Mod+ 235. DR. TODD DUFRESNE ON FREUD’S LOOMING SHADOW OF DECEPTION

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by alex.tsakiris, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. bishop

    bishop Member

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    I love Shakespeare, though I could stand to read much more of his work.

    I guess that's the point I was trying to wrap my head around earlier. Is Freud really responsible for everything Dr. Dufresne is attributing to him below? It seems to me film and especially literature have a deeper foundation where it comes to sexual metaphor that is not so exclusively dependent on Freud. Maybe he was just painting with some super duper broad strokes in his statement. But it's awfully aloof. It's also curious that he feels today's film is "absolutely awful". I know this amounts to very little in the dialog here, and I have no interest in derailing or muddying the waters. I'd like to know more about Freud's influence on film and literary culture, so maybe I'll dig into it on on my own.
     
  2. Jules

    Jules New

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    You may find something worthwhile here:

    http://www.theguardian.com/film/2001/jun/17/features.review
    http://www.kyushu-ns.ac.jp/~allan/Documents/CCEurope-05.html
    http://movieshrink.wordpress.com/category/sigmund-freud/
    http://fearincinema.umwblogs.org/silent-films/cinematic-techniques/
    http://www.flash-video-mx.com/blog/top-five-thrilling-freudian-movies/
    http://hv.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=0080SA

    Its interesting that psychoanalysis operated in isolation from other academic disciplines but the cultural threads are all pervasive as part of our story. The links above are related to film but their are mountains relating to every aspect of culture.

    Happy hunting.

    Jules
     
  3. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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    Simple answer: no. ;) I think he was wildly exaggerating to make a point.
     
  4. Alex

    Alex New

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    That's not my view... just public opinion/reaction. So, if you're ok with Freud as the "Lance Armstrong of Psychology" (minus the mia culpa), I am.
     
  5. Alex

    Alex New

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    keep in mind that much of his work is 10-20 years old. Freud's professional/academic status has been severely diminished since he began. It's just the general public and liberal arts that hasn't kept up.

    also, he did much of his work in Toronto... as he explains... they have a huge Freud community there.
     
  6. bishop

    bishop Member

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    Hey Jules. Thanks for these articles, there's a lot of great stuff here! This interview has really piqued my interest in this aspect of culture so I'm really happy Alex went for it.
     
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  7. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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    Again, re: the understanding of the word "psychoanalysis", I would be careful. Just because an institute is "psychoanalytic" does not necessarily mean it is a strict (or even semi-close) follower of Freudian ideas. I'm not familiar with the one in Toronto, but I know others in Chicago, L.A., Boston, D.C., etc. that have the word "psychoanalysis" in them (usually with "contemporary" as a prefix) that ascribe to certain post-Freudian psychodynamic schools of thought, where you be hard pressed to find much of anything that is Freudian. In fact, sometimes, and more and more as the decades advance, "psychoanalytic" ideas in various perspectives are completely opposite: experience-near concepts of subjectivity rather than experience-distant, reified and abstract ("ego"); an interpersonal and context-sensitive view of what causes "pathology" rather than a "intrapsychic" view; doing away with entire fundamental reified and clinically disproved concepts like the universal Oedipus complex, drives and psychosexual "stages" (oral, anal, etc.) (etc. etc.); a complete doing away with the supposedly "neutral" and "objective" attitude of the therapist; no couch or therapist facing away or being silent; no dependance on free association or dream analysis, etc. etc. etc.

    More and more, "psychoanalysis" has come to mean the study (analysis) of subjectivity and of intersubjective relating.

