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Gellner 'The psychoanalytic movement or the coming of unreason' Ernest GELLNER
The psychoanalytic movement or the coming of unreason
London: Granada Publishing, 1985/1 [boek], 2003/3 [digitaal], 241 blzn / 214 blzn..; ISBN: 05 8608 4363 resp. 06 3123 4136

[Ooit begonnen aan het papieren boek, maar indertijd niet erg ver gekomen. Deze keer lees ik de digitale derde editie.]

(x) Foreword [door José Brunner]

"... this essay provides five contexts for reading The Psychoanalytic Movement in order to draw attention to features of Gellner’s text that otherwise, perhaps, might be overlooked ..."(x)

Gellner en Freud hadden min of meer dezelfde achtergrond, maar Gellner is wel een onverzoenlijk criticus van Freud.

"Further significant affinities between Freud and Gellner become evident when The Psychoanalytic Movement is set in the context of the deep concern with rationality and the temptation of modern humans to escape the burden of modernity, which was shared by both thinkers."(x)

Korte biografische schets van Freud en Gellner (1925-1995).

"In terms of their Weltanschauung, too, one can find much similarity: both were passionate defenders of the Enlightenment legacy, polemically secular, courted controversy and sought to free humanity from deceptive and therefore detrimental systems of thought by radical critiques. As theorists, both were model-builders: Freud invented models of mental structures, forces and processes, Gellner of social structures, large-scale historical developments, systems of thought and ideologies. Both were marvellous rhetoricians: they had a way with words and sought to convince their audiences with great aplomb, defending their respective views with the steadfastness and determination characteristic of intellectual conquistadors, to use another notion Freud applied to himself."(xiii)

"Gellner’s interpretation of psychoanalysis is only one small aspect of an oeuvre that includes a seminal theory of nationalism as well as sharply formulated attacks on Wittgenstein, analytic philosophy and Oxford dons. He published an ethnographic and analytical study of the segmentary political system of the Berbers of the Atlas mountains in Morocco (originally his doctoral dissertation), analyses of Malinowski, Weber and Durkheim, arguments against Marxism and postmodernism, together with discussions of Muslim fundamentalism, Kant and Descartes. He sought to outline the structure of world history, as it were, focusing on the role of productive technologies and culture. He provided a detailed study of the work of Soviet anthropologists and, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he wrote on the interaction of civil society and the state in Eastern Europe. Gellner’s work spans history, sociology, anthropology, politics and philosophy. His impressive intellectual scope and virtuosity, too, can be explained by one underlying concern: to reveal the nuts and bolts of modern consciousness in order to highlight the necessary social foundations and valuable socio-economic effects of impartial, systematic scientific thinking." [mijn nadruk] (xiii-xiv)

"Gellner achieved lasting fame mixed with some passing notoriety in 1959, with the publication of Words and Things, a derisive attack on Wittgensteinian linguistic philosophy."(xiv)

"Gellner’s argument transcends epistemology or methodology. He never restricted himself to the perspective of a philosopher of science; always also a moralist and a social theorist, he propounded a radically egalitarian cognitive ethic. In his words ‘All facts and all observers are equal.’ Gellner re-stated this position in a number of his writings; there is no doubt that it expresses one of his basic assumptions. It is predicated upon the postulate that it is objectively possible, in principle, to distinguish facts from values and truth from untruth, and that it must be possible, again, in principle, for all impartial and informed observers alike to draw these distinctions." [mijn nadruk] (xv)

"He abhorred both ethical and historical relativism and had no doubt that insofar as the scientific revolution transformed the lives of people, it did so for the better. But he rarely ever discussed the traditional heroes of the Scientific Revolution, such as Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler and Newton. His champions were the philosophers and social theorists who propounded the modern analytic, universalist world-view, such as Descartes, Hume, Kant and Weber." [mijn nadruk] (xvi)

"This, of course, also is the angle from which he examined psychoanalysis. But though Gellner regarded Freud as an irrationalist in scientific clothing, the founder of psychoanalysis took himself for one of the true champions of scientific rationality." [mijn nadruk] (xvi)

"Gellner is not impressed by Freud’s intentions. He judges psychoanalysis not by its founder’s self-understanding, but by what he perceives to be the logic of its claims, its effects on Western culture and its practical results, and he does so from an empiricist perspective."(xix)

"Rather than regarding psychoanalysis as a discipline that extends the mantle of science over the unconscious, as Freud proclaimed, Gellner sees the Freudian notion of the unconscious as a device that displaces reason from its throne and provides an animist vision of the mind as a realm ruled by cunning demons. Rather than having founded a new community of scientists of the mind, Gellner castigates Freud for having established a Church-like secretive guild that self-righteously pretends to have privileged access to the truth, while in fact adhering to a naturalist religion. Finally, Gellner portrays psychoanalytic practice as authoritarian, providing mystical experiences and a secular form of pastoral care whose results cannot be falsified, rather than an empirically testable cure of mental ills." [mijn nadruk] (xix)

"Despite its title, the book does not trace the history of the psychoanalytic movement or of any one of its schools of thought. By the middle of the eighties Gellner is only marginally interested in psychoanalytic institutions of any kind. Instead, he examines psychoanalysis from a wider perspective, as the dominant idiom of industrial societies to speak about emotions."(xxi)

"Gellner’s biting critique of the unfalsifiable seductiveness of the scientific claims of psychoanalysis, the authoritarian logic of its therapy, the emptiness of its promises, and the secretive behaviour of its practitioners can easily be mistaken for a slightly precocious example of ‘Freud bashing’ and read as one of the many condemning appraisals of psychoanalysis that became fashionable in the nineties, though they were by no means limited to that decade."(xxii)

Veel kritiek op Freud en de psychoanalyse in de periode van de Freud Wars (90-er jaren) van de kant van Frederick Crew, Peter Medawar, Allan Esterson en anderen. Maar de stijl van die auteurs is erg ad hominem zonder achtergronden te schetsen etc. en dat doet Gellner anders.

"Hence he provides a non-judgemental sociological explanation of the rise of psychoanalysis in the West. This dimension is entirely absent from the work of the ‘Freud bashers’, for whom any attempt to explain Freud’s success by factors other than the evil master’s deviousness would mean to diminish the latter’s responsibility for current social and therapeutic ills."(xxiv)

"In criticising psychoanalysis for not living up to empiricist standards of science, Gellner joins many of Freud’s philosophical critics, from Popper to Grunbaum." [mijn nadruk] (xxiv)

"There is little new that Gellner adds to earlier philosophical critiques of this kind, such as Popper’s classic claim that psychoanalysis is not a science since its claims cannot be falsified by empirical evidence."(xxiv)

"Interestingly enough, Gellner departs from the standard empiricist criticisms of Freud’s work in that he accepts a number of psychoanalytic hypotheses, such as that of the unconscious, the effect of free associations or transference. However, he does so in a most un-empiricist manner, that is, without adducing or demanding any empirical proof. On the one hand he dismisses most psychoanalytic hypotheses as sloppy and nebulous and declares their specificity to be spurious. On the other hand he proclaims the concept of transference to be a ‘striking and shining exception’, whose meaning is ‘reasonably precise’ and refers to a ‘a crisp fact’. Similarly, when discussing the central thesis of psycho-analysis, that there is a dynamic unconscious hidden in the mind that impacts on our thoughts and deeds, Gellner declares that ‘there can be no serious doubt whatever’ about this thesis, but does so without providing any plausible argument, other than his own conviction, why this should be so. Similarly, he affirms as ‘indisputably true’ that free associations in the framework of the psychoanalytic setting engender strong emotions. Where Gellner agrees with psychoanalysis, there is no room for doubt and no need for empirical validation; he is an empiricist only insofar as he disagrees with psychoanalysis." [mijn nadruk] (xxv)

Brunner geeft als argument dat empirie in de menswetenschappen nu eenmaal maar beperkt toepasbaar is.

"Mostly, empirical evidence remains open to a wide range of interpretations that tend to be value-laden or ideologically tainted. And yet, in all social sciences there is theory and there is practice, and there is more or less reasoned debate, which always includes speculation, empirical evidence, interpretation and causal hypotheses – and more or less the same happens in contemporary psychoanalysis."(xxv)

(xxxiii) Introduction to the Second Edition

Vergelijking van psychoanalyse en marxisme als de twee enige seculiere religies voortgekomen uit de Verlichting.

