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Gutek’s A History of the Western Educational Experience discusses Freud and his influence in Chapter 17:

While Charles Darwin's work had revolutionized the natural sciences, the psychological theories of Sigmund Freud altered basic conceptions of human relations. Freud's discovery that the unconscious is a major determinant of personality and behavior transformed the Western world view and conception of human nature. This chapter will deal with Freud's impact upon man's awareness of the nonrational side of his nature and the Freudian contribution to affective education; it will conclude by briefly examining recent developments in the interpersonal aspects of education.

[Works cited by Gutek:

Gardner Murphy, Historical Introduction to Modern Psychology (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1949)

Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, Joan Riviere (tr,) (New York: Doubleday. 1958)]

Sigmund Freud :

Sigmund Freud (I856-I939) who was a Viennese physician, had been trained in the conventional nineteenth-century rationalist medical tradition. Early in his career, he became intrigued by mental illnesses in which patients exhibited symptoms of organic disturbance without identifiable organic causes. Freud's clinical studies of hysteria and hysterical symptoms led him to develop the system of psychoanalysis, which has profoundly influenced psychology and psychiatry.

Gardner Murphy has distinguished two phases in Freud's work: (I) his investigation of the unconscious from the I880's until 1913, and (2) his later studies of the integration of the individual within society.' Initially, Freud's ideas drew attention in Viennese medical circles and among German-speaking psychologists. The first stage was followed by a period of clarification and dissension among the Freudians, which led to the serious defections of Alfred Adler and Carl Jung. Adler, a Viennese psychologist, had begun to direct psychoanalysis away from its basic emphasis on the individual's unconscious emotions to issues of conscious social participation. Jung, a Swiss psychologist, developed a rather vague psychoanalytical world view. His interest in Oriental religions and philosophies led him to believe that a vast "collective unconscious" existed. Jung stated that the same myth symbols and episodes repeated themselves within human history at various times and places. Unlike Freud, Jung emphasized the therapeutic value of religious belief systems.

Freudian psychoanalytic theory entered English-speaking psychological circles after World War I. By the mid-twentieth century, psychoanalytic theory and its variants were diffused in American medicine.' In addition to its significance in psychology, psychiatry, and medicine, Freudianism has had an impact on twentieth-century art, literature, and culture. Freud's stress on early childhood experiences and his emphasis on the unconscious stimulated new approaches to educational theory and practice.

Freud was a prolific author. A brief examination of his major works will give an indication of the way in which his psychoanalytic theory developed. In I895, Freud and his colleague, Josef Breuer, wrote Studies on Hysteria, describing their initial work with analysis. Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams (I900) expressed his views on the unconscious and the dominance of the pleasure principle. Psychopathology of Everyday Life (I90I) made it clear that Freud was enunciating a general psychological theory rather than one confined to pathological mental conditions. His controversial Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (I905) traced the development of the human sexual instinct from birth to maturity. In 1913, Freud moved from the study of the individual to the study of society. In that year, his Totem and Taboo attempted to apply psychoanalysis to anthropology. On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement (1914) and Introductory Lectures (1917) gave general accounts of his views and movement. Group Psychology (1921) and The Ego and the Id (I923) treated the division of the mind into an id, ego, and superego. Freud's concentration on the historical and cultural implications of psychoanalytic theory was marked in I927 by the appearance of The Future of an Illusion, a critical discussion of religion from the perspective of atheistic humanism. Civilization and Its Discontents (I930) presented a Freudian view of history that included an extensive treatment of man's destructive instinct. Freud's last major work, Moses and Monotheism (I938) traced the tragic history of the Jewish people to their creation of a monotheistic deity.

Freudian Psychoanalysis:

After experimenting for a time with hypnotic methods of treating hysteria, Freud developed his psychoanalytic method in which the patient was encouraged to talk about anything that entered his mind. In contrast to hypnosis, psychoanalysis took place while the patient was in a waking state. Through free association, the patient's gradual recollection of repressed emotional episodes led to the source of the conflict that had precipitated the neurosis. The therapeutic aspects of psychoanalysis were intended to help the patient overcome the resistances that resulted from repression and discover the problem that was at the root of his emotional difficulty. A basic premise was that the patient's own self-awareness was an indispensable part of his adjustment. If the neurotic individual understood his behavior and recognized his particular problem, then it was anticipated that he would face his problem and make an adjustment that would enable him to lead a normal life. By releasing pent-up emotion, psychoanalysis would terminate the conflict within the patient's psyche.

Freud's psychoanalytic method was initially a technique for healing mental illnesses by exploring the relationships between the patient's psychic and physical functions. According to Freud, a neurotic is an individual who represses his instinctual drives into his unconscious so that they cannot find suitable outlets. These drives are then expressed through abnormal outlets that manifest themselves in some form of neurosis or phobia. Although maladjusted, the neurotic is nevertheless able to function in society, unlike the completely mentally ill, or psychotic, individual, who fails to recognize reality and lives in an unreal subjective world of his own making. Through psychoanalysis, the neurotic individual searches his childhood memories for concrete details so that the analyst can identify the significant ones that point to the repression contributing to the neurotic behavior. The analysis of dreams plays an important role in psychoanalysis. Freud believed that the unconscious manifests itself while the individual is dreaming. The repressed forces that are kept out of consciousness during waking are expressed in symbolic terms in dreams.

