Part of why I wanted to focus on Freud was because of the magnitude of his influence on our lives, our culture, and how we think. One piece to the Dasein Project that we have sort of hit on and sort of haven’t is the power of paradigm shifts and this is something I respect about Freud. He worked hard to think outside the box, to really listen both to his patients and to himself. He reflected and paid attention. Now, he wasn’t perfect, but nobody is. When people attack Freud for his theory it baffles me because no one today is changing the game the way he changed the game.
Whoever built the first airplane didn’t build a very good airplane, but they still built a freakin airplane! That’s how I see Freud’s influence. Or another analogy would be building a house. The first house is nothing compared to what can be built today, but without that first house, there is nothing to build on from there. Yes, there had been philosophers contemplating the meaning of life and human existence on earth, but they did not attempt to develop a structure in the way that Freud did. Not only a structure of human interaction on earth but a structure of the human psyche, something unseen.
It was this pointing to things unseen that baffles me. I love when people look to see things afresh, although Freud had intellectual and professional influences, he was a man who unflinchingly wanted to see things in fresh ways. This meant going against the grain for many years, even after those who learned from him deviated from his views. His development of the reality of our unconscious was just genius and has helped those coming after him to develop the unseen even further. People like Jung and countless others, even up to theorists today, continuing to try and nail down the depths of the psyche. Whether we look at dreams, or patterns in our life, we can see, if we care to look, that something deeper is at work when we operate. Finding a balance between influence and determinism has been helpful in moving away from strict Freudian theory, but it cannot be ignored that sometimes we are acting according to our unconscious – a part of us that is complicated and altogether a doorway to who we are.
I hope you enjoy these articles on Freud’s thought and influence on humanity. There’s a lot to say about this one man, and that alone is what makes me believe he should always be respected and valued — even if we have built upon his ideas.