Freud and Atheism
This is very thoughtful. I myself have great respect for Sigmund Freud, his thoughts on when religion can get problematic, but I do think Jones has an interesting point.
This is very thoughtful. I myself have great respect for Sigmund Freud, his thoughts on when religion can get problematic, but I do think Jones has an interesting point.
Yesterday I lost my new scarf. Had been visiting acquaintances and when it was time to get dressed and go home it was gone. Gone. It couldn’t be found anywhere. Once home, I continued to look, in the pockets of the jacket (for the fifth time), in the luggage, in all the bags & nooks of a cart that had been on the tour. Nowhere the scarf was to be found. I went to bed disappointed.
When I woke up this morning, I knew exactly where it was. Out in the hall, up to my jacket and put my hand in the cap. Voila! There it was.
I wonder what happens when you sleep. What resources are released? If this could happend, what else is possible?
Here’s what might seem like wild speculation. Speaking of how a thought can pull out like a plague, an avalanche, for good or bad, impossible to stop, once it is on a roll.
After the weekend, Kentucky Fried Chicken in the U.S. will start selling deep-fried vegetarian “chicken” pieces. Even classic temple of meat must now be able to offer vegetarian options (and push a little extra for them in their advertising) so as not to seem completely passé, uninformed, irresponsible, unintelligent, evil.
It reminds me of how everyone now has to jump on the “vaccine train”. Authorities, states, journalists. And then I still think both trends are basically well-intentioned, but I recoil at the “mass formation” about it.
There are so many levels of scepticism one can harbor about how the pandemic is handled by society. Personally, I do not believe in any supranational, over-state orchestrated conspiracy, behind the fact that, among other things, the vaccine strategies look the way they do. Of course, there are companies where managers are rubbing their hands right now, over increased sales, and virologists who otherwise work in the quiet, unnoticed, but now get to experience themselves as heroes and sought after.
But there’s something exaggerated about it, isn’t it? Everything just “rolls on” and no authority or state dares to be less restrictive than the others.
Is it more like a perfect storm? Where the fuel is a mix of xenophobia, refugee flows across all borders that over the past decade have been perceived to threaten life as one enjoy it and want it to continue to be, and even the zoombie concept that is so cherished in pop culture. Along with globalization & the internet that makes everything so easy to stage and just be swept away by? That all of that became like fuel?
When I think about it, there must also be an element of “displacement” in it all, how we focus on and invest so much to deal with the pandemic. Maybe there are other things that are at least as urgent, but where you are more confused about how to cope with it. Something that is more worrying, something that arouses even more anxiety.
So then the pandemic, unwittingly understood, has offered an opportunity to escape the tension for a while. What could the other things be? The climate? The world economy? (And as a consequence of them both the refugee flows.)
But I don’t think this is something that our leaders are doing deliberately, to shuffle away the cards for us citizens and voters. I think it is so that they can maintain a sense of action, determination, competence, and to have a goal to work toward, themselves.
I myself realize that there is a real challenge with covid. But that it feels like there is something “psychological” behind the handling becoming so resolute, all or nothing, as well. “We know how to do it, follow us!” Sort of.
As a result, there is also a blaiming of “the others”, those who hesitate to follow restrictions and guidlines. Those who shout about how the emperor is at least carelessly dressed. Not naked, anyway, that’s not my own opinion.
(I’ve made an appointment to receive my third vaccine dose next week, just to let you know.)
This morning I passed this house on Dalagatan in Stockholm. I took a picture that I shared on Facebook. I wrote:
“Passing the ‘Eastman Institute’, which is an eye clinic for children… Learned the other day that it was actually THAT very Eastman, George Eastman, who once donated the money to start that place. He who made his fortune inventing the 35mm-film and the “Kodak”-camera.
I like photography. And I had read this story in detail with great interest a few days ago. So it had created a vivid memory.
After a while, it was an acquaintance who pointed out that wasn’t it rather a DENTAL clinic for children? She had got a brace herself from there a long time ago.
And, of course, that’s what I had read! And I had no problem recalling the actual story. That Eastman cared about the young people having good teeth, because a healthy, beautiful smile does so much to promote a good life, etc.
But completely unconsciously, I had embellished the whole thing (photo pioneer=children’s eyes?). And if I hadn’t been corrected, that particular version would have been even clearer to me. I had even retelled it to others…
This was long, about a small event in everyday life, but that tells me something important. On the theme of false, fabricated, or at least refined, memories. The unreliability of memory? The creativity of memory?
We like to pick on Sigmund Freud. He thought and he wrote so much that is strange.
Sometimes it feels as if he has become like a mix of “The Father” in his own imaginative theories, which are challenged and killed (and devoured ) by his sons – and by Särimmer in Norse mythology. He’s constantly re-emerging so you can beat him up again 🙂
But sometimes people manage to remind themselves that, okay, he actually lived a hundred years ago. How much else crazy and limited didn’t happen then! Diverse cultural personalities who were petty-Nazi, racist, misogynistic, etc. And at the same time recognized talented, artistic, profound, wise and sensitive individuals.
