Modern Psychology is concerned with the motives of human conduct and the sources of enjoyment, happiness, and misery. This contrasts rather sharply with what is called Academic Psychology which affords us rather a description of the adult self-conscious mind, and gives us little assistance in predicting or influencing behaviour and still less in the understanding of mental development and its aberrations. For all practical purposes we are dependent upon this modern 'dynamic' genetic psychology, which, broadly speaking, we owe to the pioneer work of Freud. Indeed twenty years ago we could have said with substantial truth that the only useful psychology was Freud's. Since then, however, there have been important developments and divergences of opinion. Other schools of thought have developed their own systems with independence more or less artificial. Even within the Freudian movement itself important dissensions have recently arisen, largely through the work of the child psychologists. Many vital tenets and conceptions, confidently held ten or fifteen years ago, are now formally abandoned. Freud himself has said, 'We have to abandon the universality of the dictum that the Oedipus Complex is the nucleus of the Neurosis.'
Everyday life and mental illness alike are now regarded as an attempt to 'master anxiety', and this anxiety itself is no longer considered to be merely frustrated sexual desire but is regarded as largely due to hatred and aggressive wishes. The task of healthy development is even described by Dr Brierly as 'overcoming hatred with love', and in many devious ways
Psychoanalytic Theory is recognizing more clearly as that of a self-contained entity independent of his fellows except in so far as his bodily appetites and gratifications demand their services. Psycho-analysis in fact is losing much that made it obnoxious to European philosophy, good sense, and good feeling, but it still fails to take a wide enough view of its subject matter. This statement may seem outrageous to many who are acquainted with Psycho-analytic studies of Art, Biography, Primitive Customs, etc., but it must be remembered that psycho-analytic ideas are merely applied in these fields; they are developed and tested almost exclusively in the consulting room.
From the widest scientific and philosophic standpoint we must consider the human mind as the product of evolution - that is to say as having had its definite function to serve in the survival of our species and in the attainment of our present dominant position. Later we shall find it necessary to consider mind from two other points of view also - namely as the result of the child's contact with members of its own family, and as the result of its parents' social and cultural relationships. The evolution of cultures and civilizations cannot be explained in terms of the individual minds which are its members. Nor should mind be considered in isolation from its social contacts. Psychologists are prone to describe a Mind as if it were an independent self-contained but standardized entity, a number of which, grouped together in some mysterious way, constitutes a Society.
Anthropologists frequently make the opposite mistake and describe social organizations and behaviour with little reference to the minds which produce and are moulded by these institutions. The separation of the science of Mind from that of Society is arbitrary and was originally dictated by practical convenience and the tastes and fancy of the student. The two sciences must be pursued in relation to each other, for mind is social and society is
mental. Finally the whole study of human behaviour must be correlated with that 'of the social animals both on the grounds of the evolutionary relationship of species and of the common purposes in life and the different eans of attaining these.
We need in fact only suppose the child is born with a mind and instincts adapted to infancy; or, in other words, so disposed as to profit by parental nurture. This is not an unreasonable supposition, but it implies the conclusion that the child mind is less like that of primitive animals than is the adult mind. It is less like animal mind since it is adapted to a milieu and mode of behaving vastly different from that of free-living, self-supporting animals. Instead of an armament of instincts - latent or otherwise - which would lead it to attempt on its own account things impossible to its powers or even undesirable - it is born with a simple attachment-to-mother who is the sole source of food and protection.
Instincts of self-preservation such as would be appropriate in an animal which has to fend for itself would be positively destructive to the dependent infant, whose impulses must be adapted to its mode of livelihood, namely a pseudo-parasitism.
We can reject therefore once and for all the notion of the infant mind being a bundle of cooperating or competing instincts, and suppose instead that it is dominated from the beginning by the need to retain the mother - a need which, if thwarted, must produce the utmost extreme of terror and rage, since the loss of mother is, under natural conditions, but the precursor of death itself. We have now to consider whether this attachment- to -mother is merely the sum of the infantile bodily needs and satisfactions which refer to her, or whether the need for a mother is primarily presented to the child mind as a need for company and as a discomfort in isolation. I can see no way of settling this question conclusively, but the fact is indisputable that a need for company, moral encouragement, attention, protectiveness, leadership, etc., remains after all the sensory gratifications connected with the mother's body have become superfluous and have been surrendered.
In my view this is a direct development of the primal attachment-to-mother, and, further, I think that play, cooperation, competition, and culture-interests generally are substitutes for the mutually caressing relationship of child and mother. By these substitutes we put the whole social environment in the place once occupied by mother - maintaining with
it a mental or cultural rapport in lieu of the bodily relationship of caresses, etc., formerly enjoyed with the mother. A joint interest in things has replaced the reciprocal interest in persons; friendship has developed out of love. True, the personal love and sympathy is preserved in friendship; but this differs from love in so far as it comes about by the
direction of attention upon the same things (rather than upon each other), or by the pursuit of the same activities even these are not intrinsically useful and gratifying, as is the case with much ritual and dance, etc. The interest is intensified even if it is not entirely created (artificial) by being shared; while the fact of sharing interests deepens the appreciation of the other person's presence, even when it deprives it of sensual (or better of sensorial) qualities.