    Also, when we hear the word "psychoanalysis", we think of 5-day a week therapy (with the couch, free association, etc. etc.). That's the public cliché. Most of the time, the term means "psychoanalytically informed" (of one kind or another) psychotherapy - which has no frequency (or many other "classical") requirements. There are social workers and people working on the "streets" with urban social-context challenged people like gang youths, the homeless, etc. etc., all over North America who have a "psychoanalytic" or psychodynamic training of some kind or other. I have my own references, but I just Googled and came up easily with these links:

    Analysts in the Trenches: Streets, Schools, War Zones
    http://www.amazon.com/Analysts-Trenches-Streets-Schools-Zones/dp/0881633453
    Violence in School. Homes and on the Streets
    http://www.nypsi.org/#Event/11279
    Analytic Service to Adolescent Program
    http://chicagoanalysis.org/content/analytic-service-adolescents-program
    Reaching Across Boundaries of Culture and Class
    http://www.amazon.com/Reaching-Across-Boundaries-Culture-Class/dp/1568214871
    The Homeless "Other"
    http://icpla.edu/homeless/


    (Your 2014 Mazda has little to do with the original Model-T Ford, except that they're cars. ;))
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014
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  8. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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    I personally have no problem with the dissing of a lot of Freud's ideas, or the highlighting of the deception he used (thank you, Alex, for helping to shine a light on this :)), but what I would have a problem with would be the automatic dismissal of any and all people who have "followed in his footsteps" in one way or another.

    It seems that without Freud, we may not have had a...

    Stanislav Grof
    Grof received his M.D. from Charles University in Prague in 1957 and then completed his Ph.D. in medicine at the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences in 1965, training as a Freudian psychoanalyst at this time.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Grof

    or an

    Ian Stevenson
    He became interested in psychosomatic medicine, psychiatry and psychoanalysis, and in the late 1940s, worked at New York Hospital exploring psychosomatic illness and the effects of stress... From 1951, he studied psychoanalysis at the New Orleans Psychoanalytic Institute and the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute, graduating from the latter in 1958, a year after being appointed head of the department of psychiatry at the University of Virginia.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Stevenson

    or a...

    John Mack
    He was a graduate of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and was certified in child and adult psychoanalysis.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_E._Mack
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014
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  9. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Just been thinking. You probably can't fix other people's mental state unless you yourself have a healthy mental state. In that respect, the guy next door, without trying to fix you, and with no qualifications, may be more help than someone with a nameplate and a string of letters as long as your arm after his name.

    Thinking about it some more, quite often, people have fixed little bits of me without ever knowing it, even without a word passing between us. Ever see someone doing something idiotic and suddenly realised you do it too? That's one way to fix negative habits real quick: people providing a mirror for you. Works the other way, too. You might see someone react really effectively in a certain situation, and internalise that for future reference and development.

    A lot of Sufi tales, like the Mulla Nasrudin ones, work like mirrors, too. You internalise the structure, and then one day in a certain situation you see it playing out in your behaviour; that can make you stop and do something differently than you usually do. Those old Sufi guys were known to prescribe certain tales for their disciples: they wouldn't tell them why, just asked them to pay attention to them and internalise them, waiting to be "activated" in the right circumstances. See, the spiritual guide's responsibility was to fix you up psychologically, because in a healthy mental state you could make better spiritual progress. For the same reason, they would insist you get a useful job and earn some money to keep you and your family in good shape. A lot of them frowned on abstracting oneself from the world except perhaps for limited periods.

    Which brings me to the thought that modern psychotherapy is quite possibly not very effective when the therapist isn't led by the desire to help one spiritually: not surprising if s/he isn't spiritually inclined. The psychotherapist may be the nearest thing we have in the West to a guru, but if they're as screwed up as everyone else, it's the blind leading the blind.
     
  10. Alex

    Alex New

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    sure, but I don't think I was saying that. This whole exercise was along the lines of answering the "how can this be" question. So, you run into NDEs, or the psychic phenomena, or any of the other things we've looked at and your second question is (first being, "is this true?") "how can this be?" How can so many smart people whom I respect being heading in the wrong direction on this. Freud is somewhat of a blueprint for answering that question.
     
  11. Alex

    Alex New

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    agreed... and to take that analogy further, even "bad" gurus can give you something, or be what you need at the time.
     
  12. Rumspringa

    Rumspringa New

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    Actually, I think DUFRESNE was not exaggerating about the impact of Freud on culture. Let's perhaps leave out psychology or the profession of psychotherapy. You have to have some history and perception of academia. Freud and Marx are the 2 defining intellectual figures whose ideas were far-reaching. After Freud "arrived in" America, all literature was scoured for Freudian symbols and allegories. The genre actually spawned explicitly Freudian novels like William Golding's Lord of the Flies, which won Golding the Nobel Prize in literature -- about 40 years later, I might say. That book is unreadable unless your understand and accept Freud. If you don't accept Freud, it is a hideous tale of lawlessness and childhood innocence lost, a pure allegory with no literary merit.