"Both of them are more than merely a theory: they are, in effect, an account of the central human predicament, a recipe for its remedy (partial or total), and hence, by implication a morality." [mijn nadruk] (xxxiii)

Ze hebben zichzelf allebei immuun gemaakt voor kritiek door bepaalde inzichten / opvattingen op te vatten alsof ze geopenbaard zijn.

"The practices which, in both cases, render these systems eligible to function as religions are also what in effect excludes them from genuine science."(xxxiv)

[Het vervelende met dat soort opvattingen is dan weer dat ze niet per se 'onwaar' zijn, want de waarheid ervan is oncontroleerbaar / niet vast te stellen. Het gaat dan dus niet meer om waar / onwaar, die opvattingen zijn dan 'bullshit' (Frankfurt), geklets, loze beweringen die niet te weerleggen zijn. En zoals steeds is de vraag dan hoe je daar mee om moet gaan. Negeren of bestrijden?
Wat verder ook een rol speelt is dat sommige beweringen binnen zo'n complexe opvatting wie weet wel controleerbaar zijn en dus waar kunnen zijn. Met het in zijn geheel afwijzen van marxisme en psychoanalyse, zo zou je kunnen zeggen, is het risico groot dat je het kind met het badwater weggooit.]

"Both theories have failed in their predictions: Freudianism does not offer a privileged path to mental health, any more than Marxism leads to economic performance and social cooperation. Freudianism is somewhat better equipped with falsification-evading devices than Marxism ..."(xxxvi)

"Freudianism and its central ideas live on not as a dominant system linked to the central authority of a society, but rather as one of those ideological subsystems providing special services – above all, solace and support for the unhappy – which are not adequately catered for by the main and official social vision. To understand our world, we must understand how these ideas and their institutional and procedural props work. The most visible part of this iceberg is perhaps the movement which had started it all: understanding it helps us understand its derivatives. This is what the present volume attempts to do."(xxxvii)

(1) 1 - Back to Nature

"The question which Gibbon asked about Christianity applies equally to psychoanalysis: by what means did the new vision obtain so remarkable a victory?"(1)

[Ik weet niet of je zo gemakkelijk over een overwinning kunt spreken. Het was hooguit een overwinning in een heel klein elitair wereldje dat door velen vanuit allerlei perspectieven gewantrouwd werd. Het was zeker geen breed gedragen idee.]

"Are not the truth and importance of the ideas contained in the message sufficient to explain its impact?"(2)

[Ja, dat mochten Freud en zijn volgers willen. Welke waarheid? Welk belang? Succes / invloed is ook maar een waardengeladen woord. Welke 'impact'?]

"It seems to me the first principle of the study of any belief system is that its ideas and terms must be stated in terms other than its own; that they must be projected on to some screen other than one which they themselves provide. They may and must speak, but they must not be judges in their own case. For concepts, like feelings and desires, have their cunning. Only in this way may we hope to lay bare the devices they employ to make their impact – whether or not those devices are, in the end, endorsed as legitimate.": [mijn nadruk] (4)

"The aim of this book is to offer an account of how, within the span of less than half a century, this system of ideas could conquer so much of the world, at any rate to the extent of becoming the dominant idiom for the discussion of the human personality and of human relations. It will endeavour to do this by relating its central ideas and practices to the major social and intellectual changes of the time." [mijn nadruk] (5)

[Het is zeker waar dat het taalgebruik - woorden als onbewust, oedipuscomplex, projectie en zo - in het alledaagse taalgebruik terecht is gekomen. Maar of dat uiteindelijk zo veel met psychoanalyse te maken heeft? Sluit het niet gewoon aan bij alledaagse ervaringen? Mensen willen dingen niet weten, verzwijgen ze, verdringen ze, doen dingen zonder door te hebben dat ze zich op bepaalde emoties baseren, dat is waar. Mensen houden zichzelf voor de gek en liegen en bedriegen naar anderen toe, maar dat vonden de Grieken vroeger ook al. Plato beschrijft er fraaie voorbeelden van. Bovendien verheldert precies dat taalgebruik niet zo veel, we hadden die termen beter niet kunnen hebben, zo zou je kunnen stellen.]

Feiten over Freud. Kritiek op het geïdealiseer van zijn zelfanalyse.

"It is not entirely clear why this particular piece of introspection should not be doomed, like that of other men, to self-deception, but instead be classed as heroic and veridical – unless the reason is that its findings are valid, which to outsiders seems somewhat circular reasoning. The findings of that self-analysis were congruent with theoretical ideas towards which Freud had been groping anyway. From within the movement, however, the self-analysis is seen as an independent confirmation or origin of these ideas." [mijn nadruk] (6)

"The point of the story is that if you yourself make up the rules of what is the truth of the matter, performing miracles turns out to be not quite so difficult. The same would seem to be true of the heroism and accuracy of Freud’s self-analysis." [mijn nadruk] (6)

"Psychoanalysis can briefly be described as a technique in which a therapist encourages a patient to ‘free-associate’, i.e. to speak out anything that comes into his head, encouraging and guiding him only with occasional questions and, later on, interpretations. The assumption is that this will in due course lead to the uncovering of the unconscious ‘repressed’ mental contents, which could not have been elicited by any more direct approach; and that their extraction and recognition by the patient will have significant and beneficial therapeutic consequences."(6-7)

"The Psychoanalytical Movement as an international institution and organisation, with its parallel rival movements headed by Jung and Adler, and later some others, really crystallised after the First World War. Its phenomenal and exponential growth has never been documented properly and with precision." [mijn nadruk] (7)

Uiteindelijk heeft zich via allerlei wegen een wereld van psychotherapie ontwikkeld waarin de psychoanalyse één variant vormt.

[Ik merk dat Gellner het in feite gaat hebben over de samenhang tussen psychotherapie en samenleving in het algemeen en niet alleen maar over de psychoanalyse en de samenleving. Ja, dan kun je inderdaad spreken van een brede invloed etc., als je tenminste wilt aannemen dat allerlei vormen van psychotherapie uiteindelijk historisch terug te voren zijn op het denken van Freud. Maar dat lijkt me niet het geval te zijn.]

Nav de Verlichting, en het empirisme van Hume:

"Hume’s accounts of both abstract thought and of morality were profoundly of this world: ideas were but the aftertaste of sensations, morality was but a matter of feeling, feelings which in the end serve our collective convenience."(11-12)

"A fallacious argument underlay all this: because only experience gives us evidence about the world (which is probably true), and experience comes in little bits (most questionable), therefore the only correct model of human conduct is one which sees it as the result of the accumulation and combination of introspectible feelings and sensations (totally false). This picture, endowed later with quite spurious tough-minded third person terminology such as ‘Stimulus and Response’ (henceforth SR), continued to haunt the tradition of ‘scientific’, empiricist psychology and does so still."(13)

"The trouble is very simple: anyone who has the least sense of what it is like to be a human being knows perfectly well, and without any shadow of doubt, that the Hume/SR account of man bears no relation whatsoever to the facts.
But it was, and partly remains, the official or dominant psychological doctrine or assumption. Yet we also know, each of us, with as firm a certainty as we can ever have of anything, that it is false. What happens when the official doctrine says one thing, and what everyone instinctively knows to be true is quite another? The French have a couple of good phrases for this: what results is the dualism of pays legal and pays reel. "(14)

[Ik weet niet of ik zo blij ben met deze weergave van empirisch denken, ik vind het wel erg simplistisch. En die metafoor die Gellner dan invoert is ook niet zo geweldig, vind ik.]

"One of the main clues to understanding the significance and impact of psychoanalysis is very simply this: it provided both an idiom and a justification for recognising the pays reel. The more it was denied, the more an unconvincing pays legal was affirmed, the more clamorous the pays reel became emotionally. But it lacked an idiom and a doctrine. Anyone who provided it with a convincing idiom, rationale, and institutional underpinning, was bound to receive a reward."(15)

"To turn the limits of the senses into the limits of sense seemed a sound way of ensuring that man was made of natural materials only. It was supposed that the supernatural elements had to enter by supersensory channels; so if these channels were blocked, the alien elements and demands could no longer make their entry, and the result would be a man made of terrestrial materials alone, and responsive only to human and humane imperatives.
It is hard to imagine a more bloodless and unrealistic account of man. Should one be more appalled by the implausibility of this picture as an explanation of the twisted, devious and turbulent creature we actually deal with, or by the anaemia and complacency of this picture as a model of what man should be? "(15)

Hij voert Nietzsche op als een denker die dit ook al aantoonde.

