Freud and His Discontents; an aetiology of psychoanalysis
Freud and his Discontents examines the startling change made to his theories after a dream of his father Jakob. His Aetiology of Hysteria shifted to his Oedipal theory, which was introduced in 1899. This change remains startling for many but from this mid-life shift in his theories Freud’s career as we know it, began to unfold. The book looks at Freud’s major works and the legacy he left. More
Freud and his Discontents; an aetiology of psychoanalysis:
The book looks at the background of the Jewish Enlightenment, the culture of the time, Freud’s family and the life of Freud including the factors of pressure from a dream of his father, shortly after his funeral, which led the psychoanalyst to change course in mid-life. The Aetiology of Hysteria 1896, therefore, shifted to his Oedipal theory, introduced in 1899 and was firmly in place by 1910. This became both a contentious issue to this day and a powerful influence which coloured much of Freud’s life and work onwards.
Considerable time in the book has been given to the Jewish enlightenment and the traditions and restrictions of the times which Freud grew up with, in Galacia and which led to a more liberal world in Judaism influencing his father Jakob, though the mother Amalia is thought to have been liberal. Freud’s infancy was spent with a nanny, Resi, who introduced him to Catholicism and to peasant traditions, some of an intimate nature, which Freud records in his works. He returned to his mother aged three when the family were about to move eventually to Vienna. On a train Journey Freud records a moment of sexual awakening with his mother when he sees, “Matrem Nudem.” His libido is aroused and he reported this in a letter to his friend Wilhelm Fleiss on October 3, 1897. Many of Freud’s life events have a profound impact on his later career. The significant age of three and his family dynamics, later informs the onset of the Oedipal scene in the child.
Early friendships, include Franz Brentano who notes Freud’s atheism, though Catholic experiences with his nanny seem to linger on. Freud is introduced to the inner workings of the psyche through Jean-Martin Charcot, a neurologist in Paris. Wilhelm Fliess and Joseph Breuer become friends and Freud’s cocaine problem is noted. Fliess developed an idiosyncratic theory, ‘the nasal reflex neuroses’ which was put into play when he operated on Freud and then on a patient Anna O, who was suffering from a neurosis. Botched nasal surgery by Fliess left problems, nevertheless, Anna introduced the term, ‘the talking cure’ as a description of her psychoanalytic treatment with Freud. Freud’s important dream analysis, ‘Irmas Injection 1895,’ follows. A picture is gradually building of what psychoanalysis and its methodologies are to become.
Oedipal templates are evident frequently as in the Freud-Jung-Spielrein attachments where these dynamics led, in part, to the split between CG Jung and Freud. In addition, Freud’s confusion with two mothers, the nanny and the biological mother, and two fathers, Jakob and his son Phillip, endured as more templates which affected both friendships and works to the end where the publication of Moses and Monotheism in 1938, encodes two mothers and two fathers who appear as two Mosaic figures.
The book looks at major works by Freud including Totem and Taboo where some influence from Darwin is noted, Leonardo da Vinci, who says much about Freud’s life in parallel, Jokes and Their Relations to the Unconscious, and Moses and Monotheism. Freud’s topographical model of the self, his Metapsychology, is examined with reference to the sexual theories of the time from Richard von Krafft-Ebbing and Albert Moll, whom Freud was aware of. The structural model of the psyche by Carl Gustav Carus also influences Freud so, Freud emerged with his theories of the structural self, Id, Ego, Superego and the psycho-sexual theories. Yet the mother, the feminine, always remains elusive. Still, some of Freud’s work remains relevant.
In the last section, we look at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, a dynamic and sometimes contentious group where some remained as Freudians and others departed to create their own psychological theories and practices.
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