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February 14, 1977

The Freudian Influence

JAMA. 1977;237(7):651. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270340037015

THE IDEAS of Sigmund Freud have had the widest impact in medicine and have also influenced anthropology, education, sociology, art, literature, and other areas. His ideas have filtered into the common consciousness. I recall words uttered long ago by my revered chief, Stanley Cobb, to the effect that one needn't concern himself about the seeming resistance to Freudian principles, since they are engrained in the culture and ubiquitous. Freud is honored even in resistance to his precepts.

Like anyone leading a new cause, Freud attracted a number of followers, naturally nowhere near as wise or innovative as their master. They attempted to fix the discipline into pattern and hold it steady, seemingly unaware of or indifferent to Freud's observation that "it is the external changefulness of life that makes it so beautiful."

By word and deed Freud advocated change; one need only examine his career to see how he continued