W.S. McCulloch


We are not now the men we were a quarter of a century ago. Our brains are failing. Cells of all other tissues multiply our nerve cells, not again! Their complement was filled in childhood. The little accidents of daily life thin out their ranks, and when one dies no other does its job; for no two have the same connections. Our skills, our wits, our memory desert us. This is not always that unhoped serene that men call age. It is incompetence, dependence and all too often an unwarranted suspicion of those nearest and dearest. This lands us in the hands of a psychiatrist who can but keep alive for some few years the ugly body of our soul's decay. Senility can have no cure, and science has not brewed an elixir of eternal youth.

Half the patients in all hospitals in the United States are there for trouble in their brains. In Illinois a third of all State hospital inhabitants have senile psychoses. Pray for their speedy death or legislate for euthanasia, but waste no tears on them. They had their chance.

Hereditary idiots, essential epileptics, schizophrenics begin at birth or in early life to suffer failing function of brains which, under the microscope, may look normal. In these, as in other hereditary diseases, we meet chemical disorders. Physical agents and drugs have so far failed to help these feeble-minded, but have forestalled the bulk of fits and remitted temporarily two-thirds of schizophrenics. If science can go on as it has gone we have a right to hope that we may make life worthy of its name for the majority of mental patients; for these diseases look today as cretinism did in nineteen ten, and diabetes in the twenties. Give us time!

In those same twenties, one-fifth of the insane had syphilis of the forebrain and went vaingloriously to paralytic death. Today it's hard to find a bedridden Caesar or a Napoleon who wets and soils. With syphilis went gonorrhea. Now ends the curse on lusty wenchings we cloaked in prick-eared prudery from the glorious days of good Queen Bess, through the long reign of Victoria, to the days of our begetting. For the jovial nights our children may enjoy we are even more indebted to mercurials, malaria and antibiotics, in Paracelsus tradition, than to the invention of the kindly Doctor Condom. And must the same great price still be paid for the same great service? Not quite!

When the survey of mental hospitals of the red clay belt from Virginia southward showed that nearly half the patients had diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia and died for want of nicotinic acidthough it go hard with the born Republican to admit it—'twas the Department of Agriculture under its then Secretary, Wallace, that changed the crops, and thus the diet, of the Piedmont, so that pellagra is no more. Our mental hygienists have not yet mustered the representation to try in Senatorial Investigation, convict him of organicism and send him into exile. But give them time!

I am indebted to Chicago, to von Bonin and to Bailey who brought me here and most to Gerty who made possible for me fully ten years of that organicism during which our laboratory has been a crossroads of collaboration with Northwestern and Chicago, and with Alexander of the Psychoanalytic Institutecrossroads that have extended throughout our continent, to Europe, even to Asia. I have been happy with my many collaborators, but most with the crop of more than thirty youngsters who have learned respect for the physics and the chemistry of living brains. Through them, and men like them, we may expect in time to cureor, better yet, preventpsychoses, and so to check the growth of that vast kingdom of beds-for-the-insane that rivals now the monasteries of the Middle Ages. But have we time?

Psychiatry has been sold short. In movies, magazines and daily papers you find it everywhere, promising everythingable to performalmost nothing! The time has come when we psychiatrists must deliver the goods. Are we the men to do that? Some years ago, nine out of ten of us came from the lowest third of medical students, sought security as civil servants in state hospitals with more patients than we could examine and there deteriorated faster than those committed to our care. Today, medicine has increased the take of union members by decreasing the ratio of graduates to their prospective patients. War and threat of war increased the scarcity. Refugee physicians, ignorant of the customs and language of their patients, have entered our state service; but there is hardly a public asylum with half its inadequate complement of doctors. When the public wakes I fear it will make matters worse by socializing medicine. The remedy lies not in government, already overgrown, but in giving doctors tools with which to help their patients. Only slow science can do that.

But incompetence is not the worst reason for becoming a psychiatrist, nor are these civil servants the men who sold short psychiatry. The worst reason is the desire for filthy lucre. Psychoanalysts say that they discovered that gold is a symbol for feces, but they formed a sect in psychiatry where there should be none. This sect so controls the teaching hospitals of our city that no one may be a resident in psychiatry unless he is approved by them for membership in their sect. To become a member he must be psychoanalyzed, for which the analysand must pay the analyst who took the Hippocratic oath. Finally, acceptance into the sect depends upon the emotional conversion of the analysand to the sect's peculiar beliefs. Some neophytes submit for their healtha third wrong reason for becoming a psychiatristbut more for a share in the loot. Some, after conversion, believe they have something to sell. Convenient for them! It is still to their profit, or power which is profit, that this sect and its fellow travelers have oversold psychiatry. When I see such a sect prospering I do well to be angry.

