Dr. Adrienne Harris, NYU, New York University, Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, Adjunct
So your, you’re topic is Freud and I immediately want to change that topic and actually broaden it and say that, if you want to ask the question, "How is Freud still important?"
In many, many cultures in the 20th and 21st century, the answer is that, there are many more people than Freud who've taken up what he's done and gone many different places with it. There's Melanie Klein who began to work with children. There are all the people who began to work with psychotic patients. Patients who, who are really ill and very disturbed.
Freud himself thought you really couldn't treat a psychotic person.
But people like Wilfred Bion, and Herbert Rosenfeld in England, people in Latin America, like the Barringer's and Pishon, Riviera. All of them learned a lot about normal psyches from work with people who were very ill.
So Freud starts something at the end of the 19th century and into the 1930's.
That's extraordinary, but it's also what's happened since Freud. Work with children, work with infants, with parents and infants. Work with groups. Wilfred Bion was somebody who took psychoanalytic ideas and extended them to how groups function.
So, just even staying within the world of people who do treatment, there's an enormous array, and including one of Freud's contemporaries, Chandor Firenzi, who was the person who wanted Freud to talk more about trauma.
Freud talked a lot about what comes out of the psyche, what the individual brings to a situation. Firenzi talked about what happens in reality to the person that alters their psyche and injures them.
So you have debates within psychoanalysis about the importance of reality and the importance of fantasy. You have debates about who can be helped. You can have debates about how do you do psychoanalysis? Do you do it 5 days a week on the
couch or do you do it in a group or do you do it sitting up and meeting somebody once a week.
So something that began in a narrow rive has become this enormous array of ideas and concepts.
So the question is sort of, what's at the heart of it? That Freud brings to the table. And I think it's the unconscious, and it's a very radical idea, when it appeared, the idea that you don't know yourself fully, that there's a part of you that remains always outside your awareness.
And he likened it to, when Copernicus said, "Well really the earth is not at the center of the world. And Darwin says, "Really, human beings are just like, you know, one of a whole huge crew." Freud said, said, "Well, we aren't even masters of our own house. We don't really fully understand ourselves."
And I think that's the sort of tragedy of being a person, but there are some very left wing psychoanalysts who would argue that because we have an unconscious, we have an essentially revolutionary possibility. Because if there's something that can't be known that remains kind of underground and hidden, then in a certain way, you can never be captured fully, you can never be colonized by another person.
There will always be part of you that remains outside of awareness and outside of other people's control, even though we can do a lot to control people.
And sometimes when you know psychoanalysis, you use it for nefarious, you know, evil ends and sometimes for good ends.
But I like this idea that we are potentially revolutionary creatures because we have unconscious life. So the notion of an unconscious is central to Freudian theory and I think it's crucial. And then, how you work with it, there are a million variations.
One of the things just thinking about the unconscious that I began, I'm thinking about a wonderful psychoanalyst who died who was Israeli, named Ruth Stein. And Ruth was interested in things like mind control, what made for the terrorists who did 9/11, how do you understand their psychology?
And looking at torture at the use of psychoanalytic and psychological tools to break somebody, to torture somebody.
So, in a certain way, psychoanalysis is what we would call morally agnostic. Can be used for good, can be used for very dangerous. The same ideas can heal somebody and actually break their spirit.
So it's kind of an intriguing theory for that reason because of it's moral, it isn't a necessarily moral theory. You have to bring ethics to it in order to practice in an ethical way.
So I would say that Freud starts something and then 100 voices, 100 different kinds of people across America, Latin America, Europe, Israel. There's an enormous universe of people who are trying to push these ideas further and further along.
People read in psychoanalysis, they read neuroscience, they read philosophy, they read child development. So it’s also a very interdisciplinary project now, psychoanalysis, it's not just sitting in a chair and kinda analyzing somebody, but you have to know a lot.
And actually Freud wanted that. He had the idea that the things that he was saying ought to be part of a general theory of how people think, how they feel.
It shouldn't be some specialized weird thing off in a corner. It had to be part of how we understand thinking and feeling and interactions.
