The Pillars of Unbelief — Freud

by

Freud — founder of the “sexual revolution”

He was the “Columbus” of the psyche. No psychologist alive escapes his influence.

Yet, along with flashes of genius, we find the most bizarre ideas in his writings — e.g., that mothers cuddle their babies only as a substitute for their desire to have sexual intercourse with them.

Sigmund Freud’s most influential teaching is his sexual reductionism. As an atheist, Freud reduces God to a dream of man. As a materialist, he reduces man to his body, the human body to animal desire, desire to sexual desire and sexual desire to genital sex. All are oversimplifications.

Freud was a scientist, and in some ways a great one. But he succumbed to an occupational hazard: the desire to reduce the complex to the controllable. He wanted to make psychology into a science, even an exact science. But this it can never be because its object, man, is not only an object but also a subject, an “I”.

At the basis of our century’s “sexual revolution” is a demand for satisfaction and a confusion between needs and wants. All normal human beings have sexual wants or desires. But it’s simply not true, as Freud constantly assumes, that these are needs or rights; that no one can be expected to live without gratifying them; or to suppress them is psychologically unhealthy.

This confusion between needs and wants stems from the denial of objective values and an objective natural moral law. No one has caused more havoc in this crucial area than Freud, especially regarding sexual morality. The modern attack on marriage and the family, for which Freud set the stage, has done more damage than any war or political revolution. For where else do we all learn the most important lesson in life — unselfish love — except in stable families who preach it by practicing it?

Yet, with all his faults, Freud still towers above the psychologies that replaced him in popular culture. Despite his materialism, he explores some of the deeper mysteries of the soul. He had a real sense of tragedy, suffering and unhappiness. Honest atheists are usually unhappy; dishonest atheists happy. Freud was an honest atheist.

And his honesty made him a good scientist. He believed that the mere act of raising up some repression or fear from the hidden darkness of the unconscious into the light of reason would free us from its power over us. It was the faith that truth is more powerful than illusion, light than darkness. Unfortunately, Freud classified all religion as mankind’s most fundamental illusion and materialistic scientism as his only light.

We should distinguish sharply among three different dimensions in Freud. First, as an inventor of the practical, therapeutic technique of psychoanalysis, he’s a genius and every psychologist is in his debt. Just as it’s possible for a Christian philosopher like Augustine or Aquinas to use the categories of non-Christian philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, it’s possible for a Christian psychiatrist to use the techniques of Freud without subscribing to his religious views.

Second, Freud as a theoretical psychologist is like Columbus, mapping out new continents but also making some serious mistakes. Some of these are excusable, as Columbus’ were, by the newness of the territory. But others are imply prejudices, such as the reduction of all guilt to pathological feeling and failure to see that faith in God could ever have anything to do with love.

Third, Freud as a philosopher and religious thinker is strictly an amateur and little more than an adolescent. Let’s explore these points one by one.

Freud’s greatest work is certainly “The Interpretation of Dreams.” Investigating dreams as a printout of the subconscious seems obvious today. But it was utterly new to Freud’s contemporaries. His mistake was not to overemphasize the subconscious forces that move us, but to underemphasize their depth and complexity, as an explorer of a new continent might mistake it for simply a large island.

Freud discovered that hysterical patients who seemed to have no rational cause for their disorders were helped by what he called “the talking cure,” using “free association” and paying attention to “Freudian slips” as clues from the subconscious. In a word, the thing worked despite the inadequacies of the theory behind it.

On the level of psychological theory, Freud divided the psyche into the id, the ego and the super ego. This seems at first to be quite similar to the traditional and commonsensical division into appetites, will and intellect (and conscience) that began with Plato. But there are crucial differences.

First, Freud’s “super-ego” is not the intellect or conscience, but the unfree, passive reflection in the individual’s psyche of society’s restrictions on his desires — “thou shalt nots.” What we take to be our own insight into real good and evil is only a mirror of man-made social laws, according to Freud.

Second, the “ego” is not free will but a mere facade. Freud denied the existence of free will, he was a determinist and saw man as a complex animal-machine.

Finally, the “id” (“it”) is the only real self, according to Freud, and it’s comprised simply of animal desires. It is impersonal; thus the name “it.” Freud thus is denying the existence of a real personality, individual I-ness. Just as he denied God (“I Am”), he denies God’s image, the human “I.”