Neurotic patients go to psychoanalysts hoping to be cured. At best the layman's pitiful and ludicrous trust in his doctor compels the practitioner to be part benefactor, part charlatan. Fortunately most people recover from most diseases despite our meddling. Two-thirds of all neurotics get well with almost any kind of surgical, pharmacological or psychological treatment, and with none at all. The rest don't. But our big problem is insanity. Most psychoanalysts are too clever to attempt to help the insane. The orthodox believer says Freud's method is inapplicable to them, so he handles only neurotics, or what, with a fortune-teller's lucrative presumption, he calls prepsychotics. Yet, with all the aces palmed, the analyst will not tell his fellow physician how many of his patients get well. In his later years Freud doubted the therapeutic value of his method, but his hopeful disciples now hold the profitable doctrine that all men have neurotic traits worth analyzing and often continue it as long as the analysand will pay. Then the analysis is finished; but I have never heard one say the patient is cured. Judged by the duration of analyses, and by the reactions of originally healthy neophytes, the frivolous Viennese may have been in earnest when they defined psychoanalysis as that disease of which it fancies itself the cure. I'm told that Kurt Krauss was first to say it so.

The English law lets a child be reared in any superstition, not in none. If he recovers it leaves him with a generalized immunity to isms. But we, the American people, are commonly demoralized grandchildren of uprooted Europeans, our families decimated by divorce, our faith in progress failing. We are ripe for any ism. This century we've had Theosophy and Anthroposophy and Buckmanism and Psychoanalysis and now Dianetics, its peerless caricature. It surpasses all analytic schisms except Jung's, which from the something divine in man has turned to divination from the I' Ching. Unlike the rest of psychoanalytic heretics, at whose follies you may laugh your belly full when you have time to read them,

Jung alone rejected the hard Calvinistic, necessitarian and materialistic core of Freud's delusion. For him, as for the Dwarf Adler, who stubbornly insisted on his Superman conception of organ-inferiority, Freud had respect. They would not change their minds when he changed his, like the rest of his group whom Puner says Freud once described as Les Crapules. For their ultimate defections most of them were excommunicated. My nose says Freud was right! He was not stupid and he knew what fate demanded of him and of his followers. That is why he is dangerous.

You'd think deterministic faiths would let the world go on as foreordained by God, by Devil or by mere Matter; but their devotoes are somehow different from the rest of us. Mohammed and John Knox, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, and all their true believers, must hurry the inevitable. Ruthlessly: Relentlessly: Remorselessly: they force their creeds upon us. For them life never is the game we play to our lives end with fate and fellow man for keeps, but chiefly for the fun of it. How come these men to lack the humor and humility that keep us human? What strange defect to think one knows God's will, or Matter's dialectical determination, or how his own brain works to fool him!

Once Freud thought he'd found the scientific way into the intricacies of the human mind through its disorders he gave himself no rest. His days and nights were spent in collecting data by free associations and from dreams, his patients and his own, in pitiless analysis of these and their interpretations, in order to reveal those motives we deny, perhaps forget, because their origins were painful to us. The details of his method and his theories changed in the course of time, but not enough to keep pace with undeniable facts, and this compelled him to cling to terms and warp their meaning out of all common sense.

In part this sprang from his attempts to seem consistent in continued propaganda for his pseudoscientific system, perhaps in part to reassure himself and certainly to win for it the approbation it lacked in clinical and scientific circles. Popularity came first through literary papers which, though defensive, shocked the teutonic prudes, and later through attacks on man's ideals, including God!

F. Adler, Dalbiez and Maritain have tried to separate and save Freud's method from his theory, his Metapsychology. It can't be done. As Alexander, with firsthand knowledge of analysis and puzzled honesty that breeds religious doubts, says rightly: its data, method, theory are indissolubly one. In none of them is Alexander orthodox today! No scientist can be. Dependence of the data on the theory separates psychoanalysis from all true sciences. What Freud thought free associations are not free. The nondirective torture of Catholic inquisitors extracted mea culpa's of previsioned heresies: the communists secure confessions of expected deviations and disloyalties. Interpretations of chaotic dreams are still controlled by theory, and that theory was in the head of Freud. Change this, and you have changed the method and the data. This is the curse of all attempts to understand things social. They are essentially sharing. What we seek to understand is coupled back through us, so that we ourselves change the thing we seek to understand. When this coupling grows very close it is, in Freudian lingo, called ''transference. Freud himself came to attribute to transference what therapeutic value lay in analysis. The pragmatic test of truth, Analysis is true because it works, the warranted assertibility of Dewey, stands here accused of folly in full daylight. Science must have data not vitiated by our theory. Freud's scheme would even beat Mark Twain's rule for fiction: You've got to have the facts before you can pervert 'em.

