Freud's Trap

A Century of Sexual Relations Between Patients, Therapists in Freudian Psychiatry Clinics
Sigmund Freud (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
Book Cover

"Freud's Trap: A Century of Sexual Relations Between Patients and Therapists in Freudian Psychiatry Clinics” is a recently published book by Mamdouh Al-Sheikh.

At the beginning of the book, we find a quote by Irvin D. Yalom, founder of Existential Psychotherapy saying, "I've been sexually aroused by female patients, and by every therapist I know."

To realize the true scale of the disaster, we should mention a survey indicating that 70 percent of the therapists in the sample said that they knew at least one patient who was sexually involved with a previous therapist.

By calculating the probabilities, and based on the available surveys, America alone, may have between 400,000 and 1,200,000 female victims of sexual assault in trusting relationships, including psychotherapy.

Based on interviews with hundreds of women, about 80 percent of the women reportedly had sexual contact with a man who was their treating physician, and 20 percent of them each knew 2 or 3 other women with similar stories.

Betrayal of a trust relationship

When we mention “honesty” in “Psychoanalysis,” we remember the words of Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, one of the authors of “The Black Book of Psychoanalysis”.

He who studies the concepts and techniques of “psychoanalysis” must “understand that he is about to enter a strange world governed by secrecy, rumors, and manipulation of information.

The book analyses the issue of the moral responsibility of therapists, for the relationship between physician and patient is considered a “sacred” trust derived from the traditional attribution of “priestly qualities” to the role of the physician.

This fact opens the door to a great possibility of patient manipulation and exploitation. Since the time of the ancient Greeks, physicians have been entrusted with a sacred duty: The Care of the Health and Welfare of the Sick.

It may come as a surprise to the modern reader that the Hippocratic Oath, was written in the fourth century B.C. It was adopted as the document that began, and continues to inspire, concepts of ethical medical practice,

This section contained a strict prohibition of "sexual contact between physician and patient." The presence of this clear ban in the department indicates that some doctors have violated sexual boundaries with patients since ancient times, a violation that a worrying number of health professionals have continued to commit more than two thousand years later.

In the clinics of Freudian medicine, the problem later evolved from a sexual relationship between a "therapist" and a "female patient", to include a sexual relationship between an “a female therapist” and a “male patient” or a homosexual relationship between a “male therapist” and a “male patient” or a “female therapist” and a “female patient” or group sex events.

In the history of modern medicine, Sigmund Freud marks the beginning of a new - unprecedented - stage in the history of psychotherapy, despite the aura of reverence that surrounds Freud's name, not only as a pioneer in the history of psychology but also as the third leg in the triangle of the makers of the modern mind: Nicolas Copernicus and Charles Darwin.

The truth is more important. During the past five decades, Western culture has seen a major trend towards reconsidering the "Freud legacy".


On Freud's sofa

The "Freud sofa" that he used in "psychoanalysis" was an important entry into this world full of what is shocking, and recent studies trace an important tributary in the history of psychoanalysis, in thought and practice, which is the effect of the "One Thousand and One Nights" novel with its erotic atmosphere.

Does the Freudian Consultation Room offer a scene of continuity between psychoanalysis, Scheherazade, and the traditions of Arab fantasy?

Freud used physical intimacy, such as massage, early in his career, and “there is a lot of literature on the need for abstaining from sexual intercourse at work.”

Yalom, founder of Existential Psychotherapy, on a visit to Copenhagen, addressed taboo sexual feelings in therapy by directly publicizing his experience: "I've been sexually aroused by patients, and similarly every therapist I know did."

It is a striking fact that a study conducted in America in 1979 indicated that even sexual intercourse between teachers and students in “psychoanalytic” training programs is increasing, as 25% of the female graduates surveyed have experienced sexual intercourse compared to 5% of those 20 years ago.

Highlighting the prevalence of sexual contact in therapy has sparked fiery debates, disbelief, and denial, as well as more collaborative and unified research efforts on the topic of physical contact in therapy in Freudian "psychoanalytic" clinics.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s a major ethical dilemma was: What kind of tactile interaction would be appropriate and ethical, and where should the line be drawn?


Doctors on the confession chair

The author says that the scheme of the book began to become clear in his mind after reading a research paper published in one of the specialized American journals (Journal of Clinical Psychology), in the year 2013.

The authors of the journal wrote that they studied love and sexual feelings between the therapist and the patient.

The book relied on a large number of qualitative and national surveys conducted in America, Britain, and Australia, surveys whose dates span many years.

They studied sexual relations between doctors and patients (and sometimes patients) from all perspectives and were subjected to multiple analyses, as well as the academic, ethical and professional discussions raised by the numbers.

One of the most dangerous explanations for studies of sexual abuse is the assumption by many researchers that “there is a link between sex addiction and the occurrence of abuse,” and that “sex addiction is a form of vulnerability similar to alcohol dependence.” Other researchers have considered sexual abuse akin to "rape or incest, and pedophilia".

The list of eminent psychoanalysts who, from an early age, had sex with or married patients, is long. It includes:

Carl Jung

Sándor Ferenczi

Erich Fromm

Frieda Fromm-Reichmann

Wilhelm Reich

The “confession” is a means of contracting at the intersection of several phenomena that contributed to the catastrophe of sexual abuse in clinics, and the idea of ​​the “pathogenic secret” spread widely among the clergy and ordinary people in the eighties and nineties of the nineteenth century.

The author of “Freud’s Trap” has already glimpsed “structural” similarities between the role of the psychoanalyst and the “priest,” and the famous British psychoanalyst David Mann made a genius remark when he noted that Freud “attempted the impossible: he based psychoanalysis on the universal nature of sexual desire or the command of the mind’s sexual instincts.”

At the same time, he tried to reduce the presence of excitement in the therapy room, especially in the therapist. "Trying to get rid of sexual arousal ... ... is similar to some of the myths of parthenogenesis," Mann adds.

Is Freudian a sex therapy?

Columbia University researchers Richard C. Friedman and Jennifer I. Downey, state that "psychoanalysis began as a deep psychology, based largely on sexual experience".

In a phrase that captures the magic of historical records of a century-spanning a century, Dr. Judith L. Albert, a faculty member at Columbia University sums up the hidden tragedy in the title of her research paper: “Sexual Boundary Violations: A Century of Sexual Abuse in the Time of Psychoanalysis,” emphasizing that sexual abuse was closely integrated into the fabric of the history of "psychoanalysis"!

In numerical indicators, the "downward trajectory" of the presence of psychoanalysis in psychiatric clinics can be summarized:

In 1917, the percentage of American psychiatrists who practiced “psychoanalysis” was 8%.

By 1941, the percentage had risen to 38%.

In 1970, it reached 66%.

Today, there is practically no psychiatry department headed by a doctor who works in "psychoanalysis"!


Book: Freud's Trap

A century of sexual relations between patients and therapists in Freudian psychiatry clinics

Author: Mamdouh Al-Sheikh

Publisher: Eshraqa Publishing House - Egypt

Publication date: 2022

Size: 182 pages


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