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How Modern Psychology was Founded? The Story behind It

In the 1890s, when Freud was in the dawn of his career, he was struck by how many of his female patients were revealing childhood incest victimization to him. Freud concluded that child sexual abuse was one of the major causes of emotional disturbances in adult women and wrote a brilliant and humane paper called "The Aetiology of Hysteria." However, rather than receiving acclaim from his colleagues for his ground-breaking insights, Freud met with scorn. He was ridiculed for believing that men of excellent reputation (most of his patients came from upstanding homes) could be perpetrations of incest. Within a few years, Freud buckled under this heavy pressure and recanted his conclusions. In their place, he proposed the "Oedipus complex," which became the foundation of Modern Psychology.


According to this theory, any young girl actually desires sexual contact with her father, because she wants to compete with her mother to be the most special person in his life. Freud used this construct to conclude that the episodes of incestuous abuse his clients had revealed to him had never taken place; they were simply fantasies of events the women had wished for when they were children and that the women had come to believe were real. This construct started a hundred-year history in the mental health field of blaming victims for the abuse perpetrated on them and outright discrediting of women's and children's reports of mistreatment by men.


- Lundy Bancroft,

Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men


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