Sunday, April 3, 2011

Perpetual controversy


Freudianism, a trend named after the Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud that explains personality’s development and structure by irrational mental factors antagonistic to consciousness and uses psychotherapy based thereon. Having originated as a conception for explaining and treating neuroses (see Psychogenic Disorders), F. subsequently developed into a general teaching about man, society and culture to acquire a major influence in the capitalist world. The core of F. is in the idea of perpetual hidden controversy between the unconscious psychic forces (the main one being sexual urge— libido) concealed deep inside the individual, and the need to survive in a social medium hostile to that individual. The social bans that create “ censorship” of consciousness inflict a psychic trauma and suppress the energy of unconscious urges which break through in the form of neurotic symptoms, dreams, mistaken actions (oral or written slips), forgetting of the unpleasant, etc. F. distinguishes the following three components in the structure of personality: id (it), ego (I) and superego (super-I). Id is the focus of blind instincts, either sexual, or aggressive, which tend towards instant gratification, irrespective of the subject’s relationship with external reality. Ego perceives information about the surrounding world and the body’s condition, retains this information in memory and regulates the individual’s responses in the interest of self-preservation, helping him adapt to external reality. Superego involves moral standards, bans and encouragements assimilated by the individual, mostly unconsciously, in the course of education, chiefly from his parents. Arising from a mechanism whereby the child identifies himself with an adult (father), id manifests itself in the form of conscience and may cause feelings of fear and guilt. Inasmuch as the demands of the id, superego and external reality (to which the individual is compelled to adapt) on the ego are incompatible, the latter inevitably finds itself in a conflicting situation. This creates unbearable stress, from which the individual saves himself by means of "defence mechanisms", viz. repression, rationalisation, sublimation, and regression. Alleging that childhood unambiguously determines the character and attitudes of an adult individual, F. ascribes childhood an important role in the forming of motivations. F. sees the task of psychotherapy in revealing damaging emotional experiences and in liberating the individual of them through catharsis, awareness of repressed urges, and comprehension of the causes of neurotic symptoms. To that end, F. uses dream analyses, the "free associations" method, etc. In the course of psychotherapy, the physician encounters the patient’s resistance, which is subsequently replaced by emotionally positive 103 attitudes towards the former, i.e. by transference, owing to which the patient’s ego grows in strength to make him realise the source of his conflicts and outlive them in a harmless form. Freud introduced several important problems into psychology, namely, unconscious motivation, correlation of normal and pathological mental phenomena, the psychological defence, the role of the sex, the effect of child traumas on adult behaviour, a complex structure of personality, and contradictions and conflicts in the subject’s psychological structure. Yet, in interpreting these issues, Freud advanced scientifically unacceptable biologistic tenets which claim that psyche is subordinate, to instinctive asocial urges, that libido is omnipotent (pansexualism), and that the conscious and the unconscious are antagonistic. Thus, Freud advanced an inadequately interpreted psychological factor as a determinant of both organic and social life. By subordinating the history and culture of human society to that factor, F. mystified both, having thus taken on a reactionary ideological purport.


Freudo-Marxism, a trend in psychoanalysis that tries to combine Freudianism and Marxism by arguing that some tenets in both doctrines are allegedly common. F.-M. thus distorts the essence of Marxism, on the one hand, and tends to strengthen Freudianism at the expense of Marx’s prestigious doctrine, on the other. The first representative of F.-M. was Wilhelm Reich, who maintained that the proletariat’s revolutionary struggle must be complemented with a struggle for a new policy in sexual education. Gerbert Marcuse, Reich’s follower, alleged that the essence of capitalist exploitation was to restrict human urges, including perversions. At the same time, he reduced revolutionary struggle to a battle for liberating instincts. According to Marcuse, revolutionary forces are society’s “outcasts” to which he indiscriminately assigned students, the unemployed, lumpen proletarians, and national minorities. These views made Marcuse the ideologist of leftist and anarchic elements among young people. Erich Fromm’s claims that Freudianism is affined to Marxism deserve particular attention. Manipulating with Marx’s ideas, and not’ infrequently substituting their essence for his own views (see Neo-Freudianism), Fromm tried to create the impression that his theory was close to Marxism, continuing at the same time to criticise capitalism from abstract humanistic positions. All F.-M. trends are scientifically unsound.

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