Skip to main content

Clio's Psyche #3

me (Patrick McEvoy-Halston change)


My apologies Ken. I thought you were the editor of Journal of Psychohistory for some reason. My mistake. I wish we would acknowledge that going wide is also the way to be taken seriously right now, that it's part of our socio-cultural environment--the way to, not guarantee, but certainly to begin being accepted and lauded. For some of us this "socio-cultural" context collapses almost absolutely to the aggregate nature of the childrearing... to, specifically, the emotional health of the mothers within a society. We see even economics as having a lot to do with addressing that that was within our early relationship with our mothers that, unaddressed by our subsequent efforts of societal structuring, of recompensing for it, could make it difficult to live somewhat independent lives as adults at all. To us this seems obvious, and we get dismayed that someone who might provide very little that is challenging but who agrees with you to find cooperative findings amongst various disciplines, is due to be lauded to the hills. We're beginning to suspect that there are people out there whose real expertise is in keeping their findings within what a scholarly community can psychologically accept... are becoming aces at, really, posturing, keeping things within safe limits, all to keep a very intelligent community that has lived very enjoyably over the last few decades at ease.

Here's a challenging thing for us to contemplate. Have we been projecting aspects of ourselves we need to reject into hillbilly nation, into white working class men, for several decades, and this gross mass depositing has somehow helped us stabilize for discussions that are so wickedly agile, dextrous, circumventing, and confidently calm? What members of the group of scholars that you favour have suggested that that is something we have been doing, deliberately making one group of people seem sort of shit-filled and horrible perhaps so that our explorations of cultures can seem so exclusively respectful and civilized, that is? All our aggression gets shipped into one, and all our benightedness, applied everywhere else? If no one has, then perhaps this community is a shared.... um, psychotic state... somehow disassociated? One enters this community of scholars, and by agreeing to de facto imply all sorts of violence towards misogynistic, racist Americans, one continues to enable a community that can't see a flaw amongst themselves for they all truly display every manner of open consideration and politeness--they're perfect, only flawed in a way which keeps them human, i.e., part of the flattery. If you couldn't agree to do the former, then you couldn't be counted on to not reflect some of the disorderedness that comes from trying to contain the violence within oneself, that the rest of the group depends on feeling exempt from for their being self-evidently humanity at its highest evolved state--the only ones to be listened to, for they keep decorum. I think what I'm getting at is that someone like me is probably hoping that people like yourself, who seem in the way, are going to have to start showing flaws in how composed they seem for our own say to gain some ground. And that this is going to come through the vile agents, people who are not emotionally your equal, not at all, that are popping up everywhere that are arguing that respectable scholarship has for some time been been covering up a lot of fundamentally sick societies/communities. As this view gains ground, even within (especially within?) the left, and you can't mention "socio-cultural" without drawing suspicions from your audience rather than rapt, respectful full attendance, then I believe we may get to a point where whose view is correct will count on truth rather than having one's having all societal weight behind them.       

On Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 10:35:42 AM UTC-4, Ken Fuchsman wrote:

In studying Freud's theory of the Oedipus complex I found that to evaluate Freud's theories findings from other disciplines were indispensable. In other areas I have examined I have also frequently found out that an interdisciplinary approach was necessary to get a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. To go deep you also often need to go wide. I have found that the wider I go the deeper my understanding becomes.

The mother child dyad is central to being human. Yet it occurs within social-cultural contexts. Borrowing from E. O. Wilson, anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy says that cooperative breeding across generations is about as central to what makes us human as the mother-infant bond, especially in cultures where the mother has other economic functions that limit the time she has to care for her newborn. The economic roles of mothers outside of child rearing is found in hunter-foraging cultures and in contemporary industrial nations.  Once again, we need to cross disciplines to know all the factors involved in an area of investigation. There is much more to say on this subject of child care.

If I don't sound like a deMausian, it is because I have not been positively influenced by his work.

Sent from my iPhone

On Sep 12, 2017, at 9:46 AM, Patrick McEvoy-Halston <> wrote:
Ken, if someone was a through and through deMausian, would they be in compliance with all that you would expect of someone to be listened to, or wouldn't they? I'm not sure, but it does seem that s/he would only be interested in the nature of the childrearing someone had undergone, and wouldn't really recognize the world outside the mother-child dyad as being so much a cultural environment, or a historical environment... that is, something that requires a different expertise, a different sort of expert, and who's calling in to have their say would provide a wonderful sense of evolved reaching out, but just the exoskeleton produced by the aggregate of everyone else's childhoods.... it's all contained by the expert in early childhood. My concern is, are we in an intellectual environment where someone could be almost entirely right, have in their own focused research come up with most essential of research, but be overlooked because he unlike others doesn't entwine himself within the larger scholarly community, doesn't acknowledge the intrinsic limitation of only one area of knowledge/expertise? Your way of assessing how truth is uncovered sounds very evolved, it sounds like the kind of lubricant of manners that made our Obama era seem so inspiringly cosmopolitan, professional, peaceful, inspiring, evolved. But I am worried that it's become a useful weapon to vaporize people who in their own focussed research might be digging at truths... we don't actually want touched, because secretly its been in occluding them that we've been able to function so well, so we say to them, how can what you say be so useful when you've spend so much time in your burrow that you've missed the multidisciplinary splendour produced by worldwide collection of ....?

