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Burying Freud

[ Burying Freud Homepage | Freud's Seduction Theory Homepage ]

Were it not for the dire consequences in terms of intellectual loss and human suffering, one could easily agree with Ivan Goldberg that psychoanalysis is dead and Freud will be forgotten. [But one cannot refrain from remarking that to bet on "one hundred years from now" is not a very falsifiable hypothesis of yours, Dr. Goldberg!] No doubt Freud will some day be buried, only he will most probably get a more decent burial than what Tallis, Webster, Crews and other present undertakers would like to give him. By "decent burial" I mean a burial that deals with the true Freud, with his real works, containing both mistakes and valid discoveries. This means, as a first step, reading Freud _slowly_ and working hard on his writings in order to understand what he was really working on. Trying to define the object of his research is yet an imperfectly accomplished endeavor. And many psychoanalytic writings are based on ready-to-wear Freudian clichés that easily open the doors to vicious attacks. Burying Freud might also reveal itself an endless task. Which does not mean that Freud will not be forgotten. Only, his object of research will then be rediscovered under other names, in other circumstances. Who knows? Who could have predicted, 50 years ago, that someday computers were going to be connected world-wide with a language that borrows loosely on "free associations"? To tell you the truth, I sometimes get really tired answering to attacks on psychoanalysis by psychopharmacologists who think THEY deal with the "real thing" while they only manipulate approximative substances they stuff their patient's brains with. No question, as a psychiatrist I sometimes do the same thing; but I try not to fool myself: psychiatry is an empirical praxis without a real theory about what it's doing. The first thing one should consider is that psychiatrists, as such, have little knowledge of Freud and psychoanalysis. There is a clear misunderstanding here; the prefix "psycho" in psycho-analysis and psycho-pharmacology or psych-iatry do not address the same realities. Of course, there are some overlappings, and psychoanalysis IS ALSO a form of therapy (otherwise how dare we accept money from analysands who come to see us because they _suffer_?). However hard I try, I cannot satisfy myself with the dictum that analysis is not therapy after all. It certainly is not _only_ therapy. It is first of all a method of research. (Yes Sir or Madam, you read correctly: re-search. Who said research was the private property of those who delve into control-group protocols ?) As Piera Aulagnier (who is alas almost unknown to non-French analysts) wrote, the therapeutic effect is the "homage paid to truth". If analysis contains some truth, it cannot avoid being therapeutic (but this is another story). "In fine", to paraphrase another "crank" : "Let the dead bury the dead" and let the other go on re-reading and re-thinking Freud if they wish. This is the burial he deserves. No dogma, no religious taboo about his theories, but the simple respect we owe every great thinker. Put Freud's work into pieces, time certainly will. Only slowly, guys, very slowly...

Dominique Scarfone, MD
psychiatrist and psycho-analyst
Societe psychanalytique de Montreal
(Canadian Psychoanalytic Society)

 


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© Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young - Last updated: 28 May, 2005 02:29 PM

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 | Human Nature | The Human Nature Daily Review | Psychiatry Research Online |

Burying Freud

[ Burying Freud Homepage | Freud's Seduction Theory Homepage ]

Were it not for the dire consequences in terms of intellectual loss and human suffering, one could easily agree with Ivan Goldberg that psychoanalysis is dead and Freud will be forgotten. [But one cannot refrain from remarking that to bet on "one hundred years from now" is not a very falsifiable hypothesis of yours, Dr. Goldberg!] No doubt Freud will some day be buried, only he will most probably get a more decent burial than what Tallis, Webster, Crews and other present undertakers would like to give him. By "decent burial" I mean a burial that deals with the true Freud, with his real works, containing both mistakes and valid discoveries. This means, as a first step, reading Freud _slowly_ and working hard on his writings in order to understand what he was really working on. Trying to define the object of his research is yet an imperfectly accomplished endeavor. And many psychoanalytic writings are based on ready-to-wear Freudian clichés that easily open the doors to vicious attacks. Burying Freud might also reveal itself an endless task. Which does not mean that Freud will not be forgotten. Only, his object of research will then be rediscovered under other names, in other circumstances. Who knows? Who could have predicted, 50 years ago, that someday computers were going to be connected world-wide with a language that borrows loosely on "free associations"? To tell you the truth, I sometimes get really tired answering to attacks on psychoanalysis by psychopharmacologists who think THEY deal with the "real thing" while they only manipulate approximative substances they stuff their patient's brains with. No question, as a psychiatrist I sometimes do the same thing; but I try not to fool myself: psychiatry is an empirical praxis without a real theory about what it's doing. The first thing one should consider is that psychiatrists, as such, have little knowledge of Freud and psychoanalysis. There is a clear misunderstanding here; the prefix "psycho" in psycho-analysis and psycho-pharmacology or psych-iatry do not address the same realities. Of course, there are some overlappings, and psychoanalysis IS ALSO a form of therapy (otherwise how dare we accept money from analysands who come to see us because they _suffer_?). However hard I try, I cannot satisfy myself with the dictum that analysis is not therapy after all. It certainly is not _only_ therapy. It is first of all a method of research. (Yes Sir or Madam, you read correctly: re-search. Who said research was the private property of those who delve into control-group protocols ?) As Piera Aulagnier (who is alas almost unknown to non-French analysts) wrote, the therapeutic effect is the "homage paid to truth". If analysis contains some truth, it cannot avoid being therapeutic (but this is another story). "In fine", to paraphrase another "crank" : "Let the dead bury the dead" and let the other go on re-reading and re-thinking Freud if they wish. This is the burial he deserves. No dogma, no religious taboo about his theories, but the simple respect we owe every great thinker. Put Freud's work into pieces, time certainly will. Only slowly, guys, very slowly...

Dominique Scarfone, MD
psychiatrist and psycho-analyst
Societe psychanalytique de Montreal
(Canadian Psychoanalytic Society)

 


human-nature.com
© Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young - Last updated: 28 May, 2005 02:29 PM

US -
 Search:
Keywords:  

Amazon.com logo

UK -
 Search:
Keywords:  

Amazon.co.uk logo

 | Human Nature | The Human Nature Daily Review | Psychiatry Research Online |