God is dead, Marx is dead, Freud is dead,
. . . . And I'm not feeling too well, myself.

A reflection on two books by Jeffrey Masson

Dr Ronald St. Blaize-Molony

Gendys Conference, 1994


French exile has allowed me to dwell upon my work in England. This used to be private psychoanalytic practice and, following resignation from the British Psychoanalytic Society, what is known as psychoanalyticaly orientated psychotherapy. Consultant appointments in the National Health Service in Child and Family Psychiatry, and in Local Authority in forensic psychiatry, eventually involved me in child abuse controversies. These last are giving rise to rethinking the foundations of psychoanalysis and allied therapies. There is reason to believe that the prevalence and incidence of child abuse in our society is greater than we thought. Great enough, even if hysterically exaggerated as newly discovered syndromes are prone to be, to ask ourselves important questions. In analytic treatment, are we dealing with real or fantasy abuse in childhood? If the former, have devastating experiences been dismissed as fantasy, or been accepted grudgingly as only perverted psychic responses to events that more robust, or less hateful, individuals would have taken in their stride? If so, the damage to a person's perceptions, judgements and sense of self, must very often have caused more harm than good in treatment

In the first of his two books, Freud: The Assault on Truth(1) Masson accuses Freud of consciously or unconsciously reneging on his original opinion that the root of neurosis was to be found in the repression of a seduction, usually by the parent of the opposite sex, during the patients childhood. What is today called child abuse. Instead, Freud came to believe (Masson claims Freud was influenced by the desire to appease the establishment) that parents were reliving not real, but fantasised, seductions. From this was developed the labyrinthine theory of unconscious mental functioning, a cornerstone of which was the Oedipus Complex. Masson's accusation, if sustainable, administers a sledgehammer blow to that stone. But, this particular piece of masonry has been chipped at steadily over the years. Creative work on theory and technique has always taken place on the fringe of beliefs. For instance, Janet Malcolm, writing about Masson in her book In the Freud Archives,(2) points out that:

Since the death of Freud, the original work done in psychoanalysis has been in and around the area of `object relations' theory, which traces the origin of the severer neuroses and of the psychoses to disturbances of the relationship between mother and child in the earliest period of life, known as the pre-oedipal period. Michael Balint, D.W. Winnicott, M. Masud Khan, W.R.D. Fairbairn, Margaret Mahler, Heinz Kohut and Selina Freiburg are among the analysts who have toiled in this mired field.

And again,

That these innovators are working at the edge of psychoanalytic theory is evident from two common aspects of their thought: its downgrading of the Oedipus Complex as the central formative experience of childhood, and its emphasis on the actuality of the glaring facts of maternal deprivation and abuse.

These writers have managed to convince themselves that they can remain within the psychoanalytic fold. They, along with some non-professional writers on psychoanalytic subjects could be seen as making up an analytic community of critics.

Masson's dealings with psychoanalysis as an institution may prove more revealing, as to the present status of analytic theory and practice, than his investigations into the intellectual probity of Freud himself. These dealings, more precisely the way he has been dealt with, have disenchanted him.

But, it is to be noted, Masson is a dis-enchanted person. He is a disenchanted ex-professor of Sanskrit who, while still a trainee analyst, acted out his own evaluation of himself as "intellectual gigolo" and charmed his way into the psychoanalytic Consistory of Cardinals. Primus inter pares - K.R. Eissler anointed him his successor as Secretary of the Freud Archives. Again quoting from Jane Malcolm's book,

After the Second World War, at a time when there was little interest in Sigmund Freud's life history, a small group of psychoanalysts - Hartmann, Kris, Lewin, Nunberg, and myself (Eissler) became alarmed by the fact that a large number of letters by Freud had been lost as a result of the ravages brought about by war. It was feared that if no measures were taken, the surviving documentation of Freud's Life would be dispersed all over the world, and most of it would be lost to future research. The need for a Sigmund Freud archives was thus recognised.

Initially, Eissler, who appointed Masson, was so intrigued by his intellectual energy and zest that he could refuse use him nothing. Other analysts were less entranced. To quote from an interview Masson gave to Janet Malcolm, again in her book,

"They found me arrogant, brash, impatient, intolerant, too critical, too Jewish."

