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(In Defense of the Analytic Attitude)

In the remainder of the chapter, Rieff distinguishes Freud from what came after.  The distinction which Rieff draws is between Freudian “freedom” and a “cure.” Freud offers no solution, only a “technology” which will allow one to understand the working of their subconscious. The end game, as seemingly proposed by Rieff would be the freedom from the “residues of religious compulsion.” (79) This may be achievable with a combination of Freudian analysis and behavioral technique. (Ibid.)

Freudian analysis “is the aim of science – power; in this case a transformative technology of the inner life….This is ultimate technology.” (79)

The purpose of “faith” is to mitigate suffering: “all religions have a therapeutic function.” (76) Jung sought to scoop up all religions with his theory of archtypes. An interesting observation is how Rieff sees Jung and Freud as inversions of one another. Freud understood “erotic instinctual forces” sublimate themselves into the “highest ethical and religious interests of man.” While Jung saw the process going in the other direction. (77)

Freud’s aim of “freedom” comes at a cost:

“What men lose when they become as free as gods is precisely that sense of being chosen, which encourages them, in their gratitude, to take their subsequent choices seriously. Put in another way, this means: Freedom does not exist without responsibility.” (79)

This freedom is of course something which is at issue. It is taken by everyone that Freud’s theories of pscyho-social development and dream analysis and slips of the tongue – however interesting – are unquestionably not “scientific.” His technology is simply untrue. 

What is strange is that his basic proposition that your sensation of ethical constraint is a trick society has played upon, that restraint is what is holding you back, mixed with Rousseau and Hegel and whatnot and developed by his followers (some who – as we shall see – were criminally insane) has become a default argument over against the “illusion” of religion and God. It is a curious sort of position to occupy. 

But on the same ground, by what basis do Hegel’s thesis-antithesis, Rousseau’s sociology, Marx’s economic history still have currency? It seems that people pick bits and pieces of ideas without ever well-understanding either what they believe or why. They could never articulate their axioms much less their conclusions. 

We live too easily in cages built of the thought of others. Freud in his effort to bring a technology of freedom foisted insupportable conceits upon the world. When his conceits proved to be nonsense, the conceits remained.