Whatever you might think of Sigmund Freud – his genius was he provided no answers. For Freud – No resolution. No quick fix. He was in a position of power and influence. It must have been tempting to think that he could. Religion and philosophy aim to come up with answers. Freud’s aim was not to come up with any answers.
Problem solving, finding a solution is commonplace in modern culture. Reacting to a situation quickly to stop the problem spreading is a large part of work life. We are set up to react and resolve.
Freud’s thoughts culminating in his Theory of Psychoanalysis was that it avoided reacting and resolving. Freud has his patients lying down so that they could not see his face eliminating the reaction. Try speaking to another person about something that means a lot to you. See if you can say it without the other persons’ reactions influencing what you say. It is difficult – almost impossible.
John Gray in his book ‘The Silence of Animals’ describes Freud as not inventing anything new. He was just repeating the endless enquiry of how human beings should live. Freud’s belief was humans are unhealthy. They are flawed. The knowledge and acceptance of the flaws was where it was at. There are no answers.Freud does not offer to heal the soul. “Freud accepted that humans are sickly animals. Where he was original was in also accepting that the human sickness has no cure.” (Gray 2013 p.85)
We cannot change our fate. We cannot change the families or family environments we were brought up in. Freud accepted that our lives were shaped by fate. We can however shape our relationship to that fate. The end of psychoanalysis is the acceptance of personal fate. Freud always had a sense of humour. Whether it be recommending the Gestapo on exit papers from Austria. Or describing the badness of a good psychoanalyst. “One has to be a bad fellow, transcend the rules, sacrifice one self, betray, and behave like the artist who buys paints with his wife’s household money, or burns the furniture to warm the room for his model. Without such criminality there is no real achievement.” (Gray 2013 p.88) No answers.
Perhaps his most significant achievement is that it is not the conscious that leads us but the unconscious. We sabotage ourselves in pursuit of wants when it is our needs forced along by the hidden unconscious that begs for attention.
Freud did not share a dream of salvation. Freud believed in a particular kind of resignation. A resignation which meant accepting the fact of ultimate chaos. He meant fortifying the self so that we can assert ourselves against fate.
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2013
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Disclaimer: This weblog is the view of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique.