noc18-hs31-Lecture 25-Literature and Psychoanalysis:Sigmund Freud (II)


Hello and welcome back again to this series
on Literary Theory , ah from our previous lecture you know that we are trying to familiarize
ourselves with the key concepts of Freudian psychoanalysis and our attempt is to study
how psychoanalysis can help us gain a new perspective on literature, how to approach
literature how literature is created etcetera. Now, in our preceding lecture we have seen
how Freud establishes the notion of unconscious as the site of repressed sexual desires ah
and he does that first through his study of historic patience and then through his study
of dream work ah. We have also seen how in both his study of
hysteria and his study of dreams Freud focus has been on narratives and on the problematic
of interpreting narratives, this as I have already pointed out to you establishes an
obvious connection between Freud theory of psychoanalysis and the field of literary studies
. Today we are going to explore some more fundamental
ideas underlying Freudian psychoanalysis and we are especially going to talk about Freud
understanding of human sexual desires , ah which according to him please a guiding role
in shaping our mental life and later as we will also see it also plays a guiding role
in shaping literary creativity as far as Freud is concerned ah. In today’s lecture we will also explore the
map of the human mind that Freud came up with in order to provide a schema for his psychoanalytic
theory . But before we delve into these topics we will start today’s discussion by focusing
on what is known as Para praxis or more commonly as Freudian slip. Now, as I have already mentioned in my previous
lecture the unconscious and it is workings became central elements in Freuds study of
the human mind right from the days, when he started his research on hysteria and whereas
his book studies on hysteria referred to the unconscious only visibly. The mental world of psychological patients
in the interpretation of dreams Freud was using this concept of unconscious and repression
of sexual desires in a much broader way, he was establishing them as universal phenomenon
. Thus if dreams are accepted to be manifestations of an unconscious latent content, then it
is to be accepted that all of us have an unconscious because all of us dream .
In the next major work that Freud published after his ah the interpretation of dreams,
Freud asserts that the unconscious informs our lives in an even more ubiquitous manner
than was earlier suggested. The argument here is that it was not only
the psychological diseases or our dreams that are connected with the unconscious, but even
our more mundane forgetfulness or everyday errors that we make while speaking and all
of these also have their roots in the drama that is playing out in our unconscious mind. The book in which Freud delineated elaborated
this thesis is therefore, very aptly titled the psychopathology of everyday life .
The keyword that Freud introduced in this new book to discuss the ubiquity of our unconscious
was Para praxis . So, what is Para praxis well ah you must have noticed that in our
day today conversations, we often forget names it often happens that we cannot recall words,
words names which are otherwise very well known to us ah or sometimes we make errors
in pronunciations known pronunciations or for instance we often end up substituting
the wrong word for a right one. Freud names these slips these errors as Para
praxis and he argues that these errors are actually manifestations of the repressed emotions
and memories that are shunted out from our conscious mind and that are relegated to our
unconscious. So, just like the hysterics symptoms or the
dreams which are distorted manifestations of an unconscious content, the everyday Para
praxis to the everyday Freudian slips to are distorted manifestations of a hidden unconscious
content . Now let us try and understand this by looking at an example provided by Freud
which will help us in at least 2 distinct ways ah. Firstly, of course it will help us to understand
the phenomenon of Para praxis better. But secondly and perhaps more importantly
for our purpose, it will help us to get a feel of what a psychoanalytic approach to
literature might look like ah this is because in this example of Para praxis that we are
going to discuss. We start with a narrative or a story which
is then followed by Freuds analyzing the text of the story. So, as to reveal it is deeper intricacies
and it is connections with the unconscious and this inner wave forms the bedrock of psychoanalytic
literary criticism, where the critic engages with a literary text to uncover the drama
of repressed and unconscious desires and fears seething underneath the surface . So, first
let us start with the story the incident of Para praxis that Freud tells us has to do
with the forgetting of a foreign word . Once on a train journey Freud struck up a conversation
with a young man who like Freud was of Jewish ancestry . Now, this young man believed that
the fact that he was a Jew in the contemporary society put him at a market disadvantage and
as Freud writes he and I quote. Be mooned the fact that his generation as
