Introducing the Basics

Sigmund Freud

What was controversial about Freud?

Freud was famous (or infamous) for his fights with detractors and is still a somewhat controversial figure. From the beginning Freudian theory tended toward the dogmatic. Although Freud was flexible in his own thinking, and he reworked his own theories multiple times, he was less tolerant of the divergent views of his followers. He rejected both Carl Jung and Alfred Adler, who questioned the primacy of libido as the motivating force.

In Freud’s time, his theories were particularly controversial for their emphasis on sexuality, which was rarely discussed openly in Victorian times. His emphasis on child sexuality was thought frankly perverted. By the mid-twentieth century, however, Freudian theory was criticized mainly for its lack of scientific data. Although he aspired to make psychoanalysis a science, he never tested his theories with the methods of empirical research, preferring instead to rely on his clinical observations.


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