This is my view of the process of sublimation; but it differs very greatly from that of Freud and his enormous 'team' of expert specialists. As far as anyone can tell, Freud considers that the infant's desires for the mother, and the gratification it receives from her, are of a sexual nature. Indeed it is probable that a strict Freudian would define all pleasure or satisfaction as 'sexual'. These longings and urges are called 'skin', 'eye', 'mouth', and other 'erotisms' to indicate their essentially sexual nature. At a certain age, Freud tells us, they become organized under the supremacy of 'the genital zone'. That is to say they become 'sexual' in the 'proper' and popular meaning of the word.
Having become sexual - according to Freud - they have also become incestuous (directed towards other members of the same family) and hence lead to jealousy. The Oedipus Complex is thereby established. Undergoing repression next from fear of the rival's displeasure and revenge, these sexual wishes (for the parent of opposite sex) become goal-inhibited; that is to say become a de-sexualized love. Or they may be deflected to the parent of the same sex, thereby constituting homosexuality, and then sublimated as friendship. The wishes themselves may be altered, distorted, or symbolized beyond recognition and this 'displacement' from the original biological objective is imagined as the basis of culture-interest in the race and (presumably) of sublimation in the individual. (Freud, Introductory Lectures, p. 290.)
Freud's view seems to me inadequate to explain the mechanism of the development of interest or its very early appearance in childhood, that is to say, its appearance before the maturation, repression, and sublimation of sexuality can be imagined to have taken place. Further it is certain that the Freudian ideas in these matters cannot explain the constitution of society. Society in fact never was instituted by an aggregation of independent adult individuals, nor even by the growth of a single family by polygamy, group marriage, exogamy, or otherwise. Society exists already in the group of the children of the same mother and develops by the addition of others to this original love-group. Neither does culture arise by the thwarting of sex-impulse and its deflection to symbolic ends. (Freudian Sublimation.) Still less does it arise through rational cooperation in the pursuit of the material necessities of life.
Necessity is not 'the mother of invention'; Play is. Play is a necessity, not merely to develop the bodily and mental faculties, but to give to the individual that reassuring contact with his fellows which he has lost when the mother's nurtural services are no longer required or offered. Conversation is mental play, but it is long before the child completely outgrows the need for bodily contact. Even many adults retain the need for caresses apart from sexual intentions and gratifications. Nevertheless cultural interests do ultimately form a powerful antidote to loneliness even where there is no participator present in person; that is to say, cultural pursuits have a social value even where 'the other person' is imagined or left unspecified.
We can now clearly understand why man has become virtually the only cultural animal and hence by far the most sociable. We can also understand from the same considerations why man has developed an aggressiveness, a competitiveness, and a complex morality in which also he is unique. The neo-Freudians, approaching this point of view, no longer refer to human life as a struggle for pleasure, sense-gratification, or self-expression (detensioning) as formerly. They see the master-motive of humanity as the 'struggle to master anxiety' and further recognize this dread to be one of 'separation'. Still, they endeavour to retain a materialistic, individualistic interpretation of separation-anxiety; but, more and more, psychologists are convinced that it is really a dread of loneliness which is
the conscious expression of the human form of the instinct of self-preservation which originally attached the infant to its mother.
To sum up the evolutionary antecedents of man, we may say the principal features that distinguish him from other (even social) animals are:
(a) The extreme degree to which the definite, stereotyped, specific, instincts of 'self-preservation' of his pre-human ancestors are 'melted down' or unfocused into a dependent love-for-mother, which in turn becomes need for others and finally parental 'love' and interest, social feeling, etc.
(b) The prolongation of the period of immaturity between organically nurtured infancy and matehood and parenthood. This, as I said, along with the social need, affords both the opportunity and the incentive to cooperative activities not concerned with the material necessities of existence, and which may therefore develop indefinitely on free playful and experimental lines. The organic bodily relationships of infancy, matehood, and parenthood can be imagined as affording security and satiety to this social need, and in them, moreover, the interest of each party is absorbed in the other person rather than directed upon 'things' and joint pursuits. Further, adulthood has its practical, material cares that demand close attention to business and the rigorous adherence to well-tried customary methods of getting things done. The practical man is notoriously stereotyped - a creature of habit and opposed to all innovation. Practical shipbuilders told us a century ago that iron ships could not float. We can therefore conclude that the period of youth is not only that of mental development in the individual, but is the reason for the development of that distinctively human product, Culture.
