Sexual Basis of Neurosis

During years of conducting analysis, Freud became convinced of the sexual basis of neurosis. He believed that sexual experiences occurring prior to puberty and stored in the unconscious as memories produced conflict that later caused certain neurotic conditions. These ideas, often referred to as Freud's seduction theory, were used to explain hysterical symptoms such as paralysis, blindness, inability to understand the spoken word (receptive aphasia), and sexual dysfunction as the result of sexual abuse, probably occurring before ages six to eight. It is important to note, however, that Freud later revised his thinking on infantile sexuality and concluded that it is the thought or psychic reality of the individual that counts more than the physical reality of events. In other words, a person might fantasize a seduction, store the fantasy in unconscious memory (repress it), and have that con-flictual memory cause neurosis just as readily as the memory of an actual seduction. Some recent critics have suggested that Freud's reformulation represented a form of denial of his inability to recognize the prevalence of sexual abuse at that time.

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