    But that's not it. It was such a novel idea that people were shocked initially but found ready examples in their lives and society that they found subscribing to it irresistible. Yes, it's reductive and seductive. But it was a useful paradigm. When you grow out of it, however, and realize that it is not as unifying as you would think. That's another story. There is a whole academic turf war going on about which application of Freud is appropriate for a Victorian novel, say. In terms of fractiousness, the Modern Language Association dwarfs the UFO or paranormal community.

    There is no comparison with regard to influence between Freud and Jung. No one's arguing about Jung. It is more relevant for this forum but not for the culture at large.

    What people are missing is that for the progressive types of that, Freud was a godsend. It was a refuge from religion and materialism. It became fashionable. It bridled against the repressive morals of the Church, conventional morality, and authority. And meshed completely with the sixties ethos, the loose morals, the anti-war movement, the repressive state, etc.

    It attributed many social ills and aggressive phenomenon like wars and their implements to the Id. But It was not provable and was never science. I think that was ultimately the point of Dufresne. Freud really mattered most to the liberal arts academic community: the humanities and the social sciences who lean to the Left to begin with.

    The Western Left embraced Freud not for the merits of his ideas but for their implications. The impact is probably the strongest in literature or literary criticism. Do you realize how many stiflying analyses of King Lear are out there? It probably exceeds Derrida and deconstruction, which Dufresne initially was interested in. So he set out to deconstruct Freud, did not like what he saw and is now out to target film and literary culture. I'd say that's probably a worthy endeavor. If there ever was a "soft academic endeavor," it is film and film studies. In one of the classes I took, if you could spell Pasolini, you got an A. Yes, there is Home Economics and Basket Weaving. But there is also Film Studies.

     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2014
  13. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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    My bad, Alex, I thought you were saying that in one or two of your posts. What got me going also was at the start of the podcast when Dufresne seemed to be implying how silly and wrong that the Toronto Institute should be covered by insurance. But I'd be tempted to think that psychoanalytic institute, like most, doesn't create pure Freudians or only 5-days-a-week classical couch analysis. ;)

    This one, possibly the one Dufresne meant, seems more conservative and "orthodox" but looking over the contents I see more than "classical" psychoanalysis:
    "Toronto Institute Society & Institute":
    https://torontopsychoanalysis.com/training-study/toronto-institute-of-psychoanalysis/

    Meanwhile, this one other, the Toronto Instiute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis, is definitely more modern and, as the prefix "Contemporary" implies, definitely includes post-Freudian/classical perspectives:
    http://www.ticp.on.ca/
     
  14. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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    Yes and actually, this is kind of funny, because one of the merits of classical psychoanalysis was the analyst-in-training had to have his own analysis him/herself, for something like 5 years. (Of course, you could see this as cultish indoctrination also! ;)) But seriously, you want a therapist who's faced his demons, who is more than a little familiar with what's going on in him or her unconsciously (all those childhood-embedded scripts, unmet needs, psychic wounds and traumas and resulting unconscious attitudes and reactions, etc. etc.) and be able to then reflect on his or her subjectivity, as he or she attends to the subjectivity of the patient. (A psychodynamic therapist usually has 3 "eyes" going on at the same time: on the patient, on him/herself, and on the relationship between them moment-by-moment.)

