If I try to answer Aschaffenburg’s—on the whole—very moderate and cautious criticism of Freud’s theory of hysteria, I do so in order to prevent the baby from being thrown out with the bath-water. Aschaffenburg, of course, does not assert that Freud’s importance ends with his theory of hysteria. But the medical public (psychiatrists included) know Freud mainly from this side of his work, and for this reason adverse criticism could easily throw a shadow on Freud’s other scientific achievements.
I would like to remark at the start that my reply is not directed to Aschaffenburg personally, but to the whole school of thought whose views and aspirations have found eloquent expression in Aschaffenburg’s lecture.
His criticism is confined exclusively to the role which scxuality, according to Freud, plays in the formation of the psychoneuroses. What he says, therefore, does not affect the wider range of Freud’s psychology, that is, the psychology of dreams, jokes, and disturbances of ordinary thinking caused by feeling-toned constellations. It affects only the psychology of sexuality, the determinants of hysterical symptoms, and the methods of psychanalysis.
In all these fields Freud has to his credit unique achievements, which can be contested only by one who has never taken the trouble to check Freud’s thought-processes experimentally. I say “achievements,” though this does not mean that I subscribe unconditionally to all Freud’s theorems. But it is also an achievement, and often no small one, to propound ingenious problems. This achievement cannot be disputed even by Freud’s most vigorous opponents.
To avoid being unnecessarily diffuse, I shall leave out of account all those points which are not affected by Aschaffen-burg’s criticism, and shall confine myself only to those it attacks.
Freud maintains that he has found the root of most psychoneuroses to be a psychoscxual trauma. Is this assertion nonsense?
Aschaffenburg takes his stand on the view, generally accepted today, that hysteria is a psychogenic illness. It therefore has its roots in the psyche. It would be a work of supererogation to point out that an essential component of the psyche is sexuality, a component of whose extent and importance we can form absolutely no conception in the present unsatisfactory state of empirical psychology.
We know only that one meets scxuality everywhere. Is there any other psychic factor, any other basic drive except hunger and its derivates, that has a similar importance in human psychology? I could not name one. It stands to reason that such a large and weighty component of the psyche must give rise to a correspondingly large number of emotional conflicts and affective disturbances, and a glance at real life teaches us nothing to the contrary. Freud’s view can therefore claim a high degree of probability at the outset, in so far as he derives hysteria primarily from psychoscxual conflicts….
Freud’s Theory of Hysteria: A Reply to Aschaffenburg
The Freudian Theory of Hysteria
The Analysis of Dreams
A Contribution to the Psychology of Rumour
On the Significance of Number Dreams
Morton Prince, “The Mechanism and Interpretation of Dreams”: A Critical Review
On the Criticism of Psychoanalysis
The Theory of Psychoanalysis
General Aspects of Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis and Neurosis
Some Crucial Points in Psychoanalysis: A Correspondence between Dr. Jung and Dr. Loy
Prefaces to Collected Papers on Analytical Psychology
The Significance of the Father in the Destiny of the Individual
Introduction to Kranefeldt’s Secret Ways of the Mind
Freud and Jung: Contrasts
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