by Jimmie Moglia for the Saker blog
I first read Freud’s writings when, probably unconsciously, I believed that if everybody says the same thing, it must be true.
Freud’s extraordinary theories and mystifying lingo had many admirers and promoters. Just as one example, Eugene Goodheart, professor at Brandeis University, says, “Freud’s sheer power of narration provides a kind of emotional truth that we could ill afford to forego.” And, “Freud’s achievement occurs in the company of the great masters of modern literature,” etc.
At the time, I thought I would build a personal library of classical literature and other classics. Freud was one of the authors suggested by experts.
Without Internet, as yet, it was common to follow, somewhat uncritically, fashionable ideas, especially if spoken-of glowingly by the mass media and other “prestigious” venues that impose the dominion of a name. Besides, Freudian psychoanalysis was promoted and paraded to the uninformed as a revolutionary method to correct what is wrong in men, and therefore in society.
Even then, however, I found irony in Freud’s extraordinary popularity and fame. Independently of any truth contained therein, psychological language and terminology is amusing, not to say ridiculous. For it elevates what is directly comprehensible, and even trivial, to the level of scholarly erudition. Therefore it creates a (false) impression of an enhanced conceptual and scientific precision even in what is dramatically obvious.
A trivial thought expressed in pompous diction, tends to impress more than an important sentiment delivered in simple language; because the number is greater of those whom custom has enabled to judge of words, than of those whom study has qualified to examine things.
Transported into a corporate environment, Freudian lingo becomes “managerese.” Besides, using bloated words and phrasing to hide conceit or fraud has a long tradition. Even in Hamlet, a character named Osric attempts to impress or frighten Hamlet by describing the strength and qualities of his adversary Laertes. And he concludes, “…to divide him (Laertes), inventorially would dizzy the arithmetic of memory.” And Hamlet replies, ““Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in you; though, I know, to divide him inventorially would dizzy the arithmetic of memory… but in the verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul of great article…” (1)
But returning to my first impression of Freud’s writings, “I have chosen the wrong career – I said to myself – here is an easy way to make big bucks on the cheap.” Say what everyone understands in pompous, clinical-sounding, academic and pseudo-scientific language and you have it made. Why spend years in attempting to understand abstruse scientific concepts, described in words much harder to understand than any Freudian language?
Consider, as an example of hard-to-comprehend ideas, complex numbers, in turn derived from inventing an imaginary solution for an unsolvable mathematical equation. And yet having to accept, understand, remember and use complex numbers to describe the behavior of electric currents.
Or worse, take the case of integrals, single, double and triple. The triple integral, which, in conjunction with one of Kepler’s laws, enabled scientists to figure out the density of the asteroid Eros, millions of miles away, and the loci of the elliptical orbit followed by a smaller satellite orbiting Eros.
But I digress. Even a cursory investigation of Freud’s life, claims, “therapeutic” medical treatments and case studies leaves the investigator speechless. He wonders how such craven madness, treachery, stupidity, not to say criminality, could ever have been considered credible, let alone “medical” in the honest and commonly understood meaning of the term.
Some may ask why talk about Freud now when so many other issues crowd our tangled world. Because the ideas of Freud and of his nephew Edward Bernays, as we will see, still inspire the spirit of our times. Including a top-down ideology, imposed on the world at large by the hegemonic media, Hollywood and other trend-setting, cultural, academic and political sources – and even affecting, in some cases, the judicial system.
It is not generally known that followers and heirs of the Freudian “scientific” doctrine have locked away a large number of Freud’s papers and letters in the Library of Congress, not to be accessed before the 22nd century.
Why the secrecy? While we can only speculate, what escaped sequestration should give us clues.
Here are very few among many possible examples. Take Freud’s friend and “scientist” colleague Wilhelm Fliess, who was a protagonist in the “clinical” case of Emma Eckstein, a 27-year old patient of both Fliess and Freud.
Fliess had invented the “theory of periodicity,” whereby men and women go through “sexual” cycles of 23 and 28 days respectively. He also discovered what he called a correspondence between the nose and the genitals. Fliess even operated on Freud’s nose to cure him of neurosis. In turn, Freud went as far as calling Fliess, “the Kepler of biology (!).”
Freud determined that patient Emma Eckstein was “bleeding with love” for himself, Mr. Freud. Since he actually wrote this down, we may assume that he documented his diagnosis because he imagined it to be received with implicit veneration.