In the world of physics, if we are to have any knowledge of that world, there must be nervous impulses in our heads which happen only if the world excites our eyes, cars, nose or skin. In the case of these true signals, there is a necessary connection between events; the one in the head, the other (its cause) in the world; and this connection is a very limited kind of physical causation that does go hand in hand with meaning. The consequent here means the cause. Even for these true signals the energy of excitation and the energy of nervous impulses come from separate sources. Apart from signals that are true, meaning and cause have nothing in common. Yet these the Freudians confound in their theory of determination; hence their confusion of supposed origins with supposed validities.

For them logic itself is but a rationalization of our prejudices whereby we come to grips with fact. If you don't like my wording of this error make your own translation of these gleanings from the orthodox scriptures: Logic looks at objects through the eyes of an idealized rigid super-ego turning from sense data to collective representations whereby like the primitive through his totem we come into contact with reality. Havers, man, that's no logic!

Bury that stillborn monster in the unhallowed ground of your unconscious, your forgetery, but give the devil his due! Take Freud at his word. He meant it when he said our minds were fashioned for us early by the social fate of our wanton, incontinent and blindly energetic lust Libido, in the Chaos of the Id. I don't believe a word of it. But here's his story, or he would have it so.

On the sixth of May, eighteen fifty-six, in the Czechish town of Freiburg, the new young wife of an unsuccessful aging Jewish miller gave birth to a son covered with pitch black hair, of Messianic portent to her Talmudic mind. This omen she imparted to him, her first born, Sigmund, as she fondled him. But his old father, Jacob, had little use for him; and when the youngster, aged eight, wet his father's bedroom, Jacob prophesied that he'd amount to nothing. This incident was remembered and resented by the youngster for three-quarters of a century. He said so! As Germans, his family was not accepted by the Czechs or by the Czechish Jews. For Sigmund Freud there was no Bar Mitzvah. Financial failure forced them to Berlin, then to Vienna, where Freud began to compensate by identifying himself with heroes, chiefly Semitic, notably Hannibal. To this, Jacob's reaction was to tell him of an incident. Up comes a Christian who knocks my new fur cap into the mud and shouts Jew, get off the pavement!

And what did you do?

I went into the street and picked up my cap.

In Freud's account this made him despise the father he already hated, but whom he always feared so much and with so strong a sense of guilt, that he never dared revolt as long as Jacob lived. But Freud's analysis of his own recollections and his interpretations of his dreams is that he had incestuous lust for his young mother, showed it in sexual advances made by him to her, which finally compelled her to turn him over to old Jacob for castration, a thought so horrible that he had repressed their memories out of his Ego into his Unconscious where they formed the complex he called Oedipus which, for all demonological dynamics, is that guilty conscience that makes cowards of us all. I mean all. For Freud projects his Oedipus complex upon every mother's son. All men, I mean. For women don't have consciences like that. Having no penis, they must take castration as fait accompli, hide their deficiency in Pudor, and want babies from their daddies, as mama had. Failing this, they introject the father. At most, their consciences are stunted flimsy things and when you find a real one in a woman it's not hers, but just an undigested fragment of the father- introject. Swallow that if you can, and let's get back to fact, perhaps I should say history.

While Freud was growing up, legal restrictions against Jews were more and more rescinded in Vienna. Law and medicine were filling up with Jews. One might even become a full professor if he turned Catholic. Freud thought of law but changed to medicine, thinking it offered better livelihood. He studied physiology with Bruecke from whom he learnt reflexology and Johannes Miiller's antiquated notions of specific energies in living systems on which he later based his definition of Libido as a certain quantity of psychic energy. But there was no money then, or now, in teaching or research in physiology. He studied neuroanatomy with the paternal Meynert and did research with him so well that Meynert offered him a post, but with too little money. So Freud turned against him, suspected his intentions and for years was out to bell the cat by crossing swords with him in scientific meetings. Freud's insight? Meynert was a father-surrogate, but more! Freud envied him outright because no Jew could be a full professor.

