SOC SCI H1F Lecture 7: Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis

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Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis
4 facets of Freudian psychoanalysis can be discerned
o a comprehensive theory of human personality
o a method for conducting psychotherapy
o an approach for the understanding culture and politics
o an individual guide for navigating the difficulties associated with living
basically Freud wanted to study what people think about on a daily basis. his emphasis
was upon self-knowledge in the management of our lives
Freud was great believer in Darwin
Freud and Vienna
o capital city of Hapsburg (Austro-Hungarian) empire
o well known for its art, literature, music, commerce, and scientific achievements
o scientific interests of Viennese included study of mental illness and sexual
behavior which began before Freud came of age
o renowned Richard von Krafft-Ebing professor at University of Vienna defined
symptoms of mental illness of paranoia and also provided one of the first
scientific studies of human sexual perversions
o Freud came to know Krafft-Ebing’s work during his time as a medical student
o during Freud’s early and middle adulthood, Vienna was a city slipping into crisis
given the decline of the Hapsburg Empire under the long rule of Emperor Franz
Joseph
o within the royal family, there was chaos and tragedy. empress Elizabeth suffered
from a variety of mental disorders and was assassinated in 1898 while visiting
Geneva
o the only son of Franz and Elizabeth killed himself so his nephew Archduke Franz
Ferdinand took the throne
o Viennese writers began to portray themes of life and death in their novels
o 1897 tensions in Vienna reached a crescendo when Karl Lueger was elected
mayor running on a platform of anti-Semitism
o discontent in Vienna. the people and times supplied Freud with rich material how
the human mind operates in climate of uncertainty and instability
Nomothetic vs. the Idiographic Approach
o in German scientific tradition 2 ways to acquire knowledge
o in the natural sciences, the “nomothetic” approach is taken meaning that the goal
is to establish general empirical laws often stated in mathematical terms
o in social sciences, the “idiographic” approach is often employed meaning that the
emphasis is upon the study and understanding of the singular be it a person or an
event. idiographic phenomena are never duplicated and are unique. for example,
no one will ever be like you and no war will ever be like WWII
o according to Freud, human nature must be studied from the idiographic
perspective and psychoanalysis provides the means to do this
psychoanalytic points of emphasis
o recognition that the external world of reality and internal world of mind, what
Freud called psychic reality, are often not in synchrony
o humans are conflicted by desires and anxieties leading to mental distortions of
reality. however, Freud told us that humans have the capacity to change and to
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