Psychological Bulletin 1998, Vol. 124, No. 3, 333-371
Copyright 1998 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 0033-2909/98/$3.00
The Scientific Legacy of Sigmund Freud: Toward a Psychodynamically Informed Psychological Science
Harvard Medical School and The Cambridge Hospital/Cambridge Health Alliance Although commentators periodically declare that Freud is dead, his repeated burials lie on shaky grounds. Critics typically attack an archaic version of psychodynamic theory that most clinicians similarlyconsider obsolete. Central to contemporarypsychodynamictheory is a series of propositions about (a) unconscious cognitive, affective, and motivational processes; (b) ambivalence and the tendency for affective and motivational dynamics to operate in parallel and produce compromise solutions; (c) the origins of many personality and social dispositions in childhood; (d) mental representations of the self, Others, and relationships; and (e) developmentaldynamics.An enormous body of research in cognitive, social, developmental,and personalitypsychologynow supports many of these propositions. Freud's scientific legacy has implications for a wide range of domains in psychology, such as integration of affective and motivationalconstraints into connectionist models in cognitive science.
Freud, like Elvis, has been dead for a number of years but continues to be cited with some regularity. Although the majority of clinicians report that they rely to some degree upon psychodynamic I principles in their work (Pope, Tabachnick, & KeithSpiegel, 1987), most researchers consider psychodynamic ideas to be at worst absurd and obsolete and at best irrelevant or of little scientific interest. In the lead article of a recent edition of Psychological Science, Crews (1996) arrived at a conclusion shared by many: " [ T ] h e r e is literally nothing to be said, scientifically or therapeutically, to the advantage of the entire Freudian system or any of its...