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Freud and the Scientific Method 
by Paul Rosenfels
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Freud and the Scientific Method 
by Paul Rosenfels
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This monograph is organized into two parts of five sections each.
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PART I: The Origin of the Neuroses
PART II: The Nature of Social Life
PART I: The Origin of the Neuroses
Introduction. I have never believed that the world needs a St. George to conquer the dragon of Freudian error. I believe that ordinary rational men who are not captured by professional status images can see the artificiality and lack of genuine love for humanity that characterizes his theories. Once this insight has become established in men's minds, what use can it be to follow Freud into all the byways and sidetracks with which he sought to cover up his own sense of being on shaky ground? How many times does an individual have to prove that one and one is two?
Freud obviously had some kind of high impact influence on the psychological thinking of his time. I wish to identify the nature of that influence without getting lost in the kind of polemics which becomes invective, a fate which has overcome many of his critics. It is necessary for the critic to be firmly oriented toward the search for truth about human nature in his own life if his analysis of Freudian error is to be a contribution to the building of a science of human nature.
This monograph is not primarily adversarial in structure. Truth will stand on its own feet, just as error will die of its own weight. Although I repeatedly point out that Freud made significant and undermining errors, I am doing this to emphasize that every thinker in the human field need not be lost in the same way. I am primarily interested in creating a bridge for the communication of my own insights. Polemic writing always makes for easier comprehension, and no one has ever accused me in the past of presenting psychological material in a fashion that makes it good vacation reading.
Freud was not the scientist he thought he was. He was a towering literary figure, a communicator of the highest talents, who did his share to raise the consciousness of the civilized world in psychological matters. Now it is up to others to make something substantial out of the opportunity thus afforded by his pioneering zeal. Freud forged a one stage revolt. It did not reach truth, but it broke down the conspiracy of silence surrounding psychological mechanisms. There is no area of scientific inquiry where truth is as unacceptable as in the human field. Exploration of truth in this area threatens to touch people's lives in a very personal way and is generally treated as non-communication by society. Freud accepted the task of forcing the world to pay attention to psychological data. He took the position that there are psychological reasons for psychological events, and made it clear that sexual phenomena could not be ruled out of the world's attention. He was the leader of a liberation movement, declaring that human psychological events are a fit subject of scientific inquiry.
Freud's scientific position was undermined by his need to utilize controversy for competitive ends. He needed to be recognized and rewarded in conventional ways. His radicalism ended at the point where his ability to lead a respectable professional movement would have been compromised. Freud accepted the social system in which he lived. He saw that it bred mental illness, but he protected it from the threat of a revolutionary thrust by declaring its defects to have biological roots which made psychopathology inevitable. Freud's conceptual depth was marred by the limitations he accepted in the scope of his personal experiences. He lived an ivory tower life and found himself in the grip of compulsive self-serving rigidities which were incompatible with the scientific method.
Freud's unorthodoxy was only a surface phenomenon. The civilized world has many secrets from itself. When new human truth emerges it is generally scorned. The greater its revolutionary potential, the less social support it will get, and its influence must be allowed to develop as slowly as necessary so that people will not be overwhelmed by it. The truth seeking process generates its own rewards and must not become dependent on the need of the individual for recognition. Human truth and right have only a localized influence in the moment of their emergence. Freud's ambition would not let him rest in such an isolated position. He chose to deal with subjects which only seemed to be radical because they violated the canons of good taste current in his community. A distinction is to be made between what is shocking and what is revolutionary. Shocking ideas are first ignored or denounced until it becomes apparent to conventional society that its institutions can survive the challenge without significant alterations. Because of his emphasis on sexuality and the evil nature of man, Freud thought he was delivering a serious challenge to social stability. His image of his radical status is belied by the relatively short time it took for his ideas to spread around the world. Actually his approach to human nature was welcome, because it gave people an apparently scientific explanation for the fact that their socially exemplary lives were clouded by a sense of emptiness and frustration. If sadness and misery are seen to be inevitable, the individual is spared from a sense of personal responsibility for his own fate.
Freud exposed society to a phase of psychological embarrassment and discomfort which it soon learned to overcome. Such challenges to conventionality are only rhetorical in structure, as when children insist on introducing four letter words into family conversations. To straight laced parents it seems like their world is crumbling around them, but children know such threats are only shadows which destroy nothing. Once the adaptation to the new and strange has taken place, peace returns to the same old social structure. The world came to accept Freud's unorthodoxy in a very short time, historically speaking, and during his lifetime he became a famous and honored member of the aristocracy of thinkers of his day. The opposition that continued was based on the recognition of the defects of his scientific thinking. He continued to cling to the belief that such opposition was a resistance to the boldness of his exposure of forbidden topics.
There are those who say that Freud avoided controversy, offering as evidence his disdain for answering critics and his avoidance, whenever possible, of face to face arguments with others. He remained intensely aware, however, of the conventional opinions of mankind on every subject that touched his interests, and he formed his rhetoric on a framework which was always controversial. In his written work he repeatedly constructs the image of a critic whom he then answers. Freud's writings have the structure of a dialogue with an unseen adversary. He never saw that this kind of structuring of ideas impedes truth seeking. Truth cannot be found by identifying error, but this style of procedure does greatly facilitate communication. Through argument with socially supported error the thinker is guaranteed a substantial access to the avenues of communication which are already in existence.
The Freudian vocabulary has entered common parlance in many aspects of the human scene, including art, literature, philosophy, politics, and psychotherapy. Freud's apparent influence on the social life of man is only a mirage. Because of his stature as a courageous liberator, he has brought reflected prestige to his followers, and has given them a rhetoric with which to cover their ignorance of the whole personality. Men cannot turn to Freudian insights to make a better world because Freud did not deal with the constructive forces in human nature. He has fed society's hunger for the kind of mythology which functions to protect men from the threat inherent in facing the unknown. The myths that men use to avoid a vacuum in human understanding change as new movements bring new vocabularies into being. If the influence on common parlance were the test, astrology would be seen as a more powerful influence than psychoanalysis. As far as psychiatry is concerned, it is always ready to cannibalize any intellectual system which contributes to its prestige with the gullible. This public acceptance of Freud does not go so far as to know what he really said. Myths are part of man's esthetic life and have nothing to do with the kind of scientific insight the world requires to overcome disabling neurotic symptoms and to guide social development toward a constructive world order.
The libido and its frustrations. The cornerstone of the Freudian system is the assumption that blocked sexuality underlies neurotic symptoms. The term libido refers to warmth and love as well as sex, but Freud saw sex as the fundamental instinct from which all other manifestations of affection are derived. They take their form from the repression of their original sexual nature. He wrote:
"We believe that civilization has been built up, under the struggle for existence, by sacrifices in gratification of the primitive impulses . . . .The sexual are among the most important of the instinctive forces thus utilized . . . .their energy is turned aside from its sexual goal and diverted toward other ends, no longer sexual and socially more valuable. But the structure thus built up is insecure, for the sexual impulses are with difficulty controlled; in each individual who takes up his part in the work of civilization there is a danger that a rebellion of the sexual impulses may occur against this diversion of their energy. Society can conceive of no more powerful menace to its culture than would arise from the liberation of the sexual impulses and a return to their original goal." (1)
He often returns to the theme of powerful repressing forces struggling to keep Pandora's box securely sealed:
"Do you not know how uncontrolled and unreliable the average human being is in all that concerns sexual life? Or are you ignorant of the fact that all the excesses and aberrations of which we dream at night are crimes actually committed every day by men who are wide awake? . . . . We dwell upon the evil in human beings with the greater emphasis only because others deny it, thereby making the mental life of mankind not indeed better, but incomprehensible." (2)
There are two crucial and undermining errors in Freud's theory of libido. He did not understand the importance of describing an instinct in its most basic and general form. To compound the problem, he failed to recognize that libido has a partner of equal biological influence, namely the instincts which underlie the drive toward mastery or power.
The attraction between members of the same species depends on a cohesive cement which is observable throughout the animal world. Sexuality is a surplus which develops out of this basic cohesive instinct when circumstances favor its expression. Sexuality is an application of the cohesive instinct, not its root cause. It is important to make a clear separation between sexual events and the operation of warmth and love in the human scene. Love is recognized when warmth is felt without arbitrary limits, and it has two main forms. There is the kind of love which is felt as an esthetic experience for the pure pleasure of its intensity, and the kind which commits the individual to an ongoing relationship with the loved object, characterized by a devotion to the inner growth of both for the purpose of increasing their ability to meet each other's needs without pre-established limits. This is creative love which uses its harmonious tension bearing capacities to build knowledge and understanding as a tool of giving. It is love which goes to work in the human scene. It calls on the individual for the best he has to offer and becomes a powerful force in establishing the independence of the individual. He is then able to be the judge of what is worthy in himself, choosing the direction of his self-development without prior commitment to old meanings and values. The workmanship of love sends him into new territory, and this lays the groundwork for the psychological growth of the adult individual. Simple warmth can become an intense form of liking which sometimes is called love, as when people say they love a kind of food or a trip to their favorite vacation spot. It idealizes readily, and just as easily loses idealization if disappointed, as when an adored athlete is deserted by his fans when his performance is not up to expectations.
Freud's concept of the sexual origin of libido spread its obscuring influence over the entire subject of the personality. It effaced his ability to see that there was another elemental instinct paired with cohesion, namely the drive toward experience. This instinct feeds curiosity, enterprise, and the spirit of adventure. It strives to bring happenings and events into being. Animals are organized by their biological inheritance to interact with each other and their environment for this purpose. Puppies and kittens not only snuggle together, they also explore and play. The experiential instinct leads to pride and a sense of power. Simple pride is an esthetic experience guided by the pure enjoyment of its invigorating quality. It does not commit itself to responsibility in the human scene. It exploits its environment only when there is no resistance to its expression. On the other hand, creative power uses skill and manipulative experimentation to increase the value of the object or situation being possessed. As with creative love, the lasting commitments of creative power lay the groundwork for psychological growth. Freud was unable to recognize that a surplus existed in the experiential instinct, analogous to sexuality, which is here called celebration. When he saw celebrative phenomena he invariably classified them as narcissistic or sadistic, losing awareness of the whole area of constructive power development.
The task of civilized individuals is to retain access to their instinctual drives in their basic or general form so that constructive and healthy choices of channels of expression can be made. When instincts take pathways of decreasing generality, they commit the personality to certain needs without recourse to change. Prematurely frozen instinct channels undermine the independence of the individual. Both freedom and security require flexibility in the way instincts will be expressed. There is no way to build self-knowledge and self-control without the ability to find new gratifications when old ones are given up.
The cohesive instinct leads to a tendency to submission, and the experiential instinct opens the channels of dominance. Submission feeds the warmth of the personality, and dominance supplies pride. Warmth and pride have a high level of generality which permits multiple choices. This is very important in the dealing with sex and celebration. They are surpluses which develop out of warmth and pride. If there is little choice about identifying sexual and celebrative situations, these strong drives can destroy the ability of the individual to enrich his warmth and pride capacities. Without choice, all deepening warmth appears sexual, and all expanding pride is on the edge of overflowing into celebration.
An example of the need for generality can be seen in the instinctual based need for nourishing food. If an individual is required by circumstances to give up a particular kind of food, he chooses to sustain himself with others that are available. If the mistaken conclusion is drawn that he has an instinctual need to ingest one particular kind, such as beef, and beef is no longer available, an entire theory of psychopathology can be built on the thesis that his frustrated need for beef is undermining his warmth capacity and therefore his adjustment to life. This kind of formulation has considerable appeal to those who are blind to the real causes of disabling psychological symptoms. The clinical condition known as anorexia nervosa, in which individuals may literally starve to death, is an example of false specificity in the appetite for food. Such individuals have severely damaged warmth for themselves, and look on their response to food as a reassurance that they can feel. They seek the ideal food, one so appetizing that it will magically cancel out their emotional emptiness and the helplessness that goes with it. All other foods become disgusting, and as this process expands, there is nothing left that they can eat.
On the experiential or mastery side of instinctual capacities, the same need for generality can be seen. When man is assumed to have an aggressive or combative instinct, it has been a favorite formulation that such drives need to be sublimated into harmless competitive forms such as the struggle for superiority in sports. When the basic instinct is seen as a need to expand the world of experience, there is no need for the concept of sublimation. When men live in a world favorable to the development of their pride capacities, their energies will not take reckless directions. Violence is a distorted and pathological expression of a basic instinct, not the instinct itself. When violence serves survival it has an adaptive place, but this is a phenomenon regulated by adaptive reality and not a general tendency of the personality. Kleptomania supplies an example of false specificity in the need to experience the possession of material things. These individuals lack independent access to pride, and respond to the attractiveness of objects as other people see them. They do not want or need the things they steal. It is the desire to possess something that other people value that gives them an evanescent and reckless gratification of their desire for power. They cannot find any other channel for the bringing of an event or happening into being. Their possessiveness has no relationship to the real nature of the thing possessed. A constructive mastery drive, on the other hand, increases the value of all that it owns. The inability to choose alternative patterns of experience underlies addiction in general.
The Oedipus complex. Freud equated all intensity of feeling with sexuality, and this error distorted his view of the development of the child. He believed that the nursing infant is having a sexual experience, as is the child who defecates and urinates. The growing child is therefore required to build up a prohibitionistic system against the abuse of these pleasures. It is certainly true that it is in the nature of feeling intensity to be vulnerable to sexualization, but this distortion only occurs when feelings cannot find outlet in a world of experience. It is the task of the growing personality to keep intensity and sexual excitement separate. If an oversupply of feeling meets an undersupply of experience, helplessness intervenes, and in this disoriented state sexuality may enter with or without anxiety, destroying warmth and the ability to become more aware of the self and others. Freud treated human beings as if they were consistently overwhelmed by feelings which had no constructive outlets. He was quite deficient in his observations of the animal world. All mammals nurse, defecate, and urinate, and they have no prohibitionistic system to create barriers of disgust against the erotic abuse of these functions. Cats bury their feces without the threat of punishment and birds do not foul their own nests.
