You say that you want to be extremely rational because you have a «visceral hate» for your father, who was religious and therefore «irrational and harmful to me»; eventually you add that you want to make this visceral hate coexist with your rationality because you feel that the former feeds and fuels the latter, and consequently you deem this a form of cooperation
I am glad that you see that it fuels.
In fact, it is exactly
what it does. Some have even given to it a name: pulsion
Although it fuels disguised enmity, rather than candid cooperation.
Now, the problem with pulsions is that they do not act like an impersonal
fuel. They do more than merely supporting another system whatever in a purely functional manner. They may corrode
the fueled target, and turn it into their puppet
. Like a remote control, you know.
This, particularly becasue they keep springing from one polluted
Why they can do that? Because oftentimes we have no check on them. It just pumps energy and fury
into its targeted mental entity, and may make you become as much of a fundamentalist as any religious fundamentalist can go, only that you're now enrolled under another banner: rather than religion, yours is labeled "rationality".
Rationality as a symptom
rather than as a function
That is: the fuel pumps in fundamentalism
, and the target is rationality
The French Terror (to name one) was packed with it.
They have given to it a name also: counter-dependency.
Fundamentally, this means that one may be dependent upon one's biography (you mentioned: "father") not inasmuch as one follows its (or his, if we think of a father) prescriptions, but inasmuch as you make a point of contradicting any. One may live like a negative
of what one wants to disengage oneself from.
And at that point, obviously, you're not disengaged in the least.
The emotional motivator is giving to you ITS
At an integrated level, emotions may still fuel - but they are no longer allowed to do that undisturbed. They are inspected, eviscerated, understood until one knows that they are not just kicking your butt around.
If inspected, eviscerated, understood, the fuel may even stop flowing - it will stop flowing from that source ("visceral hate
") and be reallocated to more profitable pulsional departments - some like Eric Fromm called it love, Freud called it drive to live, Nietzsche will to power.
If thinking about an element of your biography you feel that it ignites an emotional reaction, what you need to do is to be sure that the emotional reaction becomes available to you in a manner that is totally independent from that biographical element.
So the (rational) theory (in a nutshell) goes.
ps Keep also in mind that psychoanalysis is about the oneiric
life - if this is not understood (and at times it isn't, this is why I add this), it means one has not understood yet (and it's no fault, to be sure) what psychoanalysis is concerned with: as Freud himself stated «Dreams are the golden highway to the unconscious». That is, dreams give to you clues, hints and evidence about what is operating in the unconscious
background, because dreams are dreamt when conscience as we know it when awake has no role in their shaping.
Some argue that though Freud undoubtedly laid the groundwork of modern psychology, nonetheless his «psychology has been irrelevant for decades».
Well if you think of how much vocabulary psychology owes to him - true, a few terms existed already but they had no sound and focused framework around them: it was Freud who gave them widespread popularity and a solid or even brand new foundation which perpetuated itself winning over the earlier one. Even more: between the nomenclature of Immanuel Kant
(with his paraphernalia of a priori, syntetic, analytic, pure reason, trascendental logic, trascendental illusory appearances, trascendental ideas, antinomies, cosmological idea
and so on...) proposed to explain cognitive processes and the lexicon proposed by Freud, Freud's terminologies won hands down.
Narcissism, coation, compulsion, obsession, abreaction, unconscious (!), ego/es (id)/superego, oedipus complex, psychological complex, psychic constellation, thanatos vs eros, libido, association method, interpretation of dreams
(he gave it a whole brand new meaning), cathartic method, death instinct, condensation, displacement, pulsion/drive, lapsus, sublimation, primal fantasies, oral/anal/phallic/genital phases, invidia penis, fear of castration, regression, resistance, censure, dreamwork, taboo, hypnosis
(yes already used by Charcot, agreed, but never elaborated at length like with Freud - hypnosis is used still today: for instance, accounts of recent therapeutical and successful
use of it in The Sociopath Next Door
, well unless it was The Myth Of Sanity
)... and I am certain I have forgotten quite a few (for one, «psychoanalysis
» itself lol).
Oh and terminable and interminable analysis
: for like with medicine at times you heal, but other times, unfortunately, you need to keep taking your drugs your whole life.
Oh, another one pops up: paranoia
- the famous Schreber Case
lifted it to a new impressive dignity!
Mmmh, and again another one, and of capital importance (I have heard it used in an hospital by a MD and not by a psychologist not long ago!): transfert
(or transference *
, in English).
For a man whose theories have been "irrelevant for decades" it is quite remarkable a legacy used still today
. I wish we had in our days psychiatrists or psychologists who could provide so many concepts to their field - whilst at best they provide a couple :)
The problem with Freud has always been that he was focused on the pathological
man (thence the accusation of being "pessimist"). But the sad fact is that not only we frequently meet exactly pathological types, but everyone, me included, still hosts pathological sides. It never becomes unseasonable or ill timed.
The other accusation is his focus on sexuality - but we had recently right on the internet on some forums a thread titled Why are so many religious people (seemingly) obsessed with sex?
, started not later than... on summer 2012
- for a man whose legacy is allegedly bygone, it seems instead that we still find considerable instances of pathological behaviour that fully falls under Freud's "sexual" umbrella and about which laymen keep wondering whereas all the answers are already
Another thing that caused dissent was his concept of invidia penis
(which matches a man's fear for castration). But I can attest I have met persons who undoubtedly had it, so deep seated
was their illogical hatred
for the other sex - I am sure all of you have met a few, in this
Eventually, we have his best contribution that so few understand - the oedipus complex
. It is regrettable to see that so few persons understand that it exists, how it develops in the very first years of a child, and how dramatically it may affect and utterly destroy a whole life. In my opinion, the best statement I can make about it is that I have never, never seen anything more destructive in a man's life. And by destructive I mean that if it presents itself with some virulence and is left unsolved it may murder you - physically.
An activated and unsolved (that is: unrecognized
as such...) Oedipus Complex is a killer
that at first stalks you stealthly and eventually assassinates you or those arond you brutally
. An unsolved serious Oedipus is unforgiving
What made emerge this oedipic component was exactly hypnosis at first, and eventually dream analysis - some dreams are unmistakable not because they are about explicit sexual acts (indeed, if they are explicit
, they signal a solution of the complex: the patient's unconscious may finally admit the bare "naked" action...), but because they involve an amount of emotional energies addressed so obsessively towards a parent in dreams, that it's only compatible, really, with an underlying pulsional drive that revolves around sexual connotations. Smells like a rose, looks like a rose... see, duh, maybe... it's a rose
There is a residual question: why the Oedipus Complex
That is, what may its (evolutionary
, to name one, or ontogenetic
) purpose be, provided the Oedipus is so easily subject to be turned into so grim and nefarious a dis-function?
In order to address this question it is preferable to decompile the oedipal aggregate into its components, so to make understood first what in it is a fact and what a thesis.
Without this preliminary operation, it may be impossibile to determine what in such a question may be ascribed to a misunderstanding and what to a proper understanding of the Oedipus: that is, is it a dysfunction or is it that the spectator has not understood what The Oedipus is and, consequently, turns a cognitive issue that pertains to him/her into one lent to the oedipical structure?
Is it the beholder, or the beheld?
of the Oedipus Complex as a mental formation is not
an hypothesis, but a finding
(and therefore a fact: mental
, and yet still a fact
): there are deductions drawn from it that are, indeed, hypothesis - but as such they come into play only at a second stage.
For a person used to the findings of empirical science, this may sound puzzling because so much of our empirical science today revolves around laboratory
experiments: we have been grown surreptitiously accustomed to the idea that if you haven't a vial or a photography, a microscope or a telescope, you can see no good, no evil, and no finding
However, the fact that in the case of the Oedipus our laboratory is not composed of inorganic and insentient samples arrayed on an anonymous shelf but instead of an organic and thinking entity, namely an onymous human being walking, should not induce us into being indulgent with our aforementioned biased custom: a human being is as much valid a specimen to release empirical corroborations as any other laboratory reagent (or if you prefer a really ugly
comparison: as any other guinea pig) is.
If for some odd reason somebody may deem vivisection of a primate or the decapitation of mice as a reliable path to evidence, and the observation of inorganic
matter as another reliable source of evidence, and yet
a wholesome organic and living human biological entity as no longer reliable a source of evidence, the onus of supporting such disparity of treatment towards evidences with a rationale capable of standing inquiry rests squarely upon such somebody
We all know (well, for an indubitable
fact: we have
them) that most dreams exhibit a narrative, a seeming plot
This is why your dreams are something you can tell - they are not rhapsodies of mere colors or sounds like (say) an aurora borealis
, but they are sequences of structured events - and though they may resemble more an impassionated fairy tale from the Arabian Nights
rather than an impersonally balanced and well tempered essay by David Hume, fairy tales still sport an extremely elevated degree of characterization
despite their fleeting or ghastly appearance and momentous coups de théâtre
, and a degree of structure that anthropology has proved beyond dispute
These narrations and plots can be considered accordingly to two levels.
One is the individual dream.
