Freud; on science and being scientific

There are many critics on Freudian psychoanalysis. One of the major critics was made by Popper. He claimed that Psychoanalysis is pseudo-science because of the lack of fasifiability in psychoanalytic theory. This post is not about providing a reply to Popper’s critics but it is about how Freud looks at ‘being scientific’.

In my point of view it may be true if we say that Psychoanalysis is not scientific but I think it is an effort through ‘being scientific’. It should be reminded that we shall not look at science as an ideology and it is not a wise manner if we totally abandon what we don’t perceive as science.

An idea or theory that at present time is not scientific may become scientific one day.

A theory / approach or study which we may perceive it as science at present time may be considered as non-scientific with future coming standards.

And Now what Freud says about being scientific:

We have often heard it maintained that sciences should be built up on clear and sharply defined basic concepts. In actual fact no science, not even the most exact, begins with such definitions. The true beginning of scientific activity consists rather in describing phenomena and then in proceeding to group, classify and correlate them. Even at the stage of description it is not possible to avoid applying certain abstract ideas to the material in hand, ideas derived from somewhere or other but certainly not from the new observations alone. Such ideas which will later become the basic concepts of the science are still more indispensable as the material is further worked over. They must at first necessarily possess some degree of indefiniteness; there can be no question of any clear delimitation of their content. So long as they remain in this condition, we come to an understanding about their meaning by making repeated references to the material of observation from which they appear to have been derived, but upon which, in fact, they have been imposed. Thus, strictly speaking, they are in the nature of conventions – although everything depends on their not being arbitrarily chosen but determined by their having significant relations to the empirical material, relations that we seem to sense before we can clearly recognize and demonstrate them. It is only after more thorough investigation of the field of observation that we are able to formulate its basic scientific concepts with increased precision, and progressively so to modify them that they become serviceable and consistent over a wide area. Then, indeed, the time may have come to confine them in definitions. The advance of knowledge, however, does not tolerate any rigidity even in definitions. Physics furnishes an excellent illustration of the way in which even ‘basic concepts’ that have been established in the form of definitions are constantly being altered in their content.

–  Instincts And Their Vicissitudes (1915)


Again about ‘sexuality’

Sexuality and its energy (libido) could be found in different forms and different intensities. It is not all about genitals, but it also could be found in art.

In a previous posts I mentioned that Autism is connected to sexuality in an indirect form. Then I tried to explain what sexuality means. I think it was not a complete explanation and it was a bit confusing for some readers. Thus I decided to explain more about it.

Freud was the first one who argued about the important role of sexuality in functioning of human mental system. He tried to explain his new theory about sexuality in his book “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality” (1905). Freud argued that popular opinion about sex (in science and in society) “gives a very false picture of the true situation.”

Nowadays a part of this “false picture” which Freud talks about is still remained. Freud stated that sexual activity of human doesn’t start in puberty (despite common beliefs) but it could be found in infancy. He mentions about “thumb sucking” as an example of sexual activity during infancy. Everybody can observe it in children. At that time Freud’s view about thumb sucking in infants had been repudiated by numbers of pediatricians and nerve-specialists. Freud replied to those critics:

“This is no doubt partly due to a confusion between ‘sexual’ and ‘genital’.”

The important point is here; we should consider that the ‘sexual’ matters don’t need involvement of ‘genitals’. Sexuality could be found in different forms or with different intensities.

There is an assumption in psychoanalysis, that there is a huge source of sexual instincts in our mental system. It simply could be characterized by seeking pleasure. An infant tries to acquire pleasure by thumb sucking. It is a general attitude in psychoanalysis that human mind system has a pleasure-seeking nature and it is what we call as sexual.

Freud called the source of instincts as Id. But this restless, wild source of instincts in real life confronts with many restrictions and limitations. It couldn’t acquire pleasure every time it wants and seeks. Freud says that Id works under the ‘pleasure principle’ but our mind system faces with ‘reality principle’ also. Mind system lives under the conflicts of these two principles. Mind system then – by ego – tries to regulate the relation of Id and outer world and to reduce conflicts. (In a post I informed a simple model for Id, Ego, and Superego.)

