10. Evolutionary Psychology and Psychoanalysis
- In one of our studies we attempted to reinterpret Freud’s key-concept, the Oedipus complex, or at least a few of its elements, and reconcile it with the evidence coming from the modern empirical science (Bereczkei and Gyuris 2007). Based on the results of former researches, we argued that the original Freudian assumptions about humans’ desire to establish incestuous relationship with the mother, and in general humans’ incestuous drives, cannot be justified. However a moderate version of Oedipus complex could be acceptable from the perspective of the contemporary empirical science. Freud himself, as mentioned earlier, presumed that the Oedipus complex influences boys’ later sexual object choice in a way that they try to find partners resembling their mother (see above). However, in the absence of suitable empirical evidence, this assumption was never elaborated and supported. In our studies we intended to shed light on the details and characteristics of that effect in terms of mate choice. Our data suggest that an early intensive relationship with the mother, that may lack sexual overtones, strongly influences boys’ mate choice preferences. They tend to prefer long-term partners who resemble their mothers’ memory image, which had probably developed during the imprinting period. Men later use this template as a model for choosing mates.
- One of the most important questions concerning our results refers to the influence our concepts might bear on the contemporary interpretation of the Freudian theory. By using an evolutionary approach, there seems to be a possibility to avoid the one-sidedness of both the positivist and the hermeneutic approach. We cannot give up the claim that Freud himself voiced several times: the psychological processes that he described are real parts of the ontological structure of human nature that need to be studied permanently. It remains a challenge for contemporary theorists to anchor certain components of the Freudian theory on neural, cognitive and emotional mechanisms that can be studied empirically. The other claim, to reinterpret Freudian phylogenetic explanations in accordance with the theoretical models of contemporary anthropology and evolutionary psychology, seems to prevail, as well. Our viewpoint intends to follow this approach. Freud’s work can be interpreted in various ways, however the turning point is the understanding of the details. If we can form testable theoretical models that may be transformed into the Freudian paradigm, and if we are able to find new methods to solve former problems, it would be definitely unwise to neglect such opportunities.
- In several former papers (Bereczkei 2002, 2005) another famous psychoanalytical theory, Lipot Szondi’s “Fate analysis” was interpreted by the modern evolutionary theory and genetics. The concept of “genotropism” constituting the core of the Szondi-theory can be explained by Genetic Similarity Theory. It states that individuals have a capacity to detect other genetically similar individuals, and to exhibit altruistic behavior towards these non-relatives. Experiments among animals and humans have revealed that organisms are equipped with an innate recognition mechanism that enable them to use their phenotype as a template to match new, unfamiliar organisms, and prefer those who show a certain level of resemblance. Relying on the genetic similarity theory, a hypothesis has been outlined stating that persons suffering from mental disorders also tend to assort along the genetic similarity.
- The possibility that Szondi-theory can be placed in a testable theoretical framework and on supportive empirical ground is followed by important consequences for psychopathologies, in general. In the past decades, psychoanalysis has almost totally withdrawn from its previous natural scientific viewpoint because of the relatively undeveloped biology-oriented behavioral disciplines and as a response to scientific and epistemological attacks. It has gradually been moving into hermeneutics, linguistics, literature, and other humanistic studies, where it has achieved undeniable successes. However, one should not forget that the founders of psychoanalysis themselves were mostly physicians and natural scientists who were firmly convinced that they had laid the biological foundation of human nature. Evolutionary psychology can re-interpret psychoanalytical explanations in accordance with the recent findings of empirical sciences.
- Bereczkei T. and P. Gyuris (2009) Oedipus complex, mate choice, imprinting: An evolutionary reconsideration of a Freudian concept based on an empirical study. The Mankind Quaterly 1, 71-94.
- Bereczkei T.: Szondi és a modern biológia. In: Szondi Lipót. Szerk. Gyöngyösiné Kiss Enikő, Magyar Panteon, Új Mandátum Könyvkiadó, Budapest, 1999, 158-166.
- Bereczkei T. és Gyuris P. (2007) Ödipusz-komplexus, párválasztás, imprinting: egy freudi koncepció lehetséges újraértelmezése. Thalassa 18: 141-164.
- Bereczkei T. és Kis E. (2001) Sorsanalízis és genetika; Családfakutatás, párválasztás, öröklődés. Magyar Pszichológiai Szemle, 56, 2001
- Bereczkei T.: Szondi, a lélek genetikusa. BUKSZ 9: 390-398, 1997.
- Bereczkei T. (1995) The Sondi's Legacy: Innate Dispositions Influence Our Choices. A sociobiological reinterpretation of the Szondi-theory. Szondiana, 15: 8-26.
- Bereczkei T.: Biológiai evolúció, genotropizmus, pszichopatológia. Thalassa, 1993. 1. 150-172.
- Bereczkei T. (1992) Biological Evolution, Genotropism, and Psychopathology: A reinterpretation of a psychoanalytical theory, Szondiana 12: 32-52.