Friday, October 2, 2020

Critical Race Theory and Psychoanalysis

For those who care about the current state of psychoanalysis, I offer some remarks by one Lewis Andrews, from The Federalist. Andrews suggests that just as psychoanalysis flashed across our skies like a comet-- or should it be firefly-- only to disappear into the ether, so too will critical race theory. A fad is a fad is a fad.

Critical race theory seems to be the flavor du jour. It is recycled Marxism, propagated and promulgated and proselytized to ramp up voter turnout in the election. By this time next year no one will care.

Anyway, Andrews offers a succinct history of the cultural influence of psychoanalysis. While he is right about the influence of psycho analysis in medical practice, I fear that he underestimates its continuing influence in psycho therapy and the culture at large.

After all, critical race theory and its attendant woke culture propose sensitivity training sessions and therapy for the masses. It has turned elementary school classrooms into indoctrination centers where children are taught to feel guilty for their unconscious racism. 

It’s recycled Freud. Bad old ideas die hard.

Still, here is Andrews:

By the 1960s, psychoanalysis was being used to justify social changes at least as dramatic as what today’s woke have proposed. When counterculture gurus like Timothy Leary, R. D. Laing, and Will Shutz began suggesting that it might be healthier to just express one’s repressed childhood desires, rather than put a lid on them, young people across America, some already protesting the Vietnam War, readily agreed. The result was nearly a decade of epidemic drug use, campus rioting, and cultural attacks on traditional morality.

While Freud’s psychoanalytic theory always had its share of thoughtful critics, defenders of the theory often resorted to a tautology-ridden, woke-like defense: anyone who challenged Freud was said to be denying his own unconscious conflicts and was, therefore, to be ignored. The retort proved to be so persuasive that at one point, the chair of psychiatry at every major U.S. medical school was occupied by a psychoanalyst.

It is a staggering truth, one that is often overlooked. But, by the 1970s and into the 1980s, psychoanalysis was a highly prestigious medical subspecialty.

But then, along came Prozac-- and the media in the 1980s was filled with stories of patients who had undergone years of free associating on the couch, only to remain depressed. And then, they started taking a pill and lo and behold, the depression lifted.

Of course, it took the insurance companies to push the research showing that psychoanalysis as a treatment was ineffective.

What finally did manage to discredit psychoanalytic theory — ending its ability to justify any kind of social revolution — is worth recalling, for it suggests how the current popularity of today’s critical race theory will collapse. Beginning in the 1990s, as pressure grew on health insurance companies to pay for psychological problems as well as physical ones, efforts were made to more rigorously evaluate the different therapies.

The studies that followed showed that nearly every emotional complaint could be treated far more quickly, effectively, and economically without psychoanalysis, which seemed to be no more useful than doing nothing at all. Psychoanalysis thrived for nearly a century as an intellectual justification for a multitude of movements, but it couldn’t survive the failure to deliver on its foundational promise: improved mental health.

Fair enough, it has not survived as a treatment. I applaud Andrews for seeing the parallel between psychoanalysis and critical race theory. And yet, he ought to see that the basic elements of psychoanalysis persist in critical race theory. Freudian theory is like a mutating virus.


trigger warning said...

Take a pill and lo and behold, the prana lifts and the lingham falls.


Giordano Bruno said...

Freud's bad ideas resonated for over a century. If critical race theory lasts even a decade, Americans will be immersed in a violent race war.

In another scenario, white people will begin to question the value of their new lives, as submissive allyship begins to look a lot like outright slavery.

As a person of color myself, this does not apply to me. I have the magic blud, and, as a result, I can understand the shared experiences of other people of color. Our shared experiences mystically blend together; this is called intersectionality at the university. Vasconcelos called it "La Raza Cosmica." Enjoy the weekend, guero.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the comparison of CRT to psychoanalysis fits.
Sure, they are both unfalsifiable psuedosciences, but unfortunately, there's no miracle medication that will create equality and equity for the populations that lack them.
No equivalent of Prozac to critical race theory. So racism, equality, and inequity will always exist amongst certain cultures and subpopulations, and it will always be the fault of white supremacy, for which all whites have already been found guilty.