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Burying Freud

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It occurs to me that you might want to see, or even to add to your Burying Freud site, the following review that was just published in Psychological Science, the flagship journal of the American Psychological Society. The title that the editors chose was The Verdict on Freud. Since some changes were made in the copyediting stage, it should be pointed out that this text is just a draft from which the eventual review was taken.

Frederick Crews


Freud Evaluated: The Completed Arc by Malcolm Macmillan

Amsterdam: North Holland, 1991. 687 pp., $140.

Reviewed by Frederick Crews, University of California, Berkeley

Freud Evaluated: The Completed ArcDuring the past twenty-five years, a momentous change has been overtaking the study of Sigmund Freud and his elaborate, engrossing, but ever more controversial creation, psychoanalysis. Formerly, those who deemed Freud worth discussing at book length tended to be either Freudian loyalists or partisans of some variant doctrine that shared at least a few of Freud's depth-psychological premises. Their critiques were often selectively astute but rarely rigorous or thoroughgoing. No doubt the same can still be said of most new books in the field, produced as they are by practicing analysts on the one hand and, on the other, by academic humanists who have raised their sights above narrowly "positivistic" (alias empirical) concerns. Increasingly, however, Freud's oeuvre has been receiving sustained attention from scholars who hold no personal stake in the fortunes of psychoanalysis. As recent works by Scharnberg (1993), Esterson (1993), Wilcocks (1994), Dawes (1994), Webster (1995), and Erwin (1995) attest, independent studies have begun to converge toward a verdict that was once considered a sign of extremism or even of neurosis: that there is literally nothing to be said, scientifically or therapeutically, to the advantage of the entire Freudian system or any of its component dogmas.

Four books stand out as paramount contributions to the emergence of this still contested but, in my view, warranted judgment:

1. Priority in time belongs to the late Henri Ellenberger's The Discovery of the Unconscious (1970), whose long and learned chapter on Freud demolished the myth, carefully nurtured by Freud himself and his Boswell, Ernest Jones, of the master's utter originality, his facing up to disturbing truths unearthed in his clinical practice, and his solitary defiance of his contemporaries' prudish hypocrisy. By displaying Freud's all-too-human opportunism and disingenuousness and by bringing him down from the clouds into nineteenth-century intellectual history, Ellenberger tacitly invited other scholars to inquire whether the vast cultural success of psychoanalysis rested on any actual discoveries. 1

2. One such scholar was Frank Sulloway, whose monumental Freud, Biologist of the Mind (1979) went farther than its author himself initially intended, or even realized, toward dismantling Freud's claims. 2 Sulloway's Freud is an ingenious plagiarist, a dogged and ruthless self-promoter, and a habitual devotee of crackpot ideas and premature conclusions. After Sulloway, it has become harder to avoid perceiving that Freud's conveniently unexaminable case material always fit perfectly with whatever notion he had most recently pressed into service from unacknowledged and often questionable sources.

3. Third, Adolf Grünbaum's formidable The Foundations of Psychoanalysis (1984) demonstrated that "clinical evidence," the purported engine of reliable psychoanalytic knowledge, could not underwrite that knowledge even in principle. The problem of contamination through therapist suggestion, Grünbaum showed, is pervasive and intractable, and even uncontaminated clinical data, if any such could be found, would necessarily lack the causal import that Freud and others have ascribed to them. 3

4. The fourth classic of Freud revisionism is the book now under review. To call it a classic, however, is more a prediction than a statement of settled fact. Although Macmillan's Freud Evaluated has been in print since 1991, and although it has been highly praised by Morris Eagle (1993) and Donald Spence (1996) among others, its influence thus far has been slight. I will indicate below why this is the case, why I am confident of a very different future for this book, and, most important, why Freud Evaluated must be painstakingly studied by anyone who aspires to make pronouncements about the good, the bad, and the ugly in Freudian thought. But first, precisely because Macmillan is still largely unknown to American readers, a word of introduction is in order.

Until his recent retirement, Malcolm Macmillan was Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Monash University, Australia; he now serves as Adjunct Professor in the School of Psychology at Deakin University in the same country. A past president of the Australian Psychological Society, he has published widely on such diverse topics as Janet and Charcot, Freud's seduction theory, brain localization and injury, retardation, and even the kinesiology of the football kick. However, if one does not count a precursor volume internally printed by Monash's Department of Psychology (Macmillan, 1974), Freud Evaluated is Macmillan's only book to date.

Significantly, this work emerged from a set of lectures that "had dealt separately," as the preface informs us, "with the twin themes of psychoanalytic personality theory and the application of scientific method in psychology" (p. v). The seed of Freud Evaluated was planted when Macmillan realized that those themes belonged together: Freud's style of theory building was casting a useful light on basic issues of methodology. The book that eventuated is no mere compendium of lecture notes but rather the most comprehensive, coherent, and unimpeachable assessment of Freud's concepts and tenets that has yet been mounted--or is ever likely to be.

Unfortunately, however, the scope of Macmillan's achievement has been obscured by frustrations and vicissitudes of the publishing trade. Twelve years in the writing, Freud Evaluated languished for another five years while American university presses were rejecting it as too long, too specialized, and/or too critical of the beloved genius whose ideas it addressed with so little obeisance. Finally, Macmillan had to settle for a publishing house, North-Holland, that printed only 1200 copies, set the price at a forbidding $140, and made only the most negligible gestures toward advertising and distribution. Furthermore, North-Holland provided no copyediting or proofreading and no galleys for Macmillan to check, with the result that the work abounds in vexing typos and infelicities that could lead a reader to believe, mistakenly, that the author's intellectual labor was equally careless. It is not surprising that to date only a few hundred copies of the book have been sold or that many scholars who consider themselves Freud experts remain unaware of its very existence.

But thanks in large part to the efforts of this journal's editor, who shares my admiration for Macmillan's feat, the purgatory of Freud Evaluated is about to end. In July 1996 The MIT Press will issue an affordable paperback edition that will have been rewritten with an American audience in mind. Although Macmillan expects to append a brief account of Freud studies in the 1990s, all but a very few of his judgments in the first edition will remain unaltered. The crucial difference will simply be the book's greater accessibility. Beginning in mid-1996, there will be no plausible excuse for anyone to ignore Macmillan's argument.

But "argument" may not be quite the right term. The works I have cited by Grünbaum, Scharnberg, Esterson, and Erwin are arguments in the familiar sense--step-by-step demonstrations of theses about the shortcomings of psychoanalytic claims. But Freud Evaluated, though it arrives at a comparable conclusion to theirs, is a book of a different kind. Macmillan has molded his text to the shape of Freud's career, describing, contextualizing, and then evaluating each burst of theory in its chronological order. Thus, although the reader soon gathers that Freud's confusions, unsolved problems, and ill-advised expedients at one stage will probably plague his efforts at the next one, the book continues to proceed inductively, postponing what Erwin would call "a final accounting" until the full journey has been negotiated from Josef Breuer's Anna O. case and its aftermath through Freud's culminating "structural" version of metapsychology. Only then does Macmillan permit himself to sum up his findings and to look beyond Freud to the standing of psychoanalysis in general as a theory, a therapy, an investigative method, and a putative science.

