How did Freud become a respected humanist?!
Freud Is Widely Taught at Universities, Except in the Psychology Department:
PSYCHOANALYSIS and its ideas about the unconscious mind have spread to every nook and cranny of the culture from Salinger to “South Park,” from Fellini to foreign policy. Yet if you want to learn about psychoanalysis at the nation’s top universities, one of the last places to look may be the psychology department.
A new report by the American Psychoanalytic Association has found that while psychoanalysis — or what purports to be psychoanalysis — is alive and well in literature, film, history and just about every other subject in the humanities, psychology departments and textbooks treat it as “desiccated and dead,” a historical artifact instead of “an ongoing movement and a living, evolving process.”
I've been wondering about this for a while, ever since I heard someone describe Freud as "one of the greatest humanists who ever lived." I'm pretty sure he didn't think of himself that way. If you're a crappy scientist but a decent writer, does that mean you get to be reincarnated as a humanist next? To my mind this doesn't bode well for the humanists, or for new potential Freuds in this regard.
The article duly notes that psychoanalysis as it lives in humanities academia is completely different than clinical psychoanalysis. Clinical psychoanalysis is now discredited because of its lack of empirical grounding. I guess outside of psych departments that's not an obstacle, thus psychoanalysis for gender studies and the like.
Some of the sentiments expressed in the article really irritate me though, like:
“Some of the most important things in human life are just not measurable,” he said, like happiness or genuine religious feeling.
Give me a break. There are great measurements of subjective happiness. It's even gone far enough to start studying its relation to welfare economics and policy implications. Sure, some of the brain work is at a pretty early stage, but measuring these things -- and pragmatically using this knowledge in the real world! -- can be done.
Freud, though, is particularly useful for gaining insights into questions of human existence. “There will be the discovery of problems that the standard ways don’t address,” he said, and then “there will be a swing back to Freud.”
I'll be waiting.