The Legacy of Sigmund Freud
Controversies hand in hand with psychoanalysis
01.09.18 Maria Helena Rowell

In attempting to outline the undeniable influence of Sigmund Freud in this tumultuous 20th century, the organizing committee of the event in his honor, whose project began in 1994, had to overcome financial difficulties and torrid debates about the current relevance of Psychoanalysis, triggered by fifty of its detractors in a petition signed in 1995.

Planned for 96 and postponed for two years, the exhibition opened in October / 98, curiously during the considerations on the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. After three months in the US capital, including New York and Los Angeles, it took off from the domestic circuit, heading for its international roadmap.

At the commemorations of the one hundred years of The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) the exhibition "Freud: Conflict and Culture", arrives in Săo Paulo. It remains at MASP from 10.10 to 17.12.00. It belongs to the Library of Congress of Washington, which holds the largest collection in the world on the Father of Psychoanalysis. The exhibition is the result of a joint realization with the Freud Museum in London and the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna and consists of three large blocks:

  • Years of Academic Training, with biographical data;

  • The Individual: Therapy and Theory, shows the evolution of concepts and clinical cases;

  • From the Individual to Society: expansion of Psychoanalysis in Culture.,

Michael Roth, curator of the exhibition, is the author of Freud: Conflict and Culture: Essays on his Life, Work and Legacy (1998). The historian clarifies that the purpose of the exposition is to show that, although Freud has always been the object of controversy, his influence on the intellectual history of this century is irrefutable.

In the light of Western culture, so irreversibly permeated by psychoanalytic language, it can be said that, to some degree, all of us are Freudians.

In addition to new theoretical contributions, such as those of Klein, Bion, Lacan, Winnicott, Kohut and many others, which have multiplied the possibilities of psychoanalysis, many of Freud's fundamental formulations, especially those on the unconscious and infantile sexuality, remain uncontested.

Far from being obsolete, psychoanalysis goes through early stages of evolution and must be enriched by multidisciplinary scientific contributions. The slow progress of knowledge about psychic functioning consistently disappoints the PROZA-ic atmosphere of modernity which, in order to alleviate emotional distress, seeks ever-faster 'solutions', often unaccompanied by insight and self-realization.

Fervent critics, widely publicized in international academic circles, have been elaborating relentless theses on an alleged lack of scientificity and internal coherence of Freudian work. They try to denigrate Freud's professional ethics and attack the technique he employs. In the reductionist view of the authors, the master's comprehensive elaborations are mere speculations, which would only have served his vanity and supposed excesses of power. It is evident that in wishing to bury the thought of the genius of Vienna, the intellectual ingenuity of these authors, mentioned below, does not guarantee that they have a high carat of emotional apprehension.

In defense of Freud, Jonathan Lear, Psychoanalyst and Professor at the University of Chicago, published his book "Open Minded: Working out the Logic of the Soul" (1999).

Advertising, depending on the perspective chosen, can be the soul or the spectrum of a business…And we all know how dangerous alienation is. May supporters and depreciators survive the rising waves of indignation and become co-authors of the psychoanalytic journey in the twenty-first century. Even an intellectual carnage is still part of sublimation, and however cruel this war is, it compares little to Nazism that at that time haunted the octogenarian citizen of the world.

The 'Complete Works', in illuminating the mental processes, many of them even responsible for the creation of the author's books, not only still deserve, but they also call for a continuous hermeneutical work of thinkers with the same breath of Sigmund Freud whose dream, revealed to humanity, will continue to be the object of endless and disturbing interpretations.

Brainstorming this article in Portuguese Copyright ©2018 by Maria Helena Rowell