Frank Sulloway

Frank SullowayIn hmolscience, Frank Sulloway (1947-) is an American psychologist and science historian noted for []

In 1979, Sulloway, in his Freud: Biologist of the Mind, devoted a section to the thermodynamics of Sigmund Freud’s psychodynamic theories, e.g. his death drive; Sulloway opens his thermodynamics discussion to the following: [1]

“Several psychoanalytic writers have not been troubled by this distinction between animate and inanimate forms of the stability principle and have sought to equate Freud’s death instinct, through Fechner’s inanimate principle of absolute stability, with the second law of thermodynamics (e.g. Alexander, 1921; Bernfeld and Feitelberg, 1930; Lichtenstein, 1935; and Saul, 1958). The second law of thermodynamics, otherwise known as the law of entropy, specifies that all forms of energy—for instance, heat—tend to dissipate within a closed system. Entropy, the measure of unavailable energy within a system, is therefore a directional and irreversible quantity reflecting the tendency of things to ‘run themselves down’. Seen in terms of this entropy principle, Freud’s death instinct has become considerably more palatable to certain psychoanalysts by virtue of a respectable alliance with the physical sciences.”

Sulloway then, while discussing the works of Franz Alexander (1921), Siegfried Bernfeld and Sergei Feitelberg (1930), Heinz Lichtenstein (1935), and Leon Saul (1958), goes on to discuss the upsides and downsides of this logic.

American entropy in the social sciences scholar Eric Zencey summarizes Sulloway’s work as follows: [2]

Psychology, too, felt the impulse of thermodynamic ideas, which lurk behind such concepts as libidinal energy, affect charge, and arguably, the death instinct. The lines of debate between those who do and those who do not find the second law behind Freud’s death instinct are admirably drawn by Frank Sulloway (Freud: Biologist of the Mind, 1979).”

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Religiosity studies
Sulloway, in existence of god studies, is also noted for his religiosity study done with Michael Shermer, involving a large survey of randomly chosen Americans, which found that religious belief is negatively correlated with education, with interest in science, and with political liberalism. [3] Richard Dawkins comments that this study is similar to one done by sociologists which found that only one in twelve break away from their parent’s religious beliefs. [4]

Sulloway completed his AB (1969) in history and science and his AM (1971) and PhD (1978) in the history of science all at Harvard University. Currently, Sulloway is an adjunct professor in the department of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

1. (a) Sulloway, Frank. (1979). Freud: Biologist of the Mind (pgs. 404-09). Harvard University Press, 1992.
(b) Heinz, Lichtenstein. (1935). “Zur Phanomenologie des Weiderholungszwanges und des Todestriebs”, Imago, 21:466-80.
(c) Bernfeld, Siegfried and Feitelberg, Sergei. (1930). “Der Entropiesatz und der Todestrib”, Imago, 16:187-206.
(d) Alexander, Franz. (1921). “Metaphyschologische Betrachtungen”, Internationale Zeitschrift fur Psychoanalysie, 6:370-85.
(e) Saul, Leon J. (1958). “Freud’s Death Instinct and the Second Law of Thermodynamics”, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 39:323-25.
2. Zencey, Eric. (1983). “Entropy as Root Metaphor”, Conference on Science, Technology, and Literature, Feb, Long Island University, New York; in: Beyond the Two Cultures: Essays on Science, Technology, and Literature (editors: Joseph Slade and Judith Lee) (§9:185-200), Iowa State University Press, 1900.
3. Shermer, Michael. (2000). How We Believe: the Search for God in an Age of Science (Sulloway, 14+ pgs). Macmillan.
4. Dawkins, Richard. (2006). The God Delusion (pg. 102). Houghton Mifflin Harcout.

External links
Frank Sulloway – Wikipedia.
Home –
Frank J Sulloway (faculty) – UC Berkeley, Psychology.
Sulloway, Frank J. – WorldCat Identities.

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