Freud's image of a lurking eroticism ready to wipe out mankind arose from his failure to understand that intensity can find a healthy balance with the life of action. He struggled with the question of differentiating between bodily pleasure and sexuality. He invents a critic who asks him:
"Why are you so set upon declaring as already belonging to sexuality those indefinite manifestations of childhood out of which what is sexual later develops, and which you yourself admit to be indefinite." He then answers his critic: "But can you tell me where this originally indifferent bodily pleasure acquires the sexual character that it undoubtedly possesses in later phases of development?" (3)
Freud could not answer this question because he was mystified by the nature of the psychological release point where sexual excitement emerges. He was blind to the existence of the celebrative power surplus which is of equal importance to sexuality. It is the interaction between the two which brings the courtship of the lower animals into being, and this occurs when they are biologically mature. In civilized human beings submission and dominance are no longer necessarily tied to gender, but it is still the combination of sex and celebration which determines the release point of sexual excitement. Human beings use the mated mechanism to find an atmosphere where sexual activity flows in a natural and unimpeded way, but they do not require an actual domain with a partner for this to happen. Masturbatory fantasy and self-induced celebration are an important part of civilized man's inner psychic life, and they depend on the ability to set up independent images of submission-dominance relationships. When individuals regard masturbation as an unsatisfactory experience, it is because their fantasy life is not sufficiently anchored in their inner identity and is therefore not adequate to the requirements of the situation. Self-induced celebration requires the capacity to put the self in a mental position where obstacles vanish in a miraculous way. This is an entirely internal psychological experience, and only becomes antisocial if the individual lacks the resources to keep his untrammeled willfulness out of his real relationships with others. When an individual believes it is better to blot out awareness of frustrations through the use of drugs, or to play Russian roulette, or to rob a bank, than to induce his own celebrative states, it is because his resources for independent psychological play are inadequately developed.
Since Freud saw sexuality everywhere, it was a short step for him to invent the Oedipus complex. Whenever Freud saw sexual moments in the life of the infant and child, he assumed that they were goal directed needs which could only be abandoned as a result of severe prohibiting and repressing forces. His view of the sexual aspirations of children ignores the real need of the child to build his warmth and love capacities. Children are very vulnerable to overstimulation, leading to anxiety and restlessness, and they require parental guidance in directing their psychological needs into healthy channels. The small child must be protected from stimuli which seem commonplace to adults but become an overwhelming exposure to the unknown and the chaotic for the child. He is not yet able to provide his own insulation from such potentially noxious situations. Frustrations endured by infants are real frustrations, not the blunting of mysterious needs undergoing repression. Infants desire nutrition in rhythms that their needs dictate, physical nurturing by the parent in warm and reassuring ways, and freedom to exercise their dawning interest in the world around them without encountering threatening obstacles. When parents attempt to program them into some pre-established image of how an infant should feel and act, the frustration level becomes very high. Parents learn to grow in their parental function by interacting with the developing infant and child. When the rigidity of the parent makes this mutual growth impossible, the child experiences disabling helpless and reckless reactions. Freud undertook to understand childhood without taking the problems of parents into account. Since his insights into childhood psychopathology were too superficial to explain anything, he fastened on frustrated sexual goals as the royal road to understanding the origin of neuroses. This sidetrack was easy for him to follow since he had successfully insisted that childhood sexual feelings and activities at a masturbatory level do exist.
Freud's blindness to parent-child relationships is shown by the following statement from the Wolf Man case history:
". . . . the life of a child under school age is easily observable, and we can examine it to see whether any 'problems' are to be found in it capable of determining the causation of a neurosis. But we discover nothing but instinctual trends which the child cannot satisfy and which it is not old enough to master, and the sources from which these trends arise." (4)
Children raised by rigid formulas that do not take the developing independence of the child into account suffer phobic and depersonalized symptoms which appear mysterious to the parents. The child who is exposed to excessive hate and anger reactions in his world lacks the warmth and pride levels he needs for his development. In this frustrated state sexual feeling may become a problem to the child, and there are no doubt episodic and transitional moments when his sexuality produces images and impulses of an object directed variety. To assume that the child really needs and wants such relationships is a pure invention of Freud's mystical psychological world. The desire of the little child to use a parent as a mated object carries grave dangers of overstimulation which the child can clearly recognize as an oppressive threat. Freud took these thought fragments as proof that the Oedipus complex and the castration anxiety it generates were the primary cause of childhood developmental difficulties. The truth is that children want parents to be parents, not the objects of disintegrated and floating sexual fantasies. Because Freud was the first to identify the presence of these fantasies in childhood, he thought it was his prerogative to assign them meaning in an authoritarian way.
Freud regarded children as Lilliputian adults. He seized on by products of frustrated states as evidence of the universality of the needs he thought he was identifying. He says:
"The child's sexual researches, on which limits are imposed by his physical development, lead to no satisfactory conclusion . . . . The tie of affection, which binds the child as a rule to the parent of the opposite sex, succumbs to disappointment, to a vain expectation of satisfaction or to jealously over the birth of a new baby - unmistakable proof of the infidelity of the object of the child's affections. His own attempt to make a baby himself, carried out with tragic seriousness, fails shamefully. The lessening amount of affection he receives, the increasing demands of education, hard words and an occasional punishment - these show him at last the full extent to which he has been scorned." (5)
Here Freud shows his ignorance of constructive parent-child relationships. The growing child does not necessarily receive less affection, but instead gets the kind of affection which is geared to his developing personality. The exception to this statement, the only state of affairs which Freud recognized, occurs in those parents whose inability to grow in their parental function limits them to the simplicities of the nurturing care of tiny infants. The demands of education, and even the occasional punishment, are recognized by the healthy child as pathways to a fuller psychological life.
Freud's Oedipus complex is based on the assumption of a goal directed mated need in the child. He says:
"We call the mother the first love-object. We speak of 'love' when we lay the accent upon the mental side of the sexual impulses and disregard, or wish to forget for a moment, the demands of the fundamental physical or 'sensual' side of the impulses. At about the time when the mother becomes the love-object, the mental operation of repression has already begun in the child and has withdrawn from him the knowledge of some part of his sexual aims." (6)
Freud's picture of childhood motivation was thoroughly unrealistic. Any child who took such fantasy fragments seriously would be undermined by his own internal loss of the cohesive warmth which binds him to his family attachments. There would be no need to postulate an external prohibition. If an occasional child can be found who really wants to marry his mother and kill his father, such an individual is disastrously frustrated in his family relationships and would be well on his way to a major adult maladjustment. Freud's view of the Oedipus triangle rests on a misinterpretation of the original Greek Oedipus story. Oedipus was trapped by fate into an intimate relationship with an older woman whom he did not know was his mother. The story is a tragedy which says that the innocent killing of his biological father and the events that followed put him in an oppressive and untenable position. There is no way to see what happened as a fulfillment of anything of psychological value to Oedipus himself.
Because Freud saw that his Oedipus fantasy lacked substance, he strove to reinforce it by postulating that the Oedipus complex rests on inheritance of thoughts and impulses from the distant past. He says:
"All that we can find in the prehistory of neurosis is that a child catches hold of this phylogenetic experience where his own experience fails him. He fills in the gaps in individual truth with prehistoric truth; he replaces occurrences in his own life by occurrences in the life of his ancestors." (7)
Freud believed that social life as we know it began with the murder of a tyrannical father by his sons and that memory of this event is inherited genetically:
"We cannot get away from the assumption that man's sense of guilt springs from the Oedipus complex and was acquired at the killing of the father by the brothers banded together . . . . Whether one has killed one's father or has abstained from doing so is really not the decisive thing. One is bound to feel guilty in either case. . . ." (8)
Freud's view of evolution was based on the discredited Lamarckian theory of the inheritance of acquired characteristics, but even biologists who continue to show some attachment to this theory never imagined it would be used to include patterns of thought in the Freudian fashion. The accumulation of inherited mental processes would reach a staggering total as the millennia roll by. Dr. Wortis reports a discussion of this topic during his analysis with Freud:
"I ventured to tell Freud today that his view of the inborn innate character of dream symbols did not agree with my notions of inheritance . . . . it implied the inheritance of acquired characteristics. 'Of course,' said Freud. 'If one didn't believe in inheritance, there would be a lot we could not explain; all of evolution would be impossible.' I pointed out that . . . most biologists were skeptical of it. 'But we can't bother with the biologists,' he said. 'We have our own science.' (9)
Here Freud uses the word science in the same sense that Mary Baker Eddy used it in founding Christian Science. It is Freud's confession that he needed an anti-scientific mysticism to support his theories. Freud's search for the roots of psychopathology was conducted in the dark. Unaware of the oppressive stresses generated by parent-child relationships, he assumed that any intense psychic event which was colored by helpless reactions, no matter how transient, must be the key to the etiology he sought. In the Wolf Man case history, he reports an effort on the part of an older sister at sexual play:
"The boy's age at the time at which his sister began her seductions turned out to be 3 1/4 years. It happened, as has been mentioned, in the spring of the same year in whose summer the English governess arrived, and in whose autumn his parents on their return, found him so fundamentally altered. It is very natural, then, to connect this transformation with the awakening of his sexual activity that had meanwhile taken place." (10)
The entire architecture of the boy's relationship to his parents and governess fades into insignificance compared to the fascinating aura of the sexual material. The transformation Freud refers to consisted of an "inexplicable naughtiness":
"A child that behaves in this unmanageable way is making a confession and trying to provoke punishment. It hopes for a beating as a simultaneous means of setting its sense of guilt at rest and of satisfying its masochistic sexual trend." (11)
The parents' failure to guide and support the child's warmth and pride development at a crucial time in his psychological growth, substituting instead a governess whose only qualifications lay in her ability to deal with the most mundane of adaptive details, does not appear to Freud to be worthy of his attention. It is the parents who must understand the child at such a time, not vice versa. The boy's compulsive obstructiveness was a signal of a build up of latent anxiety, and a corresponding appeal for help. If parents abandon children at times of great inner change in the child, the child must elaborate his own defenses, and the recklessness of this individual was a defense against helplessness. Such defenses have a desperate quality at the age of four years. The fascination of psychoanalysis with the dramatic reduces the human condition to the status of a soap opera. The only choices left to the individual are in the style of his adaptation to the impossible.
The psychoanalytic thesis that man is born to carry mysterious burdens is well illustrated by the theory that the trauma of birth creates a well of anxiety in every human personality. Psychoanalysis assigns fragments of experience an importance they do not have. There are episodes of severe adaptive stress in the life of any organism. It is a distinctly human problem when severe adaptive stress leads to an overstimulation of the personality, resulting in helpless and reckless reactions. When men accept the inevitable in a healthy way, and endure the consequences of a burdensome event, their submission is measured to the reality of the situation and they do not invest more of themselves than the reality requires. The birth trauma is the infant's first experience with adaptation to external stress. It is no doubt more or less difficult for many infants, but then so will many future experiences be difficult in the life of the individual. Nature is not careless in such matters. The capacity to handle adaptive stress and to dissipate its effects, once the storm has been ridden out, is built into the biological resources of the individual.
It could be said that since every child experiences frustration in learning to walk that blows to its pride in preliminary unsuccessful attempts have created a permanent well of self-doubt which surfaces in later life situations. This complex can be labeled the walk trauma and assigned an etiological significance in antisocial behavior. There is no end to this kind of game playing. Because of his fascination with sexual libido, Freud never understood anxiety. When a fundamental aspect of human psychology remains a mystery, it becomes a fertile ground for magical thinking, supporting myths which sometimes become enshrined as holy pseudo-scientific dogma.
Childhood and psychopathology. Infants and young children are extremely vulnerable to overstimulation. The self-knowledge and self-control of adults provide them with independent access to the insulation they need from overwhelming confrontation with the unknown and the chaotic in their psychological world. When adults have very little independence, society is there with its dogma and prohibitions to provide protection against entering psychological areas which the individual cannot handle. Parents provide this insulation for the child, or when overstimulation has occurred, they guide the child away from such experiences. The needs of the very young infant are elemental in nature, and many parents are adequately equipped to respond with nurturing and protective care. There is always a potential problem when the rapid biological growth of the child begins to extend his independence reactions. At this point the child has not yet been molded by outside social forces. His approach to the world is fresh, new, spontaneous, and alive. His growing capacity for independent warmth and pride encourages him to think and act for himself. His need for parental guidance now takes a new direction. He must be protected from excessive independence in areas which will certainly overwhelm him, and at the same time be given room for the rewards which come from his dawning ability to face life on his own. The child's personality is a mixture of unfettered creative capacity and biologically established limitations. If he is allowed to become too ambitious for his own mental health, psychic exhaustion quickly takes over. If the parent lacks independence in his own internal dealings with overstimulation, he will automatically impose socially reinforced dogmas and prohibitions on the child. When this assault on what is best in the child's nature succeeds, his dawning sense of the goodness and beauty of life is damaged, and if he chooses to fight back, the parents become the enemy.
Parents cannot explore what is true and right in equal partnership with a child if they have abandoned independence in their own relationship with society. The child's simple but clear eyed honesty and courage operate as a revolutionary challenge to the compulsive and obsessive defenses of the parents. If the needs of the child bring the parents to the brink of a growth process they are not prepared to handle, they are forced to fight back with all the intimidating and seductive forces at their command. The less independence they have, the more imperative it becomes that they win this battle, because without victory they cannot maintain their parental position. There is no way for the child to benefit from living in an armed camp. He is forced to accept a gradual effacement of part of his human capacities. There is a price paid for the resulting peace and harmony. When unavoidable episodes of excessive feeling or energy threaten to overwhelm the child, he cannot trust the parents to provide the guidance and help he needs. He hides his inner turmoil, and instead of an open conflict within the family, he develops symptoms which appear to come from nowhere. It is impossible for the child to maintain the kind of stable defensive system which adults reach through the use of social supports. Because of his rapid biological changes, especially in the first six years, the child is literally not the same person from one year to the next, and sometimes not from one month to the next. When he is prematurely on his own in facing unfamiliar and menacing situations, helpless and reckless reactions become inevitable. The parent who cannot grow will be threatened not only by the child's openness to life but by the unmanageable stresses the child stumbles into, which he can only regard as unacceptable, corrupt, and naughty. He will see himself as a finished product, and the child as malleable material to be beaten into line in accordance with his pre-established image of parental responsibility.
Constructive human relationships require room for growth on both sides. People cannot deal with the best in others when their differences are more important than what they share. Ostracism and punishment can only be put aside when there is a basic equality between people. Children are often deprived of their status as a person. It is easy for the parent to put the child in an inferior position because of his biological immaturity. This creation of a superiority-inferiority axis not only undermines family relationships but spreads out into social relationships in general. Superiority-inferiority relationships, which should not be confused with submission and dominance, destroy the fabric of civilized man's greatest asset, his ability to share growth with others. It is the only reliable cement which holds families together, and carried out into the world becomes the basis for negotiation and compromise in man's social life. It is a powerful antidote to the domain mechanism where individuals are treated as non-human entities if certain traits they have are found to be alien or frustrating.
Of all the liberation movements of the modern world, including the liberation of women, homosexuals, and old people, the one most needed and least emphasized is the liberation of children. Freud could not understand equality because he granted to society an authority in regulating human relationships which was beyond appeal. He reserved the right to criticize, and to blame society for the sufferings of the individual, but the capacity of the adult to choose his own human environment, guided by his own self-knowledge and self-control, was beyond his comprehension. Freud's mind covered a wide variety of conceptual territories, but his ability to act in independent ways was severely compromised. Because of his supine submission to social control, his awareness of growth was confined to career development and the ability to abandon needs which were a threat to social status.