I know you must have deep respect for deMause, but boy you sound the opposite of him.

On Monday, September 11, 2017 at 9:23:25 AM UTC-4, Ken Fuchsman wrote:
1. Brian D'Agostino said that Freud's work needs to be placed in intellectual and historic perspective. Trevor Pederson disagrees. He thinks that to understand Freud's internal logic we examine the writings themselves.

2.  To do so, Trevor explores Freud's concept of the Oedipus complex, as he does in his valuable book, The Economics of Libido. Arnie Richards and Brian also discuss the meaning of the Oedipus complex. As Freud wrote about the Oedipus complex for over 40 years, there are twists and turns, gaps and contradictions. There are challenges to finding Freud’s internal logic.

3. In their short expositions, neither Trevor, Arnie, nor Brian mention Freud's notion of the positive and negative Oedipus complex. In the positive side, the boy, for instance, chooses his mother as his object choice, and his father is the rival. In the negative version, the boy makes his father the object choice and the mother is the rival. In looking for any writer's internal logic, it sometimes happens that we find selected parts of the work explicated instead of treating the whole.

4.  Freud characteristically describes the Oedipus complex as universal. For ninety years, anthropologists have examined Freud's Oedipal claims cross-culturally and many have found different family structures and dynamics than Freud did. His response is to turn to Lamarck's discredited notion of what Freud calls the phylogenetic inheritance. Freud claims that if the child's actual experiences do not fit into his Oedipal notions, the child's unconscious imagination has them fit into Freud's conception. Clearly, here and in other places, Freud finds ways of avoiding inconvenient evidence from other disciplines and perspectives, and sometimes becomes dogmatic. The meanings of Freud's concepts can sometimes be illuminated by going beyond Freud's own writings.

5.  Not all recent writers on Freud seek to understand his internal logic only through his published works. In the last year, three full length biographies of Freud have been published in English. One by literary critic Frederick Crews, and two by psychoanalysts. The two analysts, Elisabeth Roudinesco and Joel Whitebook, each claim that to understand the logic of Freud's work we need to see him as a representative of the Dark Enlightenment, which questions the sufficiency of the rational and explores the non-rational. Both Roudinesco and Whitebook, as Brian would advocate, then turn to the intellectual and historical to understand Freud's theoretical development and significance.

6.  Arnie Richards in the first two volumes of his selected papers seeks to comprehend the historic context, power struggles and dynamics within the psychoanalytic movement. He too goes beyond textual explication to find understanding.

7.  The approaches Trevor, Brian, and Arnie take are necessary, each can illuminate aspects of the whole. To understand Freud the person and thinker, any other psychoanalyst, psychoanalytic clients, or any of us, we need to see the individual as a whole person, to see the self in psychological, intellectual, emotional, relational, historic, and cultural context. In other words, to grasp the entirety of the individual, psychohistory with its integration of the individual, the group and the past is an essential element in this quest.  

On Sun, Sep 10, 2017 at 4:45 PM, Trevor Pederson <> wrote:
Hi Brian

On Sun, Sep 10, 2017 at 12:59 PM, Brian D'Agostino <> wrote:

I agree that a deeper understanding of Freud’s historical context does not shed much light on the details of Oedipal theory, but that misses my point about the importance of historical context.

I don't think it does. You have to have a coherent theory first, both in order to test it, and in order to criticize it.

What you are dealing with here are speculations about what might have influenced Freud.

When things in Freud's theories turn out to be false then it is valuable and interesting to look into potential causes (whether psychological or sociological), but the theories need to be tested themselves to establish their value, and this won't happen until there is a theoretical framework in which to understand and operationalize different concepts.

Let me sketch a little more of what I have in mind and why historical context cannot be dismissed as “nice window dressing.”  As I said in my previous email, I am a beginner in Freudian studies and can only present what I have gotten out my limited reading of the literature.  If I misstate anything, don’t hesitate to point it out so I can continue to learn.

