Oedipus and Moses. by Jean Mélon
In connection with the interpretation of the latency period.
(a non- literally translation by your editor of the original article in French which was published in the Cahier No 7, page 1-12. Avril 1996. The content of this Cahier was focused on Ethnopsychologie. The pictures in the original article have been left out in order to avoid copyright problems).
The ideas, which are presented here about the mythical figures of Oedipus and Moses, find their point of convergence in the concept of latency and the time of its development. Latency means in the first place hidden, in contrast to manifest. By derivation the word latent points out to such that is rather dimly or such that is expecting better conditions for a possible awakening.
The concept of a latency period is central in the Freudian theory of the psychoneuroses but also in the history of culture and the human species. It is an idea, which Freud lent from his friend Wilhelm Fliess. It is mentioned for the first time in his article Sexuality and the etiology of the neuroses, published in 1898, some time before the Three treaties on the theory of sexuality. Freud underlines already its crucial importance, owing to the fact that human sexuality develops itself in two phases, separated precisely by the latency period.
. the true etiology of the psychoneuroses can be found in the experiences during childhood and exclusively in the impressions which have to do with sexuality. It is not correct to neglect totally the sexual life of children. They are as far as I know capable of all the sexual psychic- as well as many somatic accomplishments.
But it is exactly the organization and the evolution of the human specie, which tends to avoid a too rich sexual activity during the childhood. It seems that the sexual drive energy of the human must be stocked, in order to serve great cultural goals when they at last are liberated during the puberty phase. (Wilh. Fliess)
Starting from such a summing up of facts one can without hesitation understand why sexual experiences during childhood only can lead to a pathogenic effect. But they develop their action less (clearly) during the period in which they happen, their action gets much more impact afterwards
Some lines later Freud uses for the first time the term psychanalyse when he announces that he will soon publish a work about dream interpretation where, he confirms, will be shown the qualitative concordance between the dream, hysterical fixed ideas, obsession and delusions.
For Fliess, like for Freud, the sexual development in two phases is one of the essential characteristics of the (human) specie. Freud comes back to this question in one of his last works, which enlightens the totality of his work.
One can observe that the anthropological dimension of the new science, which he had the ambition to create, is present right from the start. Never will Freud lose this viewpoint, repeating untiringly that ontogenesis repeats phylogenesis. This thesis, which is not really his or especially original because it is at the center of Darwin’s ideas, is adopted completely by Freud. In his book The man Moses and the monotheist religion (1938-1939) published after his death he writes:
In contrast to what is generally believed, observation teaches us that the sexual life of human beings – or what will correspond later to it, knows a prosperous flowering which stops at the age of five. Then follows what is called the latency period, which continues till the puberty and during which the sexual evolution stops and even undergoes a demotion (retrogradation).
This theory leads our thoughts to a theory in which the human person is descended from animal specie in which the sexual maturity ought to have come forward around the fight year. It makes us also suspect that the temporary stop of the sexual life intimately is bound to the human evolution, to the becoming human. The human being seems to be the only animal that undergoes this latency and to get this differentiated sexuality. No observation I think has up till now been made as for the primates. If this would be the case it would be a great price for our theory.
Man’s prematurity, son néoténie, makes him paradoxically de facto a being dedicated (avowed) to progress. In other words, it is our sexual weakness, which appears to be the precondition for a possible humanization in the form of a progress of the spirit. If the individual’s sexual requirements are too strong, his aptitudes as for sublimation are correspondingly in danger to become quite as much weakened.
In his Discussion on onanism (1912), Freud goes as long as to defend the opinion that perversions, being fixations to auto-erotism and pre-genitality have, as far as they are handicapping the genital sexuality, the advantages of their shortcomings. They deduct the same libido potentials, which later might nourish the sublimations. Significantly this justifies the severe moral norms of the society against sexual abuse of which children sometimes are victims. It is as if the large public diffusely was aware of what clinical experience confirms again and again, the fact that premature sexual excitation often definitively destroys the potential for further development of a human being.
However, whatever Freud says in the text, that I just quoted, is that which characterizes the latency period, is not as much the disappearance or weakening of sexuality, but the fact that the essential conflictuality, in which human sexuality is captured since its origin for better or worse, is put in parentheses.
The latency period separates the infantile sexual conflict, (the Oedipal phase as Freud later would call it), from the return to the eminently dramatic scene starting at the moment of puberty. The great conflict (gigantomachie) that starts then goes on during the whole adolescent period. It is only at the end of this period that man can hope to have become what he was called to be.
The latency period is a period of relative calm, that each organized society uses with profit to adopt (convert) the little man to its ideals. Normally, everybody knows, there is no citizen more docile than the child between 6 and 10 years. The perfect boy-scout is on the other hand the kind of person who all the totalitarian dream of shaping.