Macmillan's decision to conjoin history and logic constitutes a knowing defiance of the commonplace view that the validity of a theory has nothing to do with the circumstances of its origin. That is all very well, says Macmillan, if logic alone can reveal what relation the theorizer's constructs bore to his available facts. But suppose, as in Freud's case, that a purely formal assessment gets us no farther than a realization that the theory remains unconfirmed:

By itself, the failure provides no guide as to where the fault lies. Perhaps the original facts were inaccurately described or the original theoretical terms inadequately formulated. Would it not be sensible to see how those terms or statements were arrived at? Was there a worthwhile theory to begin with? . . . In brief, historically based evaluations help us to establish what has to be explained and whether any explanatory effort is justified. We are also placed on more certain ground in deciding which kinds of evidence should count as confirmatory and which as disconfirmatory. (p. 4)

Macmillan's ground rules confer several advantages, both rhetorical and heuristic. For one thing, a book containing 612 large pages of main text would be tedious if its negative overview were insisted upon from first to last. In following the narrative path of Freud Evaluated, we remain curious to see whether Freud will ever perceive what a tangle of pseudo-explanatory quasi-entities he has been conjuring and whether, accordingly, he will make a corrective swerve toward empirical accountability. He never does, but that very fact acquires an almost morbid fascination as we watch him draw from his sleeve one conceptual wild card after another.

At each theoretical juncture in Freud's career, Macmillan supplies us with a unique boon: an informed reconstruction of Freud's (always scanty) observational base, of the extant theories that he drew upon or rejected, of other influences on his thinking at the time, and of the anomalies that he needed to address or somehow evade. As a consequence, Macmillan's segments of formal evaluation, though unsparingly condemnatory, read less like an author's expressions of opinion than like the drawing of inferences already inherent in the evidence. But this impression does too little credit to Macmillan's intellect. In truth, his evaluations are tenacious and brilliant analytic exercises that bring order into the thicket of Freud's gratuitous complexities. The contrast between Freud's consistent urge toward mystification and Macmillan's contrary rationality makes for a kind of drama--a dauntingly technical one, to be sure--that builds in intensity through much of the book.

Above all, Macmillan's approach is ideally geared to dislodging a prejudice that still deters most observers from gazing on the perfect nakedness of Emperor Freud: the belief that the intricacy of Freudian theory more or less matches that of the human mind. So long as that misunderstanding prevails, a wholesale rejection of Freud will look like an unthinkable throwback to behaviorism, positivism, associationism, or a primitive psychology of faculties or humors. But no such drastic choice is required if we realize that psychoanalysis owes its complexity to a sequence of peremptory and indefensible moves. Macmillan shows, and any diligent reader can now be satisfied, that each major complication in Freud's model was added not to account for observations of conflicted behavior but to paper over a failure of coherent linkage between his prior constructs and the reputed evidence for them.

When Freud declared that the unconscious draws no distinction between real and fantasized events, for example, he was not reporting a testable finding but concocting an excuse for the collapse of his seduction theory, sparing himself the embarrassment of admitting that he had secured no relation at all between supposedly repressed sexual material and the origin of psychoneuroses, and concealing the ominous tendency of his method of inquiry--the one that he kept right on using--to generate false results. 4 Likewise, as Macmillan shows, Freud was led into the conceptual maze of infantile sexuality not by any observation of children but by this same unwillingness to face the seduction debacle forthrightly. Rather than abandon his thwarted belief in the sexual meaning of symptoms, he chose to transplant the blame for precocious eroticism from the "seducer" to the child's own constitution. The result was a veritable funhouse of zones, modes, phases, and drives, proliferating with a wildly cavalier disregard for parsimony. Even "hereditary taint," the all-purpose diagnostic shibboleth that psychoanalysis had supposedly rendered obsolete, eventually found its way back into Freud's theory and acquired an unprecedented phylogenetic grandiosity as his here-and-now explanations, predictions, and therapeutic boasts continued to turn to dust. All in all, psychoanalytic theory became ever more Byzantine, and mental activity was alleged to be ever more "overdetermined," as a consequence of Freud's insistence on salvaging his far-fetched repression etiology by any means necessary. 5

But this is only part of the story. Macmillan's distinctive achievement is to have shown that Freud's excesses also derived from his loyalty to certain key assumptions that he could never bring into doubt. Chief among them was psychic determinism, which in Freud's apprehension meant not just that all mental events bear causes but that regularly observed phenomena must have invariable causes, rooted in physiology. In the tradition of Sulloway (1979), Macmillan shows that Freud remained faithful to the views of his early mentor Theodor Meynert, who conceived of the coupling between one association and its temporal successor as a literal matter of contact between cortical nerve cells connected to one another by nerve fibers. Thus, "[f]ollowing a train of associations in the way Freud did was equivalent to unravelling a chain of causes and so revealing the internal logic of hysteria" (p. 113). This assumption accounts for the bewildering doubleness of Freud's explanatory manner, whereby, for example, dreaming is ascribed both to a struggle over the expression of forbidden wishes and to a regressive flow of excitation.

We would be losing Macmillan's point if we took such parallel descriptions as a mere sign that Freud felt obliged to touch base with physiology from time to time. Rather, his determinism of successive and reversible innervations shaped the very heart of psychoanalytic theory. For a relatively simple instance, consider the idea that every dream expresses a repressed infantile wish. As an inference drawn from the consulting room, it is flatly preposterous; there is no thinkable way of discerning which element of the patient's dream report is a holdover from the nursery. But if we begin from Meynert's schema and assume, simplistically, that each associative chain is a row of dominos extending into the past, the notion becomes at least conceivable. So, too, does Freud's generous array of sexualized and desexualized instincts, none of which have anything to do with clinical observation; they were called into being by a felt need to make his imagined excitations run both forward and backward on the rails of a mechanized psyche.

It was precisely Freud's devotion to physiological determinism that, at the outset of his path toward psychoanalysis, prompted him to rule out suggestion as a possible source of the hypnotic effects induced by Charcot in Paris. Since suggestion varied from one hypnotist to the next, and since science deals with uniformities, suggestion had to be excluded as an insufficiently objective factor:

If the supporters of the suggestion theory are right, all the observations made at the Salpêtrière are worthless; indeed, they become errors in observation. The hypnosis of hysterical patients would have no characteristics of its own; but every physician would be free to produce any symptomatology that he liked in the patients he hypnotized. We should not learn from the study of major hypnotism what alterations in excitability succeed one another in the nervous system of hysterical patients in response to certain kinds of interventions; we should merely learn what intentions Charcot suggested (in a manner of which he himself was unconscious) to the subjects of his experiments--a thing entirely irrelevant to our understanding alike of hypnosis and of hysteria. (Freud, 1888, pp. 77-78; italics added)

If Freud Evaluated poses a cautionary moral, it is that Freud's fatal error lay exactly here. For, in Macmillan's words, "Freud was to be as wrong about hysteria as he had been about hypnosis" (p. 72)--and in just the same manner. Although he made token efforts to reason his way around the obstacle posed by suggestion, he refused to take the phenomenon seriously:

When Freud came to treat his own patients, he never accepted that influences transmitted unconsciously from him to them had important effects upon what they claimed to recall about the origins of their symptoms. His view was that the important determinants of remembering were internal, part of the very fabric of the patient's thoughts, and as impervious to outside influence as the processes determining the phenomena of hypnosis and hysteria at the Salpêtrière were supposed to have been. (p. 73)

The price of this mistake was a record of tragicomic blundering that Macmillan traces from Freud's cases of "Elizabeth von R." and "Dora" through his most arcane feats of system building and those of his successors, who themselves have evidenced a nearly total indifference to suggestion. 6

Freud's dogmatic determinism, Macmillan shows, not only rendered him complacent about the problem of suggestive influence but concomitantly imbued him with excessive trust in the "fundamental rule" of psychoanalysis, free association. Any gaps or peculiarities in a patient's ramblings, he posited, could be ascribed to the patient's enduring repressions rather than to constraints and proddings within the therapeutic dialogue or to trivial chance factors. Hence the central diagnostic claim of classical analysis: that a progressively narrowed study of associations can reliably uncover the causes of a neurosis lying in the infantile past.

