Ernst Brücke and Sigmund Freud: Physiological roots of psychoanalysis

AHP readers may be interested in a new article in the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences: “Ernst Brücke and Sigmund Freud: Physiological roots of psychoanalysis,” by Yunus An?l Y?lmaz. Abstract:

Ernst Brücke was one of the most influential figures in Sigmund Freud’s life and work. Freud studied under him for around six years during his student years, and he never turned his back on Brücke’s fundamental teachings. Brücke was a member of the strictly materialist and reductionist movement called the School of Helmholtz. This article will interpret how this physiological movement influenced Freud’s psychoanalysis and how its understanding of science was embedded in Freud’s theory. For this purpose, I will focus on the relationship between Brücke and Freud, and then will demonstrate how Brücke’s influence appears in Freud’s psychoanalytical theory. Despite the common practice of evaluating Project for a Scientific Psychology as the last attempt of Freud’s physiological commitment, I will take Freud’s ontology and epistemology as a product of his interaction with Ernst Brücke. In this conjunction, I will discuss psychoanalysis’s essential physiological and neurological components, such as the conservation of energy, the principle of constancy, the pleasure principle, and dual-aspect monism. For this purpose, I will apply the methodology of Randall Collins, the so-called sociology of philosophy. This method allows us to analyze personal contacts between master and pupil and the results of this interaction. This method will help to demonstrate why Brücke’s influence was more prevalent in Freud’s psychoanalysis than any other neuroscientific master of Freud.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.