After a year it was decided not to renew Masson's grant to continue work on the archives.

Masson really believed he was dismissed, I think, because, during that year, he made apparent his conviction that the truth about the development of Freud's thought was being suppressed and distorted, by hagiographers interested in preserving the Freud myth, and those with a vested interest in a million dollar industry. Now highlighting Freud's imperf-ections is nothing new, nor likely to produce other than a wry shrug from any but the most blinkered palaeo-Freudian. What is important is Massons's claim that a powerful institute with such far-reaching effects into people's sufferings and culture is corrupt and wields its power ruthlessly. Quite correctly, Masson insists that Science and Scholarship, like courts of law, should have no truck with any truth that is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth as far as it can be ascertained. Any lesser aspiration smacks of insider-dealing which could vitiate training and in time violate patients.

In the second book on which I wish to comment, Masson goes even further. In Against Therapy(3) he assaults psychotherapy itself. His claim is, that not only is treatment of emotional disability by professionals of no benefit, but, because of a venom within its very essence, it is positively harmful. Power is the name of the poison he isolates. He sees a gradient of power, which slopes from therapist to patient, along which slither the values of the therapist to percolate into the mental interstices of the helpless patient. There is, at the least, indoctrination. At the worst the hapless victim can be subjected to the crudest of sexual, physical and financial exploitations. Masson's sombre vision leads him to despair of treatment, as previously he despaired of gurus when a Sankritist, of heroes while studying Freud, and of institutions while trafficking with the members. He does indeed produce some horrifying evidence; in fact picks the scab off psychotherapy. But Masson is also a visionary of another kind. He can hallucinate an idyll of egalitarian relationships in which no one person exerts power over another. He believes that, while emotional disorder cannot be cured, how people feel can be influenced by a good friend or by membership of a leaderless self-help group. Should the passing of money sully the purity of these relationships, exploitation (power) will destroy any possibility of a worthwhile outcome. The landscape of this eclogue is familiar.

We are recalled to Rousseau's complaint of the corruption of Natural Man by the artificialitys of civilisation and Marx's assumption of a "lost social childhood of mankind where mankind unfolds in complete beauty," so clearly stated in his earlier writings, an innocence corrupted by money, a paradise to be regained. Indeed, Masson is right about one thing. Treatment is a contrivance and needs an artificer. For his pastorale Masson has composed his own power fugue - ban psychotherapy! To ask what would take its place is, to him, like asking what would happen were rape abolished? If professional help is rape, then there could be logic to his position. But, for many, such a suggestion would seem the equivalent of abolishing rape by banning sexual intercourse. A naiveté to which Masson does admit is the practical one. He was hurt when reviewers of his Assault on Truth seemed more interested in dissecting out his personal idiosyncrasies than teasing out the importance of the issues his work raised. He discovered the vulnerability of the individual in Politics. In spite of naivetés and blindnesses about power, I believe Masson's contribution is nevertheless in this area. He has moved it centre-stage. He makes it protagonist in the psychodrama that is emotional illness and its treatment. The play of power within the play of illness can now become a field of study, not, as for Masson, the discovery of despair.

Masson, I think, has been too wounded to contemplate power calmly in its relationship to authority. It is an old wound and the pain still confuses him. He clashed with authority in the Sanskrit Department at the university of Toronto, escaping from it into a training analysis. Next time round he charmed authority only to be crushed by its power. Masson's formative years were those of the 1960's. This was a time when many were bridling at authority. Because he provoked authority into a sort of 'Mayor Daley' response, he was too stunned to realise that he had stumbled across a new threshold, past which power was becoming more sharply etched on the ground of authority.

To examine the figure/ground flux between power and authority it is worth retrospecting a therapeutic venture of that decade.