Freud's Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality called attention to the crucial significance of sexuality in the individual's psychological development. In this work, Freud claimed to have discerned evidence of sexuality in infantile behavior. Because of parental and social pressures, he said, children are usually forced to repress their sexuality. Such sexual repression in childhood frequently causes neurosis in the adult because he finds difficulty in achieving normal sexual relationships. If the individual indulges his sexual urges, on the other hand, he will usually experience guilt feelings. Although there had been periods of sexual freedom, Western tradition has, for the most part, emphasized the repression of sexuality, especially in its early manifestation in children. Freud's use of the term "sexual" was a general one that went beyond its conventional meaning, but his emphasis on the sexual instinct provoked both popular and professional controversy. Although disagreeing with each other in other respects, Freud's former disciples Jung and Adler agreed that he had oversimplified and overemphasized the importance of the sexual drive.

The Freudian Psychological System

Freud's system of psychology was based on a set of drives that he claimed are inborn in every person. These instinctual drives arise in the unconscious and are expressions of the "id," which, as the oldest mental agency in the human being, contains everything that is inherited and present at birth. The id expresses the individual's true purpose, which is to satisfy the instinctual needs that are biologically rooted demands upon mental life. As his theory matured, Freud reduced the number of instincts to two basic ones: Eros and the destructive instinct. While Eros (the love instinct) aims to establish ever greater unities and to preserve them by further binding and integration, the destructive (or death) instinct aims to reduce living things to an inorganic state. The interaction of these two basic human instincts that produce all other drives gives rise to the phenomena of life.

It was Freud's emphasis on the unconscious that cast human relationships in a new perspective. In dealing with the unconscious drives, Freud avoided the conventional moralism that had been traditionally applied to human desires. Although the satisfaction of these basic desires would give pleasure to the individual, he learns to repress them because of social pressure. The infant is uninhibited and can satisfy his needs without the restraints of the conscious mind. Soon, however, the pressures of restraint, emanating from parents or guardians, come to play upon the child. As he matures, he becomes aware that some of his desires are objectionable to those on whom he depends. Therefore, he represses certain drives emanating from the id. The unconscious self, or id, contains, then, the instinctual drives, or impulses, repressed from consciousness.

With his growing consciousness of the external objective world, the individual develops another part of his psyche, which acts to censor his drives. This part of the psyche Freud subdivided into the "ego" and the "superego." The ego is a group of tendencies, or a mental agency, that-acts as an intermediary between the id and the external world. The ego's task is the self-preservation of the individual. It may control instinctual demands in any one of three ways: (1) by allowing the satisfaction of the instincts, (2) by deferring satisfaction until circumstances are more favorable, or (3) by suppressing the instinctual drives. The ego thus acts as a private censor indicating to the person that certain drives emanating from the id cannot succeed.

In the Freudian system, the "superego" is a special mental agency that is a collection of conscious and unconscious values derived from the culture that restrict the id's instinctual drives and impulses. In the superego, the parental influence is prolonged and extended as it takes on contributions from such parental successors as teachers, admired public figures, and other exemplary persons and from ethical and moral codes. The relationship between the ego and superego originates in the child's experience with his parents' personalities and value systems and is subsequently affected by racial, national, religious, and family traditions as well as the social milieu from which they are derived.

The Freudian psychological system comprises the interactions of the id, ego, and superego. Both the id and the superego represent the individual's personal history. The id is a product of heredity and the superego of social interaction and experience. The ego is influenced by the individual's current experience. An action of the ego is satisfactory when it fulfills the demands of the id and superego and conforms to reality. The mentally healthy individual satisfies enough of the id's desires to feel contented. However, all individuals must repress a great many of the drives emanating from the id. Through the process known as sublimation, the successful individual finds socially approved outlets to express these desires. The psychoneurotic individual, however, cannot satisfactorily express his instinctual desires.

Freud's Social Theory:

In contrast to Freud's earlier volumes, which exposited the central concepts and methods of psychoanalysis, his later, more speculative works sought to develop the social and historical implications of his theories. Of these later works, Civilization and Its Discontents (I930) is of greatest interest to social, intellectual, and educational historians. Freud saw a parallel between the processes of individual and cultural development. In his view, the sublimation of certain aggressive and sexual instincts in the individual had contributed to intellectual, scientific, aesthetic, and ideological developments and was therefore an important determinant of cultural evolution. In other words, civilization resulted as the gratification of some ii was channeled along socially approved avenues.

Freud gave a psychoanalytical interpretation to the various Of cultural development. Human group association arose when primitive man discovered that it was more efficient to improve material life conditions by working with others than against them. Driven by the sexual instinct, primitive man formed families. The power of love caused the male to keep the female near him and caused the female to keep her children near her. Within the context of primitive group association, the members of the human band evolved a set of taboos, or restrictions and sanctions, that they imposed on one another in order to maintain the fragile embryonic society.
Just as he had attached great importance to the sexual instinct in the development of the individual, Freud found it to be a major determinant i, cultural evolution. Since man's greatest gratification comes through sexual love, he sought pleasure through sexual relationships. In seeking sexual gratification, man was forced to depend on his chosen lover. This exposed him to the painful sufferings Of being rejected or of losing his lover through death or desertion.

