Freud the fraud: a new book

I’m about halfway through the 600-page book (with over 100 additional pages of notes) by my friend Fred Crews, Freud: The Making of an Illusion, which will be formally released on Tuesday. It’s an excellent read: Fred was formerly chair of the English Department at the University of California at Berkeley, and writes clearly and engagingly. If you want to know why Freud was a fraud, and has fallen from grace, read this book, which attempts to answer the question, “How did a poor but ambitious Jewish boy from Vienna turn himself into a renowned doyen of psychoanalysis?” It’s not a full biography, for it concentrates on Freud’s early years when he transformed himself from a failed nobody into a world-famous figure. I’ll give the Amazon summary, which is accurate:

From the master of Freud debunkers, the book that definitively puts an end to the myth of psychoanalysis and its creator

Since the 1970s, Sigmund Freud’s scientific reputation has been in an accelerating tailspin―but nonetheless the idea persists that some of his contributions were visionary discoveries of lasting value. Now, drawing on rarely consulted archives, Frederick Crews has assembled a great volume of evidence that reveals a surprising new Freud: a man who blundered tragicomically in his dealings with patients, who in fact never cured anyone, who promoted cocaine as a miracle drug capable of curing a wide range of diseases, and who advanced his career through falsifying case histories and betraying the mentors who had helped him to rise. The legend has persisted, Crews shows, thanks to Freud’s fictive self-invention as a master detective of the psyche, and later through a campaign of censorship and falsification conducted by his followers.

This is no exaggeration; Crews’s extensive work has turned up the picture of a fiercely ambitious, self-aggrandizing man who would stop at nothing—including scientific fraud, rewriting his personal history, blatant sycophancy, and even hastening the death of a good friend through misapplication of “cocaine therapy”—to make his name. (Freud’s extensive use of cocaine, which he considered a medical panacea, on himself and his patients is especially disturbing.) He succeeded in his ambitions, of course. But from Crews’s earlier work (reprised in more detail in this book), and the research of others, we now know that Freud carried on his fraudulent “science”—which involved a hefty dose of confirmation bias and simply making up stuff—after he’d become a famous psychoanalyst.

The front-page review of the book in today’s New York Times, by George Prochnik, is largely negative, but Prochnik’s assessment is way off. He decries the book’s negativity, but in fact Freud was pretty much an odious character, and his “science”, and even his insights into the psyche, were largely worthless. (Crews has emphasized here and in his earlier writings that what is seen as valuable in Freud’s ideas was developed by people before him, and Freud added almost nothing except a bunch of specious and now-discredited hypotheses.)

Prochnik:

Yet, confoundingly, Freud “is destined to remain among us as the most influential of 20th-century sages,” Crews writes, claiming that the attention bestowed on him by contemporary scholars and commentators ranks with that accorded Shakespeare and Jesus. Here is a fascinating conundrum: The creator of a scientifically delegitimized blueprint of the human mind and of a largely discontinued psychotherapeutic discipline retains the cultural capital of history’s greatest playwright and the erstwhile Son of God.

Crews is right that the matter demands further investigation, but this is not the book he has written. Instead “Freud: The Making of an Illusion” focuses on the man — specifically how a reflective young scientist with high ambitions and gifted mentors lost perspective on his “wild hunches,” covered up his errors and created “an international cult of personality.” In practice, this translates into 700-plus pages of Freud mangling experiments, shafting loved ones, friends, teachers, colleagues, patients and ultimately, God help us, swindling humanity at large. Here we have Freud the liar, cheat, incestuous child molester, woman hater, money-worshiper, chronic plagiarizer and all-around nasty nut job. This Freud doesn’t really develop, he just builds a rap sheet.

But Freud’s character and duplicitous practices were already in place when he was a young medical student, and in that respect he didn’t develop: he remained the same man when he later hit on a set of ideas that were thought to be not only culturally transformative, but personally curative. Freud’s acolytes, as is well known, have bowdlerized his history, censoring letters and documents that make him look bad, and not looking too hard at Freud’s supposed “cures” (which didn’t take). Only now have people like Crews begun to delve into Freud’s archives (his letters to his fiancee, quoted extensively by Crews, are telling), and the results aren’t pretty. I’m not an expert on Freud, but Crews’s scholarship paints a damning portrait of the man—and the scholarship, though conveyed in lively words, is extensive. Tellingly, nowhere in Prochnik’s review does he find fault with Crews’s scholarship and evidence.

