July 25, 2007

Neurosis is “just a high-class word for whining.”

Said Albert Ellis, dead at age 93:
[He] challenged the deliberate, slow-moving methodology of Sigmund Freud, the prevailing psychotherapeutic treatment at the time.

Where the Freudians maintained that a painstaking exploration of childhood experience was critical to understanding neurosis and curing it, Dr. Ellis believed in short-term therapy that called on patients to focus on what was happening in their lives at the moment and to take immediate action to change their behavior....

In 1955, however, when Dr. Ellis introduced his approach, most of the psychological and psychiatric establishment scorned it. His critics said he misunderstood the nature and force of emotions. Classical Freudians also took offense at Dr. Ellis’s critical observations about psychoanalysis and its founder. Dr. Ellis contended that Freud “really knew very little about sex” and that his view of the Oedipus complex, as suggesting a universal law of human disturbance, was “foolish.”

ADDED: Glenn Reynolds links to this post saying:
ALBERT ELLIS HAS DIED. The InstaWife has always been a fan, particularly of his How to Make Yourself Happy and Remarkably Less Disturbable. We could use more of that in the blogosphere sometimes . . . .

Further thoughts from Ann Althouse.
Which struck me as a little weird, because what "further thoughts" have I got here? But then I went to the "InstaWife" post, which was written back in March, and it does refer at some length to a conversation she and I had on Bloggingheads and then, continuing, in written blogging. So I actually do have some "further thoughts" on Albert Ellis, back here in this March post of mine. Just in case you were inclined to curse me out for getting the cheapest Instapundit link ever! And, oddly enough, that March post begins with an exclamation about how convoluted the conversation had become.

22 comments:

PatCA said...

Freud was appropriate for his time, when everyone was tied up in knots with sexual denial. His theoretical construct has survived as a way to critique culture, but its relevance is kind of overblown, and grossly misunderstood.

Hopefully we are about to enter an era that rethinks personal agency and responsibility and affirms it again.

Jeff said...

So Albert Ellis and Giuliani agree.

AJD said...

Neurosis is “just a high-class word for whining.”

If you say so.

I have to allow that you are a true expert at whining. Or at least you're very experienced!

Meade said...

Projection, AJD. Look it up.

Mindsteps said...

Jeff said...
So Albert Ellis and Giuliani agree

Cool observation. On the surface at least, both Ellis and Giuliani seem to affect a tough, hardnosed, NYC kind of sensibility.

Ellis represented a significant and useful challenge to Freud, although I wonder if Ellis would have developed his ideas if Freud had not proposed his own constructs a half a century or so earlier.

In addition to some of Patca's remarks about Freud, I would add that Freud attempted to adopt the scientific and medical model of his time to psychological functioning. Moreover his work is important in that it intentionally created some separation from relgious and supernatural explanations of human psychological functioning.

Our society and media continue to struggle with scientific versus religious/supernatural notions of behavior. One of the areas of divergence I have with the likes of the Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity crowd is their tendency to impose supernatural explanations on malignant behavior.

Parker Smith said...

meade -

The new usage is "Google it".

AJD said...

Hey Meade! I wasn't whining, I was making an observation. Nice try, lame brain. But if you want to play look-up, checkout A##hole. You'll find it quite familiar.

blake said...

I'm sorry, AJD, the correct response to "Projection, look it up" is:

"No, YOU look it up!"

Meade said...

Blake, Good one.

Parker Smith, Afreud I'm old-school.

And AJD, I ran a Google® search on that word you suggested I, uh, "look-up." Low and behold, up came your phone number, address, social security number, and even a photo of you from high school wearing nothing but your underpants - looks like you're complaining or protesting in a childish fashion to your history teacher over your late homework assignment or something.

This Google® thing is amazing! Thanks, Park!

P. Rich said...

Psychological models attempt to explain observations, just like any other model. Theraputic applications which follow on the model can be evaluated only on the basis of results - positive change is effected within some acceptable timeframe at some acceptable cost. All else is blather, of which there never seems to be a desirable shortage.

