the past

  • It's it's almost as if you're using a video tape recorder and that when you experience that the memory is somehow

  • Recorded in you like it happened

  • But that's not a very accurate version of how memory works I mean

  • We know that memories can be easily distorted

  • for example

  • if you interview someone about an event and

  • You make suggestions that there was something present in the event that wasn't there and then you bring them back a couple of weeks later

  • And you ask them about the same event?

  • they'll often incorporate the thing that they were told into the event and

  • So and the idea that you can make an objective record of something that's happening to you is kind of a strange notion anyways