In contrast adolescence, at least in our culture, is the age that everything is turned in question and in which the parents have to expect to be treated in a rough way, severely criticized and often violently cast at side. Since two hundred years, with some ups and downs, this permanent challenge is a part of our cultural landscape, and even when it is not easy to take, one has for good or worse adept oneself to it, because it is without a doubt democracy’s ransom, but it is also one of the conditions of its survival.
The approach between Oedipus and Moses is legitimate as far as they, each one of them on their own level, is a mythical hero figure of western culture. Both tear away man from collective forms of the infantile magic-animistic and mystic psyche and instead introduce him to liberty, to responsibility but also at the same time to a certain solitude, which forces man to go inside himself and to discover that he is an enigma (riddle) for himself.
In every culture the psychic organization of the individual, his personality, the identifications which contribute to forge his identity, reproduce and follow necessary, the micro- and idiocosmic pattern, the (greek) koinos kosmos, the common world of the culture one belongs to.
It is not a surprise to observe the fact that our main identifications and contra-identifications rush to and crystallize around these two nuclear complexes, which are the Oedipus complex and the Moses complex. I will try in the following to show you that they are closely interwoven (overlap).
To start directly with Freud there is no doubt that the figure of Moses is implicit in the larger part of his work. That what he will point out, since 1923, as the instance of the Superego-Ideal of the Ego is for him incarnated in the superman Moses, like Zarathustra would have been for Nietzsche.
The well know formulae which makes the Superego the heir of the Oedipus complex could thus be retranslated in a concentrated form by this other one: Moses is the heir of Oedipus.
If this formula is not absurd what might it then signify? What is true for Freud is also true for each one of us as far as we belong to the western culture that was nourished by the three great ideological currents, which seldom agree:
1. The ethical of Jewish origin,
2. The philosophical, individualistic and democratic of Greek origin and
3. The rationalistic, anchored in the Cogito Cartesian.
We always have to go on to struggle with this rich and heavy heritage. As Max Scheler wrote in his last article:
These three ideological universes have in between themselves no unity at all. In this way we have a scientific anthropology, a philosophical anthropology and a theological anthropology, which each proves to be quite indifferent for the other. As we don’t possess an idea about man that shows unity
one can say that at no other historical époque man has been as much a problem for himself as the one we live in at present. (1)
This what Max Schele wrote in 1928 proves to be each day more and more true.
In a letter to Jung dated 1909, Freud wrote: If I am Moses, you will be Joshua who enters and conquers the promised land of psychiatry. This prophecy never became realized. Four years later the rupture with Jung has been definitely accomplished. Besides that Freud reproached Jung for the fact that he denied infantile sexuality as an observable and indisputable fact, he also criticized Jung for his idea of a more or less obscure collective unconsciousness, his mysticism.
In September 1913, Freud passes his holidays at Rome. During three weeks, he goes each day to St. Pierre aux Lines and in the shadowy light, meditates seated at the foot of Michel Angelo’s Moses statue. Some month later he publishes anonymously an article with the title: The Moses of Michel Angelo.
This title one should understand in the sense of the subjective genitive: it is not the Moses who belongs to Michel Angelo; it is Moses to which Michel Angelo belongs, as if it is the Super Ego Ideal of the Ego. As such it is also, without a doubt, Freud’s Moses. The genial cultural innovator with whom Freud identifies himself narcissistically in the most ambivalent manner. The term Superman – Uebermensch – that prefigures the concept of the Superego and that it exemplifies, returns several times in the article.
(Left out the picture of Michel- Angelo’s Moses statue, made in 1505. Ed.)
Subtext by Mélon: This Moses shown is not the one of the Old Testament. See here what Freud’s text has to say about it:
.our Moses does not want attack, neither throw the tables far away. What we see here in him is not the start of violent action, but the rest of an emotion, which is fading away. He had wanted, in an attack of rage, rush on, take revenge, forget the tables, but he has won over this temptation, he will stay like this, his rage controlled in a mixture of pain and contempt. Neither will he throw away the tables to break them on the floor, for it is thanks to them that he has dominated victoriously his wrath. It is to save them that he has victoriously controlled his passionate behavior. By the grace of the geniality of Michel Angelo, something new is introduced in the figure of Moses, the surhuman – übermenschlich. The mighty volume (mass) like the exuberant muscular power are only a way to express in a material way the extraordinary psychic achievement man is capable of: to conquer his own passion in the name of a mission he has dedicated himself to.
Left out the picture of Moses by Nicolas de Verdun, around 1180.
In 1927 Freud adds a short commentary to his article of 1914. He mentions a small statue in brunch representing Moses, attributed to Nicolas de Verdun and dating from the end of the XI-th century. Right or wrong, he considers this middle aged Moses dominated by the thunderstorm of his passions incapable to keep the Tables, whereas the Renaissance Moses would represent the quietness after the thunderstorm.
In the space of three centuries, the western human elite would have covered the distance in respect to the medieval primitivism, in order to revive firmly the contact with the antique wisdom and the Lord Logos. Man is anew, according to the terms of Protagoras, the norm (measurement) of man.