There was no area of human interaction which escaped from Freud's adherence to inequality. He was quick to see the weaknesses of others, but he was never able to evaluate the level of importance of the information.
On men and women:
"Women represent the interest of the family and of sexual life. The work of civilization has become increasingly the business of men, it confronts them with ever more difficult tasks and compels them to carry out instinctual sublimations of which women are little capable . . . . Thus the woman finds herself forced into the background by the claims of civilization and she adopts a hostile attitude toward it." (12)
On husbands and wives, talking to his patient, Dr. Wortis:
"The young men fall in love with young girls and often marry them, and in America the girls are usually much more mature than the men at that early age, lead them around by the nose, make fools of them, and that is why you get Frauenherrschaft, your rule of women, in America . . . . American women are an anticultural phenomenon . . . . That is why marriages are so unsuccessful in America, that is why your divorce rate is so high. American men do not know how to make love . . . . In Europe, things are different, men take the lead and this is as it should be." (13)
On leaders and followers:
"It is just as impossible to do without control of the mass by a minority as it is to dispense with coercion in the work of civilization. For masses are lazy and unintelligent; they have no love for instinctual renunciation, and they are not to be convinced by argument of its inevitability; and the individuals composing them support one another in giving free rein to their indiscipline. It is only through the influence of individuals who can set an example and whom the masses recognize as their leaders that they can be induced to perform the work and undergo the renunciations on which the existence of civilization depends." (17) And again: "Over and above the tasks of restricting the instincts, which we are prepared for, there forces itself on our notice the danger of a state of things which might be termed 'the psychology of groups'. This danger is most threatening where the bonds of a society are chiefly constituted by the identification of its members with one another, while individuals of the leader type do not acquire the importance that should fall to them in the formation of a group. The present cultural state of America would give us a good opportunity for studying the damage to civilization which is thus to be feared. But I shall avoid the temptation of entering upon a critique of American civilization; I do not wish to give an impression of wanting myself to employ American methods." (18)
On psychoanalyst and patient:
"The situation of analysis involves a superior and a subordinate." (19) Speaking to his patient, Dr. Wortis: "The analysis is a private affair between you and me, and you ought not to speak to anyone about it. You want to learn more about human nature because you are ignorant and I am here to teach you. An analysis is not a chivalrous affair between two equals." (20)
On teacher and student:
Introducing the subject of neuroses to laymen at the University of Vienna: "The manifestations of neurosis, however, are an unknown region to you; those of you who are not yourselves medical men have no access there except through the accounts I give you; and of what use is the most excellent judgement where there is no knowledge of the subject under debate? . . . . No one has a right to conviction on these matters who has not worked at this subject for many years, as I have, and has not himself experienced the same new and astonishing discoveries." (21) And again: "It is impossible, therefore, for you to be actually present during a psychoanalytic treatment; you can only be told about it, and can learn psychoanalysis, in the strictest sense of the word, only by hearsay. This tuition at second hand, so to say, puts you in a very unusual and difficult position as regards forming your own judgement on the subject, which will therefore largely depend on the reliance you can place on your informant." (22)
On children and adults:
When Freud wanted to impute to small children such ideas as wanting to be born again and the ability to make elaborate interpretations of the meaning of sexual intercourse, as well as aspirations to replace the functions of adults, especially in sexual matters, he had unbounded faith in the psychological resources of children. He said: "For my own observations show that we have rated the powers of children too low and that there is no knowing what they cannot be given credit for." (14) Crediting children with insights into real human relationships was a different matter, and here he dealt with children as pathological exhibits. When the Wolf Man reported that he had had serious doubts about religious dogma as a young child, Freud wrote: "It was impossible, I thought, that these could have been the thoughts of a child of four and a half or five." (15) Freud recognized only one area of legitimate parent-child disagreement: "That is why children mistrust their parents, because of the sex lies that were told them." (16)
Equality based on shared growth means that individuals are sharing a community of goals. Without this sense of purpose within each personality, there is no way to evaluate either the human accomplishments of each or the problems generated by shortcomings in their psychological capacities. Growth confers on the individual the right to make his own mistakes without damage to his warmth and pride levels. It cuts across the divisionary lines which more superficial human characteristics depend upon, such as ethnic identity, class distinctions, gender roles, and religious beliefs. Kipling had the strength of this fundamental basis for human sharing in mind when he wrote: "Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, . . . . But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, when two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!"
Since Freud regarded parents as finished products, he had no way to understand the vicissitudes of the psychological growth of children. He divested the child of the integrity of its childishness. The real cause of childhood psychopathology can only be found when the rebellion of children against parental rigidity is understood. Freud saw the psychological life of the infant and young child as a journey through dark passageways beset by a succession of traumatic events. The vulnerability of the child to overstimulation produces many difficult moments, but when the child and parent work together, the child is well equipped by nature to seal off any lasting consequences of such episodes. The child is not put together with adhesive tape and chewing gum. He is endowed with the capacity to show his need for help in clear and impelling tones. When a child is overstimulated by human events he can neither understand or control, the transient oppression of this reaction can be put aside without damage through the banishing of such stimuli from his psychological world. It is a matter of choice, and with parental cooperation he goes toward those harmonious feelings and experiences which are appropriate to his stage of development. Freud did not recognize choice as a significant tool of the personality. Instead he saw the operation of repression everywhere. Each traumatic moment was seen as a demand on the child to give up an instinctual drive he really needed and wanted, and growing up became a matter of submitting to harsh and tyrannical rules which ignored his real nature. Freud's traumas are not based on genuine goal directed needs of childhood. The helpless and reckless reactions they generate do not come from the frustration of the child's real nature, but rather from the fact that the child's relationship with the adult world is already deficient in the understanding and support he requires. Freud's traumas imputed a goal structure to children which transformed them into crippled versions of adulthood. The ghosts of traumatic residues were everywhere, emerging from a series of assaults on the personality, such as the birth trauma, phobic reactions to primal scenes, primitive and chaotic homicidal impulses, prohibited sexual tendencies, frustrated Oedipal aspirations, and castration anxiety. To Freud, nature had made some gigantic mistake. It had endowed the child with adult-like psychological goals it was not mature enough to handle.
Freud regarded the young child as the helpless victim of forces predestined to be frustrating and hostile. In discussing what he regarded as man's helplessness before the forces of nature:
"For this situation is nothing new. It has an infantile prototype, of which it is in fact only a continuation. For once before one has found oneself in a similar state of helplessness: as a small child, in relation to one's parents." (23)
This use of the word helplessness, although it agrees with much common usage, is woefully lacking in psychological substance. The child is really only helpless if it is abandoned in time of need. Parent and child form an interacting unit, each supplied with instinctually rooted drives which complement and fulfil each other. A healthy infant is biologically weak, not psychologically helpless. The crying infant is not helpless as long as his signal of need is reaching the parent in the way that nature intended. Genuine helplessness or recklessness in any infant produces major disturbances in its physiological functioning, such as lethargy, digestive disturbances, and hypermotile rage reactions. Fledglings throughout the animal world know what it is to claim parental attention and help. Genuinely helpless reactions by adults to overwhelming forces do occur, but to say that such reactions are only a continuation of the small child's relationship to his parents is to cut the heart out of the parent-child relationship.
Contrary to Freud's view, mature adults are not required to feel helpless before the forces of nature. Man had adaptive resources which permit him to select those areas where he can understand and control nature, and when this is not possible, to accept the inevitable and endure the whiplash of nature's fury. Such submission is measured to the reality of the situation, and he does not invest more of himself than the reality requires. It is when men lack sufficient objectivity to limit their response to such disasters that helpless and reckless reactions take over. They are then in a state of overstimulation, and this is the source of the phobic anxiety and depersonalized restlessness which develops. Some survivors of disasters are quite cheerful. These are the ones who have met the adaptive challenge and surmounted the threat of overwhelming stimulation in their internal psychic life.
When Freud saw helplessness in an adult, he assumed he had returned to an earlier stage of development. He called this process regression, and the point to which the individual had regressed was regarded as a fixation. Since he saw children as bundles of neurotic phenomena, he had no great difficulty selecting a fixation point which had some superficial resemblance to the symptoms of mature persons. In fact, there is no stage of development of the healthy infant and child which is the same as the psychological state of helpless or reckless adults. The dependent child has a constructive relationship to parents. The helpless adult is concerned with defending himself against oppressive anxiety and restlessness. Any dependency he may have in no way advances his personal development. The neurotic adult who is afraid to leave the house or who indulges in weeping temper tantrums is not relating to his environment, and any resemblance to the biological weakness of children is entirely superficial and inaccurate. Because mumps is usually a childhood disease does not mean that an adult with mumps is regressing to a childhood state. Helplessness can occur at any level of development, childhood included, and when it appears it must be understood in terms of the psychological forces acting on the personality at that time. An overwhelmed adult is not a child. He is a psychologically crippled adult, and the fixation point to which he is supposed to be returning is a mirage which never really existed.
Freud believed his childhood traumas tended to drive the personality back to a time when real happiness existed, but since such circumstances could not actually be recovered, this regression could only lead to suffering. It did not matter whether evidence existed for the presence of these traumatic events. Freud agreed that usually the events which lead to fixation of the libido in infancy and early childhood never really happened. He saw them as fantasies which he believed had to be given the same psychological place as actual events. These traumas are observation of parental sexual activity, called the primal scene, seduction by an older person, the threat of castration, and many others. Fantasies dealing with these topics he calls primal fantasies, and he believed memory of them is inherited from actual experience of man's early ancestors. In Freud's world, man's gene pool is very busy. Freud says:
". . . . the neurotic is in some way tied to a period in his past life; we know now that this period in the past is one in which his libido could attain satisfaction, one in which he was happy . . . . The kind of satisfaction which the symptom brings has much about it which estranges us, quite apart from the fact that the person concerned is unaware of the satisfaction and perceives this that we call satisfaction much more as suffering, and complains of it . . . . what was at one time a satisfaction must today arouse resistance or horror in him . . . . the same child that sucked milk with voracity from its mother's breast often shows, some years later, a strong dislike of milk which can with difficulty be overcome by training; this dislike is intensified to the point of horror if the milk or any other kind of liquid containing it has a skin formed upon it. It is possible that this skin calls up reverberations of a memory of the mother's breast, once so ardently desired." (24)
To Freud, neurotic symptoms were substitute gratifications for blocked libidinal drives, especially sexual, even though the individual perceived only suffering. Once he got on this track his otherwise agile mind ceased to explore reality. If he had offered milk with a skin on it to a cat he would have seen the same distaste. Animals do not like strange textures which coat the mouth. As far as the taste for milk is concerned, infants are biologically equipped to digest mother's milk. As the individual gets older, he may lose some or all of the enzyme necessary to digest milk sugar. It is inappropriate to describe the infant's ingestion of milk as voracious or ardent. These words would not ordinarily be used to describe the behavior of a hungry individual who is enjoying an appealing meal.
Freud was able to set up circumstances under which a great deal of recall was possible of oppressive moments in the history of the patient's childhood. His method consisted of hypnosis in the early days and then free association under the influence of the transference. Having labored long and hard to collect his new data, Freud espoused the position that psychopathology encountered in adult life was to be understood by recovering the memory of childhood experiences which before therapy had become forgotten. Recollecting these events, if they met the criteria of being traumas, with the affect associated with them, a process called abreaction, was supposed to reduce their influence on adult psychology, making it possible for the individual to liberate himself from old fixations and complexes. This method provided a system of understanding of neurosis which could successfully ignore the complexities of the child-parent relationship.
The truth is that there is no way for the individual to understand his early relationship with his parents without having grown sufficiently in his adult psychological life to put himself beyond the world of their human limitations. Only when the individual has experienced something more can he identify what was lacking before. The child has no chance of accomplishing this task. He must remain loyal to his parents, whether it brings neurotic symptoms in its wake or not. He has no choice of any other world. This loyalty, which is a survival measure, can be found even in those who are grossly neglected and abused. The recovery of childhood memories cannot touch the real issues of the causes of psychopathology, because the child never had such insights, and the adult obviously cannot recover by recall what was never there in the first place. On the other hand, when the individual has thrown off the limitations imposed by early influences, through growth in his adult life, he can look back and through ordinary recall, which requires no emphasis on hidden traumas and abreaction, gradually learn to reinterpret the architecture of the child-parent relationship. Once attained, such insights become an essential tool in the building of self-knowledge and self-control. The individual can see both the assets and the limitations which his parents, acting as the agents of society, passed on to him in the time of his rearing. This situation means that the present sheds light on the past, and not vice versa.
The mere gathering of data gives no guaranteed access to either a therapeutic function or to scientific insight. Freud oscillated between being therapist and investigator, accepting the easy misconception that a favorable therapeutic result was evidence of scientific validity. In the Wolf Man case he explored every nook and cranny of the patient's childhood memories, but the actual impact of the therapeutic process came when he stumbled on the interpretation of the patient's conflictful submissive nature and the homosexual stresses it provoked. If the goal of the therapy is to be found in improving the welfare of the patient, the rest of his complicated venture into the exposure of childhood memories becomes window dressing. Freud is writing about the Wolf Man's inhibited social relationships:
"It was only when, during the analytic treatment, it became possible to liberate his shackled homosexuality that this state of affairs showed any improvement, and it was a most remarkable experience to see how (without any direct advice from the physician) each piece of the homosexual libido which was set free sought application in life and some attachment to the great common concerns of mankind." (25)
There are many therapies, and they share the common quality of giving apparent insights into symptoms in an authoritative fashion, thus dispelling some of the aura of mystery and menace which is so undermining to the patient. Preoccupation with symptoms limits the scope of the personality. If the disability is altered in a way that is greeted by the patient as an improvement, the therapy is considered successful. This process resembles what happens when a person has worried about a mysterious pain in his body, only to find after a visit to a physician that he does not have a serious physical illness after all. Freed from the oppressive thought that he harbors a fatal disease, the pain becomes less or disappears entirely. There is no reason to quarrel with any therapist who produces such benevolent changes. Such results are accessible to any therapeutic system which directs the patient's attention away from disabilities. This method is inadequate to guarantee long term results. Often the price is only paid years later through a gradual constriction of the patient's participation in the life process, a condition which is sometimes more disabling than the original symptoms. Psychotherapists do not take well to long term follow ups, primarily because they have no way to evaluate the quality of life for themselves or others. Symptom manipulation can never provide an adequate basis for a science of human nature. Psychoanalysis has had its share of successes in reducing the menace of oppressive symptoms, but its record cannot equal that of various consciousness raising groups, including Christian Science, evangelical religious movements, transcendental meditation, encounter groups, or for that matter the record of witch doctors in the Gobi desert, according to Roy Chapman Andrews. (26)
The unconscious and repression. The brain records much information not immediately available to recall. To function effectively, the mind needs to focus on useful goals and their associated data. Much of the information which lies somewhere in the brain will never be retrieved by the individual. It requires an appropriate context to bring such data to consciousness. As the child grows physically and psychologically, the world in which his mental life is taking place is subject to the most rapid changes he will ever experience in a lifetime. Without the old contexts, forgetting becomes a characteristic aspect of the life of the growing child.