Indeed, the patient was bleeding from the nose, but not for love. Having been referred to Fliess by Freud, Fliess had conducted an experimental nasal operation to cure Eckstein of her “nasal-genital reflex neurosis,” as Fliess called it. After which, he forgot to remove about 3 feet of gauze, left within the cavities of what remained of Emma’s nose.
Another case, rediscovered from a cache of letters, involves Horace Frink, a psychoanalyst himself and another of Freud’s patient. Frink was having an affair with a patient of his own, the bank heiress Angelika Bijur. Despite this, Freud convinced Frink that he, Frink, was a latent homosexual, running the risk of becoming openly so. The “Freudian” cure? Frink should divorce his unsuitable wife and marry the patient Bijur. Simultaneously, Bijur was to divorce her unsuitable husband. Freud had never met either Frink’s wife or Bijur’s husband – which makes Freud’s telepathic psychological insight almost miraculous.
But why these extraordinary suggestions? Simple. Freud hoped to acquire some of Bijur’s money. For in a letter to Frink he says, “Your complaint that you cannot grasp your homosexuality implies that you are not yet aware of your fantasy of making me a rich man. If matters turn out all right let us change this imaginary fantasy into a real contribution to the “Psychoanalytic Foundation.”
What happened in the end? Both Frink and Bijur divorced and remarried according to Freud’s “diagnosis” and “cure.” The two abandoned and devastated spouses soon died. In turn, Frink’s new wife soon filed for divorce. And Frink, now guilt-ridden, fell into a psychotic depression for the rest of his life, marked by several attempts at suicide.
Apparently, Freud felt no regret for having destroyed, in this instance, four lives. From several remarks, in his extant letters, he seemed quite indifferent to his patients’ suffering and to the Freud-induced doubts of their self-worth. According to him, all his patients’ problems were due to their inability to “recover” their sexual memories and traumas suffered in early childhood.
The cases of Emma Eckstein and Harry Frink also share a characteristic, common throughout Freud’s so-called psychoanalytic work. That is, a boundless fertility of invention and a remarkable coincidence between his diagnoses and his direct self-interest. Plus an ego of immeasurable dimensions and evidence of a ludicrous something, which he dared to call “medicine,” as he constantly refers to his work as “clinical.”
Furthermore, in the instance of Emma Eckstein, by diagnosing her nose bleeding as love for himself, Freud freed both “doctors” from any responsibility. Himself, for having recommended the mad nose operation, and Fliess for having performed it.
In the other case, or saga, of Frink-Bijur, Freud had ordered all related correspondence destroyed, but we owe its survival to Marie Bonaparte, great grand-niece of Napoleon I. An author and psychoanalyst herself, she helped Freud to leave Germany when the Nazis came to power. She also bought the letters Freud wrote to Fliess (in the case of Emma Eckstein), and refused to destroy them when Freud asked her to. Bonaparte had first consulted with Freud for treatment of her frigidity, or rather of her inability to reach sexual satisfaction – though beside a husband, she had several lovers.
As a historical aside, in 1952, Marie and her husband represented their nephew, King Paul of Greece, at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in London. Sitting next to Marie Bonaparte was the future president of France, Francois Mitterrand. Bored with the pageantry, Marie suggested to Mitterrand that he sample her psychoanalytic method. Mitterrand obliged and both missed much of the pomp and ceremony they had come to witness.
Here is another most egregious example – the case of the so-called Wolf Man. The Wolf Man was actually a Russian émigré and “patient” of Freud, named Sergei Pankeev.
In 1918 Freud claimed to have removed all Pankeev’s symptoms and inhibitions. And thanks to what happened next, Pankeev became one of the most celebrated patients whom Freud “cured.”
Freud first diagnosed Pankeev as a sufferer of what he called the “Russian national character, or inwardness.” Accordingly, “Russische Innerlichheit” explained Pankeev’s reluctance and initial rejection of psychoanalytical treatment.
Incidentally, Freud’s prejudice or generalizations about his perception of the Russian character are explained in his book titled “Dostoyevsky and Parricide.” For the record, Dostoyevski did not kill his father nor – good for him – he was or had been a Freud’s patient.
Dostoyevsky suffered from epilepsy. And even today, notwithstanding the large volume of research conducted and material published on the subject, the most widely accepted description of epilepsy is, “A disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures.” And for which “treatment can help, but this condition can’t be cured.”
