The recent uptick in support for Freudianism reminds me that normal people, especially conservatives, always knew it was nonsense.
I read, probably at an inappropriately early age, a 1964 book by Richard S. Prather called The Trojan Hearse. Its hero was a private eye named Shell Scott, who was, like his author, a Goldwater supporting anti-Communist conservative.
Here’s what he had to say, writing in 1964, in a novel set in 1968, about the projected decline of Freudianism:
Even in the forties and fifties the inevitable reaction against Freud’s sex-snarled theories had been in the making. Hardly anybody except those who had undergone the long, intensive, repetitive, hypnotic conditioning of the analytic process—which, of course, included all the analysts themselves—really believed the ludicrous tenets of psychoanalysis. That, to choose mild but typical examples, a man’s neurosis could often be traced back to the “fact” that he was poisoned by repressed hatred for his father because as an infant he had desired sex with his mother and thus hated and even wanted to kill the man, his father, who was having sex with his mother—the soberly discussed “Oedipus complex.” That little girls, even only children, so admired and desired their brothers’ male organs that they became filled with warps and wild frustration because they didn’t have one—the soberly discussed “penis envy.” That males suffered from a hidden and unconscious fear that somebody would chop off their you-know—the soberly discussed “castration complex.” And other cerebral excursions into even more pronounced lunacy.
Unquestionably, such aspects of the theory—and theory is all it ever was, even though its baseless ugliness was embraced by tens of thousands of otherwise rational individuals—were hardly suitable subjects for convivial discussion in private, much less in public. But as the theory began to be questioned and even condemned in the medical schools, the public at large became ever more enamored of Oedipus, transference, resistance, id, ego, censor, superego. The reason was that the whole package—Freud, Freudianism, psychoanalysis, and all of its private parts—was being increasingly sold to the people by means of the spoken and written word. The cuckooism was glorified on Broadway and off Broadway, in depressing television dramas, in books and magazines and newspapers, in Hollywood films.
But finally the evidence against the Freudian theory became great enough to overcome even illogic. Medical men began questioning, then denouncing. The evidence became overwhelming that psychoanalysis was totally without efficacy in the treatment of neuroses, psychoses, and even hot flashes, and in fact was often of negative value in that it produced the aberrations it was alleged to cure. As a famous psychologist bluntly summed it up: “The more treatment, the less cure.“
It was learned that microscopic traces of certain chemicals—LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, and others—when introduced into the human system, in many cases gave rise to reactions apparently identical with schizophrenia, paranoia, and the lesser neuroses; if the body itself when afflicted by illness or stress could produce those or similar chemicals, what then of penis envy and sick old Oedipus? So, slowly, people twitchy because of brain tumors, too much booze or salt, guilt feelings produced by undeniable guilt, and so forth, reluctantly began to abandon the Freudian crutch which had supported the widely trumpeted teaching that the individual was never to blame for his own ills.
Freudianism and psychoanalysis fell into disrepute, disarray, and near disintegration. There was a head-shrinking vacuum. Near-panic ensued, particularly among psychoanalysts, their patients, and couch-makers. Fees dropped from fifty dollars an hour to twenty, ten, five, in some cases less than a nickel.
Since people are stupid, Freudianism has been replaced in the novel by something popularly known as “Brain Withering“ but which its fictional inventor Dr. Mordecai Withers calls Duerfianism, because it’s exactly the opposite of Freudianism. He explains to Scott:
“The proper name for my scientific discovery is Duerfism.” He paused, expectantly. “You see? Freud—Duerf.“
“Ugh,” I said. “Like sdrawkcab.“
“That’s backwards spelled backwards.“
“Um. In Duerfism, then, there are of necessity no such ridiculous concepts as the Oedipus complex, the id, ego, superego, penis envy, and such rot. Instead we have the di, oge, ogerepus, vagina envy, and Supideo, among other things.“
“What other—Vagina envy? Pardon my language, of course, but—“
“Of course. We’re modern, aren’t we? Enlightened? Adult?“
“While I admit that makes a lot more sense, it still, somehow, doesn’t quite exactly make enough sense. That’s not really what I mean, but—“
’Of course it makes sense. Attend this closely. Freud and his millions of followers all stressed penis envy as one of the basic causes of feminine neuroses. Everybody knew about it. Everybody thought about it. Everybody talked about it. Everybody accepted it. We know that was wrong. We know the opposite is right. The opposite of penis envy is vagina envy, right? Therefore, it is the answer to male neurosis. And to think the answer was there all the time, staring us in the face—”
There’s more, but my point is that many normal people didn’t need modern medical science, or the revelations in such books as Frederick Crews’ FREUD—The Making of an Illusion to realize that the whole thing was wrong.