Another one is found, instead, taking into account sequences
of dreams (garnered through weeks, months, years) that seem busy repeating, reformulating, clarifying, elaborating further and further, and reproposing one same plot theme
Indeed, once considered as sequences (and for the sake of a good metaphor), dreams afford a kind of consistency akin to that which we may get and feel by watching (after all, also a dream is watched
) a sequence of installments of one very same TV series. In TV series the single installments may vary in their details, but the overall characters, situations, topos
and stereotypes, hideous crimes and smart detectives, are indeed recurring and supply each given TV series with an identity whose physiognomy survives its modulations. There is a theme
: somebody is saying and acting something, there beyond the river and across the trees.
those levels, this oneiric plot insistently, and even with obstinacy, may propose a whole gamut of actions very much and very clearly emotionally laden (again, on two levels: both for the avatar of the dreamer, namely his/her own ego as experienced in the dream, and for the person who dreamt the dream and which may feel very upset
and at times even sickened by recolleting it once awake) all introducing and addressing the dreamer's parents
You may be surprised by the high and nearly daily frequency with which relatives appear in the dreams of a person that has a strong unresolved Oedipus complex, and how instead such previously omnipresent parents suddenly disappear
from the dream scene, in order to show up again only once in a fluke (maybe even less than once a year) in that very same person, once the Oedipus Complex has been solved.
One would really need to account for this weird finding
The intensity with which the relations between the son or daughter and his/her parents are depicted by these dreams may at times reach heights that are nothing less than shakespearean
Jelousy, assassinations, the sound and the fury, sudden betryals, accurately planned crimes, rape, violence, torture, passionate elans
of affection, delusions, tantrums, suspiciousness, extermination of family members, cruelties of any kind, mutilations of or inflicted by a parent, frauds, thefts, escapades, romance - the dreamer is busy exchanging with his oneiric family members a whole gamut of deeply
emotionally laden actions.
Violence appears the quintessential hallmark of a contended and troubled pulsional world on the rise
- a civil war or an infighting suddenly flaring within the young child facing for the first time his or her pulsional inheritance, a brave new world that is striving and struggling to attain an equilibrium
on a battleground where everything is still into the most dubious and fluid state.
As an aside, it is true that you may induce gruesome dreams also with some drugs (as scarcely understood side effects
, actually), but are we serious with this objection? For it implies that since I can make a person sleep also by administering an aenesthetic, then sleeping wouldn't be foremost and first of all a natural
function to be explained as such.
This is a fact, this is a finding
: the patient (as a source of evidence) reports
(to the psychoanalyst) such dreams.
It may well be that an oneiric activity may have also its biological substratum oriented towards the goal of granting neuronal integrity and memory elaboration.
But nothing, absolutely nothing, in the psychoanalytical approach obstructs or stands in the way of neural sciences: the two goals, the psychological one and the physical one, may not only coexist but, as a matter of fact, they might even be... cooperating
It is, as hinted at the beginning, only a consequence of having misunderstood the Oedipus Complex what may lead neurologists who are extremely
competent in neurology but scarcely acquainted with psychonalaysis to mistake the Oedipus Complex for a contender
Nothing in psychoanalysis jeopardizes neurology.
And yet one still
really needs to account also
for such stunning
oneiric plots so pervicaciously oriented in one recurring and nearly obsessive direction: the parental one.
If we mistake the Oedipus Complex by its vulgate namely a child who wants to have sexual intercourse
with the parent of the opposite sex, we may miss the real meaning of the Oedipus Complex.
Speaking of a sexual desire about the Oedipus, is only the convenient synthetic syntagm to signify that what we see activated in these dreams is the whole range of actions that an extremely passionate (and also extremely immature
... as the age of the child might warrant, actually) lover might enact in real
life in order to win the love and affection of a craved counterpart and to gain the unconditional possession of the girl/man of his/her most diehard yearnings.
This is a finding
; maybe the representational unit or name («Oedipus
») is not of our liking, but it is still just a conventional name to mean a wider context and plot which nonetheless and positively exists
and needs to be accounted for - the alternative being very
unscientifical, namely... ignoring it or brushing it aside as something that does not really need to be explained.
Now, saying it is a love story is much more than, say, an "educated guesswork": it really seems the
explanation of the plot
It is not that this explanation («it is a love story») would have been unlikely: it is rather the contrary.
That is, it would rather be another and different
explanation («it is nothing», «it is a child who needs more toys», «it is a spoiled child», «it is just imagination - very consistent
but, well, just imagination») to be unlikely.
Indeed, these oneiric plots seem desperate love stories
: imagining that they are not what they so much seem to be, is what would be needed to be demonstrated
(and not the other way round) for such dreams protest and «demonstrate» vehemently and repeatedly for their... face value!
