Christians must give Freud a fair hearing

SIR – Mary Kenny (September 1) admits that the “fierce salvo” against Freud that is the “gigantic book” by Dr Frederick Crews may be “overstated” (putting it mildly).

That Freud’s anti-Christianity is undeniable does not make his researches and theorisings “peculiar” per se – and I write as one who has studied him with a qualified professor-analyst. What is significant here is that Freud grew up in a non-practising and highly humanistic Jewish family in a narrowly Catholic and very corrupt Vienna where he experienced discrimination: a seminal moment was when the young Sigmund witnessed his father being spat on in the street.

One cause of his current demonisation is undoubtedly his aetiology of (male) homosexuality, which he regards as a state of arrested psychic development.

As to his own sexual conduct being “unethical”, Freud’s family life was close and to all appearances exemplary; however, this may refer to his and his pupil Jung’s falling out over a patient, Sabina Spielrein, who came between them, it seems, emotionally as well as professionally.

Mary Kenny is welcome to prefer Jung (I did myself once) – always assuming she has given both a fair hearing – but without Freud there would have been no Jung or Jungian school. And for those inclined to dismiss Freud without a hearing, may I recommend beginning with his – to me at least ever-fascinating – The Psychopathology of Everyday Life.

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