    That is one of the great qualities of the psychodynamic and humanist/existential (including Gestalt) schools of thought is the training itself is very personally challenging and profoundly develops self-knowledge. I imagine you would find that in transpersonal psychology as well. You won't find that in cognitive-behavioral therapists, who are trained to adopt more the outlook of the "expert" and the client as the "object under study". (Things today may slowly be changing, though, and most types of therapy writ large are recognizing and including the merits of other types into their thinking and training).
    This I disagree with, because any good therapist is not there to "lead" the patient, but to facilitate the flowering of that individual's potential and whatever is blocking it (an agnostic or even atheist therapist is not necessarily worse - other more important variables come into play). But then are all therapists aren't "good"... ;)

    Where I agree with you, Michael, and I posted about this before the forum*, is, IMO, the impoverished clinical attitude towards death that results from being indoctrinated in the view that "the end is the end". That's it, kaput, over and done with. Man's existential finitude. A grieving process to help the person accept their eventual transition into nothingness... (Which also doesn't make getting older and facing the difficulties that that comes with - loss of significant others, solitude, illness/physical disability, possible loss of autonomy, loss of meaning that results from all those things - easier, when there isn't that larger "meaning" about what this damn, difficult and sometimes agonizing Life's about.)

    (*here's where I wrote about it: http://forum.mind-energy.net/skepti...rialism-help-dying-bereaved-7.html#post142600)
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2014
  15. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Yeah, I knew about this. It echoes the training that spiritual teachers have to get before they themselves are given permission to teach (which can require a significantly longer period: it takes as long as it takes). Whether intentionally or no, there is some parallelism between the idea of a psychoanalyst and a guru, but IMO a huge chunk is missing if the primary driver isn't spiritual development, which might require a certain amount of preparatory psychological adjustment. Helping with the latter requires that the teacher is adequately developed spiritually: you can't very competently help people psychologically until you are spiritually developed. And as far as I can see, that's the thing that may be missing in formal psychoanalytic training. I'm not saying that some analysts might not have a degree of spiritual motivation: some might well have, and my working hypothesis would be that they'd have enhanced rates of success.
    That's not quite what I said, which was: Which brings me to the thought that modern psychotherapy is quite possibly not very effective when the therapist isn't led by the desire to help one spiritually. I was speaking of the primary motivation of the therapist. It's generally agreed, certainly in the Sufi tradition, that in the end, it is seekers who have to do the work: the teacher may give them a little nudge or set up an opportune circumstance, but trying to lead seekers by the nose doesn't work. How many times in your life has someone given you an opinion or a bit of advice that you didn't really take on board, but which, possibly years later in a certain situation, you suddenly realised the true worth of? Only then does the message really hit home and become internalised as part of your being. It can also work in reverse: you accept the advice of a respected person and consciously act on it for years before one day, in a certain situation, you realise it's poppycock.

    IMO, psychological lessons are better learnt in real life situations, rather than in navel-gazing analysis. You don't need some schema that attempts to explain the how and the why: when something truly dawns, you know it without having to situate it within an arbitrary explanatory framework, be that Freudian or anything else. I think we all have this innate capacity to recognise when our behaviour is appropriate or inappropriate, but because we're all conditioned, we adopt a distorted model of the world. Much of our adult lives may be spent shaking off that conditioning, and allowing ourselves to be guided by the innate sense we've had all along, did we but know it.

    Something like Freudianism may be just another conditioned mental construct that might conceivably allow for more successful behaviours in terms of self- and social acceptance, but it's debatable whether it gets us much closer to the actualisation of the innate potential to act appropriately and effectively in any situation that life might throw at us. The aim of spiritual teachers is to get students this stage, which is more conducive to the further development of spiritual understanding.
     
  16. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I have never found Freud very interesting. In the days when I believed in AI, that seemed much more relevant to understanding consciousness, and later - well Freud seemed to be just explaining one sort of consciosness in terms of another.

    The idea that most of our impulses come from repressed sexual feelings, seemed either misguided, or relevant to particular situations - such as Vienna in Freud's time. I guess his theories are yet another example of bogus science. In the end people don't even prove him wrong, just discard his ideas!

    David
     
  17. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Sadly, modern science works the same way. I recently learned that the theory that saturated fat caused heart disease, was started by a man called Ancel Keys, who drew a graph of saturated fat consumption against heart disease. Each point represented one country, and he only included those countries that fitted his theory!
    Apparently there still isn't much evidence for the saturated fat theory, but the image of lumps of fat clogging the arteries is so vivid that the theory lives on!

    Then there is global warming!

    We all know about the highly distorted approach of science to psi.

    The treatment of Freud seems in keeping with a pattern.

