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Psychoanalysis Quotes (20 quotes)

A layman will no doubt find it hard to understand how pathological disorders of the body and mind can be eliminated by 'mere' words. He will feel that he is being asked to believe in magic. And he will not be so very wrong, for the words which we use in our everyday speech are nothing other than watered-down magic. But we shall have to follow a roundabout path in order to explain how science sets about restoring to words a part at least of their former magical power.
Psychical (or Mental) Treatment (1905), In James Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (1953), Vol. 7, 283.

Being in love with the one parent and hating the other are among the essential constituents of the stock of psychical impulses which is formed at that time and which is of such importance in determining the symptoms of the later neurosis... This discovery is confirmed by a legend that has come down to us from classical antiquity: a legend whose profound and universal power to move can only be understood if the hypothesis I have put forward in regard to the psychology of children has an equally universal validity. What I have in mind is the legend of King Oedipus and Sophocles' drama which bears his name.
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), In James Strachey (ed.) The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (1953), Vol. 4, 260-1.
Science quotes on:  |  Parent (23)

Dream analysis stands or falls with [the hypothesis of the unconscious]. Without it the dream appears to be merely a freak of nature, a meaningless conglomerate of memory-fragments left over from the happenings of the day.
Carl Jung
Dream Analysis in its Practical Application (1930), 1-2.
Science quotes on:  |  Dream (39)  |  Memory (41)

Freud becomes one of the dramatis personae, in fact, as discoverer of the great and beautiful modern myth of psychoanalysis. By myth, I mean a poetic, dramatic expression of a hidden truth; and in placing this emphasis, I do not intend to put into question the scientific validity of psychoanalysis.
The White Hotel (1981,1993), vii.
Science quotes on:  |  Sigmund Freud (45)  |  Myth (24)  |  Truth (440)

Freud expressed the opinion—not quite in earnest, though, it seeemed to me—that philosophy was the most decent form of sublimation of repressed sexuality, nothing more. In response I put the question, 'What then is science, particularly psychoanalytic psychology?' Whereup on he, visible a bit surprised, answered evasively: 'At least psychology has a social purpose.'
Recollection by Binswanger of conversation during his third visit to Vienna to see Freud (17-18 May 1913), in Gerhard Fichtner (ed.) and Arnold J. Pomerans (trans.), The Sigmund Freud-Ludwig Binswanger Correspondence 1908-1938 (2003), 237.
Science quotes on:  |  Sigmund Freud (45)  |  Opinion (81)  |  Philosophy (128)  |  Psychology (67)  |  Purpose (62)  |  Science (850)  |  Sexuality (9)  |  Social (14)

In matters of sexuality we are at present, every one of us, ill or well, nothing but hypocrites.
Sexuality in the Aetiology of the Neuroses (1898), In James Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (1952), Vol. 3, 266.
Science quotes on:  |  Sexuality (9)

In the course of centuries the naïve self-love of men has had to submit to two major blows at the hands of science. The first was when they learnt that our earth was not the centre of the universe but only a tiny fragment of a cosmic system of scarcely imaginable vastness... the second blow fell when biological research destroyed man's supposedly privileged place in creation and proved his descent from the animal kingdom and his ineradicable animal nature… But human megalomania will have suffered its third and most wounding blow from the psychological research of the present time which seeks to prove to the ego that it is not even master in its own house, but must content itself with scanty information of what is going on unconsciously in its mind.
Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalyis (1916), in James Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (1963), Vol. 16, 284-5.

In view of the kind of matter we work with, it will never be possible to avoid little laboratory explosions.
Letter to Carl Jung, 18 Jun 1909. Quoted in William McGuire (ed.), The Freud-Jung Letters: The Correspondence between Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung (1974), 235.

Neurosis is the result of a conflict between the ego and its id, whereas psychosis is the analogous outcome of a similar disturbance in the relation between the ego and the external world.
Neurosis and Psychosis (1924), in James Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (1961), Vol. 19, 149.
Science quotes on:  |  Ego (5)  |  Neurosis (6)

Psychoanalysis makes quite simple people feel they're complex.
Spoken by character Harold Sigrift in the play Brief Moment, produced on Broadway 1932-33. In Terry Reed and Kenneth T. Reed, S. N. Behrman (1975), 129.