Google says this about Prochnik:

GEORGE PROCHNIK’s essays, poetry, and fiction have appeared in numerous journals. He has taught English and American literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is editor-at-large for Cabinet magazine, and is the author of In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise and Putnam Camp: Sigmund Freud, James Jackson Putnam, and the Purpose of American Psychology. 

Prochnik hurls this brickbat at the end:

Crews has been debunking Freud’s scientific pretensions for decades now; and it seems fair to ask what keeps driving him back to stab the corpse again. He may give a hint at the opening of this book, when he confesses that he too participated in the “episode of mass infatuation” with psychoanalysis that swept the country 50 years ago. The wholesale denigration of its founder is what we might expect in response to a personal betrayal of the highest order, such as only an idol can deliver. Paraphrasing Voltaire, if Freud didn’t exist, Frederick Crews would have had to invent him. In showing us a relentlessly self-interested and interminably mistaken Freud, it might be said he’s done just that.

This is unfair. Yes, Crews was once taken by Freud’s ideas, and was slowly disillusioned. Given that those ideas dominated much of twentieth-century thought—Freud is ranked with Einstein and Marx as one of the three Jewish men who changed modern humanity’s self image—it’s completely fair to reveal what one found when further digging into Freud’s life and practice. What Prochnik is doing here is psychoanalyzing Crews, and blaming the book’s “negativity” on an intellectual acting-out based on disillusionment. And even if that were true—and I’m sure it’s not—Crews’s scholarship stands on its own, and does indeed show us a “relentlessly self-interested and interminably mistaken Freud”. One could well question Prochnik’s motivations in writing a negative book review while neglecting the facts that the book adduces, but psychoanalysis of an author is a mug’s game.

I’m not writing this defense just because I know Fred, but because Prochnik’s review is unfair and inaccurate. If you have any interest in Freud and psychoanalysis, I highly recommend this book. It’s by no means dull or tedious, for the writing is great and the evidence damning.

Crews and his book

55 Comments

  1. Diki
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Here’s Crews Vs Orbach in Today’s Grauniad. Orbach is a professor of psychoanalytic woo at some London university and always seems incapable of making a point without wavy arm and hand gestures. She is happy enough to be a Freud sycophant in spite of the evidence against him. This kind of makes sense as an inheritor of his bullshit, she’s got to make a living. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/20/feel-about-freud-debate-frederick-crews-susie-orbach-making-of-an-illusion

    • Posted August 20, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Typical Guardian headline: ”How we feel about Freud: Susie Orbach and Frederick Crews debate his legacy”

      How we ”feel” about Freud is irrelevant. Psychoanalysis either tells us something about how the brain works or it doesn’t.

      It doesn’t.

      • alastair romanes
        Posted August 20, 2017 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

        This exchange is embarassingly (for Orbach) one-sided even though Crews goes easy on her.

        • Diki
          Posted August 20, 2017 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

          Indeed he is easy on her. There’s a good case to be made for psychoanalysis being little more charlatanry and the people who practice it parasites. Unfortunately each time I try to make a comment like this on Guardian CIF I get moderated.

  2. Kevin
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    This is a great post. Freud is a very good example of how many people can have thought, mostly without significant doubt, that many of Freud’s contributions were profound but not yet fully fleshed out.

    I always felt some of his claims were theoretically important and it would just be a matter of time before science developed the tools to make his claims more predictive or even predictive at all.

    In retrospect, Freud made a lot of claims that are not testable, and that’s not science.

  3. Historian
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that the fields of psychiatry and psychology are suspect in their ability to cure or mitigate the suffering of people with mental disorders. Are there any valid scientific studies that accurately determine the “cure” rate? Are there any studies that can point out one school of psychology that is more effective than others? What is the relative success of pills as opposed to talk therapy? Gathering good data I think is very difficult since almost all of it would be based on anecdotes, self-reported by the practitioners. After all, as far as I know there are no blood or other tests that can determine most mental disorders and to what extent. If I am wrong here, please correct me. For example, a psychologist or psychiatrist may say, “I treated Patient X for two years and after than period of time the patient’s OCD has severely diminished.” Should such a subjective determination be chalked up as a cure? What about those patients under treatment for a decade with minimal results? Would the practitioners report their treatments as failures?

    I am not saying that these practitioners do not help some people. I am saying that we have no reliable way of knowing to what extent. While the fields of psychiatry and psychology may be pretty good at diagnosing mental disorders, I think they are largely in the dark ages as to treating them.