Trained in neurology, Freud went to Paris in his early twenties to study with Charcot, from whom he learned the art of hypnotizing and that men might have hysteria although they have no womb. 'Twas in his clinic Freud was amazed to hear Charcot say that with cases of this kind, C'est toujours la chose genitale, toujours toujourstoujours. This remark hit Freud when he was lonely in Paris in the spring and sat among the gargoyles of Notre Dame instead of dancing in the streets until it was time to go to bed. To this remark, la chose genitale, Freud has attributed the central refrain of his life's poetics. Remember that he thought it uncanny when in Italy his feet brought him, he knew not how, back three times to the red-light district. Remember how his break began with Jung, because when he told Jung, here in America, that he dreamed of prostitutes, Jung asked him what he meant to do about it. Remember that he kept his fiancée, with whom neither dowry nor kest, waiting four years, presumably without preconjugal felicity. During this time he went on studying hysteria, due to sexual misadventures; anxiety neuroses, due to coctus interruptus, undischarged excitement or abstinence; and neurasthenia, due to masturbation and too many nocturnal emissions, or so Freud fancied it. And when he could not wring from his patient a history of sexual affairs he invented it in their unconscious. It was when this forced him back to infancy that he had to make the term sex so inclusive that it soon became synonymous with any pleasurable action. Remember that when Chrobak, referring to Freud a woman whose nervousness came from eighteen years of marriage to an impotent husband, lamented he could not prescribe the proper application of a normal penis, Freud was aghast at Chrobak's cynicism. Prudery was cracking. Sex, translated into German, Geschlecht, was privileged in Viennese society. Krafft-Ebing was a full professor. But Freud's distortions brought him only ridicule and ostracism.

The scorn Freud felt for Bruecke and for Meynert extended to Charcot. Freud translated Charcot's new lectures, adding carping marginal notes and caviling references to authors Charcot had not mentioned. Based on his own dreams Freud's explanation of this was that his failure to ask Charcot's permission for these critical additions was one of those slips of memory we have when we would not admit even to ourselves our hostile motives.

Of Freud's indebtedness to the Nancy School we know principally that he resented compulsion placed upon patients by hypnotic suggestion, especially when Bernheim or Liebeault raised their voices. Based upon ten thousand hypnosis this school had shown that what was characteristic of these patients was their inordinate suggestibility. Unfortunately Freud never was sufficiently on guard against it, for in his handling of such patients he always found to his horror and amazement what was most on his (Unconscious?) mindsex!

May I in passing note: Hysterical suggestibility has its physiological counterpart, demonstrated in Marseilles by Henri Gastaut and in Paris by Antoine Remond, who is your guest tonight. Like the familial epileptics, hysterics are easily thrown into convulsion by flashing light accompanied by small doses of metrazol. Thus even in hysteria, whose symptoms are affected by suggestion, the mental content, patent or latent memories, though it be sex, determines the form of the symptom, never generates the disease. But let's get back to Freud.

His first and only great collaborator was Breuer, with whom he studied one case record of hysteria. They wrote a brief report and then a book including later studies made by Freud alone on other cases. But Breuer, who at first agreed with Freud, would not be persuaded of Freud's elaborations. Freud felt rejected and again, as with Breuer, Meynert and Charcot, the father-surrogate was finally rejected, despised, repudiated. This time the special twist was that later, when a woman under hypnosis made a pass at Freud, he guessed that Breuer, for prudish reasons, had not revealed to him that their ten-year case when getting well had made a pass at Breuer. Thus was bom Freud's notion of Transference as the basis of the cure.

Freud says his turning against fathers-surrogate was his predestined reaction, determined in his infancy. With him Moses fared no better, for, after identifying with Moses, Freud ended by proving to his own satisfaction that Moses was no Jew; thus killing two birds with a single stone. And God himself meets the same fate in The Future of an Illusion. By half-truths told with bad intent, that beat all lies he could invent, he arrogantly prophesies the time when God will fade away and leave the stage to man, made in Freud's image. Freud's delusion has no future, but it had a past.

These things I had to say of Freud who said worse of himself because he thought they would substantiate his theory that man's depravity is causally determined by his past in simple ways, by motives buried in forgotten memories waiting to be revealed by his, Freud's, psychoanalysis. To prove his point he paints himself too black to be convincing. I say no more of him. Jew-hating Nazis burnt his books. The dying man was ransomed for mere gold. His corpse is buried in a foreign land. Let worms be its biographers. They are more kindly than his kind and less offensive. Unfortunately Delusions are Ideas. We cannot bury them properly. Only the dust of ages can consign them to oblivion.