It is an essential part of brain function to insulate itself from the useless recall of inappropriate data. Freud was able to bring otherwise forgotten memories into awareness by putting the patient into a mental state foreign to healthy mental functioning. He used hypnosis and later free association for this purpose. He postulated that the recovered data had been forgotten through the action of a prohibitionistic repressing force. He entirely ignored the possibility that the individual had chosen to seal off his response to certain situations because of their disharmonious and overstimulating quality. When a rational choice is being made in the interests of mental health, there is no need to postulate a repressing force. The growing child turns away from situations which threaten to be overwhelming, using parental guidance wherever necessary. The amnesias of childhood are the natural consequences of such choices. Anxiety producing situations are forgotten because the personality turns away from the human contexts which produce such anxiety. When the efforts at insulation are unsuccessful, exhaustion patterns take over. When the personality is in a helpless or reckless situation, the brain can no longer integrate and synthesize in a healthy fashion. Ideas and impulses float around like disembodied ghosts. These are psychological fragments which lack direction and cannot be assigned a rational meaning. It is simply a fact that the brain, with its 16 billion neurons, has a great potential for producing meaningless fragments when its goal directed functioning is disrupted. The mind is a larger concept than the brain because it includes the circumstances which make effective brain function possible. The brain is a far more complex computer than man has ever built, but like the computer it must be programmed in order to function.
When the healthy goal directed mental functioning of the individual is temporarily put to sleep using drugs, hypnosis, or the free association of the Freudian transference, it is quite possible for the therapist to direct the patient's attention to previously forgotten material from the past. The psychological helplessness induced by such techniques creates a context where previous states of helplessness are more accessible to recall. Certain vulnerable patients were able to provide Freud with a wealth of such never before uncovered material, and Freud seized on this data, declaring it to be the royal road to the understanding of the neuroses. Without the concept of repression, however, such recalled fragments lose their psychological significance. If the child has no mysterious drives that are being driven underground by a tyrannical repressing force, the recall of distressing episodes, thoughts, and moods gives no key to anything except the fact that childhood is a time of vulnerability to such transient difficulties.
The psychic content arising from the psychoanalytic transference is dream-like in atmosphere. The patient's personality is detached from any disciplined need to understand or to accept responsibility for the self. The control of the situation is given over to the rules of procedure of the analyst. The patient floats in a world of disembodied words and images, guided only by the expectation that understanding will emerge from the interpretations of the analyst. This abandonment of self-knowledge and self-control leaves the personality without any self-generated goals. All major functions of the mind are suspended, including esthetic experience, communication on an equal basis using logical reasoning and skill in dialogue, and all adaptive strivings save one, namely an unquestioning submission to the method of therapy set up by the analyst.
In the artificial architecture of the transference, the obedient patient is sometimes able to develop high hopes that the oppressive stress that exists in his life outside the analyst's office will somehow be erased by his success inside it, success being defined as the recovery of forgotten material. The patient's extreme submission is colored by idealization and an unreliable warmth for the analyst, but it cannot be characterized as a genuine love reaction. The therapist remains in the shadows, and no service is asked of the patient's feeling intensity save submission itself. The process has the structure of a relationship with a controlling power which is inaccessible to the influence of an obedient conformist. It resembles hypnosis, out of which free association grew. It also resembles the relationship of a child to an arbitrary and tyrannical parent who is beyond being influenced by the reactions of the child. There is a further resemblance to traumatic neurosis in general, which is characterized by a general constriction in the access of the personality to self-expression. In traumatic neurosis the individual is guided by a narrow and singleminded submission to a set of rules. As long as he sees no choice, his submission can be kept within adaptive bounds and the individual will not be overwhelmed. On the battlefield, the good soldier accepts the fact that he has no choice, and he does not ask the guns, bombs, and enemy advance to take cognizance of him as an individual. It is when submission has lost its adaptive anchoring in such situations that symptoms of personality disintegration emerge. Then the unheeding powerful force is seen as evil and malignant, and the individual responds as if he could communicate with it or somehow alter it by his own reaction.
Episodes of personality constriction, due to the operation of powerful and unheeding forces, are occasional events in the life of any individual. In this inhibited state, where the individual accepts an inner automatic setting, putting aside reason and initiative, he can find greater access to recall of previous situations in his life which were similarly constricted in their human scope. The facilitation of recall is increased by an overlapping of present and past emotional states, and wherever the mind is deprived of self-generated goals, its insulating capacities are reduced. Successful forgetting requires that the mind has somewhere else to go. Painful memories are most successfully replaced by states of contentment and happiness. The formulas of many religious and uplift movements are based on this shift from negative to positive thinking. The inner search for the mental resources needed to stay on a positive and constructive course is an essential aspect of the growth process. When growth is temporarily stopped by a traumatic constriction, the personality is open to the recall of much useless information. This kind of overflow increases helpless and reckless reactions. Keeping the channels of growth open is the primary task of a science of human nature. The scientific method can do a superior job to uplift movements because the individual who is armed with independent human insights and skills can do a much better job of selecting a human environment suited to his personal needs. Independent choice requires a strong sense of inner identity.
Freud brought his belief in the existence of powerful repressing forces to the data uncovered by the transference, and he was unable to see the possibility of alternative explanations. His difficulty is clearly seen in his work on the interpretation of dreams. He saw the strange and bizarre language of dreams as the product of an ever present prohibiting censorship, acting on libidinal and destructive drives which were unacceptable to the personality. He believed psychoanalysis could unlock the real meaning of dreams because it understood these repressing forces. In discussing individuals who had no neurotic symptoms:
"Indeed, if all human beings were healthy and would only dream, we could gather almost all the knowledge from their dreams which we have gained from studying the neuroses." (27)
The problem with Freud's dream censorship is that it operates in a blind and mindless fashion without any relationship whatsoever to the need of the individual to deny or ignore his allegedly forbidden drives. No matter how well acquainted the individual becomes with the defensive part of his personality and with psychic material which was formerly unknown, the dream censorship goes on its independent way, distorting and disguising the dream images. The fact that the dream content is not correlated to the psychic needs of the individual should have told Freud to look elsewhere for the explanation of the dream language. The true situation was much too mundane to satisfy Freud. It is simply a biologically rooted fact that the sleeping brain, during rapid eye movement phases, fires off hallucinatory images from its vast store of recorded material. Without the guidance of the rational and enterprising mind, such hallucinatory images are mere fragments which lack significant meaning at any level. The dream is like a bad joke or an unsuccessful esthetic production. It is replete with potentially symbolic material which can be assigned meaning at the will of the interpreter. Freud never really succeeded in interpreting dreams. What he did was to interpret associations to dreams, and these associations were guided by the transference, producing the kind of material which the analyst was already committed to find. He thus dealt with the dream, not as it really existed in the form of a hallucinatory fragment, but as a stimulus to a waking associative process which provided fertile ground for intuitive speculation. Freud's powerful censorship turns out to be nothing more than the biologically rooted capacity of the sleeping brain to produce hallucinations which have no purpose, direction, or goal. Freud preferred not to look at this explanation of the dream language:
". . . . the essential feature in the dream-work is the transformation of thoughts into hallucinatory experience. It is puzzling enough to see how this process is accomplished, but this is a problem for general psychology, and we have not to deal with it here." (28)
In becoming the modern advocate of dream interpretation, Freud joined an historical procession dating back into antiquity. It has always been a favored activity of those who aspire to a shortcut to wisdom. Dream interpretation is especially attractive because of the capacity of the human brain for symbolization. The fact that many symbols have a universal quality does not mean that they reach a level of significance which permits insight into the personality. Manipulating these symbols becomes a magical game which covers up the need to ask serious questions about man's psychic life. All that the study of symbolism shows is that man's cerebral equipment readily symbolizes. It adds images to the vocabulary in the service of the esthetic life. Once it is established that a tower symbolizes an erect penis, vocabulary has been expanded to produce a kind of joke. Symbolic recognition contributes to the production of poetry and works of art. The symbolism of the dream floats around in a disorderly way, making the dream an unsuccessful literary effort. Symbolism readily invades man's rational life when the personality is undergoing restriction, as for example in intimidating situations. In a classroom where young people find themselves deprived of individuality they seek to be entertained, and raucous laughter may greet some word which sounds to them like a sexual reference. The phenomenon is common in late night television talk shows, when the audience insists on finding sexual references in otherwise neutral material. The more constricted the personality becomes under the influence of adaptive stress, the more the dream fragments resemble the thinking of waking life. Then the sleeping individual cannot forget the impelling needs which will be present when he wakes. A man deprived of food dreams of eating. A man trapped in a mine dreams of rescue. Small children who have suffered deprivations during the day dream of gratification of their desires at night. Such material led Freud to conclude that all dreams represent wish fulfillments. This style of analysis decorticates the human animal.
Just as twelve poets will write twelve different poems watching the same sunset, so did Freud's dream interpretation become a literary production which was not answerable to the discipline of scientific thinking. When Freud was the premier authority on dreams he could ignore the multiplicity of meanings which could be attached to dream imagery. The same conditions prevail in seminars at psychoanalytic institutes when the teacher with the most prestige can take an authoritarian position. The truth is that no matter what interpretation is made, an ingenious analyst can always go farther or in a different direction. The fact that trained and experienced analysts rarely interpret a particular dream in the same way is information which loyal Freudians do not choose to share with the public. The meanings that Freud found were not fundamental and universal. He wrote:
"The fact that it is possible to find meaning in neurotic symptoms by means of analytic interpretations is an irrefutable proof of the existence - or, if you prefer it, of the necessity for assuming the existence - of unconscious mental processes." (29)
Freud's ability to be critical of his own conclusions was compromised by his competitive and controversial nature. He was too quick in believing he had dispelled the unknown in the human personality. His naive belief that he could measure truth by his subjective sense of discovery is like saying that those who find meaning through astrology are in the presence of truth. There can be no truth without exposure to a world of expanding information, and in the human area this means psychological growth. Insight cannot come from immersion of the thinker in an insulated world of fragmented thoughts and impulses.
PART II: The Nature of Social Life
Introduction. It is a favorite formulation of psychoanalysts that psychic phenomena are overdetermined. This simply means that whatever interpretation is given, alternative views must be given their place. This arrangement spares an authoritative figure from loss of face when colleagues make different formulations. It is an intuitive world where all insiders have the right to their own interpretations. Everything psychological does have some level of meaning, even the chatter of schizophrenics and the delirium of the physically ill, but a science of human nature cannot breathe in such an atmosphere. A science of the personality needs a context in which human goals are real. Significant data pertains to the ability of individuals to adhere to constructive human purposes. Without these goals life itself is deprived of meaning, and in this disoriented and disorganized maelstrom a great deal of psychic data can be found which goes nowhere. The practitioners of the magical arts build internally logical systems, buttressed by a high level of communication skills, and they are well protected from the challenge of reality as long as they stay within their insulated superstructure. The system only collapses when they are forced out of their safe position by the needs of others to apply their alleged insights to the real problems of human beings.
After World War I Freud felt the necessity of dealing with the larger issues of a social kind which touched the welfare of all civilized people. His ambition would not let him rest. He had often been accused of insensitivity where social factors were concerned. He now chose to leave his explorations of the neuroses behind, with all the controversy they entailed, to move forward into a brighter and less metaphysical land, where he could deal with the issues that were generally recognized to be important. In his own words, in the Wolf Man case history, he addressed himself to "the great common concerns of mankind." In taking this step he lost the protection of his intuitively grounded world. The record of this undertaking constitutes the best rebuttal to the claim of psychoanalysis to having attained genuine human insight. Freud revealed himself to be a cynical thinker whose main contribution was to rationalize man's helplessness in the face of his instinctual drives. He could not grasp the real substance of social progress. An anti-democratic snobbishness repeatedly forced its way to the surface. The farther he went down this road the more his surrender to the forces of depression in his own personality became evident. He found a kind of submission within himself, but it was a futile one guided by hate, without recognition of anything worthy of a submissive reaction. His inherent honesty was rooted in a narrow vision and had no value when dealing with the aspirations of mankind. Time and again it was revealed that the depth which he had so carefully cultivated in his early days had metamorphosed into a compulsive superficiality in dealing with the broad sweep of social problems.
Social life and the death instinct. As Freud turned his attention toward man's social problems, he felt the need to balance the concept libido with a different and complementary force. He always preferred to deal with thoughts, feelings, and neurotic symptoms as opposed to actions, attitudes, and antisocial behavior. It would be quite impossible, however, to continue to ignore the mastery side of the human personality if the real dimensions of social problems were to be brought into focus. He found a method of including an analogue to sexual libido which spared him the necessity of revising his theory of the primacy of libidinal frustration. He identified a force which did not require him to look at either the experiential instinct or the creative functions of power. Since the sexual libido was the basic life force in the Freudian system, what could be more convenient than to identify its polar principle as a death force, thus opening the door to explanations of destructive aspects of human behavior. Freud wrote:
"If we are to take it as truth that knows no exception that everything living dies for internal reasons - becomes inorganic once again - then we shall be compelled to say that 'the aim of life is death' and, looking backward, that 'inanimate things existed before living ones.'" (30)
Armed as he was with something more than libido, he was able to recognize that civilization is an evolving process:
"And now, I think, the meaning of the evolution of civilization is no longer obscure to us. It must present the struggle between Eros and Death, between the instinct of life and the instinct of destruction, as it works itself out in the human species. This struggle is what all life essentially consists of, and the evolution of civilization may therefore be simply described as the struggle for life of the human species. And it is this battle of the giants that our nurse-maids try to appease with their lullaby about Heaven . . . . Why do our relatives, the animals, not exhibit any such cultural struggle? We do not know." (31)
By postulating the death instinct, Freud reduced the dynamic balance between the psychic life of perception and mastery to a meaningless generality. There can be no substitute for the interplay of two constructive forces in man's personality. The problem with the death instinct is that it leaves out the psychologically dominant half of man's relationship to his world, substituting instead a supine submission to destructiveness as an inevitable phenomenon. Freud's death instinct might have been a harmless example of his ability to multiply complexities for their own sake, a display of intellectual fireworks destined to die with the passing of the darkness which made it bright, were it not for the fact that he tied the death instinct to the presence of violence in the human scene. Few people care a whit about his death instinct, including most otherwise loyal psychoanalysts, but they do care about the need to understand violence.