And here comes the hypothesis
: this happens because the child, while his/her encephalic system matures, necessarily begins to experience the whole gamut of emotions and pulsions that such encephalic system is designed to produce (in the limbic system) and to manage (in the cortex)
With the ripening of the structure come the functions. And please note that among these many functions there is also sexuality
as one of the most capital ones.
Can you now imagine a very young cortex having to deal for the first time with the whole emotional baggage and imprinting of human emotions and with pulsions of such sweeping an importance?
The child has to cope. Indeed, childhood is no happy age. As soon as the lymbic system begins to be better synchronized and connected with the cortex, and the pathways begin to be laid, the implied functionalities erupt, and the cargos begin to transit.
As an aside, it is immediately apparent what ominous consequences it could have a misplacing of the neuronal joints preposed to administer such emotions and pulsions, if something goes awry (and with a dysfunctional
may go awry!) at such premature and defining moment, with a very young human being still in becoming.
This occurs at an early age. It is not coincidence, in fact, that Freud's findings
allocated the first emergence of the Oedipus Complex between 3 and 5 years of age, after which there is a relapse and again a last re-emergence - around 13 years of (well, teen
The hypothesis (after the finding
) is that the child, as a young human being eager and ready to run the first tests and to laborate his/her capacity to relate with other human beings as one of the most critical functions that his/her biological system demands
of him/her, finds the most natural object for such exercises in his/her parents
(though a substitute human character may do as well, were such a character persistently present in the life of the child).
The rest, either you can imagine it or, well, you know it
You wonder why women seem attracted to what you call «assh*les».
(male/logical function) vs Anima
Actually Jungian theory says that women have an unconscious animus, men an unconscious anima (though, as an aside and in my opinion, it would be better understood if we assume they have both).
However, so: a woman has unconscious logical functions and conscious emotional functions.
A man has conscious logical functions, unconscious emotional functions.
A man may become a son of a *** (what you call an "assh*le") because his emotions are unseen, and from the unconscious realm they pump their pulsional force upon the logical layers - this may produce a man who uses his logics to do (pulsional) harm.
A woman may act totally irrationally (what we may call a dork?), because her logical functions are unseen, and from their unconscious realm they may pump warped logical conclusions (being the logical function unconscious, conscience has less grip on their making) upon the emotional layers - this may produce a woman who feels one thing with her emotions and yet does an inconsistent one with her actions (that is, she falls in love precisely with that "assh*le" that she just vehemently protested to detest).
So a theory (the Jungian one) more or less goes.
ps Freud was very much of a rationalist, and yet his science was as much instable (when compared with the rigors of physics
, that is) as medicine or seismology or paleontology can be.
But I doubt this can be ascribed as a fault of his, or of his rationality - psychoanalysis is
rather than philological
And it is such so much, that Jung even said that we do not inherit only our physical
traits with our genes, but also many general abstract
ideas that he called archetypes
, whereas in fact archeo
mean exactly the same thing: «very old
You have asked: «Why are so many religious people (seemingly) obsessed with sex?»
It probably works like this (borrowing some clues also by The Future Of An Illusion
): the personality is dominated by fear.
Fear of the outer world, of oneself, of everything. It was Freud who argued (Beyond the Pleasure Principle
) that the first thing that a living (organic) matter may have tried to do was to reverse to the inorganic
This fundamentally means that any incoming sensory data may be experienced as a wound
: if so, at the beginning even a snap of fingers was suitable to be received as a wound of overwhelming incoming sensory data. And later on, it may have become only a matter of until what level your (and that of your species) tolerance threshold evolved
- beyond that level, you begin experiencing incoming data once again as an intolerable wound, a wound you must protect yourself from.
Some persons may have felt so intensely.
So, they created an extremely cautious way of living, where both the outer world and the inner wolrd were as much excluded as possibile (please not that this means that also creativity
was excluded as incoming and potentially injurious data - do not mistake introversion
for character defenses
At this point this way of being (or of... not being) was passed down to the raised generations (you may be surprised how one singe neurotic trait of a patriarch or of a matriarch may keep reproducing itself throughout whole families for generations
However, these persons had to keep defending themselves against a stronger foe: for pulsions
are very strong stuff, formidable stuff (love, hate, hunger, fear, flee, thirst, sex...).
The more you defend against them and you try to shut them down, the more they grow and accumulate into the hidden basins of the unconscious.
After a while you have this: a person who tries to block everything and who is yet so packed
with frustrated pulsions that the latter are just too strong and begin emerging and oozing in the most warped manners (warped
, because they cannot present themselves before the conscience with their natural shape - for such a conscience accepts almost nothing, almost no shape).