Freud’s philosophical ideas are most candidly expressed in his two most famous anti-religious books, “Moses and Monotheism” and “The Future of an Illusion.” Like Marx, he dismissed all religion as infantile without seriously examining its claims and arguments. But he did come up with a detailed explanation of the supposed origin of this “illusion.” It has basically four parts: ignorance, fear, fantasy and guilt.

As ignorance, religion is a pre-scientific guess at how nature works: If there is thunder, there must be a Thunderer, a Zeus. As fear, religion is our invention of a heavenly substitute for the earthly father when he dies, gets old, goes away or send his children out of the secure home into the frightening world of responsibility. As fantasy, God is the product of wish-fulfillment that there’s an all-powerful providential force behind the terrifyingly impersonal appearances of life. And as guilt, God is the ensurer of moral behavior.

Freud’s explanation of the origin of guilt is one of the weakest parts of his theory. It amounts to the story that once, long ago, a son killed his father, the head of a great tribe. That primal murder has haunted the human race’s subconscious memory every since. But this is no explanation at all; Why did the first murderer feel guilt?

Freud’s most philosophical book was his last, “Civilization and its Discontents.” In it he raised the great question of the summum bonum — the greatest good, the meaning of life and human happiness. He concluded as Ecclesiastes did, that it is unattainable. “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,” he says in effect. Instead, he promised to move us through successful psychotherapy, “from unmanageable unhappiness to manageable unhappiness.”

One reason for his pessimism was his belief that there’s a contradiction inherent in the human condition; this is the point of his title, “Civilization and its Discontents.” On the one hand, we are animals seeking pleasure, motivated only by “the pleasure principle.” On the other hand, we need the order of civilization to save us from the pain of chaos. But the restrictions of civilization curtail our desires. So the very thing we invented as a means to our happiness becomes our obstacle.

Toward the end of his life, Freud’s thought became even darker and more mysterious as he discovered thanatos, the death wish. The pleasure principle leads us in two opposite directions: eros and thanatos. Eros leads us forward, into life, love, the future and hope. Thanatos leads us back to the womb, where alone we had no pain.

We resent life and our mothers for birthing us into pain. This mother-hate parallels the famous “Oedipus complex” or subconscious desire to murder our father and marry our mother — which is a perfect explanation of Freud’s own atheism, resenting Father God and marrying Mother Earthiness.

As Freud was dying, Hitler was coming to power. Freud prophetically saw the power of the death wish in the modern world and was unsure which of these two “heavenly forces,” as he called them, would win out. He died an atheist but almost a mystic. He had enough of the pagan in him to offer some profound insights, usually mixed up with outrageous blind spots. He calls to mind C.S. Lewis’ description of pagan mythology: “gleams of celestial strength and beauty falling on a jungle of filth and imbecility.”

What raises Freud far above Marx and secular humanism is his insight into the demon in man, the tragic dimension of life and our need for salvation. Unfortunately, he saw the Judaism he rejected and the Christianity he scorned as fairy tales, too good to be true. His tragic sense was rooted in his separation between the true and the good, “the reality principle” and happiness.

Only God can join them at their summit.

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35 Responses to The Pillars of Unbelief — Freud

  1. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Once more, the Church and its thinkers rail against science. If it were only Freud then it wouldn’t matter, but this is only one in a long line of battles over the centuries against science and knowledge.

    I really feel that it’s high time the penny dropped and the Church made a new relationship with science – one which didn’t make it look foolish and shame the faithful, who have enough on their plates trying to explain the tide of child abuse which has broken like a tsanami.

    Sorry if this irritates a few,
    but

    enough
    is
    enough.

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  2. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    Tsunami

    Like

  3. JabbaPapa says:

    Once more, the Church and its thinkers rail against science.

    This is blatantly untrue.

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  4. toadspittle says:

    .

    “Third, Freud as a philosopher and religious thinker is strictly an amateur and little more than an adolescent..”

    Whereas the world-famous Dr. Kreeft is a professional, and very grown up. (Freud sonds much like CP&S’s notion of Richard Dawkins, doesn’t he? Wonder why?)

