Freud's Seduction Theory - Allen Esterson

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It is interesting to note that Jean Schimek, upon whose work he states that Esterson relies, did say that he felt that Esterson had taken his (Schimek's) findings out of context and misused them when he put a "spin" (as we would say nowadays) on them so as to accuse Freud of cowardice and dishonesty, an accusation Schimek felt to be highly arbitrary, preconceived, and unfair. Certainly it was not what Schimek had in mind when he wrote his work. Mistaken, Freud might well have been in his interpretation of the data, strongly biased, perhaps incorrect, perhaps even dishonest, but not necessarily so.

Esterson himself said he did not draw his conclusions from Schimek's work and did not conclude from Schimek that Freud had made up all the sexual material he got from his patients. He says he arrived at the ideas independently, and rather did he think, he said, that Freud "certainly resorted to invention on occasion," and that "he inferrred most of that material on grossly inadequate grounds and misleadingly presented it as his 'findings of analytic research'."

Esterson is, I believe, a mathemetician, with, hence, a more stringent view of proof than is encountered, perhaps even than is possible, in the organismic and social sciences. Esterson is highly critical of Freud's scientific technical process and adds that in his opinion and as a result of his work he must conclude that Freud's reporting of his clinical material is not to be trusted. He even uses the work "phony".

The implication is, it seems to me, that Freud was so strongly directed towards his ideas, and in particular to the idea of the Oedipus Complex, was so oriented toward finding it everywhere and so central to everything, that it directed his whole thought and outlook,.....and findings and their interpretations. One finds this in so many other of Freud's works, his "Moses and Monotheism", his "The Moses of Michelangelo", his "Leonardo", etc., where his attachment to the idea sweeps everything else before it, including the data at times. He is so invested in his ideas. They are his babies, and he loves them. Perhaps this is characteristic of "conquistadores" (which he says he was), a strange combination of incredible naivity and gullibility with an equally incredible incredulousness and revolt against that which is accepted, and an ability to see only straight ahead (or else how carry through the revolution?).

In line with that, the lead article in the most recent edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry is most interesting too.

Herb Peyser, M.D.

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If you wish to submit your contribution to this WWW site for the Seduction Theory Debate please write to Allen Esterson

 


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Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young - Last updated: 28 May, 2005 02:29 PM

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