by Margaret Bean
Address given by Margaret Bean to the Evermay Society in 1982.
I should start by telling you that I last spoke in public when I was eleven during summer experiences morning at my school. My subject then was "fish". Although I hope that Freud will prove more interesting, I am not entirely confident. There is, amongst the character types described by Freud, one who thinks that what he is saying is more interesting than it really is, and perhaps it was this trait that drew me to talk about both subjects.
You may feel that all that needs to be said about Freud has already been said. You may agree with a Professor Sidis of Baltimore, who in 1909 protested against the "mad epidemic of Freudianism invading America", or with Charles Krauthammer, a Washington psychiatrist who published an article in a recent issue of' The New Republic entitled Put Psychiatry Back in its Place. In this article Dr. Krauthammer says that we have become so obsessed with Freudian interpretations of what are only plain phenomena that our sensibility and morality are threatened - we no longer think directly.
In fact, I decided to speak about Freud today partly because ever since the 1930's - when I was in my early teens and found myself making embarrassing mistakes called "Freudian slips" (mistakes so fraught with sexual innuendo were it seemed quite rightly called after underwear) I have wanted to know what Freud really thought; partly because Evermay was founded in the years when his ideas became known (he first came to speak in America in 1909 at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, an experience from which he never recovered a good opinion of America - he complained improbably enough about the lack of bathrooms) , but more particularly because it was just in 1905 that he published his first complete statement about the nature of sexuality in a paper called Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. In this paper he described a theory of human behavior that has so influenced us since that it can almost be said to have overwhelmed us. (Just in passing, it is, I think, interesting that Einstein's first relativity paper was published in the same year.)
Since the publication of the Three Essays, there has been time for everyone to agree and disagree. A young friend of mine who has written a seven volume history of homeopathic medicine said, when he heard that I was writing a paper on Freud, "Well, Margaret, you are just getting in under the wire with this paper of yours - in just a few more years Freud will be completely out-of-date." I have heard Freud described as "an enemy of morality whose theories deform and debase moral discourse"; as a "primitive scientist, not unlike the early Greeks in his preoccupation with animist forces"; as a detractor of women - Freud himself thought that his theories were not especially friendly to women; and finally, as a Victorian father who brought his patriarchal biases into the world of science. Of all of these, I think I like best the comparison to the early Greeks because Freud, like them, found the world to be determinist and tragic; and man's behavior, ritual and propitiatory to menacing forces.
Freud was born in
Some of you may have read Allan Janik
and Stephen Toulmin's fascinating account of Vienna
just before the turn of the century in a book called Wittgenstein's Vienna, The
Austrian branch of the Hapsburg Empire had endured one hundred and twenty-four
years, its survival explained partly by the fact that it was a bulwark against
the Ottoman Turks and was thus frequently shored up by the West European
powers, many of whose monarchs were also Hapsburgs. At the end of the
nineteenth century, it had three large cities,
The cities were ancient and beautiful (
Family standards were bourgeois and authoritarian, with marriages arranged almost more as business mergers than personal unions. In the words of Stephan Zweig, "Society of those days wished young girls to be silly and untaught, well-educated but ignorant, curious but shy, uncertain and unprotected, without knowledge of the world from the beginning."
The problems of men were hardly less. They were expected not to marry until well established financially, and so often they turned to prostitutes. Again in Zweig's words, "Prostitution constituted a dark underground over which rose the gorgeous structure of middle-class society with its faultless, radiant facade." There was no public admission that sex actually existed at all, with the result that, while its expression was artificial and immature, its lure was powerful. The decorative, formal, yet highly sensual images of women in the paintings of Gustav Klimt convey well the strange exaggerated sexual mood, as do also the idealized bodies of the Art Nouveau figurines of the time.
In his early practice, Freud dealt largely with the victims
of this situation: patients, usually but not always women, who were of a type
called hysteric. The word has a
specific clinical meaning. It describes a person who has a physical disability
for which no organic cause can be found. Common symptoms are paralysis,
mysterious lapse of memory, display multiple personality, (quite
poetically, I think, called "fugue state") , and somnambulism; or
even some more dramatic combination of these. The word comes from the Greek, hystera, meaning
womb, and physicians in ancient
Doctors were bewildered. It was not unusual, for instance, to find a paralyzed hysteric who was also a sleepwalker. As there was no underlying physical cause, there was nothing to treat. As one doctor said, "It is hard to take seriously the plight of a sleepwalking paralytic." The only two available treatments were electrotherapy and hydrotherapy, and these had little effect.
Finally guessing that what cures were accomplished were by suggestion, some doctors, Freud amongst them, began to use hypnosis, reasoning that under hypnosis, the power of suggestion might be maximized, as indeed it was. But they did so reluctantly because this was a rational, materialist era with, it was thought all magic and religious solutions to scientific problems - and hypnosis seemed close to magic - abandoned for good; and all illness, including mental illness, to be explained eventually, if not immediately, strictly in terms of chemical and physical interactions. In psychology, the American, William James, brother of Henry James, expressed the extreme of this point of view when he said, "The emotional is only the experience of the organic, and we are sad because we cry." Dread he described as an "inability to draw breath, a fluttering of the heart, and that peculiar epigastric change felt as a precordial anxiety with an irresistible tendency to take a crouching attitude."
To men of such a cast of mind, the use of hypnosis, an old discredited practice first used in the 18th century by Dr. Anton Mesmer, seemed a return to charlatanism and theatricality. Dr. Mesmer, from whom we get the word "mesmerize", put his patients into tubs of iron filings to produce a crisis state which he called animal magnetism. This he declared could cure many intractable symptoms including blindness, which in hysteric cases it seemed to do. The process was later modified (the tubs of iron filings left out) and renamed hypnosis. (Mesmer was, by the way, a patron of Mozart and appears as a magician in one of his operas.)
The fact that hypnotism was a genuine, observable phenomenon did not make it less suspect. Freud, although he had seen symptoms both alleviated and produced under its influence at the famous Saltpetrière neurological hospital in Paris, disliked himself in the role of hypnotist and called it a "temperamental and mystical ally." He was nevertheless impressed with the cures effected by this strange method and later said that he had received from them "a profound impression of the possibility that there could be mental processes which remain hidden from the consciousness of man."
Because he was newly in practice, Freud was obliged to treat
an unusually large number of hysteric cases - they were abundant in Vienna at
this time - and he was baffled to discover gradually that hysterical symptoms
seemed almost invariably to betray their origin in an childhood sexual experience.
It is often said that Freud was predisposed to find sexual explanations where
there were none, but it does seem quite probable that, in the prevailing mood
The proposition that hysteria might, just as the ancient Greeks suspected, in some way be related to sexuality was especially alarming to the medical community because it seemed like a return to superstition, a retreat, as one writer said, to "horrible old-wives medicine: As one German doctor said,
"Hysterics have suffered severely from the prejudice of their relatives that hysteria can only arise on a sexual foundation. This wide-spread prejudice we German neurologists have taken endless pains to destroy. Now if Freudian opinion concerning the genesis of hysteria should gain ground, the poor hysterics will be condemned as before. This retrograde state will do the greatest harm."
At about this time, an elder colleague of Freud, Dr. Josef Breuer, had a curious experience. He had a thriving
practice and generally did not treat hysteric patients, but he took on an
intelligent twenty-one year-old girl as a favor to her parents. Anna O, as he
called her, was
to become probably the most renowned patient of all mental science. While nursing her father who was very ill, she developed distressing symptoms, including headaches, paralysis, and a peculiar speech anomaly; she could understand everything that was said to her in her native German, but could at times speak and write only English. When her father died, she fell into a trance-like state which seemed to Breuer like self-induced hypnosis, and he found that if, when in this state, she spoke of hallucinations which she was experiencing - and they were generally "profoundly melancholy, with their starting point the position of a young girl at her father's sick bed" - her condition improved; if she did not talk about them, she became agitated and anxious.
Then she began to complain of a ravenous thirst, yet could not drink. This symptom persisted and became important when one day in her hypnotic state she described an Englishwoman, whom she disliked intensely, whose little dog drank-water from a glass. After telling this and expressing her revulsion for the little dog, which she previously out of politeness had not expressed, she was able for the first time to drink without difficulty. Both she and. Breuer were amazed and Breuer learned that Anna had completely forgotten the dog until in the hypnotic state. It then occurred to Breuer that her other symptoms might be cured if she could express specific, unpleasant incidents connected with them, and so it turned out. A paralysis of the right arm that had persisted since the beginning of her illness disappeared; as did the speech disturbance, when they were found to be determined by a terrifying vision of her own arm as a large black snake which she had experienced late at night while nursing her father. She had tried to keep the snake off, but it was if her arm were paralyzed, and the only language that came to her mind were some child's verses in English.
Breuer call this the cathartic cure, and Anna seemed completely well, but then there were other sinister developments. It became clear that during the treatment Anna had become extraordinarily attached to Breuer, and she finally declared that she was pregnant with his child. Breuer, who had not even discussed sex with Anna, was horrified and dropped the case immediately, but he spoke of it to Freud.
Freud was himself having little success with direct hypnotic suggestion - that is, with directing the patient under hypnosis to dismiss her symptoms, rather in the manner of a stage hypnotist - and he was interested in Anna's strange symptoms and cure. And so he began to experiment with Brewer's cathartic method, asking the patient under hypnosis when She had first experienced the symptom. He found that she almost invariably associated it with some unpleasant event and that, when emotions appropriate to the event were expressed she improved. Later he found that he was able to abandon hypnosis entirely, because he could arouse forgotten memories simply by placing his hand on the patient's forehead and asking her to remember. Eventually he was to arrive at the free association method in which the patient just freely, with no self-censoring, told everything that came into her mind, and these free associations led back to crucial memories.
Freud became convinced that he and Breuer had discovered the secret of hysteria, and in 1893, he persuaded the badly shaken Breuer to collaborate with him in writing a paper called Studies in Hysteria. The paper declared that "hysterics suffer mainly from reminiscences,"
unpleasant memories which they have forgotten but which endure in their mind and through damned up energy continue to influence their behavior and even well-being. If this seems far-fetched to you, recall that the patients had serious symptoms, such as paralysis and even blindness, for which previously no competent doctor had found a cure or cause.
When, a year later, Freud came to believe that the symptoms were defensive in nature, that they appeared as substitutes so that some original, more painful experience could remain forgotten, he suggested that there was a part of the mind that stored these experiences and kept them inaccessible to ordinary consciousness. He called this the unconscious.
I think that many of us would at this stage have asked ourselves what memories could be so intolerable as to warrant such severe repression - to remain forgotten and yet to cause actual physical symptoms. Freud was discovering that the memories almost always had sexual connotations, and he tried to persuade Breuer to look more closely at Anna's memories stemming from her father's death and at her extraordinary declaration of pregnancy. But, Breuer had had quite enough.
Now, however, they did at least understand the therapeutic power of hypnosis; it put the patient into a somnambulant state in which the barriers of consciousness were lowered to allow painful suppressed memories to emerge. In Anna's strange declaration of love for Breuer, Freud had his first intimation of the phenomenon of transference - that is, the unconscious and often inappropriate transference by a patient to an analyst of some past suppressed emotion or desire. This was later to become as important a component of psychoanalysis as was free association. It is used to enable the patient any; physician to reenact, as it were, the causes of the illness.
Freud was also interested in the similarity of the hypnotic state to sleep. During the next years, while attempting to construct a hypothetical model of the mind purely in terms of quantities of electrical impulse, he was drawn, in the course of intense theorizing, to consider the phenomena of dreams and to notice in them a kind of illogical logic, not unlike that found in hysteric symptoms. He became increasingly preoccupied with his own and his patient's dreams and from them came to conclusions that were greatly to influence his theory of mental illness and of normal behavior.
In 1900, he published what is considered his classic work, The Interpretation of Dreams. At this time his writings change and become more revelatory in tone, as if to reflect his growing conviction that he had come upon something profound and extraordinary. The book sold few copies, 228 in the first two years but it was noticed more than Freud thought. Reading it today, one can understand why it was not immediately a best seller, It is long and discursive and, like a dream, seems to disguise its own content with quite remarkably dull dreams
that reflect fussy professional concerns. (Most people have, I think, more interesting dreams than Freud had). He used his own dreams for the most part in order not to prejudice his argument by using the dreams of the mentally ill. (One prefers the patient's dreams. They had arresting titles, such as Father Carrying his Head on a Platter, or Father had Died but Did Not Know It.) Freud himself found the book somewhat wanting in style and said, "the involved sentences...have gravely affronted some ideal in me." He also pointed out that he could not, for fear of embarrassment to himself and his family, carry the interpretation of his dreams to their ultimate conclusion.
But as one reads on in the book about dreams whose meaning we do not wish to know, and whose latent content we therefore disguise, there is an increasing sense of being taken out of the commonplace by Freud's extraordinary, almost eerie powers of perception, by his scholarship, and by the high drama of his theory.
"A dream is" Freud says, "the disguised fulfillment of a repressed or suppressed wish." You have all, I'm sure, heard this many times, and it may not seem particularly remarkable to you, nor particularly true; a nightmare does not, after all, seem like a fulfilled wish. But it was for this discovery, more than any other, that Freud wished to be remembered. He credits his patients with first drawing his attention to dreams; during treatment, they often referred to their dreams as if they might have meaning, and he began to realize that dreams, while seemingly chaotic, might be authentic psychic expressions having intent and function. As he examined many dreams more closely he came to believe that, like a symptom in hysteric illness, the dream was a substitute wish fulfillment, disguising some more threatening, unacceptable, unconscious desire. Most important, he decided that dreams might perform this function in normal, as well as disturbed persons.
"The dream is", he said, "the guardian of sleep, not its disturber." Today this is a commonplace, and we know that persons who are deprived of dreaming (this can be done experimentally by waking tip-subject at the beginning of rapid-eye-movement sequences which indicate dreaming) become anxious, even deranged. Freud was amongst the first to realize that dreams serve a- protective function, that they preserve sleep.
From, he said, a region of our mind to which we have no access, the unconscious, there arise in sleep disturbing and powerful impulses we, which we knew in our childhood but which we, because of their distressing and often repellant nature, have repressed and kept from consciousness by unremitting censorship. In sleep, these impulses take advantage of the lowered mental state to seek urgently to enter consciousness, but they are again censored, and the dream is this censorship. It is a hallucinatory experience which robs the impulse of reality and power by presenting it in a distorted, attenuated and less disturbing guise, although often enough, as in the case of a nightmare, quite disturbing enough. We are thus enabled to stay asleep. If the dream censorship fails, we wake in anxiety.
He takes as an example one of the most common dreams - although noting that most dreams are uncommon and idiosyncratic to the dreamer - that of facing an exam unprepared. He notices that rarely or never in these dreams do we actually fail the exam, we have just not done the work and feel that we will fail. The anxiety in the dream is intense, greater than the dream situation warrants, and the dream is wish-fulfilling because it reassures us. Even though we were quite unprepared, the worst did not happen; and so it will be with whatever deeper fear the exam situation symbolizes and conceals. The disproportionately great anxiety that we feel is, he believed, evidence that the surface or manifest content of the dream conceals a more threatening and terrible latent content. He says,
the anxiety we experience in dreams is only apparently justified by the dream content...it is no more justified in fact than the anxiety of a phobia is justified by the idea to which it is attached. For example, it is true that it is possible to fall out of a window and that a certain care should be exercised but it is not obvious in the phobia why the anxiety is so great and why it torments its victims more than the cause would warrant. The same explanation which applies to the phobia applies to the anxiety dream, the anxiety is only fastened onto the idea to which it is attached.
The question of what should be so fraught as to force even the sleeping mind to carry out subterfuge to keep from knowing it, Freud does not answer fully in The Interpretation of Dreams. The threatening impulses are just described as arising in the unconscious and as
being powerful, infantile and unacceptable. Much of the book is taken up with the immensely resourceful and complex nature of the subterfuge or, as he called it, dream work, which takes place quite systematically yet beyond the conscious volition of the dreamer.
As it is a hallucinatory process - a reversal, he thought, of the flow of energy in the mind back to the perceptual part of the brain during sleep - the dream work is totally dependent on the use of image. It cannot convey sequence or logic except in pictorial terms, but it does this ingeniously, even economically. Logical connection may, for instance, be represented by simultaneity; or the repetition of an act by the multiplication of an object. By a process which he called condensation, several or many latent thoughts may be represented by one composite figure. We are, I suppose, all familiar in dreams with figures who seem to represent several persons by mixed features or even by wearing of clothes of several persons. Freud noted that, unlike everyday symbols which are generally metaphoric and denote just one thing, dream symbols are connotative, that is, they may have several or many meanings. In this manner even a dream fragment may be heavy with significance.
By another process called displacement, a dream event or object may represent another more repugnant one. `There are" Freud said, "no innocent dreams.... and apparently innocent dreams turn out to be quite the reverse."
Freud believed that the kind of fluid, symbolic, non-sequential, and freely mobile kind of thinking that we experience in dreams characteristic of the unconscious part of the mind, and that we observe it not only in dreams, but also in psychosis which, like a dream, is an abandonment of reality. Creativity, he said, relies on the same functions of the mind as dreams, and myths resemble dreams because they are the "collective artistic creations of whole peoples."