It was not so much authority that exercised people then, as authoritarianism, slipping it across people by the misuse of status or prestige. The therapeutic buzz was to dismantle hierarchy. This would release a natural flow between people which was to be the stuff of treatment. This principle of testament came to be called the Therapeutic Community or more particularly the Psycho-therapeutic Community. Therapists and patients would interact throughout a carefully structured day for purposes of treatment. The key therapeutic concept was permissiveness - also a vogue word in society at that time. This whole therapeutic endeavour, indeed the whole era, got a bad name from misunder-standings and misapplications of this concept. Permissiveness became synonymous with laissez-faire. Either staff abrogated responsibility and produced anything from a violent community to a dull listless community, or they invited patients into a hypocrisy. Patients were told their words had a weight in decision making equal to those of staff. Never true. Responsibility was vested in staff by society. Authority could at most be shared. Patients might then join in decision making so that their emotional involvements and difficulties in performance could present as treatment issues. Of course Masson would say that patients' responses would be taken down and used in evidence against them! In the contra-therapeutic communities I described, no doubt such things happened. But, even in the `best' communities ultimate responsibility always remained with staff, and authority would be withdrawn at any time, e.g. in an emergency. Should someone attempt suicide, it had to be a staff member to arrange transfer to safer surrounds, because only he had the power to do so. Permissiveness was an instrument of power. It was an instrument of meta-complementary control. Authority rested in those who gave or withdrew it. What promoted treatment was permitted; what prevented it, discouraged or prohibited. This was the truth of permissiveness. Communities using permissiveness in this way were a success, at least by the rough calculus of coming into, and going out of existence according to plan. The rest, the majority, I fear, dissipated via anarchy through apathy. Out of the debris and disappointments the self-help movement was born.

One must ask, is authority only power with a fig leaf? Probably not, though the reality of power must always shimmer behind even the most benign authority, or else it will not have the power to be benign. Certainly this approach intended to release at least one power - the vis medicatrix nature. Other powers were quite deliberately suppressed. Violence was naturally disallowed, but also discouraged were manifestations of power such as too intensive pairing, and cliques with the power to exclude, victimisation, assass-ination of the psyche.

Those of us lucky enough to have worked in what I have called a successful unit, learned a lot about authority, and I think about the treatment benefits of a regime promoting mutual trust and confidence. When author-itarianism was abandoned and seen to be abandoned, a sense of authentic authority emerged. The stronger the sense of this, the less naked is power in its presence. By authentic authority I mean authority others are willing to give someone they can rightly perceive knows what he is talking about and has faith in himself.

In our times, when charismatic and traditional authority are breaking down under the pressures of an increasingly plural society; and no consensus emerging to replace them with rational-legal authority, it will be hard to recreate circumstances in which authentic authority can be used therapeutically.

Power, not authority, needs to be addressed as the ingredient in treatment which may once more make it a credible and respected force. Power is an attribute of all treatment. Certainly in Medicine a patient hopes his doctor has the power to help him. Power is an attribute of all relationships because relationships start on the basis of inevitable differences and thus inequalities. Equality can be established only by mutual give and take. Even at their most parallel, human relationships display a natural abrasiveness which is a part of the spice of life. Neither psychoanalysis nor anything else should aim at homogenising relationships into some bland mindless mush.

Power passes back and forth between people. This can be tonic as well as pathological. In psychotherapy this is the interplay of transference and counter transference. In a conscientious treatment, transference is gradually and recurrently undone, counter transference rigorously interrogated. Ideally, this should dismantle preconceptions and misconceptions until two people can face each other in the greatest possible approximation to, and acceptance of, their separate realities. This is equality and treatment is at an end. In a truly professional treatment there are separate centres of power. A patient has the power of his personality, the power of his purse, and the power to vote with his feet. He allows a therapist to contrive a setting in which transference can be explored by comment and interpretation.

