How Relevant Is Freud Today

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Sigmund Freud was arguably one of the most influential psychologists in the investigation of personality, and his work can still, to some extent, be considered relevant today. His methods allowed for the first time the investigation of phenomena that were previously difficult to tackle, such as dreams and sexual desires. “Yes and No” is a justified reply to the question of whether Freud is relevant today in that his ideas on personality were the first to investigate the role of childhood trauma, and have been reflected in the work of many other psychologists since, either as a continuation of his work or as a reaction to it.

In this essay, the relevance of Freud's Personality Theory will be assessed, with reference to conflicting theories, such as social-cognitive, trait and biological approaches. It can be argued that Freud's original ideas still have relevance today as they sparked off much research, leading to the development of more thorough and relevant theories, as well as the development of techniques for research and therapy. Most other personality theories were developed at least partly due to the limitations of his work (Pervin et al, 2005). However, the relevance can be thrown into question in terms of Freud's outdated methods, and his inability to accept new evidence or research that conflicted with his ideas.

Central to Freud's psychoanalytical theory is the idea that peoples' actions are driven by powerful, innate biological urges that must be satisfied (Schaffer, 2008). Many of his ideas caught on early in the twentieth century, as they covered a wide scope, and even today his insights are still influential, however many psychologists have severe criticisms of his methods, and disagree with his theories. One such criticism is that the empirical testing of Freud's theory is very difficult, almost impossible, therefore the scientific status of psychoanalytic theory can be questioned. “We can no more test Freudian hypotheses on the couch than...
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