Friday, May 25, 2007

Secrets and lies

His Holiness the Pope has kind of sort of acknowledged that very bad things were done by the Catholic colonisers of South America:
It is not possible to forget the sufferings and injustices inflicted by the colonisers on the indigenous population, whose fundamental human rights were often trampled upon.
Never mind, it was all done for a good reason. You see, indigenous populations welcomed their European colonisers because they were "secretly longing" for Christ "without realising it."

The next time you find yourself having a secret longing (without, of course, realising it) be very wary of Spaniards.

With thanks to Craig for the link

10 comments:

harvestbird said...

Could the concept of secretly longing for something without realising it exist without Freud? And isn't it, like most of the good doctor's postulations, a bogus concept?

Paul said...

Interesting thought; it also seems to be contrary to the theological notion of free will which is central to Salvation and Grace and all that stuff. If one has unconscious yearnings then one is not make decisions rationally, surely?

harvestbird said...

If I'm right, I feel sad in a way that the Pope is absorbing cultural referents "without realising it"; oughtn't the heir of Peter (who, apart from the denial, I guess, is by canonical accounts a man of action) to be above such phenomena?

Brendon said...

"And isn't it, like most of the good doctor's postulations, a bogus concept?"

Although some of Freud's work can seem a *little* silly (heh, the oedipal complex) in today's world, he made significant contributions to psychology that should not be treated with such disdain.

He was, for example, the first theorist to recognise the role of sexual abuse in mental illness. He withdrew from this when faced with being ostracized by his colleagues, however. Sexual abuse is now recognised as the best predictor of schizophrenia in particular, as well as other mental illness.

harvestbird said...

Sexual abuse is now recognised as the best predictor of schizophrenia in particular, as well as other mental illness.

With this assertion I'm not familiar, but would be happy to read more on it were you to point me in the direction of the appropriate studies.

I would hope that, with the role the culture wars played in my education, I'd not be seen to treat Freud with any hasty disdain, but my impression of the relationship between present-day (emirical/empiricist) psychology and his work is one of unease, at best.

Certainly I'd accept that the concept of the unconscious has been of tremendous utility to twentieth-century thought, but beyond that--in terms of actual mental health treatment--I defer to the social scientists and health professionals amongst us.

Paul said...

He withdrew from this when faced with being ostracized by his colleagues, however.

Isn't that the problem? Freud developed Seduction Theory based on research and then replaced it with the Oedipus Complex? Did that not divert psychological research from real science into the realms of postulation?

That said, I am not willing to join the chorus of Freud scorners. Without him the subject of the mind would never have been raised and he does provide some fascinating explanations.

Brendon said...

Sorry, when I said "recognised" I was semi-remembering my earlier clinical lectures and chose the wrong word. It's not that clear cut, however it is accepted that abuse plays a significant role at least in the less 'severe' mental health issues.

For example: Read, J., Perry, B.D., Moskowitz, A., Connolly, J. (2001). The contribution of early traumatic events to schizophrenia in some patients: A traumagenic neurodevelopmental model. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes. 64(4) 319-345

"The range of adult disorders in which child abuse or neglect have been shown to have an etiological role includes depression, anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse, sexual dysfunction, personality disorders, and dissociative disorders (Beitchman et al. 1992; Boney-- McCoy and Finkelhor 1995; Kendler et al. 2000)." (Read et al. 2001, p.324).

Read et al. go on to say that child abuse is generally assumed to be unrelated to the more severe mental disorders, but that "the literature reviewed... suggests that the relationship between traumatic events in childhood and schizophrenia may be as strong, or stronger, than the relationships between traumatic events in childhood and other less severe adult disorders".

If you're really interested, this book's quite interesting. Read, J., Mosher, L.R., and Bentall, R.P. (2004). Models of madness: psychological, social and biological approaches to schizophrenia. New York: Brunner-Routledge.

Anyway, my point was that just because something is Freudian doesn't mean it should be discounted entirely, the man had some good ideas. I mean bloody hell, being the first person to recognise the role of child abuse, even if he did go back on it later.

isn't that the problem? Freud developed Seduction Theory based on research and then replaced it with the Oedipus Complex?
K I'm struggling to remember my 7th form physics here, but didn't Einstein decide that he was completely wrong about some of his work before he died? I don't see anyone claiming that that makes his work any less valid.

harvestbird said...

Thanks for the references Brendon, not least for going to the trouble to look them out on a Friday night.

I think my perspective on Freud has been shaped by the way in which his work is sometimes applied in academic literary criticism (whence I evolved), not only to texts (where the conscious/unconscious distinction lines up nicely with the text/subtext) but to the people who wrote 'em.

That diagnostic strand, where analysis of writing blurs into an analysis of the author's psyche, seems to me a false reality, tying up writer and work in a way that's both just too neat and often serves to identify some kind of otherwise barely-visible dysfunction on the writer's part. Oedipal anxieties seem to pop up, so to speak, all over the place in such readings, or at least that is how my memory of postgrad study renders it.

By the same token, I feel encouraged by examples from psychology itself where Freud's observations, formulations and sometimes unexpected leaps appear to be supported by participant observation and other means of inquiry. Just because some literary and cultural scholars make wobbly use of Freud needn't mean, I ought to admit, the whole need be discounted.

To my initial phrasing "a bogus concept" I might therefore have added "when generalised and applied to a period of history prior to Freud's work, by a 21st-century pope"!

Brendon said...

not least for going to the trouble to look them out on a Friday night.

I stayed home to do an assignment, so am suddenly finding the time to do anything unrelated.

To my initial phrasing "a bogus concept" I might therefore have added "when generalised and applied to a period of history prior to Freud's work, by a 21st-century pope"!

Hehe, I definitely agree with that one. Then again, were I feeling contumelious I could suggest that even the most outlandish Freudian concepts may be somewhat less "bogus" than many of those on which the Pope usually bases his statements. :p

Right yeah I agree with you on many of those points, I just wanted to defend his name and point out that he did have some good ideas too heh.

As I think Paul was getting at it is a real shame that Freud retracted his abuse theory, it seems to have set Psychiatry back a hell of a long way. It was only in 2000 that Auckland Healthcare began to recommend that “Assessment of Mental Health clients must include questions about possible trauma/sexual abuse to ensure that appropriate support and therapy are made available”.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Paul. Note Pedro Almdovar's classic "Dirty Habits," and see why your advice about Spaniards is outdated...

Craig y