Treatment has to take place in a society of political power blocs and multinational economic power blocs. Indeed it takes place in an age of power raised to the pitch of terrorism. Bombs tear innocents apart, lives are ripped asunder by unemployment, bankruptcy, redundancy and eviction by Building Societies. Even sport is being trampled into the ground by exploitation and hooliganism. In an era of summits to control nuclear power, testing continues and we rely for survival on the terror of annihilation. It is chastening to remember that terrorist organisations are self-help groups. The political wing of the IRA calls itself just that, Sinn Fein (ourselves alone). Meditate for a moment on an extract from a review in the Sunday Times(4) by Cal McCrystal of a book about just such a self-help group, The Shankill Butchers. Lenny Murphy was the leader of the Shankill Butchers, a band of cut-throats and sadists who selected victims at random on the streets of Belfast and, in proof of their declared loyalty to the British Queen and defence of Protestantism, tortured, humiliated and finally slaughtered them with butchers knives. Murphy murdered Protestants when he failed to find Taigs (Roman Catholics) and like Commodus, killed his comrades as well. Between 1972 and 1977, the 'butchers' killed more people than had any other mass murderers in British criminal history. Small wonder that, when the English consider the even-handedness of Murphy's Law, they have to laugh, and that Irish eyes aren't smiling.

In the modern world the resurgence of religious fundamentalism offers an anodyne to precisely the same human dilemmas that previously produced fascism. This is the ecology within which treatment must be cultivated. But, I illustrate by extremity, as Masson does, and I hate extremism. Of course I believe self-help groups can be useful but I do not understand why Masson does not see them as subject to the same power-dynamics as other groups are. A leader always comes to the surface, pairing takes place, cliques exclude, scapegoating occurs, and psyches are assassinated. Somebody homeostatic, whom we might as well call a therapist, is usually as much a necessity as a good chairman is to a decision-making group. Masson also reposes therapeutic faith in the offices of a good friend - a sympathetic rather than an empathetic ear. But, to confide in a friend is to give him power. Besides there is no quicker way to lose a friend than to bring him depressions and complaints, copiously and regularly, week-in week-out as a patient can do to a therapist. The idea also ignores the very great desolation of people who come to therapy partly because a good friend is something they do not have and do not possess the power to win.

Masson in his obsession with power is quite correct in drawing attention to an aspect of therapy which does need to be re-construed. That is interpretation.

As a commentary it is hard to better Ross Skelton in the July/August 1988 issue of Encounter:(5)

Patients who enter psychoanalysis are already suffering from a rigid interpretation of their lives, given to them by their family members and later by themselves; they certainly do not require another rigid interpretation, reducing their experience to Freudian symbols without the relief of Lacanian ambiguities.

While sharing Masson's and Ross Skelton's queasiness about crude Freudian symbolism I would welcome Lacanian ambiguities and suggest that by engaging within them, the better to balance life on them, a patient would be in good treatment

There is an ambiguity in the nature of understanding itself, which raises questions about the power of myth and metaphor. What is any understanding but metaphor? We are satisfied we have understood when we can explain one thing in terms of something already familiar. This suggests that we live only within personal mythologies and guiding fictions and, because this is where patients are, therapists must grope a way through a Levi-Strauss world of mythologies about mythologies. They publish rationalisations as critiques in efforts to refine theory and practice.

People seek to understand, hoping this will make more sense of their life or to make their life make more sense. If they find they are living a myth they would like it to have the properties of good myth. It should hang together and thus have less power to torture them. Understandings present in tropes and metaphors. Even the relationship between patient and therapist will be a metaphor for all the best that can be retrieved from the debris of the past. Therapists are scrap-merchants. Lacan reminds us that we are born into a symbolic order - "in the beginning was the word." Without psychotherapy, people will still seek for meaning. There are plenty of obliging sources from TV Pundits to Moonies. When Dr. Assen Jablensky, Senior Medical Officer in WHO Department of Mental Health carried out a world-wide epidemiological study of schizophrenia, from 1977-1986, he researched not only hospitals and doctors, outpatient and community centres, but also faith healers, shrines, soothsayers and other non-traditional sources. People will always look for authority, seek power and yearn for truth preferably a great universal truth. This is why psycho-therapy, in one form or another, has been about for a long time. Masson's dating of the prehistory of psychotherapy to the late 19th. Century is surely wrong.

