Article: “Why Freud Still Haunts Us”

An article appeared today in The Chronicle of Higher Education with the title:

“Why Freud Still Haunts Us”

The piece, by Michael S. Roth, marks the 75 years since Freud’s death. It starts thus:

For those of us prone to commemorations, it is a rich season. The beginning of the Great War 100 years ago, 70 years since the Normandy invasion, and the 50th anniversary of several major events in the American struggle for civil rights. September 23 marks 75 years since the death of Sigmund Freud.

Should we care? In many respects, Freud seems to be from another world. We know so much more now. Psychotropic medications are big business and are prescribed to ever-growing numbers of the “worried well,” while psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy are more of a rarity than ever.

And then there is all that embarrassing stuff about sex and penises, about inescapable aggression and guilt. And mothers. All of that is from another time, isn’t it?

After all, now we know that women are equal to men, even if we scratch our heads when trying to explain how patriarchy gets reproduced, generation after generation, despite our professed ethics. Now we know not only that sex must be deeply consensual but that it should be really healthy—so safe that it is, well, less than desirable.

Freud taught that we could never be sure about our own “consent,” let alone another’s (that’s why we’re turning to new laws to demand that only “yes” really means yes). He insisted that the sexual relation was the discord among fantasies and therefore rarely a terrain of great safety.

To read the full article, click here.

  1. Good piece. Freud is even more controversial than Marx. For my own take on Freud’s legacy see http://clarespark.com/2013/03/10/what-remains-useful-about-freud/.

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