The death instinct is one of those concepts separated off from experience whose existence can neither be proved or disproved, and therefore it becomes a rich playground for magical thinking. The argument that all life becomes inorganic can be countered with the position that the inorganic processes of nature tend to become organic. It can go either way. Freud was never free of his personal struggle to deal with a lifestyle depression. In his philosophical moments he often described life as a burden. "Living is an eternal nuisance" and "to endure life remains the first duty of all living things."
What Freud left out is man's position in the animal world. It is true that nature is often careless of the life of individual animals, putting its supreme emphasis on the survival of the species. It is man who has utilized his reproductive potential in the service of creative productivity. When men pursue knowledge and ability they are bringing human assets into being that live after them. Instead of the survival of the species per se, their goal becomes the improvement of the quality of life for themselves and other people. It is a parallel drive to species survival and carries all the goal directed behavior that nature has given to reproduction. Men's ideas and skills are in a very true sense their children. This civilized human faculty lights the fire that makes life burn brightly to the end. The individual lives at the center of his own world and finds himself bigger in psychological dimensions than mere membership in a species could entail.
Nature does not create instincts for frivolous reasons. There is no need for a death instinct in the animal world. Individuals will die when their biological equipment wears out, and dealing with the fact of death is just one more adaptive requirement of the life process. It is true that some individuals look forward to death, but this attitude is a response to an unmitigated sense of exhaustion in living. Suicides are not a response to a death instinct, but a rational choice dictated by the finality of overwhelming oppressive stress in their lives, a condition from which they can find no appeal. The irrational part lies in their acceptance of circumstances which make the oppressive stress inevitable.
Having put some distance between himself and his fascinated preoccupation with libido, Freud turned his attention to the architecture of man's social life:
"Human life in common is only made possible when a majority comes together which is stronger than any separate individual and which remains united against all separate individuals. The power of the community is then set up as 'right' in opposition to the power of the individual, which is condemned as 'brute force.' This replacement of the power of the individual by the power of a community constitutes the decisive step of civilization." (32)
Freud preferred to deal with social phenomena in their most elemental form. He did not want to distinguish between culture and civilization:
"Human civilization, by which I mean all those respects in which human life has raised itself above its animal status and differs from the life of beasts - and I scorn to distinguish between culture and civilization - presents, as we know, two aspects to the observer." (33)
The aspects he refers to are the control of nature and the establishment of social rules. Freud's refusal to recognize the psychological complexities of the civilization process leads to an impoverishment of his approach to social life. The all encompassing power of the community which he describes best fits many primitive societies which have not yet reached the civilized level. It is characteristic of advanced civilization that community power is limited to those adaptive areas where such controls are needed to serve the interests of all its members. The individual search for independent strength through the establishment of what is right in the conduct of his own life goes on without bondage to such practical areas of group control. Freud failed to distinguish between what is right and conventional views of justice and morality. The social standards on which justice is based change according to the time and place where they occur. The death penalty as well as many forms of cruel and unusual punishment are examples of the changing fashions which govern justice and morality. The establishment of the right stands on much higher ground. The essence of the right is that it has an existence of its own. The right exercises mastery in such a way as to enrich the lives of all who come under its influence. The right takes the whole human situation into account without preconceived limitations and prejudices. It is unalloyed with recklessness. What was moral yesterday may be immoral today, but the right never loses its constructive nature, even though its methods may be replaced by a larger capacity for responsibility which includes old human skills. Truth and right interact together to produce a higher level of human functioning. If a farmer abuses his land, failing to rotate crops or add enriching substances to the soil, he may obtain good crops for a few years, but he reaches a diminishing return. When he cares for his land properly, its value increases as he uses it. This is the heart of constructive mastery. It uses and exploits in such a way as to increase the value of the assets it possesses. When this method is applied to the human scene, the right emerges along side of truth as an expression of the best in human nature. This kind of mastery is well known in non-human fields where engineering skills have produced bridges which do not fall down, airplanes that fly, and trains that run. Such mastery is not under the control of local fashion and custom, except in those details which are an esthetic elaboration. The problem with civilization is that the reaching for the right, as well as the companion process of recognizing truth, has had such a difficult time in establishing a consistent influence in human affairs, primarily because local beliefs and customs maintain an influence far beyond their proper area of function. Civilization is not just a more complicated form of a primitive society. It has brought new human faculties into existence in which love and power interact in a creative way, and if men do not honor these developing capacities, they pay a heavy penalty for their failure. Freud could not understand civilization because his recognition of the constructive uses of personal power was entirely inadequate.
Freud saw submission as a rag doll kind of helpless reaction. Without recognition of the constructive uses of power, there was no way to see submission to its modalities of mastery as an enlargement of human capacities. He regarded love with grave suspicion, considering it a kind of confidence game practiced on the personality. He wrote:
"In connection with the question of being in love we have always been struck by the phenomenon of sexual overvaluation - the fact that the loved object enjoys a certain amount of freedom from criticism, and that its characteristics are valued more highly than those of people who are not loved . . . . If the sensual impulsions are more or less effectively repressed or set aside, the illusion is produced that the object has come to be sensually loved on account of its spiritual merits, whereas on the contrary these merits may really only have been lent to it by its sensual charm. The tendency which falsifies judgement in this respect is that of idealization." (34)
Without an understanding of the constructive interaction between submission and dominance, Freud has no way to see the psychological value of the mated mechanism. This mechanism, which has brought surpluses into being which are used in the animal world for the nurture and protection of the young, is one of the great accomplishments of the evolutionary process. Its influence is further extended in the civilized world through its application to man's creative life. Freud saw love as a kind of victimization:
"From being in love to hypnosis is evidently only a short step. The respects in which the two agree are obvious. There is the same humble subjection, the same compliance, the same absence of criticism, toward the hypnotist as toward the loved object." (35)
Freud regarded submission as an involuntary state, requiring intimidation to make its influence effective. This view reduces the individual to the status of damaged goods. The only kind of groups which could enforce this social structuring were dogmatic and authoritarian ones. It was the groups led by all powerful priests and brain washing dictators which attracted Freud's attention. Here he found evidence that group members behaved like hypnotized automatons, and that leaders were a special class of supermen, taking their characteristics from long ago, when, as he postulated, the father dominated a "primal horde:"
". . . . the father of the primal horde was free. His intellectual acts were strong and independent even in isolation, and his will needed no reinforcement from others. Consistency leads us to assume that his ego had few libidinal ties; he loved no one but himself, or other people only in so far as they served his needs . . . . the primal father had prevented his sons from satisfying their directly sexual impulsions; he forced them into abstinence and consequently into the emotional ties with him and with one another which could arise out of those of their impulsions that were inhibited in their sexual aim. He forced them, so to speak, into group psychology. His sexual jealously and intolerance became in the last resort the causes of group psychology." (36)
This analysis might make some sense if it were a description of the behavior of Bighorn sheep, but it neglects the subtleties of the evolution of human group life, as well as espousing Freud's usual devaluation of the constructive function of dominance. The reason men grant leadership to individuals is that this pattern promotes adaptive effectiveness. Good leaders have the ability to consider the welfare of the entire group. Their function contributes to the stability of social institutions. Men willingly give up that part of their independence which makes group life function smoothly, provided that the goals of institutions are limited to their proper area of operation. Good institutions take the stress out of many survival needs because the satisfaction of these needs can be taken for granted. When this system works well, a vast space is left for independent personal development. Under such conditions science, engineering, and the arts can flourish, and the pursuit of the goodness and beauty of life becomes man's primary concern. Freud's inability to understand the constructive nature of power, combined with his numbing preoccupation with sexuality, made him unable to comprehend group life in any terms save abject submission and tyrannical dominance.
Freud's concept of the all powerful leader is a fantasy. Political leaders are awarded an idealized position only insofar as they serve the needs of the same masses whom Freud scorned. When their personal influence tends to undermine the efficient performance of their stewardship, expanding into areas that belong to human wisdom and strength, their imperial tenancy becomes insecure and often short lived. Freud always had trouble distinguishing between genuine human strength and social influence based on posturing. He was fascinated by the surface play acting of the masculine gender roles of his time.
Freud attempted to fill the gap in his understanding of mastery by postulating an aggressive instinct:
"It is always possible to bind together a considerable number of people in love, so long as there are other people left over to receive the manifestations of their aggressiveness . . . . If civilization imposes such great sacrifices not only on man's sexuality but on his aggressivity, we can understand better why it is hard for him to be happy in that civilization." (37)
In discussing the Christian injunction to love one's neighbor as one's self:
"But if I am to love him (with this universal love) merely because he, too, is an inhabitant of this earth, like an insect, an earth-worm, or a grass snake, then I fear that only a small modicum of my love will fall to his share - not by any possibility as much as, by the judgement of my reason, I am entitled to retain for myself. What is the point of a precept enunciated with so much solemnity if its fulfillment cannot be recommended as reasonable? . . . . Not merely is this stranger in general unworthy of my love; I must honestly confess that he has more claim to my hostility and even my hatred. He seems not to have the least trace of love for me and shows me not the slightest consideration." (38)
In a footnote Freud quotes Heine to the effect that his wants are very simple and elemental, but before he dies he would like God to grant him the joy of seeing six or seven of his enemies hanging from his front yard trees.
When Freud undertook to discuss the violence in man's nature, he betrayed the shallow state of his understanding of the action side of human psychology. He saw all the constructive forces on the side of love, and then belittled that love by insisting that its real nature consisted of aim inhibited sexuality. At the level where Freud identified an aggressive instinct, he was dealing with data which was nothing more than common sense, since it was a name for destructive behavior which could be recognized by reading the headlines of any newspaper. The real question pertains to the roots of violence. Is it a formed and goal directed instinct, or is it a distortion of otherwise constructive forces within the personality?
There is no way to understand violence without recognizing man's experiential instinct and its associated drive to mastery, as well as the celebrative surplus it is capable of generating. Freud saw sex everywhere and celebration nowhere. If he had understood that love and power work together in the human scene, he would have been in a position to understand the domain mechanism, which divides the world into those that are friends and those that are enemies. This mechanism has great adaptive advantages to the lower animals, but tends to draw artificial lines between human groups which block negotiation and compromise. When such divisions are confined to the esthetic life of man, contributing to special and unique tastes and styles in the area of pleasure and enjoyment, they do no harm, but when they are used to deprive any group of its basic human rights, they are not in the long term interests of human beings. When any group is deprived of its human dignity, a disruption is created in man's instinctually based cohesive feelings, and although groups may readily convince themselves that objects of violence are not worthy of membership in the human race, sanity has a way of returning with the passage of time, leaving a scar in the psyche of those who have participated in this process. Furthermore, if the basic rights of others are that unstable, there is no way to tell when the same destructive tendencies will be turned against the group that thought themselves chosen and protected.
The Christian injunction to love they neighbor is a statement in opposition to the domain mechanism and its overemphasis on parochial fashions and customs. It expresses the highest ideals of human community, as does the statement that all men are created equal as found in the Declaration of Independence. This does not mean that each individual has to like the way others dress, eat, or entertain themselves, nor is he required to ignore differences in intelligence, education, or skill levels. It does mean that if human beings are treated like grass under foot that the life of man will suffer severe damage, and the cost of this folly must be paid. Freud's sneer at the concept of universal love rings strangely on the ears, coming as it does from a man who saw libido everywhere. Freud's formulation that love reduces human relationships to a level appropriate for insects, earthworms, and grass snakes leaves out entirely man's need to use love as a constructive tool for the expansion of his human knowledge. If men do not apply the same creative reachings to their relationships with grass snakes, it is because grass snakes lack the biological equipment to take part in this human exchange. The domain mechanism can be applied without harm outside man's social fabric. When a man destroys the weeds in his garden, he is using the domain mechanism in a small and insignificant way. The weeds become his enemy, and he can eliminate them without the slightest damage to his psychological welfare.
Freud's quotation from Heine is typical of his ignorance of the celebrative component of the personality. He did not understand that the personality can keep untrammeled power images in an insulated pocket. Heine's mental picture of seeing his enemies hanged contributed to the poet's simple pride and sense of liberation from oppressive stress. If his enemies were really to be hanged for Heine's benefit, he would not only be horrified but he would do everything he could to oppose it. If he did not, his image of himself as a worthy human being would be seriously damaged.
Freud's abhorrence of democracy rests on his personal need to dwell in a land hospitable to dogma and arbitrary authority. In such a place, true leaders (like himself) are granted the influence they deserve. He saw too much independence in the American scene. With so much equality in the air, his ivory tower compulsive system was in danger. He retained a phobic reaction to America to the end of his life. Freud never believed in the human potential of his own species. He thought automatic submission to the aristocracy of talented intellectuals, in command of the channels of communication through their rhetorical fluency, was the only path to being civilized. The truth is that such communities cut off the mass of people from access to self-knowledge and self-control and in the end breed corruption and violence. Freud's point of view, in spite of his high level of personal humanity, became the logical precursor to the holocaust that was to follow.
Freud believed that the heart of the process of being civilized lay in man's capacity to turn his aggressive instinct against himself. He wrote:
"His aggressiveness is introjected, internalized; it is in point of fact, sent back to where it came from - that is, it is directed toward his own ego. There it is taken over by a portion of the ego, which sets itself over against the rest of the ego as a super-ego, and which now, in the form of 'conscience' is ready to put into action against the ego the same harsh aggressiveness that the ego would have liked to satisfy upon other, extraneous individuals. The tension between the harsh super-ego and the ego that is subjected to it, is called by us the sense of guilt; it expresses itself as a need for punishment . . . . We know of two origins of the sense of guilt; one arising from fear of an authority, and the other, later on, arising from fear of the super-ego. The first insists upon a renunciation of instinctual satisfactions; the second, as well as doing this, presses for punishment." (39)
Like the song in Cabaret which says money makes the world go round, in the Freudian world it is guilt that does this job, but only at the cost of great suffering for all. At least in Cabaret money is tied to a celebrative release, and though life as a whole may be seen as an empty process, there are islands of happiness along the way. Freud's civilization exists only at the pleasure of a harsh and tyrannical super-ego. This astigmatic view is the inevitable consequence of a psychology which is unable to understand the constructive uses of power. With this defect in comprehension goes an equal inability to give guilt a constructive place in man's psychology. Guilt is essential to the growth of the mastery capacities, just as shame guides the individual in the deepening of love and its workmanship. This guilt is not harsh and tyrannical, based as Freud saw it on the need for punishment, but is a signal that the individual has suffered a temporary loss in his world of opportunity. Without enough awareness to effectively manipulate a human situation, he suffers a sense of impoverishment. Something he could have possessed as a valued part of his life has faded from the picture, and the sense of loss is real to him. In a state of guilt men undergo a diminution in their energy for action and this opens the door to a deepening sense of self and of the nature of others. The ability to use guilt as an ally of the personality is essential to the expansion of human skill and responsibility.
