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Sigmund Freud

Conflict and Controversy: 1910–1914

The International Psychoanalytic Movement: 1901–1909

The War Years: 1914–1918

In 1909, there was no international congress of psychoanalysts, in part because three of the major players–Freud, Carl Jung, and the Hungarian analyst Sandor Ferenczi–had already had an international congress of sorts during their joint trip to Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1910, however, the congress reconvened for several days in Nürnberg. According to Ernest Jones, the scientific content of the meeting was good, but the organization of the meeting was a nightmare. Jung was elected president of the newly-founded International Psychoanalytic Association during the course of the congress; he had also organized the conference, and a number of sore points arose between him and the Viennese psychoanalysts. The Viennese were concerned that the Swiss psychiatrists, of whom Jung was the leader, were taking over the psychoanalytic movement. Their suspicions increased when a motion was passed to make national and regional psychoanalytic associations into branches of the International Association. This motion would make the Viennese Psychoanalytic Society and the Berlin Psychoanalytic Society, which had been founded in 1908, into branches of the International Association.

Freud, the person who was in the best position to ease tensions, did nothing to help the situation. Although he was aware of the conflict, Freud sided exclusively with Jung and at first did little to soothe the bruised egos of his Viennese colleagues. On top of the personal disagreements over who should head the Association, there was also a fairly visible undercurrent of ethnic conflict: the Viennese Jews were polarized against the Swiss Gentiles. The fact that Freud, the Viennese Jewish psychoanalyst par excellence, was allied against the Viennese Jews, only made the situation more complicated.

Within a few weeks of the meeting, the conflicts had been resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Jung remained the editor of the Jahrbuch and the president of the International Association. The Viennese analysts Alfred Adler and Wilhelm Stekel were put in charge of the Viennese Psychoanalytic Association–replacing Freud–and were given joint editorship of a new journal: the Zentralblatt für Psychoanalyse. For the time being, everyone seemed satisfied with the fragile balance of power that had been attained.

That balance was not to last for long. The two-day Weimar congress in September of 1911 went smoothly enough, but in the same year, the conflicts between Freud and the Viennese analysts reached a climax. Three months before the congress, in June of 1911, Alfred Alder had left the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, and in October, nine of his followers joined him in forming the Society for Free Psychoanalysis. Adler's greatest disagreement with Freud, aside from his resentment that Freud favored the Zurich psychoanalysts, was over the basic causes of neurosis. Adler believed that issues of dominance, submission, and aggression were at the center of mental illness. In contrast, Freud believed that sex was at the center of all mental illness. Adler's theory of neurosis focused on the "inferiority complex." Adlerian psychology, as it came to be called in English, became quite popular in its own right, in part because of its wide appeal to psychotherapists who rejected Freud's exclusive focus on sexuality. In October of 1912, Wilhelm Stekel, who had been co-editor of the Zentralblatt with Adler, also resigned from the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Stekel had had a complicated relationship with Freud; Ernest Jones, Freud's biographer and an active member of the International Association from its beginnings, claims that Stekel would frequently tell Freud one thing in private and say another thing in public, as if to challenge Freud to contradict him. Whatever its nature, this relationship fell apart in 1912 and was never mended.

These bitter resignations were difficult for Freud. For a time, the tight-knit community of psychoanalysts had shared an "us against the world" attitude that brought them together against the mainstream medical community. Now, however, the community was falling apart just as it was beginning to gain an international foothold. But for the time being Freud still had Carl Jung, whom he thought of as the crown prince or heir apparent of psychoanalysis. In 1911, he and Jung were still on excellent terms, although Freud had begun to notice that Jung seemed far more interested in questions of mythology and mysticism than he was in neurosis, the basic subject matter of psychoanalysis. In 1912, however, Jung's interest in mysticism led to a fundamental disagreement about the foundations of psychoanalysis, and Freud's relationship with Jung rapidly fell apart. In addition to rejecting the importance of sexuality to neurosis, as had Adler and Stekel, Jung also personally disliked many of his colleagues in the International Association, particularly those Viennese psychoanalysts who still remained. In December of 1912, Freud and Jung seemed reconcile for a brief time, but when the fourth congress of the International Psychoanalytic Association met in Munich in September of 1913, Freud was adamantly opposed to Jung's ideas. Although Jung was re-elected president, he resigned from the editorship of the Jahrbuch in October, and from the presidency itself in April of 1914.

In the midst of all the turmoil within the psychoanalytic camp, Ernest Jones, who remained staunchly dedicated to Freud and to psychoanalysis, decided to take action. He approached Freud with the idea of creating a secret group of loyal psychoanalysts who would help to protect Freud, and psychoanalysis itself, from defections such as Adler's, Stekel's, and Jung's. Freud agreed enthusiastically. The "Committee," as it came to be called, consisted of Jones, Sandor Ferenczi, Otto Rank, Hanns Sachs, Karl Abraham, and, starting in 1919, Max Eitington. For the next fifteen years, the Committee would be a mutual support group and early- warning network that helped maintain psychoanalysis during the difficult years during and immediately after the First World War.

In 1911, a new psychoanalytic journal called Imago was founded. It focused on the non-medical applications of psychoanalysis. This was an area in which Freud had become increasingly interested, in part because of his conversations with Jung about the role of unconscious symbols in mythology and legend. The role of such "collective" symbols and archetypes was to become the center of Jung's psychology after his break with Freud in 1913.

For Freud, the application of psychoanalysis to art and history remained a life- long interest, one that became increasingly important in the years after the First World War, although it never took the prominence in his psychology that it did in Jung's. Freud's essay Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood, first published in May of 1910, interpreted one of the artists dreams&mdashincorrectly, it turns out, due to a crucial error in translation–as a sign of da Vinci's homosexuality. A more important work was Freud's Totem and Taboo, which was published in 1913. In it, Freud painted a picture of a tribal horde in which a dominant father figure controlled the women and children. His sons eventually rose up against him, killed him, and ate him. Then, driven by the guilt of their act and desirous of a way to prevent themselves from killing each other, they instituted a law against mating within the horde, i.e. of having sex with their sisters. This, according to Freud, was the origin of the incest taboo. The totem, an animal that represented the horde, was supposed to be a representation of the murdered father, and thus a reminder of the sons' guilt and of the taboo against incest. Anyone who shared the family totem was ineligible for mating. Freud's work was based, to some extent, on previous reports of the use of totems and taboos in "primitive" cultures, but it was an extraordinarily speculative portrait. Freud continued this style of speculative reasoning in occasional works throughout his life, including Civilization and Its Discontents, published in 1930, and Moses and Monotheism, published in 1938.

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Civilization and Its Discontents

by MarieSnyder, January 11, 2014

I wrote an analysis of Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents with page references here:

http://apuffofabsurdity.blogspot.ca/2012/07/on-how-to-be-happy.html

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2 out of 3 people found this helpful

Beyond the Pleasure Principle and Future of an Illusion

by MarieSnyder, January 11, 2014

I wrote an analysis of Beyond the Pleasure Principle here:

http://apuffofabsurdity.blogspot.ca/2011/12/on-pleasure-and-pain.html

And I wrote an analysis of Future of an Illusion (not mentioned in the summary), a piece about Freud's understanding of God, published in 1927, here:

http://apuffofabsurdity.blogspot.ca/2012/01/on-god-our-invisible-parents.html

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