A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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v                     THE EVOLUTION OF PSYCHOTHERAPY                 213
hysterical symptoms was published in 1893 *n a paper by Breuer and Freud. In the now famous work, Studies in Hysteria> they proposed the radically new idea that unpleasant memories, when repressed, reappeared as hysterical symptoms. In every case of hysteria they found that memories injurious to the patient's ego, so-called traumatic memories, were the cause of every hysterical symptom. In other words, some emotional experience, although repressed and forgotten, was converted into a symptom, a transformation which Freud described as ' conversion \ This notion was a corner-stone in the Freudian philosophy. It provided a reason for the bizarre, inexplicable, hysterical symptoms that every physician encountered, and thus always had to do with the emotions. Breuer, in allowing the patient to recall these irritating memories, had provided an outlet for the repressed emotion. The treatment acted as a mental purge and the term ' mental catharsis' was applied to it.
On the whole, these new ideas were received un-sympathetically and leading medical men considered them so much metaphysical nonsense. Breuer became discouraged, and dropped out of the work, but Freud, more sure of himself, continued. Soon he made newer discoveries. It was not, he found, any emotional excitation which when repressed caused a neurotic symptom ; but was one connected with the sexual function. Freud therefore began to investigate the sexual life of his patients. In neurotic patients he almost invariably found sexual difficulty masturbation, sexual frigidity, abstinence over long periods, suppression of sexual desire. By probing into a patient's life and searching for sexual or emotional maladjustment, Freud found he was able to obtain as much illuminating material as hypnosis had revealed. The older method had been of