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This involved his pressing on the patients forehead and insisting that something would come to mind, with the expectation that the resulting ideas or images would eventually lead to material relating to an event or idea that could be identified as the determining trauma (Freud, 1895b, pp. In the seduction theory papers, Freud claimed that the sexual abuse he had supposedly uncovered most commonly occurred at age 3 or 4, and for 2 cases at half these ages (Freud, 1896a, p. 144, 145), only 4 months later he claimed to have analytically traced back from his patients symptoms to repressed memories of multiple childhood sexual experiences, mostly in infancy, for no fewer than 16 patients (13 hysterics and 3 pure obsessionals: Freud, 1896a, pp.  In the Aetiology paper Freud claimed that the patients reproduced the infantile sexual experiences that he warn[ed] them would emerge (1896c, p.
Mollons propensity to take Freuds clinical claims at face value is apparent in his discussion of the instances of supposedly objective corroborations adduced in The Aetiology of Hysteria (1896c, p. He notes that Freud argued that there would be unassailable proof if there were confirmation from someone other than the person being analysed, praises him for having put forward the standard of proof requested by those who support todays false memory societies, and goes on to report Freuds examples.
In the first of these, Mollon writes, a brother confirmed his childhood sexual activity with his sister (p. If we turn to what Freud actually wrote, however, we find that he did not deliver what he had promised, for the brother of his own accord confirmednot, it is true, his earliest sexual experiences with his sister (who was the patient)but at least scenes of that kind from later childhood, and the fact that there had been sexual relations dating further back (1896c, p. So the crucial infantile sexual scene was confirmed by the brother.
125129.) That it was not unusual in this period for Freud, rather than the patient, to provide the supposed traumatic idea or memory is evident from his writing in (1895b) that the principal point is that I should guess the [traumatic] secret and tell it to the patient straight out, and that it is of use if we can guess the way in which things are connected up and tell the patient before we have uncovered it (pp. Freuds early cases are usually represented as demonstrating his facilitating patients recall of forgotten traumatic incidents, thereby relieving the patients symptoms (Freud, 1910, pp.
2223), but a critical examination of the relevant case histories reveals that this is an idealized story, originating not only from the impression created by Freuds contemporary accounts, but also from misleading retrospective reports in his general expositions.
case, which have been shown to be misleading in several important respects.
Three Essays On The Theory Of Sexuality Repression Essayist Called Elia
For instance, some of the patients symptoms diminished spontaneously (Hirschmller, 1989, pp. Mollon goes on to provide a brief summary of Freuds 4 main cases in do not concern repression of memory, nor recovered memory, and are not related to childhood sexual abuse.
Furthermore, his claim that her leg pains were cured as a result of his supposedly uncovering the pathogenic moment (1910, p. Mahony (1984) observes that he is ever struck by Freuds early written endorsement of hypnosis and enthusiastic description of its cures as compared with his subsequent scepticism about its means and achievements, and notes more generally the assured tone and persuasive force of Freuds expositions that contrast with his subsequent retractions when he has moved on to new procedures and theories (p. These observations are especially pertinent to the next stage of Freuds career, the period immediately following the publication of , Mollon (pp.
25) does not withstand critical scrutiny (1895b, pp. 1718) turns to Freuds 1896 papers, in which he claimed that for all his patients he had uncovered repressed memories of sexual abuse in early childhood. 40), during the period in question Freud was using an early version of his technique of free association, starting from a symptom, supplemented as necessary by his pressure procedure. Furthermore, he reported that for most of his patients he had found that there had been 2 or more infantile abuse experiences, and that in a few instances the accumulation of sexual experiences coming from different quarters was truly amazing (1896c, p. Although he had not reported having uncovered any cases of sexual abuse in infancy before he alighted on the seduction theory in early October 1895 (Masson, 1985, pp. But, as he himself acknowledged, he did not in these papers provide the evidence needful to support [his] assertions (1896a, p. 203); as Eissler (2001) observes, he spread his clinical evidence surprisingly thin (p. So Freuds readers were effectively left to take on trust his claim that he had succeeded in awakening the psychical trace of a precocious sexual event (1896a, p. This raises the issue of what exactly his evidence comprised. 137) asks pertinently: Was a period of not quite four months really all that was needed to uncover the data for all the cases alluded to in the first seduction theory papers?
He reported that the patient had completely forgotten a specific scene by her sisters [death]bedside and the odious egoistic impulse that she experienced at that moment, but remembered it during the treatment and reproduced the pathogenic moment with signs of the most violent emotion, and, as a result of the treatment, she became healthy once more (1910, pp. However, it is evident from the case history in that Elisabeth had not forgotten the scene by her sisters deathbed (1895b, pp. Moreover, close reading of the relevant paragraph in the case history reveals that Freud did not explicitly state that Elisabeth recalled the traumatic impulse (though his readers may well be left with that impression from the artfully composed passage in question) (pp.
157158); rather, he inferred that it was present as an unconscious memory from her strenuous resistance when he put the situation [i.e., his surmise] drily before her. 145160) exemplifies the way in which Freuds excessive confidence in his own analytic inferences results in his entwining them with factual information in such a way that readers are almost insidiously led to view the patients experiences through Freuds interpretative lens.