Politics and Psychoanalysis
However, contrary to the rumor that claims Freud was "apolitical," or "politically inert," it can be shown that there are extremely close links between all of Freud's work—analyses, investigations, concepts, projects—and the sources and resources that constitute truly political thought.
Together with the American ambassador William C.
Bullitt, Freud put his name to a book of political psychoanalysis in the strict sense, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, Twenty-Eighth President of the United States: A Psychological Study, (1966 ), that has received little comment.
Freud's anthropological work is considerable.
He questioned the origin and structure of society in Totem and Taboo (1912-1913a), unmasked illusions and dogmas in The Future of an Illusion (1927c) and Civilization and its Discontents (1930a), denounced Bolshevism in one of the New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis—"On a Weltanschauung" (1933a), and described the foundation of a religion, a culture, and a people—the Jews—in Moses and Monotheism (1939a).
His 1921 essay, Mass Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921c), which dismantles the concepts of leader, crowd, and power, can be seen as the foundation of all political psychoanalysis.
Quoting Beaumarchais, Zola, Panizza, and mobilizing the revolution of 1848, social-democracy, and anti-Semitism, Freud denounces the "nothingness" represented by Count "Nichtsthun" and celebrates his own "revolutionary humor."
Although he is not committed to political action like his friend Heinrich Braun, at least he sees his foundational work, The Interpretation of Dreams, as a form of Promethean subversion: "Flectere si nequeo Superos, Acheronta movebo"—"If I am unable to influence the Gods, I will shake up Hell."
Aside from these lines of force of political thought, all Freud's psychological system is rich with political implications.
In the unconscious the ego is no longer master in its own house and humanity must therefore drive it out.
The radical rejection of all forms of illusion, the will to lucidity based on a flexible rationality, the dismantling of connections within communities, the emphasis on the autonomy and responsibility of the individual subject—Freud's political thought remains an inexhaustible resource, even when contested or misused, for original psycho-political constructs.
Some of these include the research and bold assumptions of Wilhelm Reich, often summarily categorized as "Freudian-Marxism," the "social-democratic" psychology of Alfred Adler, the anarchism of Otto Gross, the "Trotskyite" element in Otto Fenichel, the democratic and eclectic humanism of Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse's Orphic leftism, Deleuze and Guattari's libertarian schizoanalysis, and so on.
More recently the field of "psychohistory" has attempted to combine psychoanalysis and politics, but has managed instead to obscure and weaken what was so powerfully revolutionary in Freudian thought.
- Gross, Otto Hans Adolf
- Group psychology
- International Psychoanalytic Association
- Marxism and psychoanalysis
- New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
- Thomas Woodrow Wilson, Twenty-Eighth President of the United States: A Psychological Study