Freud isn't scientific

Issue section: 

Sabby Sagall’s article and Maggie Palmer’s and Iain Ferguson’s letters (September SR) all say that Susan Rosenthal is wrong to completely reject Freud’s ideas.

Most of Freud’s ideas are so ridiculous that they would be funny, if they hadn’t led so many people astray, often with tragic consequences.

For example, Stephen Jay Gould showed that millions of women suffered frustration and misery because they were persuaded to accept Freud’s claim that their sexuality was dysfunctional if they did not achieve a “vaginal orgasm” as opposed to a supposedly “infantile” clitoral orgasm.

But underlying all the specific things wrong with Freudianism is the fundamental problem that it is totally unscientific. Darwinism and Marxism are scientific theories because they can be tested against the real world. This does not apply to Freud’s ideas, which are untestable assertions.

Freud was an expert at imposing his own ideas onto vulnerable patients and thousands of psychotherapists have followed in his footsteps.

It is certainly true that capitalism screws up people’s minds as well as their lives. But Freudian (or post-Freudian) pseudoscience does not help us to understand this process.

Phil Webster, Lancashire