My understanding is that for years Freud did not have a psychiatric practice due to publishing his theories of infantile sexuality. He became extremely unpopular among professionals for quite some time. Would Freud say that when we are anxious we have a desire to put something in our mouth to relieve tension? He might have identified this type of persistent desire or impulse as an oral fixation. Would this be the case for smoking, overeating, and possibility other anxieties. Surprisingly they didn’t put him in jail during the Victorian Era when there was little social discussion of sexuality and more of a tendency toward repression of sexual desires. I am not convinced that oral fixations are necessarily related to sexuality for adults, but I do suspect that we relieve tension and nurture ourselves by overeating and drinking when we feel anxious and depressed.
Although many of us may not believe in Freud’s theories regarding human sexuality most of us might agree that when some need within us is not met we may attempt to substitute another desire or craving to help us feel more fulfilled or satisfied. It may be difficult at times for us to target actually what is missing? What need might underlie certain cravings such as excessive physical hunger or the desire to provide nurturance for ourselves. For many of us it is likely that we give ourselves oral gratification when we feel empty. Might Freud agree that emotional eaters tend to ingest more calories because they feel shame, guilt, or are socially isolated?
Since the time of Freud we have gained great insights into the way human beings function, learn, and process information. We know much more about addictions and the generation of receptors in our bodies that causes us to develop cravings. With computer technology we have the ability to gather data in a way that would be mind boggling to this early theorist. It would be unfair to judge his effort from the place of our currently evolved knowledge.
What would be the validity of Freud's theories today anyway? For me there have been many valuable contributions offered by Dr. Freud. Henry Ford made wonderful contributions to the automobile industry and much of what he contributed remains valuable even today. Were his early automobiles reliable and efficient forms of transportation? Was the Model “A” Ford a good car? This would probably not be considered a good car by today's standards, although it would be nice to have one as a collector’s item. For me I would rather drive to my 500 mile vacation destination in a Lexus.