Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Examining Freud

Because of a thread in the comments on the last post I am segueing into today's topic. I am quoting from an article that concisely sums up much of what I was able to independently conclude from my own research years before having read this article. The article is simply a handy device to jump into the subject with. I am not going to attempt a post which includes documentation and sourcing because it would become too unwieldy and unreadable. If you are open minded to investigation the resources are freely available if you apply yourself to finding them.

Two years ago I came across an article that I will share with you now. It is titled, "Freud or Fraud?" by MercatorNet. It came out shortly after Freud's 150th birthday in May 2006. The article is an interview with psychologist Gerard Van den Aardweg who has been in practice since 1963. Certainly long enough in the field of psychology to know the field.

My research into the theories of Freud began about eight years ago. What stimulated my research was my curiosity as to whether or not Freud's theories were compatible with Christianity since it seems that pop Christian psychology has thrown itself head-long into Freudian theories even while secular psychology at large has distanced itself from many of Freud's often...shall I say insane...ideas.

One of the aspects of this interview/article that I found intriguing (and relevant to the subject matter of my blog) was the description of some of Freud's character traits. I have excerpted below the more negative descriptions of Freud as a person for your particular perusal. Who this man was as a person is very relevant to his theories on human psychology. The character of a man devising a new way of thinking about the human mind is completely relevant. This is a man who claimed that the human mind is the cure to the ills of the human mind. And that this cure is effected through talk. So let's look at the evidences of his mind, shall we?

He presented himself as having the answers to the problems of living devoid of any spiritual context. He was not bashful in making it clear that he intended to demolish Christianity with his theories. This is relevant to Christians. There is particular peril in adopting the theories of a man who was antagonistic to the very belief system, Christianity, that you claim to believe in.

Dr. Van den Aardweg makes this statement which I know is the truth from my own extensive and independent research on this point:

he presented his “discoveries” as a doctrine of salvation promising to free the mind -- and even mankind as a whole -- from its troubles, and posed as a great prophet, on the same level as Copernicus and Darwin.
"Doctrine of salvation". Precisely. This belief often infects those who accept his theories. They, too, talk of the salvation only found on the couch with heaping servings of self-focus. This is why I was particularly alarmed when I saw the "ministry" of two psychologists in my Christian denomination making overt statements that their Freudian-based theories and exercises were essential to salvation, both temporal and eternal. An augmentation of the Gospel itself. You know...the part God forgot to mention (though they didn't say it that way it was the logical conclusion if you followed their lines of thought). What inevitably happens when someone tries to meld pop psychology "salvation" with Christian beliefs on salvation is that the Christian beliefs take a back seat to the psychology. They are competing doctrines, not complimentary belief systems.

I have pointed out on this blog the conclusions of some of the most well-respected researchers into the character-disordered that psychology and its therapies make the character-disordered worse. Not better. Quantifiably worse. This conclusion is based on the scientific approach of observation, not on antipathy toward psychology as a body of thought. These doctor/researchers are within the psych community and tried to apply the doctrines of psychology on their subjects only to be defeated and befuddled time and again. They came to recognize the need for a new basis of thinking where it concerns the disordered character. They were forced to conclude that psychology was missing some huge and important pieces of the disordered human mind puzzle. This is quite a revelation and admission considering that the field of psychology is specifically supposed to know how to deal with disordered minds. "Mental health" is their venue, yet when confronted with the "unhealthiest" among us psychology is seriously out-gunned. Largely clueless. Dysfunctional.

It is logical to conclude that the theories of Freud, and the derivatives of his theories as they've been morphed over the decades, are lacking in some essential realities concerning the psychology of the most disturbed minds among us. These are very minds psychology lays claim to the right to diagnose and treat. My research into the subject of psychology as a science has proven to me beyond all doubt that the majority of the field of psychology is not science. It is art at best. It is guesswork. It is philosophy. To quote Van den Aardweg, "The whole field of personality psychology and psychotherapy is chaotic and still highly experimental." Emphasis mine. (I think he is being gentle in his assessment.) His is a statement of fact that is easy enough to perceive even with a cursory examination of the field. This "chaos" and "highly experimental" state of the field after 150 years is a powerful argument against psychology being science, in my opinion. Held up against the continued and remarkable advancements of the hard (as in real) sciences in that same period we see the proof against the claim of the psych field being classified as being part of the sciences. The continued chaos and literally thousands of lines of thought in this field with there being little unity of opinion is little different from other areas of human philosophy. It resembles religion in its fundamentals much more than it resembles science.