This is psychotherapy in its modern phase. It must have been around at least since that inner scanning of possibilities we call consciousness emerged as a feature of mental functioning, if a theory put forward by Prof. Julian Jaynes in his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind(6) - is as likely as I think it is. Before 600 BC. mankind was more dominated by the right hemisphere of the brain than, as at present, by the left hemisphere which articulates speech. Prior to that date there were no emotional conflicts because every question was answered by the voices of Gods or revered ancestors; voices hallucinated by the right side of the brain. As the voices weakened for various historical reasons, oracles, and then their priests, took over. Eventually a weakening of belief caused all the voices to cease and the left hemisphere gradually took over, developing that self-reflectiveness we call consciousness. Decisions, responsibility, self-doubt, were born. This is the archaeology of neurosis. Man became freer but more persecuted. Those who could function only via auditory hallucination were gradually bred out by Darwinian natural selection, though some predominantly bicameral survive to this day and are given the name schizophrenic. Vestiges of right-hemisphere functioning remain in all of us, we sense it within and it makes us search continuously for its lost certainties. Since we can no longer hallucinate an outside source of authorisation we seek it elsewhere - in religions and various 'isms' derived from them, in science and scientisms, like - many will say -psychoanalysis. When one thinks back to the origins of so much of human nature in these hallucinated voices, it may not be too fanciful to regard the power of the analytic couch as related to an atavistic need for the authorisation of a disembodied voice. Whatever descent into primitivism such a thought betokens, I cannot - as Masson might - regard this as yet another arrangement for the evil ascendancy of therapist over patient. The couch is visible and comes into use, and only when a patient begins to talk about it and wonder, would it be more liberating. As relationships mature, i.e. towards the ending of treatment, face to face interactions are renewed. There is a whole meta-psychology of the couch waiting to be explored. As a vehicle of power its importance has been less thoroughly investigated than the importance of eye-to-eye contacts in interpersonal status establishments.

It may be that Masson's anti-therapy stems not through disillusionment as a result of time spent on the couch, so much as the time spent behind the couch. Read his opinion of himself as therapist, again quoted from In the Freud Archives,

I am not the best material for a practising analyst. I am not patient enough, not quiet enough, not modest enough. Also I love to discover, uncover, probe the past, find out the truth. At that I am superb, and patients love it. I really set to work with vigour and pleasure. But when it comes to the `working through, I am really no good. Then I feel like sending them to some quiet woman analyst who can listen in peace. So I know I should not practise.

Masson really must not be allowed to lapse into thinking that because he should not practice no one else should be allowed to either. Surely patients, who by inference bore Masson, should at least be allowed the consolation of the - by implication - disparaged quiet woman analyst.

Among those who, unlike Masson, can put up with patients there is, I suspect, one general agreement. A therapist will get results if he is conscientious and systematic. All professions attempt to police their workers and Masson's revelations have the merit of showing a need for considerable tightening-up in this respect in this professional activity.

Ratifying theory and technique is a more difficult undertaking. Taking psychoanalysis as a representative sample of therapies, its very nature and standing as a discipline is uncertain. There has so often been an over-assertive affectation of scientific status. An assertiveness so in contrariness to the obvious that it betrays an underlying lack of self-confidence. There is no way in which psychoanalysis can meet the criteria for a science as laid down by Karl Popper. Theories can be constructed, predictions made, but these cannot be falsified. The truths of psychoanalysis are not empirical, not the out-there truths which, quite properly, science restricts itself to. The opposite of psychoanalytic truth is not falsehood, but the telling of a different truth, a different interpretation of human nature. Besides, in our days, even science itself has suffered the erosion of its authority. Again to return to Julian Jaynes,

We sometimes think, even like to think, that the two greatest exertions that influenced mankind, religion and science have always been historical enemies intriguing us in opposite directions. But this effort at special identity is loudly false.

