We need to stop using his theories and focus on other psychologists
By Jessica Berget, Opinions Editor
As someone who is interested in the field of psychology, I have taken quite a few classes on the subject. It’s a fascinating topic and I enjoy learning new things about the human psyche. However, one thing that always bothers me is how much time is spent learning about and studying Freud and his theories.
It seems when studying psychology all we ever hear about is Sigmund Freud and his outdated ideas. I can tell you almost everything about the Oedipus complex, or his penis envy theory, but almost nothing about many other psychologists’ theories. I think this is a testament to how much Freud is taught in classes compared to how little time is given to the other great, influential thinkers in the field—or maybe telling of how wack some of his theories are because they’re so outlandish that they’re hard to forget. Either way, I’m sick of hearing about them. I’m even more sickened by how some people use Freud’s theories in popular discourse and still regard him as a genius today.
Sigmund Freud may have had some ground-breaking conjectures about human behaviour and consciousness at his time (the late 19th and early 20th century), but he also had some ideas that I think are ridiculous. For instance, he thought that most human neuroses could be explained in terms of sexuality. He believed that girls who experience anxiety do so because they realize they do not have a penis and suffer from what he called “penis envy.” He also hypothesized that one’s personality is developed through a series of psychosexual stages, which he called the oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital stages. Most of his theories are sexually focused and although sexuality is a big part of psychology, I don’t think his arguments are credible. I won’t even get into his theory of the Oedipus complex, which has probably already been burned into your brain.
Furthermore, in the case of his patients, he would give absurd diagnoses. In one example, he thought one man’s fear of rats was a disguise for his homosexual fantasies. He also thought a five-year-old boy’s fear of horses stemmed from a fear of castration. Finally, it is a well-known fact that he would prescribe cocaine as a medicine and often used it himself—though admittedly, at the time cocaine was legal and was used in many medical treatments. I know not all psychologists are perfect and some may have weird ideas, but I think Freud takes the cake in what I consider psychological mumbo-jumbo.
Aren’t there more relevant or recent psychologists in the world now that we can pay more attention to? Shouldn’t we give other unsung heroes of psychology a chance in the spotlight? What about Carl Jung, B.F. Skinner, Jean Piaget, or William James, who I find are often mentioned only in passing after Freud?
In defense of Freud, he was an influential person and did the best he could with his experience and knowledge of psychology at his time. There were many things he got right, and many wrong. Furthermore, Freud did have many innovative and instrumental theories that definitely helped us to understand many things about the human consciousness and psychoanalysis. However, many other psychologists have also made great contributions, but their names are not as highly regarded as Freud.
His ideas may have been huge at the time, but we are past that point in history. I think it’s time to retire some of Freud’s theories to make room for more relevant and current influential psychologists and their findings.