Friday, June 25, 2021

The Impossible Profession

Disenchantment was the word that Max Weber used to describe the triumph of mechanism. If you look at the whole as not being greater than the sum of its parts then the universe is easily reducible to predictable stratagems. Everything is explained. Everything falls into place with no room for any magic. Naturally no one is interested in those old traveling medicine men with quack potions, but there are certain ideas and concepts such as the notion of consciousness itself that are not easily reduced to bits of empirically verifiable perception. Scientism and the attendant datafication are direct products of disenchantment. In Freud and Man’s Soul, the psychoanalyst Bruno Bettleheim showed how the James Strachey translation of the Standard Edition diminished the poetry of Freud’s language in the service of promoting psychoanalysis as a scientific discipline. Psychoanalysis is not psychopharmacology and no talk therapy based on the bond created between two human beings—which contains so many irrational elements—is ever going to successfully become denuded of its spiritual and/or metaphysical elements. Thus, the late Janet Malcolm’s classic work on psychoanalysis was titled The Impossible Profession. Do human beings require transcendence? In The Spiritual Life of Children, Robert Coles addressed a striving that occurs early in the development of a human being’s life.

Read "Psychoanalysis: The Patient's Cure" by Francis Levy, American Imago

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