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Freuds Seduction Theory

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-(Masson, 10) On May 30th , Freud wrote to Fleiss: In defiance of my colleagues I have written down in full my lecture on the aetiology of hysteria. (Masson, 11) David Stafford Clark recounts the diminishing involvement of the coconspirator of The Aetiology of Hysteria, Josif Breur. Freud hoped that Breur would eventually come around in despite of his strong opposition to the seduction theories .The criticism of their community only compiled the embarrassment upon Breuer. According to Clark, Breuer felt compelled to deny even the knowledge itself. Freud had to go on alone. (28) Outside of Clarks comments, we have a letter written from Freud to Fliess of March 1, 1896,in which he writes of Bruer that our personal relationship, externally reconciled, casts a deer shadow over my existence here.

I can do nothing right for him and have given up trying. According to him, I would daily have to ask myself whether I am suffering from moral insanity or paranoia scientifica. -(Masson, 135) Freud was ostracized from the psychoanalytical community as long as his seduction theory prevailed in his case studies. Freuds naming of the father as a seducer appalled his colleagues.

Both German and French medical communities took offense in Freud. As long as he allowed the seduction theories to linger in his thoughts, Freud stood alone. Retraction and Resolution: Abandonment of the Seduction Theory I was no longer obliged to recognize that these scenes of seduction, had never taken place, and that they were only fantasies which my patients had made up. -Freud, 1912 (Minutes, v4,1912-1918) Freuds preoccupation with the seduction theory seemingly came to a screeching halt on September 21, 1897, upon the ritual of writing to Fleiss.

An excerpt from Ernest Joness account of this letter gives an accurate portrayal: It was the awful truth that most not all- of the seductions in childhood which patients had revealed, and about which he had built his whole theory of hysteria, had never occurred. The letter of September 21,1897, in which he made this announcement to Fleiss is perhaps the most valuable of that valuable series which was so fortunately preserved (Masson, 107) It is in that letter in which Freud concedes to no longer believing in his neurotica. He cites several reasons for his abandonment: The continual disappointment in my efforts to bring any analysis to a real conclusion; the running away of people who had been most gripped[ by analysis]; the absence of the complete successes on which I had counted; the possibility of explaining to myself the partial success in other ways, in the usual fashion-this was the first group. Then the surprise that in all cases, the father, not excluding my own, had to be accused of being perverse- the realization of the unexpected frequency of hysteria, which precisely the same conditions prevailing in each, whereas surely such widespread perversions against children not very probable. Then third, the certain insights that there are no indications of reality in the unconscious, so that one cannot distinguish between truth and fiction Since written, this letter has been reviewed and rehashed countless times by the psychoanalytic community.

To them, this letter symbolizes the beginning of an internal reconciliation with his colleagues and the whole nineteenth century psychiatry (Mason 110). What was concluded was that Freud made a decisive and permanent decision about seductions, that they were, by and large , unreal, the fantasies of hysterical women. What was surmised was then transformed into a standard in psychoanalytical thought. Freud had redirected his thoughts from the aggression that parents direct towards their children , to the aggression that children aim towards their parents. Freud wrote in Origins, p 207 : hostile impulses against parents ( a wish that they should die)are also an integral part of neuroses.

One of the first public commentaries regarding Freuds attempt to recover from the Seduction Theories was a quote included in Leopold Lowenfelds book, Psychic Obsessions . Lowenfeld was one of the few psychiatrists that took Freuds views on the seduction theory seriously, granting recognition to Freuds contradictory new ideas . At the present time Freud summarizes the essence of his theory in the following two sentences: a) Psychic obsessions always originate in repression. b) Repressed impulses and ideas from which the resulting obsession arises stem quite generally from the sexual life.

– (p. 297 ) This statement summarizes Freuds views circa 1902. By comparison to his 1896 papers , his shift of thought is apparent. Earlier he had stated that the experience of puberty itself was harmful, because it stirred up unconscious memories of early traumatic events .

