Dreams and the unconsciouan introduction to the study of psychoanalysis
|Dreams and the unconsciouan|
The new psychology of the unconscious, associated chiefly with the work of Freud, has suffered the fate of many new movements of thought. On the one hand it has raised a loud outcry on the part of some of those, not always well-informed, to whom its doctrines seem in- credibly strange and unpleasant.
On the other hand, it has been pushed to an extreme by some of its supporters, and its suppositions have been asserted as though they were proved facts ; sweeping generalisations have been made pre- maturely, for example, in reference to the influence of sex on mental life. In this book, which has grown from lectures on the psychology of the unconscious, delivered (1918-1920) before the Socratic Society at Birming-ham University, the Education Society of the University of Leeds, and elsewhere,
I have tried to give as clear an exposition as is possible, in a short space, of such a complex matter as the new psychology," and to indicate what is fairly well-established and what is still speculative theory or hasty generalisation. I have also particularly tried to bring the main doctrines into line with " orthodox " psychology, and to show^ iiow they may be regarded as un-familiar examples of recognised fundamental laws of the mind ; that, indeed, so far as the new psych- ology can be counted true, it is not entirely " new." In this way I hope to make the new psychology, so far as it seems valid, more comprehensible to the student of orthodox psychology, and to lessen the objection to it based merely upon mistaken a priori grounds.
For it should be judged upon evidence, and not upon misconceptions as to its inconsistency with a generally accepted psychology. I have not confined myself to an examination and discussion of the work of Freud and Jung, but I have given almost as much attention to a group of psychologists in this country, whom, for the sake of brevity, I have called the neo- Freudians, most of whom are also medical men, and who, while rejecting some of Freud's doctrines, have been greatly influenced by certain of his main ideas.
Just at present there is an outcry about the dangers of psycho-analytic thought and practice in the hands of quacks. Some of the dangers are indicated in this book. They will be lessened, in the writer's judgment, by a more critical treatment of the subject and by a more widespread understanding of the instability of mental processes under the influence of the unconscious, and of the possible unintentional effects of suggestion under inexpert handling.
I wish here to make it quite clear that the practical application of the methods of psycho- analysis to cases of nervous diseases is a matter with which the amateur should certainly not meddle. The physician trained in general medicine and in psychology is the proper person, or there may be collaboration between medical man and trained psychological investigator.
In many cases of nervous disease, possibly in ally there is some physical element involved, and medical skill is required for this,* though it must not be supposed that the ordinary medical training is adequate for dealing with psychological matters. It is obvious that where there is a physical factor involved, an attempt to deal with the trouble on purely psychological lines will result in neglect of treatment which may be essential to recovery, and grave consequences may ensue.
Nor, as Freud suggests, can the psychologist always be relied upon to know when it is necessary to consult a medical man. On the other hand, incompetent psychological treatment, whether by medical man or layman, may also cause more evil than it cures.
For one thing, the power of suggestion, often so helpful in a mental case, may also be a hindrance, leading to the imagination of troubles and ills which do not exist, or to the exaggeration of the importance of those which do.
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Author:harles Wilfred Valentine
Publication date: 1922
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