he expressed it was destined to grow crippled that it was prevented from developing it is
talents and from gratifying it is desires and to underline this lament the young man
brought in the reference of another lament the lament of dido as narrated by Virgil in
his epic in it . Now, in Virgil’s epic dido is a queen who
falls in love with the protagonist Aeneas and her love is initially reciprocated by
Aeneas and they even start living like a couple. But this was resented by one king ibises who
had earlier tried to unsuccessfully woo dido , Ibises father was the god Jupiter and ibises
appealed to his father that dido and Aeneas be separated . Jupiter in order to keep his
sons request ordered Aeneas to leave the land in which he was living with dido and Aeneas
being a loyal person loyal to god obeyed Jupiter . Now, Aeneas is leaving dido of course infuriated
her quite understandably and dido threw herself in a funeral pyre while cursing Aeneas with
the Latin line that you can. Now see on the slide in English this line
would translate into the sentence . Let someone arise as an avenger from my bones,
the young man of Jewish origin whom Freud met in the train wanted to end his lament
his personal lament by quoting this particular line from Virgil. But the problem was that he could not recall
the word that you see underlined in the slide and the word is Aliquis and this word of course
was later provided to him by Freud . Now, this forgetting of the Latin word is interpreted
by Freud as an instance of Para praxis. The way Freud connects this Para praxis this
particular instance of Para praxis with the repressed unconscious of the young man is
through a method called free association. Now a free association was a method that Freud
had initially developed during his research on hysteria, but then he continued using this
method throughout his career as a psychoanalyst and this is in fact a very important aspect
of Freuds approach to the mental life . So, what is a free association well it is
a method in which one is encouraged to see unhesitatingly all that comes to the mind
without trying to control either the stream of thoughts or trying to create a logically
coherent discourse . When Freud asked his fellow traveler to do a free association and
tell him whatever comes to his mind when he thinks of the word Aliquis, the young man
first came up with a string of words which were relics liquidation liquidity fluid. Now, this reveals that these other words the
words that I have just mentioned , though initially absent from the discourse these
are words that do not appear in the Latin original . So, they were absent from the discourse,
but nevertheless they had cast a shadow on the word Aliquis, which the young man had
wanted to utter, but could not . Now for those of you who are familiar with
Derrida and you will be familiar with Derrida if you have been following this lecture series,
then you will notice that relics liquidation liquefy these words fluid. They resemble a chain of signifiers over which
the meaning of the word Aliquis is both deferred and deferred . The traces of these other words
haunt the word Aliquis right this should be very clear if you know your Derrida and it
is these traces that Freud explores to bring out the connection between the forgetting
of the Latin word and the young man’s unconscious .
Now, apart from the chain of words that I just mentioned the young man also came up
during the course of his free association with the names of a number of Christian saints
including most notably that of saint Januaries ah. In fact, he even narrated to Freud a ritual
associated with this saint, the young man told Freud that a file of blood was kept in
a church in Naples as the relic of saint Januaries, which means that it was ah believed that the
blood contained in that file is the blood of the saint and this file of blood this relic
was associated with an annual ritual. What was the ritual well every year at certain
specified dates a miracle would happen and the miracle was that the clotted blood of
the saint would start to liquefy again would start converting into a fluid . The young
man also told that if this liquefaction of the blood does not happen, then it gives rise
to great consternation and worry among the believers. Finally, the young man also mentioned to Freud
that during his free association he was also reminded of a woman that he knew indeed, he
was actually dreading that he might receive a message from that woman which can be really
very worrisome to him . Freud connected all these thoughts ideas and words that the free
association had thrown up and that has haunted the young man’s remembering of the word Aliquis
and he related all of this to one particular thing which was the young man’s worried about
the woman of his acquaintance becoming pregnant. So, as I told you in my previous lecture ah
psychoanalysis precedes something like detective work, where you have a number of scattered
clues and then they are related to one event which is repressed in the unconscious. In this case the repressed memory that Freud
refers to is the fear of the woman becoming pregnant .
