Sigmund Freud's most famous error is his claim that children are in love with the parent of the opposite gender, and that love in adulthood is transference of that love. This idea is very easily refuted in contemporary society. At the time there were very few single parent households to study; now there are plenty of them. And what we find is that people raised in single parent households fall in love just as readily as do people raised in nuclear families.
Since they do not have a transference figure, their love cannot be transference.
Finally, since the feelings of the people raised in nuclear families are of the same character as theirs, their love cannot be transference either.
The two women with whom I've been for longer than a year were both raised without a man in the house. Yet both of them have been in love a number of times. Their relationships with the women who raised them differed, and in both cases the women raising them discouraged them from going with men. However both of them found men attractive, and both of them have been with any number of men. Neither one of them had an extensive relationship with the father, and one of them only met her father at age 24 and the other has decided that her father is a bad person and wants nothing to do with him.
Neither one had a male parent present; yet both have been in love more than once. This proves that love is not transference.
This idea has been far too big for its merits. In 2000 I was in love with a woman named Michele. She kept claiming that I saw her as a mother. In fact I saw her, if anything, as a sister figure, a fellow traveller. She was a poet; so was I. She had finished Caltech in three years; I had finished University of Virginia in two. Eventually she admitted that the reason she had espoused those kinds of beliefs was to soothe her for a previous situation in her life when she had a beautiful relationship with a young man, only for the man to leave her. Those beliefs may have helped some jilted lovers to soothe their feelings; but they have been very ruinous to society and to many, many people.
Then there is the claim that there is a pattern to people's relationships. That may be the case in some situations but not in others. Looking at the history of the two women with whom I have been for a long time, I do not find a pattern for their attractions. The first went for everyone from a gentle-hearted tattoo artist to an acerbic engineering student to a much older right-hand man of a Hindu swami. The second went for everyone from punks to a “nice guy” who did not turn out to be all that nice to an older musician and chef who is both strong-minded and kind. Some of their men were abusive and some were not abusive. Some of their men were jerks and some were not. Many in psychology would postulate a pattern; but I do not find any in either case.
Another claim frequently made is that people who are raised in bad households go for bad partners, whereas people who are raised in good households go for good partners. I know situations to contradict such a claim. The lady for whom I wrote my first poetry book “Poems to Julia” was raised in a very good family by a father who had been Vice President of the National Academy of Sciences; yet she was married for 15 years to an absolute brute. I know a lady on the Internet who was raised in a horrible setting, yet men in her adult life have treated her very well.
I know a lovely lady who used to work at a school for disturbed students. She said that when the students formed emotional bonds with each other, the teachers defused the situations by convincing them that because they were raised in bad backgrounds they would have bad relationship situations. My response to that kind of thinking is that people are not their parents but themselves; and that just because their parents behaved badly does not mean that they would as well.
They are however at a disadvantage. They have not been raised with good habits; they have been raised with bad ones. Many people who are raised in negative situations reject the way in which they've been raised, but they do not know any other way. If they start out with ideals about treating their partner better than one of their parents treated the other, often they do not know how to put these ideals into practice. Sometimes they encounter a situation that they do not know how to handle and slip back into the wrongful practices with which they were raised. This may get them accused of being – hypocrites, predators, whatever. In fact the real problem is that they have learned wrong habits – which they rightfully have rejected – but have no practice of any other way.
If the school wants to teach them these better habits, that is a rightful and noble endeavor. It does not mean however that they should keep them from forming relationships with one another.
Another frequent claim is that the partners that you attract are a result of your self-esteem or what is in your consciousness. I know any number of people who had both good and bad partners, and I do not see how what they attract had anything to do with their self-esteem. I know a lady who went in a short period of time from a violent Greek jerk to an excellent gentleman; and it is not likely that her self-esteem had gone from pits to tops in the short period of time between one and the other. Certainly being with a bad partner who tears you down can undermine your self-esteem. What we see is reverse causality. It is not bad self-esteem that has taken you into a bad situation. It is a bad situation that has undermined your self-esteem.
Finally there is a claim that men who love their mothers will treat their women well, and men who hate their mothers will treat their women poorly. There are many situations in which this is not the case. In African-American culture in particularly, men worship their mothers but treat their women like dirt. Sometimes mothers sabotage their sons' relationships with their women; and I am personally acquainted with a situation in which a young man from a country town in Australia went for a young woman who came from the city, only to have his Jehovah's Witnesses mother turn him against her; at which point he started acting like a bastard and is continuing to act like a bastard till the present day. My sister was married to a man in a similar situation; but she had good training from her mother and was able to leave the man before he could do anything truly ugly.
On the obverse, do men who hate their mothers treat their women badly? Eminem certainly does. To these people the correct response is that women – like men – differ from one another, and that their mothers are bad people does not mean that all women are bad people. Anything human is capable of choice; anything capable of choice can be good or bad. It is wrong to punish an innocent woman for the sins of a guilty woman. Similarly it is wrong for feminists in the academia to abuse young men nearest the liberal centers of learning and culture who, for the most part, are the least misogynistic men out there, just because any number of Muslim or conservative or inner-city men are misogynistic idiots.
All of the above ideas have many people espousing them, including intelligent people. Yet there are very obvious refutations for all of the above. I want to see thought on the subject improve. Most of these attitudes are wrong, and any number of them have been destructive. Thought on relationships must evolve past these errors and toward more rightful understanding of the subject.