Freud's theories led to useful developments

Issue section: 

I read with interest Susan Rosenthal's article “What’s wrong with Sigmund Freud?” (July/August SR), however, I disagree with her conclusion that all Freud’s ideas need to be rejected by Marxists.

Discussion of sexual abuse, and society’s reaction to it, is especially pertinent at this time.

The current abuse inquiries reveal the importance of survivors being believed and heard in society and how the establishment can seek to cover up the sexual abuse of children.

Freud set out to develop a science of the mind through psychoanalysis.

Freud’s seduction theory regarding trauma having resulted from sexual abuse created a furore in Victorian society which led him to disbelieve that his patients had suffered abuse.

Freud’s theory then shifted from a focus on external factors creating trauma to a sole focus on internal psychological factors.

He conceptualised in a rather mechanistic fashion about a sexual drive versus the death drive.

However, later writers have developed psychoanalytic concepts regarding the Oedipus complex, the unconscious, the ego, id and superego.

Later object relations theory further explored psychological mechanisms of projection, introjection, projective identification, and transference.

However, I would argue that our internal world also needs to be understood as situated within the external world and social relationships.

We need an integrated approach to the human mind which places us as human beings in our social context.

We need to understand how we are formed and form ourselves in a dialectical way through the family, social institutions, and the interaction between our psychology, external events, attachment relationships, and our genetic inheritance.

Maggie Palmer
South London