The article was a review of several books by revisionists. Psychoanalysis had already been discredited as a medical science, Crews wrote; what researchers were now revealing was that Freud himself was possibly a charlatan—an opportunistic self-dramatizer who deliberately misrepresented the scientific bona fides of his theories. He followed up with another article in the Review, on recovered-memory cases—cases in which adults had been charged with sexual abuse on the basis of supposedly repressed memories elicited from children—which he blamed on Freud’s theory of the unconscious.
Freud hoped to prove that his model was universally valid and thus turned to ancient and contemporary ethnography for comparative material. Freud named his new theory the after the famous by . “I found in myself a constant love for my mother, and jealousy of my father. I now consider this to be a universal event in childhood,” Freud said. Freud sought to anchor this pattern of development in the dynamics of the mind. Each stage is a progression into adult sexual maturity, characterized by a strong ego and the ability to delay gratification (cf. ). He used the Oedipus conflict to point out how much he believed that people desire and must repress that desire. The Oedipus conflict was described as a state of psychosexual development and awareness. He also turned to studies of and argued that totemism reflected a ritualized enactment of a tribal .
The new book synthesizes fifty years of revisionist scholarship, repeating and amplifying the findings of other researchers (fully acknowledged), and tacking on a few additional charges. Crews is an attractively uncluttered stylist, and he has an amazing story to tell, but his criticism of Freud is relentless to the point of monomania. He evidently regards “balance” as a pass given to chicanery, and even readers sympathetic to the argument may find it hard to get all the way through the book. It ought to come with a bulb of garlic.
The functions of myth, ritual and symbol in the author's system are analyzed, and the ideas of Freud and Jung on the subject of literary criticism as mythopoesis compared.
Finally, Freud's theories are often criticized for not being real science. This objection was raised most famously by , who claimed that all proper must be potentially . Popper argued that no experiment or observation could ever falsify Freud's theories of psychology (e.g. someone who denies having an Oedipal complex is interpreted as repressing it), and thus they could not be considered scientific. However, Popper's criteria for scientific activity is no longer widely accepted in the philosophy of science.
Professors in English departments naturally wondered how they might get in on the action. They did not have much trouble finding a way. For it is not a stretch to treat literary texts in the same way that an analyst treats what a patient is saying. Although teachers dislike the term “hidden meanings,” decoding a subtext or exposing an implicit meaning or ideology is what a lot of academic literary criticism does. Academic critics are therefore always in the market for a theoretical apparatus that can give coherence and consistency to this enterprise, and Freudianism was ideally suited for the task. Decoding and exposing are what psychoanalysis is all about.
The origin of Freud's early work with psychoanalysis can be linked to . Freud actually credits Breuer with the discovery of the psychoanalytical method. One case started this phenomenon that would shape the field of psychology for decades to come, the case of Anna O. In 1880 a young girl came to Breuer with symptoms of what was then called hysteria. Anna O. was a 21 year old highly intelligent young girl. She presented with symptoms such as paralysis of the limbs, split personality and amnesia; today these symptoms are known as . After many doctors had given up and accused Anna O. of faking her symptoms, Breuer decided to treat her sympathetically, which he did with all of his patients. He started to hear her mumble words during what he called states of absence. Eventually Breuer started to recognize some of the words and wrote them down. He then hypnotized her and repeated the words to her; Breuer found out that the words were associated with her father's illness and death. Anna O. coined the term 'talk therapy' to describe this process.
is first and foremost an irreverent portrait of a smart seventeen year old trying to survive. It channels Sigmund Freud and his young patient Dora and is both a hilarious critique and an oddly touching homage. With an unerring ear and a very keen eye, Lidia Yuknavitch casts a very special slant of light on our centuries and our lives. Put simply, the book is needed.
One professor excited about the possibilities was Frederick Crews. Crews received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1958 with a dissertation on E. M. Forster. The dissertation explained what Forster thought by looking at what Forster wrote. It was plain-vanilla history-of-ideas criticism, and Crews found it boring. As an undergraduate, at Yale, he had fallen in love with Nietzsche, and Nietzsche had led him to Freud. By the time the Forster book came out, in 1962, he was a professor at Berkeley, and his second book, “,” was a psychoanalytic study of Nathaniel Hawthorne. It came out in 1966, and, along with Norman Holland’s “,” published the same year, was one of the pioneering works in psychoanalytic literary criticism. Crews began teaching a popular graduate seminar on the subject.
Although the unconscious is beyond the rational mind, Freud argued that psychoanalytic techniques can be used to bring repressed memories to consciousness, so they can be worked on and "healed." 6 pages, 18 footnotes, 3 bibliographic sources.
However in recent decades several researchers have returned to the original documents and found that the received story, based on Freud's late retrospective account of the episode, is false in many respects. In 1896 Freud posited that the symptoms of 'hysteria' and obsessional neurosis derived from *unconscious* memories of sexual abuse in infancy, and claimed that he had uncovered such incidents for every single one of his current patients (one third of whom were men). However a close reading of his papers and letters from this period indicates that these patients did not report early childhood sexual abuse as he later claimed: rather, he arrived at his findings by analytically inferring the supposed incidents, using a procedure that was heavily dependent on the symbolic interpretation of somatic symptoms.
He also got involved in the antiwar movement on campus, serving as a co-chair of the Faculty Peace Committee. Like many people at Berkeley in those days, he became radicalized, and he considered his interest in Freud to be part of his radicalism. He thought that Freud, as he later put it, “licensed a spirit of dogmatically rebellious interpretation.” In fact, Freud was dismissive of radical politics. He thought that the belief that social change could make people healthier or happier was deluded; that is the point of “.” But Crews’s idea that Freudianism was somehow liberatory was widely shared in the sixties (although it usually required some tweaks to the theory, as administered, for example, by writers like Herbert Marcuse and Norman O. Brown).