By now, of course, that pretension has been thoroughly refuted and, indeed, abandoned by most analysts. Yet their heightened diffidence about arriving at precise reconstructions of early trauma has failed to weaken their reliance on free association as a paramount investigative tool. As Macmillan reminds us, modern analysts fail to grasp that the privileged status of such evidence rested on a number of improbable conceptions: that the mind is a reflex apparatus for fending off stimulation; that memories are inextinguishable; that dreams and symptoms and associations transcribe remote memory traces; that symptoms are acquired from traumas in a fixed sequence of events; that symptoms reenact the sensory content of the original traumatic shock; and that motives or reasons can be treated as if they were physical causes. 7 Absent all that folklore, the probing of free associations dwindles to the amusing but expensive parlor game that, in fact, it always was.

Let us suppose, as a mental exercise, that Freud had not been such a prisoner of his billiard-ball determinism and that we could trust him as a reporter of his own and other investigators' findings. 8 Would his theory then have approached scientific respectability? The question is of interest because even the most orthodox contemporary Freudians acknowledge that Freud left them with a defective doctrine--though there is nothing resembling a consensus about the needed repairs. In Macmillan's view, the most serious demerits of Freud's way of gathering and evaluating data apply with equal force to the approach to psychoanalytic theory formation that prevails today. They are not specific errors of fact and emphasis but fundamental departures from the scientific ethos. For example:

1. Hypothetical entities or processes should be characterized; that is, they ought to possess attributed properties that lend themselves to confirmation outside their immediate role in the theory at issue. If they lack this quality, "[t]heir referents are the very relations they are supposed to explain" (p. 193); they are only placeholders for mechanisms that may not exist at all. 9 This is just what we regularly find in the case of psychoanalytic postulates. A term like repression, Macmillan notes, points to no independently known reality but merely gives a name to the questionable survival of traumatic memory traces in an unconscious which itself remains uncharacterized. Moreover, incompatible burdens are placed upon the term, indicating that the theory behind it is fatally muddled. 10 When repression is then invoked as an explanatory factor in new contexts, true believers may feel that fresh territory is being conquered, but the scope of Freud's circularity is simply being widened. The same flaw of empty conceptualization appears in virtually every feature of his system, from the preconscious through the ego, introjection, the death instinct, and so forth.

2. A theory should not create its own facts. Psychoanalysis, however, does so at every turn. For example, repression is invoked to account for the delayed effect of childhood trauma in producing adult psychoneuroses, but the only reason for believing that such an effect occurs is a prior belief in repression. A dream is regarded as a disguised representation of its latent content, the dream thoughts, but such thoughts can be detected only by Freudian dream interpretation. So, too, castration threats, real or fantasized, supposedly trigger the onset of the male latency period, but the latency period is itself a pure artifact of the theory. Or again, Freud invoked penis envy to explain female submissiveness, masochism, and incapacity for cultural strivings, but in this instance the theory and the "facts" alike derived from cultural prejudice.

3. A theory should have testable consequences; "only if the facts [to be independently verified] can be deduced from the fundamental statements of the theory can we say that they are explained by it" (p. 168). Notoriously, however, Freudian tenets are scarcely challenged, much less refuted, by unexpected outcomes. The vagueness of the theory is such that it can withstand almost any number of surprises and be endlessly revised according to the theorist's whim, without reference to data. Indeed, as Macmillan emphasizes, Freud drew on the same pool of evidence in offering three incompatible etiologies for homosexuality (pp. 352-353), and he did the same in proposing three incompatible paths for the overcoming of narcissism (pp. 358-359). Throughout his whole career of lawgiving, the linkage between evidence and theory was established by rhetorical guile and nothing more.

4. A hypothesis should be treated as such; that is, its adequacy ought to be methodically tested. Instead, Macmillan shows, Freud habitually offered postulates that he labeled as hypotheses but treated as firm expectations or even as certainties. Understandably, premature closure about one issue left him vulnerable to the same mistake with the next one. For example, all the while that he was pretending to be alarmed at his reluctant clinical discovery of sexual factors in hysteria, he was importing the conclusions he had already erroneously reached about the sexual roots of the (nonexistent) "actual neuroses."

5. Finally--though this list could be considerably extended--heed must be paid to the difference between necessary and sufficient causes. An assertion that factor x causes effect y in neurotic group A is vacuous if one merely establishes the presence of factor x in typical members of that group. Even on the most optimistic interpretation (that x is necessary to produce neurosis), x cannot be regarded as a sufficient cause unless, at a minimum, it is shown to be absent from non-neurotic group B. Never once in his psychoanalytic career, however, did Freud conduct such a demonstration or publicly indicate that it was called for. 11 On the contrary, he consistently maintained that all the reassurance of correctness he required was the stream of confirmations that flowed from clinical experience--in other words, from "group A" alone. At his most scrupulous, he was content to find a few cases in which the positive correlation he was seeking appeared, however momentarily, to obtain. A palm reader or faith healer could have done as well.

In summary, we learn from Macmillan that the founder of psychoanalysis, once he had forsaken laboratory work for the care and understanding of neurotics, neither thought nor acted like a scientist; he sincerely but obtusely mistook his loyalty to materialist reductionism for methodological rigor. In fact, it was just the opposite, an inducement to dogmatic persistence in folly. Thus we cannot be amazed--except insofar as we may be veteran subscribers to the Freud legend--that the product of his efforts proved to be a pseudoscience.

Can a pseudoscience be reformed into a science through piecemeal interventions? Freud's successors "tamper with the structures or alter the nature and status of the drives," Macmillan observes, "but their own concepts of drive and structure are inferred from facts gathered by a defective method" (506). A defective method can produce only ersatz results. Although Freud Evaluated shows that nearly everything that can be said against Freudian theory has been pointed out by one uneasy psychoanalyst or another, it also shows that analysis as a whole remains powerless to address the heart of the problem. And understandably so, since a thoroughgoing epistemic critique, based on commonly acknowledged standards of evidence and logic, decertifies every distinctively psychoanalytic proposition. As I indicated at the outset, Macmillan is hardly alone in reaching that conclusion. Now, however, he steps to the forefront of those who have offered a detailed rational basis for affirming it.

NOTES

1. Concurrently with the appearance of Ellenberger's masterwork, Frank Cioffi began publishing trenchant and cogent articles (Cioffi, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1983, 1985) that have had an enormous impact on Freud revisionism. As we will see below, Malcolm Macmillan's achievement is very much within Cioffi's tradition--that of combining epistemic interrogation with close study of Freud's (and his movement's) conduct in the face of challenge. Nearly all post-1970 arguments to the effect that psychoanalysis is a pseudoscience--as opposed to a mere theory that has not yet found corroboration--belong to "the school of Cioffi." His pungent essays and reviews on Freudian topics eminently merit collection within a book.

