Freud and Psychology

Studies of mental functions, behaviors and the nervous system.

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Re: Freud and Psychology

#61  Postby Mr.Samsa » Apr 21, 2010 1:54 pm

Shrunk wrote:If it's not too late to bump this thread, in the course of another thread I came across this interview with psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge on the topic of neuroplasticity, where he had this to say about Freud:


Hmm.. this is where I start to question whether what I thought were valid contributions of Freud were actually valid contributions, or whether I have accidentally eaten up mental acrobatics like this and failed to check facts before accepting them.

Norman Doidge: Well it's funny you should say that because in this certain sense Freud did think of all of this. In the 1880s he was one of thevery first people to propose that when we think and learn we change the connections between nerve cells. He was very, very prescient on this point and modern day neuroplasticians, which is a term I have for people who have helped further our understanding of neuroplasticity, often talk about a basic law of plasticity that states neurons that fire together, wire together and neurons that fire apart wire apart. This is a very monumentaldiscovery. This is how connections are formed in the brain. Sometimes they attributed that to a Canadian, a Canadian, Donald Hebb, and called it Hebbian plasticity. But in fact Freud proposed that idea in the 1880s and 90s and he called it the law of association by simultaneity—it's beautifully named and it just meant that when you put two things together in consciousness they get associated in the neuronal connections in the brain.


Uh... Sure, you could argue that Freud was "one of the first to propose that thinking and learning changes connections in the brain", but we have to keep in mind a couple of things. Firstly, by the time Freud proposed this idea, whilst still relatively new, it was a fairly well established part of neurophysiology and psychology - it was basically predicted by Helmholtzian physiology in the 1860-70s, it was explicitly stated by William James and extensively researched by Pavlov in the 1880s, and so by the time we reach Freud's brief one paragraph description of this process in 1895 (in a paper he decided not to publish and it was only released later in a collection of writings in the 1950s) we have a fairly well accepted theory simply being restated by Freud.

Secondly, even though he was basing his speculation on well established science and his statements are technically correct, he reached his conclusions through extremely dubious means. The whole point of "Project for a Scientific Psychology" was to argue for neurological mechanisms that control his Freudian concepts. So the "law of association by simultaneity" was how he imagined that the ego would come to desire specific objects in the world - that is, something like your mother's breast is associated with the id's desire, and the ego would regulate the two by forming this neuronal connection.

In essence, it's like saying that Aristotle was an important precursor for Newtonian physics because he argued that objects increased in speed as they approached the Earth because of the overwhelming sense of "jubilance" it feels as it gets closer to "home". In a sense he's right in saying that objects increase in speed as they approach the Earth, but the important things to consider when crediting him with the theory of gravity are: 1) were his contemporaries aware of this phenomenon? and 2) are his conclusions based on sound reasoning or are we retrofitting his ideas to what we know now? And when we analyse Freud in the same way, what we find is that he is not saying anything that wasn't well established already and, perhaps more importantly, his conclusions were based on erroneous thinking so any relation to scientific facts are either coincidental, or a result of our twisting of the facts to create an interesting narrative.

And one of the most exciting and important things about this work is people have often thought that real treatments are always biological and involve drugs etc, and that talk therapy is just that—just talk, mere talk. But we now have really important work of psychoanalytic therapies, cognitive behaviour therapy, inter-personal therapy which kind of grows out of psychoanalytic therapy which shows that patients come in with brains in certain states of wiring and after these interventions their brains are rewired.


Even if we were to accept talk therapy as an invention of psychoanalysis (a highly debatable point), there is no way he can justify crediting psychoanalysis with CBT. If we're going to look that far back to credit someone with CBT then it would be Pavlov - the only influence that Freud had on it was the fact that the field CBT came out of (behavior analysis) was developed almost in direct reaction to Freud. So it seems absurd to me to credit someone for the work of people acting in direct opposition to that person.