    • Martin Knowles
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:19 am | Permalink

      There has been plenty of valuable research over the past 50 years that can answer your questions, especially about how similar in results each model of therapy is, despite any claims to superiority.(You confuse psychology with psychotherapy). I recommend starting with books by Barry Duncan et al such as “The Heart and Soul of Change.” The good news is that psychotherapists do help people with their problems and the common factors that contribute to their effectiveness are essential reading.

  4. Randy schenck
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Appears to be a classic case of shooting the messenger. Sometimes it is the book reviewer who may need some analysis.

    I have to mention another book that brings some important things to light regarding JFK. The Politics Of Deception, Patrick J. Sloyan.
    More proof that it sometimes takes many years to get history correct, just as it did with Freud.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Crews was once taken by Freud’s ideas, and was slowly disillusioned.

    Aha! Herr Doktor would no doubt diagnose your pal Fred as suffering endopsychic conflict between cathexis and anti-cathexis! 🙂

  6. Posted August 20, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    What is wrong with negativity? Are we supposed to talk nice about neo-Nazis? And why does there need to be a reason for a author to attack a subject so that a reviewer can psychoanalyze the author? Oh, do you suspect the reviewer was a secret Freudian, out to protect his mentor’s rep or to polish his halo?

  7. DrBrydon
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I remember reading Gay’s Freud for Historians when I was in college, and almost immediately after learning that Freudianism was bunk, like Marxism. Shortly thereafter I read a biography of Charles I where the author tried to analyze his subject. It was grating, not the least because the author was not a trained psychiatrist (let alone being able to actually psychoanalyze a man who’d been dead for over three hundred years). It keeps cropping up, though. I read last week a review of a new(-ish) biography of Napoleon that relies on psychoanalysis. I’ll give that one a miss.

    Coincidentally, Friday night I watched The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, where Sherlock Holmes (Nicol Williamson) is cured of his cocaine addiction by Freud (Alan Arkin). I’ve always liked that movie, in spite of (or because of?) the fact that the Freud character is fictionalized.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted August 20, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      I’ve not seen the Seven-Per-Cent Solution, and granted it’s fictional, but I don’t understand why Freud would be cast as the character who cures Sherlock Holmes of his cocaine addiction rather than causing it. I could conjure up a great scene with Freud and Fliess packing his nose with cocaine to cure him of something, while Watson frets and wrings his hands in the background.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 4:28 am | Permalink

      I remember reading Gay’s Freud for Historians […] Shortly thereafter I read a biography of Charles I where the author tried to analyze his subject. […] It keeps cropping up, though. I read last week a review of a new(-ish) biography of Napoleon that relies on psychoanalysis

      Doesn’t the APA (not sure if that P is “Psychoanalysis” or “Psychiatric”) have a standing rule about not participating in “remote reading” of people. No analysis by report, no analysis by telephone, and most certainly (not thinking about a partiular politician here) no analysis by elf-written Twitter feed. Which would cast a pretty dubious light on the very concept of “shrinking” a historical personage.

      Coincidentally, Friday night I watched The Seven-Per-Cent Solution,

      Yeuch. 7% of what? 21g/l (0.07 M)? 0.126g/l (7% of saturated)?
      It’s a pet rant, ever since a “helpful” storeman (who’d been hired because I was having to do stores while I was meant to be on days off) stopped sending out half-litre bottles of “technical” hydrochloric acid (saturated solution of HCl in water) replacing it with what he thought was the 10% solution we needed – 0.1 Molar HCl in water, which he diluted down to “10%”. You could wash your hands in the product.

  8. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Re: “what is seen as valuable in Freud’s ideas was developed by people before him, and Freud added almost nothing except a bunch of specious and now-discredited hypotheses.”

    This reminds me of a line spoken by a Freud opponent in the movie in which Montgomery Clift plays Freud.
    “Gentlemen, today we have heard things that are new and are true. But the things that are true are not new, and the things that are new are not true.”

    I remain somewhat impressed by the fact that Freud was apparently the one leading figure in psychoanalysis who didn’t sleep with a pateint and was against the patient. (Carl Jung, Otto Rank, and Karen Horney [sic] all had affairs with patients. I don’t think Melanie Klein did.)

    SF’s great-grandaughter, Emma Freud, remains a delightful commentator on the live simulcasts of plays from the National Theater.