    Nor was Freud a scientist, nor is psychology a science. So says Popper, and Toad agrees. It is a pseudo-science, sa it is neither verifyable nor falsifyiable, although none the worse for that.

    “Freud’s explanation of the origin of guilt is one of the weakest parts of his theory. It amounts to the story that once, long ago, a son killed his father, the head of a great tribe. That primal murder has haunted the human race’s subconscious memory every since. But this is no explanation at all; Why did the first murderer feel guilt?”

    Toad diffidently suggests that the first murderer felt guilt because had done something to somebody else that he would not anyone want doing to him.

    If anyone has a different idea, Toad is keen to hear it.

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  5. toadspittle says:

    .
    “Honest atheists are usually unhappy; dishonest atheists happy.”

    Oh, really? Can Dr. Kreef justify that absurd and categorical overstatement?

    Never mind. Let’s assume for a moment that it’s true. How about Catholics?
    Are honest ones happy>? Dishonest ones unhappy?
    Or contrairiwise? Sounds silly, doesn’t it? That’s because it is…

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  6. Jerry says:

    Kreeft is a hack.

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  7. Jerry says:

    Sorry, the above was a bad tempered comment of no constructive value for which I apologise sheepishly.

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  8. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    No need to apologise Jerry. Why should statements always be “constructive”? There is surely space for a bit of spontaneity. It seems rather hard to expect utility in all we say.

    Jabba, it is not “blatantly untrue”, though your comment may well be. There is a long history, as you well know, of Church opposition in varying degrees to science and knowledge. Not ALL science and not ALWAYS opposed, but the record is not a happy one, to say the least.

    Some people are tired of this, and having to excuse this attitude. Time for a change, and time to drop the backwoods apologists.

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  9. Jerry says:

    I do disagree with Kreeft’s piece, and others of his that I have read. My remark about him being a hack was of course unfair, and a daft gut reaction on my part, though outside the limited circle of producers and consumers of apologetics he has no particular standing.

    Despite his materialism, he explores some of the deeper mysteries of the soul. He had a real sense of tragedy, suffering and unhappiness. Honest atheists are usually unhappy; dishonest atheists happy. Freud was an honest atheist

    Freud wasn’t an especially unhappy man, he was an honest atheist, but not an essentially unhappy one. But I question Kreefts assertion, if honest atheists are usually unhappy, and honesty is not a prime cause of unhappiness, surely he means that atheism is. But then surely a dishonest atheist (behind the bluster) should be doubly unhappy, burdened as they are by atheism and their own dishonesty?? Common sense surely.

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  10. Jerry says:

    Freud as a philosopher and religious thinker is strictly an amateur and little more than an adolescent.

    Remarks like this are what engendered my initial outburst. Freud was by no means the genius of the century, but he was a brilliant man grappling seriously with weighty issues. Kreeft does make some fair points, but as a mouse biting the heels of a lion he should watch who he calls adolescent

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  11. JabbaPapa says:

    Jabba, it is not “blatantly untrue”, though your comment may well be. There is a long history, as you well know, of Church opposition in varying degrees to science and knowledge. Not ALL science and not ALWAYS opposed, but the record is not a happy one, to say the least.

    Some people are tired of this, and having to excuse this attitude. Time for a change, and time to drop the backwoods apologists.

    No, I’m sorry, it is blatantly untrue.

    The Church makes no hindrance whatsoever of scientific investigations, except in some unusual cases where they are of a direct or indirect moral concern for real people’s real lives ; but instead, the Church generally encourages Science, and is not generally opposed to it, contrary to these sorts of mendacious accounts.

    This ridiculous strawman argument whereby the Church could somehow be in opposition to Science is a feature of atheist mythology, and atheist dogma, and has no relevance to the actual Church nor to her teachings.

    It’s bollocks, and to paraphrase, it’s high time that some atheists dropped this backwoods approach and this constant harping on about some absolute rubbish having nothing to do with Catholicism.

    It would also be helpful if the Church weren’t continually confused by the same sorts of people with the activities of some ultra-conservative fundamentalist Protestant biblical literalists, nor with the fantasy Church depicted in the novels of Dan Brown, in the straightforwardly paranoid descriptions by Richard Dawkins, and other such similar works of fiction.

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  12. toadspittle says:

    .