This is how you can build a formally incredibly correct person that nonetheless behind closed doors may be a monster. It doesn't even need to actually perform monstruous deeds - it may just be the pyschology that is so
warped that, when after some familiarity with such a person you realize how it is, you may really hear a consistent alarm bell ringing into your head and a feeling of disgust hitting your guts.
Sadly and unfortunately, since religion can lend itself so easily to be misunderstood for a set of rigid rules rather than to be understood as a path to superior states of conscience and knowledge, you may find this psychological type exactly within religious groups.
saying that religious groups are like that: only saying that a religious setting plays well as the elective hiding lair
for such personalities.
Given the violent nature of the non-theists in here it's no wonder this forum population is 29:4 against. Most Christians are probably wisely avoiding this viper pit - wiser than me probably.
You know, religion: the most misunderstood topic in the world.
Freud claimed that religion is a defensive mechanism and he raised a lot of opposition (as he always gathered) but, indeed, under he was right: most human beings do use religion as a defensive mechanism. The fact Freud predicated or noticed that, does not mean that all religious persons must be like that.
Freud was interested in the pathological
human being, not in the "sane" one. And given the way the world goes, should we wonder that pathology, rather than sanity, takes so high a toll within the psyche of human beings?
It is perfectly possible to agree with Freud and be still religious or theist.
Yet, can we find a religious person able to say that Freud was right
Maybe - but now, can we find a Christian person who is able to say that Christ
was right? I doubt mostly the latter, at least at times.
For you name a word here: "vipers
". You certainly know this was a word used by Christ himself (and if one does not believe in Christ, yet one may still acknowledge that in the "holy" texts one does not believe in, yet those passages are certainly present).
Only, in the case made by Christ, rather than to a-theists he used it for... theists! Go figure!
The specific passage can be found, for instance in Matthew (here
) or Luke.
But by and large, I'd invite everybody to read these two pages (you have three minutes yes?): Matthew 23
and Luke 11:37-52
Don't those seem the words of an... heretic
One ought to suspect that a religious person ought to stay away from churches, accordingly to Christ himself.
Although I don't think that was the point, He certainly meant to stay away from religious hypocrisy and fundamentalism.
But now, does one need to be religious in order to be like those persons addressed by Christ?
Again, let's face it like a myth, like a Jungian archetype
if we prefer so: the so called Original Sin
consists exactly in that: thinking one may replace the transcendent and make the human a valid alternative to a god (or do without transcendence). This is considered in that "myth" the typical sin of humans.
And that has to be a viper, for in order to be convinced that you wield omnipotence or that you are enough to do without transcendence, you cannot be anything else: and if you weren't already, you are at higher
risk of turning into one, probably.
So this myth does not concern religious people only, but atheist ones too: for it was meant as a mythological datagram for everybody
In short: you can find vipers everywhere. Either because they are without a god, or because they have mundane gods, or even because they do have a god.
In all cases they are sepulchres with a tint: vipers with a mask - wouldn't that fit as well? In Sheep's Clothing
Does that matter whether clothing is religion or atheism?
Human nature is the same at all times and in all its travesties
Indeed, the fact is so sad and so common, that one should believe in a god uniquely because of that: for a human race that has always proved to be so stupid and evil and hopeless should have been extinct long ago if left to its own devices.
At times I do wonder: how's possible we are still here? The degree of stupidity that human beings have is not compatible with our success as a race.
Yet, here we are: after endless wars, after the killing fields, and after all the evil we all do in our daily lives.
tried to explain that otherwise, but I still find that the amount of obtuseness we humans have is still not compatible with any viable explanation. One really needs to imagine that we do have an original evil streak, and that is the true cause of all our woes.
The problem to humans has never been nature, nor tigers, nor predators: the real big problem has always been humans themselves. Go out and count how many problems today you got because of natural forces and how many were caused by humans, and you will wonder like myself perhaps: how's possible we're still here?
Freud: "The voice of the intellect is a feeble
one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing". Maybe it's that. Or maybe something over there, stronger than us and than all our stupid actions, in some mysterious way fixes that.
For if in the world all those who self proclaim themselves atheists (let's imagine to play by that playbook, and that we may entertain no hope at all for religious dudes) were indeed one tenth as good or even as rational persons as they claim to be, and all of this just
because of being godless, Promiseland would be a reality already
Didn't know that about Freud. I have noticed the veracity. though. I chalk it up to EGO-centrism issues of which one can get much more understanding from Freud
Freud summarized this in a work whose title is already telling: check it here *
yourself, I don't wanna spoil the surprise.
I consider myself a theist and I have no problem in acknowledging that Freud was right. Of course, I am aware that perhaps one may be accused that it may be a little too convenient assuming Freud right for the others but not for ourselves.