2. Sulloway's revised, far harsher, view of Freud is expressed in Sulloway, 1991, 1992 (Preface).

3. It is true that Grünbaum, as a matter of logical possibility, left the door ajar for some future extraclinical corroboration of unspecified Freudian ideas; and he continues to do so (Grünbaum, 1993). But a dispassionate reader would conclude, as Grünbaum himself has frankly indicated in a recent article (Grünbaum, 1994), that no such turnabout is likely. The other revisionists I have cited would probably go farther and maintain, as I do, that limited cash and patience can be put to better uses than the further testing of propositions that remain unconfirmed after a century's effort and that arose (as we will see below) from demonstrably faulty inferences.

4. This point is now familiar from any number of recent discussions, but it was broached by Macmillan nearly two decades ago (Macmillan, 1977). Our current "recovered memory movement," with its perverse homage to the mistakes of Freud's seduction theory, could never have gotten launched if the world had attended to Macmillan's astute article instead of to later and more ideologically driven accounts.

5. In passing, we may note that Macmillan's expose thus casts an eerie light on Freud's continuing "interdisciplinary" vogue within our universities. It would seem that Freud is treasured for the very quality--unbounded hermeneutic license--that signaled, and compounded, the failure of his medical and scientific pretensions as he first conceived them. We shouldn't wonder, then, that academic apologetics for psychoanalysis have taken an increasingly postmodern turn, "problematizing" the very idea of factual truth and scientific rationality. For a hostile review of Freud Evaluated that epitomizes this trend, see Leys (1992).

6. It would be incorrect, of course, to maintain that psychoanalysis has paid no attention to unconscious influence; "transference" looms large within the theory. As that concept is typically employed, however, it serves to put the phenomenon of suggestion even farther out of sight than it would otherwise be. Emotionally charged reactions to the therapist are treated as stemming not from the therapist's (possibly misguided or offensive) ministrations but from projections on the patient's part. Thus Freud's peculiarly narrow idea of psychic determinism reigns unchallenged--and continues to do so when countertransference, or the contribution of the therapist's own infantile fixations, comes to the theoretical forefront. When each member of the therapeutic dyad is regarded as a prisoner of the distant past, attention to the effect of contemporary expectations and demands becomes impossible.

7. Unfortunately, most of these assumptions have been making a sinister comeback as a number of psychoanalysts have become converts to the recovered memory movement. This demoralizing turn of events is most clearly manifested in a special issue of Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 6 (2), 1996; it is further discussed in Crews, 1995, pp. 14-29.

8. Although Macmillan is not primarily concerned with Freud's scientific ethics, he occasionally shows how Freud distorted other researchers' work (e.g., pp. 308-310) and failed to distinguish even minimally between his own associations and those of his patients (e.g., pp. 256-261). For further questioning of Freud's integrity and competence, see Esterson, 1993, and Crews, 1995.

9. Macmillan's views in this area constitute an extension of his compatriot W. M. O'Neil's exposition of the difference between real and empty assertion in psychological theorizing (O'Neil, 1953). It should be emphasized that O'Neil's criteria are neither eccentric nor positivistic; they merely articulate demands that are tacitly exercised in the daily practice of science.

10. As Macmillan remarks, "For an affect to be converted and for its idea to become unconscious the separation of the two has to be complete or near complete. However, for abreaction to take place, the idea has to be recovered with its affect still attached. Symptom formation thus requires repression to separate the idea from its feeling but symptom removal requires they remain attached" (p. 161).

11. The closest Freud came to such recognition was in an early letter to Wilhelm Fliess announcing that neurasthenia in men is caused by masturbation--a practice, he assured Fliess, completely lacking among "the circle of one's acquaintances" who haven't contracted the neurosis despite having been "seduced by women at an early age" (Freud, 1985, p. 40). One strains to imagine the interviews that could have assured Freud of his correctness on this point.


REFERENCES

Cioffi, F. 1969. Wittgenstein's Freud. In Studies in the philosophy of Wittgenstein, ed. Peter Winch (London: Routledge), pp. 184-210.

Cioffi, F. 1970. Freud and the idea of a pseudo-science. In Explanation in the behavioural sciences, ed. Robert Borger & Frank Cioffi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 471-499.

Cioffi, F. 1972. Wollheim on Freud.Inquiry, 15, 171- 186.

Cioffi, F. 1974. Was Freud a liar? The Listener, 91, 172- 174.

Cioffi, F. 1983, June 2-15. Psychoapologetics. London Review of Books, pp. 14-16.

Cioffi, F. 1985. Psychoanalysis, pseudo-science and testability. In Popper and the Human Sciences, ed. G. Currie & A. Musgrave. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff.

Crews, F., et al. 1995. The memory wars: Freud's legacy in dispute. New York: New York Review Imprints.

Dawes, R. M. 1994. House of cards: Psychology and psychotherapy built on myth. New York: Free Press.

Eagle, M. N. 1993. Freud in historical context. Contemporary Psychology, 38, 993-995.

Ellenberger, H. 1970. The discovery of the unconscious: The history and evolution of dynamic psychiatry. New York: Basic Books.

Erwin, E. 1995. A final accounting: Philosophical and empirical issues in Freudian psychology. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Esterson, A. 1993. Seductive mirage: An exploration of the work of Sigmund Freud. Chicago: Open Court.

Freud, S. 1985. The complete letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904 (Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Trans. & Ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Freud, S. 1888. Preface to the translation of Bernheim's Suggestion. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (J. Strachey, Trans.), 24 vols., I: 75-85.

Grunbaum, A. 1984. The Foundations of psychoanalysis: A philosophical critique. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Grunbaum, A. 1993. Validation in the clinical theory of psychoanalysis: A study in the philosophy of psychoanalysis. Madison, CT: International Universities Press.

Grunbaum, A. 1994. Does psychoanalysis have a future? Doubtful. Harvard Mental Health Letter, 11(4): 3-6.

Leys, R. 1992. [Review of Freud evaluated.] Bulletin of the History of Medicine,66, 673-674.

Macmillan, M. B. 1974. The historical and scientific evaluation of psychoanalytic personality theory. Melbourne: Monash University Department of Psychology.

Macmillan, M. B. 1977. Freud's expectations and the childhood seduction theory. Australian Journal of Psychology, 29, 223-236.

O'Neil, W. M. 1953. Hypothetical terms and relations in psychological theorizing. British Journal of Psychology, 44, 211-220.

Scharnberg, M. 1993. The non-authentic nature of Freud's observations. 2 vols. Uppsala: University of Uppsala.

Spence, D. 1996. [Review of Freud evaluated.] International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, forthcoming.

Sulloway, F. J. 1979. Freud, biologist of the mind: Beyond the psychoanalytic legend. New York: Basic Books.

Sulloway, F. J. 1991. Reassessing Freud's case histories: The social construction of psychoanalysis. Isis, 82, 245- 275.

Sulloway, F. J. 1992. Freud, biologist of the mind: Beyond the psychoanalytic legend (Revised ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Webster, R. 1995. Why Freud was wrong: Sin, science, and psychoanalysis. New York: Basic Books.