So psychotherapy is every bit as biological as the use of medicines and I would say in a certain respect more precise at times. Now look I use medications from time to time, I never give medication without giving psychotherapy. The Canadian health care system allows me to do that but I think that's really, really important because medications basically bathe every cell in your brain at once. And in that sense, on that level they're a blunt instrument. Now there are times when they have very, very important results, I'm not saying that anyone should go off their medication and all that kind of thing, the reductionist approach... but one of the things we've learnt is that if you look at the letter A and then you close your eyes and think of the letter A, many of the same circuits are activated. And if you're hurting and talking with your therapist about that, those circuits are activated at that point and that provides a point of entry. And when therapy is working it's like a microsurgical intervention on precisely the circuits that have to be changed.


Subtly slips from talking about psychoanalysis to psychotherapy.. So nothing overly controversial here, except the overly generous use of mirror neurons as an attempt to validate his ideas regardless of the fact that mirror neurons are still a long way from being established for even the most basic of cases, nevermind trying to apply them to complex emotional situations and trying to suggest this provides a "gateway to the mind" or whatever.


Natasha Mitchell: You've provocatively called psychoanalysis the new neuroplastic therapy. That's quite a claim given that I guess today psychoanalysis is a bit on the nose in neuroscience circles.

Norman Doidge: Well actually at the heights of neuroscience it's actually treated with great respect. Eric Kandel who won the Nobel Prize in the year 2000 and is a great neuroplastician for actually showing how learning changes, turns on genes and changes structures, has written a whole book on psychoanalysis and neurobiology.

Natasha Mitchell: And his key field is of course memory which is the great example of plasticity.


Eric Kandel is a brilliant neuroscientist and he has received a number of awards for his work in that field. However, like award winning cancer researchers who later try to argue that vitamin C cures cancer or that AIDS doesn't exist, Kandel is similarly dismissed as a crackpot for his feeble attempts at sneaking psychoanalysis into his work.
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#62  Postby Keep It Real » Dec 15, 2017 11:31 pm

Well, Donald Trump threads are popular.....I just miss Samsa and Chairman Bill.....Cali's threads are more esoteric like you say...mine are more accessible like picture books...nono hang on that's false modesty I think....have we all learnt the word iatrogenic yet? TBH I like every post I read - they all touch.
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#63  Postby tuco » Dec 15, 2017 11:39 pm

Chairman Bill is gone? The best rastkep photographer? Mr Samsa is a traitor so I do not regret him. Traitors do not deserve admiration. Tho I do recognize he was forced to leave. So back to beggars. What is the reason not to give them change?
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#64  Postby Keep It Real » Dec 15, 2017 11:44 pm

I just want more PSYCHOLOGISTS!!!! BIG FUCKING HEAVY ONES!!! Because the ego superiority/inferiority problem is a menstrual cunt reppin like mount everest...koorwa.
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#65  Postby tuco » Dec 15, 2017 11:47 pm

Yeah, Mr Samsa was, according to my belief, actual researcher. The reason I call him a traitor is that I was told he visits here but does not contribute. While I can understand his reasons, I cant accept them.
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#66  Postby Keep It Real » Dec 15, 2017 11:50 pm

Meh...he wasn't all that anyway imo iirc...didn't know about transference; projection; counter-transference...not posh I think.
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#67  Postby Keep It Real » Dec 15, 2017 11:54 pm

And I can't actually remember Chairman Bill ever posting anything in the psychology subforum....he spent all his time killing tories and reppin the left...fair shout I guess :dunno:
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#68  Postby tuco » Dec 15, 2017 11:55 pm

The way I understood it, he was into behavioral biology. Pidgeons and stuff. IMO people like that - unlike managers, accountants, or lawyers ... oops I did it again - are capable of reasoning on a level that satisfies me.
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#69  Postby Keep It Real » Dec 15, 2017 11:59 pm

Samsa was/is yeah - he had "the last behaviourist" in his sig....hmmm had a point but then a pigeon can't learn from a book so pffff
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#70  Postby tuco » Dec 16, 2017 12:01 am