So let me make it clear that Freud meant the things he said. By energy he meant ability to do work, albeit of a special kind and quantity, still truly energy. Topology for him meant places so connected that the Id is inside (chiefly reflexes) and the Ego outside (connecting with the world about by eyes and nose and skin and ears). His Economics was a scheming handling of the things to which we attach values in order to secure the greatest quantity of pleasure, as 'twere their common measure, and pay least price in pain.

The Freudian scheme is a tissue of unverified and often unverifiable hypotheses, all oversimplified. Against such schemes Hippocrates inveighs in his first sentence of On Ancient Medicine: Whoever having undertaken to speak or write on Medicine, have first laid down for themselves some hypothesis to their argument, such as hot, or cold, or moist, or dry, or whatever else they choose (thus reducing their subject within a narrow compass, and supposing only one or two original causes of diseases or of death among mankind) are all clearly mistaken in much that they say; and this is the more reprehensible as relating to an art which all men use on the most important occasions.

From Descartes onward, we whose business is the physics of the body, especially the brain, have sought in terms of matter and of energy the detailed explanation of activities of animals, including man, and all his acts, including those that he calls mental, acts guided by ideas and purposes. In his Experimental Medicine, in French so beautifully clear it set a style of writing, Claude Bernard described the way we push ahead with good experiments and such hypotheses as they require to guide them. We do not found the practice of our medicine upon hypotheses that cannot be or have not been confirmed in the experiment. I have myself proposed some notions as to how the cortex of the brain detects a shape regardless of its size, or chord regardless of its key. It will take years of work to prove or disprove them. Until then no one may build his practice upon them.

All our hypotheses are of a kind that do require, if they be right, that we shall find this going on now, here; and that, then, there: whereas Freud's notions fail to locate in space and time his hypothetical Id, Unconscious, Ego, Super-Ego, or to predict what they will look like in the brain. Freud must have known how carefully Meynert compared mental symptoms with disordered structures. That is a scientific way into the psychiatry of damaged brains. Contrast Freud's delusion with the sad humility of Sherrington who, though he knows more physiology of brains than any other Englishman, admitted that for him in this world Mind goes more ghostly than a ghost.

The notions that we need to guide this research are just forming now in brains like Wiener's (call it Cybernetics if you must but get the idea first) and in those many youngsters who design the great high-speed computers. Most of them are trained in symbolic logic, led by Bertrand Russell. From such men come the measure of information and the means for its preservation and transmission. We even have some notions of the many disparate processes that we call glibly Memory, and as we build our engines that can have ideas, lay plans, elaborate their purposes and forecast the outcome of their acts to make them match the probable events around them, we begin to make a better guess as to the ways our brains can do these things that we call mental.

But notice that for us matter is far less material than it was once, and was for Freud. Nor does our physics let us prophesy from past events all future happenings. Causality in the strict sense describes, at best, statistical results of microscopic happenings which still are random in detail. Although we know that half some aggregate of some unstable atoms will decay in such a time we cannot tell which ones will split. And in those visible events, like cracks extending in a plate of glass, wherein the course of things to come depends upon the microscopic state of things at the point reached, we can make no prediction, now or later, on the basis of some observation we may someday hope to make. I will not bore you with the mathematical and physical analysis of this our ignorabimus; you'll find it in John von Neumann's The Mathematical Basis of Quantal Mechanisms.

One of the cornerstones of Freud's delusion is the belief that we forget no single jot or tittle of what at any time has happened to us. By calculations that began naïvely with the senior Oliver Wendell Holmes and are today best handled by the physicist von Förster, man's head would have to be about the size of a small elephant to hold that much. His body could not eat enough to energize its mere retention even if we suppose a single molecule of structuring protein would serve as trace. Actually the mean half-life of a trace in human memory, and of a molecule of protein, is only half a day. Some few per cent of engrams do survive, presumably because we recreate the traces in our heads, but that is all fate leaves us of our youth. Where written words remain to check our senile recollections they often prove us wrong. We rewrite history, inventing the past so it conforms to present needs. We forget, as our machines forget, because entropic processes incessantly corrupt retention and transmission of all records and all signals.

Partly because all men, when pushed, fill in the gaps of memory, partly because hysterics and neurotics generally are most suggestible, Freud's so-called findings of repressed unconscious stuff rest on confabulation, perhaps his patients'; but where the free associations and the dreams are both his own, there cannot be a question but that Freud did the confabulating.

I do not for one moment believe his story of sexual advances made by him, an infant, to his mother, nor of her turning him over to old Jacob for castration, nor that a baby of that age has such a notion. These are ideas Freud had in later life, after he had extended sex to mean all pleasure and affection, and then projected them upon his past of which he had no recollections clear enough to stop him from confabulating.

