Arguably no other notable figure in history was as wrong as Freud was about every important thing he had to say. He was a favorite of the avantgarde from the begin of last century until its sixties, but while the theories of his contemporary colleagues, C.G. Jung, Adler and Wilhelm Reich aged well, little of Freud’s narrow understanding of the human psyche is in practical use today. What an utter disappointment this must been for the fans of Freud. Psychoanalysis Is Dead … So how does that make me feel as an Jungian? Well, I must admit Freud is truly in a class of his own. While I credit Freud as absolute trailblazer to reveal the concept of the unconscious, the so-called “Freud wars” caused a tremendous loss in our culture, in essence a counter revolution. However, by no means all psychoanalysis is dead, quite the contrary, the concepts of C.G. Jung and Adler are still important to understand individuals, political and organisational cultures.
This essay is a crime story, which wants to show: when was Freud killed; who had motives and means; finally, who had done it. As we will see, laymen did it, but particularly certain segments which wanted and succeeded installing a new religion of narcissistic unlimited individualism, very convenient for those in power and suitable in today’s post-industrial society. The murder happened in the sixties or early seventies and paved the way for “greed is good” which prevails today, a boulevard of broken dreams and global wars, financial, cultural, cold and hot wars.
Note: I connected four very old articles of Time magazine which are not mine. Although those articles are most likely open source, I have protected them by a password (which you may find at the end of this essay). Nevertheless I want to share them on request as a fascinating Longitudinal Study of Culture. Here is the link to TIME Magazine archive, or google will lead you to the source, but you need to have a TIME subscription.
The death of Freud
1993 Time magazine asked aloud, and on its cover no less, “Is Freud Dead?” questioning Freud’s reputation as a man and as a thinker. The psychoanalytic century was over before the 21st century had begun. Every seems to know the answer to Time’s rhetorical question: Indeed, Freud is dead. However, the opinion shapers who understood little, the anti-intellectual and foremost the Freud killers wanted to do away with psychoanalysis as a whole. As we will see, this has been done for very good reasons, because wo/men go great length to deny their shadows. We all agree that Freud did not “discover” the unconscious, but are sophisticated enough to see that it has a history that long predates him. However, he did formulate the first coherent theory about it. In a way, it was a response to the second industrial revolution, to the advent to the modern society of mass-production and mass media democracy of consumers, gratification seekers, me-suffers and myriads of suffering fractions of society. This has been very well described by the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner: “I Suffer therefore I am”. This exaltation of pseudopathos creates all kind of sweepstakes of attention seekers. “Everyone aspires to be taken for an underdog,” says Bruckner, which results in “victimization gone berserk — metastasizing through the social body.” This change was at the same time a retreat from the objective rational and political realm to the subject, to extreme individualism and later to narcissism. In retrospective , was this liberating? Yes, in a way it fulfilled the promise of the Enlightenment period, facilitated new art cultures, emancipation movements and deconstructed most moral restrictions. But the price was high. Transcendence and spirituality were lost. Community spirit and family bonds were discarded. Adaptation to a materialistic society and a sexualized consumerism became the benchmark of a successful life. The meaning of autonomy, equality, democracy changed, even the definition of gender.
The history of science is littered with cases where advocates of a theory have clung to it in spite of apparently falsifying data and have later been vindicated. Something more than mere tenacity is at issue. Sometimes as in the case of Freud the accusation was the stronger one that he reported his theory to have been confirmed when he must have known he was not in a position to do so. Freud’s theories interacted well with the socialist thinkers in the twenties and played a central role in the upheavals of the sixties. After Trotsky’s fall (who was fond of psychoanalysis and had known Adler personally), Stalin outlawed psychoanalysis and eliminated later in the thirties Freudians quite literally. Despite strong opportunism especially in the German speaking countries, Hitler did the same in the forties. However Freudianism flourished briefly again in the Anglo-Saxon after WWII. It has been always a charismatic movement, maybe suitable for medical purpose in the context of the hysterical Viennese upper class but an efficient and instrumental for deconstructing and cultural engineering. Until Woody Allan came along. The strongest reason for considering Freud a pseudo-scientist is that he claimed to have tested – and thus to have provided the most cogent grounds for accepting – theories which are either untestable or even if testable had not been tested. Why? Shortly afterwards it became an “antipolitical, antifeminist and homophobic degraded pseudo science”,the latter, by the way it always has been. You might see this paradox as a case of the revolution devours its children, but I like to explore Eli Zaretsky’s answers given in “Secrets of the Soul” which point to social and cultural history.
Ironically extreme feminism and genderism, denying differences of sexes, which followed and prevails today, triggered Freud’s downfall. Freudian’s were at least in the beginning a heterosexual patriarchical men’s club viewing homosexuality as deviation until the third industrial revolution. Freud was the father of an charismatic movement, and his children killed their “Father”.The children were left, naked and uncared for. The “Death of Freud” gave way to the postmodern society, which exchanged the term psychoanalysis with psychology and became an instrument of social control, to a great deal exercised by lay(wo)man and media as agents with zeitgeist-authority or in self-medication. Consultants, routinely counsel people and mediate team issues today, not speaking of post-modern new age prophets or gender-related NGO’s. The children of the sixties and the new service based economy turned the back on Freud. Jungian’s found a profitable market niche, haunted however in Germany by the published opinion as a convenient shadow for the opportunism of psychoanalysis in the Third Reich. Most people do not recognize, how much in counselling, cross-cultural training and corporate psychology we owe C.G. Jung.
Well, in any case 1993 almost everyone knew that “Freud is dead.” You can always count on orthodox and opportunistic academics to keep a candle burning for whatever idea they’ve invested long years, enormous sums of money and, perhaps above all, limitless ego promoting. Eli Zaretsky seems to be one of those, but his historical context, is a brilliant longitudinal study, based on facts, which gives give food for thought and explains raise and fall. It is not likely that intellectuals walks away from a venture that helped pave the way for tenure and the prestige of authorship. Over the years, there were so many books, so many reviews, so many lectures, all with so little perspective on Freud’s limitations, and the folly continued to march on. So the Freud industry continues. Academics always have been — and still are — infinitely creative in their efforts to white wash any errors, even as laymen grow increasingly critical. Zaretsky’s thesis is that psychoanalysis has repressive and emancipatory aspects is true. However, as Karl Kraus put it many years ago, Freud’s psychoanalysis itself became the poison it purports to cure and Freud’s psychoanalysis is just an outdated subset. Another way to put it, is that Freud’s clerics have infected the Western mainstream with and sex-is-everything view, penis envy, Oedipal conflicts as source for anything what can can go wrong, even politically, that Freud itself became irrelevant. Nietzsche claimed “God is death”. The new Freudian replaced (or killed) the spiritual “Self” with an infantile inflated Super-Ego. To Jung (and Eastern spirituality), one part of the subconscious — the term Self — was given for an entity, which is our communication path to God or even God in us and had a complete different meaning than it has today in the Freudian context. Freud’s followers, replaced what was left, the rational Ego quite directly with an ever young forlorn based primarily on sexual identity and entitelment.
Consequently, the killer got killed, the death of psychoanalysis is itself the desired outcome Freud’s psychoanalysis was ever designed to deliver. Depriving the world of spirituality and transcendence in nihilistic capitalism, which replaced the failed Communism as unilateral power. Or in other words Freud’s theories did their job, but its usefulness expired. We had priest, quack or analyst –which claimed special access to the darkest, scariest reaches of our minds — today we are left with ‘experts’ and quacks amplified by media and technology. For a certain price, they drug us. scientifically, Freud’s psychoanalysis turned out very ponderable and has left psychoanalysis as a whole discredited and made laughable today. Psychology took a worse turn. Evidently (or forensic) I encountered this today in my local library. 12 large bookshelves, containing 50 % women’s problem in all shades (with sexuality, with men, with themselves, with the kids…) the other half is generic self-help and astrology. A real triviality shock. Out of 10 Books left under the label “Psychoanalysis” only one was worth to be picked up – and that was sampler of original texts.