(c) The fact (mentioned in a) that in man a collection of instincts is replaced by a relatively aimless and plastic curiosity, attachments, and interest, is of course the reason why this play period can be turned to such account. Non-appetitive 'interest' combines with need-for-company (they may even have the same origin) to apply the drive to the cultural pursuits of knowledge for its own sake, and to the development of a tradition which can be accumulated indefinitely.
These three characteristics, then, represent the advantages that the course of evolution has conferred upon man. Respectively they make him social, educable, and progressive. At the same time evolution has left man with so little definite biological guidance in the form of instinct and with so much drive towards association and experiment that he has become unstable and pervertible. Other distinctively human characteristics are thus accounted for, namely man's anxiety, his arbitrary social customs, and his liability to psychogenic mental disorder. Now we can see why man has been set a peculiar task which to some seems to offset his advantages - namely the task of understanding and mastering himself. This is what gives to modern psychology its peculiar importance and makes it a matter of urgency that it should be widely and critically studied by every citizen and not relegated to the specialist.
Having presented a synoptical picture of the fundamentals of human nature as I see it, it is, therefore, only fair to show how this compares with the broad outlines of the Freudian view. The difference will be found to turn largely, but by no means wholly, on the meaning attached to the word sexual.
I see in the infant's longing for the mother an expression of what in free-living animals we call the self-preservative instinct. Consistently with this, I see in anxiety and hate an expression of apprehension or discomfort at the frustration, or threatened frustration, of this all-important motive. Freud sees the infantile attachment as sexual and. indeed sensual, while he regards anxiety and hate as proceeding from a separate independent instinct for destruction which even aims to destroy its possessor. The latter theory of Death-Instinct has produced the greatest dissensions in the ranks of Psycho-analysts themselves, and has been shown to be completely untenable and self-contradictory in many ways.
Again the period between infancy and adulthood appears to me to be dominated by an almost insatiable social need, which uses the plastic energy of human interest for its satisfaction in play. Freud sees this period as one of repression of the (by now definitely genital) sex impulses on account of their incestuous aims. Interest for Freud is just a substitute for or sublimation of sexual yearnings, and friendship is sexuality which has become 'goal-inhibited' by the definitely genital wish becoming repressed.
He accounts for the supposed stronger cultural 'drive' in the male sex on the supposition that the Oedipus Wish (sexual desire for mother) is stronger and better repressed than is the girl's corresponding desire for her father. It seems to me that man's cultural need is greater than woman's, inasmuch as he can never look forward to the bodily functions of maternity and lactation by which evolution has conferred upon women the virtual monopoly of the child. In a later chapter I will deal with the evidence of this and other jealousies which are much neglected by Freudians.
Further comparison of views must be deferred until after a consideration of
the subjective aspect of the infant's mind.
NOTE A. The Biology of Hate and Anxiety
In organisms which are not born in a state of nurtural dependency the emotion of anger is little more than an intensification of effort to overcome frustration. Anger and fear are thus closely akin in their function as in their physiological mechanism, the former aiming to attain an end, the latter to avoid a danger.
I am suggesting that in animals born or hatched in a state of nurtural dependency the whole instinct of self-preservation, including the potential dispositions to react with anger and fear, is at first directed towards the mother. Anger is then aimed, not at the direct removal of frustration or attainment of the goal of the moment, still less at her destruction, but at inducing the mother to accomplish these wishes for the child. Instead of being the most desperate effort at self-help it has become the most insistent demand upon the help of others - the most emphatic plea which cannot be overlooked. It is now the maximal effort to attract attention, and as such must be regarded as a protest against unloving conduct rather than as aiming at destruction of the mother, which would have fatal
repercussions upon the self.
Hatred, I consider, is just a standing reproach to the hated person, and owes all its meaning to a demand for love. If it were a desire (or appetite for destruction for its own sake), I cannot see how it could be focused so definitely upon one individual and as a rule upon a person who is significant in the subject's life. I would say 'Earth hath no hate but love to hatred turned, and hell no fury but a baby scorned,' for hatred, except for preferred rival or a rejecting lover, does not seem to exist. At bottom therefore hatred is always ambivalent, always self-frustrated. It has no free outlet; can look for no favourable response, and this is why it is so important in Psychopathology. In a measure it must undergo automatic inhibition or repression, and this process is already being dimly perceived by clinical analysis.
In the same way the 'instinct' of fear must be modified to suit the conditions of nurtured infancy. The helpless infant cannot flee or perform any avoiding reactions efficiently so that the emotion of fear can find useful expression only as an appeal to the mother. As in the case of anger, the response expected and desired is not an identical emotion on the part of the mother. Either anger or apprehension on her part increases the corresponding disturbance in the child's mind. Where the child is afraid it is reassured by her confidence and serenity, but not by her indifference and neglect, which is perhaps the worst of all for the child. Neglect of the fear-appeal is extremely traumatic.