And then you can normally calm down a little, get your pulse down. It’s like you still have some basic understanding of what’s called “mentality history”, which can then be activated. Collective development has taken place on certain levels.
But, and this is where I was going to come!, I wonder if we who have taken deep impressions of new age/esoteric ideas can even be extra inclined to judge Freud? And have a hard time agreeing with his flaws? That our thought apparatus may even have become a little loose or underdeveloped in some respects because of those spiritual conceptions? How come?
Well (speculative), for being dazzled, intoxicated by the idea of “eternal, timeless wisdom”, “enlightened people” (and even the company of such individuals), etc., which have existed in all times & as have seen the world o their fellow men much as we ourselves can do, to the point, that Freud can then be dismissed as mediocre or a parenthesis.
When, in fact, he was so much ahead of his time that many of his discoveries has not yet had time to sink in… His thoughts still offer resistance, they are challenging. (Although a lot has also become part of the usual vocabulary, of course, and of the usual way we are looking at ourselves and each other.)
And he was a man of his time, as well.
“I am satisfied with the course my life has taken. It has been bountiful, and has given me a great deal. How could I ever have expected so much? Nothing but unexpected things kept happening to me. Much might have been different if I myself had been different. But it was as it had to be; for all came about because I am as I am. Many things worked out as I planned them to, but that did not always prove of benefit to me. But almost everything developed naturally and by destiny. I regret many follies which ran from my obstinacy; but without that trait I wouldn’t have reached my goal. And so I am disappointed and not disappointed. I am disappointed with people and disappointed with myself. I have learned amazing things from people, and have accomplished more than I expected of myself. I cannot form any final judgment because the phenomenon of life and the phenomenon of man are too vast. The older I have become, the less I have understood or had insight into or known about myself.
I am astonished, disappointed, pleased with myself. I am distressed, depressed, rapturous. I am all these things at once, and cannot add up the sum. I am incapable of determining ultimate worth or worthlessness; I have no judgment about myself and my life. There is nothing I am quite sure about. I have no definite convictions–not about anything, really. I know only that I was born and exist, and it seems to me that I have been carried along. I exist on the foundation of something I do not know. In spite of all uncertainties, I feel a solidity underlying all existence and a continuity in my mode of being.
The world into which we are born is brutal and cruel, and at the same time of divine beauty. Which element we think outweighs the other, whether meaninglessness or meaning, is a matter of temperament. If meaninglessness were absolutely preponderant, the meaningfulness of life would vanish to an increasing degree with each step in our development. But that is — or seems to me — not the case. Probably, as in all metaphysical questions, both are true: life is — or has — meaning and meaninglessness. I cherish the anxious hope that meaning will preponderate and win the battle.”
C. G.Jung -Memories, Dreams, Reflections
Wonderful. What can one possible add or object to such a testimony? Not much. But, o yes, one thing I was thinking about. Psychologist Erik Erikson, writing about the teenage years, claiming there are thoughts, theories and ideals which you are not yet “of legal age” to deal with until you get older. What does he mean by that? That perhaps some things comes too early, hasty, before the foundation is actually laid on which those thoughts or ideals can rest.
And when I read Jung’s reflections above, I think that his experience would be premature even for someone, like myself, who is in middle age, to try to mimic or embody. Even though you can understand, and in some sense verify, what he says – to recognice that it’s true and wise – you are normally not “there” yet. And you shouldn’t be there.
It’s not time. And it has nothing to do with culture, norms, “jantelag”, etc. Rather it is almost something psycho-organic.
But, sure, a conciliatory “helicopter perspective”, where, for example, the shortcomings of others and the world’s flaws and shortcomings are mitigated by a similarly completed view of oneself, it may well be good in the right dose even earlier in life. But nothing is so tragic as a youngster trying to embody a meek and wise old person, right?
And the attractions of adolescence, to want to deal with things that you “are not yet of legal age” for, may still apply in principle when you get to middle age. That’s how I feel myself, at least. This is not merely a hypothesis.
I suppose I’ve gotten a little wiser today, a little bit calmer, with a somewhat wider perspective on life. But I’m not yet ready to stand and look out over a grey lake and sum up my life. Or to transcend into some kind of cosmic meaningful-meaningless Nirvana state. For sure.
It is often said that if you are going to argue for your own perspective, you should show a little good will also to try to understand the other party’s view. So I will try to do that then!
“Why are there crazy conspiracy theories?”
If you are a little “meta-conspiratorial”, you could think that there may actually be some ongoing shady business that benefit from the focus of the debate being on the most crazy k-theories instead. Because then these people can continue in peace and quiet with their cartels, unholy alliances, hidden agendas, etc – the real conspiracies – without anyone caring.
And if focus of the debate is on the crazy k-theories, it can even have the effect that you almost feel sorry for the “men of power”, solidifying with them. You go blind to or miss what they do that are actually stupid, weird, unethical.
That is, the conspiracy theories may be planted to hide something at least as big and sinister, but not as crazy. The crazy k-theories are a kind of fog curtain that is shared in good faith, or completely consciously, to dribble away the public.
