Theories of Personality 9th Edition

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Chapter 2 Freud: Psychoanalysis 63

read: “Do not think about it, even for a fleeting moment, not even for a second,
and do whatever it takes to keep that thought out of your mind. Then, go to bed.”
The control group were also told to begin by focusing their mind on the intrusive
thought, and then told to think about whatever they wanted for five minutes prior
to sleep. Results replicated previous studies on dream rebound: those who sup-
pressed had increased dreaming about the target thoughts, compared to those who
did not suppress. Furthermore, the suppressors also had higher dream distress (the
dreams were “bad dreams” or nightmares), and this effect lasted over the week-
long period of the study.
Other studies show that exposure to nightmare content and imaginary modi-
fication of bad dream storylines reduces nightmares (Hansen et al., 2013). Consistent
with Freud’s theorizing, then, and particularly relevant to nightmares, this line of
research suggests that concentrating on and then actively avoiding or trying to sup-
press negative thoughts lends itself to rebound in dreams, which are likely to take
on a distressing and even recurring quality. These researchers suggest that relaxing
and letting go of thought suppression is one way to reduce the occurrence of night-
mares. This certainly supports the psychoanalytic tool of dream analysis as an
anxiety-reduction technique. The benefits of talking about one’s dreams may have
little to do with the specific content (latent or manifest), but rather with simply
speaking aloud distressing cognitions and therefore letting go of the active thought
suppression that may be fueling the dream rebound in the first place.

Critique of Freud

In criticizing Freud, we must first ask two questions: (1) Did Freud understand
women, gender, and sexuality? (2) Was Freud a scientist?

Did Freud Understand Women, Gender, and Sexuality?

A frequent criticism of Freud is that he did not understand women and that his
theory of personality was strongly oriented toward men. There is a large measure
of truth to this criticism, and Freud acknowledged that he lacked a complete under-
standing of the female psyche.
Why didn’t Freud have a better understanding of the feminine psyche? One
answer is that he was a product of his times, and society was dominated by men
during those times. In 19th-century Austria, women were second-class citizens, with
few rights or privileges. They had little opportunity to enter a profession or to be
a member of a professional organization—such as Freud’s Wednesday Psycho-
logical Society.
Thus, during the first quarter century of psychoanalysis, the movement was
an all-men’s club. After World War I, women gradually became attracted to psy-
choanalysis and some of these women, such as Marie Bonaparte, Ruth Mack
Brunswick, Helene Deutsch, Melanie Klein, Lou Andreas-Salomé, and Anna
Freud, were able to exercise some influence on Freud. However, they were never
able to convince him that similarities between the genders outweighed differences.
Freud himself was a proper bourgeois Viennese gentleman whose sexual
attitudes were fashioned during a time when women were expected to nurture their

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