I do not believe Freud was a malignant narcissist because I've not seen any proof of that, but what has emerged is a picture of a very self-centered man with strong narcissistic traits. I think this must be considered when you are basing your assumptions off of his theories of the human mind. How likely is it that a man with a demonstrated penchant for fanciful interpretations of reality was able to divine the essence, the truth, of human psychology? How is it that a man who could tolerate no dissent from his opinions was able to form a comprehensive and accurate view of universal human thought, motive and action from the machinations of his mind alone? How is it that his desire to throw out millennia of human wisdom based on a historical understanding of humanity, a desire which motivated all his theories, is now the right basis of understanding? What about his own personal delusions of grandeur?

With this preamble please read the descriptions below of the man who is the grandfather of modern psychology. A man who with all his years of self-analysis never managed to change even himself let alone others. A man who must be understood in light of his being "exceptionally self-willed, proud and arrogant". The tendency of society and culture has been that of accelerated declension, not enlightenment. In this modern age of post-Freudian psychology we cannot point to a society filled with happy, balanced, moral and productive people. The claims of psychology fall flat in the face of reality. When tested against the most destructive and devious among us, the malignant narcissists, psychology is exposed. All they have is the prescription pad or refusing to 'treat' these human predators.

In the end people only change when they determine to do the hard work following honest introspection. That some people are able to use the devices of the couch to accomplish this doesn't validate psychology as being science. Nor does it prove that psychology cures anything. The dusty pages of history prove the determination and grit of the human spirit when it reaches higher than itself to accomplish that which is difficult. Rising above nature is what gives dignity and spirituality to humanity. Freud and his intellectual offspring tend to encourage the baser drives of our natures because it chooses to ignore the spiritual aspect of humanity. Whatever is "natural" is considered good. This type of philosophy degenerates into the "law of the jungle" and "survival of the fittest". Morality is the first casualty of Freud's philosophies.

I have only copied most of the article's descriptions of the man that was Freud. I encourage you to follow the link to read the whole article in context. I want to state upfront that my 'take' on this article is not that of the author or interviewee of the article. I do not want to misrepresent their views. The views in this post are mine.

"...Freud seduced readers with his brilliant style."

"...he presented his “discoveries” as a doctrine of salvation promising to free the mind -- and even mankind as a whole -- from its troubles, and posed as a great prophet, on the same level as Copernicus and Darwin. So he had the charisma of a guru. A profound thinker, however, he was not, neither as a psychologist nor as a philosopher. What he proclaimed sounded thrilling, especially of course the sexual stuff, but it was not at all “deep”, even though it is known as “depth psychology”. Mostly it consists of far-fetched fantasies, several of which are positively bizarre."

"Throughout his life he remained immaturely attached to his mother in an ambivalent way. As a boy, he could not make friends and felt disliked by them."

"Freud was a neurotic and cynical man, probably somewhat feminine, a chronic complainer who felt all his life that he was an unrecognised genius and a victim of a hostile world. He was an outsider who was angry with society. He was very self-centred; in his relations with friends he had to dominate; he could not tolerate dissent from his views -- which is actually the reaction of a person who feels that he has not been accepted."

"Incidentally, you cannot understand Freud if you do not see that he was exceptionally self-willed, proud and arrogant."

"Here is a curious thing. Freud pretended to be very accurate in his observations and descriptions, but in fact it was often a mix of observation and fantasy. That has been solidly proven by now."

"Patients he described as cured turned out on later examination not to have been cured at all. Studies of the effects of analytic methods, which are often hardly really Freudian any more, do not support them. Talking and analysing does not change people. One of the first disciples of Feud, sexologist Wilhelm Stekel, long ago remarked that “if psychoanalysis does not find something new, it is doomed”. And Freud never managed to change himself despite all his self-analysis."

I have been upfront on this blog that my opinion of psychology as a body of thought is a skeptical one at best. The studies that have been done by the psych community to judge itself have consistently disproven its theories and opinions of itself and its efficacy in helping people. These studies are usually buried and hidden. The few honest and outspoken critics which have arisen from psychologists and psychiatrists inside the hallowed halls of the "mind sciences" are buried under an avalanche of media driven pop psych drivel which is far more attractive to people than the harsh realities these honest few have tried to bring to the fore.

