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The psychoanalytic school of psychiatry founded by Sigmund Freud.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a general designation for the various schools and trends that apply the psychological doctrine of S. Freud in explaining cultural phenomena, creative processes, and society as a whole. As a social, philosophical, and anthropological doctrine, Freudianism should be distinguished from psychoanalysis—a specific method for studying the unconscious psychic processes; Freud attributed universal significance to the principles of psychoanalysis, which led him to a psychologistic treatment of society and personality.

Freudianism, from its very inception, did not represent a unified whole; Freud himself regarded the unconscious as the simultaneous source of both creative and destructive tendencies, and this ambivalence led to interpretations of his doctrine that were different from and sometimes directly opposite to each other. The 20th century was barely into its second decade when disputes arose among Freud’s closest disciples as to what constitutes the psyche’s basic motivating factor: for Freud, it was the energy of unconscious psychosexual drives; in A. Adler’s individual psychology, on the other hand, the determining role is played by the inferiority complex and the striving for self-assertion; in C. G. Jung’s school of analytical psychology, the collective unconscious and its archetypes are the basic factors; while for O. Rank (Austria) all human activity is governed by the need to overcome the initial “trauma of birth.”

The growing appeal of Freudianism after World War I was linked to the general crisis in bourgeois society and culture as well as the crisis in several traditional schools of psychology. At the same time, various adherents of Freudianism were engaged in the attempt to formulate what Freud had failed to provide—namely, a philosophical and methodological groundwork for his doctrine; such attempts were based on a number of different philosophical and sociological theories. Of these various currents, one that was particularly influential in the USA was the biologis-tic trend, which inclined toward positivism and behaviorism and which was an important factor in the development of psychosomatic medicine; also included within this trend are the various attempts to align Freudianism with reflexology and cybernetics.

Another well-known trend is the school of “social Freudianism”; in its traditional form, it views cultural, social, and political phenomena as resulting from the sublimation of psychosexual energy and the transformation of those primary unconscious processes that in Freudianism constitute the foundation of the social and cultural sphere. Neo-Freudianism, which arose in the late 1930’s, seeks to convert Freudianism into a purely sociological and culturological doctrine, thereby breaking with the concept of the unconscious and the biological premises of Freud’s doctrine. Neo-Freudianism gained many adherents in the USA after World War II; the major exponents of the school are E. Fromm, K. Horney, and H. Sullivan.

Schools of thought that have emerged since the late 1940’s include the “existential analysis” of L. Binswanger (Switzerland) and the school of medical anthropology of V. Weizsäcker (Federal Republic of Germany), both of which were influenced by existentialism. R. Niebuhr and P. Tillich are examples of the characteristic attempt to make use of Freudianism on the part of Protestant theologians; the same is applicable to some of the Catholic theologians, such as J. Caruso (Austria) and the “left Catholics.” A specific reinterpretation of Freudianism, as reflected in the ideology of the “new left” movement of the 1960’s—for example, in H. Marcuse’s Eros and Civilization (1955)—had its roots in the ideas of W. Reich, a student of Freud’s and ideologist of what came to be known as the sexual revolution.

Freud’s influence has been especially marked in social psychology, ethnography (that is, American cultural anthropology, which is closely linked to neo-Freudianism), literary scholarship, and literary and arts criticism (for example, in the myth-ritual school). Similarly, the influence of Freudianism is reflected in the theory and practice of various modernistic schools of art, such as surrealism, which claims to extend the sphere of art by its appeal to the unconscious.


Voloshinov, V. N. Freidizm. Moscow-Leningrad, 1927.
Bassin, F. P. “Freidizm v svete sovremennykh nauchnykh diskussii.” Voprosy psikhologii, 1958, nos. 5 and 6.
Freud and the 20th Century. Cleveland, 1963.
Brown, J. A. C. Freud and Post-Freudians. Harmondsworth, England, 1967.
See also references under FREUD, PSYCHOANALYSIS, and NEOFREUDIANISM.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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