Let’s start with Pierre Janet, whose published lectures beginning in 1889 outlined the role of early childhood trauma, especially sexual abuse, in the etiology of hysteria.  Janet pioneered the concepts of the unconscious and of dissociation, and connected the dots between early childhood abuse, dissociation, and the symptoms of “hysterics.” Freud acknowledged his debt to Janet in his “Studies in Hysteria,” coauthored with Joseph Breuer in 1895.  It is not possible to understand the significance of Freud’s Seduction Theory without understanding this historical context.

I disagree. Its significance is to be determined clinically, and Freud gave his reasons for retracting this view. He never said that trauma had no part in neurosis, after this, but instead that it wasn't always the cause. However, even back then, there was a more generalized view of sexual seduction or abuse as part of suffering mortification:

In the earliest case accounts, reported in Studies on Hysteria,  Breuer and Freud had assigned “mortification,” a variant of the shame family, a central role in symptomformation. They observed that “an injury suffered in silence” is a “mortification”—a “kran-kung”—which literally means to “make sick.” When one suffers an injury, they wrote, one tries to get revenge, as a catharsis. Or one can confess a tormenting secret. Or one can right the memory of a humiliation by remembering his worth. By contrast, an injury suffered in silence makes one ill.
Breuer and Freud had also emphasized, however, that they were addressing themselves to the mechanism of symptom formation rather than to the etiology of neurosis. The early formulations about the role of mortification in neurosis have therefore suffered neglect as incomplete, first formulations, which were superseded by later theoretical developments.
It is interesting that in the Outline of Psychoanalysis, written some forty-five years after the Studies on Hysteria, Freud again refers to the role of mortification in neurosis. He uses the same metaphor of a “mortification suffered in silence” as the source of neurosis.
Lewis, H.B. (1971). Shame and Guilt in Neurosis (p. 436-7)

Only when read in the context of Janet’s earlier work do we see what was original and what was not original in Freud’s Seduction Theory.  What was original to Freud was the notion that sexual trauma could be the cause of a wider range of psychological disorders than hysteria.  In other words, he went beyond the clinical data to a general theory of psychopathology.  When Freud revised his Seduction Theory beginning in 1897, he backtracked on this general theory—which attributed psychopathology to early trauma—and replaced it with a very different kind of general theory (Oedipal Theory), which attributes psychopathology to the repression of sexual drives.  In The Assault on Truth (1984), psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson reconstructed the historical context of this reversal, which was the beginning of Freudian psychoanalysis as it came to be known in the early 20th century.  

 Freud himself mentioned that he didn't take sexuality in hysterical  symptom formation to be his own idea. He writes:

A year later when I had begun my medical activities in Vienna as a private dozent in nervous diseases I was as innocent and ignorant in all that concerned the etiology of the neuroses as any promising academician could be expected to be. One day I received a friendly call from Chrobak, who asked me to take a patient to whom he could not give sufficient time in his new capacity as lecturer at the university. I reached the patient before he did and learned that she suffered from senseless attacks of anxiety, which could only be alleviated by the most exact information as to the whereabouts of her physician at any time in the day. When Chrobak appeared, he took me aside and disclosed to me that the patient's anxiety was due to the fact that though she had been married eighteen years, she was still a virgo intacta, that her husband was utterly impotent. In such cases the physician can only cover the domestic mishap with his reputation and must bear it if people shrug their shoulders and say of him: “He is not a good doctor if in all these years, he has not been able to cure her.” He added: “The only prescription for such troubles is the one well-known to us, but which we cannot prescribe. It is:
Penis normalis
I had never heard of such a prescription and would like to have shaken my head at my informant's cynicism. (History of the Psychoanalytic Movement)

Also, Oedipal theory doesn't just involve the repression of the sexual drives, there are also aggressive impulses that are linked to parental imagos. Moreover, even when they are sexual, in the general sense of eros (love) the Oedipal aspect also involves a real object. For example, when he is looking at melancholia, he is looking at the death of a real love object and even just being jilted by a lover:

The object has not perhaps actually died, but has been lost as an object of love (e.g. in the case of a betrothed girl who has been jilted). In yet other cases one feels justified in maintaining the belief that a loss of this kind has occurred, but one cannot see clearly what it is that has been lost, and it is all the more reasonable to suppose that the patient cannot consciously perceive what he has lost either. This, indeed, might be so even if the patient is aware of the loss which has given rise to his melancholia, but only in the sense that he knows whom he has lost but not what he has lost in him. This would suggest that melancholia is in some way related to an object-loss which is withdrawn from consciousness, in contradistinction to mourning, in which there is nothing about the loss that is unconscious.

In Melancholia the self-reproach is linked to an aggressive instinct towards the the beloved that is turned on the self, along with the defense enacted in object loss.

However, the object loss from which the defense and symptom breakout, still references an earlier loss that reaches back to the past.

