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I tell you this with a very serious face. Freud, the father of western psychology, ruined books for me, not to mention a number of other things. This is before I knew his too influential theories. It is a wonder how much destruction that man can cause, that his reach extends to even in the life of the measly little me.
This is his fundamental of his theory: humans only concerns are food, survival, and sex which manifests themselves through the ego and superego, ways of how people deal with those immutable urges; these urges are the meaning of life. Together, the two aspects of surrounding control and and object of pursuit define the relationship man and the world around him. This is a very brief summary of course, but my mind doesn’t feel like getting into the gory details.
Read the introductory section in front of the meat some classic book published by Oxford or Penguin or the like. Some PhD, renowned professor or lofty author goes into extensive details; the meanings involved in context, the characters, the author’s life, all according to their opinions of course. It’s stupid really, since most people have not read the book if they open from the front cover. If you never have, it’s all the better for you. But I, it’s almost painful to remember now, a sense of wonder at my childish naïveté at the time, accidentally did.
There’s a time in everyone’s life when he believes in everything someone, or something tells him. The infallibility of men then is a very real thing. This is before maturation, skepticism and the whole deal of polished cynicism of course. The authority of printed material, I dare you to say that you have always in your life knew that newspapers and books and magazines are all partial truth.
This is what I read at eleven or twelve, paraphrased of course: “For Dracula could give any woman a sexual gratification that no man can equal…this especially explains his hold over Lucy and Mina.” , and the famed promiscuity of Mina, for she is wed in blood to three men. The worst thing is, everyone devoted a significant amount of pages to that particular subject. Can’t anyone enjoy a book these days without thinking of personal hygiene? What is the point may I ask? Will that help us to understand the book? To be more weary of the intentions of those around us? Oh yes, even the seemingly innocuous Dicken’s David Copperfield has “and of course sexuality will force its way[…]Dora’s fingering the Button’scoat buttons”(Gates, Intro), and the author wrote with the full assurance of Freud, saying that the characters actions are now explainable because of HIM. David is effeminate therefore seeks reassurance in Steerforth. Let your imagination roam on that! This, I presume, has Jungian origins, a psychologist with psychological problems(his hero was Freud). And let’s not even talk about what happened to Frank Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”, which, however, I grant, does contain a significant amount of unsettling elements, man turning into cockroach and the whole deal.
At twelve, sex was still strictly a matter of taboo and element for furtive interest along with wine. As I being young and therefore still somewhat insensitive(or is that ignorant bliss), it didn’t affect me(and I stopped reading introductions), until, let’s say, puberty? It comes a haunting with a vengeance. This supposedly, psychologically speaking, is when children grow and gains a sense of morality based on justice and the sense of right and wrong rather than reward and punishment. Very disturbingly, quite shockingly, whole paragraphs came back. What in the world were they thinking! I asked myself. I never knew that authors was so depraved! Who can we trust? Are there nothing good in this world(the inner conscience talking) Those crises, also known as complications in plot all arise out of sexual frustration, that food…I prefer not to dwell on it. And they want children, young teens to read that??? “Go read some established literature, it will improve your reading comprehension.” Didactics and parents say. Sure…and interesting analytical skills too. Somehow I don’t think that was not what they had in mind…
How is this Freud’s fault? To put it very simply, he is the father of psychology, his theories, and postulates, shaped most of the 20th century view on human characteristics and humans in general. Hence Freudian slips, calling people anal, actually stands for anal retentive. The most important stage in man’s life is potty training. Frightening isn’t it, how that was regarded as the absolute authority? Of course, all his theories are based upon his studies of sick people, never healthy ones. You would think that would somewhat prove detrimental on the credibility case…apparently not.
How I loathe the man! Psychoanalysis be damned, I have yet to see anyone who has fully recovered due to sessions with his psychologist. Without Freud, I am sure something similar will have come along sooner of later. It doesn’t matter, at least they can avoid the, “Yes, Mrs. G--, your inability to sit on the toilet at a year old reflects your first clash with authority, namely your parents, so now you are seeking escape in alcohol.” Egad.
Now, moving along with the story of my life, or rather, Freud’s part in it.
Imagine me, as a kid growing up with TV, like the others of my generations I had a lot of dreams, and vivid ones, too. This becomes a problem. The rage of deciphering dreams came upon me. There comes a time in a man’s life that he has to know who he is, what is his subconscious thinking, telling him. All desires to know themselves, ah, the identity seeking teenage years. For me, that was not good idea, especially since I picked up Freud’s name somewhere, an over curious nature proved more of a liability in that case.
I searched, and as the school library being well-endowed, I found the book. I was thirteen that year. Guess what I discovered? Dream analysis is more of a psychosexual interpretation. I never made it past the first several chapters and some others in the middle of the book. Imagine living in a world where everything from stairways to white rooms represents sex. It’s depressing, and being a teenager then, I really don’t need any more angst. Where is the purpose of life? What is the point of living, as humans, if we are merely fulfilling the biological desires as monocots, just in a more complicated manner? There is unconscious desire (so emphasized) is to get away from HIM! Interestingly, I stopped reading altogether for a very, very long time. But then, there are the homework and test inundation.
Me, without books, THAT is psychologically traumatic. If I can’t read, I can’t think, and if I can’t think, I can’t write, and then I can’t talk…It was a horrible spiral.
Thankfully, there is still progress of civilization, and I come to realize that he is not the infallible part of the general curriculum anymore.
That is only my experience, and now think of what happened when it’s applied to Western society at large, magnified a thousand times, more samples, longer time: decades instead of years.
And they ask why the 21st century is so immoral and gluttonous? I am vehement that a large part of it can be attributed to Freud. What else do you get if the is to read everything as a matter of hidden, guilty desires? When children grow up being taught that they should be themselves (Hail Childish Individuality!), and yet their minds walking the strange, influenced path of education where if they were asked to think, they think about mere hypocrisy because that’s what they’ve been taught? That what his theories are when stripped bare of the Germanic turn of phrases, a sentence for each paragraph; men live for pleasure alone, and the egos ensure that they do not become rabid animals, slaves to their pleasure, which they ultimately are. And we ask why history repeats? Odd, Epicurean Romans comes to mind.
Excuse me for wanting to believe differently, excuse me for having more than a displeased attitude. Freud’s a man too popular for anyone’s good, and he has ruined at least a year of my life, and most annoyingly, though clearly outdated in the psychology field, Freud proves himself addictive to certain members of the society. My last sordid brush with Freud concerns Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Which I always thought is purer in motive than most of the other paperbacks on the market, apparently I was wrong. Yes, I mean..how could we miss that the Ring is an overt reproductive or rather, abortive, symbol…and Galadriel is a “threatening all-powerful temptress with her strange promise of androgyny and promiscuity”. If that’s not Freudian influence, I don’t know what is (Downie 2002). The saddest part is that it’s actually published! Oh the poor misguided, disturbing forces…
The 21st century article dominated by 19th century notions. Alas! http://www.illusions.org.nz/essays/34_2002/page_lotr.htm
AN: this does not reflect that author’s opinion in better moments…
The conscious shape reality.