May 10, 2015

WE WERE FREUD-DENIERS BEFORE WE WERE CLIMATE-DENIERS:

The Pills That Mother Gives You : Review: Theodore Dalrymple, 'Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality' (Blake Seitz, May 10, 2015, Daily Signal)

The first issue of National Review in 1955 included the essay "Why They'll Never Get Me on that Couch," in which movie maven Morrie Ryskind declared himself a "non-conformist" for rejecting Hollywood's latest craze, psychoanalysis. Five years later, in the same magazine, John Dos Passos put psychology on a level with communism when he wrote about "the twin myths of Marx and Freud." Modern conservatism had it in for shrinks from the get-go.

Now, Theodore Dalrymple, once a practicing psychiatrist, joins in with a new book called Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality. Dalrymple's predecessors to this subject were mostly writers, not clinicians--laymen distrustful of an initiated class that sought to explain the troubles of adult life according to whether, as children, they had ever walked in on their parents having sex. Dalrymple's background brings credibility to this tradition of skepticism.

If you have encountered Dalrymple's work in City Journal then you will be familiar with his thesis: that psychology has been abused by man, who is ever eager to shift the blame for his moral shortcomings onto forces beyond his control. Dalrymple devotes most of Admirable Evasions to cataloguing the psychological fads that have rippled through the culture. He starts with Freud, who "was to human self-understanding what Piltdown Man was to physical anthropology." Outside of your average university English department, it is now difficult to believe how seriously Freud's body of work was taken at its height, especially by cultural elites.

Posted by at May 10, 2015 7:00 AM
  

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