So, what I think he would say was the, the heart of his theory, in addition to the unconscious, is this concept that he called transference. And he thought of transference as actually something that happens in daily life. It's like some special thing. But it's utilized very specially in psychoanalysis. And the idea is that when we come into contact with somebody, we begin to project into them all of our history of other relationships, particularly the crucial ones.
So if you have a mean and difficult mother.
So transference, which was a very key discovery, which was that when people get into intense relationships, they begin to imagine the other person as having a particular set of characteristics. And lo and behold, those turn out to be the characteristics of very important people in their early life.
So, transference was the notion that we take our ways of being with important people like parents, and we bring them into the world. So, you have a mean and angry mother who's always putting you down, and very, very negative.
And you find yourself in situations with teachers and with people you're meeting for the first time, already worried something bad could happen. This is, you know, you get a little on the paranoid side.
So, transference then was an important tool, whereby the therapist or the analyst learns - who is this person? What makes them tick? What are their critical people like?
And then he added to that, but he didn't do much with it. The notion of counter transference, which is what does the analyst bring? 'Cause the analyst is also a person, the analyst has a history.
And more and more, Freud didn't do much with this concept but I would say in the last century, it's the concept - counter transference, that's most changed.
So counter transference was what the analyst brought to the picture, and now people use counter transference much more explicitly.
So if the analyst gets sleepy, if the analyst finds himself very angry, or she feels some weird shameful feeling that she can't even understand.
You start to think about ok why am I feeling that? What's going on in me?
What's going on in the patient?
So, the tools of treatment are very much what happens in the relationship. What goes on between this people and how it will change over the life of the therapy?
So, those two things actually are hugely important and I want to talk a little bit about psychoanalysis, Freud and cinema. Because there is a way of using Freud in movies that's not very good.
Where you analyze the characters as though the character were a patient. But there's another way of using psychoanalysis in cinema, which is to analyze the audience. What is the audience doing? What is our transference to figures on the screen?
So psychoanalytic theories have been used in film studies and in film culture, but I think they can be used in a very interesting way or a not very interesting way. And the more interesting way is to think, what is the pleasure of cinema that happens to the audience?
What, what actually is the transference that the viewer brings to being a member of an audience. And there are lots of interesting ways of analyzing how film works, how it has an effect on us, how it terrifies us. So I would say that the use of psychoanalysis in cinema's altered and transformed and become very interesting.
Now, I think it's present in ways that are kind of irritating, that is, he's a kind of object of derision. You know, he appears in cartoons, he's kind of made fun of as having all these weird ideas about sexuality and children. But I think you couldn't,
I think Freud sort of appears in popular culture often in a grotesque way or in a comic way, but I don't think there's any artwork or political act, or social act that isn't imbued with the idea of a Freudian subject.
A person who has unconscious forces, who is sometimes manipulative and sometimes using projection and pushing things into other people and carrying a lot of emotional baggage from the past. So I would say he's, he's - he and the ideas are very widely spread in our culture.
I also was thinking about this question when you sent me the questions. I think one of the essays he wrote, is probably enormously important to anybody in our culture. It's not that anybody who has a loss. Everybody is in our culture, in all cultures, is going to have experiences of death and loss and difficulty. And he wrote this really extraordinary essay, "Morning and Melancholia."
And he talked about how hard it is for people to bear the reality of death, and that when we are so –
so mourning and melancholy is this brilliant essay that I think every one of us is indebted to in order to understand what happens when somebody dies or when you lose somebody, or you have a loss of almost any kind.
But he had this idea that before you could get - mourning was very particular. It meant you had accepted the reality of death, but we are human beings and we spent a lot of our time trying to ward off that notion, and that he called melancholia. And in the melancholy solution, you think, "Well a person's not really dead, maybe they're going to come back." Or, "I want to suspend reality." Or, "I'm gonna, even though I'm going to feel guilty, because if I'm guilty then maybe I did something and maybe I could turn it around and do something else?"
So he really is talking about how amazingly devious we are as people. Because we don't want to face reality and we do everything to kind of thwart it off. We build monuments, we do all kinds of, you know, brilliant things to both mourn and not to mourn.
But that was an idea that he had that I think has had enormous impact on people.
He also, he wasn't as strong as his colleague Firenze about trauma, but I think that from psychoanalysts, one understands the enormous impact of something like war on people's psyche.
