Mod+ 235. DR. TODD DUFRESNE ON FREUD’S LOOMING SHADOW OF DECEPTION

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by alex.tsakiris, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    Messages:
    2,608
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2015
    Bucky and Ian Thompson like this.
  2. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,119
    I really enjoyed this interview, Alex. I don't know much about Freud, but this has tweaked my interest and I'm looking forward to the discussion. To me, psychoanalysis has always seemed a primarily American thing: in Britain, one doesn't seem to hear much about it--or perhaps I move in the wrong circles. I suppose that a lot of people's exposure comes through mainly American films, and Woody Allen always seems to come to mind.

    I did have a spell where I got into Jung a little bit and I seem to remember that he spent some time in association with Freud, and they were close, but eventually went their separate ways because Jung wasn't so focussed on human sexuality; more on individuation, and in that sense, he was more interested in spirituality. The unconscious wasn't just at the personal level, where repressed memories, etc. were kept in the shade, but at the collective level where we have the realm of symbols, folklore and mythology.

    Any way, my ignorance level is high on this one, so roll on the discussion!
     
  3. Alex

    Alex New

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    Messages:
    2,608
    agree about Jung... interesting guy on many levels.
     
  4. Ian Thompson

    Ian Thompson Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2013
    Messages:
    349
    Home Page:
    Fortunately, I read the critical comments of Karl Popper on Freud, before trying Freud himself, so I seem to have been inoculated. Popper criticized Freud for having produced an unfalsifiable ideology rather than a scientific theory that could be possibly falsified. Perhaps in retrospect that was a little harsh on Freud, but the podcast showed again clearly the strong ideological components of Freud's thinking and motivations.
     
  5. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,119
    I've located something about Popper's take on Freud here:

    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/popper_falsification.html

    I found that those of my friends who were admirers of Marx, Freud, and Adler, were impressed by a number of points common to these theories, and especially by their apparent explanatory power. These theories appear to be able to explain practically everything that happened within the fields to which they referred. The study of any of them seemed to have the effect of an intellectual conversion or revelation, open your eyes to a new truth hidden from those not yet initiated. Once your eyes were thus opened you saw confirmed instances everywhere: the world was full of verifications of the theory. [my bold] Whatever happened always confirmed it. Thus its truth appeared manifest; and unbelievers were clearly people who did not want to see the manifest truth; who refuse to see it, either because it was against their class interest, or because of their repressions which were still "un-analyzed" and crying aloud for treatment.

    The most characteristic element in this situation seemed to me the incessant stream of confirmations, of observations which "verified" the theories in question; and this point was constantly emphasize by their adherents. A Marxist could not open a newspaper without finding on every page confirming evidence for his interpretation of history; not only in the news, but also in its presentation — which revealed the class bias of the paper — and especially of course what the paper did not say. The Freudian analysts emphasized that their theories were constantly verified by their "clinical observations." As for Adler, I was much impressed by a personal experience. Once, in 1919, I reported to him a case which to me did not seem particularly Adlerian, but which he found no difficulty in analyzing in terms of his theory of inferiority feelings, Although he had not even seen the child. Slightly shocked, I asked him how he could be so sure. "Because of my thousandfold experience," he replied; whereupon I could not help saying: "And with this new case, I suppose, your experience has become thousand-and-one-fold."

    What I had in mind was that his previous observations may not have been much sounder than this new one; that each in its turn had been interpreted in the light of "previous experience," and at the same time counted as additional confirmation. What, I asked myself, did it confirm? No more than that a case could be interpreted in the light of a theory. But this meant very little, I reflected, since every conceivable case could be interpreted in the light Adler's theory, or equally of Freud's. I may illustrate this by two very different examples of human behavior: that of a man who pushes a child into the water with the intention of drowning it; and that of a man who sacrifices his life in an attempt to save the child. Each of these two cases can be explained with equal ease in Freudian and Adlerian terms. According to Freud the first man suffered from repression (say, of some component of his Oedipus complex), while the second man had achieved sublimation. According to Adler the first man suffered from feelings of inferiority (producing perhaps the need to prove to himself that he dared to commit some crime), and so did the second man (whose need was to prove to himself that he dared to rescue the child). I could not think of any human behavior which could not be interpreted in terms of either theory. It was precisely this fact—that they always fitted, that they were always confirmed—which in the eyes of their admirers constituted the strongest argument in favor of these theories. It began to dawn on me that this apparent strength was in fact their weakness.

