I have always been wary of psychoanalysis. In my own studies of psychology, I have preferred personality psychology to social psychology, but psychoanalysis has always rested somewhere between the two. A personal prejudice, perhaps, since psychoanalysis is concerned only with personality, but I find its pessimistic focus to be more closely related to a collectivist study.
Psychoanalysis makes room only for the abnormal personality. From hysteria to bisexuality, the science searches for these small failures in the human psyche, the mistakes of development, the errors within that blueprint that we should all follow. But this idea of a blueprint, a right way to form, seems to me a social psychological notion. We are meant to be the same; only when we are mistakes do we earn a sense of individuality.
[...] But this can only be realized if the individual is studied as an individual. Psychoanalytic theory suffers in many ways from the stereotypes it imposes on itself, these ideas of psychosexual norms and developmental stages. While D. W. Winnicott proves that even within these concepts a more personalized form of psychology can be established, even Freud has his moments where the preconceptions of psychoanalysis crumble beneath a deeper meaning. These moments like Uncanny,” Freud's writing on the act of experiencing art, and the emotional involvement of the experiencer to the subject. [...]
[...] As the philosopher Martha Nussbaum stated concerning his work, he embraced highly particular transactions that constitute love between two imperfect people.” These particular transactions and the celebration of imperfection are notions absent from the earlier, more textbook concepts of psychoanalytic theory. Winnicott even proposes the concept of “good enough mothering,” where a mother can be imperfect and still perform well enough that her child can grow up normally. Once again, there is a gray area in child development, both on the part of the child and the mother, and what is abnormal by some standards is not necessarily abnormal within the context of an individual life. [...]
[...] For example, Freud's study of Dora hinges on her asexuality, her lack of desire for the man who desires her. He calls her hysteric. And of course she is hysteric, because all adolescent girls should desire sex with the first man to look their way. All girls should desire reproduction, the prolonging of the human race, the fulfillment of their duty to the great chain of being. Really, Freud has no right. To Dora, Herr K. oversteps a boundary. He destroys a trust between man and woman, between man and child. [...]
[...] Any time a theory proscribes a right and a wrong way, a failure paradigm and a success paradigm, the individual is lost between two diagnoses. Psychoanalysis is too goal-oriented, too concerned with the end while it ignores the means. It attributes nothing to the journey unless that journey is flawed. So I have to ask: what about the successful individuals? Are they not interesting? Is there no reward in exploring well-adjusted individuals, only their maladjusted and collective counterparts? And who has the right to define normal anyway? [...]
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