The object of this paper is to express the authors' dislike for what they imagine to be certain materialistic implications in psycho-analysis. Starting from the extraordinarily wild premise that 'The notion that the world and its inhabitants have been evolved from such a nebula without any intelligent moulding agency has become scientifically unthinkable', they oppose the notion of an ethereal or spiritual body which may interpenetrate the material body and survive to the conclusions of the Freudian school, which is supposed to 'base its theory on a purely materialistic view of human nature'; we learn, further, that this school 'has disposed of spirit and find mind a mere function of matter'. We are not aware of any psycho-analyst who has committed himself to any such philosophy.
Their criticism of 'How Freud deals parenthetically, in off-hand way, with the subject of telepathy' (p. 117) is based on a passage in an American translation of one of his books which is a pure interpolation on the part of the translator and does not occur in Freud's own writings.
But the real gravemen of their charge against psycho-analysts, to which most of the article is devoted, is the belief of the latter in psychical determinism. To this they trace any sorts of immoral consequences in practical treatment. Apparently it has not occurred to the authors that determinism is no special invention or property of psycho-analysts, but is common to all scientific men; science is possible only in so far as what roughly may be called the uniformity of cause and effect is assumed and becomes impossible where this ceases.
They imply that the technique of treatment would be widely different if one granted that the patient had a free will, i. e. one uninfluenced by any causative forces. But it seems to us that one would be in very much the same position in so far as one could operate, as now, only on the mental agencies that can be influenced, i. e. are not 'free'. Obviously if one succeeded in making an appeal to a patient's 'power of choice between good and evil', as the authors imply, this power of choice would be one that could be influenced, i. e. would not be 'free will'.
- 341 -
J., E. (1922). General. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 3:341