    (The Clift-Freud movie was directed by John Huston and screenplay credited to Charles Kaufman & Wolfgang Reinhardt, but the first draft was by Jean-Paul Sartre who never saw the film.

    From a dramatists point of view the best acting performances as Freud are those of David Suchet and Viggo Mortensen.)

    • Posted August 20, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      The Huston movie has a great Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack. Part of it is recycled in [b]Alien[/b]

    • Posted August 20, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      There have been suggestions that Freud had an affair with his sister-in-law, Minna Bernays. As I recall, she wasn’t ever his patient, but I’m fuzzy on this.

  9. Posted August 20, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I look forward to this. As a psychology graduate I cringe every time the Viennese Witch Doctor is cited as a source.

    We discussed his work in the first semester, debunked it, and moved on.

    Meanwhile the literary theorists, film studies students, cultural studies students, etc. persisted in studying him till they graduated.

  10. Posted August 20, 2017 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Psychoanalysis is an epistemology based on knob-gags.

    • Martin Knowles
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:21 am | Permalink

      Psychoanalysis is a disease that considers itself its own cure.

  11. Matthew North
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    From the very first time I looked into Freud’s “work” the bullshit detector in my brain started going off and it hasn’t stopped since. It’s an awful shame Freudian nonsense has damaged so many lives. I’m going to Amazon and ordering Mr.Crew’s book right now.

  12. Frank Bath
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Psychologist H J Eysenck dished Freud as unscientific fifty years ago in his Penguin Book titles. Since then I’ve found many of Freud’s ‘insights’ in literature and general thought written before his time.

    • Posted August 20, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Eysenck had his own limitations but his The Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire is great.

      I’ve read Crews’ earlier books too.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted August 20, 2017 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      I have admired Crews for many years. A great many of Freud’s ‘insights’ were filched from various 19th-century literary figures. He was insensitive to literature or to any other of the arts, and spent a lot of time belittling them, asserting that they were essentially wish-fulfilment. I suspect that this belittling of the arts derived in part from a desire to cover his tracks, and also from a desire to claim that psycho-analysis was a science and so dealt in ‘knowledge’, whereas the arts, being merely examples of wish-fulfilment and mere expressions of subjectivity and of emotion, had nothing to do with ‘knowledge’ and provided no real insight into anything.

  13. Aaron Ferguson
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Of the three intellectual giants of the 19th century only one is left standing. (I don’t need to say which one to this audience!)

    • Historian
      Posted August 20, 2017 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Actually, the one left standing is of the 20th century, albeit the early part, if you take into consideration when he made his major contributions. He was Time Magazine’s person of the 20th century.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted August 21, 2017 at 5:17 am | Permalink

        I think Mr. Ferguson is alluding here to Charles Darwin (who’s been pining for the fjords since 1882).

    • Craw
      Posted August 20, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      The 19th century had a lot of giants still standing. Maxwell, Dalton, Darwin, Koch, Mendeleev, lots more. It’s some of the putative giants of the 20th century who are hurting.

  14. Posted August 20, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    What distinguishes Freud from, say, Marx, or even Freud’s followers is that he could actually write. Taken as Literature his ‘case histories’ are mysteries at leas as ingenius as Conan Doyle’s. You just have to keep in mind that they are not actually true.

    • Martin Knowles
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:23 am | Permalink

      Good point. I always thought that Freud created a new religion with his fantasies about human nature.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 5:08 am | Permalink

      I take exception to your saying Marx couldn’t write. Sure, there are abundant longueurs in Das Kapital that make for tough sledding — but then economics is, as Carlyle labeled it, the dismal science.

      Marx did some pretty good writing in pieces like The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, and I’ve always been fond of his mid-century journalism for Horace Greely’s New-York Tribune. And, of course, several passages in the Manifesto remain the loci classici of their field, including this famous one on the narcotizing effects of faith:

      Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

      Sure, much the rest of it may have been bullshit. But, c’mon man, as writing qua writing goes, that bit ain’t half bad.

  15. Michael Fisher
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    “Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas” [1998]

    Hunter S. Thompson [movie version] on Timothy Leary – a more recent pusher of mind bullshit for fun, fame & funds:

    We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fuelled that ’60s. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling “consciousness expansion” without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously…

    All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit”

  16. Posted August 20, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    “..Crews was once taken by Freud’s ideas, and was slowly disillusioned.. ”

    I hear this kind of description of people, their pasts and the reasons why they changed, etc…all the time.

