Sunday, December 24, 2006


Let Us Learn About and Celebrate Our Heroes' Flaws

Hotel Log Hints at Illicit Desire That Dr. Freud Didn’t Repress - New York Times: "The revelation is also likely to reignite a longstanding debate about Freud’s personal life. The father of psychoanalysis, whose 150th birthday was celebrated this year, plumbed the darkest sexual drives and secrets of the psyche. But scholars still argue about how scrupulous Freud was in his own behavior.
Peter L. Rudnytsky, a former Fulbright/Freud Society Scholar of Psychoanalysis in Vienna and the editor of the psychoanalytic journal American Imago, said the disclosure was hardly a “so what?” matter because “psychoanalysis has such a close relationship to the life of Freud.”
“Psychoanalysis has invested a great deal in a certain idealized image of Freud,” said Dr. Rudnytsky, a professor of English at the University of Florida. “Freud dealt with issues considered suspect — sexuality — things that made people uncomfortable, so Freud himself had to be a figure of impeccable integrity.”
In any case, he said: “Things that happen in people’s intimate lives are important. It’s very Freudian.”
Freud himself was cryptic, writing to the American neurologist James J. Putman in 1915: “I stand for a much freer sexual life. However I have made little use of such freedom.”"

I find it a little sad that people find it difficult to admit that a man that devoted his life to sexuality and its basis might have had some issues with sexuality. It is often said of psychology students that they are there to learn about why they and their families are so messed up. It seems all too reasonable that this might have been the case of Freud himself. I also see some interpretation issues with the "much freer sexual life" statement as we may not know what he thought of as a freer sexual life for himself. It also strikes me as odd that we wouldn't expect flaws of our heroes. The flaws are often what make heroes so interesting. I know only what I learned in first and second year psychology classes about Freud, but I so hope that we don't ignore who he really was in order to preserve an unachievable ideal.

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