Date: Mon, Apr 17, 1995 11:55 AM EDT
To: (Earl Jackson)
I am sending this from my Dad’s AOL account in San Mateo. I am just
up here for the weekend.
One of the hardest things I am finding is weeding out the relevant
text from the dated, yet still recognizing the dated as relevant for its
stimulus of other paths of thought!! However I am finally seeing how
relevant Freud is.
Hysteria and paranoia can be taken in so many ways, is
it fair or accurate to say that they are the fundamental roots of
postmodernism? I do not know enough history to make that claim but they seem
so relevant to explaining the constructed nature of the subject and the
complexities that the construction necessitates. In these terms hysteria
takes on a positive light and paranoia a negative. That is the former allows
for progress whereas the latter leads to spiralling layers of complexity
afloat in a sea of meaning.
Hysteria becomes then a step in recovery. In manifesting the
repressed desire in a tangible form, it allows for an investigation into the
mysterious physical ailment which then leads to the eventual discovery of the
original trauma. The desire moves out of the fantastic and into the real in
order for it to be discovered. However, this only remains positive if the
hysteric can find treatment. The problem is the abuse possible if the woman
cannot afford or gain access to a psychoanalyst. This was seen in the many
cases where women were institutionalized for there manifestations.
This brings me to one of the problems I am finding. Freud had a very
exclusive wealthy clientele. In the Draft K on page 163 he talks about how
the man has no shame, the lower classes have no morality, and the country
people are „blunted“ by their conditions of life. As a result „no repression
and therefore no neurosis will result from sexual stimulation in infancy.“
Does this leave hysteria only possibly realized in upper-class women or is
that only because they were the only ones that could afford to see him?
Doesn’t he later reject the child seduction theory? The wording of the above
quote implies that hysteria requires seduction in infancy. Keeping track of
the chronology of his theoretical progress is also confusing.
Paranoia does not seem to have any positive ramifications. In
contrast to hysteria it leaves the subject afloat in a sea of endless
complexity constrained only by the limitations of the subject’s imagination.
This is a dilemma with acknowledging the construction of the subject. The
layers of meaning are in constant oscillation and need to be grounded
otherwise the subject floats into chaos. The danger of the paranoid subject
is that s/he cannot be grounded in experience. The subject cannot take
reponsibility for his/her experience and so s/he projects her experience out onto
others. This way s/he can live in his/her own realm of the fantastic and it is
never challenged as long as s/he has control over the environment. However,
this necessitates denying the experiences of others as to acknowledge them is
to threaten the fantastic. Thus s/he spirals into layer upon layer of complex
Why is it that paranoia is so prevalent today and hysteria has
disappeared? What was the balance between the two at the beginning of the
century? I think it is tied in with the loosening of strict gender roles and
an ever increasing level of complexity. This might be something to explore
for my thesis. This is where I am so far, see you in class Earl.
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