Psychoanalysis and Social Science

Psychoanalysis and Social Science

Psychoanalysis and Social Science

Psychoanalysis and Social Science

Excerpt

When Sigmund Freud began treating his "nervous" patients by psychoanalytic techniques, very few students of the social disciplines could have forecast the far- reaching impact of his work on the whole range of social studies. Before our brief review of the transformation of cultural anthropology, sociology, social psychology, and even history through the influence of Freud and psychoanalysis, let us look at some of Freud's own contributions to these fields.

Totem and Taboo was Freud's earliest work with sociological overtones. Here he set forth the theory that human culture has its roots in parricide and subsequent atonement, in the murder of the Old Man of the primal horde by his sons, and their development of institutions, such as the totemic taboos, to prevent recurrence of the crime and the pain of guilt for its commission. Although Totem and Taboo implies that its theoretical structure has a mythic quality akin to Rousseau's "social contract," Freud does cite clinical evidence, notably that of animal phobias in children, which he took as a kind of recurrence in civilized cultures of the totemism anthropologists had described in primitive tribes.

Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego and The Future of an Illusion are sociological studies as well as contributions to psychoanalytic theory. In Group Psychology, Freud sought to demonstrate that libido theory could explain sociological data and cited the army and the church as his examples The book offers valuable . . .

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