A world cut off from the influence of constructive mastery is a helpless place. Freud's tyrannical super-ego is part of a psychology of abject submission, where self-control can only proceed from renunciation and a hunger for punishment. In such a world, civilization is only a thin veneer. The submission which Freud could not find in his personal life, a submission which could have enriched his love capacities and his search for truth, emerges at last as the role he assigns to civilization itself. Freud justifies this position by saying, in effect, look around you, see what a mess everything is in, but social progress does not follow a smooth path. There are limbo states to be endured, when the old is dying and the new has yet to demonstrate its full potential. Civilization is a succession of such periods of death and resurrection.
In spite of his personal courage in giving a name to topics not mentioned in elegant drawing rooms, Freud remained to the end a defender of the past. He was part of a rear guard action against the right of the common man to understand and control his own life. Freud's band of brothers, organized to murder a tyrannical father, is a myth. This idea took its being from Freud's celebrative self, a part of his psychology which he mistrusted and consequently never understood. He only gave it room in his love of the witty and humorous anecdote. He never saw his right to make enemies in his head and destroy them at will, entirely separate and apart from real experience. His band of brothers is like the fantasies of a child who creates the image of a pet lion to protect him from evil forces. Freud's own father was an intimidating figure who deprived his son of that sense of equality which alone can make submission an enriching mental state. Freud summoned the band of brothers from the same place pet lions come, to do vengeance on the object of his frustrated idealism. Freud carried a heavy burden of shame within his personality, which he strove to overcome by a compulsive investment in career. As many men have found, this process has no endpoint, because shame cannot be overcome through the deference of others. It has internal sources, and its voice cannot be drowned by applause. Freud was a full enough personality to judge himself, and by his own standards he was repeatedly found lacking. To cover the distressing nature of shame, he saw guilt everywhere. He preferred to see himself as the heir to an ancient guilt for father murder than to face shame that would have pointed his personality toward radical inner changes.
Freud included sadism under the umbrella concept of the death instinct:
"But how can the sadistic instinct, whose aim is to injure the object, be derived from Eros, the preserver of life? Is it not plausible to suppose that this sadism is in fact a death instinct which, under the influence of the narcissistic libido, has been forced away from the ego and has consequently only emerged in relation to the object? . . . . at the stage of genital primacy, it takes on, for the purpose of reproduction, the function of overpowering the sexual object to the extent necessary for carrying out the sexual act." (40)
Freud could not understand sadism because he lived in a psychological world highly colored by it. Sadism must be distinguished from the violence generated by the domain mechanism. Sadism arises from a base of perverted love and is the favored tool of fanatics of all kinds. It utilizes a delusional pseudo-concern for the welfare of the object. It assumes it has a unique access to truth which is above question. Freud's analysis of sadism as part of a death instinct explains nothing and grants sadism a permanent residency in the human character. The goal of sadism is not to injure the whole object, but to defend the perpetrator against submission. When awareness of the object threatens internal disorientation and anxiety, certain traits of the object are separated off, and these traits are subjected to destructive behavior. Since the object does not exist as a whole entity, the sadist has only one task, to validate his dominance over the isolated aspects he has chosen as his target. Whatever he does, since he is acting out of inner necessity, is covered by a blanket of freedom from moral scruples. In the delusional world of the sadist he is defending what is proper and right, and the goal is one of cleansing the human scene from contamination. This means he is a public servant accomplishing a necessary task for which even the object should be grateful. Nothing could be sadder than to see Freud confusing sadism with healthy dominance in the sexual area. Dominance in sexuality is paired to willing submission, and far from wiping out the identity of the object, it reinforces and develops that identity. His view makes it impossible to distinguish rape from voluntary sexual experience.
When Freud dealt with what he called the resistance of patients, he exposed the sadistic structure of his interpretative zeal. Resistance is a phenomenon provoked by Freud himself. Unless the growth process is understood, the therapist cannot evaluate the patient's ability to enter new psychological territory. It is the patient, and the patient alone, who can set the standards for the expansion of his insights. The offering of insights separate and apart from the individual's ability to make constructive use of such information is a sadistic act. Without love and its vision of the whole individual, the manipulation of another person's life in the name of helping him cannot avoid sadistic deterioration. Free association helped Freud isolate symptoms which became subject to interpretation as separate entities, while the need of the individual to maintain warmth and pride in himself as a whole person was ignored as unimportant. When a patient receives interpretations which are shaped to the progress he is making in his own growth, there is no occasion for resistance. The bringing of love into the picture as an essential element in human understanding is a necessity, and if recognized by psychiatrists has a revolutionary impact on their accepted view of professionalism. It is a challenge which Freud refused to face, thus steering his interest in a conventional medical direction, away from the broader access to human motivation which a science of human nature requires.
Whenever Freud invented a new instinct, he was able to give it a home in his concept of the Id. The Id was a convenient formulation because it had no defined boundaries. The Id provided an image of the primitive roots of human motivation which was supposed to reflect the actual circumstances of the life of animals in a jungle. This world of chaotic impulses, perverse and destructive in nature, is only a mirage. The march of evolutionary traits deserves to be treated with greater respect. The Id can only be found as a collection of fragmented thoughts and impulses, the product of states of psychological exhaustion. It was easy for Freud to regard the behavior of predatory animals capturing prey, especially in the presence of a snarling approach and the dripping of blood, as an example of primitive violence, but it is no different in its biological function than a visit of a civilized person to a supermarket. The competition of males for females in territorial ways is not governed by the release of wild and unpredictable impulses, but is a product of programmed patterns dictated by genes which have evolved over many thousands of years. Such behavior patterns, insofar as they contribute to the survival of the species, are a triumph of nature's workmanship.
The influence of religion. Freud never understood man's esthetic life. Discussing religious faith:
"Just as no one can be forced to believe, so no one can be forced to disbelieve. But do not let us be satisfied with deceiving ourselves that arguments like these take us along the road of correct thinking. If ever there was a case of a lame excuse we have it here. Ignorance is ignorance; no right to believe anything can be derived from it. In other matters no sensible person will behave so irresponsibly or rest content with such feeble grounds for his opinions and for the line he takes . . . . where questions of religion are concerned, people are guilty of every possible sort of dishonesty and intellectual misdemeanor . . . . they give the name of 'God' to some vague abstraction which they have created for themselves; having done so they can pose before the world as deists . . . . notwithstanding that their God is now nothing more than an insubstantial shadow and no longer the mighty personality of religious doctrines . . . . To assess the truth-value of religious doctrines does not lie within the scope of the present enquiry. It is enough for us that we have recognized them as being, in their psychological nature, illusions." (41)
Freud is impatient with any religious imagery which does not need "a mighty personality" running the universe, because he is intent on finding the origins of religion in the relationship of a helpless child and an all powerful father. Freud implies an inevitable war between comforting beliefs and the search for truth. He could not comprehend that the life of pleasure and enjoyment could occupy a different place in man's personality from that which belongs to disciplined and reasoned understanding. Man does not only rest when he is asleep. He banishes stress whenever inner messages tell him that such pursuits have lost their relationship with reality. He cannot understand things when his experience with them is insufficient, nor can he control situations where his understanding of their nature is lacking. He must have unobstructed access to a world where human rewards can be gained just for the asking. In that part of his personality he believes what he wants and does what he chooses. This great territory is his esthetic life, and without its ability to hold full sway when it is needed, there is no way to guarantee mental health.
Freud saw the magical quality of the esthetic life as a threat to the existence of scientific thinking. Actually it is just the opposite. When men keep what is serious in its proper place, their ability to handle stress in facing the unknown and the chaotic increases many fold. Freud's access to human experience was so much under the control of conventional social institutions that his ambition to understand outran his ability to gather information. The heart of science lies in its capacity to position the self where new and significant observations can be made. Freud was the prisoner of a vision of life which was not his own. The searcher for human truth must grow himself if he is to comprehend the vicissitudes of growth in other people.
Freud saw religion as responsible for the inhibited mental state of older children and adults:
"Think of the depressing contrast between the radiant intelligence of a healthy child and the feeble intellectual powers of the average adult. Can we be quite certain that it is not precisely religious education which bears a large share of the blame for this relative atrophy? . . . . Is it not true that the two main points in the programme for the education of children today are retardation of sexual development and premature religious influence? Thus by the time the child's intellect awakens, the doctrines of religion have already become unassailable." (42)
Freud now adds to his imaginary picture of repressed instinctual needs the stultifying effect of religious ideas. Again he grasps at straws to cover the vacuum in his own understanding. The biologically weak child is always vulnerable to a sense of the overwhelming nature of an unheeding and impersonal external reality, especially that part of reality which lies beyond the power of parents to control. If the child is soothed at times of potential anxiety with prayers to a benevolent God, this becomes a matter of little consequence, provided his devoutness does not overflow into areas where it does not belong. There is nothing wrong with children believing in Santa Claus, or the tooth fairy, or in any other heart warming myth for that matter, provided the belief is used to increase peace of mind and spontaneity of spirit. Children are very good at sensing how to use myths constructively for their own purposes. It is not religion which blocks the intellectual development of the child, but rather the inability of parents, and later society, to make room for his independent awareness of his own world.
Freud belittled the Credo of Tertullian of the early church:
"It maintains that religious doctrines are outside the jurisdiction of reason - are above reason. Their truth must be felt inwardly, and they need not be comprehended. But his Credo is only of interest as a self-confession. As an authoritative statement it has no binding force. Am I obligated to believe every absurdity? And if not, why this one in particular? There is no appeal to a court above that of reason." (43)
There is an appeal to a court above reason, and this is in those places where reason is only an intruder. Freud's position is like that of a schoolmaster at a masquerade party, pointing out the unreality of the identities assumed by the participants. What Freud did not comprehend is that the religious ideas which have persisted so long in human history are not a serious attempt to find truth. To inject reason into this system is itself an absurdity. Religion is only binding on the faithful. It cannot control what a man thinks if he has independent psychological resources. The way religion has obstructed social progress lies in the corrupt power of churches, who intimidate and seduce with their usurpation of authority. The efforts of the church to limit the rights of individuals to grow in their own way does violence to the functions which belong to religious faith. When Freud took on religion as the enemy of psychological development he became a Don Quixote, tilting at windmills.
Why war. Freud allowed himself to be drawn into an exchange of letters with Einstein concerning the causes of war. The editor of Freud's collected works states: "Freud himself was not enthusiastic about the work, and wrote of it as a tedious and sterile discussion." Freud offered by way of explanation the observation that Einstein "understands as much about psychology as I do about physics." This was, of course, not the real reason for Freud's boredom. Einstein functioned here as a member of the educated general public asking a professional psychologist for illumination of a problem close to the hearts of all civilized people. Freud could never rid himself of the conviction that expertise in human relationships is the exclusive property of specialized professionals. From his point of view, he had no business leaving the world where he had found so much insulated intellectual security to discuss a broad human problem in terms that could convey a sense of new insight and discovery to a waiting world. The experience proved tedious and sterile because his professional pride had launched him into a situation where he found himself naked and exposed, a position not dissimilar to the Wizard of Oz, who had his facade penetrated by the earnest needs of Dorothy and her friends. What he had to say proved to be superficial, pedantic, and patronizing. In spite of a lifetime of preparation for this moment, he was unable to produce a diagnosis which had any significant relationship to the experience of mankind.
Freud addressed himself to the subject of violence:
"Thus we see that right is the might of a community. It is still violence, ready to be directed against any individual who resists it; it works by the same methods and follows the same purposes. The only real difference lies in the fact that what prevails is no longer the violence of an individual but that of a community . . . . The community must be maintained permanently, must be organized, must draw up regulations to anticipate the risk of rebellion and must institute authorities to see that those regulations - the laws - are respected and to superintend the execution of legal acts of violence. The recognition of a community of interests such as these leads to the growth of emotional ties between the members of a united group of people - communal feelings which are the true source of its strength." (44)
In answering Einstein's letter, Freud was in the unfortunate position of having to deal with the abuses of power. In this area he was not on familiar ground. His discussion of violence has all the depth of a newspaper editorial. His insistence that the institutionalized community maintains its strength through the execution of legal acts of violence ignores the difference between reckless destructiveness and responsible control. He starts his discussion by turning to the remote past, saying that right and might are the same thing. Having thus wiped out man's ability to use the right to guide his mastery into constructive channels, he sees the strength of the community as resident in its police and military power. It is true that even in very stable communities there are those individuals who feel themselves alienated and dispossessed, and their antisocial activities are often met with violence. Such reactions are a complication of the social process, not the source of community strength. The constructive use of force by police is measured to the need for control in the situation, and when it overflows in a reckless way it undermines social stability. Freud could not understand the commitments of responsible power because he was intent on reducing all human phenomena to the interaction between libido and destruction. In this system, the development of human engineering skills had no place.
Freud's picture of a stable community, built on submission to an authority exercising the prerogatives of legal violence, is a fantasy whose real nature has been exposed countless times in the long history of man's struggle toward social progress. It is true that it is a picture that many men believe, but it is far from appropriate that a psychological diagnostician of Freud's caliber should offer such a shallow insight as a contribution to the welfare of mankind. Freud's strong community actually generates inter-community violence, it does not overcome it. Freud attempted to get around this impasse by envisioning a supra-national government in which the same access to violence would be invested in a world dominant authority. It is the Pax Romana all over again, a form of temporary political stability Freud refers to as "priceless."
When men form emotional ties to each other under the umbrella of a shared protection by the physical power of the state, they inevitably fall victim to the domain mechanism. The more they feel for each other, the less they feel for the outsider. The more intense their investment in their own community becomes, the more ready they are to fight holy wars and to undertake preventive military action against competing social systems. A successful community provides for the basic adaptive needs of all its members, leaving the rest of their personalities free to enrich the human value of each individual's life. A successful world order, and this means one free of the threat of war, does the same thing on a level appropriate to the interests of nations. No one can be left out, on pain of the collapse of the whole undertaking, because those who have no investment in stability will use violence, and violence in the hands of even a small group of determined individuals can weaken, and ultimately destroy, the stability of all. The only stable world community is one populated by psychologically oriented individuals who have access to an expanding capacity for self-knowledge and self-control, and who accept the obligation of helping others who need it to raise the psychological level of their lives. Freud would label this vision Utopian, but he would be forgetting that he was asked for a diagnosis, not an emergency plan to save mankind from itself overnight.
