Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Reading A Horror Book

Jeffrey Masson, The Assault on Truth: Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory.

Masson was picked by Freud's daughter to be the intellectual bodyguard of Freud's legacy.  That's what makes this book so amazing.  Masson demonstrates that Freud early on recognized that the cause of many of the serious mental illness problems affecting adults in turn of the century Vienna were symptoms of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), which Freud abandoned in response to peer pressure and an unwillingness to admit how widespread CSA was, including by his own father, and several generations of biographers and psychoanalysts purposely covered this up.  He quotes a letter Anna Freud wrote him acknowledging that abandonment of the "seduction" theory (a word chosen to hide the brutality of these crimes) made psychoanalysis possible.  With the original explanation, psychoanalysis would not have developed.  I have always regarded psychoanalysis as a great fraud.

The horror isn't just the crimes against children, but the attempts to treat the victims as adults.  Freud and his mentor Fliess were convinced that sexual problems and dysmennorhea were actually correctable by removing the turbinates in the nose, and they very nearly killed a woman whose problems were more likely symptoms of CSA.  Freud did his best to cover Fliess' incompetence at what today would be recognized as pointless butchery even if properly done.

Masson, when he first presented the evidence in psychiatric conferences, was basically told not to let this get outside professional circles.  No one disputed what he found; just don't scare the rubes.

Masson uses books from Freud's library to demonstrate (via his notations) that Freud was well-informed about this but chose to ignore it.

How different the world might have been if the consequences of CSA had been recognized earlier.

1 comment:

Andy in San Diego and Elsewhere said...

Related: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/2016237/

"Mothers of boys with gender identity disorder: a comparison of matched controls."