Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A new view of Freudian theory

When I trained as a social worker at Leicester University in 1969 I discovered for the first time the theories of Sigmund Freud.  He was an Austrian neurologist, and founded all kinds of theories about human psychology.  His work was utterly brilliant, bearing in mind the fact that it was taking place around the turn of the twentieth century. He died in 1926, and therefore knew nothing of the explosion in neuroscience that has taken place in the last hundred years.

Freud's work was based initially on his in depth study of just a few cases - no more than six- and a great deal of long hard thinking about what was going on in the mind of his patients.  Then he began to examine his own psychology. Unfortunately for his followers however, many of these ideas proved to be just to difficult to accept, so they broke away and formed their own theories. But Freudian theory remains as the foundation of psychological thinking, even today. 

But what if we introduced the womb twin survivor hypothesis  and prenatal psychology into the picture?    Would Freud have thought differently if he knew as we now do, that all pre-birth experiences remain in the mind as a template for all future life choices? What if he knew that he was living out his own Dream of the Womb as he sat for years, constantly smoking and giving himself terminal cancer, while thinking about what was going on in the minds of his patients?

For the rest of this week I'll take a look at various aspects of Freudian Theory, much of which has passed into everyday thinking and, despite many shortcomings, is accepted widely as perfectly reasonable.   In fact the whole psychoanalysis industry depends upon it being so.

But prenatal psychology and womb twin survivor theory is not widely accepted as reasonable in the same way, simply because Freud himself rejected the idea that the trauma of birth could be the cause of neurosis.  This idea was promulgated by Otto Rank, a pupil of Freud, who did take a good look at it for a while and even suggested that "all anxiety goes back originally to the anxiety at birth."  Later however, he dismissed the idea in favour of his "Oedipus complex." ( In tomorrow's blog I will attempt to explain this complex and discuss how it works in practice.)

I believe that had Freud known about the interaction between twins in the womb; how all their lives most womb twin survivors sense something missing;  how suicidal thoughts are so common among womb twin survivors, he would doubtless have changed his tune.  I know he would have been delighted to see how science can back up psychological theories, and there would be no need to cobble together vague theories to  explain to patients why it is they felt a certain way - it would be obvious and perfectly natural, bearing in mind the circumstances.

Freud invented the "talking cure", where he encouraged his patients to talk over their problems with him, often for hours at a time. The idea of sharing a small private space, just the two of you talking over intimate details of your life and being listened to most carefully, is very attractive to womb twin survivors, who badly miss that experience of someone "always being there" for them in an intimate union - the closest bond that nature can provide in fact.  It is not surprising that psychoanalysis - a long-term, daily experience of spending time with a therapist who really understands you -  is so popular among certain people.  Woody Allen - a womb twin survivor if I ever saw one -  has been in analysis for  many years and he is happy for everyone to know that about him.

In the process he learned a lot about psychoanalysts and their work, as this typically dry, tongue-in cheek movie shows: (enjoy!)

What would Freud have made of this, I wonder?

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