Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To access “The Standard Edition” of Freud’s work…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

You can directly access Strachey’s The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud through the Books tab on the left side of the PEP-Web screen.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Brenman, E. (1985). Cruelty and Narrowmindedness. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 66:273-281.

(1985). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 66:273-281

Cruelty and Narrowmindedness

Eric Brenman

In normal development love modifies cruelty; in order to perpetuate cruelty, steps have to be taken to prevent human love from operating. My contention is that in order to maintain the practice of cruelty, a singular narrowmindedness of purpose is put into operation. This has the function of squeezing out humanity and preventing human understanding from modifying the cruelty. The consequence of this process produces a cruelty which is 'inhuman'.

If we consider the Oedipus myth from the angle of the role played by the Gods, we can follow this process. The God Apollo had ordained that Oedipus would kill his father Laius and marry his mother Jocasta. No mortal, that is, human, intervention could be proof against the God's prediction. Here we see the omnipotent narrowminded persistence: nothing can stand in the way of the omnipotent Gods' determination.

Laius' only hope was that Oedipus should not survive. Here we see counter-cruelty presented as the only solution. Oedipus was delivered to a shepherd with orders to abandon him on a mountain; but human compassion, the antidote to cruelty, intervened, as the shepherd had not the heart to do this and entrusted the child to a Corinthian shepherd. But this humanity was of no avail.

As a result of cruel destiny, Oedipus killed his father on his journey to escape patricide, emphasizing again the impotence of human understanding. After marrying Jocasta, Oedipus had to root out his father's murderer, and pursued this course with persistent vigour, excluding all human counsel.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2018, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.