Sigmund Freud is often hailed as the father of psychoanalytical theory. His theory was the first to point to the influence of early childhood experiences. However, psychoanalytical theory has received a lot of criticism. Although theories are supposed to be objective and value-free, they are developed within a sociocultural and political context. For example, with historical perspective, it is possible to see that values within the Western Victorian era influenced Freud as he developed his theory. Another criticism is that many psychoanalytical concepts cannot be measured. For example, how do you measure the id, ego, and superego or the notion of unconscious conflicts? As a result, it is difficult to test the accuracy of these concepts using social science research methods.
It is important to critically evaluate theories for their practical use. For example, is it appropriate to use a theory when working with diverse populations or with populations different from those with whom the theory was normed (e.g., women, racial and ethnic minority groups, those who are economically disadvantaged)? Finally, are the assumptions of theories consistent with the values underlying the field? In this Discussion, you respond to some of these concerns.
To prepare, read the following from the Learning Resources:
- Auld, F., Hyman, M., & Rudzinski, D. (2005). How is therapy with women different? In Resolution and inner conflict: An introduction to psychoanalytic therapy (pp. 217–236). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
- National Association of Social Workers. (2008). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English
- Summarize the assumptions of Freud’s psychoanalytical theory in 2 to 3 sentences.
- Explain whether you believe it is appropriate to apply psychoanalytic theory to women and individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups.
- Explain whether you believe psychoanalytic theory is consistent with social work values and social work ethics.