Can the value of animals be raised without devaluing the human being at the same time? That’s a question I’ve asked a lot. (I think it seems difficult.) That’s where I started.
But I stopped, or paused iaf, by reading a transcript of an interview with Jeffrey Masson.
Here is the YouTube video itself:
Jeffrey Masson’s story is fascinating and absolutely unique. Just listen! He grew up with “guru” Paul Brunton, who was a close friend of his parents. He eventually trained as a psychoanalyst. And more than that. He became a personal friend of Freud’s daughter Anna, gaining access to material that he thought showed that Sigmund Freud had covered up essentials. And he published this. (I have a feeling he was overreacting.) This was dismissed and Masson was driven away from the psychoanalytic movement. Instead, he fought for the situation of the animals, becoming a prominent vegan.
I’ve written a lot of books. About all the parts and shifts of their life. This interview is an exposé of most things.
So, how do these things fit together?
There seems to have been a gradual humanization at least in our part of the world. It’s like a “climate change” that’s been gradual. Today, you can’t ask your children, your wife, or even your dog (or other “subjects”, such as employees, students, etc.) without society wanting to intervene. It’s magnificent. The situation of animals in meat and milk production is highlighted (most recently it was Kronfågel that was criticized, because animals suffer unnecessarily). I can’t say anything about this. Pretty much good, I think.
But then where I’m suggesting, something that can be problematic… That when you exalt the animals, that they “are as valuable as humans”, as it is sometimes said, can this do something with the solidarity or the feeling of the fellow human beings? Well, in some cases, I actually think so. Just like I think about newness. It’s like a scale. At one end, no problem at all. At the other end, it’s more complicated. All the degrees in between.
The first one I don’t care about. A development to embrace and applaud. But when solidarity with animals becomes one-sided and seems to “take” from the warm feelings one is able to feel for one’s fellow species?
I would like to bring up an old psychiatric term (which honestly seems to be completely unused today, because when I test google, I get virtually no hits!), namely “collective quaulans”. It’s about when the commitment to a vulnerable group becomes so burning and unreasonable that you can feel it’s pretty much about the person himself. Related to legal shaverism, but there it is one’s own stubborn crusade against the System. How you are treated and treated badly. Instead, in the collective quarrel, you have “adopted” a group you feel that the rest of the world ignores, and you fight for them in an unreasonable and self-righteous way. But psychology is similar. And solidarity with animals sometimes has a pull on this, that is my firm opinion.
I’ve felt it sometimes on my own skin, I think, in some more orthodox societies. As the lukewarm as-good-as-lactovegetarian I myself have been and am. That one is all too easily portrayed as and relegated to the camp that does not understand or care at all, those who oppress and treat animals badly.
And it has then felt as if, in addition to the strong solidarity people show with animals, it is also a personal struggle against the outside world that is taking place.
Then, Jeffrey Masson, how does he fit into all this? In short, it’s my feeling that he’s pulling in that direction, too. (And finally, he also abandoned the human world and solidified himself with the defenseless animals instead.)
But in his case, it was, first, expressed as a solidarity with victims of sexual abuse. As Masson experienced, or that, had actually been met with disbelief by Freud & Co. through the ages. A lot can be said about this. But it’s like he exaggerated, “grabbed” too much, “missed the target,” that raises suspicions.
It is often argued that it was only when Freud abandoned his “seduction theory” that psychoanalysis became the form of therapy. But it is this shift that Masson has been critical of. And he has substantiated this with letters he has found that seem to confirm that Sigmund Freud’s early female patients were subjected to actual abuse, but that Freud wanted to hide, to tone this down? And that psychoanalysts in Masson’s surroundings generally wanted to see all the testimonies from clients about abuse as rather fantasies? So be it. (And even freud himself experienced early abuse that led him to finally abandon his theory).
But that doesn’t change anything in substance. And Masson was too knowledgeable about psychoanalysis not to realize this. Those who have experienced real abuse can be helped by more concrete, empathetic trauma treatment. Which is usually about being supported to dare to remember and talk about what you have actually experienced. Psychoanalysis is much more than that. Who should at best be able to deal with real trauma as well, not just the fantasy dimension of life.