What's most important here is that Freud's early life, with or without his fancied past, cannot account for his delusion. For Freud did not invent the ideas of which it is composed. It is not likely we will ever learn just why or how these ideas came together in his brain rather than in some other, but the ideas were rampant in his world. Sex, the Unconscious, and Materialism were matters of discussion among physicians and the public generally.

The battle against venereal disease was joined and almost finished between the time Freud entered medical school and the time he died. Krafft-Ebing was investigating and lecturing upon the Psychopathia Sexualis. Hysteria was in debate, perhaps not a disease of woman because the womb, unburdened with a babe, wandered; for it occurred in men; but often sexual desires, thwarted or excited, were in the picture. Vienna was a gay place with a double standard, and unorthodox Jews were beginning to enjoy the freedom of the city instead of the conformity of circumscribed communities that centered in the synagogues of the small towns. I'm sure Freud heard that sex was more important, medically and humanly, and more prevalent and various in its manifestations than his parents generation ever had admitted. He just outdid himself and others of his generation by making sex the origin of all delight; and, by inversion, the origin of all constraints we put upon ourselves as social beings. Freud did not invent sex, its prevalence or verbal vogue. He merely rode the band wagon of its triumphant re-entry into polite society.

The Unconscious has a long, strange history. Leibnitz introduced the notion of Unconscious mind as an infinitesimal, petite perception, in a sort of calculus of Knowledge. This role it plays today in schools of psychophysics. Given three weights so near alike that you can just be sure that the first exceeds the third you cannot tell that the first exceeds the second or that the second exceeds the third. So these steps, though singly unconscious, by addition of two or more, become conscious. Something in you knew the differences of which you were not conscious. What knew? Unconscious Mind! But, what is far more than this addition, when you introspect you find not mere sensations; you find perceptions. Colors appear in given shapes together for you in the space and time of your perceiving. Hence time and space, and the synthetic a priori, e.g., extended color, are the work of your unconscious mind. In the writings of Emanuel Kant these become the Forms of Sensation. In his Practical Reason he adds basic purposes and value judgments which are primary to what becomes Unconscious Mind. You find it growing through Fichte, Schelling, Lessing and Schopenhauer, to become, in Eduard von Hartmann's work, not merely everything performed by animals for their surviving, but the very Geist of evolution itself! The Unconscious has become full-fledged, idealistic creator of all ideas and purposes that account for the unfolding of a world wherein knowledge and progress are the outcome of the way Unconscious Mind did, and does, beneficially inform the stuff and frenzy of what else were chaos and old night.

Von Hartmann's The Unconscious had more sale than Schopenhauer's worksninety thousand copies in German, plus a French and a partial English translation, by the time Freud's mention of his own unconscious first appeared. In France, von Hartmann's Unconscious mind was a key notion and inspiration of Janet, whom Freud said he never knew, and of the Nancy School, where Freud had studied. It was the fashionable explanation of what appeared in hysteria under hypnosis. To deny it was to suppose the patient was malingering. In Germany as great a physiologist as Herring took it seriously and sought to explain it in terms of nervous activity. Like Samuel Butler, author of Erewhon but also of Unconscious Memory, he thought of evolution as transmitted habits of which the organism is no longer aware when or how it or its ancestors acquired them. Since Freud told several people he had never read von Hartmann, we may find the link nearer to Freud's specific introduction of the Unconscious in Breuer's knowledge of Herbart's psychology, wherein the unconscious specifically appears with repression and resurgence of ideas rising into consciousness. Even the notion of cathexis, or attachment we have for ideas or things or people, Herbart had derived from von Hartmann. All these appear in Freud and Breuer's work on their one case of hysteria that formed the excuse, not the basis, for the system of ideas already popular among the enlightened in England, France, and Germany. Freud thought these his invention, determined by his infancy.

What makes it difficult to trace the way Freud came by these ideas is typified by his remark concerning Schopenhauer's exposition of insanity in the World as Will and Idea. Of this Freud said, ‘‘What he states there concerning the striving against the acceptance of a painful piece of reality agrees so completely with the content of my theory of repression that once again I must be grateful to my not being well read for the possibility of making a discovery. Perhaps he was that ignorant of these philosophers, but Ernst Kris, Marie Bonaparte and Anna Freud have footnotes to his letters which show that he had underlined a copy of Lipp's Grundtatsachen des Seelenlebens on the fundamental role of the unconscious from which our conscious ideas rise and to which they sink down again. To me it makes no difference just how the adult Freud came by these ideas for they were all in books, popular as well as scientific. They were on men's tongues. Never before or since had they such vogue as when Freud climbed on this band wagon and grabbed the reins.