Justin said...

AJD said...

"Neurosis is “just a high-class word for whining.”

If you say so.

I have to allow that you are a true expert at whining. Or at least you're very experienced!"

Who are you talking (writing) to? The author of that quote is dead.

Seven Machos said...

The lefties here only hurl insults because they care so much about the humanity. The righties are only cordial as a thin veneer over vile evil.

TMink said...

P. rich wrote: "All else is blather, of which there never seems to be a desirable shortage."

Ain't that the truth!

Trey

blake said...

Seven,

Aha. It all makes sense. Only by being rude can they demonstrate the genuineness of their philosophy.

Richard Jeni had my favorite discussion of the topic.

reader_iam said...

It's a shame that there's no YouTube link, or other easy and direct way, to share with you all William Clarke's "The Complainer's Boogie Woogie," to which I have been listening (specifically, a track from Alligator Records 25th Anniversary Collection).

Truly, don't you think it'd fit into the larger soundtrack?

Galvanized said...

It just seems that Ellis didn't care much about the cause of an irrational fear, but rather just that it were cured through extinguishing it by constant exposure to a possibly dreaded outcome, what was feared. Freud, on the other hand, was all about causality, believing that only in finding the root of the fear in past experience and redefining that experience would cure. In the InstaWife post, what Ellis meant was that to cure an irrational fear, one must be able to expose oneself to what he dreads and eventually become accepting rather than to fear a negative outcome. This more passive acceptance of a negative outcome (that was once the fear) gets confused with one not caring about what people think. Freud's theories, while right on in many ways and so very interesting, were for those who could afford to spend years in psychoanalysis. Ellis was, clearly, the everyday guy's "just do it" theorist.

Paddy O. said...

I have an article in the LA Times from 1925 about my great-great-great grandmother. She was featured because she was just about to turn 100 at the time and that was something then.

Work. That's the secret of being a centenarian, yesterday declared Mrs. Eliza McConnell 810 East Forty-fifth Street, who will celebrate her one hundredth birthday anniversary Monday. And when Mrs. McConnell says she means just that.

In the days when Cynthia, Indiana was a straggling frontier settlement, Mrs. McConnell and the other women would help the menfolk plow the field and clear the forest with axes, after the washing and household chores were finished. Mrs. McConnell was married and had nine children. When her husband was killed in the Civil War she was left alone to do the farm work and care for the children.

"Soft," Mrs. McConnell contemptuously refers to the present generation. hey can't compare with the boys and girls I knew. Imagine a flapper with seven children to support. The world is full of weaklings.

Mrs. McConnell laughed at the modern housewife who requires servants.

From Inwood said...

Is Blogging "just a high-tech word for whining"?

*jane said...

Paddy O., what a treasured bit of family history that article must be! And so telling of the history of the rest of us, our progress and slide--

My great Uncle was 18 when that piece was published, and was of that "flapper" generation, a bon vivant and yet a disciplined man who went on to become a journalist and Marine. I recently received an article on his 100th birthday, in which I learned he was one of the founders of Toys for Tots. Tragically, his only child was born with Downs, but he and his wife devoted a lot of time to raising awareness and improving the care of similarly afflicted children. Never did they complain, whine or exhibit self-pity. They were generous doers.

How many of us today would have the field-plowing mettle of your great-great-great grandmother and her generation? I've got to go pick grapes in the backyard and have been stalling and delaying by writing this comment...

Paddy O. said...

*jane, my own work ethic has definitely picked up since I read that article. I keep thinking Grandma McConnell is looking down at heaven at me and calling me names if I don't get back to work.

Paddy O. said...

also, I love the story of your great-uncle. A while back I had to do a family history and loved seeing the varied character of those who wandered West over the last couple of centuries.

Learning about family helps a person feel rooted, and I think goes a long way to cut down on the whining. We've a lot to live up to and need to get at it!

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