Thursday, December 18, 2008

Revisiting Freud

“Freud is dead”…. In our world of technological advancement and development why do we need to look at the work of a man who came up with some theory nearly two centuries earlier to suit that particular context and which does not seem to be relevant in our interactions today? Why then should we feel the need to study Freud or his theory? …. these are questions we seem to have answered or do not feel the need to answer being faced with the options we have before us. And then suddenly out of nowhere we are faced with a 26/11(Mumbai Bomb Blasts). It is in the obvious confrontation with terror that we ponder over the logic of “unreason” or what also may be referred to as the logos or logic of the psyche. It is in this unreason or irrationality that Freud introduced the unconscious.

Freud in his philosophy attempts to answer the fundamental existential questions that most philosophers to date have been grappling with: who am I? What am I doing in this life...? is there an absolute truth or are there just perceptions of what may be true at one point in time. Freud emphasised on the “non-emphasis” on fundamental truth or insight. Proclaiming that psychoanalysis is more of a theory or an attitude towards understanding the truth. And therefore psychoanalysis according to Freud is not a profession.

With this short introduction providing the basis for a need to return to Freud we watched clippings from a document titled the “Archaeology of the Unconscious” which encompassed the different aspects of Freud’s life: his personal and professional endeavours.

We began our journey with “Berggasse 19” which took us through the city in which Freud lived for more than 78years of his life: the city of Vienna. “Berggasse 19” was the address at which Freud began his family and his clinic and the house has ever since been recognised because of its association with Freud.

If one were to try and map out Freud’s academic and professional turning points, his stints with areas such as philosophy, to zoology and back to medicine and neuroanatomy makes us identify the wanderer in him. His search for meaning took him to uncovering the unconscious which was a product of different experiences and the self analysis of those experiences in the form of dream analysis, which in turn led to his most famous publication the “interpretation of dreams”. He saw dreams as a medium through which the unconscious can be discovered being hidden under the guise of our “conscious” defences. Simultaneously this unpacking aided by his work on hysteria and hypnosis led to his interpretation of the source of these unconscious wishes, which primarily according to him developed in the unconscious conflicting desires and wishes of childhood. Most of Freud’s latter theorisation was an elaboration of this basic principle there by attempting to provide structure to the understanding of these concepts. Freud’s work exemplifies an unravelling of symbols that may seem obvious at the surface but may be enmeshed with underlying implicit intentions which one may “unknowingly” want to express.

Another aspect in the understanding of Freud is his use and labelling of terms like couch and armchair in the therapeutic settings which today have become representative of psychoanalysis in the clinic. His usage of the free association technique to uncover the unconscious is another pathway in that direction. The development of his theory not only has broader implications on the therapeutic relationship but also on the dynamics embedded within this relationship. Freud’s theories stem primarily from his work with clients suffering from various kinds of neurosis, each individual case exemplifying a different dimension of the unconscious, contributing in the enhancement of the theory of the unconscious.

Thus Freud in his search for meaning gave rise to a new ideological rollercoaster which not just clamours our train of thoughts to move beyond the obvious but also explores a possible reason for the “unreason”.


Sabah Siddiqui said...

Something to ponder on...

"There may not have been an Oedipus complex in Sophocles' day, despite the continuous use of the rhetorical device which claims that the sources of all present-day knowledge about people were 'discovered' by the ancient Greeks; Freudian talk of such a thing may have created the problem and the cure"
Deconstructing Psychopathology
Ian Parker, Eugenie Georgaca,
David Harper, Terence
McLaughlin,Mark Stowell-Smith

Anil Pinto said...

Interesting... Keep it going....