    These kind of sniping, carping, articles, here at Freud, often at Dawkins and others – all make the same claim: “Yes, he maybe a brilliant scientist, psycologist, biologist, etc, but he is ignorant about religion, therefore he should not speak about it.”
    From an atheist’s standpoint, there is only one thing worth knowing about religion: There is no God. (Not Toad’s viewpoint, but that’s beside the point) That said, there is no earthly reason to waste time reading up a lot of trivia about side issues like Judaism, Catholicism, Islam, Chasubles, Original Sin, Heresy, Purgatory, Miracles, Style of Bishop’s Mitres, and the feeding habits of the Sacred Monkeys in the Vatican. Matters that we on CP&S find so absorbing.
    Is there?
    Kreeft is entitled to speak his mind, of course. One wonders what freudian motives drive him to disparage the great man, though, Patricide? Oedipus Complex?

    “A tense and difficult family, the Oedipuses.” (Noel Coward.)

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  13. JabbaPapa says:

    But then surely a dishonest atheist (behind the bluster) should be doubly unhappy, burdened as they are by atheism and their own dishonesty?? Common sense surely.

    No, the thinking in there is that a dishonest atheist is one who is partially dishonest to himself concerning disbelief in God, and thereby has some access to the one transcendental source of happiness.

    (I have read some similar pieces on this sort of topic in the past, to clarify where this extra information comes from)

    FWIW, I find it dubious myself — Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. — God provides His sources of happiness to the just and the unjust, the honest and the dishonest, the believer and the atheist alike.

    Religious faith is a source of happiness, or even more simply a safety net against despair ; whereas honesty is both a source and a resolver of social conflict, so that it is hard to simply equate its presence or absence with happiness.

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  14. The Raven says:

    “There is a long history, as you well know, of Church opposition in varying degrees to science and knowledge. Not ALL science and not ALWAYS opposed, but the record is not a happy one, to say the least.”

    Can you cite some instances?

    The two cases that are usually raised are Bruno and Gallileo: Bruno has been rather retrospectively adopted as a scientist (his “science” was no more than a sort of esoteric speculative philosophy), who was executed for his belief in magic (and, unfortunately, because of his unparalleled ability to alienate his patrons); Gallileo was essentially a victim of Roman politics and the Church’s formal acceptance of heliocentrism in the eighteenth century was no later than its acceptance by many other non-Catholic secular institutions.

    On which other occasions has the Church impeded science?

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  15. JabbaPapa says:

    Gallileo was also punished for his public statements specifically against the Church, and NOT for publishing his scientific discoveries.

    He enjoyed the support of the Jesuits during the argument surrounding his heliocentrism, and heliocentrism was not condemned, but the Church accepted it as a theory.

    Gallileo got himself into serious trouble (and lost his support from the Jesuits) when he published a work attacking Pope Urban VIII, which obviously has nothing whatsoever to do with Science.

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  16. JabbaPapa says:

    Quite apart from which, these claims against the Church are being made in the present tense — so that it is perfectly silly IMO to discuss the effects of some widespread scientific ignorance prior to 18th and especially 19th centuries as being either relevant to the modern Church, nor as being provided by the Church at the time instead of by the general ignorance of pre-Industrial Europe, and prior to the invention of industrialised printing and the mass production of educational and scientific literature.

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  17. The Raven says:

    Toad

    I am not sure that your last comment holds true: if you are going to critique religion, as Dr Dawkins does, then you have to know the subject-matter, otherwise you end up, as Dr Dawkins does, critiquing a fiction of your own creation instead of anything recognisable as religion.

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  18. kathleen says:

    It is indeed untrue to say that “the Church and its thinkers rail against Science“. Whilst it has often been stated that Science (the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment) and Catholicism run on two parallel lines, it is also a fact that Science has also been a helpful friend to the Church.
    The inability of scientific experiments to try and prove the Holy Shroud of Turin to be a fake (as many ‘dishonest’ atheists would have wished) is a prime example.