"These views about the pays reel of the human mind, which may I think legitimately be extracted from the works of Nietzsche, can be formulated and enumerated as follows. I shall henceforth refer to the ideas on this list as the Nietzschean Minimum (NM for short)."(17)

[Ik ben niet erg onder de indruk van de weergave van dat MN, en ik mag toch zeggen dat ik Nietzsche goed ken. Ik vind het ook niet zoveel zeggen. De Verlichting wordt steeds erg mager weergegeven door Gellner. En er was al sinds de Romantiek een reeks van auteurs die de gevoelsmatige donkere kanten van het menselijke bestaan en van de menselijke natuur benadrukten. Schopenhauer en vele anddren al voor Nietzsche, na Nietzsche vele anderen. Natuurlijk komt Freuds benadering niet uit de lucht vallen. Het was overbodig om Nietzsche zo op te voeren als Gellner doet.]

"The supposedly harmonious, conflict-free, universalistic and humane ethic, apart from being in conflict with our true natures and inimical to excellence, is also incompatible with the real possibilities of life on earth. Here Nietzsche’s thought converges with the implications others have found in the work of Malthus and Darwin. Whether realism, honesty, survival, psychic health or excellence is our consideration – we had better have another good look at our values. So the humanistic and humanitarian view of man, preached by the Enlightenment in secular terms, is incompatible with the true nature of our satisfactions, with our real ways of choosing our beliefs, with our old standards of excellence and with the realistic possibilities of life. Though it had been presented as the antithesis and overcoming of the religious view of man, it was in fact merely its perpetuation in secular terms, the perpetuation of an ethic of resentment by other means. Under the new packaging, the old priestly venom, the resentment and self-hatred of the weak, the attempt to set up their weakness as the norm and to stigmatise vigour as evil, are all lurking, more insidiously than ever before."(20-21)

"In the end, the Will to Power is a far, far more disturbing, more corrosive idea for humanist optimism than is the domination of the human psyche by sexuality. The optimistic vision of the Enlightenment – whether in its liberal, Marxist or any other form – which envisages a social order without oppression or dogmatism, egalitarian, cooperative and consensual, is deeply threatened, if it turns out to be true that domination, the imposition of our will on others, is the only thing which truly turns us on, and that all else is but façade and self-deception. If this be the ultimate truth about us, well then the sad prospect for humanity is either the perennial frustration of our deepest needs, or a social order in which some may fulfil themselves – but only at the cost of the oppression and humiliation of others. It is for this reason that Nietzsche is a profoundly disturbing thinker, a corrosive acid poured over the various forms of humanist optimism." [mijn nadruk] (23)

"Even in the most liberal and promiscuous commune, it simply is not feasible to practise the sexual equivalent of demand feeding. Whatever may be possible in the course of occasional orgies, it would totally disrupt daily life, its activities and relations. Sexual activity also involves the use of bodily parts which in the Western (and most other) traditions normally remain hidden, held to be unclean, and are physiologically connected with excretion."(25)

"Primary sexual organs have a number of features which, in any other context, would be deemed anything but attractive. Moreover, the entire early education of children in most Western traditions predisposes them against an overt or avowed preoccupation with these parts.
Hence, the fact that, in sexual activity, they suddenly acquire an enormous affective charge, signals in the most dramatic way imaginable the discontinuity between sex and the rest of life – a discontinuity which inevitably persists in some measure even in a permissive society, but which had been very much accentuated during the period when Freud made his impact."(26)

[Ik vind dat Gellner in deze context nogal strooit met waardeoordelen over de rol die seks zou kunnen hebben in een samenleving. Maar goed, het idee is duidelijk: de psychoanalyse met zijn nadruk op seks is minder bedreigend voor het Verlichtings-ideaal dan een wil-tot-macht-filosofie van Nietzsche.]

"The next step is now ready: even though, in the long run, the addiction of the human heart to violence or domination (if it obtains) is far more disturbing than our sexuality, nevertheless, for reasons pertaining both to the permanent condition of complex society, and to the special accentuation of puritanism in the nineteenth century, sexuality was the ideal battering-ram for bringing home, in the guise of a great new discovery, the disparity between the pays reel and the pays legal of the mind. In the nineteenth century, the age of belief in progress and the perfectibility of man and the human condition, that disparity was specially acute; and at the same time, sexual puritanism, the collective conspiracy making for a kind of social invisibility of sex, remained very strong or even grew stronger."(26)

(27) 2 - The Plague

"The relative sense of security (whether or not it will eventually prove to be illusory) which the citizen of modern affluent society enjoys, is no doubt a major factor in the diminution of his religious ardour."(28)

"Modern life in affluent societies, though accompanied by a sense of secure material well-being, is notoriously riddled with other anxieties – anxieties which were not wholly absent in the past, but which those who lived in physically less comfortable ages could not afford to place at the very centre of their attention. These new anxieties now force themselves on us, and not merely because we have been freed from our earlier fears. They have also become more pressing for good objective reasons.
Modern society is or tends to be mobile, fluid, egalitarian and liberal, incomparably more so than most large and complex societies in the past. The price of this liberation from forcibly and/or ideologically ascribed identities, statuses, rituals, practices, employments and family links, is, notoriously, a sense of disorientation and insecurity, for which a variety of thinkers has coined a wide range of terms: alienation, disenchantment, and anomie are perhaps the most celebrated. The disorientation contains, among other things, at least three important elements: first, the material environment has been largely replaced by a social environment, consisting not of things but of people; second, this crucial social or human environment has no stable or reliable structure, and everything in it is uncertain and up for grabs; and third, there is no widely shared and seriously accepted ideology or vision, which could decree how things should properly be arranged." [mijn nadruk] (29)

"There is every indication that this realm of human relationships has taken over that overwhelming load of anxiety and sense of precariousness which had once attached to the natural world."(30)

"Before a cluster of ideas can rapidly take control of people, there must perhaps be a plague upon the land. Everyone, or at least very many people, must have good cause to be afraid. Secure and justifiably complacent populations will not spontaneously turn to ardent faith."(31)

[Dat lijkt me juist. Vraag: wat zou vandaag de dag door kunnen gaan voor een plaag? Migratie?]

"The splendid doctrine of Original Sin ensures that no one may shelter behind a consciousness of virtue. It is a spiritual equivalent of universal peasant indebtedness. Such universal and starting-point moral indebtedness makes certain that no one can even begin life with a clear ledger. Everyone then has ever-renewable and self-perpetuating debts to pay right from the very start, and must work arduously to pay them off, if he is to be granted even the hope of salvation. The Unconscious is a new version of Original Sin." [mijn nadruk] (31-32)

[Ja, en net zo als die erfzonde onzin en illusie was, zo ook het onbewuste zoals Freud dat neerzette? Ik weet niet of de vergelijking zo handig is.]

"The plagues which have haunted the past of mankind have now abated, at any rate temporarily. Nature is tamed, and though there is some little dispute among theologians about the death of God, there is virtually none whatever about the dismantling of Hell. But a new plague is upon us. Hell is other people."(32)

[Ik denk niet dat de natuur getemd werd. De natuur werd gemarteld en misbruikt, maar het het lijkt er al aardig op dat diezelfde natuur wraak begint te nemen. Mensen zouden terecht nog steeds angst kunnen voelen over de ontwikkelingen rond natuur en klimaat.
Ook die Sartre-insteek dat andere mensen de hel vormen bevalt me niet erg. Er wordt te weinig onderscheiden tussen verschillende groepen mensen, de stelling is meer van toepassing op de machtsuitoefening bij politici en economen en managers en zo verder dan op de alledaagse omgang van gewone mensen met elkaar. Het is een gevaarlijk simplisme, vind ik. Het hele beeld dat mensen voortdurend zekerheid aan het zoeken zijn omdat ze bang zijn is naar mijn smaak wat overdreven.]

Waar troost en ondersteuning te vinden?

