Sunday, August 17, 2014

Freud Precis

The basic argument of Freud's essay Fetishism, is that there exists a 

metaphorical substitution by a child for the absence of a penis in its mother. The 

child experiences what Freud calls the castration complex, fear that if the mother 

lost the penis the boy believed was there, he might also run the risk of losing his. 

Therefore the boy substitutes the missing genital with another object, typically a 

penis. The intended audience for this essay seems to exclude women because 

none of Freud’s patients were women and he does not provide a version of the 

fetish for girls. Along with many of the other forms in which Freud hurts his 

credibility. Another way in which his reliability is untrustworthy is his lack of 

evidence for his claims. For example when Freud states, “For obvious reasons 

the details of these cases must be withheld from publication, I cannot therefore, 

show in what way accidental circumstances have contributed to the choice of a 

fetish.” he does not follow with a further explanation of the implications such a 

claim makes. He expects his readers to not question the development of the 

circumstances that led to the fetish. Freud’s argumentative case is not strong 

because of his lack of sources. Although Freud’s claims may not be founded on 

reliable sources, his aim is not entirely to change convictions but to alter conduct. 

Freud sought to treat his patients under the model of the fetish. Nevertheless 

essay underlines Freud’s sexist ideology. 


Theodore H said...

I'm fairly sure most people disagree with Freud's phallic metaphor, myself included. But aside from the technicalities of his claims, I think the biggest thing to take away from his work in regards to the class is the nature of a fetish and the psychoanalytic aspect of how it's a subconscious process. Disregarding the phallic form of the penis, I think Freud is accurate when he states that the nature of a fetish is a compromise between the belief and non-belief.

Leah Daoud said...

As influential as Freud is, I agree that his blatant sexism is a major weakness. I was literally just thinking about how moronic “penis envy” becomes in light of the clever twist in “The SCUM Manifesto”, that is men having “pussy envy” instead of the traditional reverse. The idea that any gender can be superior based on reproductive parts is truly maddening and the fact that this mindset bleeds out into every other aspect of life is just unconscionable.

J Seagull said...

Yes, Freud is definitely lacking in the "evidence" category in many of his writings. I love his section in this piece where he says "In every instance, the meaning and the purpose of the fetish turned out, in analysis, to be the same."

Really, Freud?? Want to let us know what kind of analysis you were using? What questions did you ask the clients to elicit these responses? What did they actually say that makes you think that all of their cases relate to the same cause (your theories)? How can we know that this wasn't a matter of you interpreting their answers in ways that are friendly to your theories?

Well, we don't get answers to these questions, we're just supposed to trust him. O...kay....

J Seagull said...


That was one of the things that kept me giggling and loving it all the way through reading Valerie Solanas' insane piece. The Pussy Envy example is a perfect little twist to show how the status of the sexes can easily be reversed using the same logic that was used to position men as superior to women in the first place. And it shows how someone like Freud was completely blind to the way in which his conclusions are rooted in totally precarious presumptions.

Lea Dandan said...

I find that many of the founding fathers of philosophy and post movements of the early ages did not have many "sources" as we would qualify today. Theory and research has evolved in a way that is buttressed by other intellectuals in academia. No one really has a pure idea unless it's of the extreme, but then again is probably derived in rebuttal of the current status quo. I do agree that Freud is making claims without full explanation.