    From Wiki: “Many Roman Catholic clerics throughout history have made significant contributions to science. These cleric-scientists include such illustrious names as Nicolaus Copernicus, Gregor Mendel, Georges Lemaître, Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, Pierre Gassendi, Roger Joseph Boscovich, Marin Mersenne, Francesco Maria Grimaldi, Nicole Oresme, Jean Buridan, Robert Grosseteste, Christopher Clavius, Nicolas Steno, Athanasius Kircher, Giovanni Battista Riccioli, William of Ockham, and many others. Hundreds of others have made important contributions to science from the Middle Ages through the present day.
    The Church has also produced thousands of lay scientists and mathematicians, many of whom were the intellectual giants of their day… The Jesuits in particular have made numerous significant contributions to the development of science.

    IMO, Monsignor Georges Lemaitre (1894-1966) is probably one of the most prominent Catholic scientists of recent times, whose discoveries have had enormous impact on such figures as Einstein: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lemaître

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  19. teresa says:

    The discussion is getting here a little heated, but there are some important points which we should tackle.

    I think Toad pointed out one thing which is important: the Premise of our Monotheistic Religion and the very foundation is the statement “God is”. With this premise the religion would stand or fall. But the question whether there is God is not to be taken philosophically, that is the mistake made by the Deistic philosophers. Judaism and Christianity are not founded upon a philosophical and abstract statement “God is” which can be proven by abstract demonstration, but upon the Revelation. The Revelation is empirical, it doesn’t need to be proven. I think Thomas Aquinas is absolutely right in saying that an ontological demonstration for the existence of God is impossible, only an a demonstration a posteriori is according to him possible. The ontological demonstration for God’s existence made by Anselm of Canterbury is meant for the Christians, as he admitted himself, and not for un-believers, the aim of this ontological demonstration is to give the Believers a more precise understanding of God in whom they already believe in.

    Like St. Paul also said: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Cor. 15,14). Philosophically, we can’t convince anyone that God exists. Our Faith relies on historical facts in which God reveals Himself to us. We Christians confess that we believe that God is who gave Moses the tablet of commandments and who incarnated in the human nature of Jesus Christ, and made Jesus Christ rise from the death.

    Without this Belief in historic revelation, there would be no Faith.

    As for science and the Church I would just like to add that the Church is not against scientific development. The Gallileo process is studied by historians for Science history, there is one professor here who is specialized in history of science and his position is very much differentiated. There is also a good book on it written by a professor of the MIT: The Crime of Galileo
    http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/C/bo3627439.html

    To give my two pennies’ worth to the topic of the article: I would just like to add that Freud’s extensive writing on religion and culture should rather be taken as a kind of culture philosophy. He was not even really a psychologist, not according to today’s standard. Psychoanalysis is something essentially different to Psychology. They are two different academical disciplines.

    To be a doctor for psychoanalysis you must first study medicine (yes!), and then you get a training in psychoanalysis and you can open your praxis for it. At least the procedure is like this on European Continent.

    Psychology is now very empirical and the psychologists don’t think too highly of psychoanalysis because the latter is not considered to be an exact science.

    Nevertheless, Freud is an important figure of the culture history of the recent centuries so I think he deserves to be studied with greater care. I think the first take is to use the “Principle of Charity” (Donald Davison) and try first to understand what one’s partner or opponent is really trying to say, after that one can provide his own arguments, but not before.

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  20. kathleen says:

    Yet, along with flashes of genius, we find the most bizarre ideas in his writings — e.g., that mothers cuddle their babies only as a substitute for their desire to have sexual intercourse with them.”

    Freud might well have been a brilliant scientist and psychologist – certainly someone as insignificant and ignorant as me could not deny that – but this above statement is totally wrong. One of the strongest and most fundamental instincts of mothers, going back to man’s origins, is the love and protection of their offspring. Human beings could not possibly have survived if this had not been the case. There are absolutely no sexual connotations here whatsoever, and to me it seems rather ‘sick’ to even suggest such a thing.
    (OTOH, from the beginnings of man the male and female attraction leading to the obvious growth of the species to “increase and multiply….” leads to some interesting analysis. )

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  21. toadspittle says:

    .

    You are assuming Kreeft is reporting Freud accurately, Kathleen. Kreeft may indeed be doing just that. Nice to think so.
    On the other hand Kreef might have got this bit all round his neck. I don’t know enough about Freud to say either way. Perhaps someone more knowlegable can enlighten us?.

