Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Analyze Meme

Eli over at Multi Medium was tagged with something (I think) is called the "123" meme:
Take the nearest book, turn to page 123.
Look for the fifth sentence, then post the three sentences following the fifth sentence.

Eli himself hasn't actually tagged anyone, but has invited those who want to volunteer to do so. I've decided to participate because 1) I'm desperate for any excuse to actually write something, anything, in the hope that the simple mechanical act of clacking away at the keyboard will somehow, like magic, stimulate my brain and give me back my writing mojo; and, 2) the book that happens to be nearest me, Follies of the Wise by Frederick Crews, has a pretty interesting passage at the mark indicated by the meme.

Writing about the "prepsychoanalytic" Sigmund Freud, Crews tells of a man who believed that his hysterical patients were all harboring repressed memories of early abuse and who cured them by "unknotting their repression". As Crews continues, however, Freud "suffered a failure of nerve; too many fathers were being identified as perpetrators," a development that lead Freud to psychoanalysis, "a doctrine that ascribes incestuous design not to adult molesters but, grotesquely, to children themselves."
Freud finally had to cope with the disagreeable thought that his hysterics' "stories" of very early abuse had been peremptory inventions of his own. He did so, however, through a dumbfoundingly illogical, historically momentous expedient, ascribing to his patients' unconscious minds a repressed desire for the precocious couplings that he had hitherto urged them to remember having helplessly undergone. That is how psychoanalysis as we know it came into being.

So, while a bit of Freud might inject some fun and liveliness into literary discussions, it's not very good science. Well, it's not "science" at all, actually. Psychoanalysis was the result one layer of bullshit being papered over with another...

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