In the attached 1989 Psychoanalytic Review article, Dorothy Bloch argues, plausibly in my opinion, that Masson overlooks a major psychobiographical component of Freud’s reversal, namely the death of his father in 1896 less than five months after he and Breuer presented their hysteria paper on May 2, 1896.  Since Freud had developed his seduction theory in part from his observation of sexual abuse of his siblings by their father, the death of Freud’s father and its timing very likely elicited massive guilt for Freud, which is also suggested by Freud’s “One is requested to close the eyes” dream around this same time.  Freud’s new Oedipal explanation of psychopathology relegated parental abuse of young children to the margins of psychoanalysis for many years.  According to Bloch, this new mindset helps explain why Freud attributed Daniel Schreber’s psychosis to Daniel’s own homosexual fantasies towards his father, which overlooks the overwhelming evidence of physical abuse by Schreber’s father.

This is a quotation from Freud's analysis of Schreber

In my Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality [Standard Ed., 7, 235] I have expressed the opinion that each stage in the development of psychosexuality affords a possibility of ‘fixation’ and thus of a dispositional point. People who have not freed themselves completely from the stage of narcissism—who, that is to say, have at that point a fixation which may operate as a disposition to a later illness—are exposed to the danger that some unusually intense wave of libido, finding no other outlet, may lead to a sexualization of their social instincts and so undo the sublimations which they had achieved in the course of their development. This result may be produced by anything that causes the libido to flow backwards (i.e. that causes a ‘regression’): whether, on the one hand, the libido becomes collaterally reinforced owing to some disappointment over a woman, or is directly dammed up owing to a mishap in social relations with other men—both of these being instances of ‘frustration’; or whether, on the other hand, there is a general intensification of the libido, so that it becomes too powerful to find an outlet along the channels which are already open to it, and consequently bursts through its banks at the weakest spot. (p. 61-2)

There is a part played by psychosexual development at the beginning, and the onset of the neurosis goes along with the parental-substitute causing some ego injury, frustration, etc. that causes repression. This is Oedipal.

More precisely, Freud has 3 steps to symptom formation and these are the first and 3rd stages.

As Arnie and his coauthors indicated, psychoanalysis subsequently developed in ways that went beyond Freud’s own thinking.  Most notably, the object relations school has returned psychoanalysis to a focus on the importance of early trauma and the effects of parenting, a focus that Freud originally shared with Janet but which he mainly abandoned after 1896 in favor of the Oedipal Theory.  Such historical thinking about the origins and present state of psychoanalysis is necessary if we want to learn from the past and not simply repeat its mistakes.

1. The first phase consists in fixation, which is the precursor and necessary condition of every ‘repression’. Fixation can be described in this way. One instinct or instinctual component fails to accompany the rest along the anticipated normal path of development, and, in consequence of this inhibition in its development, it is left behind at a more infantile stage. The libidinal current in question then behaves in relation to later psychological structures like one belonging to the system of the unconscious, like one that is repressed. We have already shown [pp. [61-2] that these instinctual fixations constitute the basis for the disposition to subsequent illness, and we may now add that they constitute above all the basis for the determination of the outcome of the third phase of repression.
2. The second phase of repression is that of repression proper—the phase to which most attention has hitherto been given. It emanates from the more highly developed systems of the ego—systems which are capable of being conscious—and may in fact be described as a process of ‘after-pressure’. It gives an impression of being an essentially active process, while fixation appears in fact to be a passive lagging behind. What undergo repression may either be the psychical derivatives of the original lagging instincts, when these have become reinforced and so come into conflict with the ego (or ego-syntonic instincts), or they may be psychical trends which have for other reasons aroused strong aversion. But this aversion would not in itself lead to repression, unless some connection had been established between the unwelcome trends which have to be repressed and those which have been repressed already. Where this is so, the repulsion exercised by the conscious system and the attraction exercised by the unconscious one tend in the same direction towards bringing about repression. The two possibilities which are here treated separately may in practice, perhaps, be less sharply differentiated, and the distinction between them may merely depend upon the greater or lesser degree in which the primarily repressed instincts contribute to the result.
3. The third phase, and the most important as regards pathological phenomena, is that of failure of repression, of irruption, of return of the repressed. This irruption takes its start from the point of fixation, and it implies a regression of the libidinal development to that point. We have already [p. 61 f.] alluded to the multiplicity of the possible points of fixation; there are, in fact, as many as there are stages in the development of the libido. We must be prepared to find a similar multiplicity of the mechanisms of repression proper and of the mechanisms of irruption (or of symptom-formation), and we may already begin to suspect that it will not be possible to trace back all of these multiplicities to the developmental history of the libido alone. It is easy to see that this discussion is beginning to trench upon the problem of ‘choice of neurosis’, which, however, cannot be taken in hand until preliminary work of another kind has been accomplished.1 Let us bear in mind for the present that we have already dealt with fixation, and that we have postponed the subject of symptom-formation; and let us restrict ourselves to the question of whether the analysis of Schreber's case throws any light upon the mechanism of repression proper which predominates in paranoia.

In Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety the second phase is discussed again:

As regards the metapsychological explanation of regression, I am inclined to find it in a ‘defusion of instinct’, in a detachment of the erotic components which, with the onset of the genital stage, had j
 Mark as complete

Trevor Pederson


Hi Ken

On Tue, Sep 12, 2017 at 9:25 AM, Ken Fuchsman <> wrote:

Freud’s statements on the importance of biology for psychoanalytic understanding not only have gaps but on occasion are actually contradictory. From the 1890s to the 1930s, there are wild fluctuation in Freud’s statements on the roles of heredity and experience in psychology. Towards the end of his life in 1937, Freud wrote: “for the psychical field, the biological field does in fact play the part of the underlying bedrock.” Eleven years earlier, Freud had said: “There is no more urgent need in psychology than for a securely founded theory of the instincts….Nothing of the sort exists…and psychoanalysis is driven to making tentative efforts towards some such theory.”

Do you mean these as contradicting statements? He's right to say that there is an underlying brain chemistry to all mental activities, in the first, and when he's mentioning the instincts, he's talking about ego and object drives and understanding how we are driven in different ways.

But in 1935, Freud had declared: “we must keep psychoanalysis separate from biology.” Over twenty years before, he had written that it is “necessary to hold aloof from biological considerations…so that we may not be misled in our impartial judgment of the psychoanalytic facts before us.” This is part of a general strategy, for “psycho-analysis must keep itself free from any hypothesis that is alien to it, whether of an anatomical, chemical or physiological kind, and must operate entirely with purely psychological auxiliary ideas.” Freud did not want “to subordinate the psychological material to biological considerations,” nor did he want psychoanalysis to be dependent “on philosophy, physiology, or brain anatomy.”

The concept of the drive, repetition, etc. shouldn't be reduced to biology or to erotogenic zones. Freud made clear that he wanted analysis of these drives to stay at the level of common language for motivations:

in ego-psychology it will be difficult to escape from what is universally known; it will rather be a question of new ways of looking at things and new ways of arranging them than of new discoveries. (Freud, 1933, p. 60)

We call this organization their “ego.” Now there is nothing new in this. Each one of us makes this assumption without being a philosopher … In psycho-analysis we like to keep in contact with the popular mode of thinking and prefer to make its concepts scientifically serviceable rather than reject them. (Freud, 1926b, p. 195)

Ironically, Freud reluctantly recognizes that psychoanalysis cannot be kept segregated from biology. “In spite of all our efforts to prevent biological terminology and considerations from dominating psychoanalytic work, we cannot avoid using them even in our descriptions of the phenomena that we study.  We cannot help regarding the term ‘instinct’ as a concept on the frontier between the spheres of psychology and biology.”

When someone just talks the language of physicalism, and be reductionistic, they have nothing interesting to say about human interactions and motivations. They simply say things like we are programmed by our DNA or talk about neural images.

Additionally, many early psychoanalysts tried to use the erotogenic zone references and speak of oral and anal and genital drives, for example. They didn't just use them to say someone who smokes has an oral drive, but in a larger sense they were either linked to different id aggressions or "sadisms" and the underlying relation to the parental imago that the id impulses are paired with. However, that language eventually disappeared because the links to the motivations and character weren't firmly established.

For example, Freud recognizes that the psychological phenomenon of the Oedipus complex has a biological foundation. The “Oedipus complex is the psychical correlate of two fundamental biological facts: the long period of the human child’s dependence, and the…way its sexual life reaches a first climax in the third to fifth year of life, and then…sets in again at puberty.”

In this way, Freud would also say that the death drive was "biological," but part of the issue is that the death drive acts precisely against the self-preservation of the organism.

I'm not opposed to him saying there is a biological ground of "id erotic object choices" that are programmed to come out in a stable way for most people, and that the "instinctual renunciation" of these becomes the ground for the ego and object drives.

Yet he continues to vacillate on the centrality of biology to psychoanalysis.   In particular, Freud has great trouble integrating the relationship of biology and experience.  In a 1911 letter, he says: “The question as to which is of greater significance, constitution or experience…can in my opinion only be answered by saying that…not one or the other are decisive.”  Twenty years later, Freud confesses: “we are not as yet able to distinguish…between what is rigidly fixed by biological laws and what is open to movement and change under the influence of accidental experience.”

