Saturday, February 11, 2012

Freud's Work

I have been slowly reading a book I have wanted to read for many years, Passions of the Mind, by Irving Stone, a biographical novel about Sigmund Freud. Stone researched Freud, his meticulous notes and correspondences for five years, and it reads quite true. I am not yet halfway through, but I am where Freud has determined that the cause of some physical problems is neurosis, i.e. coming from the mind, and is successfully treating patients with talk as well as hypnosis. 

Life experiences can be neutral, good or bad, but they all affect us. Freud seems to be among the first to have linked emotions caused by negative experiences with abnormalities in the body. “Hysterics suffer mainly from reminiscences,” his friend Breuer agreed. To treat these patients he often used hypnosis. In essence, he talked the patient to a place of mental ease so the patient could tell what repressed fearful or conflicting thing happened. Then Freud would tell them they were no longer having that experience and they could let go of the memory. Within a few visits most were cured. When I was a new nurse, we used hypnosis, and it is remarkable. Today is a different story, and because hypnosis was and still often is maligned, misused and misunderstood, I don't know who would dare to use it therapeutically. And unfortunately psychiatry seems to have declined to the point that it is all about pharmaceuticals. Freud's bio reminds me that some wisely used hypnosis could be beneficial to many people.

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