By making it clear that eros is new, unfamiliar, and needed, Loewald is, in effect, offering an interpretation – an interpretation by which psychoanalysis may come better to understand itself.
But a good interpretation, according to Loewald, does more than make the unconscious conscious. It offers the opportunity to integrate this newly found understanding into one’s overall organizational structure. Loewald’s work constitutes an interpretation of Freudian psychoanalysis in this sense: it makes manifest how eros comes to be a conceptual requirement; then it shows how the idea of eros might be developed and integrated into psychoanalytic thinking and practice. It is a corollary of the oedipus complex that creativity requires that one come to grips with the legacies of one’s intellectual parents. Within the broad domains of psychology and psychiatry, there have been embarrassingly many attempts to kill off Freud; but even within psychoanalysis, the proliferation of schools and schisms has often, if not always, hidden a wish to murder the father. Loewald’s work is remarkable for its unique blend of creativity and faithfulness. On the one hand, the essays present themselves as vibrant explications of Freud. There is no room for the reader of these essays to decide to become a “Loewaldian,” whatever that might be: in being gripped by these essays, the reader is led to believe that he is learning what it is to become a Freudian. From this perspective, these essays appear as a work of profound humility. But the humility is “profound” in the sense that it contains not a drop of slavish devotion or castrated submission. For, on the other hand, this “interpretation of Freud” is of remarkable originality. Certain Freudian themes are enhanced: their consequences are pursued beyond anything Freud imagined. Every good interpretation is as much a critique as an explication. And although Loewald treats eros as what is genuinely new in Freudian theory – and thus as Freud’s contribution – the point is that Freud himself was not sufficiently aware of the significance of this concept for psychoanalysis. To say that it remained an “insoluble problem” for Freud to integrate eros into his theory of drives is to say not only that Freud came to eros relatively late in his thinking, almost as an afterthought, but that he never really figured out what to do with it. In turning to this unfinished business, Loewald displays real filial piety in the very creative acts by which he goes beyond anything Freud thought.
Jonathan Lear – Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul p.125
That is one reason, I suspect , we hold on to “knowingness” in spite of our boredom and irritation with it: the “alternative,” if there is one, is nameless. This, I think, is one of the more profound reasons that Freud-bashing has recently become so popular in our culture. Of course there are other reasons, some of them good ones: a reaction against a previous hagiography of Freud and inflated claims for psychoanalysis; the demand for cheaper and more biochemical forms of treatment; and so on. But it is striking that none of the Freud-bashers tries to give an account of the fundamental human phenomenon to which all of psychoanalysis is a response: the fact of motivated irrationality. Humans regularly behave in ways they do not well understand, which cause pain to themselves and others, which violate their best understanding of what they want and what they care about. And yet, for all of that, there is, as Shakespeare put it, method in their madness. These behavings are not simply meaningless intrusions into ordinary life: they express some motivational state, they have a “logic” of their own. Once you recognize the phenomenon of motivated irrationality, you are committed to there being some form of unconscious meaning. This is a fact which is recognized by Plato and Aristotle, by Augustine, Shakespeare, Proust, and Nietzsche. Freud’s originality lies only in the systematic ways way he worked out this fundamental idea.
Jonathan Lear – Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul p.54
The popular imagination was captured by Freud’s reports of the conflictual mental contents he typically encountered in his clinical work. Because he was ever trying to find human universals, Freud’s necessarily limited clinical experience was seldom sufficient to yield universally applicable conclusions about intrapsychic conflicts; thus most of his hermeneutic claims have subsequently proved to be of limited applicability. In other words, in the infinitely variable territory of mental contents Freud’s overly ambitious efforts to generalize turned out to be based on sampling errors.
John E. Gedo – Psychoanalysis as Biological Science: A Comprehensive Theory p.10
The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud still deserves careful study, for it contains important observational data and sophisticated thinking about them, but it is not a currently acceptable exposition of the valid knowledge that constitutes psychoanalysis.
Readers unfamiliar with contemporary psychoanalysis – the current consensus as well as the ongoing controversies within the field – may have difficulty evaluating which of Freud’s propositions continue to have scientific validity, which have been invalidated although they attempted to answer important questions (and therefore possessed great heuristic value), and which of them turned out to be useless because the problems they were supposed to address were misconceived. In this respect, however, Freud’s contributions are no different from those of other authors in the biological sciences who wrote sixty to a hundred years ago.