Freud elaborates his view of the aggressive instinct:
"According to our hypothesis human instincts are of only two kinds: those which seek to preserve and unite - which we call 'erotic' . . . . and those which seek to destroy and kill and which we group together as the aggressive or destructive instinct. As you see, this is in fact no more than a theoretical clarification of the universally familiar opposition between Love and Hate . . . . The instinct of love, when it is directed toward an object, stands in need of some contribution from the instinct for mastery if it is in any way to obtain possession of that object. The difficulty of isolating the two classes of instinct in their actual manifestations is indeed what has so long prevented us from recognizing them." (45)
Driven by the need to respond to the dictates of common sense, Freud introduces the word mastery, a concept otherwise foreign to his vocabulary. He would have done better to leave it out, because his belief that mastery is rooted in destructiveness only serves to show the futility of his approach to the whole subject. Freud recognized that his system of ideas had a grave defect. His sense of reality required that he deal with something more than libido and its vicissitudes. He set up an opposition of the drive to preserve and unite with the drive to destroy and kill. He conceded the presence of power, but so it should not be a threat to the intellectual edifice which he had labored so many years to construct, he awarded power an identity divested of any qualities capable of attracting idealization. He made equal partners of the constructive and the destructive. No one can espouse, defend, or admire the lust to kill. Everyone can believe in the rich rewards that love promises. He let the enemy which was so threatening to his inner security occupy a place at court, but one which was isolated and despised, and to make sure that the presence of man's mastery capacities would not be misunderstood, he placed the mark of Cain upon its brow.
Freud again demonstrates that he cannot understand the constructive uses of hate. He commits the absolute folly of equating hate with the instinct to mastery. The truth is that love and hate are always working partners when love pledges itself to the welfare of the loved object. It is only when the concept love is used in the sense of intense warmth, as part of the life of pleasure and enjoyment, that love makes no room for the partial withdrawal dictated by hate. When someone says he loves puppies or pizza, he is expressing an unalloyed access to feeling without conflict or qualification. Such feelings are perceived as complete through the use of magical mechanisms, and they make an important contribution to man's esthetic life.
Freud senses that his death instinct stands on insecure ground and writes to Einstein:
"It may perhaps seem to you as though our theories are a kind of mythology and, in the present case, not even an agreeable one. But does not every science come in the end to a kind of mythology like this? Cannot the same be said today of your own physics? (46)
In Freud's world of controversy, he always kept a sharp eye out for potential assaults on the weak points of his position. He sought to disarm others by admitting limitations, but he always implied there was nothing better to take their place. Here he grants that his death instinct may be a myth. But with the typical energy he always had available to protect himself from inferiority feelings, he mounts an assault on the very nature of science itself. His attack on Einstein's physics was a driven act, perhaps partially reinforced by the currency in those days of the so-called uncertainty principle. Freud should have known better than to join the ranks of those who so easily deserted the service of the scientific method. After a lifetime of paying testimony to the value of science, he behaves like the fox in the fable who could not reach the grapes, announcing they were probably sour anyway.
Freud offers a remedy based on the dictatorship of an elite group of intellectuals:
"A complaint which you make about the abuse of authority brings me to another suggestion for the indirect combating of the propensity to war. One instance of the innate and ineradicable inequality of men is their tendency to fall into the two classes of leaders and followers. The latter constitute the vast majority; they stand in need of an authority which will make decisions for them and to which they for the most part offer an unqualified submission. This suggests that more care should be taken than hitherto to educate an upper stratum of men with independent minds, not open to intimidation and eager in the pursuit of truth, whose business it would be to give direction to the dependent masses. . . . The ideal condition of things would of course be a community of men who had subordinated their instinctual life to the dictatorship of reason. Nothing else could unite men so completely and so tenaciously, even if there were no emotional ties between them. But in all probability that is a Utopian expectation." (47)
Since Freud could not understand the kind of mastery which proceeds from the development of manipulative skills, guided by the need to enrich the lives of those who voluntarily accept such influences, he divides the world into leaders and followers, endowing followers with supine submission. He regards the aristocracy of the talented elite, of which he was such an outstanding member, as not open to intimidation and therefore worthy of a dictatorship over the dependent masses. The leaders have gained this exalted position, he believes, through their superior ability to subordinate their instinctual drives. He sees them as intellectual robots worthy of a science fiction story, divested of their basic human needs. The truth is that the acceptance of conventional standards of thinking and behavior is an essential requirement for admission to this aristocratic group. It gains its prestige through a consistent control of the channels of communication. It is well equipped to resist the kind of change which would expose its pretensions, and therefore it ranks high in the scale of intimidated groups. Fundamental change can only come through the further development of self-knowledge and self-control, and such initiatives will come from the grass roots level of the human condition. The outsiders alone are free of the rigidities which elite groups accept to protect their prerogatives and privileges. Freud saw civilization as a surface phenomenon, shaped by the hierarchies created by academic education and the ability to maintain a cultured veneer.
Freud discusses the evolution of culture:
"For incalculable ages mankind has been passing through a process of evolution of culture. (Some people, I know, prefer to use the term 'civilization'). . . . The psychical modifications. . . . consist in a restriction of instinctual impulses . . . . of the psychological characteristics of civilization two appear to be the most important: a strengthening of the intellect, which is beginning to govern instinctual life, and an internalization of the aggressive impulses, with all its consequent advantages and perils . . . . It may perhaps be leading to the extinction of the human race, for in more than one way it impairs the sexual function; uncultivated races and backward strata of the population are already multiplying more rapidly than the highly cultivated ones." (48)
The man who had so long advocated lifting the veil from sexual phenomena here treats sexuality as if it existed only within the framework of the official position of the established institutions of church and state. Procreation within family life, Freud says, is a measure of the quantity of sexual life in a community. It is apparent that Freud's interest in sex was limited to infancy and early childhood. The general topic of sexuality he found alien and distasteful. The more civilization has progressed in the direction of the independence of the individual, the greater has become the emphasis on the personal search for a greater participation in the goodness and beauty of life. The sense of the vividness of life, and the right to be oneself, which comes from this increased emphasis on personal development, has brought sexuality and celebration much closer to the surface in men's personalities. Set free from an excessive emphasis on the adaptive aspect of life, a freedom which Freud characteristically regarded with suspicion, sex and celebration have tended to run riot in men's personalities, and this state of affairs bears no resemblance to Freud's image of a sexually inhibited world. The problem for society is one of a full acceptance of man's sexual and celebrative nature without allowing intrusion of these surpluses into psychological areas where they do not belong. Freud is like a headmaster in a boy's school who thinks masturbation does not exist because he has dosed his students with a spring tonic reputed to inhibit sexuality. The prohibitionistic superstructure of conventional society has driven sexual phenomena out of the sight of those who are more comfortable in looking elsewhere.
Freud at last espouses the position that civilization is an evolving process. The only substance he will consent to recognize in this progression toward a goal is the function of intellect in restricting instinctual impulses and the growing ability of the personality to divert aggression from others by turning it against the self. Man's great capacity to store knowledge and ability and to pass these assets on to future generations cannot find its way into his system. His picture of social progress is enshrouded with gloom. Freud teaches that man must make peace with depression because otherwise the four horsemen of the Apocalypse will ride their mindless way over all his works. Freud's internalized aggression is an extravagant conceptual excess. It bears a strong family resemblance to Bertrand Russell's adolescent essay, A Free Man's Worship, in which he says: "Weak and powerless is man's life, on him and all his race the slow sure doom falls pitiless and dark." It takes super-intellectuals to get into such a helpless position. Without the capacity to comprehend the constructive uses of power, such depressive images become inevitable. Russell idealized the Chinese of his day because he believed they had rejected the development of power in their social life. It did not take long for the revolutionary thrust of the Chinese communists to burst the bubble of this pipe dream. Russell and Freud agreed that American influence was to be distrusted and feared.
Many men in the civilized world live under the cloud of a lifestyle depression. It is not there to neutralize the libidinal extravagances of incest and cannibalism, or to counteract the lust for murder. These are literary formulations, not scientific insights, and only gain an evanescent credence because there is a vacuum in man's understanding of himself. Man has been slow to establish human science and engineering because the repeated exposure to the unknown and the chaotic in the human scene produces phobic and depersonalized reactions. When he substitutes magical thinking and miraculous posturing for the workmanship of love and the responsible commitments of power, he becomes better adapted to the social institutions of his day, but he loses an important part of his inner self. This blunting of access to what is best in his nature is the cause of the depressive aura which hangs over his life, and no matter how generously society rewards him for his conformity, he is destined to live out his years with the troubled awareness that something is lacking in the fullness of his participation in the intensity and spontaneity of the life process. Life becomes something to be endured, not something to be savored and enjoyed. Freud saw the depressive shadow which hung over his own life, but the only explanation he could find for it was the rising tide of his alleged death instinct.
Freud offered this remedy for the problem of war after affirming that both he and Einstein are pacifists:
"And how long shall we have to wait before the rest of mankind become pacifists too? There is no telling. But it may not be Utopian to hope that these two factors, the cultural attitude and the justified dread of the consequences of a future war, may result within a measurable time in putting an end to the waging of war. By what paths or by what sidetracks this will come about we cannot guess. But one thing we can say: whatever fosters the growth of civilization works at the same time against war." (49)
Having offered a diagnosis so abstract as to be unrelated to the experience of mankind, Freud now espouses a remedy with a long history of ineffectuality in the human scene. Pacifism is the voice of helplessness. It is based upon a withdrawal from the real substance of the problems generated by man's social life. It had a certain measure of popularity at the time Freud's letter was written. Only four years before the Western powers had renounced war as an instrument of national policy in the Kellogg-Brian pact, under the urgings of a small group of noisy idealists. The Oxford oath was at the height of its influence, in which men pledged themselves never to take part in a war again. The pacifists who had spent World War I in jail, of whom Bertrand Russell was the outstanding figure, had now emerged from under the cloud of social contempt and had become heroes of the antiwar movement.
Freud's endorsement of pacifism in the context of this letter reduces the problem to a meaningless banality. In order to end his letter with some kind of optimistic concrete offering, he identifies himself with a political cause rich with automatic human kindness and good intentions. He offers a vision of a world set free from war, based on the fear of war's destructiveness and a further acceptance of man's willingness to be dwarfed by monolithic social forces. After every war the same voice has been heard, saying war will end because it has become too destructive to be endured. It was no doubt said after the siege of Troy, and it is a matter of historical record that men believed this fantasy after English yeomen developed the long bow in the middle ages. The ever increasing pace of man's development of the destructiveness of the tools of war does not touch the issue of the sources of man's recklessness. The death penalty does not stop crime. The injunction for man to become more cultured, in the superficial sense that Freud uses the term, has all the impact on the problem of that of a self-righteous father who orders his wayward children to abide by the rules of their ancestors.
The gathering storm of World War II exploded the myths of the pacifism of the thirties. It was precisely the paths and sidetracks to social maturity which Freud declared to be beyond human understanding that needed to be explored. He confessed his ignorance of the real issues, but with typical self-serving disingenuousness, he assigned this vacuum in insight to the whole of mankind.
The recipient of Freud's letter is a good example of what happens to pacifism when it comes face to face with social realities. Einstein had long taken the position that all that was needed to end war was for men to refuse to manufacture armaments and to resist induction into the armed services. It is no surprise that Einstein, with an assist from Leo Szilard, became the prime mover in the development of the atom bomb. Controlling armaments may be a contribution to economic welfare, but it has nothing to do with stopping warfare. Men who have violence in their hearts will fight with knives and clubs if that is all they have. All that can be expected in this area is for men to refrain from using weapons which do as much harm to the user as to the intended victim, such as poison gas and hydrogen bombs.
Freud's personal psychology. Freud never understood the compulsive structure of his own personality. When he discussed symptoms of this kind he chose extreme examples of neurotic disability which he could insulate from his own psychic mechanisms. He wrote:
"This is a mad disease, surely. I don't think the wildest psychiatric phantasy could have invented anything like it, and if we did not see it every day with our own eyes we could hardly bring ourselves to believe it . . . . the actions performed in an obsessional condition are supported by the kind of energy which probably has no counterpart in normal mental life." (50)
Freud puts the compulsive and obsessive defenses on display, like butterflies pinned on a board. His inability to see his own compulsive defenses bears testimony to his need to hide his inner submissive nature. There are no symptoms more universally distributed in the civilized world than obsessive and compulsive thoughts and behavior, but these entities are incorporated in most people's image of what is normal, and Freud accepted this view without question. In doing so, he lost the opportunity to understand inner identity and the psychological overloads it generates.
Freud emphasized the unremitting need of the ego to exercise control over the passions:
"The ego represents what may be called reason and common sense, in contrast to the id, which contains the passions . . . .The functional importance of the ego is manifested in the fact that normally control over the approaches to motility devolves upon it. Thus in relation to the id it is like a man on horseback, who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse . . . ." (51)
Freud looked inward and saw the presence of forbidden libidinal thoughts. This perception was coupled with a decreasing access to sexuality in his own life. Thus he lived the sexually inhibited state which his libido theory had assigned to society as a whole. Freud's confession of unruly sexual thoughts operated to hide a greater problem, namely his difficulties with the power side of his personality. It is a case of a willing admission of a minor offense to hide the presence of a greater one. Freud's ego was never free of the anger, irritability, and sadistic tendencies generated as a defense against his inner phobic nature. He lived on the edge of a quicksand of intensity which threatened to bring anxiety into being. The driven manipulative side of his personality was in the service of controlling that anxiety, and therefore he could not draw back to explore and develop the inner submission which alone could have purged his intellectual life of willful thinking. Instead of finding human situations worthy of submission, which would have required a broadening of his world of experience, Freud became a full fledged expert at exposing the falseness of many aspects of his conventional world. This situation committed him to a polemic approach. Freud was never really in control of his struggle with error. His personality accepted the task of controlling his anger, but this is a process which never ends. This wearying struggle led him to believe in a death instinct, and its companion, the instinct to destruction, and this lifetime battle had a great influence on his concept of an Id. No matter how much recognition came to him from his career accomplishments, the need to hold back irritability never left him. He preferred to see this problem as rooted in repressed libido, because the recognition of his compulsive defenses would have forced a radical re-evaluation of his whole relationship to his world. He would have had to deal with his underdeveloped access to experience for its own sake, as well as with the brittle nature of his pride.