Unfortunately, this is tragic — for Western culture and the world in general, because like one never will understand himself if not in touch with the unconsciousness, the history of psychoanalysis and political history must be seen tangled and holistic. I would argue, the history of psychoanalysis and development of theories reflects the unconsciousness of human history. When I read the Time articles (again) they became a Longitudinal Study of Culture with all wishes, suppressed fears, shadows and projection of those years in and between and after the major wars. As Jung noted, the “unconsciousness is real” like blueprint for houses, they create reality (a great youtube video interview with C.G. Jung touches that – see around min 37). Troubled dreams, visions, or complexes lead to psychological troubled people (and societies). This full film represents a rare record of an original genius. In Dr. Richard Evans interviews, “Jung on Film”, C.G. Jung tells us about his collaboration with Sigmund Freud, about the insights he gained from listening to his patients’ dreams, and about world events. It is almost frightening, how valid his unique psychoanalytic view on political issues still is today.
Cultural history of Psychoanalysis
Freud, Adler and Jung—these names personify, above all others, modern man’s restless exploration of his own mind, his struggles for self-knowledge and for control of his darkest drives. Freud gave an individual, Adler a political and C.G. Jung a spiritual answer. In the 20th century, impelled by the detailed theory and dogma of the Big Three, psychology has burst out of consulting room and clinic, spreading all through life and leaving nothing untouched—neither love nor economics, war nor politics, neither art nor culture nor God. Freud clung to the mechanical and material scientism of his age and was anti-religious almost until its end. He constructed a new. detailed, machine like scheme run by sexual energy or libido. In Freud’s view, the unconscious was a problems zone cluttered with neuroses and repressed materials. The Freudian concept of libido eventually grudgingly broadened, but still narrowly insisted that infantile parricide and incest wish were almost mono-causal important. Vienna’s Alfred Adler, like C.G. Jung an early disciple of Freud, rejected this sex-is-everything view, and formulated his theory that human beings are propelled more by drives for power because of inherent feelings of inferiority. Both saw the same importance of gender differences, but Adler did understand the upcoming womans lib movement whereas Freud, did not. Adler, being political motivated wanted to combine feminism with socialism. Freud’s work, “Totem and” Tabu tried to reconcile differences mainly with Jung, but also with Adler. Here the view of irrationalism, mythos and transcendence were the great dividers. So only a trinity , all men which went quite different ways. I have written about Sabine Spielrein, I see this as a great loss that she was belitteled away (by Jung and Freud).
After the three arch-fathers, came the Early psychoanalysts like Wilhelm Reich, Sabine Spielrein,Toni Wolff, Karl Abraham, Sandor Ferenczi and Anna Freud. Neo-psychoanalysts like Erich Fromm and third generation psychoanalysts like Alexander Mitscherlich followed. Then already existentialist and phenomenalists like Erwin W. Strauss took over.