Until all the ego and object drives are understood and differences in character are plotted, then it is hard to know the basis for the id object choices underneath.

He also, as Arnie points out, leaves himself open to the dialectic of nature vs. nurture and the idea that some of the id object choices may be inherited and some created anew:

Freud (1939, 1917c) resolves the tension between the two groups of causes— nature (what is heritable) and nurture (what is created in one’s own ontogenetic experience)— in his concept of the complemental series. He writes:

the gap between the two groups appears not to be unbridgeable. It is quite possible to unite the two aetiological determinants under a single conception; it is merely a question of how one defines ‘traumatic’. If we may assume that the experience acquires its traumatic character only as a result of a quantitative factor—that is to say, that in every case it is an excess in demand that is responsible for an experience evoking unusual pathological reactions—then we can easily arrive at the expedient of saying that something acts as a trauma in the case of one constitution but in the case of another would have no such effect. In this way we reach the concept of a sliding ‘complemental series’ as it is called in which two factors converge in fulfilling an aetiological requirement. (Freud, 1939, p. 73)

Instead of nature vs. nurture, Freud is drawing attention to the quantitative factor that leads to a trauma or the ‘primal repression’ of the impulses, as the mediating third term (Freud, 1911b, p. 67). In other words, one can inherit a disposition to aggression or affection, and this can come with its projection onto the internal object, at a certain stage or phase of development. However, parenting can be such that the child isn’t overwhelmed by it and it doesn’t become traumatic. Conversely, one’s caregivers can treat one in such a way that an instinctual reaction is coaxed or born out of frustration to the point of it becoming traumatic; thus, one can form mental pathology that was never, or isn’t common in the gene pool. What applies to the quantitative aspect of trauma, would also apply to the quantitative question of what kind of relation with the maternal imago is enough for her to become the phallic mother or a combined parent imago. Id drives of affection, for example, may have a genetic disposition to be projected at the phallic stage so that the maternal imago is experienced as being seductive with one, even though the real caregiver might not have actively tried to denigrate the paternal imago.

I think there is sense to be made of this in Freud's work and I don't see him as confused here.

This is obviously difficult terrain and many generations of analysts, as you've mentioned, have also gone on to different schools and theories. For me this doesn't point to a post-modernistic idea of the truth, but the inherent difficulty in understanding human beings as being made up of many selves, many egos, or many drives.

For most psychologists, this is too difficult and they keep the old Cartesian dualism and the free will around, so that they don't have to break people down into parts.


On Tue, Sep 12, 2017 at 9:42 AM, Trevor Pederson <> wrote:
Hi Ken

Can you say more about what you see as Freud's biological approach? As I understand it, it's not separate from his ontogenetic one.

I agree that there are many competing approaches to the clinical realm, but I still see that as illustrating the need for a better conceptual framework so that these approaches can be assessed.

I also agree about overlap with other fields, but until the individual aspect is understood in the clinic, I'm not sure how seriously people in other fields can take the claims. I'd like to think that there are a few psychodynamic claims that we could say are established, but overarching ones like the Oedipus complex are not.


On Tue, Sep 12, 2017 at 5:46 AM, Ken Fuchsman <> wrote:

I think Freudian theory is tested not at first exclusively in clinical settings. First, clinical findings are not always conclusive. After all, within psychoanalysis there have been a diversity of theoretical and clinical approaches which give divergent interpretations of the same materials, and struggle to find criteria to resolve the differences. Second,  there are many psychoanalytic claims that overlap with research in other fields. It makes sense to critically evaluate those findings and apply what's solid to psychoanalytic claims.

I do not use the terms objectivity or tribalism, and the only way for you to know if these terms apply to what Freud's recent biographer's claim is for you to read the books yourself. As you know, Freud from time to time used a biological approach to illuminate the works of significant writers.

Sent from my iPhone

On Sep 11, 2017, at 10:43 AM, Trevor Pederson <> wrote:
Hi Ken

You can't have it both ways. If there are power struggles, "ideological" or "tribal" conflicts that influence interpretations, then when different biographers or others are making their case for Freud being influenced, how do we know it's objectivity and not their tribalism?

I know that many would dismiss Freud's concept of the superego with a straw man, but I think this has very little to do with understanding the concept and seeing that it fails any tests.

Theory must be combined with the clinical and prove itself there. Then when things pass and fail, we can turn to biography and sociology to make sense of the failures.


- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -

- show quoted text -
Hi Brian

- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
Penis normalis
 Mark as complete



Dear all,

On this list we have a few Freudians, a few deMausians, and an assortment of academically and/or clinically trained eclectics in search of an inclusive but coherent theoretical framework, yet to be created.  Joel has been promoting an orthodox Freudian viewpoint on this list for many years and Patrick has been promoting an orthodox deMausian viewpoint.  This is perfectly OK; you are welcome here, but don’t expect to get converts.  If you have truthful and interesting things to say, people will listen on the merits but in most if not all cases will not find your overall theoretical commitments compelling..  

This list is devoted to an exchange of ideas.  I also have strong convictions (which include my own heretical appropriations of DeMause, Marx, Jung, Shankara and others) but I feel I would be wasting my time to try to convince others on this list about the validity of my convictions.  Instead, opportunities continually arise to exchange ideas and information about topics of mutual interest, and the diversity of theoretical viewpoints represented here, including orthodox viewpoints, makes for very rich and informative discussions.  That is the most anyone can hope for from this list, but in my opinion it is a lot and not something you find on many internet discussion groups.

A few items of organizational history might also be helpful for anyone who does not know them.  Lloyd DeMause, Paul Elovitz, David Beisel, and others founded the International Psychohistorical Association in 1977.  DeMause was president for many years and edited The Journal of Psychohistory for many years, but the IPA has always been a big tent.  Paul Elovitz founded the Psychohistory Forum and the peer-reviewed journal Clio’s Psyche, which sponsors this unmoderated list.  Lloyd deMause has not been well for more than five years, and The Journal of Psychohistory is now edited by psychoanalyst and long-time IPA member David Lotto and published by Susan Hein, Lloyd’s wife.  There is no orthodoxy that the founders of the IPA or the majority of its members have ever agreed upon; this theoretical diversity has always been a source of frustration for proponents of deMausian or any other orthodoxy, and I suspect this will always be the case.



From: [] On Behalf Of Patrick McEvoy-Halston
Sent: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 11:45 AM
To: Clio’s Psyche
Subject: Re: [cliospsyche] Psychoanalysis After Freud: Disentangling the historical Freud from psychoanalysis

- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -

- show quoted text -
Hi Brian

- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
 Mark as complete

Joel Markowitz


No wonder Freud couldn’t decide how far biological forces went, and where psychodynamic factors took over.  We STILL can’t separate biological from psychological determinants with certainty.  

For example, oedipal determinism dominates the natural selection of other mammals.  Wolf and lion cubs and young male baboons wrestle with and nip at each other from early on

in preparing to challenge the alpha-male (who often IS the father)— to dominate the pack, pride, and troop; and to mate the females.   Same with us, of course, though more complexly.  

But it’s still impossible to know.HOW MUCH of human oedipal determinism is biological and how much has been determined by societally based psychodynamic forces.

Also:  in my experience obsessive-compulsive and phobic TENDENCIES seem genetically transmitted in different families.  But in AN INDIVIDUAL who has a serious obsessional or phobic problem in such a family

I often can’t determine the EXTENT to which that symptom results from psychic trauma.   ( Therapy often confronts both possibilities.   Psychotherapy and, sometimes, medication may both be helpful. )


- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -

- show quoted text -
Hi Brian

- show quoted text -
In my Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality [Standard Ed., 7, 235] I have expressed the opinion that each stage in the development of psychosexuality affords a possibility of ‘fixation’ and thus of a dispositional point. People who have not freed themselves completely from the&
 Mark as complete



Thanks for providing some comic relief, Patrick.  Trevor is a Gradiva award winning author who hardly needs the approval of this list for legitimacy. I, who you imagine to be selling out my true deMausian self in search of academic legitimacy,  never got to square one in academia.  All I can say is, if I played the game, I did a pretty lousy job of it.  Or maybe I was just not playing the same game as everyone else. :-) --Brian
- show quoted text -
 Mark as complete

Trevor Pederson


You didn't insult me, I'm asking you as an onlooker.

People are right to suspect me, there's a history of Freud worship in psychoanalysis and this has often been replaced by idols in other schools. I've also been arguing for an interpretation of Freud that has been marginal at best in the scholarship and for people who have been taught or understood Freud in another way, I hardly expect them to enthusiastically take up another interpretation. You have to have at least a little ego to make it through graduate school.  

Whatever kind of legitimacy you see this list as granting to someone sounds strange to me. Legitimacy in conferred in journals, publishing, and in organizations outside of this list. There are some members on the list who are part of that apparatus, but I don't think they are watching to see who appears more powerful in the little squabbles that erupt on here.

Make your arguments, show the evidence that you can for them, and let your work speak for itself. Don't expect others to help you do it. And, if Brian is really as pathetic or pitiable as you say, then don't lower yourself to his level by insulting him. Choose an enemy that you have more respect for and with whom you have smaller disagreements.

You are capable of nuanced thinking, but you seem more interested in broad proclamations.