    I am perplexed at people that become disillusioned. Perhaps I am revealing something of myself, but then maybe in relief, others, but who prescribes to someone else ideas and then realizes they were incorrect, or has come change of heart?

    It seems to me that the author was already confused from the beginning. It seems to me that his critique might be compromised in as much as he first misunderstood him, but then found that he misunderstood him such that he became disillusioned, such that his book might be really an exposition upon a kind of humanity that listens to bad ideas and then comes to their senses, which is really then a kind of realization that they don’t know what the hell is going on and it took them their whole life to see how blind they are for ‘believing’ someone or think someone has a good idea at the time, but then not really. Who does that? lol

    I mean isn’t everything justified by ends? Here is an author that is (I guess) debunking Freud through means that have been found by the author going through this and then giving us his ‘ends’ upon how Frued’s ‘means’ are ethically invalid. What are these idealized means that are supposed to disrupt a persons ideas of ideas? lol

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 20, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      @Landzek

      [1] Landzek: “..Crews was once taken by Freud’s ideas, and was slowly disillusioned.. ” […] but who prescribes to someone else ideas and then realizes they were incorrect […]?
      Michael Fisher: Everybody with a rational, inquiring mind – see [4] below

      ###
      [2] Landzek: It seems to me that the author was already confused from the beginning. It seems to me that his critique might be compromised in as much as he first misunderstood him, but then found that he misunderstood him such that he became disillusioned, such that his book might be really an exposition upon a kind of humanity that listens to bad ideas and then comes to their senses, which is really then a kind of realization that they don’t know what the hell is going on and it took them their whole life to see how blind they are for ‘believing’ someone or think someone has a good idea at the time, but then not really. Who does that?

      Michael Fisher: Everybody with a rational, inquiring mind – see [4] below

      ###
      [3] Landzek: I mean isn’t everything justified by ends? Here is an author that is (I guess) debunking Freud through means that have been found by the author going through this and then giving us his ‘ends’ upon how Frued’s ‘means’ are ethically invalid.

      Michael Fisher: No! How can everything be justified by ends?

      Michael Fisher: I am having difficulty understanding you. I believe you could write more clearly than the above!

      Crews was a proponent of psychoanalytic literary criticism early on. Then he rejected psychoanalysis as a therapeutic tool, but thought it still had value in literary criticism. Then he rejected its usefulness entirely. This was a long, dogged road that he didn’t walk on his lonesome – it was a conversation over the years with his peers.

      Michael Fisher: Ethically invalid? That’s not at the heart of Crews’ reasoning – what can you possibly mean?

      ###
      [4] Landzec: What are these idealized means that are supposed to disrupt a persons ideas of ideas?

      Michael Fisher: From the Wiki on Crews I have copied all of the below:

      He has also advocated for clear writing based on standards of sound argument and rhetorical effectiveness rather than adherence to rigid school-book rules. “What interests me is general rationality,” said Crews,

      General rationality requires us to observe the world carefully, to consider alternative hypotheses to our own hypotheses, to gather evidence in a responsible way, to answer objections. These are habits of mind that science shares with good history, good sociology, good political science, good economics, what have you. And I summarize all this in what I call the “empirical attitude.” It’s a combination of feeling responsible to the evidence that is available, feeling responsible to go out and find that evidence, including the evidence that is contrary to one’s presumptions, and responsibility to be logical with one’s self and others. And this is an ideal that is not so much individual as social. The rational attitude doesn’t really work when simply applied to one’s self. It is something that we owe to each other.

      • Posted August 20, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

        I understand what you are saying. But I would hate to think that my rational position is always relative to someone else’s notions, as if rationality is itself a universal common base by which to Jussie everyone thru an equanimous ideal.

        I personally have not had the experience of being disillusioned with anyone I found to be agreeable, on a theoretical level. Somehow, I seem to be able to see how their theories project.

        I might even say that his rejection of phsychoanalysis altogether shows not rationality in general, but a particular kind of rationality that may be shortsighted, as if then All that is rational must be inherently myopic.