    With Einstein's theory the situation was strikingly different. Take one typical instance — Einstein's prediction, just then confirmed by the finding of Eddington's expedition. Einstein's gravitational theory had led to the result that light must be attracted by heavy bodies (such as the sun), precisely as material bodies were attracted. As a consequence it could be calculated that light from a distant fixed star whose apparent position was close to the sun would reach the earth from such a direction that the star would seem to be slightly shifted away from the sun; or, in other words, that stars close to the sun would look as if they had moved a little away from the sun, and from one another. This is a thing which cannot normally be observed since such stars are rendered invisible in daytime by the sun's overwhelming brightness; but during an eclipse it is possible to take photographs of them. If the same constellation is photographed at night one can measure the distance on the two photographs, and check the predicted effect.

    I like the bit I've bolded: I think it applies in so many areas (including Global Warming, but that's for the other thread ;)).
     
  6. Ian Thompson

    Ian Thompson Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2013
    Messages:
    349
    Home Page:
    Yes, that is what I read first, before reading Freud! Sort of put me off reading more......
     
  7. north

    north Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    306
    Freud deserves some credit as a popularizer of the concept of the unconscious. For an excellent (non-Freudian) history of the concept see "The Discovery Of The Unconscious: The History And Evolution Of Dynamic Psychiatry" by Henri F. Ellenberger.

    Freud also was a proponent that dreams are meaningful. Though we have many more theories on what they mean, than a purely Freudian interpretation.

    "Freudian slips" are an interesting phenomena/theory.

    Many early followers of Freud had significant breaks with him and went in their own directions including Adler, Jung and Reich.

    I believe that most of current psychotherapy is not dependent on Freudian theories, but in some signficant way Freud opened up this area.

    I personally find Jung more interesting, and have read more widely in Jungian and transpersonal theories.

    The complexitity of subjective states of consciousness are still poorly approached by western science. Attempts at more "scientific" psychology such as behaviorism demonstrate even greater paucity of spirit than Freud.
     
    Larry likes this.
  8. Saiko

    Saiko Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2013
    Messages:
    2,181
    ^ Yes. I think you summed up most of the important points.
     
  9. Larry

    Larry Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    134
    The thing most important about Freud (at this point in time) I think isn’t so much about how correct or incorrect his theories were but how much influence they still have in all areas of academia. I have a friend who is a psychiatrist who helped develop a new psychological theory and school that radically diverged from Freud. She’s also a novelist and a playwright. She’s continually blown away by how much Freudian ideas have permeated so many areas of culture. The ideas that our basic motivations(drives) are sex and aggression, and that sublimation is the primary engine of cultural evolution fits well with Darwin and other areas or modernity. Freud himself saw his psychological approach as just a temporary model until the biological sciences could catch up and identify the physical mechanisms which produce our conscious experiences. One could think that we are right on course with his plan.
     
  10. Ian Thompson

    Ian Thompson Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2013
    Messages:
    349
    Home Page:
    But should we be on course with his plan?
    It certainly does not leave room for anything like Near-Death Experiences being significant!
     
  11. Larry

    Larry Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    134
    Of course not, that was my point!
     
