Tuesday 1 January 2013

Ernst Falzeder conducts: A Psychiatric Conspiracy Against Psychoanalysis. Inner Circle Seminar 191 (12 May 2013)

Alfred Hoche

Eugen Bleuler

A Psychiatric Conspiracy Against Psychoanalysis

A centenary study of the congress
of German psychiatrists in Breslau (13-14 May 1913)

Ernst Falzeder
Inner Circle Seminar No. 191
introduced by
Anthony Stadlen
Sunday 12 May 2013
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Psychiatry is essentially coercive; psychotherapy is essentially contractual. But psychiatry and psychotherapy masquerade as companionate, compassionate sister-professions. Psychotherapy serves as the handmaiden of psychiatry. But sometimes the mask drops. Fritz Wittels reported that, at the 1910 Nuremberg Psychoanalytic Congress, Sigmund Freud had said he was ‘perpetually attacked’; and, seizing his coat by the lapels, had declared: ‘They won’t even leave me a coat to my back’. Historians have dismissed Freud’s complaint as paranoid. But today, Ernst Falzeder, lecturer at the University of Innsbruck, psychotherapist, researcher, author, editor and translator, will show that Freud underestimated the conspiracy against him. Professor Falzeder will give evidence that, at the 1913 Breslau Congress of German Psychiatrists, Freud was unaware of the ‘perfectly staged concerted action’ of the psychiatrists led by Alfred Hoche, future advocate of ‘the extermination of life unworthy of life’, against the psychoanalysts, led by Eugen Bleuler, thought by Freud to be at best ‘ambivalent’.

Professor Falzeder’s detailed historical focus on a psychiatric congress a hundred years ago will be the starting-point for his historical examination of the continuing relationship between psychiatry and psychoanalysis, and for our exploration of the politics of the masked conflict between them from 1896 to the present, in which reciprocal accusations of lack of scientificity obscure the radical contradiction between coercion and contract, compulsion and consent. Nothing could be more relevant to the present-day predicament of psychotherapy degraded to a purported ‘health profession’. Freud himself tried to have it both ways by being accepted by psychiatry (he was not himself a psychiatrist); and he colluded with psychiatric incarceration and compulsion. But in his ‘Postscript to The Question of Lay Analysis’ (1927) he repeatedly called psychoanalysis a ‘secular care of the soul’ (‘weltliche Seelsorge’): ‘What we practise is Seelsorge in the best sense’; ‘Only if we pursue analytic Seelsorge will we deepen our just dawning insight into human soul-life (Seelenleben).’

Thomas Szasz saw the issue of compulsion or consent as defining the respective paradigmatic activities of psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, although of course there is voluntary psychiatry and compulsory psychotherapy. R. D. Laing, whose main focus was mystification and ‘false consciousness’, practised compulsory psychiatry at times, and in 1979 ridiculed Szasz’s call for the abolition of compulsory psychiatry by writing that, if abolition came about, ‘it would all be much the same’. Szasz saw this as an insulting infantilisation, equivalent to an argument that it was pointless to abolish slavery because we are all enslaved.

Szasz, while calling Freud an ‘evil genius’, nevertheless saw in his characterisation of psychoanalysis as ‘secular care of the soul’ a possibility, scarcely glimpsed in practice, for an ‘autonomous psychotherapy’ purged of its corruption by compulsory psychiatry and dehumanising scientism. Laing concurred with this. Today, we shall continue the debate. You are warmly invited to contribute to the discussion.
Venue: ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE

Cost: Psychotherapy trainees and students £116, others £145, some bursaries; coffee, tea, biscuits, mineral water and liquorice allsorts included; payable in advance; no refunds or transfers unless seminar cancelled

Apply to: Anthony Stadlen, ‘Oakleigh’, 2A Alexandra Avenue, London N22 7XE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail: stadlen@aol.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/

The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.

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