It is not religion, but the Church and science that were hostile to each other. And it was not rivalry but contravention. Both were religions . . . Both proclaimed to be the only way to divine revelation. The real question was whether we are to find our best authorisation through an apostolic succession from ancient prophets who heard divine voices, or through searching the heavens of our experience right now in the objective world without any priestly intercession. If we would really understand the Scientific Revolution correctly, we should remember that its most powerful impetus was the unremitting search for hidden divinity. The work of Darwin and Wallace took away the joy of searching for a benevolent creator in nature, and put an emphasis on cold un-calculating chance. It said in effect there is no authorisation from outside The authority of coherent religion has fragmented into a revival of cults which will settle for power, into meditation, astrology and UFO's. Science itself has not been spared the same thing. Scientisms are clusters of ideas that form into cults and breed institutions which, as they lose authority, become more desperate in the exercise of their power, which corrupts them in direct ratio to their desperation. Like religions, all scientisms claim the truth as a means of clinging to authority, because truth is binding, since it is part of our nostalgia for an earlier certainty. In the general suspicion of authority, let alone authoritarianism, Science and Scientisms are now as attacked as religion. One result of the scientific basis to which the medical model of psychiatry lays claim has been the large mental hospital. Truly one of the mixed blessings. In them, patients were housed, fed, electroshocked and chemically straight-jacketed. In a word, treated. They have also been described as degrading, dehuman-ising and reifying places. Using the fetish of a caring community it has been proclaimed that people would be far better off treated within society.

Masson's crusade against therapy follows the anti-psychiatry movement of the 1960's. This had dynamic force but, like David Cooper's anti-hospital within Shenley Hospital, London and the late R.D. Laing's Philadelphia Association, it was essentially a brainchild of professional therapists. The anti-psychiatry movement exposed antihuman practices in mental hospitals just as the anti-therapy movement seems to be exposing anti-human practices in psychotherapy. As a result of exposes by the anti-psychiatry people, libertarians raised the banner for `patients rights' and campaigned for changes in the laws which allowed people to be hospitalised against their will. Money-pinching politicians seized an opportunity to close costly mental hospitals. From being entangled in the 1960's and 1970's with flower-power, intellectual socialism, student protests, left-wing resistance groups like the Baader-Meinhof gang and neo-Marxist revolutionaries, those ideas became one of the flagships of the radical right. As a result of these `reforms,' thousand of destitute mental patients are crowding the streets of the major cities of Europe and America, and their plight is an international scandal. Let us hope the anti-therapy movement does not, in its turn, provide excuses for cutting costs by closing down psychotherapy programmes. These programmes will be declared to have no proven scientific value and, if it is decided to act on Masson's advice to have harmful, rather than beneficial effects. As if all treatment does not, of its very nature, carry risk! Risks arise not only from the mismanagement by incompetent practitioners but also from any potency a treatment promises.

So what can be done not to 'throw out the baby with the bath water', as Prof. Anthony Clare warned Masson when he interviewed him recently on BBC Radio 4?

Clearly training needs to be revised. There must be an end to opinion masqu-erading as fact. Methods of treatment ought to be subjected to firm caveats allied to those in medicine which, it should be remembered, is still an art as well as an applied science. Because Medicine has tradition and experience in self-discipline it remains a humane umbrella to be near for any treatment of people.

As to theory and critique of theory - a quote from W.B. Yeats sums up the present state:

The best lack all conviction
while the worst
are full of passionate intensity.

There is a continuing effort to find scientific ratifications. The attempts are honourable and some will bear fruit. But, a scientific approach can never be sufficient in itself because the genre of the analytic discourse is in many ways more akin to the literary than to the scientific. Analytic writings like literary criticism lay claim to life in society as well as intra- and interpersonal life. Like literary criticism they are most advantageously to be considered a part of cultural politics. Another attitude shared with the writings of literary criticism, their relevance is being continually called into question. Like other writings in the English language, analytic writings have moved into the post-modern phase, where there is no such thing as reality, only versions of reality. They resemble some critics' view of fiction. History is fiction, science is fiction, psychology is fiction. So we have meta-fiction, a self-conscious genre which draws attention to the fact that fiction is in fact fiction. Small wonder that many now view literary criticism as contemplating its own navel and having no social function. But literary criticism had a very vital social function. Modern European criticism was grounded in the carving out of a discursive space by the bourgeoisie. This was one of rational discussion and enlightened critique, and came to be known as the public sphere of the literate and informed. This sphere was made up of people who had an 'interest' - by analogy the present analytic community. The irony for both literary and analytic public sphere was and is, that the critical gesture itself is typically conservative and corrective, revising and adjusting particular phenomena to its own particular model of discourse. The most innovative psychoanalysts by remaining in communion with the Institutes, allow their critical insights to be folded back into a consensual apparatus. Criticism remains re-formative; deviation is scourged; trans-gression is repressed; and emancipation from the dead hands of dogma is halted at the very gates that might open to truly radical and creative change.

