chapter 2 theories of Personality

chapter 2 theories of Personality - Early Influences on...

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Early Influences on Freud’s Theory Freud’s Visit with Charcot Jean-Martin Charcot demonstrating hypnotism. In 1885, Freud received a small grant that allowed him to study with the famous French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot (1825–1893) who was experimenting with hypnotism. At that time, Charcot was at the peak of his career and in French medicine was considered second in prominence to only Louis Pasteur. By endorsing the use of hypnotism, Charcot dramatically reversed the negative attitude toward the phenomenon held by members of the medical community since, in the 1770s, Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815) had claimed it resulted from the rearrangement of animal spirits within the body. After hypnotizing a patient, Charcot demonstrated that various types of paralyses could be created and removed artificially through the inducement of the hypnotist. Thus he demonstrated that physical symptoms could have a psychological origin as well as a physical or organic origin. Charcot was so impressed by the mind’s ability to create and remove physical symptoms that he wondered if his discovery could eventually explain faith healing (Sulloway, 1979, p. 30). 24 Charcot’s observations had clear implications for the treatment of hysteria. Hysteria is a term used to describe a wide variety of symptoms such as paralysis, loss of sensation, and disturbances of sight and speech. Originally, it was assumed that hysteria was exclusively a female disorder (hystera is the Greek word for uterus). Because it was often impossible to find anything organically wrong with hysteric patients, the medical community tended to view them as malingerers, and the physicians who agreed to treat them were typically discredited. Charcot’s research indicated that the physical symptoms of hysteric patients could be psychogenic, and therefore the disease must be taken seriously even if symptoms could not be explained in terms of organic dysfunction. Thus Charcot did much to make the treatment of hysteria respectable. Charcot also convincingly demonstrated that, contrary to what most physicians had believed, hysteria was not an exclusively female disorder. By showing the psychogenic nature of bodily symptoms, Charcot provided a new approach to studying hysteria, an ailment that had puzzled the medical community for centuries. Freud soon explored the implications of this approach. Freud was so impressed by Charcot that he named his first son, Jean-Martin, after him. Freud’s Visit with Bernheim After Freud returned from his visit with Charcot, he attempted to use hypnotism in his private practice but was only partially successful. In an effort to improve his skills as a hypnotist, Freud returned to France in 1889. This time, however, he visited Hippolyte Bernheim (1840–1919) in Nancy, France. Like Charcot and his colleagues, members of the “Nancy School” were experimenting with hypnosis as
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chapter 2 theories of Personality - Early Influences on...

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