        I’m just saying it appears to me that he is showing is something inherently off about the method he used, and not so much Frueds

      • Posted August 20, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        “General rationality requires us to observe the world carefully, to consider alternative hypotheses to our own hypotheses, to gather evidence in a responsible way, to answer objections. These are habits of mind that science shares with good history, good sociology, good political science, good economics, what have you. ”

        It is possible to adhere to this principle and not be disillusioned. That’s all I’m really saying. I think.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted August 20, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

          @Landzek “Disillusioned” has a negative connotation. Also it suggests regret where there may be none. I am having severe difficulty understanding you, which could easily be my fault. I am getting the sense that you see Crews’ journey & his justifications for rejecting Freud… as entirely emotional rather than rational.

          Perhaps it is wrong to characterise Crews as becoming disillusioned & more accurate to say that at some point he decided to be more systematic in his thinking – he started to require evidence, he started to question his base assumptions.

          Why did Crews do all that? I think because he is a seeker after the truth & not because of an idealogical or emotional agenda. I heard about him through his writings on recovered memory – he’s a very good debunker of bullshit.

          • Posted August 20, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

            you could be correct that I saw ‘disillusion’ not as a rational sentiment. As well, I tend to not default my thinking to ‘applied sciences’ type. Applied science indeed are peppered with incessant disillusionment, so, in a manner of speaking, that is allowed. It is a necessary part of discovery.

            Such people are approaching things through an experimental approach. Some things seem to work for a bit, and then they don’t work. That is the way of applied science. I suppose I don’t vest very much interest in ‘thinking out works’ to thus be ‘disillusioned’ myself, because I am more philosophical maybe.

            I goto the end:

            Say for example the globe is indeed responding to human general neglect and arrogance so far as our exploitation of resources and such, global warming, climate change., such that we will kill ourselves if we don’t do something.

            Keep in mind I am not promoting here any position on the topic.

            The questions that arise is: When are we able to thwart it? How might it be possible to come to a conclusion that we will cause our own extinction just at the time when it appears that we are doing so up till that point? Could we have come to that conclusion at any other time? When? Why didn’t we? Does any explanation contribute to out being able to save ourselves in time? Why couldn’t we have done it earlier?

            But more: Now that we have come to that conclusion, what about our process of deciphering such information-data is able to create a solution that occurs After we have killed ourselves? Is it possible to come to a solution After we have destroyed ourselves? Is there something that can exist or otherwise inform us from After we have ceased to exist of what will not work? How are we able to discern what is working, as time frame for when things should occur, from what will not work or if the time frame is not met?

            When you think about it, We can never argue forward. Only backward. The experiment thus must occur within a particular understanding that will not admit the contradiction involved with its method. Prediction does not say anything about what actually occurs; what actually occurs says something about how we place the conditions of prediction for the science.

            How did we get this far if what was happening before science was not scientific?

            So when does a method cause a person to be disillusioned rationally? Is it possible for a method of application to be correct for a while and then suddenly not correct? What caused it to work for a while and then not?

            I suppose I am asking how it is possible to become disillusioned?

            Is it one’s attachment to the human subjects that she so passionately values? Or is it a kind of investment in a sort of faith, that one hopes that they will be right, for rights sake?

            And then: What are we looking for in the applied sciences? Is it possible to find a total solution? What happens to science when we find the total solution?

            It appears to me that the application of sciences routinely dismisses itself from such philosophical involvement. This seems odd to me and strikingly inconsistent with the value it proposes to be invested in fulfilling for human beings.

            These are just questions, though. Not necessarily how I approach living or my involvement with the world and human beings in general.

            I just had a moment on this lovely Sunday to ponder.

            • loren russell
              Posted August 20, 2017 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

              Good god! l’s comments have the appearance of an argument in [an overly long] series of English sentences and paragraphs, but I haven’t the foggiest idea what xe’s banging on about at any point. Classic thread-killer.

              • Posted August 20, 2017 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

                yeah sometimes I just say things to see how people react. I wasn’t making an argument really. The comments aren’t the place to make large explanations. Loren seems to be at least a little interested, as well, attempting to inform me of what is really going on with that Book.

                And yes it was too long. and largely meaningless.

                I know that this blog tends toward applied science people, so I should try and keep my comments in line. lol 😉

              • Posted August 21, 2017 at 4:19 am | Permalink

                I suggest you go elsewhere; your comments make little sense and when you say you “don’t make arguments” of “large explanations” (even though some of your comments are very long) but “want to see how people react”, well, that’s the definition of trolling. And no, most of the commenters here are not “applied science people”.

                You seem to have added nothing to the discussion in your first attempt to make comments, and, as I don’t want trolls, politely tell you that I’d prefer that you go “see how people” react on someone else’s website.

