10 Chapters
Medium 9781855757257

Chapter Ten: The paradoxical legacy of Sigmund Freud

Moran, Frances Karnac Books ePub

Marie Cardinal speaks for herself. By attending to her testimony, we gain not only an understanding, but also an intimate appreciation, of what it means to come to be a subject within the context of a Freudian-inspired analysis. Her story has been read by millions, quite literally. The cover of the 1993 publication of her novel states that the work received the prestigious Prix Littre 1976, has been translated into eighteen languages, and more than 2.5 million copies have been sold. It was subsequently made into a film of the same name. Surely we must ask the obvious question: why was this novel so popular? What could be so interesting to others about the highways and byways of one person's seven year analysis that millions wanted to read of her experience? Remember, too, this was during a period throughout which the anti-Freud genre blossomed.

The quality of Cardinal's writing is certainly to be admired; she is able to convey the gristle of psychical experience, mood, atmosphere, and most significantly she charts the movements that pertain to both the fragility and the strength of what makes up the fabric of psychic life. In many ways, The Words To Say It has outstanding literary and artistic merit. It is a good read, exciting and rewarding. But is this sufficient reason to explain its wide appeal? Maybe. Maybe not.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855757257

Chapter Seven: Subject to exclusion

Moran, Frances Karnac Books ePub

In the preceding chapters of this book we have seen how Freud wanted to be and considered himself to be a scientist. From his point of view, it is true, psychoanalysis is unquestionably part of the scientific enterprise. “Psycho-analysis is a part of the mental science of psychology” (1940b (1938), p. 282), he reminds us in his posthumously published elementary lessons in psychoanalysis. Be that as it may, what these first chapters of The Paradoxical Legacy of Sigmund Freud make clear is that Freud was about something different from science. He was involved in something that at the time, he was unable to recognize for himself. His life's work, as transmitted in the Standard Edition, reads as a thorough, energetically and constantly worked psychoanalytic theory of practice. As such, it gains unqualified and lasting value in its own right.

This, however, does not mean that we accept without question all that Freud taught throughout his lengthy career. Not at all. Freud was limited by the then available knowledge base and by the conceptual tools within his grasp as he tackled each problem. We may well see the same issues quite differently now.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855757257

Chapter Two: Establishing the freudian field

Moran, Frances Karnac Books ePub

Easter Sunday, 25 April, 1886, marks the beginning of Freud's private practice as a specialist in nervous illnesses. He had not long returned from his time with Charcot at the Hospice de la Salpêtrière in Paris and brought with him the imprint of the Professor's views on hysteria. Over subsequent years he conversed about interesting cases with his friend and mentor, Josef Breuer, a respected Vienna physician. Their collaboration materialized into a joint publication, Studies on Hysteria (1895d), which provides the focus of this chapter. Here we find in Volume II of the Standard Edition the ground plan for Freud's future theorization.

Hysterics,” we are told, “suffer mainly from reminiscences” (p. 7). This early, pithy observation lies at the heart of Freud's approach to the neuroses. Although it may not be entirely original (see note 3, pp. 7–8) it nevertheless carries a central Freudian conviction associated with the role of memory in psychic life, a theme Freud is never to abandon. If hysterics suffer from reminiscences then several questions immediately arise. What is the nature of these memories that cause such disturbance? Why do they persist? How can they be dealt with? These are key issues for Freud and Breuer as they begin their investigations. Initially, in the “Preliminary Communication” (1893a), they together propose that hysterical symptoms are produced by what they term a psychical trauma. The latter refers to an experience which causes distressing affects. These affects include those of fright, shame or anxiety. The important point about traumatic experiences is whether or not the person in question reacts to the experience with affect. If the trauma is not sufficiently abreacted then memories will persist unconsciously and it is from these memories that the hysteric suffers. The clinical aim is therefore to bring such memories to consciousness and so abreaction and consequent relief.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855757257

Chapter Five: Aim

Moran, Frances Karnac Books ePub

It is my argument that although Freud wanted to produce a theory that had scientific status, his works are most profitably read as having the structure of a theory of practice. From beginning to end, he had a practical aim in mind and our endeavour is to follow the changes he made in his aim, as his theoretical postula-tions traversed different lines of thought over numerous decades.

Freud aimed to bring about a change in the psychical world of his patients: “I have been engaged for many years (with a therapeutic aim in view) in unravelling certain psychopathologi-cal structures—hysterical phobias, obsessional ideas, and so on” (1900a, p. 100). His initial focus was the neuroses and he wanted to ‘cure’ his patients of the pain they brought to his attention. His aim was cure in the sense of what was expected of a medical practitioner in his time—practical results were constantly in mind. When he did consider the psychoses he likewise had therapeutic results in view. “The neuroses were the first subject of analysis, and for a long time they were the only one. … It would seem, however, that the analytic study of the psychoses is impracticable owing to its lack of therapeutic results (1925d (1924), p. 60).

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855757257

Chapter Four

Moran, Frances Karnac Books ePub

Freud is renowned for his theory of human sexuality. It is precisely the direction of this set of propositions that has brought upon his work great opprobrium, if not outright dismissal. Yet in this demanding chapter I hope to make clear why so much of Freud's thought is taken up with the idea of sexuality as being integral to, and determining of, the human being.

As a practitioner in the field of nervous illnesses, Freud inherited the nosology that prevailed around about 1895, and, in addition, the accepted view of the aetiology of mental problems. Generally speaking the latter was held to be heredity. Freud had no sooner involved himself with cases of hysteria than he recognized the need to read-dress the aetiological question of the neuroses. He knew that he needed to explain the cause of the presenting problem if he were to be in the position to treat it with any sense of authority. The fulcrum of diagnosis, aetiology, and mechanism of splitting, provided Freud with a direction for his investigation. While he accepted the role of heredity, he also acknowledged the then suggested link between sexuality and the neuroses:

See All Chapters

See All Chapters