- - - - -



45 of 99+ (99+)

Fwd: [APsaA OPLN] : Bill Moyers' interview with Robert Jay LIfton
2 posts by 2 authors

add tags

 Set as duplicate

 No action needed




Re: Bill Moyers' interview with Robert Jay LIfton

Sep 17, 2017 1:14 AM
Arnold D. Richards

Is Trump the only President or public servant who seems to be more interest in himself or herself than country ? Is he more interests in achievements because of the approval it will bring than because of the benefit they will produce? Is he the only President we have had without a definite ideological agenda.a set of principles and whose views are influenced by who got to him first? Is he the only President that lashes out and humiliates everyone including close associates who disagree with him don't follow his bidding and who he views as disloyal ?

How concerned should we be about his behavior and his public personality ?

Or should we follow Sullivan "We are all more human than otherwise ?"

We are fortunate that we live in a country whose government had been organized with a set of checks and balances and the ultimate recourse is political process and the ballot box

  Reply to Group by Email   Reply to Sender by Email   View Thread   Post New Message by Email   

------Original Message------
I have great respect for all mental health workers. What makes psychoanalysts different, however, is an approach that rests on confidentiality in a non-judgmental atmosphere with the goal of understanding.  So, taking the 'Duty to Warn' approach, meant strictly for the consulting room, into the political arenas of TV and other public media outlets seems to recast that promise. Someone contemplating psychoanalytic treatment can't help but register the critical aspect of diagnostic measurement that lays beneath the wish to protect. Assessing a public servant's character from afar is what we must do as individual citizens, but not as analysts IMO. Can we wear two hats?

I am in full support of making our services known to the public. I fear though that some of the efforts to be perceived as 'real' people is diminishing the very ethos of psychoanalysis.

Jane Hall

You are subscribed to "Openline" as To unsubscribe from this community discussion, click here: Unsubscribe. To change your email delivery options, go to My Subscriptions.

Arnold Richards MD
200 East 89th Street
New York, NY 10128

Phone 6465083398
Fax 2124270585

This e-mail and any files transmitted with it, are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender immediately. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited. Please note that any views or opinions presented in this e-mail are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. Recipient should check his e-mail and attachments for the presence of viruses. The company accepts no liability for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.

Click here to Reply


Popular posts from this blog

Old Youth

You write about how poverty breeds creativity. You think about how scavenging for wild food gives you the perfect opportunity to slow down, to really appreciate your surroundings. You talk about how frugality is more environmentally sustainable. You pontificate on why creating meals from scratch is cheaper, healthier and deeply satisfying. Then you run out of cooking oil.You love fat. As a child you ate margarine by the spoonful. You didn't know any better. Now you've moved on to more delicious pastures. As a cook you can never resist sneaking in that extra bit of butter, that tablespoonful of olive oil, that dab of bacon grease. You believe that cake is a vessel for frosting, that salad dressing should be two parts oil to one part vinegar, and that packaged low-fat foods are a symptom of the decline of Western civilization. Fat makes food taste good.Under the best of circumstances, you have eight or nine varieties of fat on hand. In ascending order of importance: chicken drip…

Superimposing another "fourth-wall" Deadpool

I'd like to superimpose the fourth-wall breaking Deadpool that I'd like to have seen in the movie. In my version, he'd break out of the action at some point to discuss with us the following:
1) He'd point out that all the trouble the movie goes to to ensure that the lead actress is never seen completely naked—no nipples shown—in this R-rated movie was done so that later when we suddenly see enough strippers' completely bared breasts that we feel that someone was making up for lost time, we feel that a special, strenuous effort has been made to keep her from a certain fate—one the R-rating would even seemed to have called for, necessitated, even, to properly feed the audience expecting something extra for the movie being more dependent on their ticket purchases. That is, protecting the lead actress was done to legitimize thinking of those left casually unprotected as different kinds of women—not as worthy, not as human.   

2) When Wade/Deadpool and Vanessa are excha…

True Detective cont'd

Recently, Rachel Syme wrote this
As the dust settles on the “True Detective” finale, and the adventures of Rust Cohle and Marty Hart fade into the television firmament like the distant stars they found so meaningful, at least one thing is clear: it didn’t quite end the way we wanted it to. There is no doubt that the writer, Nic Pizzolatto, and director, Cary Fukunaga, pulled off a midseason coup, giving us a show in the January doldrums that caused temporary mass insanity. Like one of Rust’s intoxicating philosophical koans about sentient meat, “True Detective” cast a kind of spell over its viewers, convincing them that no matter what it was they were watching it was at the very least something worth the hours of debating, clicking, parsing, and comment-section feuding. Moreover, the gorgeous cinematography depicting Louisiana in the gloaming, the delectable short-anthology format, and the movie-star bona fides made us believe that we were watching something novelistic, even approachi…