Don't be fooled by the grim-faced picture. It was the only unblinking one. For me, words are worth a thousand pictures. I'm looking forward to saying hi to all of you.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Freud given icy reception at 1896 Convention for Suggesting that Hysteria was Caused by Childhood Sexual Abuse

Seeing Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris reawakened my interest in Anais Nin. Noel Riley Fitch's The Erotic Life of Anais Nin (Little Brown & Co., 1993) not only took me into her life: her tumble of affairs, notably with Arthur Miller, but also led me to awarenesses about Freud that were like kapows! Like this one on p. 151.

In 1896, Freud was booed at a Psychiatric and Analytical conference when he presented a paper about hysteria being caused by childhood sexual abuse based on the testimony of his patients and his own experience. He knew because he admitted "my father was one of the perverts." Unfortunately, he called it "the seduction theory" which implies that the children are somehow at fault. At that time, incest was considered extremely rare. Frued said his reception "was icy by those asses." That paper caused Freud so much aggravation that he was forced to retract it in 1905, shifting the emphasis to the unconscious. In 1906, he developed the theory of the Oedipal Complex in which hysterical children fantacized about seducing one parent and eliminating the other. Neuroses was supposed to arise from the guilt of that fantasy. Oh, what a hindrance to truth!

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