Many Myths Surround Teachings of Freud (continued)

cluded that "hysterical patients suffer chiefly from their reminiscences."

Freud and Breuer proposed the theory that the disappearance of the "reminiscences" produced by a painful experience depended "first and foremost...on whether an energetic reaction (discharge of feeling) supervened on the affective experience or not. By reaction we mean here the whole range of voluntary and involuntary reflexes, by which, according to experience, the affects are habitually worked off -- from weeping up to an actual act of revenge ... If the reaction is suppressed, the affect remains attached to the memory."

Freud did not like hypnosis and later discarded it when he found that patients simply lying quietly with their eyes closed could recall such incidents while fully conscious. Some remarkably rapid apparent cures were obtained with this technique; Freud soon noted that they were cures in the sense of relief of symptoms only, however, and that growth in self-understanding -- which he regarded as the best measure of true progress -- was slight. The tendency to form symptoms when new stresses occurred remained*.

Freud made two observations about this time which were to influence profoundly the future course of psychoanalysis. The first of these was the discovery that by simply having the patient "freely associate", without any attempt to control or censor his thoughts, material emerged that he and the patient could then anal-yze together. In such analyses, of course, the patient led the way, Freud offering suggestions for consideration which his remarkable insight and greater experience enabled him to make. The patient, of course, was always the judge as to whether or not to accept these "interpretations." Freud soon came to prefer this method as a way to "trap" what he called "the unconscious" into revealing itself. Symptoms could be relieved as quickly and self-understanding was more readily achieved.

The second discovery was the phenomenon of "resistance". By this, of course, Freud did not mean that the patient consciously "resisted" therapy. On the contrary, resistance is an entirely unconscious phenomenon. It takes the form of "not being able to think of anything", or "too many things happening all at once", or "wanting to do something else", or "arguing with the analyst" -- in short, by a host of ways of avoiding, which one of Freud's students, Sander Rado, later referred to as the "Black Panther Mechanism."

Freud's reasoning on this point was very potent. He saw that the unconscious forces producing the resistance must be the same forces producing the neurosis. Here, then, was the chance for making a direct attack on these forces, by observing their occurrence in the "resistance". Accordingly, psychoanalysis becomes largely a matter of "analyzing" the resistance -- of getting the patient by one means or another to look at the resistance objectively and bring these unconscious forces into awareness. In this way, not only could "forgotten" painful experiences be recalled, but also the forces which prevented the "normal: abreaction (or discharge) of these incidents could be understood.

Any reader can easily test these findings of Freud, if he desires*. The "basic rule" is simply to abandon all attempt to control consciously one's thoughts, and to report everything that comes up, no matter how trivial or "petty" to the friend acting as observer. It soon will be noted that there are many ideas, feelings, impulses, etc., for which the subject can give no ready explanation. This is because "the unconscious" (or, if one prefers, the "reactive mind",) is producing them. When one, either by himself or with the help of a friend, seeks to analyze these ideas, etc., resistance soon will be encountered.

(In the next article, Freud's ideas on sex will be presented briefly. The number of myths prevailing about what Freud said on this a topic is amazing.)

* It should be noted that in the course of more than 60 years, a considerable body of material -- such as case histories, detailed case studies, psychometric examinations, etc. -- "validating" psychoanalysis has accumulated all over the world, at such centers as the Psychoanalytic Institute in Chicago, for example. -- A.C.

Freud, incidentally, was quite familiar with the pre-natal area. Although he regarded pre-natal incidents as "fantasies of the womb", he never disclosed this to the patient, but dealt with them the same as those he considered "real"; for him, the "psychical reality" was what counted. -- A. C.