    However, as with Darwin, people are very quick to jump on a minor thing we now know he misinterpreted and then shout, “Yes! You see, Natural Selection is all wrong!”

    In Kreef’s take on Freud, mothers and babies, Toad suspects the contentious word here is “only.”In general, he finds Freud’s theories and hypothesis regarding sex interesting and plausible.
    But then, he’s only a Toad.

    “The inability of scientific experiments to try and prove the Holy Shroud of Turin to be a fake (as many dishonest atheists would have wished) is a prime example.”

    The scientific experiments were not trying to “prove” the shroud was a fake Kathleen. They were trying to assertain whether or not it was genuine. Almost the same thing. But not quite.
    (Toad thinks it’s a fake. But then he would, wouldn’t he?)
    Enjoyable discussion!

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  22. teresa says:

    Toad, I can’t profess to be more knowledgeable but in cases like this I often tend to look up in the original sources as I know a thinker can be oversimplified and even misinterpreted by his own followers and not to mention his opponents.

    So I just tried to find the source, and I must say I regret to find out that the presentation of Dr. Kreeft is not very accurate. Freud’s account of mother-infant-relationship goes back, as far as my findings now tell, to Freud’s treatise on Leonardo Da Vinci’s childhood memory (Eine Kindheitserinnerung des Leonardo da Vinci, Chapter IV). There, he mentioned Da vinci’s memory of his early widowed mother kissing him overtly passionately on the mouth. And Freud surmises that she might have been compensating the child with her overtly passionate kiss for the loss of his father and also compensating, at the same time, for her own early loss of man. This deprived the child Da Vinci of his muscularity, which hadn’t been developed in full through too much attention and cuddling from his mother. He was not generalizing it to all mothers nor making a law out of it. The following is the link to this original work of him (in German):
    http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/buch/908/4

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  23. Robert John Bennett says:

    If psychoanalysis is supposed to lead to a liberation of the human spirit – and perhaps even to happiness – then you would expect the creator of psychoanalysis to have died a reasonably contented man. And yet Freud’s life, according to an authoritative documentary by the American Public Broadcasting Service, and according to other reliable sources as well, did not end happily: “Freud committed suicide in 1939 by a lethal dose of morphine….” (http://to.pbs.org/A0Ull2)

    Dr. Kreeft is correct about Freud making great contributions to the field of psychology, but perhaps we should have some reservations about the theories of this man, when, in the end, those theories did not prevent him from succumbing to pain and despair and taking his own life.

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  24. teresa says:

    Robert, again I would like to suggest more caution. Why, because I have some friends who are doing some studies in the area.

    One of my friends, a conservative priest (who is a supporter of the Tridentine Mass), wrote a book on Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor. Viktor Frankl tried suicide in his youth. Afterwards he developed a method of psychotherapy for people with suicide tendency. According to your logic, we must have great reservation with his theory. But he is widely accepted among conservative Catholic intellectuals. He has an influence upon Catholic philosophy.

    Again, a friend of mine, a Catholic as well, had experience with suffering as a young man, he is now writing an extensive academical work on the phenomenon of suffering and tries to explore its metaphysical and theological meaning. These negative experiences with melancholy, depressing and suffering whatsoever can be used in a positive way.

    Btw. why Freud committed suicide, it is not acceptable for Catholics but comprehensible as it had a far less speculative reason: Freud was afflicted by palatal cancer. At his time, no pain therapy like today’s advanced medicine. He asked his doctor to give him an overdose of morphine and made an end of the terrible pain under which he suffered.
    To read at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigmund_Freud

    Btw. I am not saying that we should accept Freud unconditionally, I for one, do have reservation towards his theory. I was only trying to say that the reason that he was suicidal and thus he was unhappy and thus his theory was not good, is somewhat too simplistic and a more convincing argument is needed to promote our Catholic culture and cause.

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  25. toadspittle says:

    “If psychoanalysis is supposed to lead to a liberation of the human spirit – and perhaps even to happiness…” says Robert John.

    Well, Robert John, as you so shrewdly imply, the weasel word here is “if.”

    In fact, it is not “supposed” to lead to any such thing. Simply to try to explain why we are all in such a bollocks, as Jabba is fond of saying, here on Planet Earth.

    Sex, apparently.(Or religion. Or either. Or Both. Or neither?) Original sin, anyone?

