Monday, July 25, 2011

Freud, Fraud In Science

Stanford Edu has;

Post Fraud in Science (John Eipper, USA, 09/14/05 4:20 pm)

Nushin Namazi writes: A while ago, I brought to the attention of WAIS a book that used Freudian psychoanalytical theories to bash President Bush, who correctly called it "psychobabble." Many years ago, my own commonsense rejected Freud and his followers and saw his theories and methods as inherently inhumane and destructive to patients and their families.

Recently, I came across a book entitled: The Great Betrayal: Fraud in Science by Horace Freeland Judson, 2004. Judson examines cultural factors that promote fraud and observes that much fraud is structural, and that it arises in all sorts of institutional cultures that are characterized by secrecy, privilege, and lack of accountability. Significantly it arises in institutions and professions that claim to be self-governing and self-regulating, e.g. accounting fiascos. The sciences are another great institution that are claimed to be self-governing, self-correcting.

The author details some high profile cases of scientific fraud, among them not surprisingly Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis -"A small, recent set of charges dynamite the plinth beneath the heroic statue showing Freud as fraudster." The new finding? Freud's cases are bogus from start to finish. Misrepresenting cases and their outcomes began early. For the pregnant years 1887 to 1904, the essential source for Freud's activities are his letters to an intimate friend and colleague, Wilhelm Fliess, a physician in Berlin, in which he admitted to Fliess that he had treated 13 hysterical women, and not one successfully. Next came the appalling treatment of Emma Eckstein. Freud was deeply and weirdly influenced by Fleiss's theories. Fliess had developed a theory that associated the genitals with the nose, in such a way that disorders of the nose could cause psychosexual problems --nasal reflex neurosis" --which had to be treated by cauterizing and applying cocaine to the spongy bones of the nasal passages. Freud send Emma to Fliess who operated on her removing some bone. When Emma returned to Vienna, she developed a grave infection and a near-fatal hemorrhage. Freud diagnosed the cause: Emma was "bleeding for love" of him. Her life was saved when it was found that during surgery Fliess had left behind half a metre of gauze. She was permanently disfigured as a result of surgery. Next was the famous case of Dora, the hysterical young woman-which was the classical analysis of the structure and genesis of hysteria--so described by Erik Erkson, an eminent psychoanalytic practitioner and theorist. We now understand "Dora" as the classic case of gross malpractice! For more details of bizarre logic of psychoanalysis--see page 87 of the book.

The greatest triumph and cure Freud reported was the case of the Wolf man -- Sergie Pankeev, who was crippled with depression and anxiety and phobia about wolves from childhood. Freud settled upon the traumatic effects of the so-called primal scene, when an infant witnesses his parents copulating; the Oedipus complex and the fear of castration; and the tripartition of the mind into id, ego, and superego. As is general knowledge, Freud made castration anxiety and the Oedipus complex not merely the cause of neurosis but the indispensable, universal cause of the the formation of each individual's superego, and thus the crucial factor in the repression and control of primitive impulses -- and so in the preservation of civilization. Freud published the case in 1918 where he claimed to have cured Pankeev completely, freeing him of all of his fears and obsessions. This was a complete lie. Further, all those important memories from early childhood were not, in fact, offered by Pankeev but were imposed on him by Freud. The truth was that for nearly 70 years, Pankeev was in and out of analysis with Freud and his followes with his condition worsening, until his death. Pankeev was urged to keep silent and intermittently paid a pension. In 1970's, an Austrian journalist, Karin Obholzer, found him and interviewed him at length. Pankeev told her, in despair, "the whole thing looks like a catastrophe. I am in the same state as when I came to Freud, and Freud is no more." This raises the question: how many other poor vulnerable lives have been harmed by Freud's theories and his followers?

Here are some excerpts from the experts.

"Since the earliest days, critics had raised problems: the claims of the master to his method's validity as real science; the question of whether his model of the mind in mental illness, his many successive models and those of his epigones, interpreters, and anti-disciplines, ever bore any relation to reality; the essential circularity of reasoning, as in the counter attack to criticism that "your resistance demonstrates the truth of the method", the sordid gossip of his poisonous relations with his followers, complemented by the ideology-ridden, cult-like behavior of psychoanalysis in good standing; the helpless fascination with Freudian ideas in some schools of literary criticism -- right down to the pragmatic but not negligible question of whether the method produces cures. The 1980's and 1990's saw massive, cogent, systematic new attacks by even former believers and disciples who have since reversed their position."

Judson lists three important works: The first mounted by Adolf Grunbaum, a professor of philosophy and of research in psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. In The Foundations of Psychoanalysis: a Philosophical Critique, published in 1984, Grunbaum analyzed the epistemological basis of Freud's clinical theory and its variants, demonstrating that the theories cannot be shown to be true. In 1991, Malcolm Macmillan, then professor of psychology at Monash University in Australia, published an immense, meticulous labor of erudition, Freud Evaluated: The Completed Arc. Working patiently through the historical development of psychoanalysis, he scrutinized the methodological claims and practices of Freud and followers in 600 pages:

"Should we therefore conclude that psychoanalysis is a science? My evaluation shows that at none of the different stages through which it evolved could Freud's theory generate adequate explanations. From the very beginning, much of what passed as theory was description, and poor description at that. In every one of the later key developmental theses, Freud assumed what had to be explained."

Chief among the critics is Frank Sulloway, a former disciple, who has shown that every one of Freud's case histories is rendered worthless by gross fabrications and falsifications. Although in 1979 Sulloway had defended Freud, by the end of the 1980's he had repudiated that defense in journal articles and a new edition of his book. The handbook to these controversies is The Memory Wars: Freud's Legacy in Dispute by Frederick Crews that appeared in 1993 and 1994. Crews took down the entire Freudian enterprise, writing a meticulous review and showing that Freud had faked and fudged the evidence. Crews summed up: "Freud's theories of personality and neurosis--derived as they were from misleading precedents, vacuous pseudo-physical metaphors, and a long concatenation of mistaken inferences that could not be subjected to empirical review--amounted to castles in the air."

Given all of the above evidence, are educational institutions and psychiatry programs still teaching Freudian psychoanalysis? Is our healthcare system paying for it?

RH: I know only that Freudian psychoanalysis is the subject of hard arguments. Daryl DeBell would be the best person to comment on this, but I have not the faintest idea if he is Freudian or anti-Freudian. From his reply we hope to find out."

Thank You Stanford and Mr Eipper

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