On the one hand, it would be hard to deny that Freud was one of the towering intellectual figures of the 20th Century. Arguably, he single handedly changed the way we think about ourselves once and for all. To be sure, he wasn’t the first to think about the idea of unconscious beliefs and desires. That idea goes back over two thousand years ago to Epicurus. Unlike Epicurus, Freud developed detailed, putatively scientific hypotheses about the exact workings of the unconscious mind. And those theories basically ruled the roost for several decades more or less unchallenged.
What is it
Did you really want to eat that last piece of cake, or were you secretly thinking about your mother? Sigmund Freud, who might have suggested the latter, established the unconscious mind as a legitimate domain for scientific research. He was the first to seriously study dreams and slips of the tongue, and he proposed that neurotic behavior could be explained by beliefs and desires that we repress. However, many of Freud’s theories have been rejected as unscientific, and his particular brand of psychoanalysis is all but obsolete. So why is Freud still worth remembering? John and Ken get Oedipal with Stanford historian Paul Robinson, author of Freud and His Critics.