Skinner and Sigmund Freud

Burrhus Frederic Skinner

Burrhus Frederic Skinner

Did you know…..

that Skinner, the father of Behaviorism, quotes Sigmund Freud more than ten times in one of his books?

Perhaps many behaviorists do not know that Burrhus Frederic Skinner in his book “Science and Human Behavior“, published in 1953, speaks in very flattering terms about Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis.

Among these quotes is the following:

Skinner recognizes the importance of Freud in relating childhood events to behaviors in adult life.

He also says verbatim: “Perhaps prudent men have always known that we are predisposed to see things as we want to see them instead of how they are, but thanks to Sigmund Freud we are much more aware today of the “thought of desire”.

To explain certain aspects of the “positive reinforcement” of certain behaviors, he resorts to the Freudian concept of “Sublimation“. And he adds: “For example, A marriage without children can sublimate their paternal instinct treating their puppy as a son”.

In the chapter on punishment he says: “The fact that punishment does not permanently reduce a tendency to respond, agrees with Freud’s discovery of the survival of the activity of what he called repressed desires”.

He further adds: “As we shall see later, Freud’s observations may fit perfectly in the line of the present analysis“.

Finally, he affirms that he finds interesting the non-punitive attitude of the psychoanalyst, the appearance in the course of the psychoanalysis of a subject of the contents that were repressed, of the curative effects of the previous thing and of the changes in the behavior of the patient due to the psychoanalytic treatment.

(Edited by Dr. María Moya Guirao, MD)

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