Chapter 7. Repression and the Jealousies
Anticipating the subject of the next chapter, Suttie begins this one with the question whether society is a spontaneous expression of human nature or an artefact of force. Freud took the latter view, so for him society is maintained by the dominance of a leader and social behaviour is the outcome of repression by fear.
The starting point of Freudian psychology is the conception of repression, not as a passive subsidence of memories, but as the forcible and purposeful shutting off of certain mental processes and contents from the steam of consciousness [and] the investigation of the surreptitious influences of the resulting ‘unconscious mind’ has been the main task of psychoanalysis.
The first contents and processes of the unconscious that attracted attention were sexual and those that were next elucidated were defined as sexual by an extension of the meaning of the term. Freud identified two more or less effectively repressed jealousies that are important in the social fabric:
1.Sex jealousy, enforced by fear of castration. 2.Penis envy on the part of women.
Suttie argued that there are other, and more important jealousies that Freud left out of account. He postulated:
3.Cain jealousy, of the older for younger children, control of which is the function of the Mother-cults. 4.Male jealousy of the maternal role, which he called Zeus Jealousy. This he described in some of the Australian Aboriginal rituals in which the men simulate child-bearing and related functions. 5.Jealousy of the child’s possession of the mother.
Chapter 8. Origin and Nature of Society
In Suttie’s view, humans evolved from social animals so there is no need to postulate uniquely human factors which dispose us to fit us for social life. Most of this chapter is devoted to a critique of the efforts by Freud to come to terms with a mythical origin of social life, based on the false assumption that such an origin needs to be located in the human psyche.
Chapter 9. Religion, is it a Disease or a Cure?
We are apt to be prejudiced nowadays against religion by reason of two things besides the general antipathy to sentiment. First, most of its organised expressions exercise powerful social influence, and so affect – even where they do not express – selfish interests. Secondly, most religions lay great stress on a body of tradition handed down from a pre-scientific age, when historic accuracy was as little prized as in a modern press-bureau in time of war.
This chapter has little to offer the student of scientific psychology, it demonstrates Suttie’s capacity for research and his willingness to take a more benign view of religion than the militantly anti-religious Freud.
Chapter 10. Healing Cults and Practices
This chapter is relevant to concerns on the part of skeptics and others of similar ilk regarding the prevalence of more or less dubious and fraudulent alternative health treatments and cures.
The technical advances in the science of medicine over the last half-century have been so enormous, that we might reasonably have expected orthodox medicine to triumph conclusively over all 'quackeries'. Moreover the scientific education of the people - or at least the popular prestige of science - has made corresponding advances. On all these grounds we might have expected the virtual extinction of quackeries; but the very opposite has happened; they thrive and multiply as never before. What is the reason for this? I suggest that, in their enthusiasm for effective and direct interference with the physical process of disease, physicians have rather neglected the task the patient actually demands of them - namely the relief of his suffering. True, they accomplish this finally by the removal of its causes (if these are physical); but his demand is for immediate comfort, if not cure. Disease is something more than its ultimate physical causes, and its subjective aspects and develop-ments necessarily and closely concern the practising physician. It is undeniable that our medical teaching is more objective and impersonal than formerly. Series of 'Cases', illustrating 'Stages' and 'Forms' of this or that 'Disease' are demonstrated to the cramming student, whose attention is naturally directed to the common factor - the essential disease entity - underlying all cases in a given group and not to the personal, human, factors in the individual patients themselves. We fail therefore to give the public all it really wants, and these wants are naturally supplied elsewhere.
Suttie picked out Homeopathy and Christian Science to explore the secrets of their success. According to Suttie, Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, refused to be bothered by the notion of causes, he focussed on symptoms and the subjective experience of disease. He viewed illness as a non-material “need for assistance”, with each case unique. “Hahnemann was indeed a most earnest symptom-hunter, his zeal would have satisfied most hysterics …new symptoms were earnestly inquired for. Even latent symptoms are inferred to exist, though quite inconsistently with his own fundamental tenet that the disease is the symptom-complex and nothing else”.
The therapist was supposed to listen to the patient with endless patience to establish friendly relations. He advocated treating patients as primarily human beings in trouble to be treated with solicitude and benevolence. Ultimately a theory was developed that attributed the majority of illnesses to “itch”, with a hint at a mystical association of disease, dirt and sin which Suttie described as the oldest and most widespread view of disease, moreover one which appeals strongly to a neurotic sense of guilt. Sexual abstinence was urged during the ‘proving’ of the medicine, which incidentally had the practical advantage of dispensing with the harmful doses prescribed by pre-scientific medicine. Suttie mischievously noted the unconscious sexual association of the ideas of infinitesimal doses and increasing their potency by shaking. In brief, the major appeal of homeopathy was its capacity to meet the needs of people for understanding and protective care.
