In 1899, The Interpretation of Dreams was published in Vienna. It is a sort of milestone in the construction of that theoretical edifice that will have so much importance in the twentieth century: psychoanalysis.The author of the book is a young Viennese neurologist, with multiple interests and who precisely because of his desire to study and deepening the most disparate disciplines, he graduated in medicine three years late.His name is Sigmund Freud and he is the beloved eldest son of a family of Jewish origins.Freud was immediately aware of the revolutionary character of the ideas that he was gradually elaborating and developing. perfecting. During his first trip to America he told his pupil Jung, who would later organize the most important schism within the psychoanalytic movement: “They don’t know that we are bringing them the plague.” many writers and intellectuals, with arguments among other things still valid today, psychoanalysis obtained a progressive, great affirmation, so much so that in the second postwar period we find psychoanalysts seated in prestigious professorships in equally prestigious universities all over the world. psychic disorders, as it was originally born, psychoanalysis was a semi-failure. Long and expensive treatment, at least in the Freudian version, proved to be ineffective in the treatment of schizophrenia and other psychoses, that is, that set of pathologies that we laymen refer to as madness, but also in the therapy of minor psychic disorders, such as neuroses, The results are not exciting and in any case not at all superior to those obtained with the use of other psychotherapies. The strictly rationalist, puritanical Victorian man, loyal to the sense of duty and work ethic, takes over, influenced by new ideologies, the man of mass civilization, dedicated to the consumption and sacralization of free time The family itself is transformed: from the extended patriarchal family, often peasant, to the nuclear family, petty bourgeois, where personal needs, the intimacy of couple, the satisfaction of individual needs or of a small circle of people.
The industry can expand, having finally found the ideal buyers to sell its products to. The discovery of the unconscious, which Freud owes to his philosophical and literary readings, makes contemporary man aware of the irrational forces that determine and act on the behavior of he.
Finally aware of his instincts, the man of the twentieth century, first split between consciousness and unconscious, rationality and drives, develops a new dialectic, a sort of mass interiority and introspection that will allow the bourgeois individual to construct his own autonomous identity. Psychoanalysis, bourgeois novel is the title of a lucky booklet from a few years ago, where the authors saw precisely in psychoanalysis the tool through which every gray representative of the bourgeoisie could build a reliable narrative of his own existence, his own personal novel, of which he warned acute need, for the first time in history. Literature is interested in psychoanalysis not only from the critical point of view, but above all from the expressive one: poetry and novel make intense use of primary thought, typical of the production of the unconscious The surrealists, Proust, Joyce, Svevo, Woolf, contemporaries of Freud, produce literary works arias that, while not strictly psychoanalytic, indeed strongly heretical, are affected by the new cultural climate and abound with mental associations, fragments of memories, fantasies, visions, emotions, descriptions of bizarre behaviors. of the stream of consciousness, a stream of consciousness that aims to reproduce psychic activity in its making, in its mixing rational and irrational, ideas, perceptions, feelings, memories, sensations in their continuous and contemporary flow. Institutions, psychoanalysis seems to lose over the years its innovative, if not subversive, charge of its origins, advocated by Freud himself, in some ways a centralizing patriarch, dogmatic and authoritarian, however above all a scientist with an experimental mentality and as such available, as he often did , to change ideas and explanations in the light of the new facts that emerged from the clinical observation of patients In collusion with Power, psychoanalysis has ended up becoming mystifying, locking man up in a narrow, intrapsychic or, at most, intrafamiliar vision of his problems.
Thus denying the historical, social, or profoundly ontological origins of the discomfort of contemporary man. Youth deviance, protest, psychological malaise, workers’ claims, unemployment, political and trade union struggles, criticism of industrial and post-industrial society became for psychoanalysis an individual, personal problem of badly elaborated relationships with mum and dad. What to save from psychoanalysis in the twenty-first century?
Without doubt the literary value of Freud’s work, a prose writer gifted with intelligence, brilliance, wit, clarity, style.
A small classic, therefore, capable of telling us, as long as we get out of an excessively dogmatic reception, something important about ourselves and our lives. From a scientific point of view, there is probably little or nothing to save. Epistemologists define psychoanalytic theories as “not falsifiable”, “unverifiable” and therefore unscientific according to the current paradigm of science.
Psychoanalysis proposes intuitions, not scientific truths, suggestive hypotheses not solid theories.
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