Freud lived a paradox. He submitted too much to the conventional values of society, and then saved his mental equilibrium by bombarding these self-same values with a rain of brilliant analytic criticisms. Meanwhile his real submissive nature remained belittled and underdeveloped. He could not dissolve his fascination with conventional images of masculinity, strength, and social adequacy as expressed in career success. He remained a prisoner of these images, but his anger lay just below the surface, ready to express itself at the slightest provocation. He refused to still the voice in him that said the gods of society have clay feet. He became the twentieth century's most impressive cynic.
Depth of the personality requires openness to the sexual capacities of the self. Although sexuality is different from the love that depends on the building of understanding, and is also different from simple warmth, there is no way to be receptive to an expanding intensity within the personality without the ability to be at home with the sexual feelings that readily surface in deeply submissive reactions. Sex operates like a catalyst in all matters where independent intensity is involved. Personalities which have lost access to the natural roots of their eroticism must inevitably suffer damage, both to their simple warmth and to their acceptance of harmonious stress in the truth seeking process.
Freud's compulsive facade met his need to defend himself against both his phobic tendencies and his latent homosexual nature. His heterosexuality was based on an unquestioning acceptance of the gender roles which were conventionally supported in the world of his rearing. In his Autobiographical Study he reports long periods of separation from his future wife. The first was two years, and he blames his decision to visit her for his failure to follow up his work on the anesthetic properties of cocaine, thus missing a chance of becoming famous at an early age. The second period was four years, occupied primarily with his work on organic brain disease and on hysteria in France. The pressure was unrelenting to make his mark in life as early as possible. It is clear that he believed that his role as husband and father had no significant bearing on the story of his life. When a man was ready he assumed these functions, without bothering with any of the fine points which such relationships might entail. Freud's ability to handle a marital relationship was divested of its psychological content by his rejection of anything unknown in it. It is clear that he had found a wife who equally accepted conventional gender roles, and whatever stress might have been generated in her by this surrender of individuality could be readily covered by her masochistic resources. She was no doubt the model for his future discussions of the psychology of women. In this sado-masochistic interaction, Freud became the victim of a compulsive performance sexuality with little erotic richness behind it. When the motivation provided by the desire to procreate was no longer there, his heterosexual capacity faded from the picture.
In the matter of adult sexuality, Freud's vision was seriously deficient. At the age of forty he abandoned the struggle to find sexuality in his marriage. He wrote his friend, Fliess: "Also sexual excitation is of no more use to a person life me." (52) He appears to equate sexual capacity with sexual intercourse in marriage. It is a confession of a lack of access to sexual fantasy. He was not interested in recognizing that his real sexuality was tied to his inner submissiveness, and that without idealizing feelings toward dominant individuals there could be no genuine erotic richness in his sexual life. If his masturbation was as automatic as his heterosexual experience, it can be readily understood why he had such a poor opinion of it. Freud had a long history of attraction to dominant personalities, but such relationships were apparently not allowed to enter his life of sexual fantasy. He felt responsive to dominant personalities of either gender. Referring to his pejorative concept of narcissistic women: "Such women have the greatest fascination for men." (53) As far as a relationship with a man is concerned, he lived in a submissive pattern with his friend Fliess for a ten year period.
The ostensible expert on sexuality treated masturbation as alien territory. Early in his career he developed the theory of sexual toxins, produced in the body when the individual chose some sexual pathway different from conventional heterosexual intercourse. Freud ascribed the symptoms of neurasthenia to the accumulation of these toxins and called the condition an actual neurosis. Neurasthenia is an umbrella concept covering symptoms due to a diminished energy for living with hypochondriacal complications. Freud lists the symptoms as "headache, sensation of pain, irritable condition of some organ, the weakening or inhibition of some function." (54) Freud says:
"I noticed often enough that a man who contented himself with some kind of incomplete sexual satisfaction, e.g. with manual masturbation, would suffer from a definite type of actual neurosis . . . ." (which is the effect of) "disturbances in the sexual metabolism, due to more of these sexual toxins being produced than the person can dispose of, or else to internal or even mental conditions which interfere with the proper disposal of these substances." (55)
Freud's poisonous substances, brought into being by sexual tension, are close relatives to the widely held belief throughout the centuries that masturbation leads to various catastrophic disabilities, including madness. Freud's discomfort with masturbation carried over into his relationships with his sons. Roazen reports:
"Freud was not, in fact, someone who particularly cared for sexuality . . . . He sent his sons, for example, to another doctor to inform them about the facts of life . . . . When one of his adolescent sons came to him with worries about masturbation, Freud responded by warning the boy very much against it." (56)
Since Freud's heterosexuality was so lacking in an erotic substratum, he repeatedly sought reinforcement for his conventional image of the inevitability of heterosexual relationships. His invention of the Oedipus complex is based on models which derive from the behavior of animals in a forest. He was only comfortable with psychological material where gender differences were clearly established according to nature's primitive mated pattern. He failed to see that civilization has introduced new psychological resources of great importance to the creative life of man. Inner identity has replaced gender as the basic influence on character. He desperately wanted to believe that he was his father's rival for his mother. This picture offered him blanket protection against recognizing his strong identification with his mother, as well as against seeing the polarized interaction with his dominant father, which brought with it a latent homosexual conflict that neither father nor son cared to recognize. The concept of mother-son and father-daughter identification, and the polarized interaction which goes with it between fathers and sons and mothers and daughters, appears to loyal Freudians to be a defense against the Oedipus complex. The alternative to this Freudian view is the one maintained here, namely that the so-called Oedipus complex stands as a defense against latent homosexual conflict in the civilized world. When a science of human nature is being built, there is no room for dogma. The two positions cannot be debated like religious beliefs, subject to endless argument and sophisticated rhetoric. Only one insight can endure, and that is the one which successfully interprets the human data involved. New formulations must be allowed to show how much light they can shed on the problems of mental health. Once truth has proved itself, opposing viewpoints die of their own inadequacy. It is a confrontation that truth seekers welcome and dogmatic myth makers dread.
Freud fell in love in a way that touched his deeply submissive nature but once in his life, and that was in his relationship with Fliess. If homosexuality is defined as it should be, as the capacity to fall in love with someone of the same gender, without regard to the presence or absence of sexual activity, then the ten year period of the Freud-Fliess attachment was Freud's homosexual period. Certainly a similarly romantic attachment between a man and a woman would be described as heterosexual whether it included a sexual relationship or not. The two men lived in different cities and maintained their relationship with periodic visits and correspondence. It was a time of inner adolescent-type release from restraint for Freud, setting up a human situation which appeared by conventional standards to come from nowhere, and viewed in retrospect by Freud, with the passing of the years, to have left no residue behind. It was precipitated in part by his marriage of a few years before, as the psychological emptiness of that relationship became increasingly apparent. The relationship with Fliess enabled Freud to embrace a new intensity in his inner life in a way that vastly increased his psychological independence. He experienced a deeper inner security which permitted him to isolate himself from conventional social and professional attachments, maintaining only his therapeutic practice. In this retreat his intensity brought him to the edge of anxiety and psychosomatic disabilities, but he fought back with an energetic devotion to the building of a system of psychological insight. It was his last bid to stand on his own feet and to really know himself. He held on to this attachment longer perhaps than was in his interest to do so. The romantic aura of his feelings was endowing Fliess with strength and integrity which were not really there. It was tragic, however, that he felt it necessary to close the door on the psychological forces that he was investing in the relationship, once the time for ending this particular attachment had come. He withdrew to a safer place, turning his back on the madness, as he saw it, of that period. It became more important to preserve his conventional professional status and the security of his marriage than to expose himself to the psychological unknowns that had surfaced in the Fliess relationship. His ability to find the deepest sources of his identity was from that time on lost to him. He destroyed Fliess's letters and was dismayed to discover in later years that Fliess had not done the same with his.
Freud's letters to Fliess have been exposed to the censorship of the analytic establishment. This mutilation of Freud's correspondence was carried out in the name of preserving privacy and of concealing allegedly unfair criticism of Breuer. Freud in his grave has no more need of privacy, and the secrecy espoused by this means operates to obstruct the search for truth. Jones did much in his biography of Freud to undo the effects of this misguided editing. The record of Freud's struggle toward the light of human understanding, with its disappointments, limbo periods, neurotic symptoms, and inner triumphs belongs to all mankind, and the willingness to alter that record to preserve conventional images of what is socially acceptable in the life of a successful professional does not speak well for the devotion of the psychoanalytic inner circle to the truth seeking process. Ashamed as Freud was of this period of his life, it would not be the first time in human history a phoenix has risen from the ashes. Freud wrote Fliess when his aged father was dying:
"I am in a rather gloomy state, and all I can say is that I am looking forward to our congress as to the slaking of hunger and thirst." (57)
Jones quotes a letter to Fliess: "Your praise is nectar and ambrosia to me." (58) He further quotes a letter which does not appear in the censored volume:
"People like you should not die out, my dear friend; we others need the like of you too much. How much have I to thank you for in consolation, understanding, stimulation in my loneliness, in the meaning of life you have given me, and lastly in health which no one else could have brought back to me . . . ." (59)
Jones reports further censored material. After one of their meetings Freud is "in a state of continuous euphoria and working like a youth." He speaks of the hope of another meeting as "a proper wish-fulfillment, a beautiful dream that will become real." Freud goes on to say:
"When there are two people of whom one can say what life is, the other (almost) what the soul is, it is only right that they should see each other and talk together often . . . . No one can replace the intercourse with a friend that a particular - and perhaps feminine - side of me demands." (60)
After the Fliess period was over, Freud wrote to Jones to tell of suffering a fainting spell during a dispute with Jung:
"I cannot forget that six and four years ago I suffered from similar though not so intense symptoms in the same room of the Park Hotel. I saw Munich first when I visited Fliess during his illness and this town seems to have acquired a strong connection with my relation to that man. There is some piece of unruly homosexual feeling at the root of the matter." (61)
Freud failed in such a way as to leave clearly visible signposts on the road to a future development of a science of human nature. He attacked his task with almost unbelievable energy. Of all the unknown areas which lie open to the inquiring mind of man, he chose the one most difficult to penetrate, but also the one with the greatest promise of human rewards for all. When men have reached that psychological maturity which only a science of human nature can bring into existence, it will be because they have put deep roots into the fertile soil which is the residue of his failure.
|(1)||Freud, S. A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. New York: Permabook Edition, 1953. p. 27|
|(2)||Ibid. p. 153|
|(3)||Ibid. p. 332-3|
|(4)||Freud, S. Three Case Histories. New York: Collier Books, 1963. p. 243|
|(5)||Freud, S. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. New York: Bantam Books, 1959. p. 42-3|
|(6)||Freud, S. A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. New York: Permabook Edition, 1953. p. 336|
|(7)||Freud, S. Three Case Histories. New York: Collier Books, 1963. p. 290|
|(8)||Freud, S. Civilization and its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1962. p. 78-9|
|(9)||Wortis, J. Fragments of an Analysis with Freud. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954. p. 84|
|(10)||Freud, S. Three Case Histories. New York: Collier Books, 1963. p. 206|
|(11)||Ibid. p. 211|
|(12)||Freud, S. Civilization and its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1962. p. 49-50|
|(13)||Wortis, J. Fragments of an Analysis with Freud. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954. p. 36|
|(14)||Freud, S. Three Case Histories. New York: Collier Books, 1963. p. 296|
|(15)||Ibid. p. 250|
|(16)||Wortis, J. Fragments of an Analysis with Freud. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954. p. 36|
|(17)||Freud, S. The Future of an Illusion. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1961. p. 7-8|
|(18)||Freud, S. Civilization and its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1962. p. 62-3|
|(19)||Freud, S. The History of the Psychoanalytic Movement. New York: Collier Books, 1963. p. 82|
|(20)||Wortis, J. Fragments of an Analysis with Freud. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954. p. 50|
|(21)||Freud, S. A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. New York: Permabook Edition, 1953. p. 255|
|(22)||Ibid. p. 22|
|(23)||Freud, S. The Future of an Illusion. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1961. p. 15|
|(24)||Freud, S. A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. New York: Permabook Edition, 1953. p. 374|
|(25)||Freud, S. Three Case Histories. New York: Collier Books, 1963. p. 260|
|(26)||Andrews, R. C. Quest in the Desert. New York: Viking Press, 1950.|
|(27)||Freud, S. A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. New York: Permabook Edition, 1953. p. 87|
|(28)||Ibid. p. 224|
|(29)||Ibid. p. 290|
|(30)||Freud, S. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. New York: Bantam Books, 1959. p. 70|
|(31)||Freud, S. Civilization and its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1962. p. 69|
|(32)||Ibid. p. 42|
|(33)||Freud, S. The Future of an Illusion. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1961. p. 5-6|
|(34)||Freud, S. Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. New York: Bantam Books, 1960. p. 54-5|
|(35)||Ibid. p. 58|
|(36)||Ibid. p. 71-2|
|(37)||Freud, S. Civilization and its Discontents. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1962. p. 61-2|
|(38)||Ibid. p. 56|
|(39)||Ibid. p. 70-4|
|(40)||Freud, S. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. New York: Bantam Books, 1959. p. 95|
|(41)||Freud, S. The Future of an Illusion. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1961. p. 32|
|(42)||Ibid. p. 47|
|(43)||Ibid. p. 28|
|(44)||Freud, S. Why War. In the Standard Edition, Vol. XXII. p. 205|
|(45)||Ibid. p. 209|
|(46)||Ibid. p. 211|
|(47)||Ibid. p. 213|
|(48)||Ibid. p. 214|
|(49)||Ibid. p. 215|
|(50)||Freud, S. A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. New York: Permabook Edition, 1953. p. 270|
|(51)||Freud, S. The Ego and the Id. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1962. p. 15|
|(52)||Freud, S. Letters to Wilhelm Fliess. New York: Basic Books, 1977. p. 227|
|(53)||Freud, S. General Psychological Theory. New York: Collier Books, 1963. p. 70|
|(54)||Freud, S. A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. New York: Permabook Edition, 1953. p. 395|
|(55)||Ibid. p. 395-6|
|(56)||Roazen, P. Brother Animal: The Story of Freud and Tausk. New York: Knopf, 1969. p. 41|
|(57)||Freud, S. Letters to Wilhelm Fliess. New York: Basic Books, 1977. p. 169|
|(58)||Jones, E. The Life and Works of Sigmund Freud. New York:|
|(59)||Ibid. p. 298|
|(60)||Ibid. p. 301-2|
|(61)||Ibid. p. 317|
|SUBJECT KEYWORDS: science of human nature, philosophical anthropology, moral philosophy, humanistic psychology, personal development, interpersonal creativity, social progress, introversion, extroversion, femininity, masculinity, psychological polarity, character specialization, homosexuality, gay liberation.|
[E:\DH\PRC\HTP\FREUD.HTP (3278 lines) 1999-07-04 15:52 Dean Hannotte (DH)]