However, I can remember distinctly a period in my life when religion, for me, was also, and doubtlessly, a defensive mechanism. So, personally, I cannot say that Freud wasn't right.
Indeed, it is when you emancipate religion from that role, that religion becomes beautiful, and it is no longer at risk of swerving into fundamentalism.
You cannot reach Jung and his archetypes, namely the "sane" man, if first you did not get rid, at least as far as possible in the given circumstances, of the pathological one.
And now, unfortunately, in order to get rid of the pathological one it's not sufficient to be atheists: if it were so, we all could be sane at a very cheap price and Freud always contended that sanity could come cheap.
Freud says we become easily
ill - the bible that we are even born
As for the topology
you mention (ego, id, superego), which Freud considered the "economical
" (his term) structure of the psyche, it is another very misunderstood part of Freud. The ego is sieged by two forces: one is an immense and native
pulsional basin made of biological drives, the id
; the other an immense and artificial
basin made of learned commandments or instructions.
Squeezed between these two vastly superior forces, the ego is so easily unbalanced from its footing, that a healthy person seems a rare find. This amounts to a simple lesson: psychological life is, just like life, tough
Contended between those superior forces, our egos easily grow into puppets. One may say one believes in a god only because one doesn't know better, and another to believe in no god because, actually, s/he believes in it too much (within the id).
Jung too concurred, actually: what we are in our ego, is normally
of what we are in our id
, and it is actually in this enantiomer
consists: the very religious person can be unconsciously very blasphemous and his/her religion a cover up for those blasphemous drives s/he is unable to cope with: hence it gets nicely accounted how's possible that so many religious persons were responsible of so many crimes.
Conversely, the very unreligious person can actually be an unconscious amazing bigot, using his/her atheism as a cover up for a very unyielding and fundamentalist unconscious neural net: which accounts for how comes so liberated a person harbors often so much hatred or so high and narcissistic an image of oneself - there is no god so, well, I am god: this is the underlying unconscious persuasion when atheism turns ugly.
Jung spoke of "integration" as the only way out. And both Jung and Freud concurred that dreams are a psychic product that, untrammeled by an active conscience, release hints about what is truly within when conscience cannot interfere with its defensive mechanisms undisturbed.
We navigate in dire waters that are at least as insidious ad those of Odysseus.
And for too many, as Freud stated, religion is just an "illusion" (or, alternative translation, a self "delusion" meant to unsuccessfully tame pulsional drives).
But then, self delusion is our favorite sport: for theists and atheists alike, the former believing that by merely going to church they are more moral, the latter by believing that by merely refusing any religion they are smarter.
I wish it were so easy. For me it has never been. The way I fought with religion has been for me a matter of life and death. I don't claim that I have come to any conclusion that I may prescribe, nor even that my struggle was harder or better than anyone's else - I only say that I did struggled, and comparatively with my evidently very limited means that was a very draining fight, and once you have fought with the Leviathan you don't know any longer "by hearsay", and you "won't try again". Religion becomes like war for generals: too serious a business to leave it to priests.
To me the image of Jacob fighting with an angel and coming out a cripple has a meaning. I cannot say the meaning it has to me is the one the Bible meant (how could I tell?). But I know that such image, that maybe for some is insignificant, to me makes at least some sense: religion is something you fight
with, and when you're done it leaves you changed.
I have nothing against atheists: but I often came to think that theists of the fundamental streak may constantly fight with atheists of another fundamental streak because, fundamentally, they seem to deserve (or at any rate they seem to understand) each other, as if what truly places them in the shared arena is that unconscious (or superegoic, or both) fundamentalist drive that too often they seem to share.
Both so often seem dudes of equally unforgiving beliefs.
Miracles prove nothing
Exactly. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can shake a person from his/hers beliefs. In fact, miracles are not enough
Simone Weil *
, who was theist, argued anyway that the purpose of miracles could not be that of persuading (as Christ himself stated in the above link) for the valid reason that "if miracles constitute proofs, they prove too much".
At any rate, she did not find miracles incompatible with science at all: "Miracles are compatible with scientific conceptions, provided we admit that a most advanced kind of science might explain them".
Indeed, Simone Weil argues more: that the term "miracles" is an erroneous translation. That the correct translation would be "good deeds
Which hits the point squarely. For it is not that miracles prove nothing, and that no miracle can persuade us. It is so much worse
It is that even mere good actions are insignificant to us, and we are ready to kill for free (if you deem this statement inaccurate, it may be a long time you don't read a newspaper).