Turning to Christian Science, Suttie noted that it addressed itself to three things, loneliness, sin and suffering, all of which are delusions of the ‘mortal mind’ which actually has no real existence. (Suttie refused to be drawn into any attempt to follow the “bewildering gymnastics” it performed to avoid self-contradiction in its metaphysics). Christian Science denied the very existence of disease and other unpleasantness. In Suttie’s view this was at once a weakness and a strength for its popular appeal (presumably a weakness for sensible people and a strength for others). In summary, Christian Science, like homeopathy appealed to people craving for protection and the assurance that someone cared for them and valued them.
Chapter 11. Psychopathology
This is a technical chapter, starting with a lengthy extract from an article by Suttie defending the notion that not all mental illness can be explained by physical or organic disorders of the brain and nervous system. He then proceeded to a classification of mental disorders into various categories related to different kinds of failure in handling (or different strategies in handling) the anxiety of separation from the mother. Suttie rejected the view that clinical conditions represent inadequacy or failure of adaptive effort (and are hence merely negative). He suggested a subtle difference in interpretation “the various lines of development represent positive but misguided adaptive efforts which are in no way lacking in vigour or social intention”.
Chapter 12. Psychotherapy
Suttie addressed the question whether psychotherapy is a teachable technique or essentially a matter of human relationships based on rapport between patient and therapist. He leaned towards the “rapport” position although he emphasised that the therapy should logically depend on our theory about the nature of the illness and the modus operandi of the therapeutic process.
In Suttie’s opinion the growing consensus of opinion supported the view that psychopathology is a disturbance in the love life (love in the broader sense, beyond sex). He suggested that each of the nine or ten theories of therapy that are worth considering represent an aspect of the truth. He identified three broad schools of thought.
1.Methods that represent a flight from feeling into intellectual or philosophical “solutions”. These deal in ‘explanations’, ‘insight’, ‘recovery of memories’, occupation and distraction’. These all spare the therapist the problem of understanding in depth. 2.The therapeutic application of authority and ‘patronizing’ love. These methods include ‘persuasion’, suggestion, hypnosis, ‘confession and absolution’, all aiming to coerce the patient into normality. Suttie dismissed these because they did not deal with deeper issues or help the patient to grow up. 3.The Freudian and neo-Freudian methods. These are more interested in deep causes and more sympathetic towards the patient.
Suttie concluded that the common factor in all effective therapies is the quest for a basis of companionship with the patient, though there are major differences in theories of causation and cure. Of course a question mark hangs over the whole matter of cure because the argumentative behaviourist Hans Eysenck claimed that the statistics reveal that none of the psychotherapies have better outcomes than the spontaneous remission rate of symptoms (that is, no therapy at all).
Chapter 13. Freudian Theory is itself a Disease
One of Suttie’s admirers wrote that he was prone to excessive vigour in his disputes, possibly to the point which antagonised people who might have become allies. This a very argumentative chapter and it must have caused a great deal of angst among the Freudians. No doubt some fiery exchanges would have ensued if Suttie had lived to defend his thesis.
Freud was taken to task for a long catalogue of errors and Suttie’s critique took two main lines, (1) to show the same general tendency in all the other errors – namely the tendency towards denial of love and the role of the mother, (2) in the following chapter Suttie argued that Freudian practice, to the extent that it was helpful, actually contradicted Freudian theory.
Arguments in detail addressed the following problems in Freudian theory:
1.The ways that Freud’s own cold and puritanical nature intruded and distorted his interpretation of his clinical observations. 2.Freud’s personal biases intruded into his interpretation of data from Ethnology and Anthropology. 3.The notion of the Death Instinct was radically misconceived. 4.The Freudian concept of love could not escape from his “defiant, pessimistic antipathetic attitude of mind”. 5.Freud’s theories on fear and repression convey the impression that Freud saw no positive drives in life, instead he saw the individual as driven by environmental compulsion (against the will-to-death), politics as the domination of the masses by feared leaders, cultural achievements as the re-direction of sexual or destructive energies etc.
Chapter 14. Freudian Practice is ‘Cure’ by Love
This chapter mounts a number of additional criticisms of Freudian theory with the aim of demonstrating that any success achieved by Freudian therapy cannot be attributed to the theory itself, but to its unwitting dependence on forces and principles that it does not even acknowledge.
The justification for inflicting such a tissue of hypotheses upon the public lies in the present need in psychology for new ideas which have been adequately tested in all the fields of the science of mind. It is not pretended that this testing has been done here; this book offers merely a preliminary view, a 'prospecting' exploration. Such results as emerge from these applications do, however, suggest that, if valid, the hypotheses here put forward will compel an extensive reorientation and supplementation of Psycho-analytic Theory. Their validity (or otherwise) can be judged on such grounds as these:
(1) By their capacity to furnish solutions to problems - biological, psychological, pathological, and social - which have hitherto defied analytic interpretation.