One of the functions of Ego is to change libido into other forms which are acceptable for the outer world. It Changes the face of libido and then let it out.

Freud in his book also mentions about sexual development stages of human. But apart from these sexual stages, he also mentions about the mechanism of “sublimation”. It means turning sexual energy (libido) into forms with higher values. These higher values are art, helping others or even sacrifice for society or family, physical activities, etc. It is a phase change in the state of sexual drive in which it transforms to different activities which most of them are productive and useful for society and gains many appreciations. You can find that these higher values give a sense of pleasure and satisfaction to the performer.

So the conclusions:

Sexuality is not only about puberty BUT it could be found in infants also.

Sexuality is not related only to genitals, IT has many forms and will be felt with different intensities.

Sexuality is not only explained by sexual acts (such as intercourse, etc.) BUT it should be explained by its pleasure-seeking nature.

Freud’s voice

Surprisingly, It is Freud’s voice


From the BBC archives, a recording of the voice of Sigmund Freud:

From Karnacology, here is a transcript:

“I started my professional activity as a neurologist trying to bring relief to my neurotic patients. Under the influence of an older friend and by my own efforts, I discovered some important new facts about the unconscious in psychic life, the role of instinctual urges, and so on. Out of these findings grew a new science, psychoanalysis, a part of psychology, and a new method of treatment of the neuroses. I had to pay heavily for this bit of good luck. People did not believe in my facts and thought my theories unsavory. Resistance was strong and unrelenting. In the end I succeeded in acquiring pupils and building up an International Psychoanalytic Association. But the struggle is not yet over.” –Sigmund Freud.

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Social Behavior: An Evolutionary Dilemma

It is an idea that I truly believe in it. I also think social behavior is of evolution of our mind system through formation of civilization. This evolution has a great connection with autism. Finding the idea of similarity between ancestral human and aspergers here in this blog surprised me. The idea is wise and I think the blogger is genius. thanks her for letting me to share it.

Asperger: The HypoSocial Human

A conceptual mistake: That early Wild Humans displayed modern social behavior.

Oh sure! Nomadic hunter gatherers wore suits and ties and held business meetings. Nomadic hunter gatherers paid taxes. Nomadic hunter gatherers had electricity, power tools and built 3-car garages to house their “toys.” Nomadic hunter gatherers texted their friends every minute of every day. Nomadic hunter gatherers were crammed together in movie theaters, schools, sports stadiums and high-rise apartment buildings and pushed carts loaded with junk food around the grocery. Nomadic hunter gatherers had hundreds of thousands of written laws, law courts and prisons. Hunter gatherers gathered millions of men together, formed armies, navies and air forces and fought World Wars. Hunter gatherers built Mega-Churches and asked Jesus to find them mates. Need I say more?

At this point, we’ve established that modern social humans, their word-based magical thought process, and juvenile behavior and appearance, and severely unequal social hierarchy, can be traced back a mere 10,000…

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Autism and asexuality

It seems that some studies show that most people with high functioning autism are asexual, but I think it shall be interpreted differently.

I searched for the meaning of “asexual” in my dictionary. It is very important how we define “asexual”.

In one dictionary it is said that asexual means: “a person who lacks interest in or desire for sex.”

In a website it is written that “Asexuality refers to a lack of an inherent desire to have sex.”. (I bring it here because it seems that it is a part of common understanding.)

If we talk about people with autism and we want to mention asexuality the second definition is definitely wrong. The first definition I think could be modified to : “a person who seems that he/she lacks interest in or desire for sex.”

The inherent sexual drive and instincts of an individual with autism for sex is the same as other people. They have inherent sexual desire like any human being. But what is difference when it seems that they are with lack of interest or they don’t have desire for sex? It is because their mind system avoids arousal situations. I can’t call it suppression, but it is very the same as it. Mind system of people with autism just avoid arousal in many ways and it is to protect them for confronting with painful condition. It is inhibitions and restrictions enforced by mind system on sexual arousal. It is like a withdrawal in wars, one side withdraws, give its lands to other part to stay safe.


PS1: Something that I called as an state of withdrawal is the same as the term “regression” in Freudian psychoanalysis.