John E. Gedo – Psychoanalysis as Biological Science: A Comprehensive Theory p.4
Historically speaking, one can look at Freud’s theory as the fruitful synthesis of rationalism and romanticism; the creative power of this synthesis may be one of the reasons why Freud’s thinking became a dominating influence in the twentieth century. This influence was not due to the fact that Freud found a new therapy for neuroses, and probably also not primarily because of his role as a defender of repressed sexuality. There is a great deal to say in favor of the assumption that the most important reason for his general influence on culture is in this synthesis, whose fruitfulness can be clearly seen in the two most important defections from Freud, that of Adler and of Jung. Both exploded the Freudian synthesis and reverted to the two original oppositions. Adler, rooted in the short-lived optimism of the rising lower middle classes, constructed a one-sided rationalistic-optimistic theory. He believed that the innate disabilities are the very conditions of strength and that with intellectual understanding of a situation, man can liberate himself and make the tragedy of life disappear.
Jung, on the other hand, was a romantic who saw the sources of all human strength in the unconscious. He recognized the wealth and depth of symbols and myths much more profoundly than Freud, whose views were restricted by his sexual theory. Their aims, however, were contradictory. Freud wanted to understand the unconscious in order to weaken and control it; Jung, in order to gain an increased vitality from it. Their interest in the unconscious united the two men for some time without their being aware that they were moving in opposite directions. As they halted on their way in order to talk about the unconscious, they fell under the illusion that they were proceeding in the same direction.
Erich Fromm – The Crisis of Psychoanalysis p.37
The most creative and radical achievement of Freud’s theory was the founding of a “science of the irrational” – i.e., the theory of the unconscious. As Freud himself observed, this was a continuation of the work of Copernicus and Darwin (I would add also, of Marx): they had attacked the illusions of man about this planet’s place in the cosmos and his own place in nature and in society; Freud attacked the last fortress that had been left untouched – man’s consciousness as the ultimate datum of psychic experience. He showed that most of what we are conscious of is not real and that most of what is real is not in our consciousness. Philosophical idealism and traditional psychology were challenged head-on, and a further step was taken into the knowledge of what is “really real.” (Theoretical physics took another decisive step in this direction by attacking another certainty, that concerning the nature of matter.)
Freud did not simply state the existence of unconscious process in general (others had done that before him), but showed empirically how unconscious processes operate by demonstrating their operation in concrete and observable phenomena: neurotic symptoms, dreams, and the small acts of daily life.
The theory of the unconscious is one of the most decisive steps in our knowledge of man and in our capacity to distinguish appearance from reality in human behavior. As a consequence, it opened up a new dimension of honesty and thereby created a new basis for critical thinking.
Erich Fromm – The Crisis of Psychoanalysis p.5
It is not surprising that many people were attracted by the promise that there are faster and cheaper methods of “cure”. Psychoanalysis had opened up the possibility that one’s misery could be alleviated through professional help.With the change in style to greater “efficiency,” rapidity, and “group activity” and with the spread of the need for “therapy” for people whose income did not suffice for prolonged daily sessions, the new therapies necessarily became very attractive and drew away a good many potential patients form psychoanalysis.
Thus far I have only touched upon the more obvious and superficial reasons for the present crisis of psychoanalysis: the wrong use of psychoanalysis by a large number of practitioners and patients. To solve the crisis, at least on this level, would only require making a stricter selection of analysis and patients.
It is, however, necessary to ask: How could the misuse occur? I have tried to give some very limited answers to this question, but it can be answered fully only if we turn from superficial manifestations to the deeper crisis in which psychoanalysis finds itself.
What are the reasons for the deeper crisis?
I believe that the main reason lies in the change of psychoanalysis from a radical to a conformist theory. Psychoanalysis was originally a radical, penetrating, liberating theory. It slowly lost this character and stagnated, failing to develop its theory in response to the changed human salutation after the First World War; instead it retreated into conformism and the search for respectability.
Erich Fromm – The Crisis of Psychoanalysis p.4