As for causes, modern medicine is as tentative as it was long ago. Reading from a medical encyclopedia, “Epilepsy may occur as a result of a genetic disorder or an acquired brain injury, such as a trauma or stroke. During a seizure, a person experiences abnormal behavior, symptoms, and sensations, sometimes including loss of consciousness. There are few symptoms between seizures. Epilepsy is usually treated by medications and in some cases by surgery, devices, or dietary changes.”
Freud disliked Dostoyevsky because of the novels Dostoyevsky wrote. As for the epilepsy, never mind that Dostoyevsky experienced living within minutes of being shot by an execution squad, before his sentence was commuted.
Such an event could traumatize the most stoic among us, and be a sufficient clue for his subsequent state of body and mind, including maybe epilepsy. But according to Freud, Dostoyevsky did not suffer from epilepsy but from hysteria. Which, in turn, came about from a “primal scene.” Or rather, from Dostoyevsky having discovered “female castration,” after witnessing an act of parental intercourse.
Which led Freud to conclude that “all those illnesses called hysteroepilepsis are simply hysterias.” Notice the verbal trick and chicanery looming large in this and in some other Freud’s theories, cases and conclusions. He invents “hysteroepilepsis” so as to substitute “hysteria” for “epilepsy.” Epilepsy was not curable then and now, but having Freud found the cure for hysteria, it was implicit that “histeroepilepsis” would be equally healed.
Back to Sergei Pankeev, the “Wolf Man” and his initial reluctance to undertake Freud’s psychoanalytic treatment. After what we can call a campaign of persuasion, and given Freud’s ascendant among the illuminati of the time, Pankeev became a Freud’s patient and undertook “treatment.”
On Freud’s advice during the opening sessions of the consultation, Pankeev did not return to Russia to recover or deal with his estate, before the Bolsheviks seized it. He therefore lost most of his possessions.
But after a few sessions Freud declared Pankeev “cured.” Malicious minds may attribute the rapidity of the cure to the patient’s inability to pay for the treatment.
Nevertheless, in the persona of a famous charity patient cured by Freud, Pankeev started signing his letters as “Wolfsmann.” In reality, Pankeev was anything but cured, and Freud even offered him not only to continue to cure him for free, but even a pension, as long as he did not tell his story to outsiders.
But Pankeev did not accept, and in an interview with a journalist in the 1970s said, “the whole thing was a catastrophe. I am in the same state when I first came to Freud, and Freud is no more.” (Freud died in 1939).
Still, the saga of the Wolf Man is linked to Freud’s intervening disagreement with two other notorious writers, analysts and psychiatrists, Carl Jung and Alfred Adler. Jung and Adler denied the importance of infantile sexuality in the development of neurosis. In turn, the Wolf Man became the medium and tool with which Freud would convince the world that he, Freud, was right and his critics wrong.
To do so Freud wanted to discover a Pankeev’s “primal scene,” totally invented, as with Dostoyevsky. Quite simple, actually. Freud made the Wolf Man remember a dream from the age of four. – a feat in itself already suspicious. I don’t know about others but, after some time has elapsed, I have no recollection whatsoever of my dreams, including the rare cases when I wrote them down. And it is only when I happen to read the related notes that I remember having dreamt that dream. Anything not written remains unremembered, except realizing that the notes only captured a small part of the dream.
Anyway, Pankeev’s remembered dream, extracted by Freud, had to do with three white wolves standing in the daylight, and later downgraded to white dogs.
In Freud’s interpretation, forced upon the helpless Wolf Man, the wolves were his parents; their whiteness meant bedclothes; their stillness meant the opposite, coital motion; their tails castration. That they were seen in daylight really meant night, a fact that some internal repression caused the Wolf Man not to admit. Why the repression? Because the dream was actually the representation of what the patient saw at his young age, his parents copulating three times in the style of dogs, while he, the child, horrified, soiled himself in the crib.
Freud’s interpretation is baloney, or sick or, as loyal Freudians describe, it “exposes much of Freud’s inventiveness.” Or even better, “it exceeds the ingenious staging of any pornographic film producer” as another Freudian psychoanalyst wrote in a comment.
Furthermore, Freud never convinced the Wolf Man that the sick “primal” experience ever took place. For Pankeev belonged to the Russian nobility and, when interviewed about the alleged primal scene, he said that, given the habits of the nobility, he could not have slept in the same room as his parents.
