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
Freud discovered archaic thinking in the concrete images and loose associations of dreams and in the physical symptoms of hysterics. But because he was a scientist of his day, he could not fully appreciate its significance. A scientist, for Freud, was a discoverer of an independently existing reality. Thus he took his interpretations of unconscious motivation to be discoveries of what was already there in the patient’s mind, causing the concrete images and the physical symptoms. This put Freud in a difficult conceptual position, and he clearly felt the strain. For if the archaic “thinking” is a remnant of infantile life, it seems odd that it should be cause by something so mature as a conceptual judgment of the type expressed in an analytic interpretation. A more compelling picture is to see the interpretation as growing naturally out of the archaic “thinking” it interprets. A good interpretation represents the end of a developmental process which begins with archaic attempts “to say the same thing.” The interpretation allows the mind to understand, at the level of a conceptualized judgment, what it has been trying to say all along, in more primitive ways. Insofar as there is a natural developmental thrust by which the mind moves from archaic to more sophisticated formulations, the mind must be striving to understand its own activities. Thanks to Freud, it is by now well known that this thrust towards self-understanding is blocked by myriad inhibiting forces which freeze much of the mind’s activity at archaic levels.
A good psychoanalytic interpretation, then, does more than uncover itself. For an unconscious thought is not a fully conceptualized judgment, needing to be pulled through the looking glass by its conscious image. At least one of the reasons an unconscious thought its unconscious is that conscious mind does not easily recognize this form of mental activity. An interpretation takes up the dreams, bodily symptoms and symptomatic acts in which, say, a wish is archaically expressed, and offers the concepts with which that wish can be consciously understood. What we call an “unconscious thought” tends to be a conscious conceptualized judgment that stands in a developmental relation to a more archaic, preconceptualized form of mental activity that is genuinely unconscious. The unconscious needs to be developed to be recognized as such. Although Freud’s psychoanalytic practice embodies this developmental approach, this is not his theoretical self-understanding. Many, though not all, of his remarks suggest that he conceived of himself as simply uncovering a hidden thought. This, of course, fits with the image of science as discovering and independently existing reality.
Jonathan Lear – Love and Its Place in Nature p.7