In the course of time, a small minority of men, by transferring the specific love relationships into a more generalized act of loving, made a far-reaching psychological transformation that profoundly affected cultural development. Such individuals turned away from sexual love and modified the sexual impulse into a more generalized but inhibited aim. As it was slowly encased in religious, philosophical, and ethical systems and codes, this tendency to a generalized love of humanity or nature came to be revered as the highest state of mind that man could possibly achieve."

Abstract and highly generalized philosophical, religious, and ethical expressions of love contributed to form the cultural superego. Derived from the impressions left behind by leading personalities and great men, the superego of any given epoch of civilization originated in the same manner as it did in individuals. The cultural superego elaborated ideals and standards for human behavior. The ethical Systems that pertained to interpersonal relationships were especially Significant. The cultural Superego established high ideals and standards that prescribed human behavior to such a degree that failure to satisfy these moral codes science. was punished by an anxiety of conscience.

The two basic human instincts of Eros and destructiveness are manifested in a number of ways, the most compelling of which are sexuality and aggressiveness. In Western civilization, the cultural superego traditionally prescribed sexual relationships according to certain standards of monogamy and legitimacy. Western European civilization, in particular, censured any manifestation of sexuality in children in order to cultivate- predispositions that curbed their adult expressions of sexual desires. Freud held that men, despite the sanctions of abstract ethical codes, are aggressive creatures who exploit other men. Most men love in a specific context and have difficulty accepting abstract ethical systems that enjoin them to love all men or all creation. This innate tendency to aggression disturbs interpersonal human relationships and makes it necessary for society to enact restrictions on the tendency to aggression through the cultural superego and social sanctions. Because of the primary hostility that men have toward one another, civilized society is perpetually threatened by cultural disintegration manifested by social discontent, violence, strife, and war. For self-preservation, therefore, civilized men construct cultural and social barriers to channel their aggressive instincts.

The meaning of the title Civilization and Its Discontents becomes increasingly clear. Civilization is created by the repression of the desire for certain instinctual gratifications. Social relationships are the means of repressing human aggressiveness and antagonism. In every individual, however, are two tendencies: one that seeks happiness through personal gratification and another that seeks greater unity with the rest of humanity through interpersonal association. These two tendencies result in a basic struggle between the individual and society since the processes of individual and cultural development are in perpetual conflict. Thus, Freud's later works attempt to deal with the basic dichotomy in human nature that he believed his psychoanalytical theory had revealed. As an individual, man is a creature of impulse, emotion, and instinct. But as a participant in culture and history, man seeks rationality, self-control, and social order. Although Freud used his psychoanalytic theory to develop a theory of cultural evolution, his conclusions were not unique or even new. The ancient Greek theorists and dramatists had recognized the conflict between the individual and society.

The tone of Freud's later writings revealed pessimism about man's prospects, thereby reflecting the general feeling of anxiety that has characterized Western civilization in the twentieth century, especially in the period between the world wars. This pessimism is in sharp contrast to the confident enthusiasm of the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. Freud asserted that man has made extraordinary advances in the modern era in scientific knowledge and its technical application. While these scientific discoveries and the resulting rise of a technological society have increased man's domination over nature, they have failed to increase human happiness. Along with material progress, Western civilization has also experienced a profound sense of foreboding.

The pervasive anxiety that Freud saw in twentieth-century civilization has been caused in part by the social controls that have increasingly limited the areas of individual action that satisfy instinctual impulses. As civilizing tendencies increase, so does the degree of individual and social discontent. As larger and more complex social aggregates were organized, Freud predicted, the sense of guilt arising from the struggle between the Eros and destructive tendencies would reach such magnitude that individuals would no longer be able to bear it.

Freud raised the specter that certain epochs of human history might be neurotic and that humanity itself might become increasingly neurotic under the pressure of civilizing trends. It was in the area of dealing with such "collective neuroses" that psychoanalytical theory was admittedly inadequate. In the therapy of an individual, the analyst can presume that the environment in which the patient lives is normal. In the case of the neurotic society, however, no such environment exists. Although Freud raised basic questions concerning the pathology of civilized communities, his death in I939 cut short further research and commentary. Although Civilization and Its Discontents was written in I930, it anticipated the mood of unrest, dejection, and apprehension that resulted in the post-World War II era as man realized that he possessed instruments capable of exterminating the human race.

Freud's Impact:

Sigmund Freud parted company with the rationalist tradition that had dominated much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Whereas the rationalists believed that human behavior is subject to reason's dictates, Freud believed that man's behavior is substantially the product of his unconscious. For Freud, reflective thought is only a fractional part of human behavior. A great part of what appears to be conscious thought is actually rationalization based on the non cognitive, instinctive desires of the id...


Freud: An Overview of his Ideas

Freud: Sigmund Freud and the Freud Archives