And if you are to think more psychologically, why the more crazy theories (for I stand by the fact that there are som pretty weird ones circulating out there!) have arisen, it could be as with those who become “symptom bearers” in their familiy… There are stuff you’re not allowed to mention or even think about. Unexplained, unseen, unreflected tensions. But in some cases such tensions brake thru, into the open, not seldom in a dramatic and perhaps excessive way.
The psychotic’s story may be worth listening to. What can be seen in the wild images is themes that tell a truth (a moody, frightening father becomes “Satan” in a psychotic story, i.ex).
In the case of the conspiracy thories: Something bad is going on in the world, but people is unwilling to hear about it or aknowledge it thrmselves. The most sensitive, sensitive individuals become a kind of whistleblowers. They just have to get it away from their chest. It then can present itself in partially a distorted form. Even though the essence is true.
Yes, there were some thoughts.
(Picture: “Turning the coat after the wind,” from an old Dutch painting. It would be me then, in this text, trying to advocate an opposite view 🙂 )
(Here is “Part 2“)
What is the reason for mental illness? Sometimes it is claimed that it all depends on childhood, how one’s parents failed in one way or another (or many) ways. I’m sure there’s some truth to it. But I would like to take a different perspective.
How it is not possible to grow up/raise children without there being a lot of errors. A little impressionistic, and completely incomplete, I would like to take up things, free from memory, as I have read, that correct the overly idealized image one might have.
I would argue that it is impossible to protect children from a plethora of unpleasantness, which they are not equipped to deal with or be able to process (precisely because they are children).
Right from the start! Being born is a hell of a drama. There are psychologists (Frank) who believe that a “birth trauma” is the basis for all sorts of difficult things later in life. How to protect the child from it? You have to get out of there. And then? Hopefully, a period of relative harmony and quiet symbiosis with mom will follow. But then there’s the “good and the bad breast” (Klein) which, sure, you can make fun of, but which there’s probably a grain of truth in anyway. Just think! The frustration of not getting the food exactly when you want. (Or the diaper changed, or that the temperature of the surroundings is regulated exactly when needed.) Crying and fear of being abandoned.
And then you get a little older. Maybe there are siblings, younger or older, who are also there and disturb the mind… Envy, all nuances. How the hell can parents protect the little child from that?
And more, the parents are not only parents, but also (at best) have a completely separate relationship, that the children have nothing to do with. This whole thing of experience your parents in the bedroom, “the primal scene”, in reality or imagination (Freud). Others, as I remember it (Laplanche), say that’s what the kids catch very subtly. For example, that the mother seems to have something, her partner, that draws her attention away from the child, must be perceived as both threatening and incomprehensible.
To this should be added all sorts of other feelings and overwhelming (precisely because you are a child) impression that you are exposed to. Parents’ and older siblings’ entire register of emotions… anger, worry, inattention, lust, fear… Which the child has little opportunity to understand.
So, we’ll – all of us -probably come out of childhood as pretty jaded individuals. And maybe there’s something good about that even? The world is a somewhat disturbing, challenging place to be for the rest of your life. So having to get a little thick-skinned is perhaps a good thing? (Then, of course, there are children who get to experience much more than normal or in practice inevitable, but that’s not what I wanted to try to catch here.)
I end with the famous expression (Winnicott) about how no one should have greater ambitions as a parent than to be “good enough”. The fact that so many people are depressed, anxious today, and that the sale of antidepressants is breaking all records, is not something to blame the previous generation for. There are a lot of other factors at play, rather, I think.
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.
I want to write something about this picture… Is that an original snob, believe me? Anyway, I’ve been saving on it for a long time, it means something to me that I’m not sure is the same as for the author, but I think so, in the same direction…
I think of the term “inflation”, it’s not exactly a psychological word, but I’ve seen it a couple of times when you talk about spiritual ideals and ambition. Even with Freud, I think firmly?, when he writes about “almost love”. That is, this perfect sympathy that one should have for everything o everyone. But above all, I think of what I think is, like, the only psychoanalytic examination of specifically the new-age/newage philosophy of life: “New Age Thinking” (1996), by M.D. Faber. This is how he writes, among other things… (Look, look…) …
“From the psychoanalytic angle, three items stand out clearly; first, we have an overarching presence of infantile omnipotence, the egocentric, unconscious belief in one’s unlimited powers […]; second, we have the urge to fuse regressively with the environment, to attach oneself to the surrounding world (universe) in a way that denies, erases, cancels out the ever-present sense of separation which the cronologically mature individual must cope with during the course of his days on the planet; third, we have a longing for narcissistic inflation, the longing to go about in the belief that one is somehow magical, wonderful […] as opposed to being simply another regular person in the world.”
The tricky thing about such psychological “inflation”, if there is no coverage for the so-called, whether it is the ideal to be able to have a high un pure love and acceptance of everything you meet, or your own imminent perfection, is that there is gladly to be some “junk” that needs to be deposited somewhere. According to the simple psychologically therapeutic rule that when something is too much in one direction, excessively, where has the other gone?