Freud: A Critical Re-Evaluation of His Theories

By Reuben D. Fine | Go to book overview

NOTES ON CHAPTER X

The intensive opposition to Freud which prevailed before World War I and persisted until roughly World War II is full of the grossest misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Most of it has already passed into the limbo of history. The student who is interested in unravelling the course of error can consult a variety of works. E. Jones: The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud ( New York: Basic Books, 1955), II, Chapter IV has some juicy quotations from pre-World War I psychiatrists. J. Jastrow: Freud: His Dream and Sex Theories ( Cleveland: World Publishing Co., 1932) is typical of the psychologists of that day, and their inability to comprehend Freud's psychological system. R. S. Woodworth: Psychology ( New York: Henry Holt, 1921) in spite of his enormous erudition, could not even present psychoanalysis properly. G. Seldes: Can These Things Be? ( New York: Brewer, Warren and Putnam, 1931) talks, as did so many works of that day, of the tremendous "harm" done by psychoanalysis. R. M. Dorcus and G. W. Shaffer: A Textbook of Abnormal Psychology ( Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1934), write ( 2nd ed., p. 12): "Freud's Oedipus and Electra complexes are typical examples of abnormal behavior..." Apart from the gross misconception that the Oedipus complex is "abnormal" the authors are not even aware that Freud never postulated an Electra complex; it has indeed been suggested by other psychoanalytic writers, but the concept has not caught on and is almost never used. Equally characteristic is H. H. Hollingsworth: Abnormal Psychology: Its Concepts and Theories ( New York: Ronald Press, 1920) who "refutes" Freud by "showing that he is nothing but a repetition of Herbart."

Kris, Herma and Shor: "Freud's Theory of the Dream in American Textbooks," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, XXXVIII, 1943, pp. 319-34, have much interesting historical material showing how more and more of Freud has been accepted by psychology in spite of opposition and misunderstandings.

F. Wittels: Freud and His Time ( New York: Liveright, 1931) is an account by an "in-again out-again" adherent-antagonist of Freud.

The attitude of professionals in the 1930's is summed up in A. Myerson: "The Attitude of Neurologists, Psychiatrists and Psychologists toward Psychoanalysis,"American Journal of Psychiatry, XCVI, 1939, pp. 623-41.

For recent collections of absurdities about psychoanalysis see R. LaPiere: The Freudian Ethic ( New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1959); J. A. Gengerelli: "Dogma or Discipline," Saturday Review of Literature, XL, 1957, pp. 9-11 and 40. A sensible reply to Gengerelli by a well- educated layman is V. F. Kelly: Letter to the Editor,Ibid., No. 17 April 27, 1957.

-164-

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