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  26. toadspittle says:

    .

    “The inability of scientific experiments to try and prove the Holy Shroud of Turin to be a fake (as many dishonest atheists would have wished) is a prime example.”

    Toad has already commented on the above, from Kathleen, and apologises for repeating the quote. But it raises so many wonderful, and amusing, possibilites that we simply must stop and contemplate it. The redoubtable Dr. Kreeft, despite getting somewhat of a mauling on here, has come up with a splendid new concept, “The Dishonest Atheist.”
    Kathleen, off the mark like one of Toad’s greyhounds after a rat, instantly has this deluded unfortunate decrying the authenticity of the Holy Shroud of Turin.
    What are we to make of this? Would an Honest Atheist admit the authenticy of the highly debabtable bit of fabric?
    Perhaps the Dishonest Atheist secretly believes the shroud to be genuine, but is too Dishonest to admit it? Even more bizarre when we move onto Honest (honest) Agnostics and Honest (or Dishonest) Catholics.
    Would a Dishonest Catholic who disbelieved in the authentiticy of The Shroud feel obliged to lie about his beliefs asks Toad
    Surely they would. But that would be a sin .As to Dishonest Agnostics, well God only knows what we would think, or do.

    Help, please, Dr, Kreef!.

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  27. kathleen says:

    Dear Toad….. I’m afraid it’s you that’s a bit off the mark here ;-). I was actually using the term “dishonest atheist” sort of tongue in cheek – Jabba and you had already shown the ridiculousness of putting atheists (or anyone for that matter) into categories like this – yet I obviously didn’t make that clear.

    The scientific experiments were not trying to “prove” the shroud was a fake Kathleen. They were trying to assertain whether or not it was genuine.”

    Yes, that is a better way of putting it Toad – thank you. However there have been people of all sorts of ideologies involved in these scientific experiments on the Holy Shroud. One can hopefully presume that their beliefs (or lack of them) did not interfere in their professionalism when they undertook these experiments.

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  28. toadspittle says:

    .

    You are very gracious, Kathleen. Honestly.

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  29. kathleen says:

    Teresa, thank you for that interesting information on Leonardo Da Vinci’s childhood memories where Peter Kreeft got his now probable “myth”, re mothers and babies. I’m surprised that an author/speaker as respected and well known as Kreeft (whom I personally have always admired) could have twisted such a tale……i.e. if he really did.

    Btw, did you mean to say masculinity rather than muscularity in your comment: “ This deprived the child Da Vinci of his muscularity” ?

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  30. JabbaPapa says:

    teresa’s comments are worthy of some more thoughtful responses, because whilst I disagree with some of them, they are nevertheless very clearly rational, and therefore deserving of some respectful appraisal.

    kathleen : Freud might well have been a brilliant scientist and psychologist – certainly someone as insignificant and ignorant as me could not deny that – but this above statement is totally wrong. One of the strongest and most fundamental instincts of mothers, going back to man’s origins, is the love and protection of their offspring. Human beings could not possibly have survived if this had not been the case. There are absolutely no sexual connotations here whatsoever, and to me it seems rather ‘sick’ to even suggest such a thing.

    The same can mostly be said of kathleen’s statement generally, except that some recent research suggests a reality that disagrees with Freud for the basic reasons that she provides, but mainly disagrees in the specifics of the social mechanisms.

    It has been demonstrated that the mother’s so-called instinct appears in fact to be a social construct rather than being inherent to the individual ; except that it remains inherent to the species, so that where a mother may be unwilling to care for her offspring, the social group(s) to which she belongs will nearly always be willing to do so (some local taboos and customs, such as he current propaganda for abortion as a solution for various personal crises, may violate the general rule).

    The basic element of the social group being, of course, the family.

    The link between mother and child is an extremely powerful one, but the Freudian notion that it is overpowering is an exaggeration ; because the normal relationship is between child and family and community ; rather than the Oedipal mother/son psychosis.

    There is a sexual element in these various interrelationships between the various members of a community and their various offspring ; but it is of a collectively procreative nature, and not an erotic one.

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  31. JabbaPapa says:

    “If psychoanalysis is supposed to lead to a liberation of the human spirit – and perhaps even to happiness…” says Robert John.