But let us turn from the frivolities of new-won liberty for intellectuals to speak of sex; and from the last great flower of German Metaphysical Idealism, the Unconscious Mind, to Freud's Materialism, for here again he rides the wagon with the whole band led by Karl Marx.

I will not rehearse the sad story of the industrial revolution. It is enough to note that from the village craftsman, whose life made sense to him, whose ideals were practical affairs of neighborly affection, whose God, although inscrutable, was worthy of all trust, it had made the proletariat, struggling for necessities in city slums, or owners, to whom wealth brought power without that tradition of responsibility which is the birthright of hereditary rulers. Their oracle was Adam Smith; their gospel, Laissez Faire; their mythus, Economic Man! Ricardo wrote their Swan Song. Capital and labor put all their faith in matter, not in God. Then came Karl Marx. For him God had to go because He helped the vested interests of society repress the proletariat, even as for Freud, a generation later, God had to go because He helped the vested interests of our social selves repress prolific denizens of the Id.

For Marx and Freud matter was more than the mere stuff we buy and sell. It was the substance, the real thing, that carried the determinism of their faiths. Their histories have too much in common. When Hume showed that the notion of causality cannot be empirically derived, Emanuel Kant, to support his metaphysical slumbers, spawned two fertile succubi. One category, the Forms of Sensation, pervaded the Dynamic Ego as Unconscious Mind. Upon her Freud begat his bastard, Psychoanalysis. The other, Causality, the Category of Reason, flitted transcendentally through Hegel's Dialectical Idealism. Upon Causality herself Karl Marx begat his bastard, Dialectical Materialism. In ideas as in clothes there is a social lag. To proletarian eyes she still looks scientifically respectable. Today she lords it over God in Mother Russia and you may think that we are better off in having taken to our bosom the other of these, bastards of Kant's succubi, but I'm not sure. They have too much in common. To communists Psychoanalysis was acceptable until her bourgeois tendencies were detected. Then she was expurged and her votaries were liquidated.

Note carefully what Freud did when he seduced Unconscious Mind. She had been the soul of order and of virtue. She had informed the progress of the world with good ideas and purposeful that flower in man's free will and man's ideals. Freud's bastard, the Unconscious, is BAD. She misinforms us to our great disservice, our disease. But this she-devil is not all soul. She is all matter, old fashioned matter, materially determined and determining our fate, our failure. It is not by accident but of their essence that communism and psychoanalysis both carry the dead weight of Lamarckian inheritance. Freud and Lysenko are alike in this. What else is the collective Unconscious?

Freud's doctrine may even be demoralizing for it is a way of saying you are not responsible for these, your acts, because they are nothing but the inevitable doings of mere matter, fixed in your infancy, or at your birth determined by Unconscious Memory of the taboos of the race. Ethics and morals are but the doings of a conscience that is the material consequence of the way your parents inevitably handled you. When you have sensed this in yourself, and are emotionally persuaded that it is universal, you too may spread the gospel of material determination and demoralize mankind for gold.

Today throughout our country the psychoanalysts have nests of ardent rodents. They have gnawed into all branches of our so-called mental hygiene movement that has no other systematic faith to offer to psychiatric social workers, to educators who come for help in guiding children, to priests in telling insanity from sin, to jailers who would salvage any of their criminals, to generals faced with the irresponsible behavior of troops. Their program is enormous, will cost us billions and is already under way.

What makes even a Scot squirm is not so much the waste of what were better spent to find out how brains work as the disease entailed to the unborn inheritors of Freud's delusion. Men of science, some physicians, even enlightened psychoanalysts, have learned the folly of the orthodox hypotheses. But teachers have been so infected with the initial virus that we now have a generation of parents full of superstitious fear that they may be guilty of their children's anticipated neuroses. They cannot suckle, cuddle, swathe or spank the baby, housebreak the child, or admonish the adolescent except upon advice of a psychiatrist. His supposititious wisdom thus becomes their daily inspiration. Too often it's the old virulent delusion, parroted by psychiatric social workers.

Meanwhile Dianetics, its exoteric or lay take-off, is said to have already sold 476,000 copies, though the price has risen to four dollars and its author has fallen into the clutches of psychiatry. I would not be surprised if psychoanalysis had more converts and fellow travelers than communism ever had among our federal servants. The doctrines are so crucially alike I sometimes wonder whether our energies are not misspent in hunting communists, instead of those who prepare us for their notions.