So don't overjoy on the fact that miracles prove nothing; be worried instead that not even good actions do, because once at that point, we feel authorized to whatever
No amount of evidence may ever strike us as enough of a fact, so it is anthropologically mystifying
pretending that we prefer rationality over transcendence because we value facts over fabrications: let a fact conflict with our preferred fabrication, and see how stubbornly we will resist it.
If we value facts, it's never out of an immaculate love for facts only.
So you are saying that the irreligious are defenseless - a tiger who has lost his claws, which obviously explains the feelings of many. that's an interesting perspective.
Nope, it is not like that. It is far more complex.
All persons may have, and actually within sane limits should have, defensive mechanisms.
In this field there exists nothing like theist and atheist: both are analyzed to see whether rather than decisions made by the person, those persuasions are symptoms
instead, that is: whether they act as elements that the person is being manipulated
Psychoanalysis does not take ideological stances: you can believe whatever you prefer (there is a god, there is none), provided it is not something you believe because you cannot
In this respect, firstly you need to understand when a defensive mechanism is pathological. In fact, take for instance aggressive drives: they are not inherently "evil" (as Konrad Lorenz knew), however we all know persons where those drives are clearly pathological that we don't need any sophisticated exegesis to spot it.
Same happens with anything within the psyche, defensive mechanisms included: you are not pathological simply because you have a defense.
Obviously, Freud was interested in the pathological cases: not only because they are the ones that truly concern us (that is, they cause problems) but because (and this ought to be understood if one wants to understand Freud) mankind is heavily pathological: it is more likely you meet the pathological rather than the sane, and this is why Freud focused so exclusively on that. Of course, there can be degrees of pathology, like in our biological bodies.
Now, whereas in biology diseases appear normally very deterministic in their physiological patterns, in the psyche they may take shapes that are highly personalized: you won't find two persons psychologically pathological in the very same fashion, whereas with biology you will
How can you tell then, when something is pathological within the psyche?
I'll leave out the best answer: by dreams
. For that would take us too far.
So, we use the second answer: when it's not the ego that decides but something else that decides for it.
One gets driven by anger (or whatever), and it is anger that decides for him/her. You won't need high amounts of it.
So, here is one of the possible thousands of drafts.
When we are kids, our pulsional drives are too strong for our immature brains. Our neural networks will begin arranging in order to cope with them (in a sane manner). However, many things may go awry. And if they do, the child may develop and begin consolidating
a totally dysfunctional neural net
for this or that drive.
Let's imagine the kid is somewhat neglected.
S/He is trying to manage his/her aggressive pulsions but nobody really pays attention (we'd have scripts also for too attention actually... damned if you do damned if you don't...): they are all at work, mummy is a dork, daddy is a decent father but a womanizer and does not really care about mummy.
The child notices that mummy is grieving
because of this: kids are extremely susceptible to emotional sides. His/Her aggressive drives already begin to take a direction: it may be vindicating mom, or it may be thinking that mom is worthless. This is already subjective
Let's imagine s/he thinks that mom needs to be vindicated. Shall s/he hate mom now because she accepted her grief being unable to do anything about it for she was a dork, or shall s/he begin to love her all the more and far too intensely to compensate dad's lacks of attentions to her? Both may happen, we have another
subjective crossroad here.
You know: subjectivity
, that thing that some science says it's not so important compared with objectivity, and that none the less regulates our while lives...
Let's imagine s/he hates her. The kid may grow developing an unconscious tendency to elaborate grandiose images of the self: weak women are game to careless men, so weaknesses are something that must
be exterminated and the self must
always appear strong
at all times. An immature mind may easily get persuaded that is the "solution" of the dilemma, if no one ever gives a damn.
Since the kid has also weak sides, s/he will begin hiding them to him/herself: weakness must not
exist or I shall be like mummy and grieve like her.
Those hidden weaknesses act now in the unconscious.
You may end up with a person who acts brutally and forcibly, but that is very weak within and the more s/he feels this inner weakness, the more being outwardly forceful will act as a defensive mechanism
You become atheist or theist later
. As Albert Camus once so beautifully wrote: «First
you convert yourself, and later
you read the founding fathers» !
Now, Jung takes over: since our minds act in an allegoric manner, whatever is mindful of a father and whatever reminds a mother are immediately invested with the pattern maturated within the given script.
If s/he loved too much mummy, s/he may become an unyielding and warmongering dysfunctional "patriot
", for our land is our mother
land... we work by metaphors.
If instead s/he hated mummy for her weakness more than s/he loved her, s/he may use the very same twisted aggressive and forceful drives, but this time to be an anarchist of some sort that invariably sees something wrong in his/her country - again, her/his mother
represent an elsewhere: we did not grow inside their bodies so fathers are suitable to perform as symbols of the transcendent, of the "elsewhere
If the kid as a kid hated a lot his/her father for how he behaved with mummy, you can easily get an atheist: transcendence is a worthless man who could not care about mummy, and any god must be like dad therefore...