In one illuminating statement Freud writes, “These scenes from infancy, are not reproduced during the treatment as recollections, they are the product of construction” (translation, “I make them up”).
Furthermore, it appears that Freud was obsessed with copulation from the rear and with sexual initiation of children from servant girls – something he also attempted to convince the Wolf Man of having been subjected to.
On balance, according to those who have read much more of Freud than I did, “the reviews of all the major case histories compose a uniform picture of forced interpretation, indifferent or negative therapeutic results, and an opportunistic approach to truth” (translation, the whole thing is a hoax and a fraud.)
What strikes the reader is Freud’s shamelessness in writing about his “cases.” As with the following and last example, dealing with Dora (in life Ida Bauer, a case later used as a model in psychoanalytical training.)
Dora lived with her parents who were friends with another couple, Herr and Frau K. Here Freud used initials and pseudonyms for his patients, after he decided to describe the case and the “treatment” for the benefit of his disciples and the public.
Dora’s father brought her to Freud when she claimed that Herr K. had made a sexual advance to her, at which she slapped his face. Herr K. denied it, her father did not believe her, hence the visit to Freud.
Pressed by Freud on the issue, Dora suggested that her father had a relationship with Frau K. By his disbelief, her own father was somehow making up for his relationship with the wife of the molester.
During his “treatment,” Freud tried to convince Dora that she herself was implicated in the contorted relationships between the two families. Apparently attracted by the 18 year old patient, Freud forced his trademark prurient suggestions upon Dora. Then he tried to convince her that she herself was repressing her latent homosexuality, as well as her memories of childhood masturbation and of the primal scene (as with the case of the Wolf Man). Her psychological situation was, therefore, the consequence of her past “repressions.”
But the young Dora had sufficient self-respect to see through Freud’s morbid perversion and had the strength to quit.
In his explanation of the case, Freud thought that Dora repressed a sexual desire for her father, a desire for Herr K, and even a desire for Frau K. When Dora abruptly broke off her therapy, much to Freud’s disappointment, Freud saw this as his failure as an analyst. But he did not attribute the failure to his sick attempts at seducing Dora, but to his having ignored the transference (which is psychoanalytical lingo for saying that Dora had also fallen in love with Freud.)
This article would become a large treatise, if even only a fraction of other “cases” were reported, along with their wacky “Freudian” explanations, or, more plainly, frauds. And yet Freudian psychoanalysis not only has defenders, but finds its way even into the judicial system. In the recent past, it has caused the conviction of innocent defendants, based on the “testimony” of people of questionable stability of mind, who were induced by psychoanalysts to believe in presumed repressed recollection of dreams, related to infant abuse by the person whom the jury would eventually convict.
Yet Freud has strenuous defenders and here is an example. Psychiatrist Jonathan Lear says that “refutation of psychoanalysis would be possible if people always and everywhere acted in rational and transparently explicable ways.” Translation, whenever anyone acts oddly or seems weird, the cause has to do with repressed Oedipal complexes and disturbing sexual images from early childhood.
This same Lear claims that “psychoanalysis is crucial for a truly democratic culture to survive” (!) According to Lear it is a mistake to judge Freud by applying the standard criteria of science or even medicine. For there is a distinction, he says, between scientists and “founders of discursivity” (sic), of whom Freud is the master example. What distinguishes “founders of discursivity” from other thinkers is that, “They are not required to conform to the criteria of science. Their own discourse constitutes the canon that determines its true value.” Translation, bullshit is OK if uttered by a “founder of discursivity.”
Readers who read so far may wonder if I am making all this up, but I am not. In fact, in some quarters, the idea of “discursivity” is quite acceptable. For example, when the US invaded and destroyed Iraq, Rumsfeld was secretary of defense in the George W. Bush administration. To a journalist who had (still) the guts to ask how could his statements about Iraq be true, when real evidence would contradict them, Rumsfeld replied, “We create our own reality.” Freudianly speaking, Rumsfeld too was a founder of ‘discursivity.’
Nor we need to go far to find other current “founders of discursivity.” Take the notion that Russia influenced the most recent presidential elections – in a country, the US, profoundly uninterested in geography and international things at large.
But it doesn’t matter. Political hackers “create their own reality,” and, who knows, unbelievers and disbelievers suffer from Oedipal complexes, triggered by sexual images acquired in infancy and then repressed. Images that only a “Freudian” psychiatrist can induce most of us unbelievers to recover.