Do I believe that all that falls under the label of psychology is non-scientific? No. Some research adheres to basic scientific approaches which means it stays away from speculative and unprovable theories. Science is only science when it is based on what is observable, when it can be tested and proven or disproven, the results of such tests being reproducible. An untestable theory is not science. An unprovable hypothesis is of no scientific value. When psychology confines itself to observing and describing human behavior it can be rightly called science. When psychology then delves into speculation, surmising and assignation of values it can't prove -- it has left science. It is now philosophy. Please learn to recognize when psychology is being scientific and when it is being philosopher. This explains why I am willing to use the psychological label of NPD: because it is based on a description of observable behaviors. This means it is a label based on observable behavioral fact.

I'm sure there are many who will want to attest to the wonders of psychology in helping them. You are certainly entitled to that opinion and I won't attempt to argue you out of it even though I would love to give you the credit for any positive changes you've made. What I am attempting to get you all to consider is that this body of thought is naked and helpless when forced to go up against the malignant personalities among us. This fact may very well be attributable to its founder, Freud, who himself was a very flawed man. Believing he had all the answers, his fantastical theories were transmogrified into science by sheer force of personality. He was openly antagonistic to Christianity in particular as he mocked God's ability to change or spiritually benefit human beings, yet his own theories couldn't even change himself. This must not be overlooked. Freud demonstrated many of the hallmarks of a charlatan. But because he presented a humanist theory that "intellectuals" were receptive to, his ideas gained ascendancy in the halls of academe and professional offices. And even though psychology has shifted and morphed from Freud's founding ideas his spirit still pervades. I am hoping you will seriously question psychology as having the answers for humanity's problems of living. When your common sense collides with it...please, go with your common sense.

A good definition of common sense is, 'wisdom which comes from being dedicated to reality and therefore ignores all that conflicts with reality'. Common sense discards the speculative in favor of pragmatism. I have much more respect for the hard-earned experiences and observations of people like you and me who have been in the trenches with the narcissist than I do for silly little theories which tend to turn the abuser into the victim. Any theory that does that is a fancily dressed-up turd, not science.

Do I believe there are good psychologists out there who have tangibly helped people? Absolutely. Interestingly, studies have shown time and again that the success levels of psychologists is much more correlated with their ability to emotionally connect with the patient rather than with education levels. In fact, studies have also revealed an inverse relationship between levels of education in the psych doc and how well they help their patients. More education does not equal better care. Interesting, no? Some studies have pitted regular college students against trained professionals in counselling people. Guess which group got better results consistently? Yeah, the college students. What keeps being revealed by these internal studies is that the elements of friendship and common sense are the essential ingredients in helping people get past their problems of living. So, in this age where so many are isolated and haven't got a good friend, psychologists can certainly fill this gap. You can pay for the benefits of friendship by hiring a shrink...assuming, of course, you can find a therapist you "click" with. It is clear from examination of multiple studies done by and for the psych field is that having a good friend who will be truthful with you is worth a handful of therapists.

When the narcissist in your life puts the screws to you to keep on keeping on by pointing to their being in therapy... run, don't walk. A narcissist in therapy is a narcissist who is honing all their powers of manipulation. They'll come out of it a more skilled narcissist. One that you'll find harder to deal with because she'll use all the right psych buzz words and 'feeling' phrases to anchor your feet in cement. She will have glombed onto the wonderful psych theories that make her the victim and you the abuser. She will point to her 'hurt' feelings as proof of the damage you are doing to her poor, poor self. Or she will use her childhood misfortunes to excuse her bad behavior and her abuse of you.

The medical profession has the motto, "First, do no harm". I wish this could be said to be case with the mind 'sciences'. There are far too many therapists who lack the wisdom or the will to hold a narcissist's feet to the fire. The rare narcissist who goes into therapy will shop around until they find the therapist who will only tell them what they want to hear. How is being suckered by a narcissist, or choosing to just accommodate the narcissist, doing no harm when we consider the long line of victims in the narcissist's wake? An empowered narcissist, one who is finding 'affirmation' for what they are and what they do, is a danger to society. Yet psychology seems immune to shouldering any of the blame for making dangerously selfish individuals even more committed to their selfishness and their destructive agendas toward their fellow man. Well, at least here on my blog, they will shoulder that responsibility to some appreciable extent.

"In general, few people are really interested in proving or disproving a theory if they like it for one reason or another. Most trendy ideologies are not based on scientific fact." Gerard Van den Aardweg, interview with Mercatornet.

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. 1 Tim. 6:20,21

17 comments:

Sister Renee said...

Wow. Anna, this is one of the most intriguing of all your insightful blogs! My head is spinning. I'm printing it out for more study later. Thanks for this great analysis. Blessings, Sister Renee

Naive No Longer said...