(2) By their general applicability to all these kinds of psychological phenomena and power to suggest further lines of study.
(3) By their internal, logical coherence, provided this has arisen (as I maintained in the Introduction) from the convergence of independent lines of inductive research and not as the result of an unconscious deductive process in my own mind.
It seems to me that on each of these three grounds the theories here propounded offer distinct advantages over Psycho-analysis and that without the over-elaboration of hypothesis and without the over-simplification (by selection) of fact which still characterizes the Psychology and Sociology of Freud.
To me the most striking results that emerge from this preliminary review are these:
(1) A greatly clarified view of the contrasts and similarities between human and animal mind and of the causes and mechanisms concerned in the production of our distinctive mind and culture.
(2) A new theory of the nature, origin, and functions of 'love' and 'interest', and an enlarged understanding of the jealousies and other conflicts that hinder individual development and mar social harmony.
(3) A new conception of the mind of the infant and of the factors and obstacles concerned in the initial direction of character-formation. We also have a suggestion re the mental differentiation of the sexes which may be worth pursuing.
(4) A positive conception of the social bond and of the process of social-ization both in the child and in the race. The mechanism and functions of Repression appear also in a new light.
(5) A coherent interpretation of mental disease and of psychotherapy.
(6) A conception of the function of Religion as being a psycho-social therapy rather than as being a social disease.
(7) A Theory accounting for the inter-relationship of Culture and racial Character, and for the diversity of Peoples in these respects. This suggests also lines of research into such subjects as cultural antipathies and the degeneration of civilizations.
(8) A systematic explanation of the Freudian Failures and Successes.
Obviously the issues raised are numerous and of the very highest theoretical and practical importance, and this can be pleaded in further extenuation of the hasty, disjointed, and often dogmatic and conjectural presentation of my interpretations of fact. The bulk of evidence, and argument (particularly psychopathological) must be reserved for reasons of space and time. I therefore claim that these hypotheses are worth consideration on heuristic grounds, particularly as they are not in themselves complex or onerous. Indeed the principles upon which I base the whole theory might be stated very briefly and simply thus:
(1) That the mind of the infant is adapted to its nurtured role in life, and is not a bundle of instinct impulses like that of e.g. the chick.
(2) That it must therefore be re-adapted during development to an independent, responsible, adult role, and that the surrender of the sheltered role entails emotional stresses.
(3) The initial (self-preservative) dependency upon others is never completely outgrown, but persists as a need for companionship, apart from the organic satisfactions that may be derived therefrom (i.e. persists in the form of 'play' and 'interest').
(4) The renunciation or repression of the various wishes constituting infantile dependency can be effected thoroughly only by the loved object (mother) herself, and not by external interference.
(5) The mother's will and capacity to enforce the renunciation ('psychic weaning') will vary directly, (a) with the quality of her own character and personality and (b) with her own domestic status and dignity in the child's eyes and inversely with the importance of the child in her own emotional life relative to other attachments and interests (i.e. her dependency on the child). '
Any social factors therefore which stunt the character development of woman, contract her interests, or lower her prestige with her children will interfere with her function of promoting the maturation other children and their independence of herself.
(6) Disturbances of this maternal function are the causes of 'fixations', 'regressions', 'depressions', jealousies, and antagonisms which in turn are the root cause of mental illness.
(7) Psychotherapy is an attempt to 'reduce these dislocations' of the lovelife and to free interest for social purposes.
(8) Religions deal with these buried misconceptions of the parent's nature and relationship to the child. Their practices aim at the 'institutional' expression (in ritual or other 'innocuous' form) and control of the particular anti-social, anti-hygienic forces which are most prevalent in the individual culture concerned. 'Matriarchal' and 'Patriarchal' Cults, Cultures, and
Character vary fundamentally in the latter respect.
(9) Love should be regarded as something more than the sum of its expressions and the variety of its manifestations. Not indeed as an 'essence' or "force', but rather as an 'x' analogous to the physical concept of 'energy' or ether. This is a heuristically justifiable formula, particularly since love can turn into hatred, which is merely its negative or frustration aspect. From this it follows that 'cure' of psycho-social ills (into which hate always enters) is theoretically easier than could be believed from the Freudian standpoint, which regards hate as proceeding from a 'Primal, independent, instinct of destruction', and hence as ineradicable.
It will then be seen that the primary assumptions I have put forward are not open to methodological objection. They are neither 'ad hoc' nor transcendent, nor are they numerous and unrelated to each other, yet they afford us a considerable facility of interpretation over the whole field of behaviour. In fact it seems to me (in moments of enthusiasm) that they re-introduce common sense into the science of psychology.