  12. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    1,676
    Ah-ha - Alex finally does his Freud exposé! Alex, you've been referring to Freud's "deception" with your guests on your shows for so long - what, 2007 or something? :) It'll be neat - I'll come back to this thread when I've listened to it
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  13. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    1,676
    If people are puzzled as to why Alex is covering Freud:

    I would have to interject because it’s a hot button for me. I think we moved away from Freud because he was just completely discredited as a fraud. He published fraudulent research for patients that he never really saw and if that work was done today, we wouldn’t even be so delicate and parsing why and how his theories might not hold up. We’d just say he’s a fraud. We shouldn’t take seriously anything he says.
    Ep. 103 http://www.skeptiko.com/near-death-experience-research-do-science-journalists-get-it-wrong/

    So he created all this data to get the results he wanted and he posted it. Now that’s bunk. Or an example I’ve used on this show before is Sigmund Freud, a pillar in our scientific community, but when you look at what he did it was bunk. He created these cases that didn’t really exist and then published them like real data. Now that’s bunk.
    Ep. 107 http://www.skeptiko.com/massimo-pigliucci-on-how-to-tell-science-from-bunk/

    So we take Sigmund Freud, we take the data, the truth in terms of him really being little more than a charlatan who manufactures cases to support very controversial, unsustainable theories that are now completely discredited. But the myth and the influence that he has-while admittedly it has declined-it persists. I’ve been surprised actually on this show in speaking with some pretty prominent guests and this topic will somehow come up and I’ll invariably get this “Well, I don’t know about that, but he’s still without a doubt one of the most influential figures in the 20th century.” And I want to say, “Yeah, isn’t that part of the problem?” I mean…

    Ep. 113 http://www.skeptiko.com/113-atheist...eathbed-denouncement-of-christopher-hitchens/

    One thing that popped out from your work is the whole psychoanalysis and because it’s kind of a hot button for me and kind of a litmus test for me, how do you process Freud?
    Here’s a guy who seems to crop up in your work and I just can’t quite get my arms around that. If we knew then what we know now about Freud, in terms of fabricating cases and gross academic dishonesty, he wouldn’t be a forgotten man, he’d be like worse than a forgotten man. And yet, especially in the statistics in terms of references to Freud across all the disciplines at the university, the humanities keep referencing Freud and everyone else has kind of forgotten about him. How do you unpack that whole thing?

    Ep 115 http://www.skeptiko.com/115-jeff-kripal-nature-of-consciousness/

    :D
     
    Trancestate likes this.
  14. Alex

    Alex New

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    Messages:
    2,608
    thx Ian...wow... I guess I have been beating the Freud drum for awhile :)
     
  15. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    1,676
    I had never looked into this issue of Freud's deceptive work before.

    However, my comment goes towards the idea of "psychoanalysis" not having any worth, which is what one could get from this podcast listening to Dufresne. (I get the sense of someone who may be a very talented historian/scholar, but is possibly way out of his depth in his knowledge of psychology and psychotherapy.) Wow, we should really be careful here. Though classical, straight Freudian psychoanalysis is pretty much out of date, psychodynamic schools of therapy, which all have their original influence in Freud (more than Jung or Adler and the others, there's no comparison), are very much still practiced and cannot in any way be described as "bunk".

    "Object relations" therapies (mostly British: Klein, Winnicott, Fairbairn, etc.), self psychology (Kohut), relational psychoanalysis, etc. etc, which are all "psychoanalytically informed", are still current and have an immense worth clinically, and I dare say possibly millions of people's lives have been profoundly affected and saved, and still are. They're built upon the clinical practice and research of mountains of people over a century's worth of work. Not to mention the still highly respected work of a "psychoanalyst" such as Eric Erikson ("identity crisis"), or attachment theory, a completely empirical theory of child development which is now scientifically widely accepted, which was originally the work of the Brit John Bowlby, who started out and until the end called himself a "psychoanalyst".

