How Scientific is Freud?
To the Editor:
Gertrude M. Kurth’s “The Complex Behind Hitler’s Anti-Semitism” in the January COMMENTARY is an excellent example of what psychoanalysis is trying to do under the guise of science. By extracting small details from the life of an individual and making them fit into her preconceived hypothesis, Dr. Kurth hopes to show the value of the psychoanalytical approach in history.
The keynote of all post-medieval science has been the establishment of theories on the basis of facts easily observable by all trained to see. Dr. Kurth’s article represents an example of a reversion to medieval thinking when Aristotle’s work was accepted as the law and all “scientists” wove their observations into the pronouncements of Aristotle. I do not think the analogy between modern psychoanalysis and medieval scholastics is too broad. Freud is the law; all else must fit.
The items chosen by Dr. Kurth to show that Hitler’s anti-Semitism can be traced to an unresolved Oedipal crisis, can be accepted only as the purest conjecture. True, I find such conjecture very interesting. Dr. Kurth’s article can be read for its sheer novelty; but such “science” is only escapism. To get at the real causes of social phenomena like anti-Semitism, we must go to social science—not the escapist pronouncements of those who try to fit facts into a set theory.
J. Myron Atkin
Flushing, N. Y.