In this (commentary) Freud expresses the conviction he has since a long time and that he will systematically develop in his -Unbehagen in der Kultur (Civilisation’s discomfort) – in 1929. This idea, he shares with many contemporaries and some great elders, Schopenhauer and especially Nietzsche, that:
Cultural progress is bound to the promotion of knowledge and reason but also, and still more, to the interiorisation – Verinnerlichung – of the aggressive rapport to authority, a process which corresponds precisely with the erection of the Superego.
In human history, Moses is the person who embodies this mutation in the most radical way, the one who, indirectly by the installation of monotheism, imposes the written law, under the cover of a privileged relationship with an abstract Lord, who is transcendent, non-representable and un-namable. The result is a new type of man, more free, independent and autonomous, liberated from the animistic and magic believes and more responsible to his own conscience but also, and that is where the shoe pinches, from the beginning exposed to feelings of culpability.
A great change intervenes (in the history of mankind) from the moment when authority is interiorised, by the installation of the Superego.
From then the phenomena of moral are raised to a higher level, and one ought not to speak about conscience and sense of guilt then after this change has been realized. (Das Unbehagen i dem Kultur). That is what makes the difference between the so-called primitive and civilized peoples, between the Naturvölkern and the Kulturvölkern.
But cultural progress taming his passions does not make man happy, because from now on, he is urged by this achievement to take the risk to become a being without passion, nor desire. The only way out seems to be to regress and to pretend not to know the claims of personal progress conveyed by the ideals of culture. If one read thoroughly Moses and monotheism, one arrives at the following surprising conclusion:
the very first religion of the human race ought to have been monotheism as a sacralization of the Dead Father from the original beginning. (la toute première religion de l'humanité aurait été le monothéisme comme sacralisation du Père Mort des origins)
The so-called primitive religions are not as primitive. Their primitivism depends on the degree in which the displacement of the Father to the Totem animal is based on the repression of the inaugural murder. – as it happens in infantile phobias - and its endless multiplications
Polytheism, always fragmentizing the Urfather figure and dividing his supreme power in a multitude of divine animals, plant life, centauriques or females, authorizes always a greater repression of the most painful affect, the sense of culpability connected with the murder of the Father. The act of Moses, compelling monotheism on the Jews, corresponds to make them the depositories of the immemorial. It forces them to bear, at the same time in the most intensive way as well the original sin, as the cult of the symbolic Father with all the consequences which this implies.
The version that Freud gives of the prehistory of the Jewish people implies that by killing Moses, it initially repeated the murder of the primitive father. It renewed, by the same operation of repression, the restoring all together of the polytheism, the magic, the animism and mysticism. By this it produced the " latency of Moses ", for a period of approximately 700 years. Until the final return of the repression occurs that will have made it the different people we know, free of prejudices and liberated from superstitious beliefs. Freud will prevail himself by affirming that only a Jew could have invented the psychoanalysis with its relentless requirement of truth which it implies.
The murder of Moses by his people
.. cannot be left out in our reasoning and makes an important connection between the forgotten event that happened during the primitive époque and its later showing up in the form of the monotheistic religions. When we follow this seducing hypothesis one can say that it is the repentance of the murder of Moses that has provoqued the phantasm of the wish for a Messiah, coming back to the earth in order to bring to his people the salvation and the domination of the world which had been promised.
If Moses had been the first Messiah, Christ became then his substitute and his successor. That is why Paul was right when he cried out speaking to the people: See here, the Messiah has really come. Has not he been killed while you were looking on. The resurrection of Christ gets therewith a certain historical truth, for Christ was really the resurrected Moses and, behind him, was the Primordial Father of the primitive horde dissimulated, although to be true in a transfigured form as having as his Son taken the place of his Father.
With Paul’s substitution of Christ instead for Moses, one passes from the Fathers religion to (the religion of the) Son and in the same current from a patriarchal mentality to a filiarcale mentality which is ours today. Here I want to make a parenthesis and allow myself, as for the physiognomy of the man Freud, a phantasy analogue to the one he (Freud) authorized himself to make as for the Moses of Michel Angelo.
(left out Freud’s picture showing Freud in 1885, 30 years.
Extract from a Letter to Martha Bernays, 2.2.87.
Do you really think that I look as sympathic? I think that when people see me they see something that disturbs them and this, because in the last analysis during my youth I never was young.
This is Freud when he is thirty. He is still assistant at the University and he certainly hopes to make a career there. In a letter of 1886 addressed to his fiancée he expresses the sentiment never to have been young, a typical reflection of all those who had prematurely installed a severe Superego.
It is in 1886 that Freud because being a Jew is sent away from the University. Desperate during the first time he soon turns away from neurology to study the question of neuroses claiming the right to approach them from a specific psychological viewpoint
(left out picture of Freud, five years later, in 1891, 35 years.
A man like me cannot life without a favorite subject (hobby), without a burning passion, without a tyrant, like Schiller said. This tyrant, I found it
his name is psychology
Letter to Wilhelm Fliess, 25.5.1895.