    (In the last decades, "psychoanalysts" who have gone way beyond Freud, or his immediate followers, and are more linked to schools like attachment theory and self psychology, have also deeply enriched our understanding of child development and human psychology, human relatedness and the rich nature of subjectivity, partly through closely looking at the scientific, empirical research on child development. An example: Daniel Stern.)

    No matter the deceptions he may have been involved in, and the outdated specifics of his theories (no one but strict, very orthodox Freudians are nowadays buying into the "sex and death" biological instincts), Freud's contributions should not be overlooked. His promoting the role of the unconscious in our daily lives and the view of the human person as therefore not transparent to him or herself, a whole bunch of clinical therapeutic concepts like transference and counter-transference (however transformed since) that relate to the relational nature of what necessarily happens between the therapist and the patient, cannot be overlooked or thrown away. (A lot of these concepts are integrated today in the most modern versions of other forms of therapy as well: cognitive, humanistic, transpersonal, etc.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
    Larry and Liberty like this.
  16. Alex

    Alex New

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    Messages:
    2,608
    maybe... but that's a pretty rough road to hoe. I'm pro-science... but kinda strict about it. I don't like climate scientists who lie, cheat and conspire, and then tell me they had to for the cause... as if they're not really scientists but social activists/politicians. and I don't like Freudians lying and perpetrating this kind of deception, and then taking credit for advancements in the field of psychology as a whole. I think we have to be kinda unforgiving... if you cheat, you're outta the game.
     
  17. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    1,676
    I completely agree with Dufresne when he was talking about how in Freud's own day, and for a decade or two afterwards (40s, 50s), his stuff was treated like dogma (by the psychoanalytic establishment at least), and psychoanalysis (for many) was a "church". It's quite obvious and almost ludicrous when you read the orthodox journals from that era. He's the "Master" and his works are just meant to be correctly interpreted, not criticized (like the Bible).

    My main point here is about his possibly deriding "psychoanalysis" as a whole, because most (almost all?) "psychoanalysists" today, and for 3 or 4 decades, would not call themselves Freudians. They're "post-Freudians", etc. etc. There's no "maybe" here about that. ;) Nor what I wrote about stuff like attachment theory.

    I agree with Dufresne's mentioning Freudian theory mainly being used in academia in fields like sociology and literary theory, by people who in the most know little or nothing about psychology in general. As he said, it's merely a "text" for hermeneutically interpreting cultural products and so on. But to give those people the credit they're due, they usually don't themselves treat it as science, but as just "one way" of interpreting material in order to create other layers of meaning. (By the way, you might want to be careful about buying into "deconstruction" that led Dufresne towards his studies: that is about the least scientific endeavour you could ever find. That is the essence of post-modernism - there's absolutely nothing empirical about it, it's a philosophically-derived literary criticism school of thought. But that's a minor point - what Dufresne is doing with Freud is not deconstruction.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2014
  18. Alex

    Alex New

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    Messages:
    2,608
    I don't know much of anything about cycling, but I know Lance Armstrong really propelled the sport to extraordinary new heights. He was a great competitor... a great athlete. Of course, we don't think about Lance in the same way now that we know he cheated and lied. You're not going to see him on the cover of a lot of cycling magazines. I doubt there are any new Lance Armstrong school of cycling franchises popping up, or awards named after him.

    Freud was a fraud. He earned and deserves our ridicule and scorn. He is the Lance Armstrong of psychology. We should not encourage others to follow his footsteps.
     
  19. Bucky

    Bucky Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    1,681
    Thanks Alex, I was waiting for this one. I remember you have alluded several times to Freud in past shows but never had the time to learn more, so it was interesting to listen to Dufresne.
     
  20. north

    north Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    306

    This seems very black and white.

    Did Armstrong do any good through his charities? Did Armstrong inspire anyone leading to any positive actions?

    In the arts, many great artists were not moral paragons, but the art may still have value.

    Not sure any NDE reports encouraging ridicule and scorn...
     
    Hermanzaum and Jules like this.

Share This Page