Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Robert J. Langs, MD - Resuscitating Freud's First Paradigm of Psychoanalysis


In Freud on a Precipice: How Freud's Fate Pushed Psychoanalysis Over the Edge (2010), Robert Langs reveals the crucial turning point from which it took psychoanalysis a century to recover - when Freud abandoned the reality-based trauma and dissociation model of Pierre Janet in favor of his internal fantasy-based model that became the foundation of psychoanalysis in the 20th century.

Here is a summary of the book from Amazon:
This book is a psychoanalytic detective story that takes the reader back to the late 1890's and to the generally unappreciated, yet single most important, turning point in the history of psychoanalysis. The context is the death of Freud's father and the decision Freud made to abandon his first, reality-centered theory of the mind in favor of a theory focused on inner fantasies and needs. Marshaling a large body of evidence, Langs views this change of heart as a regressive paradigm shift driven by unconsciously influential archetypes that were, in turn, linked to a series of early-life traumas in Freud's life, possibly eight in all, several of them preceding Freud's birth and all but one outside of Freud's conscious awareness. The ramifications of these incidents placed Freud on a later-day precipice from which his fall into equivalents of homicide and suicide were at risk; Freud shifted focus to save his life! Langs' detective work brings him to new insights into such matters as the psychological archetypes that affect the creation and modifications of paradigms, physical and mental; a new, utilitarian view of the design of the emotion-processing mind; recognition of the complex unconscious impact of reality and of death-related traumas on the human psyche and emotionally-charged choices; the vast superiority of Freud's first paradigm over his second theory of the mind; and the unconscious reasons, despite its many flaws, that Freud's second paradigm remains in favor to this very day. Freud saved his life by shifting course, but at the same time he created a theory that must be held partly accountable for the compromised forms of dynamic therapy and broad psychological harm that has followed in its wake. Using an updated version of Freud's first paradigm, Langs shows us a better way to live and work, as a psychotherapist or any other career.
It's hard to imagine what the world of psychotherapy would look like it Janet or his model had prevailed, rather than Freud and his mistaken approach.

Resuscitating Freud's First Paradigm of Psychoanalysis

Published on Oct 15, 2013

This event was co-sponsored by the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis and the Psychology Department in the School of Undergraduate Studies at The New School for Public Engagement (

The Remarkable View of the World as Seen Through the Lens of an Evolutionary / Adaptive Approach.

Featuring Robert J. Langs, MD with an introduction given by Arthur Pomponio, PhD, President, NPAP Training Institute,

Dr. Langs will present clinical and theoretical evidence for two distinctive paradigms of psychoanalysis. Both were developed by Sigmund Freud who renounced his trauma-centered position in favor of one that focused on inner needs. Differences between the two approaches will be stressed as they pertain to clinical understanding and practice, as well as to the links between psychoanalysis, biology, and human history. The biographical underpinnings of the thinking of both Freud and the presenter will be considered: Freud traveled from death to sex, while the presenter traveled in the opposite direction.

Robert J. Langs is a psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst who has developed an adaptation-centered paradigm of psychoanalysis in which trauma, death anxiety, and universal archetypes play a central role. His recent books are Beyond Yahweh and Jesus: Bringing Death's Wisdom to Faith, Spirituality, and Psychoanalysis (2008) and Freud on a Precipice: How Freud's Fate Pushed Psychoanalysis Over the Edge (2010). He is in private practice in New York City.

Location: Theresa Lang Community and Student Center (Room I202), Arnhold Hall, Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, 55 West 13th Street. Friday, October 11, 2013 at 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm.
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