We may think that the morbid, decadent and corrosive ideology of Freudianism only affects that branch of medicine called psychiatry (whose etymological meaning is “medicine of the soul.”) As if for millennia various religions had not attempted to address in multiple ways what we can broadly call the dilemmas and of life. For indeed, “Nothing can we call our own but death and that small model of the barren earth, which serves as paste and cover to our bones.”
Psychiatry, of which psychoanalysis is a critical branch, is anything but a “medicine of the soul”, and affects indirectly other branches of medicine.
It is not fortuitous that the US spends more in treatment and medicines per inhabitant than any other country. For in the end, what strikes an unsophisticated observer like myself is the implied and untold assumption that, just as medicine of the body suggests or assumes an indefinite possible extension of life, psychiatry suggests or promises a foreseeable conquest of happiness, or at the very least, the taming of unhappiness.
As we know, neither assumption is true. Both are, historically, the consequence of another overarching assumption, born out of the Age of Reason. That is, the Illuminist faith in indefinite progress, and faith in the undeclared son of progress, the exponential growth of everything, including health, length of life and happiness.
Furthermore, one of the more stubborn prejudices about the pre-industrial era is that life was then very short, namely 34 years for women and 28 for men. That may have been arithmetically true but the statistic is misleading. What skewed the numbers was the extremely high infant mortality. This harsh natural selection left alive only the strongest, but in the rural countries of the ‘700, men and women died in their ‘90s. For example, in a study of the French region of Burgundy in 1786, on a total of about one million people 72,000 persons had an age between 60 and 100 years old.
And to quote one of many historical examples and figures, Venetian Nobleman Alvise Cornaro (1484-1566), practiced and published his “Discourses About the Secrets of Living Long and Well.” He died at 82.
As for the soul, religions and priests, in one way or another, performed the functions of current psychiatry and psychiatrists.
And here is another relevant historical consideration. As we know, developments in one scientific or technological field influence other disciplines, even when those developments are not applicable, or possibly applicable but with many limitations.
For example, the industrial revolution and the related triumph of machinery, gradually led to the idea that the body itself is machine, made up of independent replaceable parts. Hence, what to a car is the garage and a mechanic, to a man is the hospital and a doctor.
Many authoritative voices dispute the validity of the analogy – though enormous business interests keep the belief alive.
As we have seen with Freud, psychiatry may be even worse. For in the collective consciousness, the ‘pursuit of happiness’ has evolved into a ‘right to happiness’ – ignoring the inevitable, namely that at times, we all are forced to “make dust our paper and with rainy eyes write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.”
Currently, given the exposure given to the Freudian fraud, psychoanalysis has somewhat receded as an accepted method to ‘cure the soul’ and to ensure the right to happiness.
A simpler treatment, if not worse than Freudian psychoanalysis, consists of prescription medications, such as Oxycontin, a drug that made the Sackler family billionaires. Oxycontin was initially sanctioned as ‘safe’ and ‘not addictive. ’ But addictive it is and, according to statistics, Oxycontin and other similar opiods kill over 60,000 people per year, in the US alone.
Readers may yet ask a question. How can so many people be persuaded to practice self-destruction? The answers brings Freud again into the picture, or rather his nephew, whose name is gradually becoming familiar to many, namely, Edward Bernays and his techniques.
Here is one Bernay’s example of self-destruction promoted at large. Though well aware of the damage and danger caused by smoking, Bernays convinced women to smoke by promoting cigarettes as “torches of freedom.” In the notorious Macy’s parade in New York, one of the floats hosted a bunch of appealing debutantes who would synchronously lift lighted cigarettes in the air, as ‘symbols of freedom’.
As per Bernays, “If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it… In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons … who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
In turn, Bernays did but give practical expression and application to the Illuminist tradition of controlling people through their passions, without the affected person knowing of being controlled.
No doubt, mass media observers have already drawn their own conclusions. Those who “control and regiment the masses according to their will without the masses knowing it,” understand that Bernay’s formula can only be successful if no different or dissenting voices are heard.
It is no wonder then that the cabal in power is hard at work to censure and un-neutralize the Internet, as a means to silence conscientious objectors to the distortion and prostitution of the truth. For those monsters of iniquity some facts are too dangerous to be known.
In conclusion, Freud, Bernays, Sackler and similar are examples, emblems and practitioners of destruction, of the human soul and body. To them we can say individually what Thersites said of Diomedes, “I will no more trust him when he leers, than I will a serpent when he hisses.”