I know it sounds incredible that any man can persuade his fellow that ideas and purposes are merely stuff and change. But this is not as hard for me to swallow as that the monstrous nonsense of Freudian writings is even taken seriously. Read his basic writings and a dozen numbers of the Psychoanalytic Quarterly and remember that there is no scientific reason to believe a word of it and then remember that perhaps a million of your fellow citizens regard it as the gospel of this century. They are an organized vociferous minority who have the ears of those who spend our taxes, enact our laws, defend our country. It has taken thirty years for Freud's disciples to get their church established. Its creed, no other, may legally be taught in our public schools. In nineteen twenty-one psychoanalysts were a minor sect of longhaired foreigners sometimes imported to lecture in our colleges.

In nineteen twenty-one I turned from logic, semantics and the philosophy of science, to psychology; and read everything scientific that bore on the theory of knowledge from Alcmaeon of Croton (600 b.c.) to my contemporaries. This included the early psychoanalytic writings. They were and are nonsensical physics, pseudologic, specious semantics, bad theory; and, worst of all, founded on false observations, vitiated data. I knew it then; I know it now. In nineteen twenty-one, for what might have been a thesis, I gathered much data on free associations in normal and insane to discover whether this method did disclose what Freud assumed. I found nothing statistically significant of the kind I had to find, had Freud been right.

However, I became convinced that psychology for me would be a farce unless I really found out how brains work. I began to want to understand and so to help the insane. I entered medical school where I had my first meeting with a psychoanalyst, Ferenczi. In the days when he taught us, he was deep in the Thalassic complex. Everything was to be understood as a desire to swim once more in the womb. The orgasm meant this to the man, not merely to the sperm that went there. Bed-wetting and cramps were symbolic forms of this attainment, and if one day one did none of these things, it was sure proof of how much he desired to; for the desire was so intense he did not dare to yield to it. From him I first heard the argument from latency: This man is really not a homosexual; therefore he never indulged in homosexuality; therefore his homosexuality remained latent; therefore he remained a homosexual. When students half-amazed, half-credulous asked simple questions I saw on his kindly face the fatuous smile of bigotry personified. Zealots may smile like that, but men of sciencenever! By avoiding questions suggesting doubt of his beliefs I escaped the proof then of what I saw later when others challenged Adler and Jung as to the foundations of their faith. It makes my blood boil.

For thirty years I have been among psychoanalysts, and held my tongue, and kept the peace. Not wittingly have I told one of them, analyst or analysand, what I have said tonight. Take my advice. Say nothing to them. Read their scriptures; listen to their lectures if you will; but say nothing! If you prove them wrong in anything they will explain it away, as they have always done, with one more hypothesis ad hoc. Delusions defend themselves that way. They are impervious to logic and to fact. If that were all you would just waste your breath.

But try this experiment. Quote me, or misquote me, to any Freudian and he will tell you, That man McCulloch is irresponsible. Of course he does not understand himself and no doubt thinks that ideas and purposes are not matter and efficient cause; but he has not been analyzed. He does not know the origins of his hostility, etc., etc. All of which adds up to this, McCulloch is a liar and doesn't even admit it to himself.

But don't say glibly I agree with McCulloch, for the accusation liar thrown, or insinuated, into your own teeth has but one English answer, and that answer is not in the English language. To knock him down proves nothing. I grant that that offense is intended. Despite its guise of medical advice it comes of Malice Prepense. But after tonight you have no right to knock him down. Women and children and the insane may not be treated so and Psychoanalysis is that delusion of which it fancies itself the cure.

There is one answer, only one, toward which I've groped for thirty years; to find out how brains work, and so to help those that have need of a physician.

Gentlemen: I wrote this paper to read to you tonight, not for general circulation. That could do no good; for psychoanalysis like an acquisitive lady, stingy of her person, profits most from the mere rumor of her unchastity. Were she a generous wench of the ancient and honorable profession I would not begrudge her free advertisement; but she is not. Too bad.

That's all, except to wish you pleasant dreams. But as you go to sleep, do me one favor! Note carefully the screen whereon the cockeyed lens of censorship projects the vivid distortions of the unwanteds you thought you had disposed of down your oubliette. For I have read, the Dream-Screen is a female breast at first of normal size, but it swells slowly till it fills your conscious as you sink into all-suckling oblivion.

Good night!



It is suggested that the incredulous reader familiarize himself with Freud's own writings, including his letters, best read in the original as most translations are unreliable.

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1 Reprinted from The Chicago Literacy Club. This paper was written for the Chicago Literary Club and read before the club on Monday evening, the 28th of January, 1952 This edition of 300 copies was printed by the club for its members in the month of October, 1953.