Wilcocks, R. 1994. Maelzel's chess player: Sigmund Freud and the rhetoric of deceit. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Frederick Crews

Freud Evaluated: The Completed Arc by Malcolm Macmillan


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It occurs to me that you might want to see, or even to add to your Burying Freud site, the following review that was just published in Psychological Science, the flagship journal of the American Psychological Society. The title that the editors chose was The Verdict on Freud. Since some changes were made in the copyediting stage, it should be pointed out that this text is just a draft from which the eventual review was taken.

Frederick Crews


Freud Evaluated: The Completed Arc by Malcolm Macmillan

Amsterdam: North Holland, 1991. 687 pp., $140.

Reviewed by Frederick Crews, University of California, Berkeley

Freud Evaluated: The Completed ArcDuring the past twenty-five years, a momentous change has been overtaking the study of Sigmund Freud and his elaborate, engrossing, but ever more controversial creation, psychoanalysis. Formerly, those who deemed Freud worth discussing at book length tended to be either Freudian loyalists or partisans of some variant doctrine that shared at least a few of Freud's depth-psychological premises. Their critiques were often selectively astute but rarely rigorous or thoroughgoing. No doubt the same can still be said of most new books in the field, produced as they are by practicing analysts on the one hand and, on the other, by academic humanists who have raised their sights above narrowly "positivistic" (alias empirical) concerns. Increasingly, however, Freud's oeuvre has been receiving sustained attention from scholars who hold no personal stake in the fortunes of psychoanalysis. As recent works by Scharnberg (1993), Esterson (1993), Wilcocks (1994), Dawes (1994), Webster (1995), and Erwin (1995) attest, independent studies have begun to converge toward a verdict that was once considered a sign of extremism or even of neurosis: that there is literally nothing to be said, scientifically or therapeutically, to the advantage of the entire Freudian system or any of its component dogmas.

Four books stand out as paramount contributions to the emergence of this still contested but, in my view, warranted judgment:

1. Priority in time belongs to the late Henri Ellenberger's The Discovery of the Unconscious (1970), whose long and learned chapter on Freud demolished the myth, carefully nurtured by Freud himself and his Boswell, Ernest Jones, of the master's utter originality, his facing up to disturbing truths unearthed in his clinical practice, and his solitary defiance of his contemporaries' prudish hypocrisy. By displaying Freud's all-too-human opportunism and disingenuousness and by bringing him down from the clouds into nineteenth-century intellectual history, Ellenberger tacitly invited other scholars to inquire whether the vast cultural success of psychoanalysis rested on any actual discoveries. 1

2. One such scholar was Frank Sulloway, whose monumental Freud, Biologist of the Mind (1979) went farther than its author himself initially intended, or even realized, toward dismantling Freud's claims. 2 Sulloway's Freud is an ingenious plagiarist, a dogged and ruthless self-promoter, and a habitual devotee of crackpot ideas and premature conclusions. After Sulloway, it has become harder to avoid perceiving that Freud's conveniently unexaminable case material always fit perfectly with whatever notion he had most recently pressed into service from unacknowledged and often questionable sources.

3. Third, Adolf Grünbaum's formidable The Foundations of Psychoanalysis (1984) demonstrated that "clinical evidence," the purported engine of reliable psychoanalytic knowledge, could not underwrite that knowledge even in principle. The problem of contamination through therapist suggestion, Grünbaum showed, is pervasive and intractable, and even uncontaminated clinical data, if any such could be found, would necessarily lack the causal import that Freud and others have ascribed to them. 3

4. The fourth classic of Freud revisionism is the book now under review. To call it a classic, however, is more a prediction than a statement of settled fact. Although Macmillan's Freud Evaluated has been in print since 1991, and although it has been highly praised by Morris Eagle (1993) and Donald Spence (1996) among others, its influence thus far has been slight. I will indicate below why this is the case, why I am confident of a very different future for this book, and, most important, why Freud Evaluated must be painstakingly studied by anyone who aspires to make pronouncements about the good, the bad, and the ugly in Freudian thought. But first, precisely because Macmillan is still largely unknown to American readers, a word of introduction is in order.

Until his recent retirement, Malcolm Macmillan was Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Monash University, Australia; he now serves as Adjunct Professor in the School of Psychology at Deakin University in the same country. A past president of the Australian Psychological Society, he has published widely on such diverse topics as Janet and Charcot, Freud's seduction theory, brain localization and injury, retardation, and even the kinesiology of the football kick. However, if one does not count a precursor volume internally printed by Monash's Department of Psychology (Macmillan, 1974), Freud Evaluated is Macmillan's only book to date.

Significantly, this work emerged from a set of lectures that "had dealt separately," as the preface informs us, "with the twin themes of psychoanalytic personality theory and the application of scientific method in psychology" (p. v). The seed of Freud Evaluated was planted when Macmillan realized that those themes belonged together: Freud's style of theory building was casting a useful light on basic issues of methodology. The book that eventuated is no mere compendium of lecture notes but rather the most comprehensive, coherent, and unimpeachable assessment of Freud's concepts and tenets that has yet been mounted--or is ever likely to be.

Unfortunately, however, the scope of Macmillan's achievement has been obscured by frustrations and vicissitudes of the publishing trade. Twelve years in the writing, Freud Evaluated languished for another five years while American university presses were rejecting it as too long, too specialized, and/or too critical of the beloved genius whose ideas it addressed with so little obeisance. Finally, Macmillan had to settle for a publishing house, North-Holland, that printed only 1200 copies, set the price at a forbidding $140, and made only the most negligible gestures toward advertising and distribution. Furthermore, North-Holland provided no copyediting or proofreading and no galleys for Macmillan to check, with the result that the work abounds in vexing typos and infelicities that could lead a reader to believe, mistakenly, that the author's intellectual labor was equally careless. It is not surprising that to date only a few hundred copies of the book have been sold or that many scholars who consider themselves Freud experts remain unaware of its very existence.

But thanks in large part to the efforts of this journal's editor, who shares my admiration for Macmillan's feat, the purgatory of Freud Evaluated is about to end. In July 1996 The MIT Press will issue an affordable paperback edition that will have been rewritten with an American audience in mind. Although Macmillan expects to append a brief account of Freud studies in the 1990s, all but a very few of his judgments in the first edition will remain unaltered. The crucial difference will simply be the book's greater accessibility. Beginning in mid-1996, there will be no plausible excuse for anyone to ignore Macmillan's argument.

But "argument" may not be quite the right term. The works I have cited by Grünbaum, Scharnberg, Esterson, and Erwin are arguments in the familiar sense--step-by-step demonstrations of theses about the shortcomings of psychoanalytic claims. But Freud Evaluated, though it arrives at a comparable conclusion to theirs, is a book of a different kind. Macmillan has molded his text to the shape of Freud's career, describing, contextualizing, and then evaluating each burst of theory in its chronological order. Thus, although the reader soon gathers that Freud's confusions, unsolved problems, and ill-advised expedients at one stage will probably plague his efforts at the next one, the book continues to proceed inductively, postponing what Erwin would call "a final accounting" until the full journey has been negotiated from Josef Breuer's Anna O. case and its aftermath through Freud's culminating "structural" version of metapsychology. Only then does Macmillan permit himself to sum up his findings and to look beyond Freud to the standing of psychoanalysis in general as a theory, a therapy, an investigative method, and a putative science.