At 35 years, Freud wrote his first psychological article with the title Treatment psychique (Treatment of the mind), in German: Psychische Behandlung (Seelenbehandlung)
Freud is passionate as for the material he explores; he has the exultant feeling of discovering an unknown area. The correspondence with his friend Fliess has saved us the testimony of this enthusiasm. It is at this époque, in the month of October 1897 in connection with his auto-analyses, that he for the first time evokes the reference to Oedipus. This is what he writes to Fliess:
My autoanalysis is really for the moment the most essential, and promises to have for me the greatest importance if I arrive to finish it
.. It is a nice exercise to be quite honest with one self. Here only one single idea that has a general value has come to my mind. I have found in myself like everyone else feelings of love for my mother and jalousie to my father, feelings that are, I think. common in all children. If this is correct, one can understand the impact of Oedipus Rex
The Greek legend has taken a compulsion that we all recognize because we all have felt it. Every listener was potentially in imagination an Oedipus, and is frightened to see the realization of his dream transposed to reality. He shudders according to the amount of the repression that separates his infantile state from his actual state. (Letter the 15.10.87)
Freud has identified himself with Oedipus and through him with all the children of men. That what will become the " Oedipus complex " is, already there, presented as universal. It is in
" the interpretation of the dreams " published in 1900, in discussing chapter IV of the
" Material and the sources of the dream " that Freud develops the topic of the Oedipus like an extreme metaphorical condensation of the two most powerful infantile desires, incest and parricide. But thereafter, Freud does not refer to Oedipus by name. One has to wait to 1923 ("The decline of the Oedipus complex ") before the question of Oedipus is taken up as a thematic theme.
One can say that from 1900 to 1923, Oedipus is put into " latency " as for the development Freud’s thought. It is very significant that the Oedipus complex never is referred to the in the " Three essays on the theory of sexuality ", which go back to 1905, whereas it is in this text that Freud introduces by name the capital concept of the latency period (Latenzperiode).
However what is put in latency at this age is not sexuality itself, it is its genital-oedipal organization. The concept of genitality loses its poignancy from the moment a primarily biological statute is conferred to it - the common sexual desire in connection with the push to have coitus - which has nothing to do with the essential conflictuality, which crosses it, (belongs to it, qui le traverse)
The phenomenon of adolescence, such as we know it, corresponds, from the psychological point of view, with the great reactivation of the oedipal drama, which remained in latency until puberty. It is well known today that this phenomenon is not universal. If the complex of Oedipus is universal, its revival is not. It relates only to the sphere of influence of the Western culture, even if this has the tendency to globalize itself today.
If Freud " forgets " to refer to Oedipus during all these years which go from 1900 to 1923, the reason for it is obvious: It is that he has the ambition to root psychoanalysis in biology and in this perspective, the reference to the myth does not look serious. The return to Oedipus will be imposed when the question of the Ego and the identifications, which constitute it, will return to the foreground of Freud’s considerations, something which will appear clearly in the later writings in " Beyond the pleasure principle " (1920).
Left our picture of Freud in 1906, 50 years
" We thus advance undoubtedly, and if I am Moses you will be like Joshua, and will take possession of the promised ground of psychiatry, that I only can see from faraway.".
Letter to C.G.Jung, 17.1.1909.
On 6-th of May 1906, Freud's closest disciples give him a surprise present for his fiftieth birthday: a bronze medallion with his own effigy and on its back a motive representing Oedipus and Sphinx face to face. On the medallion there was a verse engraved, a verse that Sophocles puts in the mouth of Coryphaeus and that is the 1525-th of the 1530 verses which the tragedy of Oedipus-King includes.
This verse is the following:
ΤΑ ΚΛΕΙΝ ' ΑΙΝΙΓΜΑΤ' ΗΙΔΕΙ ΚΑΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΟΣ ' ΗΝ ΑΝΗΡ"
Separated from its context, the verse can be translated as Ernest Jones did by::
"He who solved the famous enigma and was a man of a great power". We may even say "the most powerful", because kratiztoz is the superlative of kratos, which means powerful.
However, put in its context, the verse has a unique connotation, which confers it a so properly called tragic signification. Here are the six final verses of Oedipus the King, in Jean Grosjean's translation (Pleiade).
People of Thebes, my fatherland, look at Oedipus
who solved the famous riddles. He triumphed.
Nobody could look at his fortune without envying him.
But in what a whirlwind of terrible misfortune he has fallen
One ought not to estimate happy any mortal
Before having seen his last day till he has reached
the end of his life without having to undergo suffering
It is death that changes life into destiny (fate), according to Andre Malraux. Let us return
To the 6-th of May 1906. As we said, this day Freud receives the famous medallion. A remarkable incident then takes place. This is how Ernest Jones comments this event:
Something strange happened when the medallion was handed him. After reading the inscription, Freud grew pale, became agitated and, with a strange voice, asked who had chosen this inscription. He reacted as if he just met something again; actually, it was this that just happened. Federn told Freud it was he who had chosen the quotation. Then Freud let them know that, as a young student at University in Wien, he was accustomed to walk around the great court and look at the busts of the old famous professors. It was then that he not only had had the phantasm of viewing his own future bust (that should not come as a surprise from an ambitious student), but also he also had imagined this bust precisely with exact the same words on the medallion" (Ernest Jones, La vie et l'oeuvre de Freud, tome 2, p. 14-15).
