Commentary Magazine


Freudianism and Mrs. McCall

To the Editor:

The publication of Lillian Blumberg McCall’s most recent article on psychoanalysis in the August COMMENTARY prompts the following protest with respect to your journal’s policy concerning choice of subject matter and source of information.

The clinical data, theoretical formulations and arguments, and the technics and goals of psychoanalysis are properly subject matter for discussion only by psychoanalysts and only in professional journals. The amateur’s opinion carries no more weight in this field than in any other field of medicine, and is no more deserving of the ear of the profession or the public.

Psychoanalysis has much of interest to say about matters of public interest and its observations and deductions about such matters should rightfully be brought to the public’s attention. For this purpose there are many competent and articulate analysts who would willingly participate in suitable presentations.

A responsible journal performs no public service when it relies upon unauthoritative sources and ventures into areas in which a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Herman Nunberg, M.D.
Mortimer Ostow, M.D.

New York City

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[It is better to know nothing than to know what ain't so. —Josh Billings]

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To the Editor:

In “The Hidden Springs of Sigmund Freud” (August), Lillian Blumberg McCall aims to prove, among other things, that Freud could not continue a personal relationship with anyone who challenged the “intellectual authority” he presumably took upon himself.

However, Mrs. McCall does not give enough information regarding Freud’s break with Carl Jung. She devotes only a footnote to the subject, in which she refers to Jung’s already known “racial prejudices,” and reports briefly on his later co-editorship of the Nazified Zentralblatt für Psychotherapie. Freud may have had good reasons to conclude that Jung was an opportunist. Perhaps Freud decided that Jung was determined to remain an anti-Semite. Subsequent happenings certainly prove that Freud used excellent judgment in dissociating himself from Carl Jung.

Concerning Jung, Mrs. McCall concludes with the statement that “the date of his resignation from the Zentralblatt is something of a mystery.” Actually, there is no longer any mystery. The combined 1940 second and third issues of the Zentralblatt appeared under the editorship of Dr. C. G. Jung and Dr. M. H. Göring, the Reichsführer of Germany Psychotherapy. On page 193 of the combined 1940 fourth and fifth issues, which were edited solely by Dr. Göring, there is an announcement of Jung’s resignation in the middle of the summer of 1940, as well as an expression of thanks to him for his cooperative “unstinting efforts” after “the taking over of the State by the National Socialist Workers’ Party.” Dr. Göring concludes with: “We will not forget this.”

Nor will others who know the facts.

Albert D. Parelhoff
New York City

 

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To the Editor:

Mrs. McCall’s excursion into the German language deserves comment. She writes: “Dr. Jones translates the crucial German word . . . as ‘father’s city’—in the footnote! The correct translation of Vatersaadt is ‘native city’; it is the German equivalent of ‘home town,’ and there is no particular significance in Freud’s use of it.”

Mrs. McCall could not be more wrong: the German equivalent for “home town” is Heimatstadt, that for “native city” is Geburtsort, and Dr. Jones is quite correct in preserving the archaic and personal connotation of “Vaterstadt,” a word not used any more in vernacular German. Actually it is much closer to the poetic Stadt meiner Vaeter (city of my [fore] fathers) in which the father connotation is explicit.

Mrs. McCall’s criticism, therefore, does not reflect on Dr. Jones.

Hans Zeisel
The University of Chicago Law School
Chicago, Illinois

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To the Editor:

One part of Mrs. McCall’s article refers to the “scientific” appraisal of psychoanalysis. But then Mrs. McCall states that psychoanalysis perceives people as “nothing more than their unconscious motivations”—this is a malicious distortion and hardly indicative of a generally scientific approach. The author seems disappointed that psychoanalysis is not the complete, perfect, and miraculous cure. Since it is not everything, it is nothing. It is general information that psychoanalysis regards “completeness” or “perfection” as unattainable and unhealthy goals in themselves. It seems almost self-evident that history’s homage to Freud does not exclude continuing evolution in study of the unconscious as a new dimension (whether the most important one or not) toward establishing better health. This refers also to “man’s higher nature,” however the author may define it. When the author asks herself what is the connection between Freud’s bed-wetting at the age of two and the “man he became,” one may suggest that silly questions beget silly answers. This question was posed to simulate psychoanalytic approach, and duplicates the quoted approach of Farnham and Lundberg, which Mrs. McCall terms a “vulgar application.” Obviously, it is illogical to refer to such illustrations as invalidations of a science itself. Since when is bedwetting at the age of two of singular significance to total personality weakness or greatness in the culture of any group or time? The presentation of one isolated factor to the exclusion of inter-related developmental factors is typical of abounding inaccuracies in an article reviewing “the science” of psychoanalysis.

However, Mrs. McCall’s review of Freud’s “Jewish conflict” and the possible impact on his personality of unconscious self-hatred (rather than the Oedipus conflict which was weighted too highly in his self-analysis, according to the article) seems interesting and worthy of further study. . . . Apparently some psychoanalytic concepts, such as self-hatred, appeal to the author, and stimulate her analytic ambitions . . . but certain concepts of psychoanalysis don’t, for example, “phallic envy.” So the article praises Mrs. Puner’s “more psychoanalytic” study of Freud over Dr. Jones’s “factual biography,” and the battle between professional disciplines continues for those who want it this way! In short, when Mrs. McCall expands on certain concepts, we are to regard her discussion as “science,” but when she blocks against others, we are to regard the latter as “non-science” or nonsense. . . .

H. W.
New York City

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