Macmillan's decision to conjoin history and logic constitutes a knowing defiance of the commonplace view that the validity of a theory has nothing to do with the circumstances of its origin. That is all very well, says Macmillan, if logic alone can reveal what relation the theorizer's constructs bore to his available facts. But suppose, as in Freud's case, that a purely formal assessment gets us no farther than a realization that the theory remains unconfirmed:

By itself, the failure provides no guide as to where the fault lies. Perhaps the original facts were inaccurately described or the original theoretical terms inadequately formulated. Would it not be sensible to see how those terms or statements were arrived at? Was there a worthwhile theory to begin with? . . . In brief, historically based evaluations help us to establish what has to be explained and whether any explanatory effort is justified. We are also placed on more certain ground in deciding which kinds of evidence should count as confirmatory and which as disconfirmatory. (p. 4)

Macmillan's ground rules confer several advantages, both rhetorical and heuristic. For one thing, a book containing 612 large pages of main text would be tedious if its negative overview were insisted upon from first to last. In following the narrative path of Freud Evaluated, we remain curious to see whether Freud will ever perceive what a tangle of pseudo-explanatory quasi-entities he has been conjuring and whether, accordingly, he will make a corrective swerve toward empirical accountability. He never does, but that very fact acquires an almost morbid fascination as we watch him draw from his sleeve one conceptual wild card after another.

At each theoretical juncture in Freud's career, Macmillan supplies us with a unique boon: an informed reconstruction of Freud's (always scanty) observational base, of the extant theories that he drew upon or rejected, of other influences on his thinking at the time, and of the anomalies that he needed to address or somehow evade. As a consequence, Macmillan's segments of formal evaluation, though unsparingly condemnatory, read less like an author's expressions of opinion than like the drawing of inferences already inherent in the evidence. But this impression does too little credit to Macmillan's intellect. In truth, his evaluations are tenacious and brilliant analytic exercises that bring order into the thicket of Freud's gratuitous complexities. The contrast between Freud's consistent urge toward mystification and Macmillan's contrary rationality makes for a kind of drama--a dauntingly technical one, to be sure--that builds in intensity through much of the book.

Above all, Macmillan's approach is ideally geared to dislodging a prejudice that still deters most observers from gazing on the perfect nakedness of Emperor Freud: the belief that the intricacy of Freudian theory more or less matches that of the human mind. So long as that misunderstanding prevails, a wholesale rejection of Freud will look like an unthinkable throwback to behaviorism, positivism, associationism, or a primitive psychology of faculties or humors. But no such drastic choice is required if we realize that psychoanalysis owes its complexity to a sequence of peremptory and indefensible moves. Macmillan shows, and any diligent reader can now be satisfied, that each major complication in Freud's model was added not to account for observations of conflicted behavior but to paper over a failure of coherent linkage between his prior constructs and the reputed evidence for them.

When Freud declared that the unconscious draws no distinction between real and fantasized events, for example, he was not reporting a testable finding but concocting an excuse for the collapse of his seduction theory, sparing himself the embarrassment of admitting that he had secured no relation at all between supposedly repressed sexual material and the origin of psychoneuroses, and concealing the ominous tendency of his method of inquiry--the one that he kept right on using--to generate false results. 4 Likewise, as Macmillan shows, Freud was led into the conceptual maze of infantile sexuality not by any observation of children but by this same unwillingness to face the seduction debacle forthrightly. Rather than abandon his thwarted belief in the sexual meaning of symptoms, he chose to transplant the blame for precocious eroticism from the "seducer" to the child's own constitution. The result was a veritable funhouse of zones, modes, phases, and drives, proliferating with a wildly cavalier disregard for parsimony. Even "hereditary taint," the all-purpose diagnostic shibboleth that psychoanalysis had supposedly rendered obsolete, eventually found its way back into Freud's theory and acquired an unprecedented phylogenetic grandiosity as his here-and-now explanations, predictions, and therapeutic boasts continued to turn to dust. All in all, psychoanalytic theory became ever more Byzantine, and mental activity was alleged to be ever more "overdetermined," as a consequence of Freud's insistence on salvaging his far-fetched repression etiology by any means necessary. 5

But this is only part of the story. Macmillan's distinctive achievement is to have shown that Freud's excesses also derived from his loyalty to certain key assumptions that he could never bring into doubt. Chief among them was psychic determinism, which in Freud's apprehension meant not just that all mental events bear causes but that regularly observed phenomena must have invariable causes, rooted in physiology. In the tradition of Sulloway (1979), Macmillan shows that Freud remained faithful to the views of his early mentor Theodor Meynert, who conceived of the coupling between one association and its temporal successor as a literal matter of contact between cortical nerve cells connected to one another by nerve fibers. Thus, "[f]ollowing a train of associations in the way Freud did was equivalent to unravelling a chain of causes and so revealing the internal logic of hysteria" (p. 113). This assumption accounts for the bewildering doubleness of Freud's explanatory manner, whereby, for example, dreaming is ascribed both to a struggle over the expression of forbidden wishes and to a regressive flow of excitation.

We would be losing Macmillan's point if we took such parallel descriptions as a mere sign that Freud felt obliged to touch base with physiology from time to time. Rather, his determinism of successive and reversible innervations shaped the very heart of psychoanalytic theory. For a relatively simple instance, consider the idea that every dream expresses a repressed infantile wish. As an inference drawn from the consulting room, it is flatly preposterous; there is no thinkable way of discerning which element of the patient's dream report is a holdover from the nursery. But if we begin from Meynert's schema and assume, simplistically, that each associative chain is a row of dominos extending into the past, the notion becomes at least conceivable. So, too, does Freud's generous array of sexualized and desexualized instincts, none of which have anything to do with clinical observation; they were called into being by a felt need to make his imagined excitations run both forward and backward on the rails of a mechanized psyche.

It was precisely Freud's devotion to physiological determinism that, at the outset of his path toward psychoanalysis, prompted him to rule out suggestion as a possible source of the hypnotic effects induced by Charcot in Paris. Since suggestion varied from one hypnotist to the next, and since science deals with uniformities, suggestion had to be excluded as an insufficiently objective factor:

If the supporters of the suggestion theory are right, all the observations made at the Salpêtrière are worthless; indeed, they become errors in observation. The hypnosis of hysterical patients would have no characteristics of its own; but every physician would be free to produce any symptomatology that he liked in the patients he hypnotized. We should not learn from the study of major hypnotism what alterations in excitability succeed one another in the nervous system of hysterical patients in response to certain kinds of interventions; we should merely learn what intentions Charcot suggested (in a manner of which he himself was unconscious) to the subjects of his experiments--a thing entirely irrelevant to our understanding alike of hypnosis and of hysteria. (Freud, 1888, pp. 77-78; italics added)

If Freud Evaluated poses a cautionary moral, it is that Freud's fatal error lay exactly here. For, in Macmillan's words, "Freud was to be as wrong about hysteria as he had been about hypnosis" (p. 72)--and in just the same manner. Although he made token efforts to reason his way around the obstacle posed by suggestion, he refused to take the phenomenon seriously:

When Freud came to treat his own patients, he never accepted that influences transmitted unconsciously from him to them had important effects upon what they claimed to recall about the origins of their symptoms. His view was that the important determinants of remembering were internal, part of the very fabric of the patient's thoughts, and as impervious to outside influence as the processes determining the phenomena of hypnosis and hysteria at the Salpêtrière were supposed to have been. (p. 73)

The price of this mistake was a record of tragicomic blundering that Macmillan traces from Freud's cases of "Elizabeth von R." and "Dora" through his most arcane feats of system building and those of his successors, who themselves have evidenced a nearly total indifference to suggestion. 6

Freud's dogmatic determinism, Macmillan shows, not only rendered him complacent about the problem of suggestive influence but concomitantly imbued him with excessive trust in the "fundamental rule" of psychoanalysis, free association. Any gaps or peculiarities in a patient's ramblings, he posited, could be ascribed to the patient's enduring repressions rather than to constraints and proddings within the therapeutic dialogue or to trivial chance factors. Hence the central diagnostic claim of classical analysis: that a progressively narrowed study of associations can reliably uncover the causes of a neurosis lying in the infantile past.

