Sigmund Freud, the Never-Ending Storyteller

In “Sigmund Freud, the Never-Ending Storyteller”, William Giraldi notes the Jewish roots of Freud’s cult of psychoanalysis, one of the great poisons of the modern world, killer of gentile traditions:

Nor would psychoanalysis have happened if its founder hadn’t been a self-​conscious Jew ever vigilant of the role of Jewish history in Europe. Along with Christ, Karl Marx, and Albert Einstein, Freud is one-​fourth of the Jews of literal and intellectual revolution, the quartet who made the planet quake. Borrowing from a brigade of top scholars who have examined the nexus between psychoanalysis and Freud’s conception of his own Jewishness—​including Harold Bloom, Peter Gay, and Philip Rieff, each of whom goes unmentioned in this connection—​Phillips rightly believes that European Jewish history helped make Freud possible, because however else we’d like to describe psychoanalysis, it is foremost a Jewish reading of the psyche in the world, an outsider’s psycho-​emotional apprehension for other outsiders. Freud was nervous, though not unduly, about his theories being tagged “Jewish” because he understood that the tag was normally wielded in the snaky lisp of the anti-​Semite.

Phillips writes that “the modern individual Sigmund Freud would eventually describe was a person under continuous threat with little knowledge of what was really happening to him”—​a Jew, in other words, as Freud himself admitted in The Resistances to Psychoanalysis. The paradoxes at the hub of Freud—​the heaving dichotomies of life/death, sex/death, past/present, present/future, sickness/health—​are human paradoxes, to be sure, but they are human paradoxes expertly manifest in Hebraic mythos. Phillips contends that “Freud’s work shows us … that nothing in our lives is self-​evident, that not even the facts of our lives speak for themselves.” Consider how that assertion applies both to the Torah and to the indispensible modern Jewish writers, from Bruno Schulz and Franz Kafka to Primo Levi and Isaac Bashevis Singer, and you’ll begin to see how psychoanalysis in general and the Freudian unconscious in particular—​that dark swamp of our minds—​was from the beginning a Jewish literary enterprise.

Simon Schama, in his enjoyable (albeit thoroughly ethnocentric) The Story of the Jews BBC documentary, starts off the documentary series with reflections on Freud’s obsession with his own Jewish roots, and Kevin MacDonald discusses, at length, the group identity roots of Freudian (and post-Freudian) ‘pathologizing’ of gentile culture in The Culture of Critique.

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