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January 13, 2007


James Hamilton

I've had to read Freud. Apart from all of the above, he's desperately, desperately dull, something that endures whichever translation you turn to in the hope that it will enable you to reach the end of the book. For which Freud's detractors should be grateful. If he'd written like Jeremy Clarkson...

I think I've said this before, that it says little for my profession that it is remotely important that any of Freud's work is left standing. Had he been a paragon of honesty and rigour, ideally there'd be little left. It's all rather a long time ago, now, and in a more sensible age we'd all be waiting a la Dennett for neuroscience to get around to providing the sort of answers to questions that the psychiatries and psychotherapies of the future will need. (And I don't mean e.g. Oliver James' sledgehammer-childish jumping on the serotonin bandwagon in search of easy answers to deeply complex problems).

Freud had some good things to say about the client-therapist relationship, and those passages are among the few where he suddenly springs out of the usual tedium. But they aren't useful - there's nothing you're going to do differently because of them. And although I don't agree with any of his various and contradictory ideas about sexuality, I do think the deliberate elimination of sexuality from much modern psychotherapy is proving a weakness, even if it makes e.g. CBT a lot less intimidating to the user. But that's all, really.


The really cheering thought isn't that the chap was just a crook - it is that it was suburban philistines and rural primitives who took him for a crook and the urban sophisticates who took him for a scientific genius.


And don't forget the colossal edifice of pseudo-analysis of Middle Eastern politics built up by Edward Said and more recently by Jacqueline Rose and Judith Butler, the latter two in particular earning plaudits for writing about Israel as if it was some deranged patient on the psychoanalytic couch.

James Hamilton

Judy, that's a huge theme: middle class radical left-wing politics is one of the defining characteristics of the psychodynamic/psychoanalytical end of British psychotherapy: it's assumed that nothing in psychology/psychotherapy/neuroscience does or possibly can contravene that world view.

Try this for an entirely typical example, if you can bear it:


Mick H

Judy - I assume you've read Shalom Lappin's superb demolition of Jacqueline Rose's book in Democratiya, http://www.democratiya.com/review.asp?reviews_id=40, and the subsequent exchange in the latest issue, http://www.democratiya.com/archive.asp?id=7

James - no, I couldn't manage to last all the way through that. As you say, there's no room for doubt in there.


Mick--mirror/window: classy, that.

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