That people break down, in the First World War where he was writing about it, he had three sons at the front. But in the First World War, probably 42% of the surviving combatants had some degree of what in that day was called, "Shell Shock."
Now in America, and the Second World War, we think of that as the good war and nobody suffered. And in fact there's an enormous amount of what we now would call PTSD.
So I think that the psychoanalysts, particularly those around the First World War, they were transformed by the experience of that war, whether they were psychiatrists, or whether they were soldiers. And it changed how they thought about minds, how they thought trauma, how they thought about the body, and how much the mind and the body were intertwined, and how much anguish can be carried in the body.
Freud himself said, "The ego is a body ego. The primary ego is a body ego." So he understood that a lot of how we live is in our bodies and that when we're injured, often we carry those injuries in our bodies in various forms.
In paralysis, in headaches, in all kinds of things. So I would say Freudian ideas and all the followers of that have enormous impact on what we understand to be the cost of war on individuals.
And I'm sure you know, in Israel, it's a very, you know, they're very particular things that happen in America in the last set of wars in Afghanistan and Iran. There's so much dismemberment, there's so much head injuries, but there enormous, enormous dilemmas of people's psychological recovery.
And within that, within those - there are many different techniques, but I think they depend on a psychoanalytic understanding of how deep memory can be buried, how traumatic events are, and how much they break down our capacity to think and to, and to interact and to operate.
So I think that if we think about the relationship of psychoanalysis to war, there's a lot to think about.
Well, Freud's answer would be that if you carry, that it's dangerous to carry illusions.
He was a very secular person.
He thought that when you accepted death and the reality of death you accepted that there was no after life. So he was a very stark thinker about this. And then all these magical thoughts actually get in the way of accepting reality.
So it's almost like for him it was a moral issue to actually be clear about what could or couldn't happen.
I think also that the other part which I think psychoanalysts, not just Freud but others, would all think about is that illusions can be dangerous in a lot of other ways.
That is, on one hand they protect us and on the other hand they lead us often into all kinds of strange actions. You know, we have enemies that we then need to punish for all the bad things that have happened. I mean there are, there are many costs to living with illusions. Sometimes they're caused inter personally.
They are caused when parents have illusions and misperceptions of children. So I think the argument would be that illusions are dangerous, they're dangerous to people's relationships, they're dangerous in the culture. And in other cultural moments, people have different techniques if you like. Religious or other kinds of techniques we're attempting to manage some of these.
You know, I would say that some consciousness has changed. I mean, society is still, people are still as badly behaved as - here's a thing that I think is sort of interesting because it's an argument for psychoanalytic thinking, but not an argument for the way that people have changed.
And it's something like climate change, which is we are having a very hard time believing that actually something is changing in the environment. And the psychoanalytic understanding that beat is that it's simply too overwhelming. That it's like, what it stirs is these very primitive terrors of infantile life, of fundamental you know, mother nature is going to desert us.
And so it helps us to understand how hard it is for people to be rational, and there are costs to not being rational. You know, if we don't become rational about climate change, Union Square is gonna be underwater.
You know, so I think the argument would be that, that psychoanalytic thinking and becoming more realistic about what you feel and what you are doing, and what is in reality is actually useful politically, socially.
But psychoanalysis also explains why it's so hard for us to bear these thoughts. So we're kind of, we're, we are uncomfortable with reality.
No, he was very conservative. Freud was not himself politically radical, and when you look at the European analysts, the first couple of generations of them, the Berliners were all communists, the Austrian's were quite conservative, and the Hungarians were socialists.
So there is, and for a while in the Soviet Union, there was a psychoanalytic world that was an attempt to work out issues of Marxism and Freudianism. So, there are plenty of people who want to combine psychoanalysis with political theory and political ideology.
Not Freud, he wasn't really, he was quite I think a conservative thinker in many ways.
In the sense of revolutionizing how we think about the psyche, how we think about what happens between people, what love is, what - it's in consciousness, it's not a revolution in, you know relationships to property or it's not a political revolution. But it's a revolution in consciousness.
You know, we are - not all of us, and not all the time –
but we become curious about ourselves. We're curious that there's more going on that we can't make sense of and that sometimes we have very nonsensical ideas. It's not a common sense theory, psychoanalysis.
It's a theory that we're carrying wishes and needs and destructive aspects of ourselves that we're not always aware of.
You know, I wish, I don't, I think that that's a - ok, so the idea is Freud and his psychoanalysis had some particular impact on our notion of the individual?
I think, and I'm sorry it's a stupid answer, but it's yes and no because the individual, the idea of the individual is changing, you know in the west. In the eleventh century, there would come to be very different ideas about individuality and power and rights.
And in other areas, you have you know the French Revolution, or the American Revolution. So you have plenty of changes, but are long before psychoanalysis.
But I think psychoanalysis is a theory of the individual, as a divided subject.
We aren't whole beings, we aren't just one kind of person. We have many facets, we are often very split and alienated in ourselves.
So in that sense, it's a radical theory of the individual. We are, I mean, some analysts would talk about how we are always carrying in ourselves something of the other, and of otherness.
So it, in a post psychoanalytic post Freudian world, the individual is different. Then I think the more unitary holistic concept, you know of earlier centuries. But the individuals is, the ideas of the individual are transformed all the time.
I mean, the notion of the Bill of Rights in America is a notion about individual liberty. So, I think it's - he doesn't start the idea of the individual, but he adds to the evolution of what it means to be an individual.
No, I think there's a before and after, but I think it's also true, and I don't know enough history of ideas in the nineteenth century.
So I think that there is a before Freud, but it's not that there aren't ideas that contribute to Freud's development.
So he isn't just like come down like an extra-terrestrial with a whole set of ideas that change everybody and everything.
He draws on ideas of the romantic, of romanticism. Ideas of consciousness and of perception and phenomenology. So there's plenty of philosophic movements.
He trains as a doctor. He goes to be with Charcot and other doctors in France. And he learns something about hypnosis and hysteria and various kinds of illnesses.
So he's, he's, he's a genius, he's a revolutionary thinker, but he exists in a continuum of, of thinking.
So, I want to have it both ways, that he's a revolutionary and he's in lineage.
I think that's, the idea that, that psychoanalysis can be used for marketing, for fashion, for political manipulation.
It's part of my, I would say, my argument that its morally agnostic.
It can be used to manipulate people. It can certainly be part of marketing and advertising and political thinking.
How do you convince an electorate of something? And so it definitely has that ability to be, or that potential to be used by any number of different systems - capitalism, etc.
So it isn't that it comes with an inevitable revolutionary positive - cults, cults use psychoanalytic ideas. This is the thing that was in Ruth Stein's work that was so interesting that, that she did a lot of looking into the sort of research on mind control and cults.
And cults work clearly on psychological and psychoanalytic principles. You separate somebody from their family, you isolate them. You undermine their sense of reality. You become very powerful, you promote a transference to a cult leader.
So, it's a theory that you can use in very, very dangerous and negative and what we would all agree are evil projects. I mean, I think you're wanting almost - when you think about it, if
psychoanalysis can be used to break people or to repair them,
why isn't psychoanalytic knowledge more useful in combating?
And I think that, I think the answer to that is that you can do things to people that isolate them from situations where they can form judgement.
And you separate them, you isolate them, you do various things to people, and you can convince people of many, many things. Perhaps not everything, perhaps there's resistance, but I don't think psychoanalysis is gonna save us in a certain way.
It's not, it's a tool of, trying to think about when people are troubled, how does it help us?
To think about how cultures work. But for some people it's going to be a tool of manipulation. I think that's a very interesting question, that is.
Once you have psychoanalysis within a system, like a family or a group does it start to be kind of infectious? Well that certainly was an idea,
I mean that's an idea much more from the 40's that somehow everybody should have an analysis and it would be actually wonderful. But something happened on the way to that ideal, in the sense that it became psychoanalysis as a therapy.
Very much the prerogative and activities are very rich people. I mean, there's one serious psychiatric hospital that uses psychoanalytic ideas in the United States. And it costs $100 000 a year to go there.
So, we've lost something that has been part of a certain tradition in psychoanalysis which is clinics, low cost, low fee.
So that's a way in which a kind of political element in psychoanalysis hasn't fulfilled it's promise. And I think there are interesting reasons about that, for that.
You know, there were these wonderful clinics that Marie Langer started in Mexico in the 30's and 40's. And there are some low cost clinics, but there's not enough of that. And in that sense, the political mission of analysis to bring therapeutic effects to a wide group of people hasn't, (?) Has a lot to do with the economy, has a lot to do with who are, who gets training.
It's had a lot to do with in this country at least, the sort of big pharma world where drug companies and medication has a very powerful hold on what people will pay for and do.
So I think that's a reasonable question, why hasn't it had a more wide ranging social effect? Well I think the answer is a political answer, is that there has not been a political culture, and we don't have a political culture in all kinds of ways.
You know, we don't have proper medical care, we don't have a social net, we don't have many, many things.
In America at least in the last, since Ronald Reagan, we have huge income spreads, so this is not a country, it's exactly in the normal way, democratic.
It's a highly stratified culture, so these sort of practices become the prerogative of the rich people.
I, I think you're asking not about psychoanalysis exactly, but about a political failure, which I think would be right to ask about. Why isn't there? Why aren't there social movements that would include movements where there was appropriate medical care?
You know, and that's I mean, in this country we're talking about the failure of the new left to be able to create a viable - or the occupy movement which had a lot of interesting energies, but hasn't actually had an infrastructure. So, but that's a question I think about politics and social structure, of which psychoanalysis is one of the casualties, in the sense of it being a broad practice available to a lot of people.
Well I think psychoanalytic theories are useful in analyzing what happens in mass culture and in groups and in social and political groups. There's a very interesting psychoanalyst, Vamık D. Volkan who works on groups, and he's done a lot of interesting analysis of, for example the situation in Yugoslavia, the Croatian struggles and Serbians. And he talks about cultures that have developed chosen enemies.
They kind of select an enemy, and they select something to protect. So he looks at how groups can become powerfully genocidal to other groups.
So I think psychoanalytic theories can be used to analyze all kinds of things that have, get taken up in a culture, fascism. That's actually, there was a lot of people in the 30's who were trying to use psychoanalysis to think about how had National Socialism taken over Europe.
What were the appeals of it? To whom did it appeal? And what might you think about? And people like Erich Fromm talked about the anxiety in cultures when there are economic difficulties. And that they get solved in these very brutal ideologies of finding an enemy and exterminating them. (see above)
I don't think I could choose only one thing that feels like it's a gift, the gift of psychoanalysis. It's a way of thinking about the complexity in human motivation, the way people work sometimes against their own interests, their best interests.
Because of very primitive fears.
I think the idea that the past haunts us is a very important part of psychoanalytic thinking and that our histories of loss and difficulty and excitement haunt us throughout our lives and influence a lot of how we behave in social groups as well as in relationships.
So I think, you know, what has it given us? It's given us tools to understand at very different levels people's experience. And those tools are evolving, people you know, continue to think and continue to refine.
You know, what explains why this person has an eating disorder? Why this other person, you know, is depressed and can't function? Why this group has sort of turned on some other group?
And in certain way, I mean, a lot of - we haven't talked at all about psychoanalysis and sexuality. But, it's both a reactionary theory and again, a radical theory. So that when you look at Freud's three essays on sexuality, you can see there's a way to read it in which it's all very hetero normative.
That it's men and women and heterosexuality, and that's the norm and everything else is perverse. Or you could see how fluid gender is, and how fluid sexuality is, and the combinations of people - who they desire, what they're like, what their gender is - are enormously fluid and flexible.
And we've probably gotten quite a lot of mileage, more on trying to understand the complexity of sexuality and not to be so punitive, so homophobic, so you know, antagonistic to difference. So in that sense, that we could say that that's been a very liberalizing tendency.
And it comes out of a psychoanalytic consciousness and understanding, even if it's - it can go in either - I mean you could use Freud to argue for, you know, mommy and daddy and the holy family or you could use Freud to argue for all kinds of sexualities and all kinds of arrangements between people - women, men, transgender.
Has psychoanalysis had any effect on the arts? I don't feel competent to answer that question. I don't know enough about surrealism to actually know how to think about that.