By now, of course, that pretension has been thoroughly refuted and, indeed, abandoned by most analysts. Yet their heightened diffidence about arriving at precise reconstructions of early trauma has failed to weaken their reliance on free association as a paramount investigative tool. As Macmillan reminds us, modern analysts fail to grasp that the privileged status of such evidence rested on a number of improbable conceptions: that the mind is a reflex apparatus for fending off stimulation; that memories are inextinguishable; that dreams and symptoms and associations transcribe remote memory traces; that symptoms are acquired from traumas in a fixed sequence of events; that symptoms reenact the sensory content of the original traumatic shock; and that motives or reasons can be treated as if they were physical causes. 7 Absent all that folklore, the probing of free associations dwindles to the amusing but expensive parlor game that, in fact, it always was.

Let us suppose, as a mental exercise, that Freud had not been such a prisoner of his billiard-ball determinism and that we could trust him as a reporter of his own and other investigators' findings. 8 Would his theory then have approached scientific respectability? The question is of interest because even the most orthodox contemporary Freudians acknowledge that Freud left them with a defective doctrine--though there is nothing resembling a consensus about the needed repairs. In Macmillan's view, the most serious demerits of Freud's way of gathering and evaluating data apply with equal force to the approach to psychoanalytic theory formation that prevails today. They are not specific errors of fact and emphasis but fundamental departures from the scientific ethos. For example:

1. Hypothetical entities or processes should be characterized; that is, they ought to possess attributed properties that lend themselves to confirmation outside their immediate role in the theory at issue. If they lack this quality, "[t]heir referents are the very relations they are supposed to explain" (p. 193); they are only placeholders for mechanisms that may not exist at all. 9 This is just what we regularly find in the case of psychoanalytic postulates. A term like repression, Macmillan notes, points to no independently known reality but merely gives a name to the questionable survival of traumatic memory traces in an unconscious which itself remains uncharacterized. Moreover, incompatible burdens are placed upon the term, indicating that the theory behind it is fatally muddled. 10 When repression is then invoked as an explanatory factor in new contexts, true believers may feel that fresh territory is being conquered, but the scope of Freud's circularity is simply being widened. The same flaw of empty conceptualization appears in virtually every feature of his system, from the preconscious through the ego, introjection, the death instinct, and so forth.

2. A theory should not create its own facts. Psychoanalysis, however, does so at every turn. For example, repression is invoked to account for the delayed effect of childhood trauma in producing adult psychoneuroses, but the only reason for believing that such an effect occurs is a prior belief in repression. A dream is regarded as a disguised representation of its latent content, the dream thoughts, but such thoughts can be detected only by Freudian dream interpretation. So, too, castration threats, real or fantasized, supposedly trigger the onset of the male latency period, but the latency period is itself a pure artifact of the theory. Or again, Freud invoked penis envy to explain female submissiveness, masochism, and incapacity for cultural strivings, but in this instance the theory and the "facts" alike derived from cultural prejudice.

3. A theory should have testable consequences; "only if the facts [to be independently verified] can be deduced from the fundamental statements of the theory can we say that they are explained by it" (p. 168). Notoriously, however, Freudian tenets are scarcely challenged, much less refuted, by unexpected outcomes. The vagueness of the theory is such that it can withstand almost any number of surprises and be endlessly revised according to the theorist's whim, without reference to data. Indeed, as Macmillan emphasizes, Freud drew on the same pool of evidence in offering three incompatible etiologies for homosexuality (pp. 352-353), and he did the same in proposing three incompatible paths for the overcoming of narcissism (pp. 358-359). Throughout his whole career of lawgiving, the linkage between evidence and theory was established by rhetorical guile and nothing more.

4. A hypothesis should be treated as such; that is, its adequacy ought to be methodically tested. Instead, Macmillan shows, Freud habitually offered postulates that he labeled as hypotheses but treated as firm expectations or even as certainties. Understandably, premature closure about one issue left him vulnerable to the same mistake with the next one. For example, all the while that he was pretending to be alarmed at his reluctant clinical discovery of sexual factors in hysteria, he was importing the conclusions he had already erroneously reached about the sexual roots of the (nonexistent) "actual neuroses."

5. Finally--though this list could be considerably extended--heed must be paid to the difference between necessary and sufficient causes. An assertion that factor x causes effect y in neurotic group A is vacuous if one merely establishes the presence of factor x in typical members of that group. Even on the most optimistic interpretation (that x is necessary to produce neurosis), x cannot be regarded as a sufficient cause unless, at a minimum, it is shown to be absent from non-neurotic group B. Never once in his psychoanalytic career, however, did Freud conduct such a demonstration or publicly indicate that it was called for. 11 On the contrary, he consistently maintained that all the reassurance of correctness he required was the stream of confirmations that flowed from clinical experience--in other words, from "group A" alone. At his most scrupulous, he was content to find a few cases in which the positive correlation he was seeking appeared, however momentarily, to obtain. A palm reader or faith healer could have done as well.

In summary, we learn from Macmillan that the founder of psychoanalysis, once he had forsaken laboratory work for the care and understanding of neurotics, neither thought nor acted like a scientist; he sincerely but obtusely mistook his loyalty to materialist reductionism for methodological rigor. In fact, it was just the opposite, an inducement to dogmatic persistence in folly. Thus we cannot be amazed--except insofar as we may be veteran subscribers to the Freud legend--that the product of his efforts proved to be a pseudoscience.

Can a pseudoscience be reformed into a science through piecemeal interventions? Freud's successors "tamper with the structures or alter the nature and status of the drives," Macmillan observes, "but their own concepts of drive and structure are inferred from facts gathered by a defective method" (506). A defective method can produce only ersatz results. Although Freud Evaluated shows that nearly everything that can be said against Freudian theory has been pointed out by one uneasy psychoanalyst or another, it also shows that analysis as a whole remains powerless to address the heart of the problem. And understandably so, since a thoroughgoing epistemic critique, based on commonly acknowledged standards of evidence and logic, decertifies every distinctively psychoanalytic proposition. As I indicated at the outset, Macmillan is hardly alone in reaching that conclusion. Now, however, he steps to the forefront of those who have offered a detailed rational basis for affirming it.

NOTES

1. Concurrently with the appearance of Ellenberger's masterwork, Frank Cioffi began publishing trenchant and cogent articles (Cioffi, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1983, 1985) that have had an enormous impact on Freud revisionism. As we will see below, Malcolm Macmillan's achievement is very much within Cioffi's tradition--that of combining epistemic interrogation with close study of Freud's (and his movement's) conduct in the face of challenge. Nearly all post-1970 arguments to the effect that psychoanalysis is a pseudoscience--as opposed to a mere theory that has not yet found corroboration--belong to "the school of Cioffi." His pungent essays and reviews on Freudian topics eminently merit collection within a book.