Now, the fear that the young man had repressed actually from his conscious mind is that the
woman that he knew might have missed her regular menstrual cycle, which would be a sure sign
of her being pregnant by him. This fear had got attached with the word a
Aliquis because, the young man separated the Latin word into a and Aliquis and then associated
that with fluid and with the process of liquefaction and in his chain of association this was further
connected with the ritual of liquefaction of saint Januaries blood which in itself is
evocative of a woman’s menstrual cycle . Now if you recall the story of dido that I
have told you you will realize how the young man’s fear could have been unconsciously triggered
because, in the dido story Aeneas went away from dido like an unfaithful lover much like
the young man was going away from the woman of his acquaintance. The word Aliquis appears in the speech of
dido which he uses to curse Aeneas , for the young man the fear of this curse gets transmuted
into the fear of an embarrassing incident of pregnancy. Now since the young man was trying to repress
this fear, it becomes difficult for him to remember the word Aliquis which had got entangled
in his unconscious mind with the feared pregnancy . This is what according to Freud led to this
particular instance of Para praxis resulting in the young man’s inability to remember and
very known word . Now, this discussion of Para praxis brings
us to one of the fundamental points of Freudian psychoanalytic literary theory, which is that
any discourse or to use souses term any parole be it the speech of lament produced by Freuds
young acquaintance on the train or a more patiently crafted piece of literature is underlined
by the unconscious desires and fears of the speaker or the author. The aim of psychoanalytic literary theory
which takes it is cue from Freud is to dwell upon this connection between the text and
the authors unconscious. So, as I had pointed out in some of my previous
lectures ah that though the general thrust of twentieth century literary theory has been
to move away, from the figure of the author psychoanalytic theory has kept alive our interest
in the authors mind and in it is deep intricacies . This connection between literature and the
authors unconscious would of course become even more evident in our next lecture. When we take up for discussion Freuds essay
on creative writers and daydreaming, but for now let us move on to the understanding of
sexual desires which is at the very core of Freuds psychoanalytic theory .
Now, one of the most controversial claims made by Freud was that sexuality is not something
that developed in human beings with the onset of puberty, rather according to Freud sexual
desire was something that characterizes every human being even while he or she is just a
baby. This basic instinctual sex drive which informs
our existence right from our childhood is what Freud identifies as libido , Freud argues
that as a child each of us direct this libido towards our mother who being our first care
giver and provider of food is also the closest person that we know. The focus of this libido is initially on the
activity of breastfeeding and as Freud points out a baby comes to feed on the breasts of
it is mother not merely to draw nourishment, but also to experience pleasure which goes
beyond the mere requirement of food and this is what Freud writes. The babies obstinate persistence in sucking
gives evidence at an early stage of a need for satisfaction which though it originates
from and is instigated by the taking of nourishment, nevertheless strives to obtain pleasure independently
of nourishment and for that reason me and should be termed sexual . Now within the family
structure a baby soon realizes that the mother is not exclusively occupied with it, the father
is also someone who demands and receives the attention and care from the mother this leads
the baby to conceive. It is father as an opponent who is vying with
him for the love and attention of the mother figure and this result in what Freud famously
identifies as the Oedipus complex. Now here the reference is of course to the
Greek myth of Oedipus which we have already discussed in details in our lecture on Levi
Strauss and if you recall that lecture you will know that Oedipus was a figure who killed
his own father Leos and married his own mother Jocasta .
Now according to Freud a baby while growing up resembles something like this mythic figure
Oedipus who wants to quote unquote kill it is father or at the very least remove the
father from the scene, so that it can receive the undisputed undisrupted love and care of
it is mother. Now with the introduction of the father in
the scene the babies desire for it is mother also gets underlined by a sense of fear .
It realizes that the father is a much stronger person and can potentially cause harm, for
the baby who by this time has discovered it is penis as one of the primary locus of sexual
pleasure. This fear of being harmed by the father takes
a very specific shape, it translates into the fear of being castrated by the father
this fear of castration or castration complex Freud calls it is according to Freud one of
the fundamental aspects of our psychoanalytic life. Now, as the baby grows up and gets acquainted
with the social expectations and prohibitions, it realizes that harboring murderous intentions
towards ones own father is socially tabooed. The baby therefore represses this desire into
the unconscious and rather than treating the father as a competitor comes to regard him
as a role model. The baby comes to believe that if it can become
like the father, it will be able to win complete love and affection of one someone like it
is mother. Now the reason I said someone like it is mother
and not the mother herself is because, the baby also realizes that sexually desiring
ones own mother is again socially tabooed and therefore that too needs to be repressed
in the unconscious. The best one can consciously you wish for
is a lady who will be the substitute of the original mother figure .