Freud was a whacko. And bizarre at best. Many of the "good" therapists out there do not lend credence to his theories any longer.

You are right that the larger factor in therapeutic healing probably resides within the individual himself (in conjunction with a truly empathetic therapist who at least has some tools in his bag). This would explain why "psychology" does NOT help the narcissist. The narcissist lends NOTHING of himself to the process. Slapping some psychological principles on the Narcissist in the therapeutic setting is like trying to nail jello to the wall and expecting it to work. It ain't gonna happen.

krl said...

This post is so far above my head, Anna....I'm afraid to touch it. (Because I CAN'T..) I just don't know enough about it to even comment in proportion. I'm too 'simple'.

What I DO want to say, however...(and, PLEASE, I hope no one feels I am minimizing nor trivializing ANY problems that take them into therapy. I've had my fair share of 'couches' for some staggering issues.)...is that EVERY issue I've ever dealt with stemmed from contact with REAL EVIL. It doesn't matter where in my life I was 'brushed' by Evil...it had a devastating effect on me and IN me. I didn't really make any 'therapeutic headway' until I grappled with the issue of Evil. Some of the therapy I received over the decades has been helpful and gave me a few tools for living...and got me through some rough times...but the RealStrides began when I could recognize Evil for what it was. Yes...it is as harsh and painful and staggering as it ever was....and I'm still RasslingThatPig..but it 'simpler' and less convoluted and meandering (slithering, is more like it) when trying to deal with it all. It makes 'perfect sense' now...as it is....as it was....and why a lot of my life became so 'complicated'. It isn't so MumboJumbo....not so 'psychiatric'...not so'psychological'...not so 'pathological'...all those words. It feels more 'cause and effect'. My life feels 'possible' with a few 'practical applications'.

O Gee. Not sure if I should send this...gonna anyway...so hoping it didn't come off insensitive. I already know it wasn't very profound.

Anna Valerious said...

Krl,

I can relate to your feeling unsure whether to hit the 'publish' button or not. That is how I felt about this post. I am glad you posted your comment as I do think it is profound. I believe your insights could benefit others who might be rassling with a similar pig. *snort* I like your colloquial style of expression. :o)

Thanks for bein' brave. I know I appreciate what you were willing to share on this.

Anna Valerious said...

Sister Renee,

I'd love to hear your thoughts on it after you've given it more study. Send me an email if you have time and inclination!

Naive No Longer said...

krl,

I'm glad you hit the button and posted. You boiled it down really well. Yes, I believe you are right. All of the issues that would take us to a therapist's couch stem from the larger issue of "evil" and how it has touched us and how the evil-one wants to steal, kill and destroy - even if it is through our own mother, sister, husband,etc. who have opened themselves up to evil and become a conduit of destruction and every vile thing.

When Jesus said, "Get behind me, Satan!", it only lends credence that we are doing right in treating evil as evil. It also supports us going "no contact" (for all those who scream otherwise).

It really is a sad commentary on the state of affairs with humanity in this day and age that so many need a therapist. I know that I for one, have benefited from a good therapist, coupled with good spiritual guidance and prayer.

But that is because I had NO ONE in my life that I could turn to. I was utterly alone. This is the part that I am commenting upon with respect to our society. We no longer have a sense of community and mutual support that would negate the necessity of a therapist.

Anna, I'm assuming you had in your husband an invaluable resource upon which to lean as you worked through these issues. Many of us have had no one . . . no one . . . and that is sad.

Jordie said...

Jung was a colleague of Freud's and disagreed with him on many issues. I haven't done alot of study on these two, but I agree that Freud's insistence on everything being related to sex is just ludicrous.

Jung talks about individuation which is more the style of this blog. Disconnecting from that which is holding you back, and going on to become all that you are able to be, but going on that journey yourself and for yourself.

All abuse victims need to understand what brought them to that place and why, but as others have said, the existence of evil cannot be excluded from that examination.

I have learned more from this blog and others like it, (one I found the other day is godswordtowomen.wordpress.com) than I ever did in consultation with an 'expert'. No psychologist can ever tell you more about yourself than you know already, all they can do is explain some of it, and validate your experience. I get that here more often than not.

Anonymous said...

Another issue is that when the N claims to be going to counseling, that's not always the truth. In my own case, the N had been waving the "I'm in counseling" flag for about two years, but wasn't truly attending. I think we've all established by now that Ns know how to lie.

Anonymous said...