This incident, which typically reveals the phenomenon of "threatening queerness"- "Das Unheimliche"- incites us to see it as a true preconsciente identification of Freud, - at least as powerful as the identification with Moses – with the identification with Oedipus. Not precisely with the incestuous and parricide Oedipus, who slumbers in the depth of our unconsciousness, but with the tragic one. The way as Sophocles immortalized him and who, for the Greeks of the fifth century, embodied just the hero of reason and knowledge.
This was the man eager to find the truth above all things and by this appears as the mythical forerunner of the philosophers of Golden Age in Greek and forecasts the coming of Logos as glorified by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. If Oedipus is tragic it is because by searching the truth, which is his greatest ideal, like for the Socratic philosophers as well, this quest leads him to destroying himself completely.
The message that the tragic poet let us know is the following: Any ideal has in itself necessarily the germ of its own destruction. That is what is tragic. When Freud wrote in "The ego and id" (1923) the ambiguous aphorism: "The Super-ego is a pure culture of death drive", it is - as we think- this tragic character that is pointed out.
For what reason the tragedy as a literary genre, as well as the figure of the tragic man, emerge in the fifth century, that of the Greek miracle, and then disappears with it? Because this is the moment when man feels himself so powerful that he able to banish the gods from their skies, to get rid of mythology, traditions and the theocratic morality. He believes only in his own reason, in the powers of Logos and tries at the same time the adventure of liberty for all and for everyone by inventing the democracy.
However, we know that all of this has not last longer lasted than a few decades, even if it was enough that an unprecedented flourishing took place and that humanity in the future learned and remembered that such things have existed. And since this could arrive once, why not could not it exist again? It is this hope that will emerge again with the men of Renaissance and, three centuries later with the period of Enlightment.
This ideal is ours too, but we know it is fragile. Let us remember (Nazi) General Göring's words: "When I hear the word culture, I draw my pistol", and how many peoples experienced to their cost the reality of the Air Marshal's threats.
Just a few more words about this Oedipus, the proto-hero- and herald- of the Logos that Freud embodies with many others. This Oedipus dies at the close of the V-th century and reappears again in Western consciousness, with the beginning of the XIX-th century.
Left out Picture of Jean Dominique INGRES, 1808. (left out)
Oedipus and the Sphynx, Musée du Louvres.
Hegel, in his "Aesthetics", and Hölderlin in "Notes on Oedipus and Antigone", are the first who revealed this singular aspect of the figure of Oedipus, viewing him as an ancestor of the philosophical attitude, which is a Greek invention. From this point of view, it is the confrontation with the Sphinx that signifies the passage from on world to another.
The victory of Oedipus shows the collapse of a superstitious and obscurantist mentality that asserts the total belief in the mythological powers. From now on Logos will win over Mythos;
by having confidence in his own Reason man sends the gods back in the sky.
The famous picture by Ingres shows remarkably this historical turn: serene and calm, a shining Oedipus throws the Sphinx away into the threatening obscurity that it embodies. We are in 1808. Ingres, like Hegel, regards Napoleon as the "soul of the world", the new forward figure of the bravery of reason. However, the history rapidly run counter to their views by putting Napoleon in the gallery of the tragic-comic characters. However, the return of Oedipus is a fact of reality.
Picture left out by Gustave MOREAU, 1864.
0edipus and the Sphynx. Musée Gustave Moreau
We notice, in respect to our subject, that about this moment the new figure of the developing humanity emerges: represented by the teen-ager. Nowadays he is more actual than ever and not less tumultuous as his romantic ancestor. For the Sphinx is not dead. As everything that is repressed, it returns with violence.
In the Gustave Moreau's equally famous picture, dating from 1864, it is evident that the struggle continues fiercely and that it is a struggle which will not end, especially if one admits that it is a struggle between the sexes that keeps it up. If there is one topic with which psychoanalysis is confronted hour after hour it is indeed this riddle:
Why do man and woman rejoin with each other in such a difficult way and frequently never succeed? Gustave Moreau commented his own picture, as follows:
"The painter supposes man arrived at the crucial moment of his life, and finding himself in the presence of the eternal enigma. What does it mean to be man? (Qu'est-ce que l'homme? ) She squeezes and grips him with her terrible claw. In despite of this, the wanderer looks at her without trembling, calm and trusting in his moral force. It is the chimera of the earth, abject like matter (vile comme la matière) and as attractive as it, represented by this charming feminine head with its wings carrying the ideal, but also this body of a monster, of a carnivore, which tears apart and annihilates everything."
