Re: Freud's Darwinian struggle between ideas?

From: Francesca S. Alcorn (
Date: Tue 02 Mar 2004 - 21:10:14 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: "Ideas have a life of their own" (Origin of Quote?)"

    >In his _The Origin and Development of Psycho-Analysis_ (1910) Freud
    >talks about pathogenic memory traces from affectively toned experiences
    >being repressed into the unconscious. He uses an analogy of someone
    >disturbing him during a lecture and having guards (resistances) kick
    >this rude person out of the lecture room (a process he makes analogous
    >to repression). The lecture room is the conscious part of the psyche
    >where the area outside is the unconcious (a privative delineation of the
    >unconcious?). After this interesting analogy he goes on to talk about a
    >competition between mental complexes (memory traces) saying "we explain
    >it dynamically by the conflict of opposing mental forces, we recognize
    >in it the result of an active striving of each mental complex against
    >the other." Is this some sort of crude neural Darwinism?
    >I'm not buying into Freud's repression theory and I'm not sure if the
    >case he makes in _Civilization and Its Discontents_ about the permanence
    >of memories is valid. In the beginning of that book he argues for a
    >longetivity to memory-traces whereby they can, via regression, be
    >recalled much later. Are memories truly that permanent? Are they
    >actually discrete units (engrams or traces)? I'd also be worried about
    >false memories being "retrieved" during analysis.

    Dr. Lenore Terr is an expert on memory and trauma (most well know for her research with the chowchilla kidnapping victims). She wrote an excellent and very accessible book about memory which I highly recommend: "Unchained Memories". It's been years since I read it, but IIRC she suggests that memories are amalgamated sensory traces that can be triggered by similar sensory experiences in the present - like a smell that brings back a childhood memory. She talks about which senses are most likely to encode strong memories and trigger recovery of repressed memories. She also has a chapter devoted to false memories retrieved during analysis - which she attributes to unethical behavior on the part of the analyst.


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