So, as you can see here the growing a process according to Freud results in the repression
of a number of desires and fears which then inform our unconscious and which manifest
themselves in distorted forms through symptoms of psychological diseases or through our dreams
or through our everyday Para praxis . Now here we need to note 2 things the first is
that the explanation of how Freud conceptualized sexual desire visa vie the growing up of a
child, already gives us answers to 2 questions that we had raised in our previous lecture. The first question if you remember was what
constitutes the unconscious latent content that ultimately gets revealed in the form
of the manifest content of the dreams well. Now, we know that the latent content is constituted
by the repressed libidinal desires and fears that I have just outlined the second question
was why was this latent content distorted by the dream work . Well as we can understand
now the latent content of the unconscious is too disturbing to be admitted by the conscious
mind of a grown up human being. In our dreaming state the mechanism of censorship
through which we prevent the repressed contents of our unconscious from making way into our
conscious mind relaxes, a little which is why we get a glimpse of the unconscious desires
and fears through our dreams. But we will have to remember that even in
the dreaming state the mechanism of censorship is not completely switched off, therefore
the unconscious content cannot be transparently reflected in our dreams it still remains too
troublesome for that. Consequently the reflection is muddied and
distorted through the process of dream work which we have already discussed in our previous
lecture . The second thing that I wanted you to notice
here is that Freud while explaining the sexual desire of a child takes as his example a male
child, the masculine sexuality is the norm as far as Freuds psychoanalysis is concerned
ah. Freud does work on female sexuality, but he clearly treats it as a distorted version
of the normative male sexuality ah, we do not have enough time at our disposal to go
into the details of Freuds explanation of female sexuality. But if you read it you will very well understand
why it remains a fiercely disputed theory especially contested by the feminists .
Let us now take up Freuds mapping of the human mind which will be the final topic of our
discussion today , throughout his career Freud kept revising the structure underlying the
human mental activities. So, if we read the complete works of Freud
it is unlikely that we will arrive at a definitive version of Freuds map of human mind. But more or less the basic contour of this
mind map created by Freud is well established. Our mental activities according to Freud when
taken together, has 3 broad aspects they are the id the ego and the super ego . Now, here
it is important to note that these 3 names that I just mentioned are 3 aspects of the
mental dynamics and they are not physical parts of our brain . In other words id ego
and super ego do not have a specific physical locations within the anatomy of our brain
ah. So, now that we know what they are not let
us try and understand what they really are and let us start with ID. According to Freud ID is constituted of all
our instinctual desires that I have identified a few moments earlier as libido. The main guiding principle of ID is a what
Freud calls the pleasure principle, in other words the instinctual drives informing the
ID always seeks pleasure and it comes across as something like a petulant and demanding
child who keeps repeating the phrase I want I want this I want that etc and indeed this
metaphor is not very superfluous, because if we look at it from the Freudian perspective
then we will see that the unchecked manifestation of the desires informing. The ID is what characterizes our state of
childhood at that early stage we do not need to control or repress the ID. Because we are at the center of our parentses
especially our mother’s attention and all our demands for pleasure are almost immediately
satisfied. It is only when we grow up and learn to negotiate
the world as independent social beings, that we realize that all our desires cannot be
instantaneously met and indeed some desires like the killing of our fathers or the marrying
of our own mothers cannot be met at all . At that stage we come to develop what Freud calls
the ego which tries to negotiate between the constant demands of the id and the social
realities, so it tries to find a middle ground this is how Freud explains the relationship
between the aid and the ego and I quote. Thus in it is relation to the id Ego is like
a man on horseback , who has to hold in check the superior strength of the horse . With
this difference that the rider tries to do so with his own strength while the ego uses
borrowed forces , the analogy may be carried a little further often a rider if he is not
to be parted from his horse is obliged to guide it where it wants to go. So, in the same way the ego is in the habit
of transforming that IDs will into action as if it were it is own .
The final aspect that informs the human mental process is as I mentioned super ego and superego
in it is turn is constituted by an awareness of all the restrictions prohibitions taboos
and interdictions that the society imposes upon us and upon our desires . This is actually
the borrowed forces that Freud mentions in the lines that I have just quoted. Now remember here that according to Freudian
psychoanalysis while growing up we first learn to restrict and repress our desires out of
a fear of our father. Consequently at a later stage when we have
a strongly developed super ego we often associate it with the dictum of the father and since
god is often assumed to be our universal father super ego is often perceived as a moral restrictions
lead down by god himself. So, with this elaboration of the Freudian
map of our mind we come to the end of our lecture today in our next lecture we will
take up for discussion Freuds analysis of literary creativity. Thank you .

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