Sexuality is the key to the problem of the psychoneuroses and of the neuroses in general. No one who disdains the key will ever be able to unlock the door.
Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (1905), In James Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (1953), Vol. 7, 115.
Science quotes on:  |  Neurosis (6)  |  Sexuality (9)

The difficulties connected with my criterion of demarcation (D) are important, but must not be exaggerated. It is vague, since it is a methodological rule, and since the demarcation between science and nonscience is vague. But it is more than sharp enough to make a distinction between many physical theories on the one hand, and metaphysical theories, such as psychoanalysis, or Marxism (in its present form), on the other. This is, of course, one of my main theses; and nobody who has not understood it can be said to have understood my theory.
The situation with Marxism is, incidentally, very different from that with psychoanalysis. Marxism was once a scientific theory: it predicted that capitalism would lead to increasing misery and, through a more or less mild revolution, to socialism; it predicted that this would happen first in the technically highest developed countries; and it predicted that the technical evolution of the 'means of production' would lead to social, political, and ideological developments, rather than the other way round.
But the (so-called) socialist revolution came first in one of the technically backward countries. And instead of the means of production producing a new ideology, it was Lenin's and Stalin's ideology that Russia must push forward with its industrialization ('Socialism is dictatorship of the proletariat plus electrification') which promoted the new development of the means of production.
Thus one might say that Marxism was once a science, but one which was refuted by some of the facts which happened to clash with its predictions (I have here mentioned just a few of these facts).
However, Marxism is no longer a science; for it broke the methodological rule that we must accept falsification, and it immunized itself against the most blatant refutations of its predictions. Ever since then, it can be described only as nonscience—as a metaphysical dream, if you like, married to a cruel reality.
Psychoanalysis is a very different case. It is an interesting psychological metaphysics (and no doubt there is some truth in it, as there is so often in metaphysical ideas), but it never was a science. There may be lots of people who are Freudian or Adlerian cases: Freud himself was clearly a Freudian case, and Adler an Adlerian case. But what prevents their theories from being scientific in the sense here described is, very simply, that they do not exclude any physically possible human behaviour. Whatever anybody may do is, in principle, explicable in Freudian or Adlerian terms. (Adler's break with Freud was more Adlerian than Freudian, but Freud never looked on it as a refutation of his theory.)
The point is very clear. Neither Freud nor Adler excludes any particular person's acting in any particular way, whatever the outward circumstances. Whether a man sacrificed his life to rescue a drowning, child (a case of sublimation) or whether he murdered the child by drowning him (a case of repression) could not possibly be predicted or excluded by Freud's theory; the theory was compatible with everything that could happen—even without any special immunization treatment.
Thus while Marxism became non-scientific by its adoption of an immunizing strategy, psychoanalysis was immune to start with, and remained so. In contrast, most physical theories are pretty free of immunizing tactics and highly falsifiable to start with. As a rule, they exclude an infinity of conceivable possibilities.
'The Problem of Demarcation' (1974). Collected in David Miller (ed.) Popper Selections (1985), 127-128.
Science quotes on:  |  Alfred Adler (3)  |  Falsification (7)  |  Sigmund Freud (45)  |  Metaphysics (24)  |  Methodology (6)  |  Refutation (7)  |  Theory (346)  |  Truth (440)

The ego is not master in its own house.
From the History of an Infantile Neuroses (1918), in James Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (1955), Vol. 17, 143.
Science quotes on:  |  Ego (5)

The excremental is all too intimately and inseparably bound up with the sexual; the position of the genitals—inter urinas et faeces—remains the decisive and unchangeable factor. One might say here, varying a well-known saying of the great Napoleon: 'Anatomy is destiny'.
On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love (Contributions to the Psychology of Love) (1912), In James Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (1957), Vol 11, 189.

The great question that has never been answered and which I have not been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is 'What does a woman want?'
Freud once said to Marie Bonaparte.
Quoted in Ernest Jones (ed.), Sigmund Freud: Life and Work (1955), Vol. 2, 468.
Science quotes on:  |  Woman (33)

The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), In James Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (1953), Vol. 5, 608.
Science quotes on:  |  Mind (266)

The unconscious is the true psychical reality; in its innermost nature it is as much unknown to us as the reality of the external world, and it is as incompletely presented by the data of consciousness as is the external world by the communications of our sense organs.
The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), In James Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (1953), Vol. 5, 613.

We may lay it down that a happy person never phantasises, only an unsatisfied one... The motive forces of phantasies are unsatisfied wishes, and every single phantasy is the fulfilment of a wish, a correction of unsatisfying reality. These motivating wishes vary according to the sex, character and circumstances of the person who is having the phantasy; but they fall naturally into two main groups. They are either ambitious wishes, which serve to elevate the subject's personality; or they are erotic ones. It was shocking when Nietzsche said this, but today it is commonplace; our historical position—and no end to it is in sight—is that of having to philosophise without 'foundations'.
Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming (1906), In James Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychcological Works of Sigmund Freud (1959), Vol 9, 146-7.

You may take it as an instance of male injustice if I assert that envy and jealousy play an even greater part in the mental life of women than of men. It is not that I think these characteristics are absent in men or that I think they have no other roots in women than envy for the penis; but I am inclined to attribute their greater amount in women to this latter influence.
New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1933), in James Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (1964), Vol. 22, 125.
Science quotes on:  |  Sexuality (9)

[The child] takes his play very seriously and he expends large amounts of emotion on it. The opposite of play is not what is serious but what is real.
Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming (1906), In James Strachey (ed.), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychcological Works of Sigmund Freud (1959), Vol 9, 144.


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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