Among the ancient Greek monsters, the Sphinx (which has an uncertain sex) is one of the most perverse. It is pictured here fixed at the breast of Oedipus, whom Moreau imagined as a young man with his head inclined and long hair, an ephebe with a scraggy face, taciturn, the eternal teen-ager, leaning himself against the rocky wall, with an indifference typical of inaccessible beings, as if the tables were turned. Moreau's Oedipus seizes from the woman the inaccessibility and the mystery. No sign of violence neither of blood, just two glances crossing each other, refusing any Mitgefühl, any feeling-together. As if that would mean death and one only could find it in death.
Few pictures express better than those of Gustave Moreau's the tragedy of the non-dialogue: it is what both want, but the more they want it the more they fall back in their culpable solitude. Here we find ourselves returned to the theme of death. A theme that is not tragic in itself but becomes it, when man (or woman) wanting to live, instead get death in return, for reasons which can be understood but where the responsibility encumbers nobody.
This is the essence of tragedy: something is wrong, but nobody is found guilty.
We left Freud in the euphoria of his 50-th, when he dreamed to make Jung his Joshua. We find again Freud in 1921, when he is 65 years old.
Left out picture of Freud en 1921, 65 ans.
I have chosen now as nourishment the theme of Death. Letter to Lou Andreas-Salomé, 1.8.1919.
There is something dour and grievous on his face, the seal of severity he had felt in himself already when 30 years old. It is a pain mixed with contempt, directed to no one and to everybody. Is the human species still worthy of being a subject of his concern any longer? The wrath of Moses overtakes him again at this turning point. We can explain this by the contingent events, in the first place by the formidable dementi of the Great War, opposed to any ideology of progress, a war that was only great by its total absurdity.
He, who pretended that the unconscious ignores death, here nevertheless proposes to accept a new guest in his drive theory (or drive mythology, since he regarded any theory as essentially mythological): the death drive.
Left out picture of Freud in 1922, 66 years. The Super-Ego is a pure cultivation of the Death drive (The Ego and the Id, 1923)
Jung repudiated him, and long before Hitler gets the power, the desperate masses reclaim the providential man and designate as first class scapegoats as usual the Jews, who again found thus their traditional place. All of this would suffice to depress a common person, but for Freud the hard strike does not come from the exterior, but from his own followers. The history of Moses is repeated. The enemy is neither the Egyptian nor Persian, but Aaron, the most faithful companion.
The Americans, to whom he had predicted that he would bring them the plague, sent it back to him. The American psychoanalysts who have the title of physicist decide to interdict to the non-physicists the right to practice psychoanalysis. The medical arrogance, coming- unexpectedly- from the country of the free people, mortifies Freud and determines him to write Laïenanalyse, "the laic analysis", translated into French with the title: Psychanalyse et Médecine". He asserts here the independence of psychoanalysis in relation to Medicine.
Psychoanalysis is not partly a subordinate (accessory) therapeutic technique. First and foremost it is a method in the proper sense of the word, a personal way for searching the truth in oneself. The truth, and only the truth, at any price!
However, the hardest strike comes from his most intimate followers. In 1926 - but this was plotted already for a long time -, his two closest collaborators, Otto Rank and Sandor Ferenczi straightforwardly pulled away on the most sensitive question. Expressed in simple terms, psychoanalysis is not intended for the common person; people being as they are, in other words pigs, you have to give potatoes to eat. What Rank and Ferenczi propose is nothing else than thaumaturgic practices of the same type as those existing at the night of time. Magic-animistic tomfooleries, among which the most reasonable was the hypnotic suggestion. About the latter Freud had believed that, while setting himself free of it, he had at the same time set free the best part of humanity too! What a NO! Even the best make glaring mistakes: the brave Ferencsi even went as far as to propose a therapy by kissing.
Left out picture of Freud en 1926, 70 ans. Eau-forte de Ferdinand Schmutzer.
The sombre and quasi-murderous glance, which Schmutzer caught in his portrait, is more authentic than any photo. It is really the wrath of Moses ready to strike the culprits. But this picture of 1923 indicates already, that the thunderstorm won’t burst out. The former words attributed- by Freud- to the Moses of Michel Angelo are perfectly suited now.
"What we can see in him is not the beginning of a violent action but the traces of an extinguishing passion. He has wanted, in an access of rage, to rush, to express his revenge, to forget the Tables, but finally he has overcome the temptation, he will stay sitting there, his rage controlled, in pain mixed with contempt."
Left out picture of Freud in 1928, Here Freud is 72. One can see clearly that he has become old now. The time of the dispute wont come back.
From now on Freud primarily will focus on the relations between individual psychology and the world of culture. It is at this period he writes "The future of an illusion" and "Discomfort in civilization". His thinking takes increasingly an anthropological turn. He interrogates himself also about the place psychoanalysis has or could have in culture. This is what he writes in "Psychoanalysis and Medicine" (Laïenanalyse):
"If we had the idea- which today seems extraordinary! - of setting up a psychoanalytical teaching center, the students would be taught without any doubt certain matters which are often taught at the Faculty of Medicine.
