Freud’s Radical Talking

318stone-parsons-blog427Benjamin Fong in the NYT's Opinionator:

Death is supposed to be an event proclaimed but once, and yet some deaths, curiously enough, need to be affirmed again and again, as if there were a risk that the interned will crawl back up into the world of the living if fresh handfuls of dirt are not tossed on their graves. One such member of the living dead, accompanying the likes of God and Karl Marx, is Sigmund Freud. How often one hears, thanks recently to the fetishization of neuroscience, that psychoanalysis is now bunk, irrelevant, its method decadent and “dangerous,” as the recent David Cronenberg film, “A Dangerous Method,” informs us.

Over the years, the “talking cure” — so dubbed by Bertha Pappenheim, a.k.a. “Anna O.,” who became Freud’s first psychoanalytic case study — has received quite a bit of ridicule and reworking. With countless children and adults taking behavior-altering drugs, many are again tolling the bell for psychoanalysis. Who wouldn’t choose fast-acting pills over many years on the couch, health insurance companies most of all? Perhaps, after surviving scandal, revision and pop characterization, drugs and money will definitively put old Sigmund to rest.

If psychoanalysis were simply a way of “curing” certain individuals of socially unwanted behavior, then I would have no problem with its disappearance. Similarly, if psychoanalysis were just a way for wealthy individuals to talk to one another about their lackluster existences, it might as well continue on its way to the dustbin of history. And if, God forbid, psychoanalysis has devolved into just another addition to the theory toolkit of academics in the humanities, someone ought to put it out of its misery now.