Wednesday, May 22, 2019

And Freud comes crashing down

First published in 1966, Das Dritte Reich des Traums is a neglected classic. In it, Charlotte Beradt summarizes her analyses of some three hundred dreams recounted to her in Berlin 1933–34, That the images, symbols, fantasms which crowd these dreams should so obviously mirror the political changes taking place in Berlin at the time, is not surprising. What is of the very first importance, however, is the degree of depth to which external history penetrates into the subconscious and unconscious. It does not take long to discover that patients dreaming of the loss of limbs or of the atrophy of arms or legs are not displaying symptoms of a Freudian castration—complex but, more simply and terribly, revealing the terrors inflicted on them by the new rules demanding the Hitler-salute in public, professional and even familial usage.

Am I mistaken in feeling that this finding, even by itself, presents a fundamental challenge to the psychoanalytic model of dreams and their interpretation?—George Steiner, No Passion Spent, pages 222–23

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