      • Posted August 20, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

        I’m not familiar with the guy and I haven’t read the book so I may be very well just talking out my ass. lol.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted August 20, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

          Landzek

          Oh…

  17. grasshopper
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    But Freud gave us great insight into ourselves via the freudian slip, whereby we say one thing but mean amother.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 22, 2017 at 1:56 am | Permalink

      I’d suspect that was an acknowledged phenomenon long before Freud came along, though we might not have had such a catchy name for it then.

  18. Posted August 20, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    1. A quote from one article of many on the internet about the prevalent use of Opium, Cocaine, Laudanum, etc. as medication for numerous ills in the 19th century:

    http://seducedbyhistory.blogspot.com/2011/02/laudanum-use-in-19th-century.html

    “In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act required that certain specified drugs–alcohol, cocaine, heroin, morphine, and cannabis–be accurately labeled with contents and dosage. Previously, many drugs had been sold as patent medicines with secret ingredients or misleading labels. Authorities estimate that sales decreased by one third after labeling was required. The Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914 restricted the manufacture and distribution of opiates, including laudanum, and coca derivatives in the United States. Not until the middle of the 20th century did the U.S. government limit the use of opiates. In 1970, the U.S. adopted the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, which regulated opium tincture (laudanum) as a Schedule II substance and placed tighter controls on the drug.”

    Freud was one of many in his era who used and prescribed such drugs. Any number of famous people in history were addicts of one or the other of these drugs (one of them purportedly was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.) Women and children were routinely treated with such addictive drugs.

    2. Freud was still “reverenced” in the early 1960s when my husband was obtaining his degree in Psychology. Some of the other psychologists admired then such as B. F. Skinner, Richard Alpert, and Timothy Leary, were later no longer as admired for their psychological theories. Jung had some questionable theories also. Perhaps, we should always reserve judgment for future scientific developments that disprove prior ones. With more and more research into genetics and how the wiring of the brain translates into meaning, consciousness and sense of self, perhaps some of the”mental illnesses” that are deigned as such now will no longer be labeled as “mental illnesses”, or will be able to be physically modified.

  19. Posted August 20, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Does the book comment in any way on Jung?

  20. Alan
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    To be fair, cocaine was given out by “real” doctors of that time also.

    In “The emperor of all maladies” Mukherjee writes of how the developer of the radical mastectomy, William S. Halsted, used cocaine as an anesthetic for his (poor) patients and how Halsted himself became addicted to the drug.

  21. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted August 20, 2017 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

  22. Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  23. Serendipitydawg
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Fred/Freud/fraud made that an interesting spell check 🙂

    The instances of fraudian slip that I see scattered across the internet take on a whole new meaning.

  24. Steve Pollard
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I am greatly looking forward to getting my hands on Prof Crew’s book. Meanwhile, I cannot let the opportunity pass of giving a shout-out to one of my favourite books of pastiche, Prof Crew’s “The Pooh Perplex” (first published 1964). It contains 12 chapters (all by Crews himself, of course), each parodying a well-known critic, academic, or pseud of one sort or another, many of them all too recognisable.

    Relevant to the present discussion is “AA Milne’s Honey-Balloon-Pit-Gun-Tail Complex” by Karl Anschauung, MD, a perfect parody of Freudian mumbo-jumbo. I wonder if Crews was still a Freudian believer in 1964. This parody suggests not.

    Well worth getting if you run across a copy.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      Just to add that Crews’ earlier book of criticism of Freud and his legacy, “The Memory Wars” (1975) is still a good read. Don’t know (yet) how far this overlaps with the new book.

  25. jeffery
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    All I had to do, initially, to become aware that Freud was “full of it” was to read a couple of his lectures: he starts out whiny, begging his listeners to accept some unfounded assertion or theory; a few minutes later, these unfounded assertions and theories are now miraculously turned into “facts”, which are then used to manufacture MORE unfounded assertions and theories…..

  26. Andy
    Posted August 21, 2017 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t it the case that Freud offered a simple binary (sex, aggression although they could merge (?), and/or trinity (ego, superego, id) reduction/mechanistic model of the mind? The 19th century was waiting for him: biological determinism (Darwin), economic (MarX)
    Before this mechanical model (apprehensible) – the mind was too dark, too compleX, mysterious…

  27. Posted September 24, 2017 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    This post was very useful for me.


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