If instead s/he idolized his/her father as an instance of a strong man who prevailed over the weaknesses of the weaklings (mummy) s/he may become a fundamentalist theist.
This does not mean that atheists follow that script or theists do, it is just a fictional
instance for illustration purposes
of how an immature neural set may be induced to consolidate totally dysfunctional neural paths.
And unfortunately you won't fix them with a medicine: you can at most flood the whole
cerebral system with one pharmacological neurotransmitter so to shut down, together with the dysfunctional aggressive drives, also a lot of the rest that had nothing to do with it.
Happy end of the world.
I suppose it's important to understand how Freud was framing this then. He concerned himself primarily with the psychotic, which would have an abnormal psyche.
With the neurotic
Psychotics are an exception (the defensive mechanism utterly failed and crumbled: the mind is invaded
by the unconscious drives); neurotics are not exceptions.
In fact, it is mankind
as a whole that is ill; that's the whole point of The Future Of An Illusion
and of Civilization and Its Discontents
- and actually also of Beyond The Pleasure Principle
where Freud postulated that we have a death pulsion
, speculating (and admitting it is speculation) that the first biological cell may have made an "effort" to revert to the inorganic
when it felt for the first time the stimuli of the external environment (that is, they may have been felt like... wounds
!), thus laying the foundations for death wishes
operating in the background of any living being in a dialectical relation with the Darwinian will to survive
Beyond The Pleasure Principle
complicates Darwinism in enormously fecund a manner.
In the case of mankind, the existance of a primeval death
drive would account better for how much relentless disaster we have been able to relinquish within our very same species.
If nature would have been animated exclusively by the analogously (Darwinian) postulated "will" to survive, one wonders how comes that such a pervasive and primeval "will" or "drive" rather than generating a peaceful set of inoffensive and coexisting breeds (one could easily imagine a world without life at all, in the moste extreme case: in fact, we are sorrounded by plenty of those) has generated, instead, so pervasively predatory a pattern where the will to live is continually challenged by the necessity to die.
In this dialectical tragedy, I have a problem in discerning in its backstage any costs-against-benefits
dynamic (or thermo
dynamic?) that would account for it or that may perform as its valid rationale.
A being eats another being: the cost exists, and it is undoubtedly very high. But I cannot see any corresponding payout: you were alive already
, you still
are. One being has undergone a dramatic change, the other has not undergone any
. I do see the cost, but I cannot see any feature convincingly fit to be termed as the "payout" justifying the "cost".
Unless we imagine death as the real shared background, and life as the payout. But then, in this perspective, death is no longer a cost - and the cost against benefits paradigm collapses again for reasons specular to those just stated.
Besides, if death is the starting ground, and not a cost, I cannot even imagine how life managed to emerge in the first place.
One would need to envision death as subsequent to life, as Freud did - and lo! as even the Bible did.
This is why to Freud, arguably, it seemed that there had to be more than a marginal benefit economy as the immanent kernel that arranged evolution as we know it.
If there is life, and tehrefore a natural
reason strong enough to produce biological existence, death seems inexplicable a contradiction.
We might try to answer with the reductionist approach: namely we might respond to this contradiction saying that life is just a conceptual contrivance of our minds for something that, factually and evidently enough, still belongs to the inorganic; but if this explanation were to prevail, then why living beings that, though alive, are supposed as not being any better than the unliving world, value their own lives so much to exhibit a will to survive too? The natural presence of such a will to survive seems to distinguish them, by the agency of this very same natural
drive itself, from inorganic nature: if living beings were truly meant by nature as no different than a mineral, why all living beings are equipped with natural features or resources that make them refute the equation of their maker?
And, eventually, were we to call in inorganic inertia
as the equivalent of the organic will to survive, the two equated dimensions seem so incommensurable that one needs to fill more than a minor gap in order to explain how's possibile -and maybe also to what purpose- something so hypersimplified like physical inertia may have given rise to hypercomplicated families of physiological encephalons that would emulate it - and by design or by chance is immaterial: for although I cannot endorse design, I never felt chance as an explanation that caters better where design failed.
So it is not that the hypothesis of Freud is safe from objection: it is that imagining that death was originally somehow self inflicted (that is, as a yearning
within the proto-cell that defied its will to survive) seems better a springboard to understand this mixture of life and death than merely postulating a "will to survive" which, acting alone, finally produces a world so sorely inconsistent with its own premise: survival
These issues give headaches worst than quantum "mechanics".
And this is how serious and dramatic our five minutes of showdown on this earth may turn.