The promise of Psychoanalysis
Eli Zaretsky agues that psychoanalysis was created and meant as a liberating and emancipating movement to fulfill the promise of enlightenment – and that would mean Kant, Voltaire and Hume. However, even he grudgingly accepts the fact, that it was abused both in capitalism as in communism as means of social control – of the masses. Tellingly, to him the three promises were autonomy, emancipation of women and democracy .While this may be include this is a very narrow view, with which I beg to differ. The intellectual movement of Enlightenment was a very complex movement. It has 4 main points. First is that it believes in the idea of the existence of natural laws. It also believes in natural rights (Life, Liberty, Property, political and religious freedom) of individuals, human reason, as well as sociological and scientific progress. The autonomy of individuals meant moral (decide what is good and bad) and political autonomy (democracy), not personal unlimited and unconditional autonomy, beyond self control and moral conditionality. Zaretskyis is too smart to make such an error, so this is by purpose or – I believe – a Freudian slip. On base of Zaretsky’s facts one could argue, that Freud, even if conservative, created a theory which instead perverted the promise of enlightenment to a hydra of psychologization of authority, narcissistic individualism and personal self exploration. Descartes “T think so I am” became Pascal Bruckners “I suffer so I am” which he argues ia a conformity now a stifling orthodoxy in the West, instilling within us the desire to “practice self-flagellation” and “culture of permanent disadvantage and inequalities”. At the personal level, the politics of guilt is a perfect accompaniment to another dubious legacy of the (late) Sixties —what even Eli Zaretsky calls a culture of narcissism; an infantile and regressive and therapeutic culture of the self, self, self in a constructed social reality ruled by a new class of social workers, self-support group and self-appointed counselors who took over. This “Temptation of Innocence” changed the age of Enlightenment into an ” Age of Entitlement” (again French philosopher Pascal Bruckner) – with mother centered psychological underpinnings for an welfare state (until it had been abolished too by globalism).
Psychoanalysis and Marxism
The first world war was a total war, which not only killed six thousand of the brightest and the best in per day (!) over 4 years but also the old Europe and Russia civilization. The war had triggered a high demand for psychoanalysts (for instance to cure shell shocks). It is often said, that this war was reflected by Freud’s “death instinct, but that had com e from a brilliant paper of Sabine Spielrein, patient, lover and pupil of C.G. Jung (and later working with Freud) before WWI. Like in Europe, also in Russia the charismatic avantgarde movement flirted with another utopian movement, not only because the had a common enemy – the family and patriarchism. The Bolsheviks printed Freud’s writings, although they had a different concept of personal autonomy. Under patronage of Trotsky who was close to Adler, the Russian psychoanalysis (strictly speaking Freudian) experienced at the beginning of the twenties a short bloom. Like in later in America, Trotsky saw it primarily as mean to control the subconsciousness of the underlings, the mass . The Bolshevik revolution, already ruthless by Lenin’s design, succumbed after Lenin’s death to evil and inhuman Stalin. Under his rule, the USSR degenerated into a brutal tyranny of its own, aptly symbolized in George Orwell’s book “Animal Farm”. After the (too) brilliant Leon Trotsky (chosen by Lenin as his successor) had to emigrate to Mexico, all intellectuals in the Soviet Union were in great danger. Trotsky was killed 1938 with an ice pick by a Stalinist agent, in Mexico-City. Intellectuals, who stayed, had either to adapt totally and opportunistically or perish in a niche. After 1925, when Stalin began repressing psychoanalysis, would have been risky. Spielrein, on advice of Freud and for private reasons had moved to Russia 1924 and worked as school medical psychologist in Moskow and later practical-therapeutic in Rostov on Don. In Moscow Spielrein founded together with Ivan Ermakov Dimitrievitch and Moshe Wulff, the first Institute for Psychoanalysis in the Soviet Union. It was also the first state psychoanalytic training institute in the world. 1921-1924 of the Psychoanalytic Institute experiments were performed with liberal collective education in early childhood in the orphanage Laboratory, which served the ’68 movement as a model for their sexually charged socialist children shops. All three brothers of Spielrein were arrested and killed under Stalin’s reign of terror by the National Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) like many other intellectuals and/or Jewish.
Psychoanalysis and capitalism
The promise of psychoanalysis, was essential aligned to Fordism, as “a manufacturing system designed to flood you with standardized, low-cost goods and afford its workers decent enough wages to buy them. Although Fordism was a method used to improve productivity in the automotive industry, this principle could be applied to any kind of manufacturing process. Major success stemmed from three major principles
- The standardization of the product
- The use of special-purpose tools and/or robots.
- Trickle down economy – workers are paid higher “living” wages, to allow them to purchase the products they make.
