Monday, November 14, 2011

Hermeneutic Considerations in Reading Freud

Freud stressed the need for psychoanalytic theory “to be filled out by research in such allied disciplines as neurophysiology, biology, normal psychiatry, academic psychology, sociology, and anthropology. [….] Psychoanalysis’s portrait of human nature thus encourages interdisciplinary bridge building among the several disciplines concerned with the study of human nature and behavior, including several of the humanities that deal with unconscious meaning, like literary criticism and aesthetics, at the same time it challenges most traditional views of human nature with its findings regarding unavowed impulses and processes, the persistence of infantile patterns in adult life, and unacknowledged defensive strategies.”

“Freud’s subtlety as a theorist is commonly missed by beginning students and some academic interpreters who are easily distracted by his penchant for dogmatic overstatements and what are by now archaic metaphors drawn form nineteenth-century physics and biology.”

Freud “repeatedly described the metapsychology as ‘tentative,’ ‘speculative,’ and ‘hypothetical,’ and even went so far as to call it a ‘phantasy,’ a ‘myth,’ a product of wish fulfillment on the part of its creator. [….] [The] side of Freud that works ‘closer to actual experience’ [….] is relatively free of the mechanistic and scientistic viewpoint of the metapsychology…. [All the same], Ricoeur is…right in insisting…that though imperfect, Freud’s metatheory nevertheless ‘preserves something essential,’ and that its economic, structuralist (id, ego, superego), and topographic (conscious, preconscious, unconscious) metaphors, while admittedly flawed, embody notions of the psyche that must be included in any adequate representation of psychoanalytic facts.”

“The Freud of materialistic reductionism and physicalist explanations thus exists side by side with the Freud who peppered his writings with quotations from Sophocles, Aeschylus and Homer, Euripedes and Virgil, the Bible, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Molière, Goethe, Ibsen, and Dostoevsky in the belief that these literary greats captured both the essence of human experience and its depth-psychological explanation better than most academic psychologists.”

—Ernest Wallwork, Psychoanalysis and Ethics (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

ego (after Freud)

1/04/2012 4:54 AM  

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