    Well, Robert John, as you so shrewdly imply, the weasel word here is “if.”

    Very concisely analysed, toad. I agree with you 🙂

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  32. teresa says:

    Dear Kathleen, thank you so much for pointing out this spelling error of mine, indeed I meant “masculinity”!
    I was asking me the same question like you how Dr. Kreeft was able to make such a mistake, he was professor at Boston College…
    I am reading one article by Freud and what Freud writes is quite different to what Dr. Kreeft says. The most astonishing thing is, Dr. Kreeft said that Freud was the father of sexual liberation, while I read that Freud said that the adults who are to take care of the child should not seduce the child because it will lead to neuroses later and harm the child.
    For example here in his “On the Female sexuality” (1931)
    “Wo Verführung einwirkt, stört sie regelmäßig den natürlichen Ablauf der Entwicklungsvorgänge; oft hinterläßt sie weitgehende und andauernde Konsequenzen.” (Where there is a seduction of the child, it will disturb regularly the natural process of the development and leave extensive and enduring consequences).
    http://www.textlog.de/freud-psychoanalyse-weibliche-sexualitaet.html
    Freud was an atheist, no doubt, but he was not the enemy Dr. Kreeft is trying to create for us.
    But perhaps I should search a little further to see whether there is something else which Freud wrote on mutter-child-relationship.

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  33. toadspittle says:

    .
    .

    .” I am not saying that we should accept Freud unconditionally..” says Teresa. Most of us seem remarkably in concert over this topic.
    Not a good idea to accept anything unconditionally. Thinks Toad.

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  34. JabbaPapa says:

    I think Toad pointed out one thing which is important: the Premise of our Monotheistic Religion and the very foundation is the statement “God is”. With this premise the religion would stand or fall. But the question whether there is God is not to be taken philosophically, that is the mistake made by the Deistic philosophers. Judaism and Christianity are not founded upon a philosophical and abstract statement “God is” which can be proven by abstract demonstration, but upon the Revelation. The Revelation is empirical, it doesn’t need to be proven.

    Empirical is going a bit far … the Revelation is always *personal*, but the means whereby anyone receives it are perfectly variable.

    And you are mistaken if you think that philosophy cannot be a means of Revelation, because God can, and He will, use whichever means He chooses as being appropriate to provide a Revelation to whomever. Most receive their Revelation through the Religion, its teachings, and through the actions of the Faithful. Some however receive it through a direct Revelation, or through the theology, or the philosophy, or through any other particular or unusual means.

    The statement “God is” can in fact be examined in a philosophical manner, even though it has a gnomic quality that you quite rightly describe as being irreducible.

    I think Thomas Aquinas is absolutely right in saying that an ontological demonstration for the existence of God is impossible, only an a demonstration a posteriori is according to him possible.

    I’d qualify that, by pointing out that it is humanly impossible only — it is not impossible to the Grace of God.

    Like St. Paul also said: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Cor. 15,14). Philosophically, we can’t convince anyone that God exists.

    Philosophically, Philosophy is the only means whereby a Philosopher may be convinced 🙂

    (that, and an open heart)

    Our Faith relies on historical facts in which God reveals Himself to us. We Christians confess that we believe that God is who gave Moses the tablet of commandments and who incarnated in the human nature of Jesus Christ, and made Jesus Christ rise from the death.

    Without this Belief in historic revelation, there would be no Faith.

    Without the understanding that History does not obey the instructions of human Logic, nor indeed does Reality in general obey them, the abandonment of the earthly pride that conversion demands will be quite difficult…

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  35. teresa says:

    Jabba, I think you are right in pointing out the word “empirical” as problematic. As Revelation is supernatural so not relying on senses, on the other hand, God uses history for his Revelation thus His Revelation has also an empirical side which is however non-essential to the Revelation. To be more precise, I would like to add that the Revelation I was talking about is the History of Israel as the Old Covenant and the incarnation, life and death of Jesus Christ, and not of the revelation the prophets and later the private revelation Christian mystics got.

    To your second point I must disagree, philosophy relies on natural reason, whilst the revelation relies on supernatural reason, that is why philosophy can never be a mean of revelation.

    Thomas Aquinas said, the philosophy is the handmaid of theology.

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