The deal was called off several times and according to the Time of this week has been called off open ended. However, Fordism initially broke down European class barriers creating a convergence between Freud and capitalism. Complex systems need well educated managers. Those managers were ordered to pay attention to the individual (worker) and that meant also psychology played a certain role. On the demand side, ever good advertising uses archetypal symbols. Furthermore sex sells. 1926, that is 75 years before Madonna. Gramsci, an Italian communist wondered in one of his letters
from prison whether it really meant anything ‘that many of the so-called theoreticians of historical materialism have fallen into a philosophical
position similar to mediaeval theology and have turned “economic structure” into a hidden god is probably demonstrable’, while capitalism emphasises the sexuality to enforce conformity in their workers and consumers. Fordism needs Freudianism to decipher the hidden wishes and desires of the masses, since enforcement alone does not suffice. He praises Fordism, to create new females which are employed in the (capitalistic or communist) factory.
To some may occur, that this alliance resembles closely todays alliance between neocons, the hapless EU and feminists. Today relentless individualism became a mass product, but on a positive the side effect of destructed gender roles contributes to less breeding, helping with the fact that workers are redundant today. For the high inequality of todays economy, Freud (and Ford) would have been to human, too fond of animal instincts. We are living in the century or millennium of fracking, micro trading, robots, drones and narcissism – feudalism was only outgunned for a short while. Absolute super-national power can be achieved, whiteout paying attention to the underlings. The noble savage of the French philosopher, revived by Freud has been killed again. Freud emphasized like Rousseau on early experience, believing that children are born with a conscience corrupted by morals and society. Both had the idea of the “noble savage” living a moral life in the state of nature.
Today – Psychoanalysis as Business of Restoring the Dream Post in post-modern culture of narcissism
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines narcissism as the act of “egocentrism,” where a person is full of love for self. Many experts think that, because of what are being hailed as advances in media and technology, we became a world of narcissistic children and adults. A most recent American Freshman Survey, which has gathered data from some 9 million young adults, reveals “that college students are more likely than ever to call themselves gifted and driven to succeed, even though their test scores and time spent studying are decreasing.” Make yourself into something you’re not. Though users may actually know a lot of people they connect with on Facebook, the social media site allows most of them to make a lot more “friends” than they actually have – perhaps hundreds or thousands more. They are able to delete unflattering comments or “unfriend” or “block” anyone who upsets them or disagrees with them or otherwise “pokes holes in their inflated self-esteem”. It seems we can pick and choose the media and what we want to see the world. However, major media outlets today are highly concentrated and block out anything undesirable as well. Yesterday, elites misused God to keep the masses obedient. Or so it seems to revolutionaries and atheists. Science has replaced myths and media has replaced sermons. Money used to be only object or record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange; a unit of account; a store of value. Today money is the only value, the only benchmark for the individual and sole power. Michel Foucault advanced a critical perspective on the modern experience of individuality as the result of power relations in his essay “The Subject and Power”:
“this form of power applies itself to immediate everyday life and which categorizes the individual, marks him by his own individuality, attaches him to his own identity, imposes a law of truth on him which he must recognize and which others have to recognize in him. It is a form of power which makes individuals subjects. There are two meanings of the word subject: subject to someone else by control and dependence, and tied to his own identity by a conscience or self-knowledge. Both meanings suggest a form of power which subjugates and makes subject to.” The very possibility of a narcissistic decision is itself a product of power relations. The collapse of community is a systemic symptom of societal impoverishment. No personal choice to go back to church can undo this institutionalized alienation, however much religion may give solace to the faithful.
According to Jung one must overcome the Ego to reach the unconsciousness realm to reach his or her Self. But that s a very different Self than in todays self-entered ideology. Actually meant is the “I” (Ich) or Ego, which has been replaced with the term “Self” by American Freudian, the “Ich” of course only a small part of one’s personality – consciousness and more or less congruent with C.G. Jung’s “Ego”.
