Freudian psychoanalysis is dead. Murdered initially in the manner of Caesar, with multiple assassins impaling the theory with their attacks. Simone de Beauvoir was one of the assassins, early to the regicide with a blade forged from positivism, existentialism, and feminism; but certainly not the first to deliver a blow. The echoes of the passing of Freudian psychoanalysis reverberate to this day, as does Caesar’s influence. The influence of Freudian psychoanalysis can be seen throughout western society, even in the assassins’ existentialist and feminist descendants.
"…when beggars die, there are no comets seen; the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes"1
This essay will place Beauvoir’s criticism of Freudian Psychoanalysis (FP), The Psychoanalytic Point of View in context by discussing criticisms of FP made prior to Beauvoir’s work as well as those made after. Through this analysis, Beauvoir’s work will be portrayed as influenced by the spirit of the age in which it arose. This essay will show her criticisms of Freud to be only partially informed given postmodern hindsight. However, her work is still applicable today, as other scholars did not seriously echo several of Beauvoir’s criticisms until forty years after they were espoused.
Criticism of Freud Prior to The Second Sex
“And public reasons shall be rendered of Caesar's death.”
Adler, Jung, and Horney; initial adherents of FP, were three of the first people to realize the shortcomings of FP. All three argued that FP was inadequate in a variety of ways. Adler emphasized the social and political factors that shape people’s lives, while Jung argued for a greater focus on the self and the impact of spirituality (Mitchell & Black, 1996 p. 21). Ho...
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Sartre, J. (1981). Being and nothingness: an essay in phenomenological ontology /by Jean-Paul Satre; translated and with an introduction by Hazel E. Barnes. New York: Philosophical Library.
Shakespeare, W. (2007). Julius Caesar [electronic resource] / William Shakespeare. Chandni Chowk, Delhi: Global Media, 2007.
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Webster, R. (1996). Why Freud was wrong: sin, science, and psychoanalysis. London: Harper Collins.
Zakin, E. "Psychoanalytic Feminism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (Ed.), Retrieved from: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2011/entries/feminism-psychoanalysis/
1 All quotes in greyed boxes are taken from Shakespeare, W. (2007). Julius Caesar [electronic resource] / William Shakespeare. Chandni Chowk, Delhi: Global Media, 2007.
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