PS2: After some comments I noticed that there is a misunderstanding about my post. I’m not talking about the phenomenon of ‘Asexuality’ and ‘Asexuals’. I’ve not noticed that it is a category of people with asexual orientation. This post is about people with autism and a characteristic found in some of them in which they are not attracted / or not engaged in sexual activities.  It is not about ‘asexual’ people.

The Id, Ego and Super ego; a way to define “sexual”

In one of previous posts I noted that autism may be sexual but not directly. The phenomenon of “Sexual” is ambiguous. Although it is defined in many of books and dictionaries, but I think there are more about sex and “sexual” to say.
Matt Ridley in his book “The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature” mentions that most aspects of human nature could not be considered apart from sex. In this view evolution of mankind is mostly through sexual selection. I’m not a biologist to define “sexual” in this way but I try to define the term with the help of Freudian psychoanalysis. For this I should define Freud’s structural model of mind (the way I understand it of course).

Freud says that our mental apparatus is consisted of 3 parts:
The Id; “that contains a human’s basic, instinctual drives”
The ego; “it seeks to please the id’s drive in realistic ways”
The superego; “reflects the internalization of cultural rules”

To define these 3 parts I should define it through an example. Consider that there is a river (the Id) in wild nature. It has a great force and energy. It goes everywhere possible for him, without no rule or order and it may flood and destroy everything in front of it. It is the wild id, but mankind should control the river and domesticate it because he wants to live in safe.

To solve the problem human eventually tries to make a dam (the ego) on it. By a dam its overflow and flood in destructive ways will be controlled. But it is not the only use of the dam. The dam could make many benefits for the society. It could make electricity (by turbines), could provide water for agriculture or other uses in systematic ways, etc. and it regulates the life of people in downstream of the river. The dam is productive also.

When human improved he found that the dam itself needs to be controlled. Sometimes we shall turn off the turbines, sometimes we need to open the safety gate, etc. So we invent a control system (the super ego). It has a nonstop control over the dam to not allow any dysfunctioning. The dam should not allow the water to pass unless the control system allows. On control room every time you can see “error” and “warning” on monitor. It orders everyone:
“Error no 782; shame on you.” “Warning; you are destroying everything” “Turbine no 3; shut up”
“Safety gate; you can open it now. Enjoy it.”

Let’s come back to our story of “sexual”. The id (river) is the source of instincts and desire and we guess most of it is sexual contents. It means that it is full of energy seeking pleasure. But the ego (dam) controls it. It changes the form of wild sexual drive to useful productive forms of energy. But it is only transforming from a kind of energy to other forms of energy. The nature of it will never change and the nature of the sexual drive during this displacement (or “sublimation”) remains fixed.

I think many of things which come out from us (including our behavior) could be considered as sexual in their nature. Its energy comes from sexual drive. When I say autism could be sexual, it means that, in its nature, it is related to energy of sexual drive. It is apparently linked to our feeling of pleasure which I try to explain it in another post.

Autism; what’s beneath the surface?

According to my knowledge, ASD mainly is defined based on the what is appeared from outside. They have been evaluated with their deviations from outer “normal” life. It is said that they could not communicate, have poor pair bonding, have repetitive behavior , etc. All of these definitions are made by and outside observation.

I think an important question is how these people with autism feel and look at the world. I don’t know if one had replied to it and I couldn’t find any source telling me about their internal world. Actually this knowledge is only achievable through a wise and careful psycho + analysis. analysis is important. For this we shall go beneath the surface. deeply.

In a previous post I told that there is a very strong border between the world of people with ASD and others. They are judged and defined from an outer look. Also they are not able to effectively show their world to others. there are two planet with creatures with different languages. This gap could be reduces by applying a wise psycho analysis. Then finding cure and solution would be easier.

P.S.1: I talked about wise psycho analysis. psycho analysis is not talk therapy (as it is misunderstood today). It is a deep analysis of mind. Freudian psycho analysis nowadays is consider as out dated + non scientific approach, but It is very soon to put it aside.

P.S.2: In a previous post I talked about an state of mind as “unbearable lightness” as an state of feeling which people with autism feel often. This could be touched through analysis by people with high functioning autism. This state is very escapee and transient in our conscious mind but its role is very effective for function of mind system.