It's fine to have one's disagreements with Freud and in particular with his views on the etiology of narcissism. But I don't think his atheism should be part of the critique. I can fully identify with someone who wants to understand narcissism in secular terms and outside of the Christianized vocabulary of good and evil, moral agents, sin, guilt, etc. While many psychoanalysts and psychologists depart from Freud's analytical framework, they do not by and large replace it with a Christianized world view. I understand why that world view might be preferable to someone who would like to believe in a final judgement, where a just Creator dispenses a justice that is rarely to be found on this earth. But Freud deserves credit for confronting psychological issues in secular terms, rather than referring to a religious outlook that many today find more ridiculous than Freud.

Anna Valerious said...

In light of your views of Christians and their rationality check out this recent article in the Wall Street Journal:

http://tinyurl.com/3egzzc

Anonymous said...

Anna thanks for that link. Bill Maher annoys the #$%@ out of me!
No wonder, he's lost all common sense!!

Anonymous said...

Hi there..
I used to cry when I heard the sob stories of the MN's in my family. Now, I find myself staring into their eyes with no emotion...no comment...just a dull void where my own guilt used to be for what they were bringing on themselves. Does this mean that I, myself am becoming one???

Anna Valerious said...

Does this mean that I, myself am becoming one???

Hell. No!! It means you've wised up and stop being played like a Stradivarius with their fake emotional plays. You are not emotionally moved because you see the bad acting job. None of us get emotional when we watch a movie with bad acting and a bad script. That's what your MN family members are equivalent to...bad actors with a bad script.

I have argued in a past post that we should strive for indifference where it concerns the destructive narcissists in our lives. Here is what I said about my own indifference to the narcissist members of my own family:

Indifference is what I feel for my parents. Bit by bit, as I began to understand the revelation of their narcissism, I was able to distance myself from them. Now I feel nothing for them. I don't have active, seething emotions that one would call hatred. No, I nothing them. They do not merit the emotional energy of hatred. They merit nothing. One can say that their indifference toward me all my life has finally come full circle back to them. My indifference is different from theirs in an important sense.....it contains no malevolence. I do not stay in their lives and torture them with my indifference. I have completely removed myself from their sphere so as to not afflict them with it. My indifference is in place only to save me. Not to hurt them.

For the post in its entirety go here:
http://tinyurl.com/3mbf8u

You've achieved that. Pat yourself on the back and carry on.

Anonymous said...

Breathing a sigh of relief! Thanks for the complete post. I'm heading there now.

finaware said...

My mother is a full-blown narcissist who has finally destroyed my relationships with my siblings through villification. They chose to unmask themselves 4 months ago when my father was dying, and shortly afterwards. My difficulty in going No Contact with my NM at this point in time is that I am dealing with grief and the compassion I feel for my NM's "grief". Any advice would be appreciated.

Anna Valerious said...

My difficulty in going No Contact with my NM at this point in time is that I am dealing with grief and the compassion I feel for my NM's "grief".

Obviously you realize that your NM's grief is something other than grief as you put the word in quotes. You are exactly right. If she is indeed a full blown narcissist then what she is exhibiting is utter self-involved attention-seeking. Death is a lovely invitation for Ns to grandstand and grab the spotlight. Another reality is that Ns have endless capacity for compassion...for themselves only. So, really, you needn't waste your compassion on the N. They have zero for you and an infinite amount for themselves. I choose to leave those who only pity themselves to dote on themselves without my participation.

In the end you get to decide what to do. Stay in the Ns life and suffer or walk away. No one else can make that choice for you. Just realize that by staying you will suffer more than you already are while being a source of supply to a narcissist. I hope you'll choose freedom.

Amy said...

Hi, just a few facts I know about Freud which would confirm what you wrote here.

Freud did not invent psychotherapy, he took it over from Breuer who had developed it together with his most famous patient, called "Anna O". She herself named it the "talking cure" (she was from Vienna but spoke different languages fluently).

Anna had not been cured by Breuer. He pretended he had done so, but she had her worst hysterical attack after he had left her as "healed". Additionally, he made her addicted to morphine. It took her years in different clinics to be cured, and in the end she recovered only after she had left Vienna for good.

In her adult years, she did some very important social work, which she devoted a lot of time and money to. But when someone suggested that a girl who seemed to be suffering from a severe shock ought to be psychoanalyzed, the usually calm and rational Anna responded vehemently that she would never allow anything like that as long as she lived.

So much for Freud and his influence on mental respectively psychical health. Personally, I dislike him heartily and I am suspicious of anyone who shares his views, in particular counsellors.