Together with the so-called depth psychology, even the (topic of the unconscious. The latter would be the main component that would be he core. Moreover we should teach, as much as possible, the science of sexuality and familiarize the students with the clinical psychiatric descriptions. The teaching of psychoanalysis should embrace even such branches outside of medicine, of which the physicist not even sees a shadow of in his profession: the history of civilization, mythology, the psychology of religions, history and the critique of literature. If he were not well familiarized with these areas, the analyst would feel lost in dealing with a great number of phenomena he will meet. To the contrary, the greater part of the topics taught at the faculty of Medicine don’t help the student at all
everything that has to do (is limited to?) with anatomy, physiology and brain chemistry is completely useless
Because psychoanalysis has to do with problems that successively were put forward by culture in general, the analyst cannot ignore the world of the culture. Like Goethe, Freud always has thought that in every human exist all what is human. Nil humani a me alienum puto. Nothing human is strange to me.
The last work by Freud, "The Man Moses and the monotheist religion" is his final reflection on the relation between man and culture. The central thesis is well known: Amhenotep IV, called Akhenaton, is just the one who, in the history of humankind, has invented the monotheism.
Moses was one of his adepts who, after the new religion had been abolished in Egypt and the ancient polytheist cults had been restored, converted several miserable Israelite tribes to monotheism. But in the same way, as the Egyptians abandoned rapidly monotheism, the Jewish people rejected or integrated it in its ancient magic-animistic practices in the same way as so-called primitive people do nowadays with Christianity and Islamism. They did not convert definitively to the cult of unique God than by the year 600 before Christ, that is about 800 years after the Moses' death. Thus, since the founding (underlying) act until its effective accomplishment, the latency period lasted about 800 years.
As for Oedipus, if we consider the parallelism we propose, admitting that his tragic figure emerges in the year 450 before Christ and revives only around late 1800 - having as a marking point the proclamation of the Human Rights- the latency period was far longer, about 2200 years.
It might not be accidentally that monotheism triumphed in Jerusalem at the same time when Socrates questions the Athenians in Agora and imposes them his famous adage:
"First, know yourself!"
We ought to be able to show (something that is completely possible but would need a long period of development) that both of them in their own way, the Jews emphasizing the ethic pole and the Greek the rationalist one, that the Mosaic monotheism and the Greek philosophic attitude have contributed to a radical modification in the evolution of the human spirit. They imposed on it the superhuman ideal of surpassing oneself indefinitely, on the basis of two major imperatives:
of being responsible of all his actions toward his own consciousness, which is the Jewish ideal, and
of being entirely aware of one self as a subject (instigator) of will (volunté), desire and cognition, including and primarily by the knowledge of oneself, which is the Greek ideal.
This twofold ideal has been the motor of our civilization since Renaissance; it has been consolidated in the age of Enlightenment. Many consider that it has ended, and that a new latency period has begun, which some qualify already as post-modern. Due to the fact that this ideal is superhuman, we have learned that to treat with a veiled ambivalence, which threats it from the inside as well as it threats us by the fact that this ideal is still ours.
This is why I said above that each spiritual ideal contains in germ the ferments of its own destruction and this confronts us with the tragedy of our fate. Our fate is tragic because our best purposes, due to our vanity and the ambivalence that cherishes, risk always to lead us to our own fall.
Monotheism has strongly contributed to set man free by giving him always more and more individuation and autonomy. However, we must not forget that the intolerance is specific for the monotheist religions (despite that they hold) and that the religious wars, the most terrible of all wars, only burst out there where monotheisms reigns. We add that all the monotheist religions pretend that they are universal and, conversely, that each ideology that assumes to be universal participates in the essence of monotheism and shares its grandiosity and misery.
As for psychoanalysis, it does not pretend to heal the "discomfort in civilization". It helps to understand it and to accept this discomfort as congenitally bound to the process of civilization itself. It can also help us to handle it, in so far as all what we can hope for the best is, as Freud states in one of the last lines in his "Studies on hysteria": "to change neurotic misery into an acknowledgment of having a common misfortune". After all, we find here the Faustian ideal that magnifies the well-known formula which ends the XXXI-st lecture on psychoanalysis:
"Where Id was, there Ego must be" ("Wo Es war, soll Ich werden") from which it is usual to omit quoting the following:
"This is a civilizing work, comparable to the reclamation of Zuydersee". ("Est ist Kulturarbeit etwa wie die Trockenlegung der Zuydersee")
Footnote 2) This is the these which is defended by Jean Joseph Goux in his book Oedipe philosophe (Paris. Aubier, 1991) and which is taken up by Martine Stassart in Anthropology of adolescence published in the same volume Nr. 7 of the Cahiers. That Oedipus is a pre-Christian figure in the same manner as Plato, as is often underlined, opens the way to Christianity, that in our view us quasi evident. The Oedipal nuclear complex as the neurosis of the occidental culture could only develop itself and produce all its results, inside the frame of the Judean-Christian tradition, under the influence of the claims of the Greek Logos.)