"The best known, and by far the most popular, of these secular faiths is of course Marxism, and it will serve as an example for them all."(33)

[Daar gaan we weer. Waarom wordt altijd het marxisme als heilsleer opgevoerd en niet het (neo)liberalisme / kapitalisme? Dat is toch waar mensen al zo lang in geloven: in geld, bezit, luxe, winst maken, competitie. Ze doen er alles voor, maken de natuur en elkaar ervoor kapot, maar de zekerheid die deze ideologie biedt valt uiteraard net zo tegen als de zekerheid die marxisme etc. zeiden te bieden.]

"Marxism lacks much potential, doctrinal or organisational, for pastoral care.
But how would it be if a system were available which shared in the overwhelming prestige of the currently most respected form of science, and which at the same time not merely contained the potential for individual pastoral care, but actually emerged from, and was very much centred on clinical/pastoral care? And if such a system were also a recognised part of medicine, which in turn is a generally accepted part of applied science, what then? Such a system would not suffer from any of the quite crippling disabilities which evidently adhere to the other potential sources of pastoral care in our society."(33)

Dat werd de psychoanalyse met het thema seksualiteit als stormram.

"... the location of psychoanalysis within the edifice of science (being part of the medicine wing) ensured its cognitive legitimation; and its deep clinical involvement was the means of turning it into a pastoral technique and a soteriology, and thus making it humanly, and not just cognitively, relevant. All these tremendous advantages had been totally denied to the philosophers who had also noted the discrepancy between the pays reel of the mind and the pays legal: poor dears, all they could do was write books about it. Philosophers have only tried to understand the world; the point is to endow one’s understanding with a ritual and a promise of salvation."(34)

[Dit is zo vaag. Gellner kletst wel erg gemakkelijk allerlei kanten uit die niet zo van belang zijn. Voor wie bestond de psychoanalyse? Voor een heel kleine groep uit de elite. Wat voor invloed had dat nu? Vergelijk het eens met het marxisme / socialisme / communisme en haar invloed in die tijd ... En Freud bracht de psychoanalyse trouwens bepaald niet als onderdeel van de medische wereld, integendeel (denk aan de lekenanalyse-kwestie). En kun je zijn beweringen wel wetenschappelijk noemen? Dat is nu het probleem. Ik denk dat zelfs de latere bredere stroom van psychotherapie maar een beperkte laag van de samenleving raakt.]

"Demonstrable or obvious truths do not distinguish the believer from the infidel, and they do not excite the faithful. Only difficult belief can do that. And what makes a belief difficult? There must be an element both of menace and of risk."(35)

[De psychoanalyse wordt dus neergezet als een seculier geloof dat weinig troost biedt. Risico is een element van dat geloof: je weet niet zeker of het waar is wat er beweerd wordt, de waarheid ervan is oncontroleerbaar, het wordt je zelfs kwalijk genomen als je die waarheid zou willen controleren. Maar precies dat zou gelovigen aantrekken. Nou, mij niet.]

"But what if the authority and the silence, the refusal to negotiate (or support, substantiate) the claims are further supported by a background theory for other reasons also not susceptible to doubt, and which positively demands, validates such a stance? – and which as it were makes an honest woman of the gipsy? If the theory may not be discussed in the course of receiving succour, but may be discussed only after its successful implementation had validated it? If the theory possesses both a powerful element of plausibility, and an in-built exclusion of doubt about itself, an exclusion which neatly follows from some of its own central, most cherished and plausible premises?"(37-38)

(39) 3 - The Pirandello Effect

De situatie van iemand die kiest voor het ondergaan van psychoanalyse. Het verschil met gewoon naar de dokter gaan voor pijn in je maag:

"As he goes ‘into analysis’, he enters a different world. Its basic, crucial features have already been highlighted in connection with the doctrine, but they deserve brief recapitulation. The basic assumption of analysis is that virtually everything that is really decisive in his life and psyche takes place in the Unconscious; that he has no immediate access to it at all; and that his hope of gaining some access to it in due course depends on the analysis, and its successful pursuit – and this cannot be a quick and brief process."(42)

"The concept of the Unconscious is a means of devaluing all previous certainties, above all his assessment of himself. It is not so much a hypothesis as a suspension of all other hypotheses. The more secure they seemed, the more suspect they are. All moral guide-rails are thus removed or made loose. The suspension of intuitive logical certainties (of what would normally be called reason) is obtained in virtue of an idea which is in no way religious, but on the contrary utterly, indeed paradigmatically naturalistic: the Unconscious." [mijn nadruk] (43)

"The consequence, however, is that the patient is and must be deprived, if he is cooperating with the therapy, of retaining some stance from which he could attempt a critical evaluation of it. The internal terms of reference preclude it; the external ones are superficial and devalued by the very concept of the Unconscious. If he does not cooperate, plainly he can’t blame the therapy for failing to work; but if he does cooperate it is even plainer, for it is built into its theory and practice, that he can’t blame the therapy either. Criticism at this level of mere consciousness proves and establishes nothing."(44)

[En dat maakt de psychoanalyse op allerlei manieren principieel immuun voor kritiek en dus gevaarlijk.]

"Whether or not man is a slave of his passions, one thing is sure: he is not a slave of his reason."(46)

"Most or all of the micro-theories contained within psychoanalysis are notoriously sloppy. Take the most famous of those theories, the claim that children have strong unconscious sexual feelings for the parent of the opposite sex. It sounds plausible. No doubt many people do have some feelings of this kind. But is it really certain that diagonal feelings in a nuclear family are more intense than parallel ones, between parents and children of the same sex? Does the term ‘sexual’ have any very precise meaning, other than that it is intense, can in some circumstances lead to sexual manifestations in a more narrow and conventional sense, and that in some way these feelings resemble those which take place between people who experience manifestly sexual passions for each other?" [mijn nadruk] (46)

"The value, it seems to me, of seemingly precise and general doctrines such as those of the Oedipus relationship, is that they sensitise us to the kind of deviousness and intensity of personal relationships, in all the polymorphous variety in which they occur in real life." [mijn nadruk] (46)

"Their apparent specificity has no bite: the seemingly precise and specific generalisations are formulated with the help of concepts whose operational anchorage in actual conduct is so unutterably loose, that reality can always be made to conform with them." [mijn nadruk] (47)

Gellner maakt echter meteen een uitzondering voor het idee 'overdracht' in de psychoanalyse.

"Here, there is a striking generalisation which could not have easily been anticipated, whose truth seems genuinely evident (rather than being poised, as the others are, between equally heavy weights of positive and negative examples), and whose meaning seems reasonably precise. There is an almost comic contrast between the overwhelming and genuine evidence for this one phenomenon and the sketchy, dubious evidence for most other psychoanalytic ideas, notably the claim of therapeutic effectiveness." [mijn nadruk] (47)

"What this marvel of a generalisation says is: when a person, self- identified as a patient, comes in repeated and sustained contact with a person whom he recognises as a doctor or therapist, and the latter listens to the deliberately unstructured confessions of the former, and only occasionally and tentatively offers interpretations of them – in brief, if the two comport themselves as the therapeutic technique recommends – then the latter will develop very strong, and in the main, initially and on the surface, positive feelings towards the therapist, accept his authority, and so on."(47-48)

[Overdracht is wel wat meer dan dat. Bijvoorbeeld negativiteit tegenover de analyst omdat een vader of moeder op hem of haar geprojecteerd wordt. Ik noem maar een zijstraat. Bovendien is er ook het fenomeen van de tegenoverdracht, als je Freud wilt geloven. En eigenlijk zijn beide ideeën open deuren in de relaties en communicaties tussen mensen in het algemeen, even vaag en algemeen als die andere zogenaamde psychoanalytische begrippen. Ik vind dus dat Gellner er veel te veel van maakt en het begrip heel eenzijdig invult om zijn andere stellingen aanvaardbaar te maken.]

Het is de overdracht die maakt dat patiënten dat hele krakende bouwwerk van de psychoanalyse accepteren zonder protesterend weg te lopen en dat de psychoanalyse als organisatie kan bestaan.

[Ik vind dus dat Gellner veel te veel maakt van 'overdracht' en het begrip eenzijdig invult om zijn vervolgstellingen aanvaardbaar te maken.]

Freuds uitleg wordt door Gellner te vaag gevonden.

