April 1, 2012

Nostalgia for "the romance of neurosis, as well as its physical embodiment..."

"... a restless, grumbling, needy presence that once functioned in the collective mind as an early warning system, an inner voice that hedged against excessive optimism."

Yes, why was that character ever charming and compelling? Is it because we were drawn into the literary, imaginative theories of Freud and now we just have symptoms that indicate which drug to prescribe?

Are we better off now?


John M Auston said...

Are we better off now?

Almost certainly. The Freud stuff is certainly interesting as a theory, but best jettisoned, imo.

Better, I think, are the theories and techniques of Morty Lefkoe, as explained in his book "Re-Create Your Life".

Quick summary: There is often more than one entirely plausible way to look at some important and impact-full event from one's past.

Some are more 'destructive' than others, so where there are more than one, why not go with one that has a more most positive effect on your current life? Quit beating yourself up, in other words.

Freud-like explanations are interesting and even titillating, and perhaps some fall in love with the narrative and hold on to it, even if it perpetuates a neurosis.

Misery loves company, and all that.

But true mental health and ever elusive 'happiness' should caution a different approach.

Pogo said...

The best quote came from historian Edward Shorter, author og “From Paralysis to Fatigue,” a history of psychosomatic illness:

"And sad to say, telling people they have a mood disorder misleads them. They think it’s all in their head, when in fact they feel it in their body; they’re fatigued, they have these somatic aches and pains, the pit in the stomach — it's experienced in the whole body.

Those folks are very, very common. They become isolated and disabled by all their symptoms. Nothing romantic or charming about it.

God, what a great quote. I'm sending this to few colleagues. This is who we see every single day.

David said...

Bullshit. Neurosis has been subdivided into various niche pathologies. It's the age of specialization, you know.

ricpic said...

Freud's definition of neurosis: the residue of the inability of the patient to accept that he mentally killed his father and slept with his mother.

ricpic's definition of neurosis: the residue of the inability of anyone to overcome self-pity by an act of will.

Bob just said, "How lacking in nuance, how primitive."

leslyn said...

Are we better off now?


I can have a bad day and it's just a bad day. I'm not a fucking neurotic.

If my spouse beats me and the kids or sleeps around, or both, I have a rotten spouse, I'm not a fucking neurotic.

If I am like Nora in A Doll's House, if I am silently or openly screaming to be recognized, if I go to Capitol Square to protest for what I passionately believe in, I am becoming a self-actualizing human being. I am not a fucking neurotic.

Reply to Dr. Freud's neurosis inanities: "Tell him I'm too fucking busy. Or vice versa." --Dorothy Parker.

William said...

Woody Allen has given neurotics a bad name. Oscar Levant: Now there was a neurotic who brought credit and honor to the name.

edutcher said...

For every niche pathology, as David puts it, there are specific drugs.

So everybody gets a nice little cut.

And simply because it's chi-chi to reject Freud, doesn't mean it's gonna work.

traditionalguy said...

Freud stole Shakespeare's characters and gave them medical names. Hamlet remains the essential neurotic.

Thank God Elizabethan England did not have prozac.

Mitch H. said...

The neurotic was the clown-face make-up that the dissembling commissar slathered over his snarl in order to obscure his purpose. The comic irrationality of the socially maladroit was so much more acceptable and nonthreatening than the remorseless inflexibility of the doctrinaire martinet which said social mis-cues sometimes actually represented.

It's not at all a coincidence that Woody Allen starred in the Front.

Alternatively, you could argue that Freudianism provided Sorelian "social myth", which was in vogue with mid-century American small-f fascists.

traditionalguy said...

Mitch...It was a pleasure to read your intelligent comment. Do stay around for a while.

PatCA said...

Maybe neurosis was a phase we all went through, the result the contradiction of living amid plenty while being brought up by parent who knew the Depression, war, illness, etc. I suppose we have resolved those.

Did anyone see Patti Smith on CBS today? Apropos of this post, I always thought rockers and poets were neurotic. I was wrong. They are creative, while some are neurotic too. Patti Smith is the best of the Boomer crop: a talented person who also is full of love and self-awareness and stability. Lovely piece about her.

leslyn said...

Poets neurotic?? What kind of poets do you read??

Try some Billy Collins. He's very accessible. And he's a former Poet Laurence, so he's pretty good at his craft.

leslyn said...

*sigh* "Poet Laureate."

sleepless nights said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan in Philly said...

We awake and groan to find ourselves post-freudian. Are we better off? It depends on how invested you are in Freud's theories. And it also depends on what you consider as the replacement.

I'm not certain what we have replaced Freud with, but replaced he has been. Maybe we needed him to validate our uniqueness, and now that we have facebook, we don't need him to do so anymore :)

Seriously, I happen to subscribe to the idea that everyone needs a narrative to get up in the morning. Freud gave one for those for whom God was killed by the western world. Now sometimes I wonder if the hedonistic attitudes most of the modern world is enough to distract everyone from their private agony, and if that's what's going on how long will it last before we embrace nihilish in a more proactive way...

leslyn said...

Bogart to Began:

"We'll always have Jung."

leslyn said...

*crap* that was"Bergman."

Ruined the whole effect.