Issue #57 (May 1986)
It is commonplace to denigrate Freudian psychoanalysis as merely applicable to a narrow slice of the society of his time and thus of no use today. Freud's patients were mostly Jews of the upper classes of Vienna. Do his patients relate to 20th century (post-1914) life in which empires, aristocracy, and puritanism have all largely disappeared?
[quoteright]More recently, however, attacks on Freud personally have undermined any validity to his theories even in his own milieu. Most fundamentally, he was a disciple of Charcot of Salpetriere, the insane asylum in Paris in which Charcot developed his theory of early childhood traumas as the cause of adult hysteria. It has now become evident that Charcot implanted suggestions in his patients, which they both came to accept as reality. (Many patients, however, remained aware that they were humoring Charcot). Did Freud and all subsequent psychoanalysts similarly suggest to patients the fantasies they later fed back?
A darker view of the underlying social reality suggests that Freud's patients came from an apostate sub-culture within Judaism that really was involved in nefarious vices. No outsider really knows what is intrinsic within the Shabbetean cult, because it has been quite suppressed and secretive since its founder, Shabbetai Zevi, apostatized from Judaism to Islam in 1666. We do know that its Frankish adherents a century later were ancestors of the rich Jews who merged into the Austrian aristocracy in the early 19th century. (See Zionist Rabbi Marvin Antelman's To Eliminate the Opiate). Later descendents were the leaders of the revolutionary New Left, such as the students for a Democratic Society. Between these Frankists and Maoists, one could believe in any degree of perversion and depravity as being standard practice in their families.
The foregoing is just a preface to the latest scandal about Freudian psychoanalysis. All the above is irrelevant to our present conditions of life except to the extent Freudianism itself continues to infest it. However, an enormous part of our real world today is wound around feminism and protest against child-abuse. We now acknowledge that incest, child-beating, and child-molestation are pervasive in our society. Now fashion dictates that Freud must be condemned for dismissing child-abuse as merely the fantasies of hysterical women. Ironically, it was Freud himself who was the first great psychiatrist to teach that insanity in women is caused by rape or abuse of the very young child. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson in The Assault on Truth (1984) includes as "Appendix B" Sigmund Freud's own 1896 "The Aetiology of Hysteria". None of his patients were conscious of having been abused as children, but under psychoanalysis all could come to recall the incidents at the root of their uncontrollable behavior. Freud could positively confirm the truth of any of these subject to proof, because he sometimes had more than one patient from the same family. Two women patients testified to the same incident with the same man, and in another incident the brother of the patient confessed. (pp.266-67).
Freud had fully expected that the paper he read before the Society for Psychiatry and Neurology in Vienna would meet opposition. It was completely rejected and quashed. It was only listed by title in the May 14, 1896 Wiener klinische Wochenschrift. No one who attended the reading left a record of his reactions, except for Freud himself. He expressed the utmost contempt for them all, and he knew he would be ostracized for discovering such an important but unpleasant truth (Masson, pp. 3, 11). The main story of The Assault on Truth is to detail how Freud preached, but soon abandoned, this theory. Upon publicly renouncing it in 1905 he could again "participate in a medical society that had earlier ostracized him." Psychoanalysis was born (p. 12). Its presupposition was that all patients were fantasizing, not really victims of any external trauma.
