Critics of 8 Psychologists - Chapter 6

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CHAPTER 6
A CRITIQUE OF THE EIGHT PSYCHOLOGISTS
Sigmund Freud
While Freudian theory is vulnerable to criticisms of being unscientific and too reductionistic (though behaviorists criticize it for not being reductionistic enough), classic psychoanalysis does offer a comprehensive system of personality, pathology, and therapy that has made a lasting contribution to an understanding of human behavior, especially in such areas as defense mechanisms, the reality of unconscious mental dynamics, and the psychodynamics of dreams. Freud’s work was characterized by originality, boldness, and power of communication.

In his theory of neurosis, he

captured the tragic dimension of human existence, particularly in the selfdestructive antithesis of instinctual conflict. The locus of these destructive impulses is internalized in the individual and not merely derivative from civilization. In this respect, Freud’s portrayal of the human condition has more depth than romantic humanism and yields significant points of correlation with the Christian understanding of sin, guilt, and the need for redemption. Regarding Freud’s theory of personality, there appears to be no unified structure or functional unity between the id, the ego, and the superego, and

these personality components are described in intuitive and literary terms that elude scientific analysis.

Instead, they are often personified as

homunculi that operate in monochromatic ways, yielding a theory that does not adequately account for the richness, complexity, and diversity of human personality. In spite of his commitment to a scientific world view, Freud’s ideas were less objective and scientific than he liked to think. His theory was based more on clinical impressions than on controlled empirical methods.

The

accumulation of data and presentation of conclusions is unsystematic, the terms and concepts are often vague and difficult to test and measure, and thus the scientific

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