Sophie Freud: Psychoanalysis Not Useful

Judy Gerstel
The Toronto Star: REF: November 14, 2003

Thursday November 20, 2003

There was a time when psychoanalysis was very popular, but today it seems to have more detractors than supporters, especially in the scientific community. As it turns out, even Sigmund Freud's granddaughter Sophie doesn't think very highly of it anymore - according to her, his ideas are simply "outdated."

[Sophie Freud] dismisses most of her grandfather's theories as "outdated" and says that another psychiatrist, Irving Goffman, "had a much better grasp on human motivation than Freud." She also faults her grandfather for "being very angry about any critique and viewing people who criticized him, or thought otherwise, as villains." Freud and Hitler didn't just share a neighbourhood in Vienna, she says in the film. "They also shared the ambition to convince other men of the one and only truth that they had come upon." "Never could he be wrong," she says. "That lasted for 50 years after his death, until a few people started to dare to say, "Yes, but ..."
"The bad thing was that psychoanalysis kept itself apart from the scientific advances of time, stuck in a 19th-century way of thinking." Freud's status started to take a tumble in the 1960s when authority and established ideas were overturned, in particular those that he represented: institutionalized medicine, psychiatric treatment, patriarchy. "It started with his view of women," Sophie Freud says, explaining her disillusionment with her grandfather's thinking. "If you didn't have a vaginal orgasm, you were not a mature woman, and the clitoris didn't count. Stuff like that, penis envy, it was amazing. Women believed the great man more than their own bodily experiences."






* The Erving Goffman Archives (EGA) is the web-based, open-source project that serves as a clearing house for those interested in the dramaturgical tradition in sociology and biographical methods of research.  The EGA is located in the Intercyberlibrary of the UNLV Center of Democratic Culture,  
Postings on the website are divided into four partially overlapping sections: “Documents and Papers,” “Biographical Materials,” “Critical Assessments,” and “Comments and Dialogues.”  For inquiries regarding the EGA projects, please contact Dr. Dmitri Shalin,  When you cite the materials collected for the EGA, please use the following reference:  Bios Sociologicus: The Erving Goffman Archives, ed. by Dmitri N. Shalin (UNLV: CDC Publications, 2009).