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Title: Psychoanalysis and early education : a study of the educational ideas of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), Anna Freud (1895-1982), Melanie Klein (1882-1960), and Susan Isaacs (1885-1948)
Author: McEnroe, Francis John
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 1986
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This thesis is a study of the educational ideas of four major psychoanalysts who have had a profound and acknowledged influence on the theory and practice of early education in Great Britain - Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), Anna Freud (1895-1982), Melanie Klein (1882-1960), and Susan Isaacs (1885-1948). The selection, it must be emphasised, is not arbitrary: Freud and his daughter, Anna, represent the 'orthodox' or mainstream school of psychoanalysis, while Melanie Klein and her followers, of whom Susan Isaacs was the most outstanding English educator, represent a schismatic but influential grouping which has remained controversial ever since. It is important to emphasise, too, that the thesis is not another critique of psychoanalytic theory but, rather, concerns itself with two questions: (1) What is the educational essence of psychoanalysis? And (2) does this essence or core propose a unique, liberating pedagogy as believed and practised by many radical educators of the twentieth century, like Percy Nunn (1870-1944), Homer Lane (1876-1925), Alexander S. Neill (1884-1973), and Dora Russell (1894-1986). In order to achieve some kind of -historical perspective, the Introduction looks at the intellectual roots of Freud's work and sets it against two allied phenomena - the evolutionary theory of Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), and the redefinition of psychology as a mental science. As a result of this perspective it becomes evident that, despite Freud's claims to total originality, most of his central concepts and conceptualisations are to be found in the writings of Darwin, Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776-1841), Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801-1887) and Ernst Wilhelm von Brücke (1819- 1892). Moreover, Freudian theory has endorsed, amplified and propagated three beliefs which were unassailable stanchions of the scientific community in the early decades of the twentieth century, and whose impact proved very important for twentieth century educational theory - (1) a belief in fixed intelligence: (2) a belief in genetic predeterminism; and (3) a belief that all behaviour is motivated by instincts or by painful stimuli. What is the educational core of psychoanalysis? The lynch-pin of Freudian theory is the belief - which Freud expressed as early as the 1890s to his friend Wilhelm Fliess (1858-1928) - that the aetiology of neurosis is always to be found in the repression of infant sexuality. The subsequent attempts of psychoanalysts to elucidate the implications of this belief involve four things: (1) a recognition of the crucial importance of the early years of childhood; (2) a recognition of the supreme importance of interpersonal relationships; (3) a theory of psychosexual development; and (4) a theory of repression. The works of the four writers I have studied reflect these four aspects of psychoanalysis, but there is an important shift of emphasis from one analyst to another and from one aspect to another. For example, although the four subscribed to the belief that the early years of childhood are the crucial determinants of the whole course of human development, there is no unanimity with regard to the specific period in question. What years are crucial? Where Freud and Anna emphasised the first few years of 1if e, Klein and her followers finally limited the period to the first few months. With interpersonal relationships, too, there is a change of emphasis. All of them believed that our relationships, past, present and future are formed from the imagos of our parents, siblings and others who cared for us during the early, critical years. But, whereas for-Treud, the father-imago was of paramount importance, the younger generation of analysts, including Anna Freud, Melanie Klein and Susan Isaacs, bestowed on the mother-child relationship an importance unparalleled in educational literature. With the change of emphasis, the father became a 'shadowy' presence, occupying a position in the family of secondary importance to the mother. Does psychoanalysis propose a liberating pedagogy? It becomes clear that the four psychoanalysts did not advocate a radical, liberating pedagogy which champions the 'free expression' of the individual at the expense of the established values of the State. On the contrary, all of them were clearly on the side of the State; that is, they envisaged their role as custodian: and procurers of public morality. In practice, this entails the removal of the debilitating neurosis, the social 'disease' which renders individuals incapable of adopting/... Vl: adopting a suitable social role and enjoying a 'normal', workable relationship with other human beings. And the 'cure' is considered adequately verified when the same individuals, formerly classified as 'neurotic', 'sick', 'maladjusted', 'crazy', 'delinquent', 'criminal', or whatever, are able at last to achieve a new, personal harmony with other human beings despite the rigorous constraints arising from living in a highly organised network of social relationships. The thesis ends with an attempt to fit Freud's social philosophy into a broader, philosophical context. It is suggested that his advocacy of a closed society superintended by wise, benign Psychoanalytic-Guardians is compatible with the totalitarian philosophy of Thomas Hill Green (1836-1882), founder of the school of British Idealism which displaced the philosophy of Jeremy Bentham ( 1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) as the dominant tradition in British universities from 1870 into the twentieth century
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology