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More recently Ernest Gellner has drawn a direct parallel between Christian doctrine and psychoanalysis. One of the purposes of the doctrine of Original Sin, he observes, is to ensure that no one may shelter behind a consciousness of virtue:. It is a spiritual equivalent of universal peasant indebtedness.

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Such universal and starting-point moral indebtedness makes certain that no one can even begin life with a clear ledger. Everyone then has ever-renewable and self-perpetuating debts to pay right from the very start, and must work arduously to pay them off, if he is to be granted even the hope of salvation. The Unconscious is a new version of Original Sin. In R. Here too is found the explanation of Original Sin It is not our concern to discuss the theological conception here, but psychoanalysis has thrown considerable light on what underlies the conception, The sense of sin comes, we have seen, from the personalisation of the Super-ego at the resolution of the Oedipus Complex, by which the wish to destroy the father and possess the mother are mastered in the developing infant.

If these wishes had not existed there would have been no need to form the Super-ego and so develop a moral conscience. Thus the precondition of getting a knowledge of good and evil at all is that we have sinned psychologically. A sense of guilt is inherent in our make-up. The original sin is the complex of wishes in the Oedipus Complex which we develop before we have a moral sense, but which remain, in varying degrees of fixation after we have developed that moral sense in dealing with them as dangerous wishes. In fact, to hear Anna Freud speak of the criminal tendencies of the one and two-year-old is to be reminded inevitably of Calvinistic sermons on infant damnation.

Similar observations have been made by a number of different commentators. Yet although some observers have had no difficulty in spotting the external resemblance between psychoanalysis and the doctrine of Original Sin, the deeper significance of this resemblance has proved more elusive. One reason for the failure to investigate the parallel has been the assumption that the superficial similarities conceal deeper and more significant differences.

It is often assumed, for example, that whereas exponents of the traditional Christian doctrine of Original Sin have been deliberately setting out to create anxiety, and exacerbate feelings of guilt, Freud had discovered a way in which these feelings could be alleviated. To see the problem in this way, however, is to fail to understand the extent to which Freud, far from subverting Judaeo-Christian doctrines, merely adopted a modernised version of the seual realism which was itself an integral part of traditional teachings.

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As we have seen, it was just such a view which lay at the heart of the traditional doctrine of Original Sin. It was only the gradual rise of some of the extreme forms of religious and scientific rationalism encouraged by the Reformation, and the cultural dominance which such rationalism achieved in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which had begun seriously to challenge this view. It was against this kind of rationalist extremism, and not against more traditional manifestations of Judaeo-Christian ideology, that Freud attempted to rebel. The fact that his rebellion resembles, in some respects at least, that undertaken by Jonathan Swift in the eighteenth century may appear to vindicate psychoanalysis.

There can, I believe, be no doubt that Swift was in some respects an acute and interesting psychologist — much more acute and interesting, perhaps, than Freud himself.

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It would nevertheless be quite wrong to suggest that Swift ever managed to subvert, or even to see clearly, the rationalistic orthodoxies he sought to criticise. It is rather like expecting a poor man to accept a debt on the assumption that it will increase his solvency.

Psychoanalysis & Freudian Personality Structure; Id, Ego, & Superego (Intro Psych Tutorial #129)

For the very concept of sin implies an idealisation of some elements of the identity and a rejection of others. To portray human carnality in the form of a loathsome, sadistic, compulsively acquisitive, excrement-loving Yahoo, and simultaneously to demand that this carnality should be fully accepted as a part of the human identity is not, finally, to triumph over rationalist optimism; it is to concede defeat to it.

For what we cannot but observe is that, although Swift saw himself as battling against the rationalist spirit of the Enlightenment, one of the basic assumptions of Swiftian psychology is itself rooted in a form of Enlightenment optimism.

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His satire, for all the psychological insights it contains, is frequently both corrosive and bitter. His opposition to rationalism becomes at times an uncontrolled rage. In this raging hatred we cannot but see a form of that very projection against which he implicitly warns. The possibility which Swift could not entertain was that the ills which he divined in eighteenth-century rationalism derived not from a rejection of Christianity but from a profound internalisation of its doctrines.

For Freud, no less than Swift, assumes that it is possible for us to reconcile ourselves, through the power of human reason, to a self-image which is, in emotional terms, abhorrent and degrading. The most valuable aspect of psychoanalysis is to be found in the way that it, like traditional expositions of the doctrine of Original Sin, forces back into our consciousness elements of our identity which we would prefer to conceal, and in this way points to a human predicament which is universal.

Freud himself could on occasions be remarkably tolerant and generous, even in relation to homosexuality, which he found personally distasteful. In a letter which he wrote to the mother of a homosexual, Freud offered reassurance:. Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation; it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be a variation of the sexual function, produced by a certain arrest of sexual development.

Many highly respected individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest among them Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc. It is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime — and a cruelty, too. The generosity and the considerable moral courage which Freud shows here were very real features of his character. He always refused to submit to bullying by those whom he saw as self-righteous moralists and many of his patients undoubtedly benefited from his relatively liberal stance on matters of sexual morality.

As a result, the positive universalism which is discernible in psychoanalysis is again and again overpowered by the tendency of psychoanalysis to reject or implicitly condemn aspects of human sexuality — or indeed whole categories of men and women. Psychoanalysis, it need scarcely be said, possesses no article of doctrine which corresponds to the Last Judgement. Nevertheless Freud himself frequently endorsed just the kind of sheep-and-goats habit of mind which underlies Judaeo-Christian eschatology. The people who could be helped by psychoanalysis were seen as morally significant — worthy of keeping company with Freud himself.

Most people, however, did not belong to this category of psychoanalytic worthiness and were regarded quite differently. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or none at all If we are to talk of ethics, I subscribe to a high ideal from which most of the human beings I have come across depart most lamentably.

Much earlier in his career Freud made clear that his sympathy for patients, never conspicuously strong, was restricted to a very narrow range. In Christian demonology the devil has traditionally been portrayed as a bestial creature who is lecherous, sadistic, and a lover of excrement. Medieval tradition associated Jews with the devil and the Christian stereotype of the Jew corresponded closely to the portrayal of the devil, who was also seen as a kind of pedantic infernal treasurer, hoarding in the infernal regions stockpiles of gold.

But those differences are largely matters of terminology. Yet the concerns remain recognisably the same. Yet his naive desire to divide the world into good and evil evidently springs directly from Judaeo-Christian apocalyptic. This frightful evil is simply the initial, primitive, infantile part of mental life, which we can find in actual operation in children, but which, in part, we overlook in them on account of their small size, and which in part we do not take seriously since we do not expect any high ethical standard from children.

In contrast the unregenerate child is portrayed, either implicitly or explicitly, as seething inwardly with sexual perversion and sadistic rage. What we cannot but observe here is that, while the fantasies which Klein describes are not suggested by any aspect of the behaviour of one-year-old children, or ever divined by ordinary mothers, these fantasies do correspond, in every single respect, to the sexual fantasies of adults. If we accept psychoanalytic theory we will seek to explain away this coincidence by adopting the view that the sadistic and scatological fantasies of adults are not the products of any process of cultural conditioning, but are a direct expression of infantile impulses which some may succeed in sublimating or repressing but which others do not.

We will thus find ourselves arguing that de Sade systematically subjected women to torture, degradation and defilement in his literary fantasies not because he was a fully grown, cruel man who had probably been abused by adults when he was young but because he had never ceased to be a child. Children thus come to be treated in the same way that Jews have historically been treated by Christians, or, indeed, in the same way that women are often treated by men.

Recreated in the imagination as stereotypes, or as creatures of fantasy, they have projected onto them all those elements of our own identity which cultural propriety forbids us to express in a direct form. Examples of this attitude towards children in twentieth-century writing might be drawn from practically any field of knowledge. It explains the most prominent as well as the strangest of his characteristics and actions.

The frequently awesome consistency of his thoughts and behaviour must be seen in conjunction with the stupendous force of his rage, which reduced field marshals to trembling nonentities. If at the age of fifty he built the Danube bridge in Linz down to the last detail exactly as he had designed it at the age of fifteen before the eyes of his astonished boyhood friend, this was not a mark of consistency in a mature man, one who has learned and pondered, criticized and been criticized, but the stubbornness of the child who is aware of nothing except himself and his mental image and to whom time means nothing because childishness has not been broken and forced into the sober give-and-take of the adult world.

It tells us very little about Hitler, but a great deal about the irrationality of our own theories of childhood. The other violent feelings which appear in the passage are offered as ideals of the way in which children should be treated. This attitude towards childhood flies in the face of our own experience and any intuitive assessment of the mental life and character of small children. Yet, I was more interested in thinking about the trace of that which preceded colonialism and that which endures in its aftermath particularly of the non-secular , rather than the cut.

Imbued with a primordial divinity, the term was intimately bound up with Islamic invocations and preexisting meanings. As you show, this was not a story of incommensurability but of interbreeding and conceptualization across knowledge traditions. Still, one wonders how writers like Yusuf Murad and others evaluated what they considered moments of tension and contradiction, if there were any.

Were these moments productive at all? OES: This is an excellent question and I think you are quite right to point out that the book prioritizes epistemological resonances and co-productions over tensions and contradictions between discrete knowledge traditions. This was partly due to the fact that I was responding to scholars who had tackled the question of psychoanalysis and Islam as a problem. Nonetheless, there are numerous examples of disagreements, sometimes fundamental, between the thought of Yusuf Murad and Sigmund Freud.

For example, Murad departed from Freud by emphasizing cultural and sociological factors in the formation of the Oedipus complex as well as in the constitution of male and female sexuality. At a deeper level, my historical interlocutors approach the divine in ways quite distinct from Freud.


Both Murad and Taftazani conceptualize the human subject as the addressee of a divine and transcendental discourse, whereas Freud at times pathologized religion in texts such as The Future of an Illusion and Civilization and Its Discontents. Indeed, the wider literature on psychoanalysis and religion oftentimes argues that psychoanalysis represents a non-religious and even atheistic world view.

At the same time, Freud has been subject to a wide variety of interpretations. Would such dissemination dislodge the ontological and epistemological conceit of a universal grammar of the subject presumed by readers of the German or French or English Freud? What might it mean, in other words, to rethink the epistemological and ethical contours of selfhood and psychoanalysis while standing in a geopolitical elsewhere? In Egypt, where confession has not had the same history, were there significant discussions concerning the incitement to speak? Did Sufi ideas mediate practices of narrating the self?

Within knowledge formations such as medicine, psychiatry, pedagogy, and psychoanalysis one finds, he argues, the dissemination of procedures of confession. It is appropriate, then, to ask about the incitement to speak in Egypt, where confession did not have the same history. For Taftazani, as within the Sufi tradition more broadly, jihad al-nafs referred to the greater spiritual struggle against the self nafs.

The jihad of the self was, therefore, a crucial task for the Sufi initiate or disciple and entailed both bodily and psychological components, aimed at ethical self-correction through the contemplation of God. Jihad al-nafs was framed by Taftazani in fairly psychological terms; he went so far as to state that the shaykh was in effect a psychologist to whom the initiate must confide all of his psychological issues, foraging his unconscious desires and healing his illnesses. On the surface, this discussion appears to share similarities with the modern confessional mode of power-knowledge Foucault describes, and yet I would argue that the status of the renunciation of the self is distinctive within these knowledge traditions.

Now Freud is viewed less as a great medical scientist than as a powerful storyteller of the human mind whose texts, though lacking in empirical evidence, should be celebrated for their literary value. Susie Orbach: Some of us come to Freud early, some late. You are in the earlier category, I am in the later one. You claim you left Freud 30 years ago but your continued obsession with the man, with his work, with proving that Freud was contradictory, goes to show the continuing significance, not of Freud the man per se, but of his ideas and impact on a wider, cultural level.

What is worth talking about is the way in which lateth-century and earlyst-century culture have taken up what they have understood of his ideas. It is very easy to dismantle the specific interpretations of Freud.