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Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

NYT: The Inside Man

By WILLIAM H. GASS
Published: May 7, 2006
St. Louis

ON May 6, 2006, Sigmund Freud became 150 years old, though he is not yet a threat to Methuselah's record. But this isn't true. He died of cigars in London in 1939.

So who are we honoring with our remembrance, and what are we celebrating? Psychoanalysis is not that ancient and it would be impossible to pin it to a moment. We couldn't fix a date for Freud himself because he was not born the founder of psychoanalysis but became that around the turn of the century. His ideas emerged most gradually from the materialism of his scientific training and, after efforts to apply quantitative methods to the problems of his patients, he appears to have been compelled to look elsewhere for help.

That "elsewhere" was in consciousness itself, always the main problem for materialists since it refuses to have an address in space and time the way other material things do. I am aware of my own body but that awareness is not a body others could be aware of the way they are of mine.

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