The dream is, then, not a chance, meaningless occurrence, but an authentic psychic event whose intent the dreamer may discover, just as the hysteric may discover the meaning of his symptoms, .by associating freely to specific elements of the dream or illness. Freud says,
You will learn with astonishment from the analysis of dreams (and most convincingly from that of your own) what an unsuspectedly great part is played in human development by the impressions and experiences of early childhood. In dreamlife the child which is the man pursues its existence, as it were, and retains its characteristic and wishful impulses, even such as have become unserviceable later in life: There will be brought home to you with irresistible force the many developments, repressions and sublimations by means of which a child, with quite other native endowment, grows into what we call a normal man, the bearer and in part the victim of the civilization that has been so painfully acquired.
Scientists since Freud's time have been able, with dream deprivation and hallucinatory drug research, to confirm some of Freud's dream theory. Dreams do have a function and do act to preserve our psychic equilibrium by expressing tension. Implausibility in the dreams of persons exposed to stress is much greater; the imagery of their dreams if heightened, and they dream for longer periods. What remains in doubt is the dream's way of relieving tension. Does it, as Freud thought, disguise and propitiate intolerable impulses, or does it act in some more straightforward way by, for instance, helping sort emotions or define relationships?
The Interpretation of Dreams finally went into eight editions in Freud's lifetime, and scholars are said to have devoted an entire career to study of the famous Chapter VII which contains a technical discussion of the dynamics of the dream process, including the role of an entity called the preconscious, through which unconscious ideas gain expression, and the means by which hallucination is brought about.
I have devoted so much time to dreams that you are, I'm sure, weary, and I will speak only briefly about Freud's other great theory, that of sexuality. And perhaps there is some Freudian intent in this, because even today one reads the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality with some unease and dismay. Their publication made Freud instantly notorious as a dissolute and corrupter of youth. A German scientist on first hearing of their content at a neurological congress, banged his fist on the table and shouted, "This is not a topic for a scientific meeting; it is a matter for the police." The essays assert the existence of sexuality in children as a generalized but active instinct, taking perverse modes as it passes, in infancy, through the developmental stages: oral, anal and phallic. It is these perverse impulses, including incestuous oedipal ones, that we repress, Freud said, so strongly by means and with degrees of success that greatly influence our mature personality.
Why do these ideas still call forth uneasiness and disbelief? One writer says that "the book called into question the view of human nature cherished by the Victorian mentality; that civilized man is an essentially rational creature who is moved by none but the most elevating of passions." Needless to say, sex did not qualify as an elevating passion. Freud himself thought that a theory such as this, which held man's character hostage to irrational impulse, dealt a blow to human dignity comparable to those of Copernicus, when he discovered that the earth was not the center of the universe, and Darwin, when he round that life had evolved not to a purpose "in the mind of God", as the Church has said, but by series of evolutionary
accidents, by chance, to no other purpose than survival. Freud's belief that our behavior and personality is in great measure determined biologically by our strong sexual nature and the dramatic sexual events of our childhood is a disturbing one. We prefer to believe that our rational and spiritual nature are ascendant.
The powerful sexual instinct with which we are born, and which with its component instincts Freud called libido, is, he said, felt from infancy as a general pleasurable or unpleasurable sensation, depending on the extent of its gratification. As the child begins to distinguish between himself and his surroundings, he directs the libido toward an object, such as his mother's breast or whatever source of sucking and nourishment is available. Later as he learns to control his body, the source of libido sensation becomes the anus, with accompanying distasteful manifestations and preoccupations, and finally at the age of four he enters the phallic period when for both- sexes interest centers in the phallus, rather primitively as no real distinction is made between the sexes; both are seen as male, one castrated. (It is here, I think, that most readers, especially women, become incredulous and outraged.) The child may then direct his interest which is libidinal to either sex, generally it is to the opposite-sexed parent. Men, Freud said, develop at this time a strong conscience and sense of morality, when they reconcile themselves finally to the authority of the father in oedipal contest with him for the mother. Women, he said, because of their different development, do not develop a strong sense of morality (or superego as he called it): All of this behavior is quite instinctive and automatic: the perverse infantile forms of sexuality are, he said, universal and normal for the child who is not yet equipped to experience mature genital sexuality, but it is also liable to breakdown or misfunction at any stage.
