The Comparison of Sigmund Freud and B.F. Skinner

Last Updated: 21 Mar 2023
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The Comparison of Sigmund Freud and B. F. Skinner One name that jumps out at the mention of psychology, or the study there of, is the name of Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud is also known as the “Father of Psychoanalysis. ” Freud was also known for having the tendency to trace nearly all psychological problems back to sexual issues. Although only parts of his theory of psychosexual development are still accepted by mainstream psychologists, Freud's theory of the Oedipal Complex has become a cultural icon (Freud, Sigmund, 2012).

Freud is known for developing the use of psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is based on the observation that people are often unaware of many of the things that determine their emotions and behavior. Psychoanalytic treatment demonstrates how the unconscious affects current relationships and patterns of behavior. It then helps track them back to past experiences, such as in childhood, and helps people to deal better with how past experiences then affect their current adult life (Freud, Sigmund, 2012).

Freud’s contributions that often comes to mind while thinking of psychoanalysis include the therapy couch, the use of talk therapy, and his theories about the unconscious which include the role of repression, denial, sublimation, and projection. (“The Individual”) Freud also incorporated the use of dream analysis and the study of dreams. While working with his patients, they began to spontaneously tell their dreams. Freud became interested in dreams and the revelations that they could provide as doors to the inner psyche (“The Individual”).

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He soon systematically included interpretation of dreams in psychoanalysis, as well as hypnosis and free association of the dreams that had been revealed. Freud was one of the first psychologists to utilize hypnosis in therapy. Freud's interest in what lay beyond the conscious mind and in the practice of hypnotism and what led hysteria eventually led him to study with the famous neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot of the Salpetriere Hospital in Paris (“The Individual”). When Freud returned to Vienna, he began using hypnosis, massage, and pressure on the head to get patients to dredge up thoughts elated to their symptoms. Only later did he ask them to say whatever crossed their minds. This he called "free association," and had already been described as the "talking cure" (“The Individual”). Just as Freud is known as the father of Psychoanalysis, B. F. Skinner is often referred to ask the “the father of operant conditioning. ” B. F. Skinner is also known for major contributions to the field of psychology (About B. F. Skinner, Sept, 2012). Skinner was a prolific author, publishing nearly 200 articles and more than 20 books.

Skinner was most known for his work in behavior psychology. Behavioral psychology is the psychological practice that focuses on learning new behaviors and how to modify our existing behavior and how that takes place (About B. F. Skinner, Sept, 2012). One of his major contributions was his theory of operant conditioning. Operant conditioning means roughly, the changing of behavior by the use of reinforcement, either positive or negative, and which these reinforcements are given after the desired response (About B. F. Skinner, Sept, 2012).

Skinner identified three types of responses or operant that can follow behavior. While behaviorism is no longer a dominant school of thought, the work in operant conditioning remains today. Many different types of professionals utilize operant conditioning in society today. Mental health professionals often utilize operant techniques when working with clients (“The Individual”). Teachers frequently use reinforcement and punishment to shape behavior of their students in the classroom. Animal trainers even rely on these techniques to train dogs and other animals.

In order to study Operant conditioning and it’s affects on rats, Skinner developed a device known as the Skinner Box. This was used in lab experiments to judge the outcome of certain stimuli on rats and how their behavior would change from said stimuli (About B. F. Skinner, Sept, 2012). Skinner was an inventor of many things. He also worked on a product which he called, “The Baby Tender”. The “baby tender” was developed due to his wife’s concern that there was a need for a safer crib, where there wouldn’t be worries of the infant’s extremities getting caught in between the bars.

The “baby tender” was an enclosed and heated crib with a plexiglass window. Unfortunately, the “baby tender” was confused with the Skinner box that was used in experiments in rats (About B. F. Skinner, Sept, 2012). Skinner did not do conditioning experiments on babies in the baby tender; it was developed as simply a safer crib for newborns. Both the ideas of Sigmund Freud and B. F. Skinner have had major influences in the field of psychology and psychological practices.

Both Freud and Skinner have influenced how psychology is used in therapy on patients; as well as practical uses that leave the clinical realm, and can be used in everyday life. Resources "B. F. Skinner Foundation - About B. F. Skinner. " B. F. Skinner Foundation - About B. F. Skinner. N. p. , n. d. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. . "Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. " Freud, SigmundA []. N. p. , n. d. Web. 19 Sept. 2012. . "SECTION TWO The Individual: Therapy and Theory. " The Individual: Therapy and Theory. N. p. , n. d. Web. 25 Sept. 2012. . "Sigmund Freud. " Sigmund Freud. N. p. , n. d. Web. 20 Sept. 2012

Related Questions

on The Comparison of Sigmund Freud and B.F. Skinner

What is the difference between BF Skinner and Sigmund Freud?
BF Skinner and Sigmund Freud are two of the most influential figures in psychology. Skinner was a behaviorist who believed that behavior is shaped by its consequences, while Freud was a psychoanalyst who believed that behavior is shaped by unconscious mental processes. Skinner focused on observable behavior, while Freud focused on the unconscious mind and the role of the unconscious in behavior.
How is Freud and Skinner similar?
Freud and Skinner are both influential figures in the field of psychology. They both developed theories about behavior and the mind, and their theories have had a lasting impact on the field. Additionally, both Freud and Skinner believed that behavior is shaped by environmental factors and can be modified through conditioning.
How did Skinner disagree with Freud?
Skinner disagreed with Freud's psychoanalytic approach to psychology, which focused on unconscious motivations and the interpretation of dreams. Instead, Skinner proposed a behaviorist approach, which focused on observable behavior and the effects of environmental stimuli on behavior. He believed that behavior was shaped by reinforcement and punishment, rather than by unconscious drives.
What is the comparison between psychoanalysis and behaviorism?
Psychoanalysis is a psychoanalytic approach that focuses on unconscious mental processes and the exploration of the patient's past experiences, while behaviorism is a school of psychology that focuses on observable behavior and the use of reinforcement to modify behavior. Both approaches have been used to treat psychological disorders, but they differ in their underlying theories and approaches to treatment.

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