What do you mean? Of course, pigeons are not humans, but at the same time, if we want to examine who we are, where do we come from, pidgeon can offer some insight.
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#71  Postby Keep It Real » Dec 16, 2017 12:08 am

Meh we can observe us humans and we're far more accurately representative participants. Evolutionary psychology has given us a few simple heuristic tricks which explain A LOT but we've drank the bucket....time to put the pigeons in the stew pot...not those Madascan Pink ones though...
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#72  Postby tuco » Dec 16, 2017 12:12 am

I do not think so. Once I was a firm believer in some thesis of evolutionary biology/psychology and it was, in fact, Mr Samsa who showed me that it's not as straightforward as it might seem. Evolutionary psychology is not dead, we just need to distinguish between facts and interpretations of facts.
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#73  Postby Keep It Real » Dec 16, 2017 12:21 am

Iatrogenic effects...eh? I just searched that time and couldn't find an obvious link to psychogenic impact...it was there before....maybe a dodgy term...have to search out my link to it in an earlier comment...later...but anyway the point I'm trying to make is that we humans are altogether oh so very different to the rest of the fauna imo.
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#74  Postby tuco » Dec 16, 2017 12:26 am

Humans have their own specifics and denying it would be foolish. At the same time, we came from somewhere, we have an evolutionary history, and while it does not mean we ought to build our future around such history, it can help to explain or understand some of our behavior, it provides some context. What in particular, from evolutionary biology, you dispute?
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#75  Postby Keep It Real » Dec 16, 2017 12:27 am

Latent homosexuality is an erotic attraction toward members of the same sex that is not consciously experienced or expressed in overt action. This may mean a hidden inclination or potential for interest in homosexual relationships, which is either suppressed or not recognized, and which has not yet been explored, or may never be explored.

The term was originally proposed by Sigmund Freud. Some argue that the latent homosexuality is a potentially iatrogenic effect (that is, it is not present until suggested by a therapist).


A therapist or a bully in the playground calling one gay/racist/islamophic/paedophilic etc ad infinitum...don't think bonobos are there with us when it comes to iatrogenics...
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#76  Postby Keep It Real » Dec 16, 2017 12:29 am

Call a man a thief and he becomes a thief....pigeons/bonobos say oooh ooh ooh tweet tweet tweet....leagues apart IMO.
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#77  Postby tuco » Dec 16, 2017 12:31 am

As far as I know Sigmund was basing his research primarily on his own anecdotes.

I am not saying, not sure who is, that our behavior is fully explainable in terms of evolutionary biology, however, knowing and understanding our past, as species, can help us to understand the current state of events better, I believe.
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#78  Postby Keep It Real » Dec 16, 2017 12:33 am

tuco wrote:Humans have their own specifics and denying it would be foolish. At the same time, we came from somewhere, we have an evolutionary history, and while it does not mean we ought to build our future around such history, it can help to explain or understand some of our behavior, it provides some context. What in particular, from evolutionary biology, you dispute?


A few simple (VERY POTENT AND TRUTHFUL) heuristics.
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#79  Postby tuco » Dec 16, 2017 12:37 am

If there is heuristic, its probably quite simple. Rule #1 it cannot learn shooting from distance rule #2 it will learn decentralized youtube. Ooops I did it again... Earth to Mars lander, report status, please!
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Re: Do you ever give money to street beggars?

#80  Postby Keep It Real » Dec 16, 2017 12:39 am

tuco wrote:As far as I know Sigmund was basing his research primarily on his own anecdotes.

I am not saying, not sure who is, that our behavior is fully explainable in terms of evolutionary biology, however, knowing and understanding our past, as species, can help us to understand the current state of events better, I believe.


Freud didn't hypothesise iatrogenic effects AFAIK...it's just the only article I'm currently aware of which reps the power of psychogenics derived from semantic input.
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