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Freud's Paranoid Quest: Psychoanalysis and Modern Suspicion

John Farrell
Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Freud's Paranoid Quest
    Book Description:

    Freud's Paranoid Quest is an exceptionally broad-ranging and well-written book....Whether or not one agrees with certain of his arguments and assessments, one must acknowledge the remarkable intelligence that is displayed on nearly every page.--Louis Sassauthor of Madness and Modernism and The Paradoxes of Delusion John Farrell's Freud's Paranoid Quest is the most trenchant, exhilarating and illuminating book I have encountered in many years. [The book] should be pondered not just by all students of Freud's thought but by everyone who senses that 'advanced modernity' has by now outstayed its welcome.--Frederick CrewsUniversity of California, Berkeley In Freud's Paranoid Quest, John Farrell analyzes the personality and thought of Sigmund Freud in order to give insight into modernity's paranoid character and into the true nature of Freudian psychoanalysis. John Farrell's Freud is not the path-breaking psychologist he claimed to be, but the fashioner and prisoner of a total system of suspicion. The most gifted of paranoids, Freud deployed this system as a self-heroizing myth and a compelling historical ideology.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2882-6
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    Henry James spent his last afternoons as Napoleon, ordering furniture by imperial fiat. Friedrich Nietzsche late in his career assumed the titles of Caesar and of “The Crucified.” August Strindberg, exhilarated by a letter from “Nietzsche Caesar,” signed his reply “The One and Only God.” Strindberg believed that the persecuted heroes in the plays of Henrik Ibsen were disguised portraits of him, plagiarized, infuriatingly, from his own paranoid self-portrayal. Ibsen, in turn, kept a portrait of Strindberg over his writing desk, for inspiration.

    Hobbes was pathologically timorous, given to sudden flights. Maupassant suffered from bouts of persecution, as did E....

  5. ONE From Primal Father to Paranoid
    (pp. 10-27)

    The attempt to describe paranoid psychology began with a great work of comic fiction: an elderly and decrepit gentleman, crazed with the reading of vulgar romances, becomes suddenly convinced that he is a knight-errant born to restore a golden age of chivalry. Don Quixote’s first adventures lead to a defeat so unambiguous as to defy explanation within the frame of his delusion, and Cervantes’ story seems in danger of losing momentum within its first fifty pages. But then the hero’s niece makes a saving suggestion—that Quixote’s quest for glory is being thwarted by a swarm of malicious enchanters who...

  6. TWO Paranoid Logic
    (pp. 28-40)

    The psychoanalytic history of the human species that I have reconstructed from Freud’s works in order to expose the historical dimensions of his theory of paranoia would not now be recognized by most Freudians as valid. It rests upon scientific principles that were suspect even in Freud’s day and have since fallen into the antique. Freud’s speculative abandon in the domain of the instincts was already a source of dissent within the movement during his lifetime. Though his theoretical activities continued into the fourth decade of the twentieth century, they remained within the framework of late nineteenth-century romantic biology. Lamarckian...

  7. THREE Paranoid Psychology
    (pp. 41-65)

    Recent thinking about the psychology of paranoia has tended strongly to discourage Freud’s contention that it has a single cause or represents a single condition. ‘Paranoia’ now accompanies a broad range of conditions, rarely, if ever, occurring in a pure form. The range begins with people who have rigid and suspicious personalities yet function more or less successfully in society, and extends to psychotic patients with megalomaniacal or messianic delusions. Diagnostic terms stretch from mere ‘paranoid personality’ to ‘schizophrenia, paranoid type’.¹ Paranoia is “asyndrome:a constellation of symptoms which tend to occur together but which can be caused by...

  8. FOUR Before Freud
    (pp. 66-95)

    For seven or eight decades now, it has been impossible to give any writer credit for psychological insight without making the claim that he or she anticipated Freud. For the twentieth century Freud represents psychological insight itself—the form of intelligence that looks beneath the surface of mental life to find the hidden duplicities and depths. All subtlety in this area belongs to him: he sees truly and fearlessly what others have only glimpsed, and the insights, intimations, and suspicions of others find their true grounds in him. Having come to symbolize the transition from a faithful and metaphysical culture...

  9. FIVE Freudian Satire
    (pp. 96-130)

    Freud’s ability to digest the suspicious logic of his precursors and to reformulate it in the terms of a science must be accounted one of the great elements of his success. But it is not the whole of it: his rhetorical genius must also share a large measure of the credit. Freud’s literary gifts and sensibility have often been acknowledged; but we cannot appreciate the true character even of his literary achievement without recognizing that in this aspect of his work, too, Freud was depending heavily upon the well-established resources of suspicion. Satire was the dominant form of imagination of...

  10. SIX Freud as Quixote
    (pp. 131-166)

    InThe Interpretation of Dreams, the paranoid logic, psychology, and rhetoric of psychoanalysis, which have been the subjects of the preceding chapters, combine in perfect harmony. The work takes the form of a romance, a quest, one that demystifies the object it seeks, then mystifies it in new ways. It is, first, a great treatise of reduction, in which the contents of ordinary thought, drawn into the network of dreams, are translated into a new moral and psychological language, which knows only ambition, suspicion, and deceit. The positing of doubleness in every detail of experience makes possible an agile and...

  11. SEVEN The Charismatic Paranoid
    (pp. 167-212)

    In the first chapter of Part Two ofDon Quixote, the barber of La Mancha tells the mad knight, now in confinement, a story that bears upon his own:

    “In the madhouse at Seville was a man whose relations had placed him there as being out of his mind. He was a graduate of Osuna in canon law, but even if he had been a graduate of Salamanca, it was the opinion of most people that he would have been mad all the same. This graduate, after some years of confinement, took it into his head that he was sane...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 213-216)

    By way of conclusion, let us enumerate the main points of the argument, along with a few more general implications:

    1. Freud was correct in his claim that paranoia has a special connection with modern culture but wrong about the character of that connection. It is not on account of the suppression of religious impulses by science that paranoia achieves its force and visibility in modern experience. Rather, paranoia becomes a viable, even normal stance when intellectual culture depends fundamentally and without limit upon suspicion of the faculties that make it possible.

    2. Paranoid psychology is a natural derivative from the contradictions...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 217-222)

    In the late afternoon of August 27, 1979, while descending from the #16 trolley on the outskirts of Amsterdam, I was hailed in French by a man in a tattered jacket leaning on a cane who introduced himself as Rico Julien Marie Lucien, a great and persecuted writer and a political and religious leader of genius. He was about sixty, much the worse for wear, and had the familiar face and beard of Solzhenitsyn except for a gash on the crown of his nose. He carried his possessions and clothing in a bucket that also served him as a stool....

  14. Notes
    (pp. 223-256)
  15. Works Cited
    (pp. 257-266)
  16. Index
    (pp. 267-276)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-277)