Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire – Book Review

Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire

Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire – Hans Eysenck

Hans Eysenck was one of the best-known research psychologists of the twentieth century. Respected as a prolific author, he was unafraid to address controversial topics. In Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire, he places himself at the center of the debate on psychoanalytic theory, challenging the state of Freudian theory and modern-day psychoanalytic practice and questioning the premises on which psychoanalysis is based. In so doing, Eysenck illustrates the shortcomings of both psychoanalysis as a method of curing neurotic and psychotic behaviors, and of the theory of dreams and their interpretation. (From Amazon book description).

By Hans J. Eysenck. Preface by Sybil B. G. Eysenck. Publisher: Transaction Publishers. Revised edition: 2002 (first edition 1985).

Professor Eysenck examines Freudian psychoanalysis and argues it is unscientific and has no empirical basis. The case studies Freud himself used to justify his theories actually discredit them. Every time psychoanalysis has been subject to rigorous scientific testing it has failed.  Paradoxically, he calls Freud a genius, but this claim is not meant in a complimentary fashion:

 

a genius, not of science, but of propaganda, not of rigorous proof, but of persuasion, not of the design of experiments, but of literary art.

Freud and psychoanalysis must be regarded as a failure… This legacy has had many extremely bad consequences for psychiatry and psychology… [such as] the effect on the patients. Their hopes of cure and rescue have been dashed time and time again, and in some cases they have actually been made worse by psychoanalysis… the failure of psychology and psychiatry to develop into properly scientific studies of normal and abnormal behavior. It is probably true to say that Freud has set back the study of these disciplines by something like fifty years or more… Freud’s teachings have undermined the values on which western civilization is based… his influence on the whole has been malignant.

 

In a powerful, carefully reasoned polemic, Eysenck demolishes the entire edifice on which Freudian theory stands.

The book can be viewed and purchased on Amazon here.

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