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Unformatted text preview: Psychological Bulletin 1998, V ol. 124, N o. 3, 3 3 3 -3 7 1 C opyright 1998 by the A m erican Psychological A ssociation, Inc. 0033-2909/98/53.00 The Scientific Legacy of Sigm und Freud: Toward a Psychodynam ically Inform ed Psychological Science D rew W esten Harvard Medical School and The Cambridge Hospital/Cambridge Health Alliance Although commentators periodically declare that Freud is dead, his repeated burials lie on shaky grounds. Critics typically attack an archaic version of psychodynamic theory that most clinicians similarly consider obsolete. Central to contemporary psychodynamic theory is a series of propositions about (a) unconscious cognitive, affective, and motivational processes; (b) ambivalence and the tendency for affective and motivational dynamics to operate in parallel and produce compromise solutions; (c) the origins of many personality and social dispositions in childhood; (d) mental representations of the self, others, and relationships; and (e) developmental dynamics. An enormous body of research in cognitive, social, developmental, and personality psychology now supports many of these propositions. Freud's scientific legacy has implications for a wide range of domains in psychology, such as integration of affective and motivational constraints into connectionist models in cognitive science. Freud, like Elvis, has been dead for a number of years but continues to be cited with some regularity. Although the majority of clinicians report that they rely to some degree upon psychody- namic 1 principles in their work (Pope, Tabachnick, & Keith- Spiegel, 1987), most researchers consider psychodynamic ideas to be at worst absurd and obsolete and at best irrelevant or of little scientific interest. In the lead article of a recent edition of Psychological Science, Crews (1996) arrived at a conclusion shared by many: " [T ]here is literally nothing to be said, scien- tifically or therapeutically, to the advantage of the entire Freudian system or any of its component dogm as" (p. 63). Despite the explosion of empirical studies of unconscious cognitive processes (see, e.g., Greenwald, 1992; Kihlstrom, 1987; Schacter, 1992), few reference Freud; none cite any con- temporary psychodynamic work; and in general, psychodynamic concepts are decreasingly represented in the major psychology journals (Robins & Craik, 1994). The situation is similar in the popular media and in broader intellectual discourse. Publica- tions ranging from Time to the New York Review of Books periodically publish Freud's intellectual obituary, with critics charging that Freud's ideas such as his dual-instinct theory or his hypotheses about female personality development are seriously out of date and without scientific merit (e.g., Crews, 1993)....
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This note was uploaded on 06/01/2011 for the course PSYCH 3250 taught by Professor Segal, h during the Spring '08 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).
- Spring '08
- SEGAL, H
- The Land