Article Review: The Relevance of Freud to Modern Psychiatry

The reviewed article is by Dr Anne-Marie Feeley and is entitled ‘The relevance of Freud to modern psychiatry’. The article is fairly brief and meant as an overview but along the way, Dr Feeley integrates disparate information in an insightful and useful manner for an introductory article on the subject. Although the article is too brief to allow a systematic analysis of the field, the ideas discussed are of relevance to some of the more recent posts in this blog as Dr Feeley places Winnicott’s work in context. It should be noted that the article is on the use of psychoanalytic theory rather than Freud strictly speaking.

The model forwarded in this review is that the newborn baby is born ‘subcortical’ and there is a rapid doubling in size of the neocortex during which time the brain’s development is shaped by and sensitive to interactions with the mother. It is here that Winnicott’s good enough mother is needed for the baby to develop emotionally.

Feeley's Model
Feeley's Model

I have taken some liberties in placing Feeley’s description in the diagram above. One of the key questions I have about this model is whether the changes are set indefinitely or if the template can be modified subsequently. Of course this question is quite important in psychotherapy. However, if the foundations of the brain are made during these first two years, then how much of a role do these foundations have on subsequent development. Are we not continuing to learn about relationships during adult life? During adulthood – are we modifying the foundations of the psyche or playing with the tiles on the roof? If the first two years are critical for development, what does that mean in evolutionary terms (have the majority of babies throughout history received the necessary environmental stimulation during this critical period to ensure their fitness for survival or have cultural developments reduced the significance of this period?).

It will certainly be interesting to keep an eye on how this area develops.



The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.


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