But I, if you think about child rearing, we have enormous transformations in how we treat children and in how early we think children's consciousness develops. So he had this notion of infantile sexuality and all of the people who work in child psychology from a psychoanalytic perspective have taken that and pushed that very far into looking at, you know what happens at birth?
What happens in the first couple of months of life? So, we have a very different idea of the vulnerability of children, of the impact of various kinds of parenting styles, the impact of repression, of physical punishment.
So in terms of child development and our understanding of the power of early childhood, I think we have an enormous legacy of Freudian ideas that are really huge.
Not just in terms of childhood but in terms of adolescence and in terms of over the life span. So I think the impact on child development is - when I think about what role Freud but also psychoanalytic thinkers have had on child development, I think it's very substantial, and I'll start with Freud. T
That Freud had, as one of his main objectives, to get parents not to be so repressive with their children. Not to be so repressive of masturbation, no to be so punitive around sexual ideas, sexual feelings.
Not sexual behavior of children. But there were, in the end of the nineteenth century, in many communities that Freud was very familiar with.
There were very sharp and horrible reactions that the culture and parents had to infantile sexuality and to masturbation. I mean, it's very hair raising to think about, and he certainly wanted a much more benign attitude of parents toward children's sexuality.
I think the sort of attention to early vulnerability which comes from post Freudian's, from people like Melanie Klein and from American researchers, people like Dan Stern.
Where their observations of parents and children from the early days of life suggest very intricate patterns of interaction. Sensitivity of parents to children that are extremely, extremely early.
So I think those are actual impacts on people's behavior and people's understanding, people's understanding of what children can learn, what they can remember, how early they experience trauma.
So many, many aspects I would say of children's lives have been touched very explicitly by psychoanalytic ideas. Around detachment, around sexuality, around punishment, among autonomy, and changes in adolescent.
So that I think is a very explicit, concrete set of research and theories and observations in which you can see post Freudian children are actually different than their 19th century predecessors.
Some of the changes have to do, I mean there's a lot of history of childhood that people would say that when you can affect maternal mortality and child mortality and infant mortality. More children survive, you are more in a sense immersed in their psychology and so all kinds of things changed around childhood, of which Freud is one example.
I want to say something about psychoanalysis and feminism, because I'm just going to talk about the American situation now.
When women's liberation starts in the 70's, in the 1970's, the first ideas are not very psychoanalytic, they're very what we would call behavioral.
People thought, "Well, just change the roles, just change your behavior and everything is going to be different." And they were looking at sex differences and what happened to women, and relationships of men and women and thinking, "You just have to change how you act."
And I think that when feminists began to read psychoanalysis, they began to think, "Oh this is a much more difficult problem than just behavior.
This has to do with your unconscious, this is - you know, how is it that women, you know, stay in difficult situations, in abusive relationships? Not as it turns out because they like to be beaten, but because they get very involved in the childishness of the man and they can't abandon the person.
So you begin to unpack much more complicated patterns between men and women in which people's unconscious, people's complexity, that you can't just change behavior.
You have to change all kinds of ways of thinking and being. So I think that influenced the women's movement and then I think the women's movement began to influence psychoanalysis.
And because lots - I mean that's my generation who have come in to psychoanalysis from feminism and think, "Wait a minute, this theory's too bourgeois, it's too hetero-normative, you have to change it, you have to have much more contemporary ideas about gender.
So you have this back and forth between psychoanalysis and feminism that is, you know, evolves, and is kind of interesting.
It's not true and in the international psychoanalytic association, of which I'm a member, there's a big contingent from India, there are all kinds of people.
And in China, there are now a bunch of training programs, American psychoanalysts treating Chinese patients on Skype and going to give classes.
So you might say that as a culture becomes more capitalistic, more bourgeois more modern, psychoanalytic ideas flourish.
There were psychoanalytic ideas in the Soviet Union in the early 20's and then they get completely exterminated by 1930.
Everything, you know, every institution is closed, every school, every psychoanalytic group is just completely stopped. And then in the post-Soviet period, they're all coming back.
It's true in Central Europe, you know, those were underground movements in Prague, in Poland, in Budapest, and they're now much more, much more elaborated, they've kind of returned.
So I think it's not true that, that it's only western. It's certainly very western, but some fascinating things are going on. I mean that's an interesting question. Is there something about modernity that makes people either anxious, is the nature of work something that's transformed psyche's?
You know, did industrialization alter the kind of reasons and ways people got sick? I mean I think there have always been people who were disturbed in one way or another. I mean their madness, you know, is part of all kinds of spiritual and religious rituals.
So I don't think that there isn't disturbance in other cultures, but it might be that psychoanalysis is very particularly a theory that could only arise in the context of modernity.
And certain kinds of relationships to work, like industrialization. I mean, you know, we go to school in this crazy way, I don't know what it's like in the schools in Israel, but in New York, you're in the third grade, you spend the whole third grade planning to take tests and the whole fourth grade taking tests. I
mean, you're going to produce a different kind of grown up if you've got children so mutanised in these kinds of learning experiences. And that's going to make a different kind of psyche, a psychic reality.
People are starting to think about that in terms of, you know, smart phones and the internet and what does it mean to people that so much of life, social life takes place in these, with these apparatuses.
Well there's certainly an argument that psychoanalysts are kind of contemporary shamans.
Well that's an interesting question about whether or not this is medical, religious, what's the nature of healing? What are the different kinds of healing? And what's their inter-relationship?
And there are all kinds of interesting interactions between Buddhism and psychoanalysis, between certain kinds of bodily healing and psychoanalytic ideas. So it's not a fixed, I mean it had a particular characteristic under Freud.
And Freud's alive a long time, you know, he dies in 1939 and so you've got really - maybe '41, I'm not sure. But anyway, he's, he's dead by the end of the '30s and he's very powerful and controlling psychoanalysis through his lifetime.
But then there are many, many other trends that open up and develop. But they're now interacting with all kinds of other groups like people who work on the body or people who work with a kind of Buddhist.
So it's a fertile place and it's having all kinds of interactions with, which are kind of fascinating. I mean, it used to be much more purist, but I think now, not much more eclectic.
What would he think of Woody Allen?
When Freud actually comes to America, he says to somebody, maybe young, maybe fancy, "Don't they know that we're bringing them the plague?" And so I think he thought that if Americans were really - he thought that American's were mostly about money but he thought if they really got into this, it would transform a very materialistic culture into something else.
I don't know what he would think of - it's a very interesting question whether he would find it horrifying or fascinating for there to be in, you know, in a sense, such an extraordinary presence, you know in literature, in the arts.
Hard to know, it's a very - because he was clearly very ambitious and wanted an international movement. I mean, he was not shy about wanting to be powerful and having a powerful impact on - and I think he has. I don't know which part of Woody Allen, the neurotic one? You know I would say - except Woody Allen plays jazz so it's always possible.
But I think one of the weird things that has happened, in a lot of cinema, in a lot of films about psychoanalysis, almost always there's a boundary violation. The analyst falls in love with a patient, you know, there's a love affair, there's something.
There's the things that are completely forbidden in psychoanalysis are the absolute, you know, it's in practically every film about psychoanalysis. So somewhere there's a lot of anxiety about what could happen? Will the doctor behave properly?
Will there be sort of sexual acting out etc?
So I think if he looked at the cinema of, in which psychoanalysis is envisioned, he'd be horrified. If he looked around at surrealism or if he looked at, you know people's… Well, just that, that - would Freud think about of the way in which his ideas? Would he think they have been deluded, would he think they had been transformed? Would he think certain key things had been kept? It's really, you know, I mean, I'm not somebody who wants a pure, you know, it's not like a religious vessel that has to be carried around and has to be pure and nothing ever touches it.
I think these things, any theory is going to be transformed by many, many touching other theories.
In Neuroscience I think as we begin to really understand the brain, maybe our sense about consciousness and unconscious will evolve. Not, you know, not away necessarily from psychoanalysis, but interacting with it.
So, I'm somebody who likes interdisciplinary ways of thinking and working, and I think that Freud was in that tradition too. He was interested inSo, I'm somebody who likes interdisciplinary ways of thinking and working, and I think that Freud was in that tradition too. He was interested in anthropology and mythology and certain philosophic ideas