When individuals have so much power, an individual deviant will always be vulnerable. Perhaps Masson was, as he says, politically naive when he was surprised that reviewers of his books were more interested in dissecting him rather than his work. The easiest way to deal with troublesome thoughts will always be to deal with the troublesome thinker. Perhaps Masson left himself open to this, nevertheless in some respect every individual is vulnerable. An effective critique would have to develop from a concerted anti-institution movement rather than from an individual anti-institutionalist. However, there does exist a Diaspora of the psychologic of the psycho-logically informed which is not in deference intellectually or professionally to any institute. Names come readily to mind, gadflies like the late Profs. Medawar and Henry Miller and Prof. Roger Scruton; Prof. Anthony Clare of Dublin, Prof. Julian Jaynes of Princeton, Prof. David Snail of Nottingham, Dorothy Rowe of Sheffield and Sebastian Price of Frankfurt.

The voice of what one could call a counter-public sphere should be a Periodical. It was the Tatler and Spectator which welded the English Public Sphere and diminished the cannibalism of purely sectarian savagery which I think a purely Massonic approach could unleash. Contributors to such a periodical would have interests not just in analytic theory but in the overlapping areas of semiotics, media studies, cultural theory, the representation of gender popular writing and, of course, traditional English writing. There is no obvious unity between such interests beyond a concern with the symbolic processes of social family and personal being. Without the interaction of such interests we shall be incapable not only of deconstructing the power complex of institutions, but of unlocking the lost lethal power-struggles now confronting us and of developing forms and ways of treatment appropriate to our changing times. For too long there has been an existential neurosis of the intellectual which might be summed up as: God is dead, Marx is dead, Freud is dead and I am not feeling too well myself. Such a periodical may be appropriate not just to changing times but to a changing mentality - a shuddering out of the apathy of this intellectual neurosis. Consciousness itself did not have a biological origin back in the evolution of the mammalian nervous system but is a change of mind developing from the confusion of tongues which arose when a previously bicameral people became nomadic e.g. in the Exodus. Perhaps we are once more experiencing a momentous nomadic upheaval.

Glasnost has converted the drift of people from East to West Germany into a flood. This is an invasion of the virile and competent, which is likely to invigorate even more an already buoyant social system, and it contains an additional complexity of unpredictable consequence. These young people are willing to pay homage to the God of Mammon, but they have been reared in the religion of Marx and Lenin. Who can foretell the changes in mind this new babel will bring about? Simultaneously unemployed people from some capitalist countries are asking to be moved to socialist countries where they will be entitled to work as a right. Germany looks set to become the industrial pace-maker in the heart of Europe with Russia as junior partner, making the whole concept of European Community look considerably less cosy. America is girding itself for confrontation in Central and South America which could have an aftermath rivalling the adventure in Vietnam and may jockey itself into having to legalise drugs of dependence. Who knows what new mentalities and strange dysphorias these and many other population cataclysms will release? Those seeking to help others need humility as never before. All that can be hoped for is to establish small corners of personal and social order in an increasingly disordered universe. We cannot, and never have, in the history of civilisations been able to, completely abandon previous orders - a new theory is almost always an extension of previous theory, a new practice a modification of an old. At least, if such a periodical as I have mooted existed, the hammer of one prejudice might clang upon the anvil of another beating a new grammar of psychotherapy from the metal of the old one. For psychotherapy is a language and a healthy language has to grow by its traditions and from the work of its masters and by reshaped by attempts to use it properly.

