Like most of the revolutionary thinkers of the early 1900s, Sigmund Freud is a well known household name. When most people hear of his name they automatically think of psychology without ever having previously read one of his writings. I was no exception to the rule. But when I finally did the selected readings from Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis, I discovered how much I didn't like Sigmund Freud's work. Sure it's easy to argue that without Freud's revolutionary ideas, that we most likely wouldn't have a better understanding of the human subconscious. The reading itself was easy to follow, but due to its dull nature it was torture to wade through. To be fair some parts of the reading were interesting, and those more interesting lectures are where my dislike of Freud's work developed. Unlike the arguments of other thinkers, Freud's positions lack ample support. Instead of finding myself even remotely convinced, I increasingly found myself critical of the reading.
In Lecture 20, The Sexual Life of Human Beings, Freud explains the nature of sexuality and how it reaches as far back as infanthood. In giving his lecture he starts off with perversions, infant pleasures, and childhood contemplation. In his childhood explanations of sexual life, I found too many exceptions in his work to find it completely believable. "As regards little girls, we can say of them that they feel greatly at a disadvantage owing to their lack of a big, visible penis." (394) Freud states that girls feel lacking in not owning a penis, and harbor a deep desire to be a man. As I mused over his statement a few thoughts came to mind. If a little girl never sees a penis until she reaches an older age, does this mean her progress in life is somehow flawed? Is harboring a wish to be a man somehow essential to healthy mental growth? Where do hormones such as estrogen and small amounts testosterone play a role? As I read though the rest of the chapter, I noticed that my questions remained unanswered. When Freud does go into depth, he for the most part skips elaboration on females and mainly sticks to males.
Freud in his work shattered many society taboos, and paved the way for open discussion regarding the human subconscious and animal desires. The reading was easy to follow, however he fails to convince me, the critical reader completely of his findings. As I read through his lectures there was always something left to desire. Especially when comparing female and male sexuality. He covers one completely, and barely mentions the other. For that reason I find myself more critical of Freud's work than accepting.
Return to Essays