"Why or how does transference work? The simple and correct answer to this question is that no one knows. Freud thought he knew, and that the answer was simple:
All the libido, as well as everything opposing it, is made to converge solely on the relation with the doctor. In this process the symptoms are inevitably divested of libido. In the place of his patient’s true illness there appears the artificially constructed transference illness . . . Since a fresh repression is avoided, the alienation between ego and libido is brought to an end and the subject’s mental unity is restored. When the libido is released once more from its temporary object in the person of the doctor, it cannot return to its earlier objects, but is at the disposal of the ego.
If you are satisfied with this kind of explanation, you’ll be satisfied with anything." [mijn nadruk] (49)

[Dat is een erg mooie uitspraak, waarmee ik het nu eens hartgrondig eens ben.]

"While, until the appropriate research is done, it is impossible to answer with any confidence the question concerning why transference occurs, it is in the meantime well worth while to explore some plausible candidate-explanations. There is a number of them and they deserve our attention ..."(50)

[Freuds uitleg is inderdaad nietszeggend, maar de negen mogelijke verklaringen die Gellner geeft vind ik evenmin bevredigend. Hij gaat daarbij dus uit van een verkeerd beeld van overdracht en ook nog eens van de ideale psychoanalytische situatie waarin de analyst heel lang zwijgt en pas heel laat voorzichtig met een interpretatie komt.]

Het lijkt er niet op dat een psychoanalyse ooit een einde bereikt. Toch moet de vraag gesteld worden, vindt Gellner:

"what are the criteria of a termination? – or of a successful termination ... (...)
One should add that there are no precise criteria of termination as agreed within the movement, and no agreed formula seems to exist." [mijn nadruk] (58-59)

"A certain crucial question imposes itself at this point. Can a situation even arise which could be described by the following set of grammatical, intuitively intelligible English sentences: Mr X has passed through a properly conducted analysis carried out by the entirely competent analyst, Dr Y. At the end of his analysis, Mr X came to the firm and secure conclusion that the ideas of psychoanalysis are invalid, that they do not apply to his, Mr X’s, psychic processes, and that the analysis, though possibly an interesting experience, had been of no positive benefit to him whatever?
If there is a case of this kind, it seems to have been left out of any record. On the other hand, there appear to be numerous cases which (shortening the story to essentials) run roughly as follows: Mr X terminated the analysis before it was properly completed, because he became frightened of what he would find out about himself if it continued. There are of course numerous variants on this account of the possible motives of Mr X, but this is the much-favoured paradigm. A significant alternative story is available: Mr X prematurely terminated his analysis, because unfortunately Dr Y is less than competent, is himself disturbed, or had become so, etc."(59-60)

[Die laatste mogelijkheid wordt natuurlijk nooit geopperd. Het lag niet aan de psychoanalyse of aan de psychoanalyticus, de patiënt had weerstand en liet zich niet verder analyseren. Typisch voor een dogmatisch gesloten systeem: het ligt niet aan ons maar aan de ander.]

"So nothing in the theory promises miraculous manipulation of external reality – a promise that would of course be absurd. Unlike Stoicism, psychoanalysis does not promise the good man that he will be happy even on the rack: but only that his unhappiness on the rack will be ordinary, and not neurotic. He will no longer be tormented by the unconscious meanings which the rack has for him."(62)

"Psychoanalysis does not need to make any explicit promises (though, in fact, it quite often does so). A truly tremendous promise is immediately, visibly, and dramatically implicit in its entire presentation of the human condition, and that vision in turn has enormous plausibility. There is an Unconscious; we clearly are, all of us, permanently hooded. We do suffer, and our suffering does seem to have a pattern to it, though we cannot properly understand it, which suggests that if only the hood were lifted, we could avoid future painful collisions. Psychoanalysis does firmly claim that it can (and a little more ambiguously, but none the less audibly, that only it can) lift those horrendous, stifling and sticky hoods."(64)

[Wat is dat, de menselijke conditie? Wat een onzinnig vage uitdrukking! Alsof alle mensen hetzelfde menselijke bestaan leven en allemaal ongelukkig zijn en moeten lijden. Alsof het in veel gevallen niet heel gemakkelijk is om in een samenleving de oorzaken aan te wijzen die de ellende in het bestaan van een groep mensen veroorzaken en een weg te bedenken om die oorzaken weg te nemen. En andersom: alsof niet hele volkeren gelukkig zijn, alsof mensen ondanks de ellende in hun menselijke bestaan nooit gelukkig zijn. En wat heeft dat allemaal met het onbewuste te maken? Gellner kletst met zijn metaforen af en toe alle kanten uit, zonder door te hebben wat zijn eigen uitgangspunten zijn.]

(65) 4 - On the Rack

Over wat psychoanalyse in de kern is (iemands Onbewuste bewust maken) en over wie zich volgens de psychoanalyse psychoanalist mag noemen (iedereen die door Freud is aangesteld, iedereen die zich formeel zelf heeft laten analyseren).

"The nature of psychoanalytic training or initiation is one of its most important, highly distinctive and indeed idiosyncratic characteristics. Brain surgeons are not required to undergo brain surgery as part of their training; still less, if they happen to have undergone it, does it constitute a part of their training which overshadows all other parts of the preparation for their careers. Nor is it the case that, before they can qualify, the crucial assessment of their competence to do so comes from the brain surgeon who had operated on them. Only the examiners, theoretical and practical, can have a say in that matter.
Psychoanalysis is altogether different. It is curious that this idiosyncrasy has been so little challenged, if challenged at all. In so far as psychoanalysis is an important method, among others, in the medical treatment of a class of illnesses, it would have been natural, and in line with normal practice, that some external scrutiny into the thoroughness and objectivity of the tests applied by the guild, in the course of licensing practitioners, would have been imposed. In fact, there seems to be no such external checking. Psychoanalysts who are also psychiatrists have of course undergone the public examinations which allow them to use their medical titles, and lay, non-medical analysts are controlled in so far as and to the extent that their acceptance of patients is linked to a medical practitioner. But the idiosyncratic training and selection methods of psychoanalysis seem to have been accepted at face value, and as legitimately inherent in the technique and its theory." [mijn nadruk] (69)

[Gellner gaat blijkbaar uit van de VS waar lekenanalyse niet is toegestaan is en de medische stand vanaf het begin een grote rol speelt in de inkadering van de psychoanalyse.]

"Yet the consequence is very odd: it means that a person can receive and treat patients, with the support of the prestige and authority of modern medicine as a whole, even though his or her own training for this task has been of a kind which inherently and confessedly eludes any possible examination, by any reasonably public criteria such as prevail in other fields."(70)

Externe controle is incompatibel met de basisopvattingen van de psychoanalyse. Hoe is dat mogelijk?

"The answer is, of course, that psychoanalysis has succeeded in persuading the world to accept a certain background theory of knowledge, which is presupposed by the entire technique, and which may indeed seem uncontentious. I shall call this theory Conditional Realism.(...) psychoanalysts, including Freud himself, are or were not very clear that they hold this theory, and generally lack the philosophical sophistication which would tell them what it implies, and what problems it raises. The term is mine. Nevertheless, Conditional Realism is clearly presupposed by the entire approach, and plays an absolutely essential part in the working of the system." [mijn nadruk] (71)

"By realism I mean in this context the doctrine which asserts that knowledge consists of a kind of contact between the mind and its object, so that the mind, thanks to this contact, apprehends the object as it actually is. The mind knows the object either because it is in direct contact with it, or because it can reproduce within itself a copy of the object, thanks to being in some kind of communication with the original. Realism in this sense is widely taken for granted by people in a kind of unreflecting way. It is a very pervasive, tacitly assumed theory of knowledge. It may seem quite uncontentious, even obvious." [mijn nadruk] (71)

[En wat is daar op tegen? Mits je de 'mind' zowel als het 'object' ziet als ingebed in geschiedenis, cultuur, samenleving, milieu, klasse, waarden en normen ... :-)]

"Psychoanalysis holds, or rather presupposes, a variant of it which may best be called Conditional Realism. It holds that the mind can know objects it is concerned with, by means of contact with them, but that it does not necessarily or always succeed in doing so. It fails to do so, because it chooses (unconsciously) to deceive itself. The Unconscious is a kind of systematic interference, which hampers full and proper contact between the mind and its object, and thereby prevents effective knowledge. If, however, the barrier/obstacle is removed, contact is re-established, and knowledge becomes possible and indeed easy. (It is error which becomes hard to understand, once the barrier is gone. (...) If no interference, then, ex hypothesi, valid perceptions. But a competent analyst has overcome the inner interference within himself. Ergo, all his perceptions are valid.) (...)
It is now possible to spell out the tacit theory which underlies, and which alone can explain and justify, the wild eccentricity of psychoanalytical training and the habitual dogmatism of analysts." [mijn nadruk] (71-72)

[Daar, daarentegen, is een heleboel op tegen ... :-)]

"Psychoanalysis presupposes, or rather constitutes, a very contentious theory of knowledge, though this is not at all clear to its own practitioners. They are generally unaware of the eccentric theory of knowledge which they presuppose. Similarly, it does not just presuppose an ethic, it is an ethic. Its ethic dovetails very closely and neatly with its presupposed realist theory of knowledge. Generically, its ethic can be described as Stoic in type." [mijn nadruk] (74)

Een ethiek dus waarbij wij onze verlangens zo goed mogelijk weten aan te passen aan de grillen van de werkelijkheid die we nu eenmaal niet kunnen controleren.

