….to show from where I came

I´ve been reading a truly fascinating book over the last three weeks. It was a thorough scientific rebuttal of Freud´s theories, and also it managed to be entertaining in a sophisticated way that appears to die off along with a whole generation of (German) intellectuals. I will miss it, because it combines decisive  intellectual integrity with witty self-awareness, without ever being zealous. It is the style of authors who do not yet fear to be called arrogant.

The book, therefore, was not just fascinating in terms of the facts it told me, but also in the way those facts were presented. What it showed to me, unwittingly, was my own self-denial. I used to have a very negative image of the social class I stem from. My hatred was in part directed towards its values (college education, academic career or job that has to do with culture, literature etc.), but even more towards a certain emotional style: The slight trace of irony, of an inner distance, a slightly skeptical stance towards everything, and especially one´s own emotions and convictions. The instinct to suspend judgment until more information is available. It is this precisely what many people seem to perceive as arrogant.

I will not escape this cultural heritage. I tried to replace it with zeal, mania and emotional self-mutilation, but it won´t go away. And ultimately I will find that those things simply aren´t me. I may be an academics´ child who is remarkably close to people from other backgrounds, who has done remarkably many uncharacteristic things and who is remarkably critical of her own background, but I will always be the child of academics. Also, if I am truly honest to myself, I will always be a snob of some kind. I will always, deep at heart, allow myself luxuries like an intellectual taste, and two generations ago this might still have been something worth nourishing. To enjoy writings not because they are in some respect orthodox (as is typical of a zealous age) or even correct, but purely for the author´s wit and personality. To judge books by their style and not the moral value of their content. To be capricious.

The book itself refuted psychoanalysis on two levels: As a theory and as therapy. The rebuttal of its theories are so extensive that it will take me a long time to mentally adapt. I might write about it step by step, or just select the most important things. I am infinitely grateful, though, that this book was written.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to “….to show from where I came”

  1. What’s the book called? Sounds worth a read.

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