    David
     
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  18. Rumspringa

    Rumspringa New

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    That's a good parallel David. It seems that the guys who get the ball rolling inevitably have a faulty grasp. But it was a first stab and enough people find the idea plausible that they start getting on the bandwagon. The saturated fat bandwagon is still growing, to the chagrin of many who are aware of the medical-pharmaceutical complex. Without statins and bypass procedures, many of our hospitals will have to go bankrupt. That's the nature of the industry. Doctors, the Big Pharma, and hospitals have pinned their entire business rationale on atherosclerosis and how saturated fat induces it.

    We do have to give some credit to the guys orignal enough to come up with the concept. That they reached critical mass and became prevailing wisdom tells as much about the so called "marketplace of ideas" that we supposedly have in a free democracy; a superior idea will eventually win out over shopworn and shaky ideas in a perfectly laissez-faire fashion. However, that does not obtain in the health care realm because we have "marketing" and those with skin in the game do not want to change the paradigm, when their living standards are deeply invested in the outdated saturated fat paradigm. We can't even trust medical journals to publish unbiased research, as most authors have pharmaceutical firms sponsoring them.

    The same applies to the realm of ideas outside the profit-filled realm. Most original thinkers get things half right. Then others come along and refine the concept, add riders and omit redundancies. For Freud, I didn't know that his name was actually Fraud! I'm not that familiar with the fraudulent aspect of Freud, as I'm not that interested in psychoanalysis; I'm somewhat familiar with his cultural impact and those who used him to further their agenda. I started hearing about how he was actually Fraud many years ago. Frederick Crews must have uncovered something substantial and substantive, when he came out against him so vigorously. Todd Dufresne follows Crews' footsteps and his mentor's, Paul Roazen (not Rosen). But prior to all this, those who opposed Fraud were regarded as uncouth and semi-literate, like those who would deny Darwin and evolution. To criticize Freud was taken to mean that the unconscious does not exist, not that Freud may have gotten it seriously wrong. Modernity, as we defined it in the early to mid-1900s, largely consists of the ideas of Nietsche, Freud, Darwin, Marx and existentialist philosophy. 2 out of those 5 had enormous political impact, despite their original intent, and that's how we find ourselves in the world today.

     
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  19. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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    Great points. You also nail down down film studies. This made laugh, Rums. :D
     
  20. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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    Interesting enquiries/questions, Michael, about spiritual development and the role someone else can play in that - whether it's a "guru", a priest, a therapist or a medium.

    Just to make it clear again in case I get misinterpreted, I'm not here to defend formal psychoanalytic training (in the classical Freudian sense) - I don't see much value in it at all, myself.

    Back to "spiritual development", though, I guess I myself am not sure what that means, or even if I would want to try to pin it down too precisely, personally!

    Sorry for misunderstanding you a little bit, Michael. I completely agree with what you say regarding seekers and advice-giving. I myself am weary of trying to depend on someone externally for "spiritual development". Where I differ with you is that I guess I don't see a therapist's job as really having anything to do with that, directly - if it happens, I think that is a by-product of working on your emotional wounds, etc., and whatever growth spontaneously occurs or resumes.

    Also, good therapists of any school of thought, IMO, are not there to "provide advice" or to impose "schemas". Whatever new ways of understanding, of feeling about one's self or the world, of relating and acting, that result are a co-construction of the dialogue between therapist and client in trying to help the latter understand and help him or herself. I myself favor approaches that stay near the person's experience, always in their own words, and that don't try to reify and reduce their experience in abstract, intellectual terms or concepts (so Freudianism goes out the window!).

    Re: psychological lessons and therapy. I think the great, great, great majority of people go to therapy (99.9% ?), of whatever kind, because their normal self-regulating methods are not working anymore, which can be a result of overwhelming changes and stresses, their current context/environment, deficiencies in the support that can be provided in their interpersonal network, or old psychological wounds and their consequences creating dysfunction. I also don't think people go to therapy, most of the time, because they don't know if their behavior is "appropriate" (i.e. "how can I be a better person?"), but because they're in distress, which is no longer tolerable and doesn't go away, and they either don't understand why or don't know how to fix it.
     
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