Freud's Doctrine of Fear and Anxiety

Dissertation, University of Cincinnati (1994)

The goal of the dissertation is to critically assess Sigmund Freud's doctrine of anxiety. This is done in two stages. First, a foundation is put forth explaining key features of Freud's theory of mind. Freud's theory of the conscious system, the unconscious system, repression and the evidence to which he points to support this theory are discussed. Second, the foundation is applied to Freud's theory of anxiety. To sufficiently examine Freud's understanding of anxiety, it is necessary to explain his account of the concept of fear. Since the two emotions are similar, moving from the discussion of fear to Freud's account of anxiety is a relatively simple transition. Once these matters are in place, the causal relationship between anxiety and repression is examined. Originally, Freud thought that repression causes anxiety. But in Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety , Freud changes his thinking and claims that it is actually anxiety that causes repression. Based on Freud's general theory of mind, his doctrine of fear and his doctrine of anxiety, it is concluded that for Freud to be consistent with his overall theory of mind, he must adhere to his former view--that repression causes anxiety. Thus, it is argued, Freud was inconsistent to change his thinking on the subject--a change to which Freud adhered to the end of his life
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