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Bjerre, P. (1925). The Way to and from Freud. Psychoanal. Rev., 12(1):39-66.

(1925). Psychoanalytic Review, 12(1):39-66

The Way to and from Freud

Poul Bjerre, M.D.

Motto: Do not misinterpret the past to suit thine own ends.

Leonardo da Vinci

It is easy enough to account for the fact that psychoanalytical literature, on a first approach, fills us with dismay, horror and a sense of degradation. A statement made by Pfister in his controversy with Maeder illustrates this. He says: “Only what is slightly suppressed, what Freud calls the foreconscious, may, under special conditions contain commendable, moral traits, while that which is deeply repressed, Freud's unconscious (not the constitutional disposition) must be referred to the spirits of Hell.” This means, in other words, that the more we succeed in penetrating all surface phenomena and reaching the essentials of psychic life, that is, those of life as a whole, the oftener we come across powers inimical to ourselves; and finally we fall, a helpless prey, into their hands. During the Middle Ages these powers were called demons. We call them instincts. The difference in terms is of little moment. But there exists, on the other hand, an essential difference between the people of the Middle Ages and ourselves,—the former possessed a Redeemer who had “bruised the head of the serpent” and who could deliver them from all things evil, while we … The Freudian psychology spells impossibility of redemption. True, we can rear the structure of consciousness on the volcanic ground of the unconscious. We can live and act in this structure. But we can never feel secure. And what is worse, we can never feel free and content. In a thousand circuitous ways the repressed instincts influence our conduct, disturbing, arresting, and producing disease. The very fact of their pent-up condition produces a permanent sense of dissatisfaction just as certainly as their release would mean total destruction of our present form of life.

As I have pointed out elsewhere, Freud is a personality of pronounced ethical standing, out of reach of the slander to which he has been subjected.

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