Probably you have all read or heard this theory many times, and I don't know how implausible it seems to you - very perhaps. But as Bertrand Russell said about the study of an ancient philosopher, "the right attitude is neither reverence nor contempt, but first a kind of hypothetical sympathy until it is possible to know what it feels like to believe in a theory. The word "theory" itself is an Orphic one, meaning "passionate sympathetic contemplation", and it has been my experience in reading Freud and in writing this paper that to understand him it is best to commit oneself to his theories, at least temporarily, and accept everything at first, dream theory, oedipus complex, castration complex, oral, anal and phallic stages, the lot, because in this way one will experience the theory in its dramatic rendering.
The force which denies and repressed the sexual impulse is also instinctual. It develops when the demands of the libido do not correspond with reality. It is the reality-testing, civilizing instinct, which Freud called the ego. Unlike the sexual instinct, which comes from the unconscious part of the mind and seeks immediate gratification, the ego, is conscious and listens to reason. In particular it listens to the voice of conscience, the super-ego which Freud understood as the psychic embodiment of parental authority with power to prohibit immoral behavior (or even irrationally, behavior that is not immoral.)
Gradually, through parental admonition, the child learns that the infantile expressions of sexuality are not acceptable, and by the age of six he has generally given up such practices and repressed all knowledge of them. He then turns his attention to the world and makes
no further sexual development until puberty. However, the nature of the sexual stages have governed his childhood development and will, Freud believed, also specify - together, of course, with his particular genetic inheritance - his mature character, by the degree of success with which he has been able to pass through them, and to make and maintain the necessary repressions. A person may, for example, fail in infancy to detach his libido from himself and so in maturity be a narcissist. Another may, under stress or in the face of disappointment, return to an infantile stage and substitute perverse for normal sexuality - he does this either because the commanding memory of infantile satisfaction does not allow him to escape into normal mature genital satisfaction or because disappointment leads him to retreat into an earlier stage. Still another may fail to overcome his childish equating of the sexes and so have homosexual tendencies. Freud does allow most persons a fairly safe passage through the infantile stages, but those who feel the need to repress too strongly, or who have difficulty keeping troublesome ideas repressed, may develop neurotic symptomatic behavior which they do not understand, which causes them endless trouble and which, like the symptoms in hysteria, substitutes for the gratification of unacceptable impulses, impulses which are often, as Freud said, "incompatible with the ethical and esthetic standards of personality which they have set for themselves."
Freud found evidence for his theories all about him. The existence of the unconscious, which he understood as an early, primal way of mental functioning, has, he said, always been known to poets and philosophers. Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night's Dream said,
Lovers and madmen have such
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
Childhood sexuality and its developmental stages were, Freud thought, clear for all to see both in the observation of childhood and in the regressions or reversions to infantile states that are found in such disturbances as fetishism or homosexuality. The ego, libido and superego in conflict were, he supposed, a consequence of evolutionary development, with the powerful libido tamed in the interest of progress and civilization. He did know from experience with mental illness that severely repressed libido may damage or distort what should be natural modes of sexual expression. The sexual aim math also, he bald, be sublimated, an-another, more valuable, social aim substituted, with "ever-increasing cultural achievements made possible by ever-increasing sublimations", but the danger is that we will neglect "what was originally animal in our nature and forget that simple happiness is amongst our goals.
One should not write a paper on Freud without mentioning his self-analysis and his so-called metapsychology - that is his attempt as he grew older to develop an even more comprehensive theory of the personality with two dynamic forces in opposition, Eros, the creative libidinal, life-seeking instinct, and the aggressive, destructive Death instinct. And I have not mentioned his followers and betrayers (Carl Jung and Alfred Adler, in particular, who could not agree with him about the crucial importance of sexual motivation. I am especially sorry that I haven't read more directly from Freud's papers, because his thought is immensely powerful and imaginative, much more so than an account such as mine can convey, and his prose is clear and elegant.
In 1938 he fled
Most people ask of Freudian theory, "Is it true?" Do we need to believe that the human qualities we respect, integrity, kindness, courage, compassion, exist only as what Freud called "reaction formations", traits which are the evolutionary result of man's attempt to modify
his primitive, instinctual nature in order to live comfortably in a group? Is our character hostage to infantile impulse? If so, what then of our dignity and optimism? Freud held firmly to the tragic view. Like the Greeks he believed that we are fated by determinist forces, which we can appease and modify but not change. I cannot agree with my medical- historian friend that Freud will soon be outdated. One cannot read his books without a sense that he describes a version of one's life, and that with his great scholarship and tolerance for sustained abstract thought, his sense of the symbolic and spectral, and above all his sensitivity to pathos in mental illness and in human endeavor, he is surely a very great figure, one whom we probably do not yet, despite the vast literature fully understand.