"Things within us should be more accessible to us and more under our control than things outside; so, the congruence between desire and fact can best be attained not by endeavouring to modify external fact, as is the habit of most men, but by modifying and mastering inner desire, as is the way of the Stoic sage.(...)
Stoicism does not work. Its crucial error is psychological. It assumes that because desires are within us, therefore they can be mastered easily, or at any rate, that they can be mastered. Nothing could be further from the truth."(74)

De variatie op het Stoïcisme die de psychoanalyse hanteert noemt Gellner het Huurkoop-Stoïcisme ('Hire-purchase Stoicism').

[Weer zo'n metafoor waar we niet zo veel mee opschieten, maar die weer veel tekst oplevert. Want uiteindelijk komt het toch neer op het je aanpassen aan de realiteit, hoe je innerlijke verlangens ook ziet en of je dat nu wel of niet met behulp van iemand doet.]

"Nevertheless, despite these enormous advantages, the Ethic of Adjustment faces grave problems. In the simplest terms, the question is – adjustment to what?"(76)

Je aanpassen aan het Nazi-regime of het Stalin-regime zou dan geestelijk gezond zijn.

"This and other considerations led some people within the system to reformulate its ethical theory. The device they turned to is also one with a long, venerable philosophical history: the notion of identity, of the ‘true self’, etc. The idea is that health is not to be defined simply in terms of recognition of necessity and adaptation to external constraints, but of the identification, release, fulfilment of a person’s ‘true self’. This has the additional advantage of seeming to offer something more meaty, in contrast with the rather anaemic ideal of mere ‘adjustment’.
The problem this approach faces, or ought to face (and which in practice it only evades) is this: how on earth is that ‘true self’ identified? Is it given by God, by nature, or self-chosen? The last of these alternatives is most in keeping with current background beliefs, and constitutes a kind of confluence of the psychoanalytical and existentialist traditions of thought. It involves the absurdity of assuming that the self must some- how choose or invent itself before it exists ..."(77)

"If realism is a totally false theory of knowledge (which alas it is), what is the correct one? The co-presence of mind and object simply is not sufficient for an apprehension or comprehension of any object. Before one can seize an object, one must be equipped with a whole mass of sensitivities, concepts, expectations, background assumptions. A layman looking at a car engine just sees a jumble of metal objects and wires; a person who knows about car engines can immediately identify the parts and see their interconnection. Countless similar examples can be invoked: the capacity to perceive depends on the possession of the appropriate concepts.(...)
And here’s the rub: the concepts, the anticipatory classifications and interpretations, contain theories which a) had to be discovered and built up by a long process, and b) may yet in the future turn out to be false. So even the purest of hearts, free of inner deception, will not perceive and understand an object unless endowed with proper intellectual equipment."" [mijn nadruk] (78)

"The truth about the theory of knowledge of course helps to explain the well known, uncontested, and somewhat comic fact that Freudian analysts tend to uncover Freudian material, Jungian analysts Jungian material, and so on,
depending upon the point of view of the analyst, the patients of each school seem to bring up precisely the kinds of phenomenological data which confirm the theories and interpretations of their analysts! . . . Freudians elicit material about the Oedipus complex . . . Jungians about archetypes, Rankians about separations anxiety, Adlerians about inferiority, Horneyites about idealised images, Sullivanians about disturbed . . . relationships, etc.
So wrote Judd Marmor, erstwhile president of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis."(79-80)

"The tacit, pervasive and indispensable assumption that a form of knowledge exists – namely that induced by psychoanalysis – which is theory-independent and direct, (though conditional on a kind of inner purification), seems to me one of the crucial and conclusive weaknesses of the whole psychoanalytic edifice. It is also an essential precondition of the dogmatism for which the movement is famous."(81)

"All those critics who have been appalled by the lack of inclination, to put it mildly, of the movement to have its ideas checked, have on the whole failed to see that this disinclination is not simply a human weakness, but a perfectly logical corollary of the central ideas of the vision."(81)

"In a sense, the system allows only ad hominem arguments. If human veil removal is crucial to knowledge, then the only cogent argument really is: I am freer of inner veils than thou. Empirical evidence, in this system, is only and at best a kind of inconclusive, tangential support for ad hominem appeals, to a validation by inner health, or disqualification by inner disturbance. Justification by Inner Grace alone is what counts.

(85) 5 - The Cunning Broker

Het onbewuste vormt het centrale begrip van de psychoanalyse.

"Perhaps the distinctively Freudian Unconscious could not have been prim and proper, in so far as it sometimes seems as if its contents were recruited exclusively by repression."(86)

"The trouble with psychoanalysis is not, as was initially supposed, its excessively daring revision of our ideas of mind, but rather, on the contrary, its uncritical and rather naïve conservatism in this sphere. It was our conception of consciousness and its role in conduct which needed revision: what Freud in effect did was to supplement and fortify a naïve mentalist model of conscious human behaviour, by endowing the conscious mind with a kind of strange doppelgänger who, however, all in all, rather resembled his partner."(86)

"There can be no serious doubt about the ‘existence of an Unconscious’, in some sense, probably in quite a number of senses. On the contrary, all too obviously, there is not one, but many, many kinds of ‘Unconscious’, and the best approach to this topic may well be to begin by listing some of them."(87)

Zo zijn fysiologische / neurologische mechanismes die ons gedrag bepalen totaal onbewust, evenals de generatieve grammatica van de taal die we gebruiken. Allerlei culturele en sociale fenomenen oefenen invloed uit op ons gedrag zonder dat we dat door hebben (individuele repressie blijkt dan vaak sociale repressie).

"Nevertheless, the collective and conceptual devices for excluding disturbing elements from consciousness do not seem to have been at the centre of Freud’s attention, notwithstanding his concern with collective phenomena in his theory of religion."(89)

"It seems clearly true that we are instinct-driven animals, and it is equally clear that we respond to very complex patterns of meaning. Any theory of man which neglects either of these two aspects can hardly be very useful."(93-94)

[Ik vind dat Gellner hier zelf vervalt in een naïef beeld zoals Freud ook deed. Mensen zijn geen 'instinct-driven animals'. Mensen zijn op geen enkele manier een dier en de lichamelijke invloeden die op zijn gedrag inwerken zijn op geen enkele manier instinctmatig zoals bij dieren. Juist omdát alles bij een mens is ingebed in betekenisvolle structuren. Zelfs een bevalling kan op vele manieren ervaren en gedaan worden, mensen kunnen ook daarbij keuzes maken en zijn er niet willoos aan overgeleverd zoals een dier zou zijn.]

"What is the truth of the matter? Can Freud be more correctly and justifiably enlisted on the side of science or on the side of anti-scientific ‘humanism’? Where does the centre of gravity of the system really lie?"(95)

[Ik vind dat Gellner in dit hoofdstukje nogal uit de bocht vliegt met zijn vage metaforische taalgebruik en met het neerzetten van allerlei tegenstellingen die dat helemaal niet hoeven te zijn. Het is net alsof hij nu Freuds opvattingen en invullingen van een onbewuste zit te verdedigen ... Maar misschien begrijp ik het gewoon niet.]

Naast het doorgeslagen empirisme is er een andere opvatting die de opkomst van de psychoanalyse verklaart: het materialistische determinisme. Beschrijving van Kant en zijn twee werelden (van een kant determinisme, van de andere kant ethiek en verantwoordelijkheid).