So convinced did Freud become of the falsity of the seduction theory that he himself became its fiercest persecutor. In terms of his own theories, Freud repressed this knowledge from his consciousness and preferred to live consciously in a pleasant Superego fantasy world in which rape, incest, and child-abuse did not exist. Just as the eminent psychiatrist Krafft-Ebing had ridiculed Freud's 1896 paper the night it was read, Freud took the lead in hounding Sandor Ferenczi to his death in 1933 for his effrontery in reviving Freud's 1896 theory in 1932 before the 12th International Psycho-Analytic Congress in Wiesbaden. Instead of becoming President that year of this group he had founded years before, he, like Freud before him, refused to sell out for the applause of his colleagues. He instead presented his confusingly-named paper, "Confusion of Tongues between Adults and the Child" or "The Language of Tenderness and the Language of Passion." The original title was better: "The Sexual Passions of Adults and Their Influence on the Character Development of Children." Worse, no doubt, than the heresy of reviving the seduction theory was that the paper flatly attacked psychoanalysis as a profession, saying that the procedure made the patient worse instead of better. He laid the blame for this failure on psychoanalysis' fundamental principle of betrayal of the patient. It evoked traumatic memories of childhood and then made the patient believe that the rapes or whatever had been their own evil fantasies.
Freud did allow Ferenczi's paper to be read, figuring that Ferenczi would publish it anyway and cause a greater scandal by being by then in official enmity with his profession. Freud's biographer, Ernest Jones, even promised to Ferenczi that he would translate it from German and get it published. Meanwhile, Freud and Jones got lucky, because Ferenczi died (probably as they expected, for Ferenczi was quite ill even before the Congress) of pernicious anemia. They and all their associates agreed not to publish it in English, and they destroyed the plates. It did not appear in English until 1949 in the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis (Masson, pp. 225-30).
Whether Ferenczi and Masson are right about sexual abuse as the cause of female insanity, let us consider whether psychoanalysis should be dismissed as a fundamental contradiction. Freud's mentor Charcot taught that childhood trauma was the cause. None of Freud's patients consciously remembered their mistreatment until psychoanalyzed. Then psychoanalysts would force their victims (excuse me, "patients") to dismiss these memories from their minds as the fantasies concocted by childhood sexuality. Now look here, if these tales were just imaginary, they would (1) not have been traumatic, and (2) if traumatic have been so because vividly imagined again and again and thus would not have been forgotten. Therefore, psychoanalysis is evil and a lie.
What about Masson's own position that Freud was right in 1896 until convinced by his closest friend, Wilhelm Fliess, that he was wrong? Fliess has good reason to seduce Freud from the seduction theory. Fliess himself was actively molesting his own son at the very time Freud was revealing all his evidence "supporting the reality of seductions and their psychological impact." (Masson, p. 131). The son himself published posthumously in 1973 the final volume of his Psychoanalytic Series, and revealed the sordid truth about his father. "This volume constitutes an eloquent and intelligent plea for the return of Freud's early seduction theory to modern-day psychoanalytic practice." Robert Fliess's plea was, of course, ignored by all psychoanalysts. Then Masson himself stepped into the picture:
In 1981 I attempted to call the attention of psychoanalysts to new evidence suggesting that the seduction theory deserved serious consideration. I, too, like Freud, Ferenczi, and Robert Fliess, met with irrational antagonism and ostracism. I was challenged, not on the basis of my evidence, but because I had revealed this evidence, (p. 191)
However Masson is not right, either. He is himself part of the greater cover-up and deception of the 20th century, the environmentalist conspiracy. Masson wants us to believe that schizophrenia is not transmitted in the genes nor due to nutritional factors, but is due to bad upbringing. This is easily contradicted. Schizophrenic men in the main do not reproduce. (How can there be more schizophrenic men than there are women, if Masson is right? More girls are abused than boys. Let this one pass, however). It is schizophrenic women who have children. Yet child abuse is done primarily by fathers. At best, we could blame the schizophrenic women for passing on to the children the virus that causes brain damage. This won't work, I am sure, because schizophrenic men who do have children pass on the tendency. Relatives pass on the schizophrenia even where the parents are (ostensibly) free of it. It must be more a matter of genes than communicable disease. It is certainly not passed from a child-abusing maternal grandfather to his grandson due to his rape of his daughter.
Yes, I acknowledge that child abuse is and always has been rampant in society, and its effects are disastrous, but genetic predisposition is more important in determining the particular type of resultant adult pathology (from prostitution to psychosis and homosexuality).