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Freud's Ideas

Before Freud, psychology was primarily concerned with the intellect, believing that the conscious mind was the dominant factor of mental health. In opposition to this, Sigmund Freud argued that mental health was subject by "subconscious" urges, desires, and inhibitions. Repressed memories of traumatic incidents from the childhood resulted in neurotic behavior and even serious mental illness. Freud's theory concluded that one needed to discover these hidden causes to cure mental illness.

Freudianism as a Fad

Freud took hold with the non-scientific sector of the American population. Most of these people did not actually read Freud's work, but one of the many summaries that distorted and misrepresented his theories. Soon after André Tridon toured the United States with a series of lectures on Freud's Psychoanalysis, the words "repression," "sublimation," and "complex" became a regular part of the vocabulary of the American population (who still didn't have a clear idea of what Freud's theories were). Personality typing (developed by Carl G. Jung, and early diciple of Freud) also became very popular game as people calculated the personalities of others - especially celebrities - based on 40 simple questions.

Attacks on Freudianism

The popularity of Freudianism, based on catchphrases and ill-understood bits and pieces of the complex work, drew social and scientific critics. Even Sigmund Freud

Freud's sex theories earned him the wrath of many social critics
believed that the fad that his work generated was actually a liability as the general American population, untrained in psycology, applied his theories indiscrminately and recklessly. Social conservatives attacked Freud's emphasis on sexual repressions as excessive for the allowable standards of the time. These critics believed that Freudianism encouraged licencious behavior.
Cited Works

Baughman, Judith S. American Decades: 1920 - 1929.
     New York : Gale Research, 1996.