"... the assumption that events, including those we call human actions and choices and decisions, are parts of nature and subject to its laws, whether or not we are fully acquainted with those laws."(101)

"Kant’s position was highly coherent and quite outstandingly uncomfortable, more so than the common-sense variants of it. He saw that it was no use supposing that sometimes we were free and at other times we were machines: it had to be both of them together, all the time. Common sense is less coherent and less uncomfortable: instead of in- sisting on double citizenship all the time, it likes to think that we hop from one side of the boundary to the other. Superficially, this seems to put less of a strain on our credulity.&qyot; [mijn nadruk] (103)

De psychoanalyse erkent de gedetermineerdheid en geeft tegelijkertijd de indruk dat bevrijding via analyse mogelijk is.

(108) 6 - Reality Regained

"The sovereignty of evidence, to which we are committed when on our best cognitive behaviour, and because we like the fruits of the technology which depends on genuine knowledge, leads us to a cold and insubstantial world, within which nothing is solid enough to allow us to lean on it; our need for repose, rest and support leads us to slip back to a solid world offering some support. We live by an uncomfortable inconsistency, and many of us are uneasily if obscurely aware of it.(...)
One way of seeing the ideological achievement of Sigmund Freud is to understand that he has constructed a solid, non-conjectural, support-providing world, something that had disappeared from our life ..."(109)

"It is true that there is one secular world-view which does have fairly widespread appeal, namely Marxism, which is articulated in an acceptable modern idiom, and which, though false, is not self-evidently absurd, and which also contains an implicit ethic as an integral part of itself. But, while containing a promise and a recipe for collective salvation for mankind as a whole, it contains not the slightest trace of any recipe for the relief of immediate individual anguish. Some do find personal salvation in working selflessly for the salvation of all: but most of us are not public spirited or altruistic enough for this way out, and some who are, have lost, or never possessed, confidence in the doctrinal content of this creed."(114)

[Helaas is dit het niveau geworden waarop Gellner schrijft, sinds bladzijde 74 wordt er steeds meer uitgeweid in richtingen die weinig met de zaak te maken hebben en het vage circulaire en herhalende taalgebruik is niet erg indrukwekkend.]

"The psychoanalytic session is a masterpiece of combination of the requirements of a rule-addicted, orderly and individualist ethos, with those of abandon and intense emotion."(118)

Psychoanalyse vervangt op een moderne manier religie als aanbieder van zekerheid.

(120) 7 - The Embourgoisement of the Psyche

Men voelde de behoefte aan een soort van geheim genootschap van psychoanalytici, vertrouwelingen van Freud, een elite zoals ook Plato die zag. Een vergelijking van Freud en Plato op allerlei punten volgt.

"Eventually, there came to be seven members of the Secret Council, each one wearing a special gold ring as a sign of his status. The council naturally included the grand padrone himself.
Reading all this, one may well wonder whether one is studying the history of scientific association, or whether one has strayed into The Godfather. But the farcical aspects of it must be disregarded, conspicuous though they be. The parallel with Plato, raised by Ferenczi, endorsed by Freud and reported sympathetically by Fromm, is profoundly relevant and very apt.
Plato’s Republic is probably the supreme philosophic achievement of the agrarian and pre-scientific age of human society. It is an heroic effort to settle definitively the problem of moral and political order, of prescribing and validating an overall morality. The background assumption is that of the availability of stable and eternal knowledge, in which fact and value are fused (which distinguishes it from our background, in which cognitive growth and the fact/value separation are and must be assumed); and the possibility of a correspondingly stable and hierarchical social order, consisting of guardians of wisdom, of warrior/administrators, and of subordinate producers, craftsmen and traders. The basic device by which Plato seeks to validate this order is by claiming that it is inscribed into the very nature of things and of the human psyche. The substantiation of this claim is carried out in a splendidly circular manner which is absolutely parallel to that of Freud: those who are good/wise/knowing endorse the vision, and their wisdom is in turn validated by it. And how is their wisdom established? The vision says that they, and only they, possess it.
The direct parallels between Plato and Freud are striking, obvious and important. Both solve the problem of order and health, and answer the crucial question ‘who guards the guardians?’ by postulating a special, powerful and monopolistically guarded and transmitted wisdom, which can engender guardians so incorruptible (by the possession of that wisdom, this being achieved and demonstrated by passing through the searching initiation/instruction) that they do not need to be guarded further (though the story of the Secret Council suggests that you can’t be too careful)." [mijn nadruk] (121)

"Both opt for this kind of solution rather than accepting the verdict of an extraneous, independent, impersonal court (such as the verdict of publicly available evidence, as recommended by liberal empiricist philosophy)." [mijn nadruk] (122)

"In practice, those credited with the wisdom often in the end betray it by disobeying the leader, so extra severe authoritarian measures are required for the maintenance of discipline among the (theoretically) incorruptible guardians, as we have seen. The perpetual and hilarious internal dissensions, hatreds, feuds, fissions, denunciations and excommunications of the Freudian inner party, like the debacle of Plato’s attempt to implement his theories, may lead one to feel some doubts about the theory itself (which no doubt proves only that one is ill-qualified to judge it)."(122)

"Freud’s allegedly heroic self-analysis, overcoming the cunning and all-powerful hydra of the Unconscious, which presumably was having an off-day (or perhaps was not used to opponents as heroic and penetrating as our Sigmund), is as puzzling and mysterious as the birth of a pure philosophical soul, like Plato’s own, into a degenerate world, within which (according to the theory itself) there really was no longer any room for it."(122)

Voor verschillen tussen Plato en Freud volgt een vergelijking met Nietzsche.

[Weer zo'n uitweiding die weinig zegt.]

"The central ideological device is the same in Plato and in Freud: it is contained in Plato’s parable of the cave. Until liberated by truth, man is imprisoned in the cave, mistaking the shadows on its walls for reality. Only the sage can liberate him and lead him out, and show him the true forms of that which he had previously taken to be reality. The erstwhile reality is then seen for what it is – pale, and distorted, shadows. If this is our situation, then we must indeed revere and obey the sage: otherwise, we shall continue to languish in the cave, and remain helpless slaves of our delusions."(127)

"Free-association is the wholly appropriate Freudian inversion of the old Socratic, rationalistic question-and-answer midwifery."(129)

(130) 8 - Anatomy of a Faith

"The Unconscious is like the erring husband. It aims to deceive. De- ception is its business; indeed, deception is its essence. That much we know. What we do not know is the level of sophistication and cunning, the number of steps in the regress, which it chooses to employ."(131)

[Daarmee zeg je dus dat er een onbewuste is, in Freudiaanse zin.]

"The central idea – a cunning Unconscious – is totally polymorphous in its manifestations in daily behaviour. Its cunning is displayed in con- trolling those manifestations, and our interpretations of them. It is this which makes the idea untestable through ordinary behaviour.(...)
This is simply the most conspicuous example of that self-maintaining, self-perpetuating, falsification-evading quality of psychoanalytic ideas, which many observers have noted in the system. This is probably the basis of the most important criticism by far that can be and has been levelled against it." [mijn nadruk] (132)

"Criteria for effectiveness of therapy presuppose knowledge of what the patient would have been like without it, and of course one never has this information."(134)

"The world we actually live in contains an incredibly rich system of characterising the actual conduct, relations, feelings and thoughts of men. The number of sentences available to describe human behaviour is infinite; the number of behavioural possibilities is certainly no smaller. Over this infinitely rich jungle of actual conduct, there floats a rather limited number of psychoanalytic cumulus-cloud concepts and possible interpretations, well-rounded and suggestive, but without sharply delimited boundaries or fixed relations either with each other or with the jungle below. The connections linking the clouds to classes of phenomena down in the jungle are very loose and almost entirely ex post."(135)

"The question of the validity of psychoanalytical ideas and practice has of course been the subject of some attention – though not very much from within the movement itself."(136)

"To test an idea, it must constitute one optional possibility within a wider world. The ideas of psychoanalysis are not an open possibility within a wider and solid world; they define, constitute, fill out their own world. To test them – for its adherents – simply does not make sense.
The outside world is less kind or less enlightened, and a certain number of independent inquiries into the validity of psychoanalytical ideas and into the effectiveness of the therapy based on them, have been carried out. They may not be wholly conclusive: statistical inquiries seldom, if ever, are. But they are fairly conclusive: the evidence supporting psychoanalytical claims is either non-existent or so feeble that it would not even justify an experimental interest in these doctrines, let alone their acceptance, were it not the case that evidently some other factors powerfully impel people to hold them or to toy with them."(137)

