Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On Freud

A student of mine once sent me this intriguing email engaging a statement that Freud dropped regards his phsychoanalytical theories & the Irish race. I like it very well (save the Wikipedia part.):

"This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever" - (Sigmund Freud on the Irish). I once tried to find information on the internet regarding the reason he said this but there were very few answers. Mostly it was comments from Irish people either slandering his career because he thought they were stupid or boosting about how proud they were that Irish people were so smart that even Freud couldn't figure them out. There was however, one comment regarding his ideas towards religion: "When Freud spoke of religion as an illusion, he maintained that it is fantastic structure from which a man must be set free if he is to grow to maturity; and in his treatment of the unconscious he moved toward atheism." I didn't know if this had anything to do with his contempt for the Irish people and their close cultural association with religion that English people seemed to lack but perhaps it answers some questions.
In reply, I found the following at http://www.sheilaomalley.com/:

"From the introduction to a book of Irish short stories - intro written by Anthony Burgess (this is where I originally came upon this quote from Freud - which I had never heard before) -
"One of [Freud's] followers split up human psychology into two categories - Irish and non-Irish. The Irish, like the Neopolitans, are not sure what truth is, and they have a system of logic which defies logic. They have something in common with Chekhov's Russians, and it is no accident that many of the stories here will seem Chekhovian. I was taking a bath in a Leningrad hotel when the floor concierge yelled that she had a cable for me. 'Put it under the door,' I cried. 'I can't,' she shouted. 'It's on a tray.' There is a deep logic, or epistemology, there which is far from absurd. The Irish and the Russians have one way of looking at entities (the entity in this instance was a cable-on-a-tray) and the rest of the world another."
There is a sense that Freud had, too, that the Irish, when in psychic trouble, go to poetry, go to storytelling, go to escapism - they have no interest in picking apart their own brains."

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