The adolescent experiences were unconsciously repressed ( or even consciously repressed) because they were reminiscent of earlier, more painful memories. Freud is now saying that the early childhood traumas tend to be fantasies , created as a defense against fully experiencing adolescence . No longer is repression an issue, sexual constitution is the only explanation. The neurotic adolescent does not want to acknowledge her own sexual desires, in order to cover them up , she invents sexual tales from her childhood. In 1905 Freud wrote a short piece entitled, My Views on the Part Played by Sexuality in the Aetiology of Neuroses (S.E., 7,pp.270-279), in which he writes: At that time my material was still scanty, and it happened by chance to include a disproportionately large number of cases in which sexual seduction by an adult or older children played the chief part in the history of the patients childhood.

I thus overestimated the frequency of such events ( though in other respects they were not open to doubt) . Moreover, I was at that period unable to distinguish with certainty between falsifications made by hysterics in their memories of childhood and traces of real events (p. 274) There are several other articles that when chronologically arranged depict the road Freud traveled from isolation to redemption. Never letting go of the underlying sexual theme to his theories , Freud rerouted his ideas to accommodate his colleagues. His later deals is laced with sexuality, yet no favorable mention of sexual childhood traumas. All his thought , hard work and effort had proved to be of no avail.

Whether or not he still possessed a spark of hope for his seduction theories, is unsure . It is certain that if he had any lingering thoughts , they were sure to uncover repressed memories of his isolation , which would in turn keep him from publicize them. The impact of Freuds seduction theory is apparent. His ideas caused uproar amongst the medical society.

It was only when he eventually concurred that he was viewed as the pioneer that he portrays today. Common knowledge states that Freuds abolishment of the seduction theory opened numerous doors inside his mind, unleashed his true brilliance, or at least what is accepted as brilliant. In a letter to Jeffrey Masson, Anna Freud wrote (September 10 , 1981) : Keeping up the seduction theory would mean to abandon the Oedipus complex, and with it the whole importance of phantasy life, conscious, or unconscious phantasy. In fact, I think there would be no psychoanalysis afterwards. -(Masson, 113) Conclusion Through writing this paper I cleared up some of the ambiguities regarding Freuds theory intertwining childhood sexual abuse and adult neurosis. I now have a visual image of the long and winding road that this theory traveled, stirring up commotion across countries, evoking enough criticism to deplete its stamina.

In all obviousness, one can witness the snowball effect applied to this situation. What started with an interest , grew into an idea . Integrating this theory into his practice, fueled the fire beneath this idea . The heat caused combustion, transforming this idea into a belief, one that Freud apparently felt important enough to risk his reputation .

Eventually the negativity directed towards Freuds belief was enough to diminish his confidence, the spine of every mans conviction. Whether or not his retraction was caused by the isolation he persevered, or because of a sincere change of heart, only Freud himself could say. Sigmund Freud was a pioneer of psychoanalysis, the first and last of his kind. Taking a wrong turn was inevitable, turning around was more important. Like trying to find a light switch in the dark, he had to feel his way around.

Bibliography Works Cited Masson, Jeffrey M. The Assault on Truth – Frueds Suppression of the Seduction Theory . NY: HarperPerennial, 1992. Gay, Peter, Reading Freud . Anzieu , D.

Frueds Self-analysis . New York: International UP, 1986 Davis, Doug. Web site( A Theory for the 90s) . October 1997 . Schur, Max.

Freud : Living and Dying. New York : International UP , 1972 Stafford-Clark, David. What Freud Really Said. New York: Schocken Books: 1965,1997 Minutes of Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Edited by H. Nunberg and E.

Federn; New York : International UP ,1962-1975 Lowenfeld, Leopold. Die psychischen Zwangerserscheinugen (Psychic Obsessions ). Wiesbaden, Germany: J.F. Bergman, 1904 Freud, Sigmund.

My Views on the Part Played by Sexuality in the Aetiology of the Neuroses. S.E 7, p. 270- 279 Freud, Sigmund, (Report on My Studies in Paris and Berlin Carried Out with the Assistance of a Travelling Bursary Granted from the University Jubilee Fund, October,1885- End of March ,1886 ), S.E. 1,pp. 3-8 Abbreviations Origins, Sigmund Freud, The Origins of Psychoanalysis: Letters to Wilhem Fleiss, Drafts and Notes: 1887- 1902, edited by Marie Bonaparte, Anna Freud, Ernest Kris, and James Strachey .

New York: Basic Books, 1954 S.E. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, translated by James Strachey, in collaboration with Anna Freud ( 24 vols.) London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1953-1974 Psychology Essays.

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