B. A. Farrell - The Standing of Psychoanalysis (Oxford 1981)
H. J. Eysenck and G. D. Wilson (eds.), The Experimental Study of Freudian Theories (London: 1972)
C. Rycroft (ed.), Psychoanalysis Observed (London: 1966)
Sidney Hook (ed.), Psychoanalysis, Scientific Method, and Philosophy (New York: 1959)]

"Similar findings could be multiplied. They have never been effectively controverted; the typical answers that come forth have the form of ad hominem denigration, or invocations of the privileged status of the inner experience of analysis (Freud himself claimed that it cannot be judged from the outside), or validations of success on the ‘much worse murder’ principle.
But the case for the invalidity of this system of ideas is not what is primarily argued in this book (though it is accepted, as the convincing conclusion of the work of others). We are trying to cope with the problem which the work of others leaves us, and certainly does not solve: why this system of ideas not merely did not sink, but why it sailed so well; why it conquered our language and, in some measure, our thought." [mijn nadruk] (141)

"A vigorous debate exists among philosophers whether psychoanalysis is untestable and hence unscientific, or whether it is merely false. As far as I can see, the position on this issue is very far from simple, and the same answer does not necessarily apply to each layer of Freudian theory.
Take first of all the central thesis that an Unconscious, of roughly the appropriate kind, exists (a thesis which, as it happens, I believe to be true)." [mijn nadruk] (142)

"Has it then (in its pure logical form) no Achilles’ heel at all? In fact it has, and a very interesting and central one. These are its therapeutic claims. The point is this: the strictly psychological theories contained in it, operate in a world which it itself creates and within which they cannot be falsified. On the other hand, the promise of cure is not, or at any rate was not, initially made with that world: it is made in our public, shared, eclectic world, whose nature and bounds are not normally or initially defined by psychoanalytic doctrine."(143-144)

"The rest of Freud’s arguments on this subject are of a similar quality. He ends the discussion by suddenly going off at a tangent and declaring that the statistical testing is unnecessary anyway, as prejudice against the new technique, like other prejudices against techniques since found to be valid, will eventually die off. This of course characteristically begs the entire question."(147)

"Roughly speaking, psychoanalysis maintains that all surface data are suspect and unreliable, and many or indeed most depth data (i.e. analytically secured data) are also suspect. All surface data and most depth interpretations are false, you might say." [mijn nadruk] (153)

"So where is that alleged rigidity and untestability? Does it not turn out, on careful inspection of the matter, that far from being a paradigm of a closed conceptual system, psychoanalysis is the very model of an open one, and deserves an accolade, rather than denigration, from the prophet of the open society? Alas, not so.
Psychoanalytical interpretations are indeed eternally corrigible, by the canons and practices of the system itself. If on not infrequent occasions some such interpretations are upheld in a rigid and dogmatic manner, this can fairly be attributed to the personal dogmatism and authoritarianism of some practitioners, and does not distinguish this field from all other areas of intellectual inquiry."(153)

"The consequence of all this is that there is in fact a fair amount of non-rigidity within the system, but the changes which occur are not under the control of any outside realm of fact, of any arbitrator outside the control of the system itself. This, it seems to me, is the real criterion of science, and one which provides a clue (not an exhaustive explanation) of the cognitive success and superiority of science."(154)

(156) 9 - The Bounds of Science

"The whole issue of untestability or unfalsifiability is both tangled and important. Recently, the charge of unfalsifiability, associated above all with Karl Popper, has been challenged by Adolf Grunbaum and others. The Grunbaum/Popper debate is somewhat tangential to our concerns, in so far as Grunbaum is not endeavouring to defend psychoanalysis: he is concerned to criticise Popper’s criterion of science, and to establish that Grunbaum’s criterion of science is superior to Popper’s. The demerits of psychoanalysis are not very much in dispute, except perhaps on points of detail: what is at issue is how it should best be criticised." [mijn nadruk] (156)

"The untestability, or rather, the test-evasion charge does indeed remain the main and, in the end, valid charge against psychoanalysis; but nothing is gained, and much is obscured, if one formulates this charge in a crude, simplified, and unsophisticated form."(156)

"Grunbaum’s work offers little solace to apologists of psychoanalysis, but it does claim to rebut Popper’s view that psychoanalysis is untestable. Grunbaum’s argument is rich, complex and important, and requires and deserves much fuller treatment than can be given it here. Nevertheless, its main point can be summarised and dealt with briefly."(161)

"I do not think, however, that Grunbaum’s interpretation is really defensible as an accurate account of Freudian doctrine."(162)

(177) 10 - La Thérapie Imaginaire

"The crucial strategic position occupied by Freudianism in the social and intellectual history of mankind, makes it possible for us to learn a vast amount from it about, on the one hand, the general anatomy of belief systems and, on the other, the special conditions prevalent in our age." [mijn nadruk] (177)

[Dat is dan ook wat Gellner's speciale belangstelling heeft en vanuit zijn pespectief verklaart waarom psychoanalyse zo'n invloed heeft gekregen, ook al is het meeste van wat er binnen de psychoanalyse beweerd wordt oncontroleerbaar.]

"It is worth noting and stressing here that truth is not an advantage in producing a burning faith."(178)

"Freud did not discover the Unconscious. What he did do was to endow it with a language, a ritual, and a church. The general spirit of the language, which conveys that our instinctual needs are central to us, and that they operate in a hidden, devious and cunning manner, seems to me unquestionably sound. The more specific doctrines articulated in that idiom seem to me questionable, unproven, and above all inherently elusive: if true by chance on one occasion or another, there is no way of retaining or retrieving the truth or stiffening the link between assertion and fact, given the loose and slippery nature of the assertions."(180)

"It is natural to ask what kind of man was capable of this astonishing achievement. He has often been accused of being authoritarian, dogmatic and intolerant, and of having some considerable difficulty in distinguishing between loyalty to truth and loyalty to himself. He ran a scientific association in a manner which bore a fair measure of resemblance to the administration of the Mafia or of a Leninist party. He constructed a belief system within which doubt of the system itself appeared to have little standing other than that of a neurotic symptom. He provided this system with an admirable organisational base, whose members were recruited by means of tempting implicit promises, whose fulfilment, however, could not, within the rules of the system itself, be queried.
All this appears to be so, but may perhaps miss the heart of the matter. Dogmatism is not uncommon among creative intellectuals, even or especially among those who preach liberalism. Freud was not unique in these traits, but only in the scale of his impact."(186-187)

[Het maakt niet uit of Freud de enige dogmatische intellectueel was of niet. Ook al waren ze het allemaal, dat zou hun standpunten niet mindner zinloos of gevaarlijk maken. Met andere woorden: dat zouden dan allemaal standpunten zijn die immuun gemaakt werden voor kritiek en beweringen zouden voortbrengen die niet controleerbaar zouden zijn. Freud relativeert alles behalve zijn eigen opvattingen, is het niet typisch?]

"He who discovered, or popularised, the idea that we are not masters in our own house, appears to have been firmly, unquestionably, and somewhat complacently master in his own, not to mention those of many others. The fact that he dominated the house of others ought not perhaps to be held against him: other thinkers do that, and there seems to be much eagerness to be so dominated. What is a little harder to view with sympathy is his continued and total mastery within his own."(188)

[Gellner vergelijkt Freud met allerlei anderen die vaag bleven en oncontroleerbare beweringen deden, maar maakt van het bestaan van al die anderen verzachtende omstandigheden voor Freud en de psychoanalyse. Hij gebruikt dan ook erg veel woorden om een soort van relativering te bouwen en blijft daarmee ook nogal in het vage hangen. Zeg maar eens in één zin wat zijn standpunt nu eigenlijk is. Ik vind het jammer. Gellner schrijft gewoon niet erg to the point en blijft maar uitweiden over allerlei zaken. Ik ben meder voor de simpele constatering die geciteerd wordt van P. Medawar:]

". . . psychoanalysts will continue to perpetrate the most ghastly blunders just so long as they persevere in their impudent and intellectually disabling belief that they enjoy a ‘privileged access to truth’ (M. H. Stern, International Journal of Psycho-analysis, 53, p. 13, 1972). The opinion is gaining ground that doctrinaire psychoanalytic theory is the most stupendous intellectual confidence trick of the twentieth century."(193)