Masson the anti-therapist has made public malpractice in psychotherapy. Perhaps more important, he has displayed the human venality of its institutes. But most hopefully anti-therapy is breeding some promising new approaches. New directions are to be found in Dorothy Rowe's Beyond fear(7) and The Construction of Life and Death,(8) and in David Snail's Taking care: An Alternative to Therapy.(9) Of course alternatives to therapy have a habit of becoming alternative therapy.

Faith in therapy obviously needs to be restored, hope reborn; perhaps the hope that a changing consciousness of our time might come to rival in importance that exploration of the unconscious begun by Freud.

But if one is to be charitable - in the original sense of that word - to suffering, then there is no place for the unforgivable sins of despair and pres-umption, inherent in Masson's conclusions. Psychotherapy must remain anchored in hope; the hope that man's reach is farther than his grasp. If not what's a metaphor?

All copyrights reserved. Dr Ronald St. Blaize-Molony.

One time Consultant in Child and Family Psychiatry, Romford and Harlow Child Guidance Clinics. Consultant in Forensic Psychiatry, London Borough of Newham. Consultant in Psychiatry, Department of Forensic Medicine, Oldchurch Hospital, Romford. Visiting Teacher, Tavistock Clinic, Belsize Lane, London NW3


  1. Freud: The Assault on Truth: Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory by Jeffrey M. Masson, Faber and Faber, London, 1984
  2. In the Freud Archives by Janet Malcolm Jonathon Cape, London, 1984
  3. Against Therapy by Jeffrey M. Masson Collins, London, 1989
  4. The Shankill Butchers A Case Study of Mass Murder, by Martin Dillon, reviewed by Cal McCrystal, Sunday Times: Books: 8 October 1989
  5. Louis MacNeice, Freud, Lacan by Ross Skelton, Encounter: July/August 1988
  6. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Haynes Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston
  7. Beyond Fear by Dorothy Rowe
  8. The Construction of Life and Death by Dorothy Rowe
  9. Taking Care: An Alternative to Therapy by David Snail

Addendum to God is Dead etc.

In respect of Professor Julian Haynes' The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind,(6) the author is a man of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment has signally failed to produce a satisfactory system of ethics and it is also a fact that civilisation arises, flourishes and decays with religion, a fact for which even Hume did not have the faintest glimmer of an explanation. Most of the Enlightenment, though in fairness not Haynes, rationalise religion. This is probably the reason for the general disorientation of the extremely Enlightened: the fact that, say, a Bertrand Russell or an H.G.Wells, never understands anything of the life going on around him, or at any rate precious little compared with other people who have far less intelligence and information, but some religion. It is worth considering just how religion is viewed by a secular intelligentsia. On the whole it is seen as badness or madness:

Badness is an imposition theory. Religion is a racket. Marxism is a variant of this theory.

Madness. Religion is a form of madness. Freudianism can be a variant of this.

Interestingly the two theories are genuinely at odds. A madman can hardly be a successful racketeer, or even a source of profit to racketeers. In the history of Christianity there is not much more madness than in the history of anything else.

In fact, a religion of wide currency usually acts as a support of sanity. Religious people are actually less likely to be mad, or at least to go mad, than people of the Enlightenment.

Likewise, if anything, religious people are less likely to be racketeers than is an Enlightenment person. Haynes state of the Bicameral Mind was supposed to be brought to an end, by some catastrophe of extraterrestrial origin, yet, because he is a dyed-in-the-wool, paid-up member of the Enlightenment he gives no consideration to the possibility of miracles. The human brain is the most complicated bit of matter known to exist; Hayes asks us to believe that some particular external event which could hardly affect directly either our brains or our genes, bought about in a few generations, a major change in our brain functions. Now that is logically possible, but it sounds at least, like magic - and yet Haynes does not consider the possibility of a miracle. If one extends this line of speculation, there are interesting questions of a religious nature arising in the work and thinking of the basic sciences.

Citation: St. Blaize-Molony, R.,(1994), God is dead, Marx is dead, Freud is dead, . . . . And I'm not feeling too well, myself. A reflection on two books by Jeffrey Masson, GENDYS '94, The Third International Gender Dysphoria Conference, Manchester, England.
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