2. Sulloway's revised, far harsher, view of Freud is expressed in Sulloway, 1991, 1992 (Preface).

3. It is true that Grünbaum, as a matter of logical possibility, left the door ajar for some future extraclinical corroboration of unspecified Freudian ideas; and he continues to do so (Grünbaum, 1993). But a dispassionate reader would conclude, as Grünbaum himself has frankly indicated in a recent article (Grünbaum, 1994), that no such turnabout is likely. The other revisionists I have cited would probably go farther and maintain, as I do, that limited cash and patience can be put to better uses than the further testing of propositions that remain unconfirmed after a century's effort and that arose (as we will see below) from demonstrably faulty inferences.

4. This point is now familiar from any number of recent discussions, but it was broached by Macmillan nearly two decades ago (Macmillan, 1977). Our current "recovered memory movement," with its perverse homage to the mistakes of Freud's seduction theory, could never have gotten launched if the world had attended to Macmillan's astute article instead of to later and more ideologically driven accounts.

5. In passing, we may note that Macmillan's expose thus casts an eerie light on Freud's continuing "interdisciplinary" vogue within our universities. It would seem that Freud is treasured for the very quality--unbounded hermeneutic license--that signaled, and compounded, the failure of his medical and scientific pretensions as he first conceived them. We shouldn't wonder, then, that academic apologetics for psychoanalysis have taken an increasingly postmodern turn, "problematizing" the very idea of factual truth and scientific rationality. For a hostile review of Freud Evaluated that epitomizes this trend, see Leys (1992).

6. It would be incorrect, of course, to maintain that psychoanalysis has paid no attention to unconscious influence; "transference" looms large within the theory. As that concept is typically employed, however, it serves to put the phenomenon of suggestion even farther out of sight than it would otherwise be. Emotionally charged reactions to the therapist are treated as stemming not from the therapist's (possibly misguided or offensive) ministrations but from projections on the patient's part. Thus Freud's peculiarly narrow idea of psychic determinism reigns unchallenged--and continues to do so when countertransference, or the contribution of the therapist's own infantile fixations, comes to the theoretical forefront. When each member of the therapeutic dyad is regarded as a prisoner of the distant past, attention to the effect of contemporary expectations and demands becomes impossible.

7. Unfortunately, most of these assumptions have been making a sinister comeback as a number of psychoanalysts have become converts to the recovered memory movement. This demoralizing turn of events is most clearly manifested in a special issue of Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 6 (2), 1996; it is further discussed in Crews, 1995, pp. 14-29.

8. Although Macmillan is not primarily concerned with Freud's scientific ethics, he occasionally shows how Freud distorted other researchers' work (e.g., pp. 308-310) and failed to distinguish even minimally between his own associations and those of his patients (e.g., pp. 256-261). For further questioning of Freud's integrity and competence, see Esterson, 1993, and Crews, 1995.

9. Macmillan's views in this area constitute an extension of his compatriot W. M. O'Neil's exposition of the difference between real and empty assertion in psychological theorizing (O'Neil, 1953). It should be emphasized that O'Neil's criteria are neither eccentric nor positivistic; they merely articulate demands that are tacitly exercised in the daily practice of science.

10. As Macmillan remarks, "For an affect to be converted and for its idea to become unconscious the separation of the two has to be complete or near complete. However, for abreaction to take place, the idea has to be recovered with its affect still attached. Symptom formation thus requires repression to separate the idea from its feeling but symptom removal requires they remain attached" (p. 161).

11. The closest Freud came to such recognition was in an early letter to Wilhelm Fliess announcing that neurasthenia in men is caused by masturbation--a practice, he assured Fliess, completely lacking among "the circle of one's acquaintances" who haven't contracted the neurosis despite having been "seduced by women at an early age" (Freud, 1985, p. 40). One strains to imagine the interviews that could have assured Freud of his correctness on this point.


REFERENCES

Cioffi, F. 1969. Wittgenstein's Freud. In Studies in the philosophy of Wittgenstein, ed. Peter Winch (London: Routledge), pp. 184-210.

Cioffi, F. 1970. Freud and the idea of a pseudo-science. In Explanation in the behavioural sciences, ed. Robert Borger & Frank Cioffi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 471-499.

Cioffi, F. 1972. Wollheim on Freud.Inquiry, 15, 171- 186.

Cioffi, F. 1974. Was Freud a liar? The Listener, 91, 172- 174.

Cioffi, F. 1983, June 2-15. Psychoapologetics. London Review of Books, pp. 14-16.

Cioffi, F. 1985. Psychoanalysis, pseudo-science and testability. In Popper and the Human Sciences, ed. G. Currie & A. Musgrave. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff.

Crews, F., et al. 1995. The memory wars: Freud's legacy in dispute. New York: New York Review Imprints.

Dawes, R. M. 1994. House of cards: Psychology and psychotherapy built on myth. New York: Free Press.

Eagle, M. N. 1993. Freud in historical context. Contemporary Psychology, 38, 993-995.

Ellenberger, H. 1970. The discovery of the unconscious: The history and evolution of dynamic psychiatry. New York: Basic Books.

Erwin, E. 1995. A final accounting: Philosophical and empirical issues in Freudian psychology. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Esterson, A. 1993. Seductive mirage: An exploration of the work of Sigmund Freud. Chicago: Open Court.

Freud, S. 1985. The complete letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904 (Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Trans. & Ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Freud, S. 1888. Preface to the translation of Bernheim's Suggestion. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (J. Strachey, Trans.), 24 vols., I: 75-85.

Grunbaum, A. 1984. The Foundations of psychoanalysis: A philosophical critique. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Grunbaum, A. 1993. Validation in the clinical theory of psychoanalysis: A study in the philosophy of psychoanalysis. Madison, CT: International Universities Press.

Grunbaum, A. 1994. Does psychoanalysis have a future? Doubtful. Harvard Mental Health Letter, 11(4): 3-6.

Leys, R. 1992. [Review of Freud evaluated.] Bulletin of the History of Medicine,66, 673-674.

Macmillan, M. B. 1974. The historical and scientific evaluation of psychoanalytic personality theory. Melbourne: Monash University Department of Psychology.

Macmillan, M. B. 1977. Freud's expectations and the childhood seduction theory. Australian Journal of Psychology, 29, 223-236.

O'Neil, W. M. 1953. Hypothetical terms and relations in psychological theorizing. British Journal of Psychology, 44, 211-220.

Scharnberg, M. 1993. The non-authentic nature of Freud's observations. 2 vols. Uppsala: University of Uppsala.

Spence, D. 1996. [Review of Freud evaluated.] International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, forthcoming.

Sulloway, F. J. 1979. Freud, biologist of the mind: Beyond the psychoanalytic legend. New York: Basic Books.

Sulloway, F. J. 1991. Reassessing Freud's case histories: The social construction of psychoanalysis. Isis, 82, 245- 275.

Sulloway, F. J. 1992. Freud, biologist of the mind: Beyond the psychoanalytic legend (Revised ed.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Webster, R. 1995. Why Freud was wrong: Sin, science, and psychoanalysis. New York: Basic Books.

Wilcocks, R. 1994. Maelzel's chess player: Sigmund Freud and the rhetoric of deceit. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Frederick Crews

Freud Evaluated: The Completed Arc by Malcolm Macmillan


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