Les Cahiers du CEP
Cahier 1 - Avril 93 . Recherches liégeoises. Dubois Dominique: Le suicide comme destin 3 / Siegelbaum Frédéric: L'échec en fin d'études supérieures 17 / Goffart Sabine : Le vieillard déraciné 33 / Grégoire Pascal : La personnalité des voyants 47 / Poelmans Christian et Stassart Martine: L'adolescent face aux études supérieures 61 /Colette Claude: De l'hémophilie à l'hypochondrie 71-82. Prix 300 FB.
Cahier 2 - (EN NÉERLANDAIS) Septembre 93 . Pathoanalyse,lot van de lotanalyse. Herziening van de driftenleer van L.Szondi 3 / Schotte Jacques : Pathoanalyse en psychopathologie 15 / Lekeuche Philippe : Afbakening van de essentiëlle toxicomanie 51 / Ledoux Marc : Pathoanalyse en institutionele psychotherapie 71-82. Prix: 300 FB
Cahier 3 - Décembre 93. Colloque du Centenaire de la naissance de Léopold Szondi Budapest, 14-17 avril 1993. Schotte Jacques: De la Schicksalsanalyse à la Pathoanalyse 3 / Van Meerbeek Jean-Pierre : Une lecture génétique du schéma pulsionnel szondien basée sur la théorie de Jean Piaget 25 / Kinable Jean : Psychopathie et perversion 45 / Lekeuche Philippe : Délimitation de la toxicomanie essentielle 73 / Brackelaire Jean-Luc : Interdit de se projeter?! Le test de Szondi vu par les Tarahumaras 89 / De Groef Johan et Pattyn Marc : Le handicap mental au regard de la Pathoanalyse 101 / Gonçalvez Bruno : Les réponses des adolescents et des jeunes adultes sourds au test de Szondi 104 / Ledoux Marc : Béla Bartok,seul avec sa musique 115-121. Prix : 400FB
Cahier 4 - Novembre 94 . La paroxysmalité. Blumer Dietrich : L'épilepsie de Vincent van Gogh 3 / Lekeuche Philippe : Karamazov et circuit P de Schotte 11 / Maldiney Henri : Le paroxysmal dans l'art 39 / Mélon Jean : Paroxysme,révolte et surprise 73 / Nidecka-Bator Iwona : L'homme paroxysmal chez Dostoievski 79 / Pluygers Claire : Le dédoublement paroxysmal comme séparation du monde dans "L'Idiot" de Dostoievski 83 / Pluygers Claire : L'au-delà de l'éthique chez Dostoievski et Nietzsche 89 / Stassart Martine : L'épilepsie essentielle au Szondi et au Rorschach 95 / Vergote Antoine : La violence paranoïde du Caïn et son humanisation 116-124 . Prix: 400 FB.
Cahier 5 - Septembre 95. Versions du sexuel. Gérard Bonnet: Narcissisme et sexualité 1 / Jean Kinable : La partition szondienne du sexuel: change et échange 14 / Jacques Roisin: René Magritte. Un destin particulier de la pulsion scopique 32 / Jacques Schotte : De la "Téorie sexuelle" à l'anthropopsychiatrie 61 / Martine Stassart : Métapsychologie de l'adolescence 71 / Jean Mélon et Henri M. : Intropathies 1O5 / Jean Kinable : Propos sur le transsexualisme 143 / Alberto Peralta : Introduction à la Perceptanalyse 155 / Jean-Paul Abribat: Une somme clinique et ses limites. "Psychopathia sexualis" de Krafft-Ebing et Moll 164-174. Prix : 500 FB.
Cahier 6 - (EN NEERLANDAIS) Septembre 95. Pathoanalyse en Depressie . Bob Maebe: Inleiding 3 / A. Vergote : Psychoanalyse van de depressie 8 / J. Mélon : De weerbarstige depressie 27/ M. Ledoux : Poëtische bezinning rond de musikale taal van Robert Schumann 41 / J. Mélon : De depressive positie bij Szondi 48 / J. Mélon : De depressie in de Szonditest 59 / J. Schotte : From redefining depression to reassessing nosology 63 - 82 . Prix: 300 FB.
Cahiers du CEP n° 7
Oedipe et Moïse
Anthropologie de l'adolescence
Soigner l'affect en remodelant
le corps en milieu Yaka
La cure Mbwoolu
Un déclin qui n'en finit pas
A propos de l'identité européenne
Jean Mélon, Martine Stassart et Brigitte Herman
Le Szondi des Tarahumaras
Jean Mélon et Martine Stassart
L'apport du Szondi à l'Ethnopsychologie
d'une population burundaise
Etude szondienne de
populations rurale et urbaine
en Italie du Nord
ou le mythe interne de l'adolescent
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