The Ego and the Self are terms which are often interchangeably used. Likewise often no distinction between personality and Self is made nor taken into account the subconscious anymore. The psychological term Ego is the center of consciousness and ensures the physical survival . Ego often has an extended meaning in the spiritual language and referrers in general terms to an obstacle for Self realization. You may go deeper in the model her, but critical to me is, that according to the model C.G. Jung must distinguishes sharply between Ego and Self. The unconscious thoughts and dreams are both types of memories: the ones we can remember easily and those who are suppressed for some reason. In addition Jung introduced the collective unconscious, which belongs to the common humanity, as part of an individual psyche. Ego is the correct translation of the German “Ich (I)” used by C.G. Jung and Freud. The term Ego is also common in esoteric writings often distinguishing the Ego as a centre of the personality of a higher or true Self not unlike as in C.G. Jung’s psychoanalytic model. The term Ego is widely used In translations of Buddhist texts for the “I” to overcome. So it boils down to that the Freud’s kills want o narrow down a personality only the conscious Ego, renamed to Self, which used to attend a negative meaning: to characterize, for example people with a selfish narcissism. According to C.G. Jung the Ego can be equated with the conscious mind and includes all thoughts we think at that moment and also our current feelings. In the center of this consciousness we find that “I” or Ego. It guarantees the unity of (thinking, feeling, acting) is focused on physical survival and dealing with everyday demands. All religions (according to the Benedictine monk Anselm Gruen), demand more or less that we must become free from the Ego. This especially applies to our relationship with God. If we do not let go of our Ego we stay materialistic (at best). Today’s self-centered psychology is essentially reviving narcissism as a norm.
Jung’s answer to Freud
In the Freudian world, the human being stands alone, bound and hunted by mysterious urges and traumas over which he has no control. Religion is usually seen a form of neurosis and God is a projection of the Father image. But Jung was a “homo religious” bitingly said once about Freud: “The brain is viewed as an appendage of the genital glands”, He was more interested on the unconsciousness, and as a source of energy and channel to transcendence, particularly in the pool of archetypal common knowledge, the collective unconsciousness which he differentiated from the personal unconsciousness. It is, argues Jung, is not merely a trash basket for disagreeable experiences, but a vast source of energy full of both good and evil. For the most part the eternal human affections, aspirations and fears are just what they seem to be. Religion is not a neurosis, in Jung’s view; it is a timeless and universally felt human need. Freud was the Copernicus who discovered the nature of the solar system. Jung may well be the Kepler to circumscribe correctly the whole sphere of the psyche.
The ultimate value of psychoanalysis cannot alone be measured by practical standards. But it must be a psychology for human beings who reach out toward the unknown, the intangible, the spiritual. arguably both todays narcissism nor the goal of psychological adjustment for the unsuccessful adapted lead to unbearable boredom, infernal sterility, and hopelessness. Jung has suggested to mankind a way of “adjustment” not merely to his animal instincts and social pressures but to his individuation and his eternal religious needs, “Individuation means to become what one is really meant to be”, like meditation in Zen Buddhism.
So what can we see today that we didn’t see during the last century? We know that Freud never seriously dealt with the problem of “suggestion,” which totally compromised his clinical findings and, by extension, his theories. Amazingly, these critical insights were buried under Freud’s rhetoric of denial and by his growing fame. Today we know better than to trust to paid consultants, or in benefit, that supposedly issue from the “therapeutic alliance” between analyst and patient. I have one primary aim for psychoanalysis in mind, and that is; “The Business of Restoring the Dream.” Many on our planet live on the “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. The psychological problem is clearly illustrated in the Hollywood dream factory film “The Matrix”, in which the narcissistic character Cypher wants his old life in the Matrix where he can be rich and famous and “where ignorance is bliss”.
Secrets of the Soul: A Social and Cultural History of Psychoanalysis, 2004 by Eli Zaretsky
Time magazine 1924-today (subscribers archive)